Autek Mor, known as "The Maimed" and the "Blood-Wrought," was both Iron Lord and Iron Father to the infamous Morragul Clan of the Iron Hands Legion during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. He was known for his fearsome mien and bitter anima, and ruled over his Clan Company with an iron fist. Though he and his Primarch Ferrus Manus did not see eye-to-eye, when the Loyalist Legions were callously betrayed during the Dropsite Massacre of Istvaan V, it was Autek Mor and his flagship, the Red Talon, that was one of the first Iron Hands vessels that arrived in the Istvaan System amid the titanic space battle that had erupted between the Loyalist and Traitor fleets. Mor ordered his vessel to attack in a desperate attempt to reach the planet's surface and was only driven off after sustaining massive damage, fleeing the system dogged by murderous pursuit.
Even as the Imperium reeled, Autek Mor would begin his own war, one fought beyond the sight and the staying hand of the War Council on Terra. It cannot be said for certain when Autek Mor launched the first strike of his campaign, yet certainly the fate met by Gethsamaine Colonus in the Cyclops Cluster must rank as one of the very first such instances. The Iron Hands claimed key Traitor prisoners before destroying the world's major cities in all-consuming nuclear blasts that would render the entire world uninhabitable for generations to come.
In the wake of the Horus Heresy, and the restructuring of the Imperial armed forces established by Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman and his great military treatise, the Codex Astartes, the Space Marine Legions were broken up into smaller existing military formations known as Chapters. In 021.M31, the Second Founding occurred, and the sinister Iron Lord Autek Mor was given command of the newly created Iron Hands Successor Chapter, the Red Talons, becoming its first Chapter Master.
Both Iron Lord and Iron Father to the Morragul Clan Company, Autek Mor held a sinister reputation within his Legion, and dark rumours accompanied him long before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, including whispered accusations that the origins of his gene-seed or perhaps his bloodline were not as they should be. A Terran by birth, he was part of the Xth Legion's first intake and fought in the re-conquest of the Sol System. He held field command by the time of his Primarch's finding on the world of Medusa, having already developed a reputation both as a weaponsmith and malevolent soul. Mor was known to have killed several members of his own Legion in duels over "slights to his honour," and to rule his company with a cruel and unforgiving fist. On the Xth Legion's new homeworld, Medusa, he took over the outlaw Ra'Guln Clan's leviathan crawler in a bloody night of violence and made himself its lord, imprinting on it his name and will. In the years that followed, his Morragul Clan became a sink for the outcasts and most unstable elements of the Iron Hands Legion, who fought and died under Mor's merciless command. No love was lost between Autek Mor and his Primarch.
The Red Talon
Autek Mor was a war leader wrought in the crucible of the earliest battles of the Great Crusade, a Terran-born Legionary of the Xth Legion who had bought the right to command his own clan with the blood of its former lord. Mor was something of an outcast within the Legion and while he bent knee to his Primarch, he was never truly counted as kin to the other Clan-Company masters. It was to the ranks of Clan Morragul that those Legionaries whose humours were ill-balanced with those of their brothers were consigned, turning it into a refuge for those who, like Autek Mor himself, could not fully integrate into the Legion and its rigid codes.
As outsiders within the Xth Legion, it should come as no great surprise that Clan Morragul was not counted amongst the force that the Iron Hands Primarch Ferrus Manus chose to stand by his side in the first wave of the assault on the Traitors at Istvaan V. Indeed, Lord Manus reserved that honour for his favoured clan, the Avernii, and thus it was that when the hammer of betrayal descended upon the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders, the bulk of the Xth were deployed as orbital reserves, yet to unleash the full fury of their wrath upon the Traitors. Mor's flagship, the Red Talon had yet even to assume its allotted position in the line at the moment of the betrayal. When at last the Red Talon arrived at Istvaan V, it came upon a scene from hell itself. The massed warships of the orbital reserve were burning and the vox-net was drowned in the bellows of rage and denials. Through it all one fact was repeated over and over, a fact few gave credit to yet which Mor accepted with bitter finality -- Ferrus Manus was dead, the father of the Iron Hands had fallen to the blade of his own brother Primarch Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children.
Though he ordered the Red Talon to break through the Traitor fleet that had already sent dozens of Loyalist vessels to their doom, there was nothing that the master of the Morragul Clan could do to avert the massacre being inflicted on the surface or in orbit. At the last, the Red Talon's flanks aflame and her armour crawling with Traitor boarding claws, Autek Mor ordered his flagship and any other vessels within range to fight their way clear and to break Warp that they might regroup and perhaps later return to exact vengeance upon the Traitors.
