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"Discipline. Duty. Unyielding Will. These are the measures by which every warrior is judged. Unarmed, a warrior with these qualities will still find victory, no matter how long or arduous the path. When girded with the sacred armaments of the Adeptus Astartes, such a warrior becomes truly indomitable."
— Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Imperial Fists
Rogal Dorn sketch

An ancient Remembrancer's illustration of Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Imperial Fists Space Marine Legion during the Horus Heresy, taken from Carpinus' Speculum Historiale

Rogal Dorn, known as The Vigilant, the Praetorian of Terra and the Unyielding One, was the Primarch of the Imperial Fists Space Marine Legion and one of the greatest heroes in the history of the Imperium of Man. A being of thunderous zeal and stone made manifest is how many described the Primarch of the VII Legion. He had a stern and naturally unsmiling face, topped with an unruly shock of short, bone-white hair. His zeal was the fire of a son who believed in his father's dream for the Imperium without reservation and without question.

To Rogal Dorn there was no higher purpose to the existence of the Legiones Astartes than the unification of Mankind, and the illumination of the Imperium's ideals. This idealism drove Dorn and his Legion ever onwards, never compromising, never stinting in any aspect of duty. The stone in his soul was his ability to bear whatever his father needed of him, an unyielding nature, which made him both a master of defence in war, and an indomitable fighter on the attack. If the Primarchs were the Emperor's nature split like white light through a prism's rays, as many Imperial scholars of the Imperial Court suggested, then from such a point of view, Rogal Dorn was the Emperor's implacable disciple in the pursuit of the cause given flesh; without compromise and in who loyalty and duty was as integral as blood and breath. It was perhaps for this reason, that even before the betrayal of Horus, the Emperor named Dorn "Praetorian of Terra", and drew him to his side far away from the Warmaster and his newly-forged command. To some among his brother-Primarchs this served only to distance him and his Legion further from them, and those among them who had seen the sins of hubris and obstinacy in Dorn's undoubted stubbornness and pride, saw this aggrandisement as a further cause for discord and disquiet.

It was Dorn who supervised the construction of the formidable defences of the Imperial Palace in the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains on Terra that would be sorely tested by the Forces of Chaos during the epic climax of the Horus Heresy in the terrible Battle of Terra. Rogal Dorn allegedly died fighting aboard a Chaos Space Marine vessel in the late 31st Millennium, after attacking the 1st Black Crusade's warfleet with a vastly outnumbered Imperial force. Seeing the importance of attacking the enemy fleet while they were still preparing to invade Imperial space, he relied on hit-and-run attacks until his reinforcements could arrive. Dorn was supposedly slain on board the Chaos Despoiler-class Battleship Sword of Sacrilege, after leading a desperate attack on its bridge, but in fact the Imperial Fists and their Successor Chapters believe that Dorn is still alive somewhere and may yet return when the Imperium needs him most.

History

The Primarch of the Imperial Fists is second only to the Ultramarines' Primarch Roboute Guilliman in the adoration his name inspires in the masses of the Imperium, and even amongst other Chapters he is held in high regard. Dorn remained close to the Emperor's side throughout much of the Great Crusade, and stayed there during the darkest days of the Horus Heresy. Thus it was an especially bitter fate that caused Dorn to become separated from the Emperor when he teleported onto the Warmaster's flagship, to discover his master's body after the duel that ended the Heresy was concluded.

Youth

Inwit2

The Ice World of Inwit

Primarchs are transcendent beings, holding a portion of the sublime and unknowable in their nature. All the qualities which seem strong in a warrior of a Legion exist more strongly, more deeply and with greater subtlety in a Primarch. Though spun from the seed of humanity the Primarchs are not human. This nature often seems to enhance and focus the qualities gifted to a Legion by their gene-seed. So it is that at the moment at which Primarch and Legion unite, there is often a point at which a Legion's character may seem to shift. In the case of the Imperial Fists, the discovery of their Primarch, and the planet which had raised him, only strengthened the character the Imperial Fists had shown since their creation. When the 20 genetically-engineered nascent Primarchs were stolen from the Emperor's labs on Terra by the Ruinous Powers and cast into the Warp, they were scattered throughout the galaxy upon different worlds, which would shape the nature of each Primarch and later their individual Legions created from their genome. When the Primarch Rogal Dorn was restored to the Imperium, it was to be on the Ice World of Inwit located in the Inwit Cluster.

Inwit was, and is, a world of death and cold. Its star is old and withered, bleeding the last of its heat as cold, red light. Tidally locked against its dying star, perpetual darkness soaks one side of the planet, faded sunlight the other. Crevasse mazes, frozen mountain ranges and plains of frost dunes cover the planet's dark side -- this is the Splintered Land, the beast-stalked wilderness which shapes the bodies and beliefs of the human population that clings to life here. Under the ice crust, thick seas flow in sluggish tides and pale and sightless creatures swim the waters, hunting by vibration and a preternatural taste for blood. Far above this desolation, great and ancient space stations and shipyards look down on the cold-shrouded worlds through perpetual auroras -- created in a lost past, these citadels of the void have looked down on Inwit since before any records or tales can recall. Whilst on the planet, the light side of Inwit offers little more comfort than the dark, being a land of drift-crusted saline seas and sparse bare rock under the unblinking gaze of the red sun.

