- "In Warfare, preparation is the key. Determine that which your foe prizes the most. Then site your heavy weapons so that they overlook it. In this way, you may be quite sure that you shall never want for targets."
- — Lion El'Jonson, Tenets of Strategy and Supremacy
Lion El'Jonson, known also by the cognomen, The First, and the honourific Primaris Angelus Mortis, and often times referred to as the Lion during his lifetime, was the Primarch of the Ist Legion of Space Marines, the Dark Angels. Following the events of the Horus Heresy, Jonson and his Crusading fleet returned to his homeworld of Caliban. Inexplicably, they were fired upon by the Dark Angel forces garrisoned there under the command of his once-trusted mentor and surrogate father, Luther, who had been entrusted with the custodianship of Caliban in the Lion's absence. Luther would eventually betray the Lion after allowing himself to be seduced by the offers of Chaos, rallying a good portion of the Dark Angels who had been left behind by their fellows to garrison the Legion's homeworld to his cause and attacking the Lion's fleet as he returned to Caliban. The titanic struggle between the two former friends resulted in the destruction of Caliban and the loss of the Dark Angels' Primarch, as well as the escape of Luther's allies who had sided with the Ruinous Powers. Known as the Fallen Angels amongst their former Battle-Brothers of the Ist Legion, it became the overriding goal of the Dark Angels and all of their Successor Chapters (collectively known as the Unforgiven) after the Second Founding to hunt down every one of the Fallen and get them to repent their betrayal of the Emperor and of the Lion. Perhaps one of the greatest secrets of the Imperium of Man, known only to the Emperor himself, is that the Lion is still alive and resting in stasis, buried deep within the Dark Angels' mobile fortress-monastery, The Rock. There he waits to be awakened to lead the Dark Angels in one final Crusade to save Mankind from all the enemies who threaten it with extinction.
During the event that isolated the infant Primarchs from the rest of the Imperium, Lion El'Jonson was cast to a hostile, feudal Death World infested with monstrous, Chaos-warped Great Beasts that was named Caliban by its inhabitants. The humans of Caliban had regressed to a feudal state, yet still retained sufficient technology to produce armour similar in appearance, if not quality, to Imperial Power Armour and firearms similar to Bolt Pistols. Caliban was kept relatively safe from the Great Beasts by the Knightly Orders such as the Order and the Knights of Lupus.
The Lion was discovered as a feral child by the Knights of the Order, including the greatest man of the age, Sar Luther. Luther then named the boy Lion El'Jonson (meaning "Lion, Son of the Forest" in the Calibanite dialect of Low Gothic). In a very short time after this, the Lion replaced Luther as the greatest man on Caliban and became the Grandmaster of the Order. The Lion killed a great many of the death world's Great Beasts, including one of only two Calibanite Lions on the planet, the other being slain by the psyker and Supplicant of the Order, Zahariel El'Zurias, with the aid of the latent psychic ability later called, "terror sight," that allowed him to slow down the perception of time long enough for him to find an opening in the animal's defences.
During his career as a Knight of the Order, the Lion led a planet-wide crusade of all the Knightly Orders (save for the conservative Knights of Lupus) against the Calibanite beasts. If not for Luther, this crusade could not have occurred, as his influence was required to persuade the other Orders to participate. During the course of this crusade, both the beasts and the Knights of Lupus were exterminated. It was on the ceremonial last hunt of the beasts that the forces of the Imperium's Great Crusade would finally arrive on Caliban and reunited the Space Marines of the Ist Legion with their gene-father.
Arrival of the Emperor
Eventually a unit of the Emperor of Mankind's forwards scouts from the Ist Legion of Space Marines arrived at Caliban and identified the Lion as one of the Emperor's missing sons, the Primarchs. Jonson was immediately given command of the I Space Marine Legion when the Emperor realised he had not only found one of his lost sons, but the genetic father of the Astartes who had landed on Caliban. Luther and the other members of the Order who passed the Legiones Astartes' trials were transformed into Ist Legion warriors, either as fully-fledged Astartes if they were young enough to undergo the implantation of the gene-seed organs, or through genetic manipulation to increase their physical abilities if they were too old for the process, like Luther. After the new Astartes were ready, Jonson publicly re-named the First Legion the Dark Angels after an old Calibanite myth. Luther, too old to be a Space Marine, was the first to be genetically modified and became Jonson's second in command, as he had been during the Calibanite crusade against the great beasts. Jonson then left with the Emperor and the newly re-named Dark Angels to continue the Great Crusade.