For most of the Loyalists who miraculously broke out of the slaughter at Istvaan V, vengeance would become secondary to survival. In time, the so-called Shattered Legions coalesced around the Iron Hands war leader Shadrak Meduson, but Autek Mor would have no truck with his brother-officer's scheme to instigate a guerrilla war intended to bleed the Traitors by a thousand cuts; Autek Mor rejected such ploys as unworthy and beneath him, and instead formulated a strategy of his own. He would gather what forces would rally to his banner and launch a series of full-scale assaults upon worlds that the Traitors had captured or turned, allowing them to expend their strength and then destroying what remained with overwhelming force. He would thus create a firebreak across the void, dividing the sectors that had fallen under the Warmaster's heel from those still loyal to Terra. It was a brutal strategy in which entire populations were to be allowed to fall while the Iron Hands stayed their wrath, yet it was one that made full accounting of the relentless calculus of war. With their force blunted by their invasion operations, the Traitors could be attacked at the moment of their supposed victory whilst at their weakest and obliterated without mercy. There were plenty more worlds that were to fall beneath the Traitors' power with not a drop of blood being spilt, and for these Mor would reserve the greatest measure of his boundless wrath.
From The Deeps
Of the Iron Hands Legion, it was known that many had been driven to stark madness by witnessing their father's end and thrown themselves wholesale into the crucible of war as if to absolve their loss in their own deaths. Yet, a substantial number of Iron Hands Legionaries had extricated themselves from the massacre, and while few had made it off the surface, many more had survived the calamitous void ambush of the Legion's fleet, breaking away and scattering across the stars. Some would form isolationist bands, fighting their own private wars against the Traitors, such as the infamous "Red Talons" of Autek Mor.
Within a year of the Dropsite Massacre, the greater part of the northern Imperium had fallen to the Traitors. The Loyalist armies were in disarray and prevailing conditions in the Warp had made long range travel and astro-telepathic communications perilous in the extreme. World after world had fallen to the Traitors' inexorable advance on Terra and the Loyalist armies reeled before them, forced into a series of costly fighting withdrawals that at times bordered on a rout. It was from the bloodied void that the Red Talon descended upon the Warmaster's dark empire in a campaign of fire and blade that was the diametric opposite of that being silently waged by the Shattered Legions of Shadrak Meduson, one born of the fearsome mien and bitter anima of Autek Mor. The Age of Darkness has obscured the true accounting of a great many battles, and those fought along the leading edge of the Warmaster's advance on Terra are especially shrouded. It cannot be said for certain when Autek Mor launched the first strike of his campaign, yet certainly the fate met by Gethsamaine Colonus in the Cyclops Cluster must rank as one of the very first such instances.
Riding from the depths of the outer darkness of the Grail Abyss, a ragged yet bellicose flotilla of warships led by the Red Talon fell upon the Gethsamaine System. More than a year previously, in 005.M31, the Gethsamaine System had submitted to Horus without resistance and this obeisance had thus far spared them the worst of the war's deprivations. The system's only inhabited world, Gethsamaine Colonus, had been forced to suffer newly imposed overlords in the shape of Tithe Aquistors bearing the serpent's eye of Horus, where once they had the raptor-headed Seal of Terra. Under their directions, the industries of Gethsamaine now laboured, and the planet's vast rain forests were being clear-cut to provide fodder for off-world export, but other than the Aquistors' harsh quotas, little in truth had changed for the people of Gethsamaine. But just as the unexpected arrival of a lone survivor from the Istvaan system in 006.M31 had gone on to herald the dawning of the terrible war that was to follow, so now with fell irony was a second survivor of that great treachery to herald a new wave of conflict.
When the ill-starred warp route from the haunted Grail Abyss tore open once more, the vessel that cut into realspace with dreadful purpose was no derelict caparisoned in Emperor's Children amaranth as that first survivor-ship had been, but a jagged and scar-hulled killer in black iron and blood crimson. It was the Red Talon, the ship of the Iron Hands Clan Morragul, and their master, Autek Mor. Gethsamaine had been stripped of much of its void defences in the Traitors' passing and now it stood all but naked before this spectre of the Imperium's grim retribution. The few remaining gun platforms which protected Gethsamaine Colon us were quickly swept away by the attacking grand cruiser, and a ruthless bombardment of the planet from low orbit immediately commenced preparatory to a ground assault. Then came the grim sons of Medusa to enact judgement.