There is little of value on Inwit; its seas are buried or lifeless, its mountain bare of riches and its native species vicious. There is, however, one thing that this harsh world produces that led it to conquer a star cluster and endure as an island empire of order in the Age of Strife: its people. Though they are barbaric, they are far from unsophisticated. The warriors of Inwit are raised to endure and survive. The world that bears them teaches them to never relent and that the price of weakness is death, for them and the rest of their kin. Death comes in many forms on Inwit; in the ice storms that can freeze and cover a man in seconds, at the claws of the predators that roam the Splintered Lands, and in the lapse in concentration that allows the cold to penetrate the warmth-seals of a hold. These factors make a certain kind of people: strong, grim and dedicated to the survival of the whole rather than the individual. Much of the world's population is nomadic, moving between the subterranean ice hives to trade in weapons, fuel and technology. Conflict between the roaming clans is common and young warriors learn how to defend against their clan's enemies as early as they learn how to endure the death touch of Inwit's merciless chill. They are incredibly quick learners and have an innate sense of an object's functional value and, most importantly, they have the strength and intelligence to conquer those who possess knowledge they do not.

Long ago, before the coming of the Emperor was even a dream on night-shrouded Terra, the people of Inwit began to create their own realm in the stars. On every world they took, they assimilated, realigned and reinforced. With each conquest their culture and learning grew, but Inwit itself remained unchanged even as it became the centre of a stellar empire. The ice hives and clan disputes remained and while their world birthed starships and ringed its orbits with weapon stations, its rulers kept to the old ways, the ways that had created their strength, the warlords and matriarchs who commanded armies amongst the living stars have it somewhat easier than their vassals. So it was, and so it is now.

It was as part of this burgeoning empire that Rogal Dorn grew to manhood, and then to rule its domains as emperor. Much of his early years remains unknown, or at least little talked about. It is, however, for certain that in the cold and darkness of Inwit, a boy named Rogal by his adoped kin, rose to lead the House of Dorn also known as the Ice Caste, and then to the rule of the Inwit Cluster. The patriarch of the clan that raised Dorn became an adoptive grandfather to him, and taught him much of tactics, strategy, and diplomacy. Even after he discovered he was not blood-related to his "grandfather," Dorn held his memory in high value; he kept a fur-edged robe that had belonged to the man and slept with it on his bed every night. His qualities married perfectly with those of Inwit, and he pushed their empire further than any other. Rogal led and trained its armies, and fashioned spacecraft the like of which had not been seen before. 

The Coming of the Emperor

"Do not look to us for kindness. Do not look to us for hope. We are not the kind children of this new age. We are the rocks of its foundation. If you wish hope then look to what we make. If you wish kindness then look to those who will come after us."
— Rogal Dorn, address to the Three Hundred Magistrates of Terra
Primarch Rogal Dorn

An ancient portrait of Rogal Dorn painted by an Imperial Remembrancer, from Carpinius' Speculum Historiale

Forty standard years after his grandfather's death, the outlying Imperial starships of the Great Crusade finally reached the Ice Hives of Inwit. When the true Emperor was reunited with Rogal Dorn, He regained not only a lost son, but the strength of a star spanning society already forged into a tool of war. Dorn greeted the Emperor at the helm of the enormous starship constructed during the Dark Age of Technology called the Phalanx, which the Emperor had discovered within Inwit's region of space. Dorn is the seventh of the twenty Primarchs who had been found by their father. The Emperor welcomed Dorn as his long-lost son, and returned the Phalanx to his care, transforming it into the mobile fortress-monastery of the VII Space Marine Legion which was also turned over by the Emperor to be led by Dorn, since all of its Astartes had been created using Dorn's own genetic template.

Dorn himself was fiercely loyal to the Emperor from the first moment that they met on the bridge of the Phalanx, and he never once sought any favour from his father. Dorn embodied the human quest for truth, and could never tell a lie, even if it would have aided his cause. Because of this quality, Dorn's statue stands as one of only four ever erected on Macragge, next to that of Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines. Dorn commanded the VII Legion and Expeditionary Fleets with peerless devotion and military genius. It was said that he possessed one of the finest military minds amongst the Primarchs, ordered and disciplined but still inclined to flashes of zeal and inspiration. His record of achievements for the Imperium during the Great Crusade were innumerable, and indeed the Warmaster Horus said that he esteemed Dorn and the Imperial Fists so highly that he reckoned if the Fists, noted masters of defence, were to hold a fortress against he and his Luna Wolves, noted masters of assault, the resultant conflict would spiral into a never-ending stalemate.

Great Crusade

Rogal Dorn Imperial Fists

Primarch Rogal Dorn with First Captain Sigismund and other senior Imperial Fists Legionaries

Dorn was possessed of a single-minded energy tempered by a reserved and stoic nature. Many have remarked on the dour and emotionless disposition of both this Primarch and his Legion, but such an assessment misses much. Reserved, but terrifying in anger, Dorn was both cautious and calculating, and capable of pursuing an end with relentless energy. While he would rarely show emotion, when he did it was capable of shaking the ground or darkening the sun. During the near-disastrous resurgence of the Xahelican breed in the Adonis Cluster, Dorn's cold rage was said to have held the battlements as much as the arms of those standing upon them. His admonishment of the reinforcements at Castoris is said to have echoes from the fire-touched sky to the still burning sea. "As swift and unforgiving as the falling edge of an axe," is how Leman Russ of the Space Wolves Legion is said to have described his brother-Primarch. Dorn was also capable of brooding and letting matters eat at him beneath his stone-cast demeanour. For as much as he was a warrior of absolute loyalty, he was also an idealist -- the reasons why he fought were as important to him as the outcome of his efforts. During the time of the Great Crusade few ever saw this quality in Dorn, for there was little cause, though those who knew him well could perhaps see hints of it in his near-fatal confrontation with Konrad Curze of the Night Lords Legion in the Cheraut System and his brief schism with Ferrus Manus of the Iron Hands Legion after one particularly brutal campaign. It is only immediately following the horrific events of the Horus Heresy, with so much lost never to be rebuilt, and blood still staining the birth of the Imperium which survived, that history could see that perhaps even in perfect loyalty there can be a flaw. At the moment that the Imperial Fists were united with Rogal Dorn, however, the shadow of eternal treachery still waited far in the future.