The Lion was granted command of the 4th Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade in orbit of the planet Sarosh. The Saroshi had recently expressed their interest in becoming part of the Imperium, and the Imperials were eager to allow them in, believing that these people seemed to possess the same secular beliefs as they did in the Imperial Truth. But the Saroshi secretly worshipped Chaotic entities in the Warp they called the Melachim ("kings" in ancient Hebrew) who may have been the Ruinous Powers or their lesser daemonic servants. They saw the atheistic stance of the Emperor's Imperial Truth as nothing less than a philosophy of pure evil since it would deny the very existence of their gods. The Lord High Exacter, the leader of the Saroshi bureaucracy, denounced El'Jonson and the Emperor to their faces aboard the Dark Angels' flagship. El'Jonson responded by impaling the Lion Sword through the fanatical Saroshi leader's body. However, unknown to the Dark Angels the Saroshi had also brought a nuclear device aboard their shuttle, intending to assassinate the fleet's entire command structure, including Jonson; however, Luther and a junior Librarian named Zahariel managed to eject the shuttle into space, causing only minor damage to the flagship. After this incident, Luther, Zahariel and two hundred other Dark Angels were sent back to Caliban in disgrace for allowing an enemy to get a nuclear device aboard the Primarch's flagship. They were to oversee the recruitment of new Space Marines into the Legion from the Calibanite population.
As the years passed, news of Jonson's victories kept coming back to Caliban. The jealousy which Luther had first felt on Jonson's appointment as Supreme Master of the Order grew with every report, and the position Jonson had given Luther was not one suited to his ambitions. He slowly changed from an honourable knight to a man full of jealousy and hatred towards Jonson, because he felt he had lost out on fame and glory. Additionally, new reports indicated that Luther discovered a book of Chaos lore on Caliban that gradually caused him to turn from the path of righteousness until he was consumed by the temptations of the Ruinous Powers and was transformed into a Chaos Champion.
A Lion and a Wolf
At some point during the Great Crusade, the Dark Angels and the Space Wolves Legions were assaulting the planet Dulan that had not given in to the Imperium's demands to become a compliant world. The leader of the rebels had insulted Leman Russ by naming him "The Emperor's Lapdog." Russ and his Space Wolves planned to assault rebel leader's stronghold for this blemish on their honor. While they were busy planning, the Dark Angels took the initiative and brought the fight to the capital instead and the Lion himself killed their leader. Russ found the Lion with the dead leader at his feet and immediately attacked his brother Primarch. They fought for a full day and a night, the combat ending only when the Lion threw Russ through a table. When Russ got up he started laughing at the foolishness of their quarrel. The Lion, incensed that his brother appeared to be mocking him, hit him square in the jaw, knocking Russ out cold. Russ awakened many hours later to find that Lion El'Jonson and his Dark Angels had already left the planet. Honour Duels are still fought between members of the Space Wolves and the Dark Angels to this day over this incident, which sometimes results in fatalities.
During the 200th year of the Great Crusade, the Dark Angels Legion was carrying out an Imperial Compliance campaign against the Shield Worlds of the so-called Gordian League -- a confederation of human worlds who were allied with degenerate xenos. During this campaign the Dark Angels high command received word that Warmaster Horus and the XVIth Legion had renounced their oaths of allegiance, along with Primarch Angron's World Eaters, Mortarion's Death Guard and Fulgrim's Emperor's Children. They also received word of the atrocity committed against the doomed world of Istvaan III, when Horus ordered it to be virus-bombed, rendered it a lifeless planet. The Warmaster knew that the Emperor would respond with all the force he had available. Jonson believed that the Dark Angels' deployment to the Shield Worlds was part of an effort to scatter the Imperium's most loyal servants as far as possible in order to minimize the number of Legions Horus would have to face at any given time. Even so, a strike force of seven full Legions posed a dire threat to Horus's survival, as they made their way towards Istvaan V.
Jonson's forces were too deeply enmeshed in the Shield Worlds to respond quickly to Horus's treachery; the best estimates of the Primarch's staff indicated that it would take them nearly eight months to conclude their offensive operations, even on an emergency basis, and reposition themselves for a strike against Istvaan V. Even if they could move more quickly, Horus's agents would be able to alert the Warmaster in time to organise a counter-strike. However, Jonson believed that a small, hand-picked force, might accomplish what an entire Legion could not. The Primarch issued orders for many of their reserve squadrons to resupply and prepare for immediate deployment to the Tanagra System. Their primary target was to secure the Forge World of Diamat. They could not afford to let the Warmaster acquire the substantial supplies and ordnance needed to fortify the world of Istvaan V against the approaching Loyalist strike force. Jonson would personally lead the expedition to Diamat, with a battle group of fifteen warships. Secrecy was vital, as the Primarch was aware that the Warmaster's agents were more than likely tracking the Dark Angels' movements. Jonson went to Diamat in order to secure several powerful continental siege machines; vast artillery pieces that could devastate the most powerful fortifications.