Any resistance to the Iron Hands was swiftly obliterated, and an entire cohort of planetary militia and their Horusite overseers crushed beneath the treads of Clan Morragul's armour in less than an hour settled the matter into a general rout for the defenders. Wasting no time, seats of government were blasted to rubble, and those in positions of power that had aided the Traitors or sided with their cause were methodically hunted down and executed, save for a select number of prisoners deemed to have potentially useful information, who were dragged screaming back to the Red Talon's gunships. As the Iron Hands Thunderhawks blasted off from the surface, the bulk of the civilian population, which had fled into hiding during the sudden assault, nervously rejoiced and came forth, little knowing what would come next. In each of the five major cities of Gethsamaine, the Iron Hands had left behind an improvised atomantic device fashioned by the bloody hand of their Iron-Father, each bomb clad in layer upon layer of radioactive material designed to enrich and multiply the fallout generated by its detonation a hundred fold. The Red Talon broke orbit just as the cities bloomed into fire; sentence had been passed on both the Traitors and those who had knelt before them, and notice served that there could be no bystanders in this terrible war, no civilians to be given quarter, only Loyalist and Traitor to the death.
Gethsamaine Colonus may have been the first Traitor-controlled world to know the judgement of the Red Talon, but many more would know it by the end. It has been said of Autek Mor and the force he built around the Morragul Clan-Company that he was the last Loyalist out of the Coronid Deeps. In truth, he never abandoned them nor took a single step backwards. Rather, he simply weathered the storm of the Traitors' passing before striking from the rearward, a strategy that, though unacknowledged at the time, is likely to have saved countless Loyalist worlds from the Warmaster's hand.
Destruction of Bodt
In the middle of 008.M31, the Traitor Legion fief world of Bodt fell under the baleful gaze of an orphaned subject of the betrayed and slain Primarch Ferrus Manus, albeit one whose heritage perhaps bore more in common with the masters of the World Eaters fief world than that of his own sire. That warrior was Autek Mor, Iron-Father of the Morragul Clan of the Legiones Astartes Iron Hands. It was Autek Mor and his flagship, the Red Talon, that was one of the first Iron Hands vessels that arrived in the Istvaan System amid the titanic void battle that had erupted between the Loyalist and Traitor fleets. Mor ordered his vessel to attack in a desperate attempt to reach the planet's surface and was only driven off after sustaining massive damage, fleeing the system dogged by murderous pursuit.
Even as the Imperium reeled, Autek Mor would begin his own war, one fought beyond the sight and the staying hand of the War Council on Terra. As the war ground on, Autek Mor's force was swelled by other Loyalist factions, including remnants of the Imperial Fists Legion and the Agathon Solar Auxilia who had opposed the Warmaster during the Manachean War. But it was not just allies that Mor amassed as he fought on, but enemies too, for he made a point of taking prisoner key Traitor officers and administrators from each world he struck at. It was from these captives that Mor learned of the status of the nearby World Eaters fief world of Bodt, and his suspicions were confirmed when the Imperial Fists communicated that they had encountered and engaged a number of Traitor Dark Mechanicum conveyance vessels plying the warp-lanes linking Sarum and Bodt.
Mor surmised that the World Eaters subject world was not only intact, but building towards some role in the war that had yet to be fully revealed or realised. This made the fief a high value target indeed, and one which Mor now had a strong enough force to engage. Doing so would be an escalation beyond Mor's existing strategy of allowing a world to fall to a Traitor assault before launching a massive counter-attack, but for several reasons the operation was judged worth undertaking. Primarily, it was known to the Loyalists that the muster world had once hosted a sizable stockpile of Legiones Astartes war materiel, which, if it was still present, should be denied to the Traitor cause at all costs. Secondly, the records indicated that the planet served as a recruiting world for the XIIth Legion and so might still be host to a large and as yet uncommitted Legion reserve whose neutralisation would serve the Loyalists' war effort well.
Autek Mor's first deed in the assault on Tredecimmia was as symbolic as it was practical. As the Red Talon fleet speared towards Bodt it came upon its lone moon, a body possessed of a far-ranging and sharply elliptical orbit. At that point in its transit, the satellite was closing on Bodt, affording Mor a singular opportunity. The Iron Father ordered that the moon be violently shunted but a fraction of a degree from its course using what remained of the Red Talon's stocks of high-yield void ordnance. As a result, instead of passing Bodt at half a million kilometres, the satellite was set upon a course that would strike the planet within hours with apocalyptic force far in excess of any weapon of mass destruction in the Red Talon's arsenal. While the World Eaters and their allies would no doubt be thrown into a state of some disarray by the spectacle of the flaming moon, Mor knew that it would take a far greater effort to render them incapable of standing against the next phase of his assault.