Few integrations of Primarch and Legion were as swift or as complete as that between Rogal Dorn and the Imperial Fists. The ideals of the Imperium, and the purpose of the Great Crusade fitted with Dorn's outlook and drive, and the warriors of the Imperial Fists were exemplars not only of everything that he had built in the Inwit Cluster, but everything he had dreamed of for its future. From the first moment Dorm met his gene-sons, he demanded of them everything that he would ask of himself. It is said that when he met Legion Master Matthias and Veteran contingents of the Imperial Fists he said nothing, maintaining his silence even when they had knelt and pledged him fealty. Only when he had observed them in battle did he break his silence and speak to them directly. He said that they had much to do, and more to learn. To Matthias he gave a single word of thanks for his service, and named him High Castellan of the Inwit Cluster. Such an honour was also a deep duty, for the next he gave was to raise thirty regiments of new Imperial Fists from the Inwit System. Without waiting or looking back, Rogal Dorn and his sons plunged back into the stars.

Over the next sixteen Terran decades, the Imperial Fists fought in the burning edge of the Great Crusade. Relentlessly they pushed from war zone to war zone, were honoured by each of their brother Legions, and rose high in the estimation of many. In their methods of war, the ways of Inwit and the echoes of the VII Legion's victories combined. They drove ever on, without pause or respite. Just as on Terra they fortified and built to secure what they conquered, but just as before they did not linger to rule their conquests. While a castellan with a household of warriors might remain to maintain its defences, they did not administer, or draw up and enforce laws, for they were warriors of the Imperium, not its masters, and they existed to serve in war and die for its survival. What they did take from all the lands they conquered were recruits.

A famous example would be the Imperial Compliance action of Necromunda where the Imperial Fists won a major victory against the Orks on the ash wastes of the Hive World. The Hive Lords consented to recruits being drawn from their population in gratitude. A Fortress-Chapel was duly consecrated but the Imperial Fists were there as esteemed guests, not masters. Rogal Dorn asked no special rights on the worlds where the Imperial Fists recruited. Some Primarchs, such as the increasingly mercurial Perturabo, took every opportunity to garrison a world for their Legions and claim its tithes. Dorn is famously recorded as saying, "I want recruits not vassals," and was always satisfied to keep his Legion as a military unit with none of the civil or political responsibilities that came with governing a Legion homeworld.

During the Great Crusade, the Imperial Fists acted as the strategic reserve of the Emperor's forces due to their ability to rapidly redeploy to battlefields aboard Phalanx. They made use of detailed planning and as such were soon found to be supreme urban fighters and siege specialists. After several campaigns and thousands of conquered worlds being brought into the Imperium, the Emperor returned to Terra to build a capital from which He could run His new empire. He took the Imperial Fists with Him, set them up as His praetorians and charged Dorn with the construction of the Imperial Palace, something that did not go unnoticed by the other Primarchs. Perturabo flew into a rage upon hearing that Dorn thought the Imperial Palace would be proof against an assault by even as mighty siege-masters as the Iron Warriors and he unleashed a torrent of vitriol and accusations against his brother Primarch so unfounded that the onlookers from his own Legion were dumbstruck. After this outburst was reported to Dorn, the two Primarchs rarely spoke, neither Legion serving in the same campaign again. The Imperial Fists were ever at the Emperor's side and the Iron Warriors were part of Horus' vanguard.

Iron and Stone

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Primarch Perturabo of the Iron Warriors Legion

Similarity encourages understanding, or at least some would claim so. In the case of Rogal Dorn and Perturabo, Primarch of the Iron Warriors Legion, this sentiment not only falls but shatters under the weight of reality. For rarely could there be said to be two beings on the surface who more resembled each other, yet were separated by a greater chasm. Both were reserved to the point of taciturn, both unyielding, both sublime artisans of war who prized indomitability and endurance; there was much that would suggest that they should see the world with one set of eyes, that perhaps they should be closer than any others. That bitterest loathing could arise between two such closely matched kin seems incredible, but it was a reality, some say from the first moment of their meeting.

The exact roots and cause of their enmity cannot be known to any save Rogal Dorn and Perturabo, but if one looks closely there appears a pattern both of behaviour and incidents which may offer a clue. Often it seems as though the pair's similarities were the cause of discord rather than understanding. Both were stubborn and more so when challenged, both spoke rarely, and brooded much behind their stone and iron masks. So it was that the silence of one would aggravate the other, the blunt honesty of one roused the other to anger, and the intractability of both ensured that once a dispute was begun neither would yield.

That there were differences between the two cannot be denied, and often these differences may have been the cause of disputes even if they were not the underlying cause. While both Rogal Dorn and Perturabo often favoured siege craft in war, they often differed in its execution. While both were pragmatic, Perturabo often displayed a brutal directness in waging war, applying overwhelming force or sustaining horrific casualties. While Dorn would never baulk at paying such a price for victory, he rarely accepted large numbers of casualties except through necessity. Dorn was an undoubted idealist above all else, Perturabo a pragmatist first and foremost. On such cracked foundations the decades of the Great Crusade heaped pleasures, honours, disparities and mischance, and from the result history reaped an enmity which would take both Primarchs and their Legions to the brink of destruction.

Triumph of Ullanor

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From left-to-right: Primarchs Jaghatai Khan, Lorgar and Rogal Dorn stand at attention during the great Triumph after the successful conclusion of the Ullanor Crusade

The greatest of the nascent Imperium's victories during the Great Crusade came in the form of the defeat of the largest Ork empire ever encountered in the late 30th Millennium. The Ullanor Crusade was a vast Imperial assault on the Ork empire of the Overlord Urrlak Urruk. The capital world of this Greenskin stellar empire, and the site of the final assault by the Space Marine Legions, lay in the central 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 Ullanor Crusade marked the high point of the Great Crusade's vast effort to reunite the scattered colony worlds of humanity.