The small fleet of Dark Angels vessels arrived in the Tanagra System just five days after the destruction of Horus's landing force at the Xanthus star port. With no way to secure the siege machines held in storage in Diamat's depots from Jonson's Astartes, the admiral of the raiding fleet had little choice but to withdraw back to Isstvan. The Warmaster's final gambit had failed. Following this small victory, Jonson met with his fellow brother Primarch, Perturabo of the Iron Warriors Legion aboard his flagship Invincible Reason. Perturabo informed Jonson that the IVth Legion was enroute to the Istvaan System, to face the Warmaster and his Traitor Legions upon the black sands of Istvaan V. Ferrus Manus and the Iron Hands Legion had hastened ahead of them, hungry to claim the Emperor's vengeance against Horus. Perturabo than lied to Jonson, explaining that he had hoped that his Legion could provision his vessels at the Xanthus star port above Diamat before continuing to the combat zone. Of course, they were now unable to, as the Ist Legion had destroyed the star port.
Perturabo then inquired to Jonson how he had learned of the existence of the siege engines. Jonson explained that he had learned of it fifty years earlier when he was studying the history of the Great Crusade and saw a reference to them in a despatch from Horus that had been sent to the Emperor. He'd commissioned the colossal siege machines from the masters of Diamat during the long siege of the xenos fortress-states on Tethonus. The war machines took much longer for the forge masters to complete than planned. By the time they were finished, the campaign on Tethonus had been over for a year and a half, and Horus had moved on to other conquests. So the weapons were put into a depot here against the day when he would come to claim them. But then the Istvaan III Atrocity occurred. When Jonson had received word of Horus's perfidy, he knew that ultimately the Warmaster's path would ultimately lead to Terra. Even if he were somehow to prevail against Perturabo and the other Legions sent to confront him in the Istvaan System, the Warmaster couldn't claim total victory so long as the Emperor was safe in his palace. No, for Horus to triumph, their father had to die. And that meant a long and costly siege of Terra. Therefore, the Warmaster would come to claim the siege engines of Diamat.
Jonson informed his brother that he would be unable to accompany the Loyalist fleet to Diamat, as he had to make all haste to the Shield Worlds and prepare the rest of the Ist Legion for the trip to Terra. In fact, he thought it best if no one outside Perturabo, himself and the other Primarchs ever knew that the Lion was there. He didn't want the Emperor to believe he did anything at Diamat with an ulterior motive in mind. Perturabo agreed that its was both a prudent choice, and a very humble one. Jonson explained that his actions were done for the good of the Imperium, not for accolades, nor for power. Jonson confessed to his brother that he believed Horus had become their father's favourite son for no other reason than fate. Had he been the first one he'd found, Jonson believed he would have been the Warmaster. The Lion believed that Horus would inevitably be defeated and that the Emperor would need to choose a new Warmaster very quickly if the Great Crusade was to continue. He asked for Perturabo's support. The two Primarchs reached an understanding -- Jonson granted permission for the Iron Warriors to take possession of the siege guns at their convenience -- on one condition, of course. Perturabo raised an eyebrow, inquisitively. Jonson made his brother promise that the siege weapons would be put to good use. Of that, Perturabo assured, they most certainly would be utilised in that regard.