The Iron Father ordered the launch of a massive orbital drop. Halting such a drop was almost certainly impossible, but the sheer weight of fire sent up by the surviving defence batteries took a fearsome toll. Even if a dozen drop pods crashed and burned, two dozen more set down in their immediate wake, and by the end of the fourth hour of the assault, Iron Hands and Imperial Fists Legionaries were pressing outwards from the burning drop zones, bringing overwhelming fire to bear upon the defenders. The fury of Mor's ground assault was magnified by a simultaneous sub-orbital strike of staggering proportions. To the south of the inner sea, Tredecimmia star port, as well as a number of unidentified Mechanicum facilities further east, came under simultaneous drop pod assault. The star port was attacked by a large Iron Hands force, which drew upon itself a large force of World Eaters whose reported ferocity, even for this most notoriously savage of Legions, was the first evidence of the unsanctioned implantation protocols the Worlds Eaters had been engaged in.
The wastes surrounding the unidentified Mechanicum facility were the scene of the largest single drop conducted during the assault on Tredecimmia, where elements of the 1522nd Cohort of the Agathon Solar Auxilia established a blocking line so that whatever machine horrors the Traitor Mechanicum might have spawned there would be interdicted if they attempted to deploy. The assault on the silos is known to have begun in the fifth hour of the operation and represented the greatest moment of risk for the attackers. With the bulk of the defenders of the macro silos swarming eastwards to give battle to the Iron Hands heavy units deployed there, Autek Mor was then able to commit to the true objective of the entire operation. This phase is known to have been led by the Iron-Father himself, attended by the iron-hard core of the Morragul Clan Company -- spearheaded by Autek Mor's elite Gorgon Terminator units, a technology he had personally been able to replicate, even as an exile of war. At last, Autek Mor stood upon the cusp of his objective. The burning moon looming in the tortured skies, Autek Mor ordered his warriors to form a ring of impenetrable steel about the entrance. With a curt order, he utterly forbade any of his warriors to follow in his wake, no matter what occurred either above or below. With that, he is said to have passed through the breached armoured portal and descended the steps into the stygian vaults below.
In the final hours of the assault, the World Eaters fief world is known to have entered a new and still more savage phase, heralded by the burning moon as it drew so close that the entire upper atmosphere appeared to have been set alight. In the sixth hour the fighting reached a climax during this period and that both sides suffered and inflicted a fearsome death toll. Though the entire world was evidently doomed, the invaders' objective in launching their attack, which had yet to be revealed, might now have failed. The exact nature of Autek Mor's ultimate objective is still debated amongst Imperial Strategio-savants, but whatever it was, the Iron Father had determined that it was worth the cost in blood and treasure the invaders were paying across Tredecimmia while the Iron Father was apart from his force in the vaults beneath the macro silos. Whatever Autek Mor was seeking in the subterranean vaults, his mission was clearly taking too long. As the burning moon waxed so large it now consumed the entire sky, the warriors fighting one another across the surface resigned themselves to their fate and redoubled their efforts to exact what vengeance they could before the end.
As the doom of Bodt grew ever closer to hand, and the balance of death threatened to turn entirely against the Loyalists, Autek Mor finally emerged from the macro silos. In one hand he bore his ancient paragon blade, its edge jagged from scores of nicks, and in the other his volkite charger, its induction coils aglow like red hot coals. It was the object that Autek Mor held in the grip of his back-mounted servo-arm that gave witness to his true mission however -- a stasis casket, its flanks etched with the arcane sigils of the inner order of the Emperor's Terran gene-wrights, who under the guidance of the Master of Mankind had brought into being the Primarchs and the entire Legiones Astartes. Autek Mor is known to have looked upon the destruction unleashed across Tredecimmia and spoken a single word of command. It was the order to withdraw and within moments it was enacted. Iron Hands and Imperial Fists units that had deployed by drop pod hours before fell back to pre-arranged zones where the Storm Eagles and Thunderhawks of the orbital strike wings set down to carry them clear, the Fire Raptors and other gunships circling overhead and unleashing a storm of suppressive fire on the hordes of Traitors attempting to pursue. To the south, the Solar Auxilia forces are known to have fought a disciplined and bold withdrawal back to their own heavy landers, and while in places the frenzied enemy forces overtook them, the greater number were soon being ferried to their vessels in orbit.