The Orks of Ullanor represented the largest concentration of Greenskins ever defeated by the military forces of the Imperium of Man before the Third War for Armageddon began during the late 41st Millennium. Following the defeat of the Orks of Ullanor, the Emperor of Mankind returned to Terra to begin work on His vast project to open up the Eldar Webway for Mankind's use. In His place to command the vast forces of the Great Crusade He left Horus. In the aftermath of this Ullanor Crusade, Horus was granted the newly-created title of "Warmaster," the commander-in-chief of all the Emperor’s armies who possessed command authority over all of the other Primarchs and every Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade.

Jealousies and Rivalries

Following his promotion to the exalted rank of Warmaster, Horus had solicited the opinions and advice of all his brother Primarchs on the subject since the honour had been bestowed upon him. Being named Warmaster set him abruptly apart from them, and raised him up above his brothers, and there had been some stifled objections and discontent, especially from those Primarchs who felt the title should have been theirs. The Primarchs were as prone to sibling rivalry and petty competition as any group of brothers. Guided by the shrewd political hand, it was likely, of his Equerry Maloghurst, Horus had courted his brothers, stilling fears, calming doubts, reaffirming pacts and generally securing their cooperation. He wanted none to feel slighted, or overlooked. He wanted none to think they were no longer listened to. Some, like Sanguinius, Lorgar and Fulgrim, had acclaimed Horus' election from the outset. Others, like Angron and Perturabo, had raged biliously at the new order, and it had taken masterful diplomacy on the Warmaster's part to placate their choler and jealousy. A few, like Leman Russ and Lion El'Jonson, had been cynically resolved, unsurprised by the turn of events.

But others, like Roboute Guilliman, Jaghatai Khan and Rogal Dorn had simply taken it in their stride, accepting the Emperor’s decree as the right and obvious choice. Horus had ever been the brightest, the first and the favourite. They did not doubt his fitness for the role, for none of the Primarchs had ever matched Horus’ achievements, nor the intimacy of his bond with the Emperor. It was to these solid, resolved brothers that Horus turned in particular for counsel. Dorn and Guilliman both embodied the staunchest and most dedicated Imperial qualities, commanding their Legions' expeditions with peerless devotion and military genius. Horus desired their approval as a young man might seek the quiescence of older, more accomplished brothers.

Following his promotion, Primarch Dorn had come to the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet at Horus' behest, so that the two of them might discuss in detail the obligations and remit of the role of Warmaster. Rogal Dorn possessed perhaps the finest military mind of all the Primarchs. It was as ordered and disciplined as Roboute Guilliman's, as courageous as the Lion’s, yet still supple enough to allow for the flash of inspiration, the flash of battle zeal that had won the likes of Leman Russ and the Khan so many victory wreaths. Dorn's record in the Crusade was second only to Horus', but he was resolute where Horus was flamboyant, reserved where Horus was charismatic, and that was why Horus had been the obvious choice for the position of Imperial Warmaster. In keeping with his patient, stony character, Dorn's VII Legion had become renowned for siegecraft and defensive strategies. The Warmaster had once joked that where he could storm a fortress like no other, Rogal Dorn could hold it. "If I ever laid assault to a bastion possessed by you," Horus had quipped at a recent banquet, "then the war would last for all eternity, the best in attack matched by the best in defence." The Imperial Fists were an immovable object to the Luna Wolves' unstoppable force.

Fortifying the Imperial Palace

When the Emperor returned to Terra to build a capital world worthy of ruling a million planets, Dorn went as well, commanded by the Emperor to return to the Imperial homeworld and establish a guard around Him there. The Imperial Fists Legion had been chosen as the Emperor's Praetorians. Having always excelled in the construction of fortresses, Dorn was tasked with designing the defences for the Imperial Palace. These would prove to be magnificent, and would be well-tested in the following years as the storm of the Horus Heresy broke over the Imperium. The Primarch Fulgrim once asked if Rogal Dorn thought the Imperial Palace could withstand an assault by the Iron Warriors Legion. Dorn's truthful answer, that it could, infuriated the Iron Warriors' Primarch Perturabo to such a degree that they would almost destroy each other in battle years later during the Heresy. Dorn and the entire Imperial Fists Legion were later recalled to Terra by the Emperor to take up garrison duty there near the end of the Great Crusade. Once the Horus Heresy began, this garrison duty would transform into responsibility for preparing the defences of Terra and the Imperial Palace for the coming invasion of Horus and his Traitor Legions.

Horus Heresy

Before the Imperial Fists could arrive at Terra in full complement, the events of the Horus Heresy overtook them. Stranded for some considerable time by severe Warp storms, the Imperial Fists fleet eventually discovered the badly damaged Loyalist Death Guard frigate Eisenstein, and so learned of Horus' betrayal. However, at first Dorn did not believe Captain Nathaniel Garro and nearly killed him when Garro said that his Brother-Primarch Horus was a traitor to the Imperium and the Emperor. Rogal Dorn was eventually convinced by several members of the Eisenstein survivors of the Istvaan III Massacre, notably Captain Garro, Iacton Qruze of the Luna Wolves and Remembrancer (later Imperial Saint) Euphrati Keeler, that his brothers the Primarchs Horus, Fulgrim, Mortarion, and Angron were staging a full-scale rebellion against the Emperor's rule. Dorn therefore dispatched the bulk of his Legion to the Istvaan System on a war-footing. He himself returned to Terra with his veteran Space Marine companies to bring word of the terrible events personally to the Emperor of Mankind.