Following the victory of the Drop Site Massacre, Horus called a meeting of the Primarchs of 8 of the Traitor Legions (minus the participation of the Alpha Legion's Primarch Alpharius) aboard his flagship, the Vengeful Spirit. Five of the Primarchs, including four who had fought at Istvaan V, met in person, including Horus, Fulgrim, Angron, Mortarion and Lorgar. Three appeared through the use of hololithic emitters that transmitted their signals through the Warp, including Perturabo, Night Haunter and Magnus the Red, who had only recently joined the Traitors after the Scouring of Prospero when the broken remains of his XVth Legion had been transported by Tzeentch into the Eye of Terror to the Planet of the Sorcerers. The Thousand Sons, bitter at what they perceived as their betrayal by the Emperor, now willingly became the ninthTraitor Legion. The council of Traitor Primarchs made their plans for the next step in their war against the Emperor and then each Legion went its way according to its assigned role. The Night Haunter's fleet had already departed, bound for the planet of Tsagualsa, a remote world in the Eastern Fringe that lay shrouded in the shadow of a great asteroid belt. From there, the Night Lords' terror troops would begin a campaign of genocide against the Imperial strongholds of Heroldar and Thramas, star systems that, if not taken, would leave the flanks of the Warmaster's strike on Terra vulnerable to attack. This campaign would also delay the Dark Angels Legion from reinforcing the Loyalists. The Thramas System was of particular importance, as it comprised a number of Mechanicum Forge Worlds whose loyalty was still to the Emperor.
This bitterly contested campaign, known as the Thramas Crusade, dragged on for nearly three standard years. In an attempt to sway his brother Lion El'Jonson to Horus' cause, the Night Haunter left a deep-void beacon in the patrol path of one of the Dark Angels' outrider vessels. The beacon was set to transmit coordinates in advance, so that the two Primarchs could meet and parley on the planet of Tsagualsa. Night Haunter wanted to break his former brother either mentally, physically or both to obtain his objectives. The Primarchs were accompanied by two warriors from their personal Honour Guards to the parley. The meeting began amicably enough between the two as they conversed with relative civility. This amity lasted only until the Night Haunter slandered El'Jonson, and in return the Lion struck his former brother. This melee further degenerated into an all-out brawl between the two sides. As the Night Haunter strangled the life out of El'Jonson, one of the Dark Angels Honour Guardsmen ran his sword through the Night Haunter's back, saving his Primarch's life. Eventually both Legions sent reinforcements in response to this incident. Each side dragged away their respective Primarchs from the scene of the combat. Both Primarchs survived this brutal confrontation and went on to continue the contest between their Legions for control of the Aegis Sub-sector.
When next they fought, the Dark Angels executed a meticulously planned ambush on the Night Lords' fleet while it was in transit across the sub-sector that saw the back of the Night Lords Legion broken and their Primarch mortally wounded after having faced his brother El'Jonson once again in mortal combat. Thanks to the skilled coordination and superb execution by the Lion, the Night Lords fleet was devastated, losing dozens of capital ships and approximately one-quarter of their Legion fleet to the Dark Angels' assault. Unfortunately, the remainder of the Night Lords fleet fled the Dark Angels' wrath, while the recently recovered Night Haunter, First Captain Sevatar and the elite Night Lords Atramentar Terminators led a desperate boarding assault action upon the Dark Angels' flagship Invincible Reason. This resulted in the death of all but a dozen of the Atramentar and the capture of Sevatar and the remaining survivors. Konrad Curze fled El'Jonson's wrath, evading the Dark Angels for months, stalking the shadows within the bowels of the mighty capital ship. Somehow, the remaining Night Lords managed to affect their escape and fled into the void.
Return to Caliban
Jonson, wracked with grief over the inability of his Dark Angels to reach Terra in time to prevent the fall of the Emperor during the Siege of Terra at the end of the Horus Heresy, returned to Caliban to reinforce his Dark Angels and recover from the shock of the Heresy. When the starships arrived in Calibanite orbit, they were fired upon by a savage salvo of defensive fire from the surface. The fleet pulled back and Jonson tried to find out what was happening. He learned from a merchant ship that Luther had poisoned the minds of the Space Marine garrison on the world and taken control. It could only be seen by Jonson as the taint of Chaos. Jonson's fury was let loose and the planet suffered. He ordered a systematic orbital bombardment of the planet, to rid the world of Chaos for all time.
The planet burned and its defences were whittled down to nothing. Jonson led his forces personally against the defenders who had taken refuge in the Order's Fortress-Monastery. Jonson found Luther and saw him to be completely corrupted by Chaos, almost nothing of his old friend had survived. Luther, now a Chaos Champion, had been elevated to a strength equal to that of Jonson by the Chaos Gods and the two met in a combat the likes of which would not be seen again. They levelled the monastery around them but the planet was also taking a heavy toll. The bombardment began to crack the surface of the planet, the Dark Angels in orbit unable to see the damage they were doing.