In the aftermath of the Loyalists' sudden withdrawal, the Traitors were bereft of foes, with the exception of those few who had been unable to depart and who resolved themselves to a bitterly fought last stand. In moments, the hordes turned their wrath upon their own and the battle lines were redrawn anew. At the last, the gun-clanners and the World Eaters fell upon one another, locked together in the mutual berserker fury of their final moments. Finally, the burning moon struck. The apocalypse was witnessed by thousands of Loyalists as their vessels sped clear, and etched into the data-stacks of countless logic engines. The moon impacted the surface and a tsunami of flaming matter rapidly rushed outwards to encircle the entire globe. The surface buckled as the moon impacted, the greater planetary mass literally swallowing the smaller satellite with horrifyingly slow grace. In moments, the atmosphere was aflame and the already unstable crust was rent open by a thousand fractures, and volcanic eruptions exploded across the entire surface as the mantle below was swelled by the additional mass. By the time the moon was finally consumed not a single living being survived on the surface, the entire population, Traitor Legiones Astartes, Sarum Mechanicum, Legio Titanicus and gun clan alike burned to ashes and cast to the fiery winds.
Shadow War of the Red Talon
The full role taken by the independent battlegroup under the command of Autek Mor is impossible to collate. Nevertheless, fragmented accounts of dozens of battles are extant in the scattered records of the era. Some list no more than the warlord's name, soon a byword for destruction behind the Traitor lines, and can therefore be considered apocryphal, while others are more complete, offering a tantalising glimpse into the many shadow wars of this bloody age. One such substantiated account is the destruction of the Traitor Mining World of Saria Major. Here, the Red Talon unleashed an orbital bombardment that scoured the hive-refineries from the planet's surface and condemned the surviving population to a slow death in the poisoned aftermath. Viable imagery also places Autek Mor himself at the Battle of Locurtar Station, where his personal forces, the so-called Bloodwrought, counter-attacked a Sons of Horus-led company poised at the moment of victory over a holdout Loyalist garrison and routed it. Less certain is Mor's involvement at Kvalgron, where it is known that a powerful fleet ambushed a heavily escorted Traitor-aligned supply convoy heading to the staging grounds at Paramar, capturing or destroying the entire convoy in twelve hours of bitter void warfare. Likewise, the incident at Nashe's World, where a Death Guard extermination detachment was destroyed amidst the cyclopean xenos ruins that towered over the deadly jungles, has often been attributed to Autek Mor but no firm evidence remains extant for this.
The Second Founding
In the wake of the calamity that was the Horus Heresy and the entombment of the mortally-wounded Emperor within the Golden Throne, the foundations of the Imperium of Man were reformed. The first High Lords of Terra established the structure by which the Adeptus Terra operated, and described the feudal responsibilities and duties of the planetary lords. One of the most important accomplishments was the reorganisation of the Imperium's fighting forces. This was undertaken almost single-handedly by the Primarch of the Ultramarines Legion, Roboute Guilliman. Of all of his works, the most influential is the Codex Astartes, the great prescriptive tome that lays down the basic organisational and tactical rules for the Space Marine Chapters. The Horus Heresy had revealed previously unknown genetic weakness in the gene-seed of the Primarchs and Space Marines among the original 20 First Founding Space Marine Legions, weaknesses that left the Legions in question greatly exposed to corruption by the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. This risk was exacerbated by the rapid and atypical nature of Space Marine recruitment during the centuries between the start of the Great Crusade in ca. 798.M30 and the outbreak of the Horus Heresy itself at the dawn of the 31st Millennium.
The Codex decreed that the nine remaining Loyalist Legions would be divided into 1,000-man Chapters, the Chapter Masters of which would be directly beholden to the Emperor Himself and no other, not even the Primarchs of their original Founding Legions (save in the case of the single Chapter that would remain under each Primarch's control and retain its Legion's original name). No one man in the Imperium would ever again control the superhuman might of an entire Legion of 100,000 or more Space Marines.
In 021.M31, the Second Founding of the first Successor Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes under this new system commenced. The Red Talons were one such Successor Chapter, formed from those Battle-Brothers of the Iron Hands Legion who were the most volatile and bloody-handed of the Sons of the Gorgon, and were disposed towards aggressive and bold styles of warfare. Furthermore, the events of the Horus Heresy had imprinted upon this Chapter an unstoppable drive to continue to avenge the treacheries committed by the Traitor Legions. The sinister Iron-Lord Autek Mor was given command of the newly created Chapter, becoming its first Chapter Master.
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh, pp. 185, 237
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest by Alan Bligh, pp. 55, 157
- The Horus Heresy - Book Six: Retribution by Alan Bligh, pp. 104-115, 120