The Solar Campaign

With its network of operatives and bondsmen- and -women, it is believed that even in the state of civil war that the Imperium had fallen into, the Alpha Legion had the means and opportunities to transfer materiel and personnel between sectors, including the Segmentum Solar and the strategically vital Sol System, whose defence had been entrusted to the Imperial Fists and their Primarch, Rogal Dorn, the newly proclaimed Praetorian of Terra. Under the tireless efforts of the Imperial Fists, the Sol System had become a fortress, each strata of the Solar System being turned into a perfectly organised defence zone to break the Warmaster Horus' eventual assault. Given the Alpha Legion's need to prove its own superiority, it would not simply suffice to break open Terra's outer defences. To humiliate the VII Legion, they would have to infiltrate the most secure location in the entire galaxy -- the Imperial Palace itself.

Investiary

The Investiary of the Imperial Palace, where the plinths that contained the statues of all twenty Primarchs once stood

Activating assets that had been dormant and hidden on Terra for several standard decades, the Alpha Legion would eventually succeed where all others had failed before, infiltrating several agents within the Imperial Palace and especially the Investiary, where great statues had been erected to commemorate the Great Crusade's greatest generals -- the Primarchs of the twenty Space Marine Legions. Two plinths had stood empty for a long time, the statues adorning them destroyed when their respective owners were cast to oblivion and their history erased -- the Lost Primarchs. But the nine statues of those Primarchs having turned against the Emperor had merely been covered up. This was the Alpha Legion's target. Infiltrated Legionaries succeeded in penetrating the Investiary and destroyed all the statues except two of them -- those of Alpharius and Rogal Dorn. Intended as both a challenge and a message, this feat was deliberately kept secret from the other organisations within the Imperial Palace. Even the Regent of Terra, Malcador the Sigilite, and the Emperor's own bodyguards, the Legio Custodes, were forbidden to enter the Investiary and witness the shaming of the Imperial Fists. By what means the Sigilite still discovered the presence of the Alpha Legion on Terra remains a mystery, but Rogal Dorn was adamant that he would deal with the treacherous XX Legion in due course. Shortly after this act of sabotage, an Alpha Legion fleet, led by Harrowmaster Kel Silonius, attacked the Sol System's outermost defences, and managed to even capture several of Pluto's moons, which constituted the heart of the outermost defence perimeter. What truly occurred there remains a well-guarded secret, one only kept by Rogal Dorn himself and his Huscarl-bodyguard.

Battle of Pluto Begins

In order to prepare for Horus' advance towards Terra, the Alpha Legion was charged by the Warmaster to carry out vital acts of sabotage and preparation, which would plunge the Solar System into complete chaos. Though heavily defended by the Imperial Fists Legion, led by the Praetorian of Terra, Rogal Dorn himself, the Primarch Alpharius, aboard his flagship Alpha, led his fleet towards the Sol System. He managed to successfully infiltrate the outer defences of the system by putting himself, and the entirety of the personnel within his fleet, into stasis. Meanwhile, the Alpha Legion fleet approached at minimum speed and powered its vessels down to the bare minimum, in order to reduce their overall heat signature. Thus it took an entire standard year for the Alpha Legion fleet to drift towards Sol and successfully reach the outskirts of Terra's defences undetected, as Warp travel had been strictly forbidden.

Meanwhile Alpha Legion Sparatoi (augmented and highly adept human agents) as well as Alpha Legion operative teams activated throughout the Sol System. These "sleeper" cells had been planted standard years earlier before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, and upon activation, performed their primary functions of sowing destruction and diversionary terrorist acts, causing panic and anarchy. Multiple acts of murder and sabotage were conducted on a number of planets to distract the beleaguered Imperial defenders from the Alpha Legion's true objective -- Pluto -- the lynchpin of the Loyalists' surveillance network within the Sol System. As Rogal Dorn was distracted by these diversionary attacks across the system, Alpharius' fleet, comprised of over 200 vessels, led by the Alpha, struck Pluto and its moons Charon, Kerberos, Nix, Styx and finally Hydra. As the fleet arrived, a further uprising, instigated by Alpha Legion infiltrator teams, erupted across the Sol System.

The Alpha Legion's primary objective was Hydra, a fortress moon that orbited Pluto and was a major astropathic monitoring station. Alpharius himself led a team of Alpha Legion warriors in the attack on the moon. Meanwhile, the Loyalist defenders, led by First Captain Sigismund, had just 30 ships to defend against the massive Alpha Legion fleet. Due to the unexpected and brutal assault, the severely outnumbered Loyalist fleet was badly mauled by Fire Ships hidden among the Alpha Legion fleet, to wreak havoc on the Imperial Fists defenders. The captured fortress moon of Kerberos rained down deadly fire upon Charon, Nix, and Styx with heavy weapons. Despite facing overwhelming odds, the Imperial Fists resolutely stood their ground in the face of the Alpha Legion's overwhelming assault.

Death and Rebirth

Dorn vs. Alpharius

Alpharius and Rogal Dorn confront one another, one last time, during the Battle of Pluto.

Meanwhile, Archamus, Rogal Dorn's Master of the Huscarls, was eventually able to deduce the Alpha Legion's true intentions -- to sabotage the Imperial astropathic monitoring network centred on Hydra. During the fighting, Archamus led a Huscarl contingent in a daring assault upon the Alpha Legion force led by Primarch Alpharius himself. In the subsequent fighting, the Huscarls were killed and Archamus was left mortally wounded. All seemed lost, as the battle seemed to swing in favour of the Traitor forces. But miraculously, the Imperial Fists' mobile star-fortress Phalanx, led by Rogal Dorn himself, arrived with a massive Imperial Fists fleet in tow. They were boosted by additional reinforcements from the Armada Imperialis. Utilising the competing gravity wells throughout the Solar System, the Imperial Fists fleet managed to arrive quickly by slingshotting itself towards Pluto. The Imperial Fists reinforcements immediately pacified the captured guns on Kerberos, as Rogal Dorn led his Huscarls in an assault upon the astropathic chamber on Hydra.