The battle between Luther and Jonson was titanic, but ended with a psychic attack which appeared to mortally wound Jonson. Luther then realised what he had done, as if a veil of deceit had been lifted from in front of his eyes. He fell to the floor, unwilling to fight any more, but it was too late for Jonson. The enraged Ruinous Powers of Chaos realised they had lost again, and sent a massive Warp storm to wrack the surface of the planet. It then broke apart under the strain, destroyed all but for the monastery of the Order which had been protected by potent defensive force-fields. When the Dark Angels descended to what remained of Caliban, little more than an asteroid upon which stood the Order's fortress-monastery, they searched the ruins and found Luther mumbling that Jonson had been taken by the Watchers in the Dark and would return one day and forgive Luther for his sins. The Dark Angels could not find any trace of their Primarch. The rest of the Dark Angels who had been converted by Luther to the worship of Chaos were sucked into the Warp and scattered across the galaxy. From that time forward they were named the Fallen Angels or simply the Fallen.
Fate of the Lion
During his duel with Luther on Caliban, Lion El'Jonson suffered a severe psychic blow which left him mortally wounded. He was then briefly pulled into the raging Warp vortex. Luther survived the contest, but proved mentally unhinged and was taken prisoner by the Dark Angels. He was placed into a stasis cell deep within the bowels of The Rock (the remains of the Order's mightiest fortress-monastery and all that was left of their world Caliban), to contemplate his crimes against the Chapter's Primarch, his continued existence a secret known only to each successive Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels, whose cell can only be accessed through the use of the Sword of Secrets, the Chapter artefact which is the mark of the Supreme Grand Master's office. Jonson, who had been briefly spirited away into the Warp during the destruction of Caliban, eventually emerged and was taken into a hidden and unreachable chamber deep within the heart of The Rock by the Watchers in the Dark and placed into stasis to keep him alive. This is a secret known only to the Emperor of Mankind Himself who, despite his living death, still sees all upon the Golden Throne. Even the Supreme Grand Master of the Chapter is not privy to this last and greatest secret of the Dark Angels. Some amongst the Dark Angels whisper that one day the Lion will return to lead one final Crusade intended to achieve the Dark Angels' greatest victory for Mankind and finally bring justice and redemption to the remaining Fallen Angels. None know that this legend has more truth to it than they realize, or that their lost Primarch now sleeps peacefully at the heart of their own fortress-monastery.
- Lion Helm - The Lion Helm is a sacred object of the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter. It is said to have been worn by Primarch Lion El'Jonson and takes the form of a winged Mark VII Space Marine Power Armour helmet. The helm is carried by a Watcher in the Dark. Built into the helmet is a protective force field which can be activated even when the helm is not being worn. The Lion Helmet is currently worn by Supreme Grand Master Azrael.
- Lion Sword - The Lion Sword is the great sword of the Primarch of the Dark Angels, Lion El'Jonson. The sword was broken in antiquity and lost. It is now rumoured to be carried by the mysterious Fallen Angel Cypher who seeks to reforge it and present it to the Emperor of Mankind, obtaining absolution and forgiveness for all of the Fallen who wish it.
- Citadel Journal 47, "Angels of Death", pp. 21–25
- Citadel Journal 37, "Tacticus Dark Angels", pp. 78–85
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex)
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition)
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition)
- Codex: Dark Angels (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition)
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition)
- Codex: Ultramarines (2nd Edition)
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 44–46, 197
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), p. 236
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 46–53
- Deathwing: Rules & Mission (1st Edition)
- Hammer & Bolter 17 & 18, "The Lion" (Novella) Parts 1 and 2 by Gav Thorpe
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Horus Heresy Vol. 1: Visions of War, pp. 13, 273, 278-279
- Index Astartes I, "The Unforgiven," pp. 4, 13, 18-23
- Index Astartes II, "For the Emperor!: Space Marine Chaplains," pp. 19, 56, 58-59
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition)
- Descent of Angels (Novel) by Mitchel Scalon
- Fallen Angels (Novel) by Mike Lee
- Age of Darkness (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn, "Savage Weapons" by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Shadows of Treachery (Anthology), Edited by Christian Dunn & Nick Kyme, "Prince of Crows" by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Primarchs (Anthology), "The Lion," (Short Story) by Gav Thorpe
- Angels of Darkness (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
|Horus • Leman Russ • Lost Primarchs • Ferrus Manus • Fulgrim • Vulkan • Rogal Dorn • Roboute Guilliman • Magnus the Red • Sanguinius •</aspan> Lion El'Jonson • Perturabo • Mortarion • Lorgar • Jaghatai Khan • Konrad Curze • Angron • Corvus Corax • Alpharius Omegon|