Dorn and his remaining Huscarls teleported directly into the locked chamber, and soon joined battle against Alpharius and his elite Lernaean Terminators. Archamus looked on helplessly, as the two Primarchs fought one another in an epic life-or-death duel. When Alpharius was about to impale Dorn with his Pale Spear, the now-dying Archamus grabbed the hilt of the weapon and deflected it harmlessly into a non-vital area of Dorn's chest. This gave Rogal Dorn the opening he needed, to grab the weapon's hilt, and using his deadly Chainsword, Storm's Teeth, he sliced through Alpharius' wrists, severing his hands from his arms, before slashing his former brother across his chest, and then impaling him with his own spear. Finally, Dorn finished off Alpharius with a deadly chop of his mighty Chainsword into the top of his skull. With the death of their Primarch, the Alpha Legion fleet withdrew and retreated from Pluto. At the moment of his twin-Primarch's death, Omegon sensed the demise of his sibling and became distant. Shortly thereafter, he was notified that the Warmaster demanded that Alpharius speak with him so that he could know the status of the Alpha Legion's attack on the Sol System. Like he had done many times before, Omegon immediately took upon himself his brother's name, and permanently assumed the mantle of sole Primarch of the XX Legion.

Defence of the Imperial Palace

Siege Imperial Palace

The Traitor Legions lay siege to the Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra

Halbrecht Assault Squad

A Battle-Brother of the Imperial Fists' Halbrecht Assault Squad prepares to cut down some Traitors

Dorn was subsequently charged with bolstering the defences of the Imperial Palace even further against the coming storm of the Traitor Marines, and oversaw the construction himself. Dorn constructed great bastions armed with millions of artillery cannons, and added steel plating to the towers and walls of the Palace. He felt he was marring the perfection and beauty of the existing structure in doing so, and regretted it, even though it was necessary. His Legion also struck out to Mars, securing vital weapons, armour and munitions from the Loyalist Adeptus Mechanicus, even as the planet fell to the Chaos-tainted Dark Mechanicum, though the Imperial Fists Space Marine force under Captain Camba-Diez took terrible casualties in the raid to secure the critical supplies. This materiel would later prove essential in holding off the siege of the Imperial Palace by the Traitor Marines.

What forces of his Legion Dorn had taken with him would fight in the Siege of Terra, manning the Palace defences with the Blood Angels Legion. When Horus dropped the shielding on his flagship, Dorn and his most trusted veterans, clad in the few remaining suits of Terminator Armour, would teleport directly into battle with Horus on that ship. Unfortunately, Dorn and his chosen Marines would land farthest from Horus, and had to fight their way across almost the entire length of the battle barge. This meant that they would arrive too late to participate in the battle with Horus himself. Dorn would be the one to find the bodies of the Emperor, the Blood Angels' Primarch Sanguinius and Horus. He was also the one to take notes from the fatally crippled Emperor on how to rebuild the Imperium, and personally carried his shattered father's body to his resting place in the Golden Throne of the Imperial Palace, where he would lie, neither alive nor dead, for the next ten millennia.

Post-Heresy

After the internment of the Emperor in the Golden Throne, Dorn was stricken with grief. He felt the Emperor's near-demise to be his fault and led his Legion on a crusade of penitence across the Imperium. He was summoned back to Terra when Roboute Guilliman announced the adoption of his Codex Astartes, turning the large Space Marine Legions into the much smaller 1,000-man Space Marine Chapters. Dorn was initially outraged at this proposal, feeling that the Imperium blamed him (and rightly so, he thought) for the fall of his Brother Marines. However, realizing what damage another internal conflict could do to the fragile peace of the Imperium, Dorn finally relented and agreed to the Second Founding. This was a dark period in Rogal Dorn's life; he had both failed the Emperor and his Legion now faltered without the guiding light of the Master of Mankind.

Dorn was shaken to the core, shocked that the Imperium no longer trusted him or his Legion and that now after the loss of the Emperor and the failure of the Great Crusade the brotherhood of the Legion would be sundered as well. Without battle to focus them the Imperial Fists hovered on the brink, unsure of their future, Dorn despairing that he had not seen the Imperium changing while he hunted down the traitors. Dorn, Leman Russ of the Space Wolves and Vulkan of the Salamanders all refused the dictates of the Codex, and the Imperium seemed poised to tear itself apart in civil war again. The Imperial Fists Strike Cruiser The Terrible Angel was even fired upon by the Imperial Navy for the Fists' supposed heresies. It was at this time that the Iron Warriors issued a clear challenge that Dorn could not refuse by building an immense fortress and daring the Imperial Fists to attack it.

Some controversy exists about the next event in Rogal Dorn's life. What is clear is that the Imperial Fists could not be as easily divided into Chapters as, for example, the Ultramarines could. The total commitment to the entire Legion was bred into each Marine and many didn't wish to form their own Successor Chapters. Dorn found the answer to this problem in meditation through self-inflicted pain, using a device known as the Pain Glove. The pain-induced vision revealed that his Legion had to be redeemed in the eyes of the Emperor, and that the way to salvation was through pain and self-sacrifice. Dorn meditated for seven full days in the pain glove until he saw a vision of the Emperor. Realizing that the Emperor was not dead and gone and the He still watched over them from the Golden Throne. Decreeing that the Imperial Fists would all enter the pain glove as a Legion, and emerge as a Chapter, symbolically reborn, Dorn led his die-hard warriors in an assault on the Iron Warriors fortress. The 'collective pain' needed to cleanse the Chapter was decided by Dorn to be the siege of an Iron Warriors' fortress, the Iron Cage. The battle known as the Iron Cage has gone down in history as one of great tragedy and remorse for the Imperial Fists. For not only was it a disaster, it also signaled the end of the Legion.

Iron Cage

The Emperor's Finest

The Imperial Fists march to war

The battle known only as the Iron Cage has gone down in history as one of great tragedy and remorse for the Imperial Fists. Some however suspect that Dorn knew the outcome when he threw himself and his Legion into the assault. Some believe Dorn knew that many of his zealous warriors would never accept the dissolution of the Legion as the adoption of the Codex Astartes required, and that by throwing themselves into the suicidal assault on the Iron Cage they would at least be granted an honourable death, for that is exactly what many of them got. The Iron Cage was actually a defensive trap set by the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion on the world of Sebastus IV that was known as the Eternal Fortress and which was a besieging force's nightmare straight from the depths of hell. The Iron Warriors were masters of siege and defence and Perturabo’s writings on the subject had even been retained by the Primarch Roboute Guilliman in the Codex Astartes. But Dorn was Perturabo’s equal, and furious at the defiance of the Traitors, the Imperial Fists launched an all-out assault straight into the heart of the Iron Warriors defenses within the Eternal Fortress, enraged that the enemy had dared raise their heretical banners over another Imperial world. Without any planning or strategy the Fists fought with zeal, endurance, and sheer grit determination, breaking out of every trap, fighting through every ambush and breaching every defense that got in their way. Dorn led the attack, a colossus who threw back every assault. While the battle should have favored the Iron Warriors in their network of trenches and redoubts the Imperial Fists matched the Iron Warriors guile with cold fury. Brother fought brother in half flooded trenches, tearing at each other with knives and chainswords when all ammunition was expended, neither giving nor expecting any quarter.

The Iron Warriors' Daemon Primarch Perturabo had built the massive fortifications to mock the Imperial Fists, and Dorn led his most die-hard followers in a siege that would last for several weeks. The Iron Warriors, now twisted Chaos Space Marines, claim that the Imperial Fists suffered a crushing defeat, and that Dorn and his Legion would have been wiped out if Perturabo hadn't prolonged Dorn's suffering so long that the Ultramarines managed to intervene. Imperial records of the battle indicate otherwise. The Imperial Fists had always been masters of siege craft, and even unprepared and at a disadvantage they fought like lions. Dorn stood as a giant in their midst, his mind clear with purpose after years of doubt and guilt.

Eventually it became obvious that though the Imperial Fists had suffered horrible losses and that the Iron Warriors could not finish them off, lacking the faith to make the ultimate sacrifice to achieve victory. During a pause in the fighting Roboute Guilliman and his Ultramarines intervened in the struggle, extracting the battered Imperial Fists and letting the Iron Warriors escape. Guilliman had decided that the destruction of the Iron Warriors was not worth the death of Rogal Dorn and so, he had come with the entirety of his Ultramarines to break up the brutal fight and drive the Iron Warriors off. With their cleansing in the fires of battle at the Iron Cage over the Imperial Fists withdrew into seclusion, letting their successor Chapters take to the field in their stead. For two decades the Imperial Fists re-organized, under the direction of Dorn the Chapter absorbed the tenets of the Codex Astartes and by the time they reappeared on the battlefields of the Imperium their adherence to the Codex was second only to the Ultramarines themselves.

Death

Dorn was one of the most long-lived of the Primarchs, but with the death or disappearance of each of his brothers he grieved more and more. He witnessed the phenomenon of many of the Primarchs coming to be regarded as demi-gods by the peoples of the Imperium, and spoke out against the practice, proclaiming that the Emperor alone was worthy of such devotion, for each of his sons had failed him in some manner.

It is generally believed that Dorn fell in battle against the Forces of Chaos in 781.M31, while resisting a large Chaos Fleet during the 1st Black Crusade -- one of the periodic and devastating incursions by the Traitor Legions from their hellish sanctuary worlds within the Eye of Terror. Commanded by the returned Abaddon the Despoiler, the Chaos Fleet vastly outnumbered the Imperial force. Seeing the importance of attacking the enemy fleet while they were still preparing to invade Imperial space, Dorn relied on hit-and-run attacks until his reinforcements could arrive. Dorn and three companies of the Imperial Fists mounted a masterful series of boarding actions against the crusade's warships, crippling drives and life support systems and even capturing weapons batteries and turning them against other Chaos vessels. Eventually however, the enemy cornered Dorn and his warriors as he launched a final attack on the bridge of the Chaos flagship, the Despoiler-class Battleship Sword of Sacrilege. None survived to tell the glorious tale of the Primarch's last stand. The Chapter's Chief Librarian found his Primarch's body on the bridge in a chilling reprise of Dorn's discovery of the wounded Emperor, and bore him away before the stricken flagship escaped back to the infernal depths of the Eye of Terror.

Canon Conflict

In older canon, it was originally stated that Dorn "died" aboard the Chaotic Sword of Sacrilege after leading a desperate attack on its bridge. The only trace of the missing Primarch uncovered by the Imperial Fists' subsequent search was a single fist. Dorn's skeletal hand was returned to the Phalanx where, over the years, it has been scrimshawed, the bones intricately engraved with the heraldry of all the Imperial Fists Chapter's previous Chapter Masters. Only the current Imperial Fists Chapter Master has the right to engrave his name upon the bones. Even with minuscule script, ten thousand standard years of history have left the bones covered with names, giving a list of the Imperium's greatest heroes. Each bone corresponds to former commanders of the Chapter. For instance, the left hand first metacarpal contains the names of Chapter Masters Bronwin Abermort, Maximus Thane, Kalman Flodensbog and many others, while the first phalange of the thumb bears the name Ambrosian Spactor, and so forth. The Hand of Dorn is the Imperial Fists' holiest icon and it serves as a reminder of sacrifice and commitment. So it was, that throughout the Imperial Fists'’ history - from the Ork Onslaughts of the 32nd Millennium to the 13th Black Crusade - they have drawn inspiration from their Primarch's remains and resolved to defeat their foes or die in the attempt. Whether the fist actually belongs to Rogal Dorn or his remains lie elsewhere, is unknown. It is even possible that Dorn survived the assault upon the Sword of Sacrilege; whatever his fate, its truth is known only to the Emperor at present.

According to Ian Watson's novel Space Marine, which is now considered an apocryphal tale, Dorn's skeleton, without its hands, is encased in clear amber, which is formed in the shape of the Primarch's body. Dorn's skeletal fists are kept within two shrines on the Phalanx, the bones intricately engraved with the heraldry of all the Imperial Fists Chapter's previous Masters. Only the current Chapter Master has the right to engrave his name upon the bones. Even with minuscule script, ten thousand years of history have left the bones covered with names, giving a list of the Imperium's greatest heroes.

Wargear

  • The Auric Armour - Commonly dressed in baroque Power Armour of burnished copper and gold, Dorn also wore a red velvet cloak and an unfurled eagle-wing motif was heavily present on much of his wargear, most notably on a decorative section of his armour that rose above the shoulders.
  • Storm's Teeth - This colossal Chainsword, too weighty for any but a Primarch to wield, is said to have been crafted by the weaponmasters of Inwit before the coming of the Emperor. Its razored teeth can shred metal, stone and flesh with ease and while the Primarch of the Imperial Fists Legion has many arms at his disposal, some relics of far greater power, it is this blade which has served him faithfully for so long that he favours most.
  • The Voice of Terra - Presented to Rogal Dorn by the Legio Custodes to honour the Primarch's appointment as Praetorian of Terra, this tactical Bolter follows the pattern of the Legio Custodes' own weaponry, albeit redesigned for the hand and might of a Primarch to wield.
  • Teleport Homer - A Teleport Homer was a device of ancient Imperial technology utilised by the Adeptus Astartes, the forces of the Inquisition and the Chaos Space Marines to allow teleportation through the Warp from one location, usually an orbiting starship, to a point on a planetary surface. A Teleport Homer transmits a special signal that suits of Terminator Armour can lock onto to allow their users to teleport to a given location through the Immaterium with great accuracy by using teleporter technology located at the point of origin.
  • Frag Grenade - A Frag Grenade is an anti-personnel grenade commonly used by the military forces of the Imperium of Man. It produces a blast of shrapnel that can shred unarmoured troops. The blast has the tactical advantage of forcing the enemy to duck into cover to avoid damage. In effect, the blast of a Frag Grenade neutralises any movement advantage held by an opposing force by pinning them to their position.
  • The Ætos Dios - Following several attempts on Rogal Dorn's life following the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, Mago Telluria constructed for him a unique heavily customised personal Thunderhawk gunship to convey him both in battle and to shield him as he conducted missions in respect of the defences of Terra. In lieu of its usual weapons, this particular gunship was equipped with a Turbo-Laser and a single Titan Void Shield.

Canon Conflict

In the Index Astartes II article "Emperor's Fist - The Imperial Fists Space Marine Chapter," Dorn's death is said to have taken place soon after the disappearance of his brother Primarch, Corvus Corax of the Raven Guard. That would mean Rogal Dorn died not long after the Great Scouring began in the early 31st Millennium following the end of the Horus Heresy. Official Imperial records also state that Dorn died leading an Imperial Fists assault on a Chaos Despoiler-class Battleship, the Sword of Sacrilege. As this type of Battleship was not first built until the mid-36th Millennium, this would not be possible, as Rogal Dorn had already been long dead.

Sources

  • Battlefleet Gothic: Rulebook (RPG), pg. 117
  • Codex Imperialis (2nd Edition), pg. 16
  • Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 8, 35, 40, 42, 46-47, 73, 127
  • Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 38-39,
  • Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 54-56, 104
  • Horus Heresy: Collected Visions, pp. 113, 127, 143, 188, 226, 247, 249, 252, 254, 260, 322, 334, 338, 341-342, 344-345, 352, 354, 358-360, 364, 366, 369
  • Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 44-45, 48
  • Index Astartes II, "Emperor's Fist - The Imperial Fists Space Marine Chapter", pp. 15-16
  • Space Marine (1st Edition) (Background Book) by Jervis Johnson and Graeme Davis, pg. 23
  • The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination (Imperial Armour), pp. 47, 50, 56-64, 272-273
  • Horus Heresy Chapterbook (Anthology)
  • Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett, pp. 37, 108-109, 112-113
  • The Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow, pp. 253, 256, 260, 264-265, 273, 286, 317
  • Mechanicum (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 286, 290
  • Nemesis (Novel) by James Swallow, pp. 50, 155, 384, 389-390
  • Tales of Heresy (Anthology) edited by Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley, "Blood Games" by Dan Abnett, pg. 35
  • The Dark King - The Lightning Tower (Audio Book), by Dan Abnett and Graham McNeill
  • Deliverance Lost (Novel) by Gav Thorpe, pp. 94, 110, 138
  • The Outcast Dead (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 10-11, 17, 24, 39, 99-100
  • Age of Darkness (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn, 'The Last Remembrancer' by John French, pp. 82-87, 89-91, 172
  • Space Marine (Novel) by Ian Watson
  • Sons of Dorn (Novel) by Chris Roberson
  • Legion of the Damned (Novel) by Rob Sanders
  • Vengeful Spirit (Novel) by Graham McNeill


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

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