- "Lord Emperor, make me an instrument of your adamance. Where darkness is legion, bless our walls with cold disdain; where foolish foes are frail, have our ranks advance; where there is mortal doubt, let resolution reign..."
- — Warsmith Barabas Dantioch reciting the Unbreakable Litany
Barabas Dantioch was a formidable Warsmith of the Iron Warriors Space Marine Legion during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy. Having fallen out of favour with his Primarch Perturabo, he was relegated to performing garrison duty upon the barren world of Lesser Damantyne, where he was responsible for the construction of the formidable fortress known as the Schadenhold.
When a fellow Warsmith loyal to the traitorous Warmaster Horus came to Lesser Damantyne to inform Dantioch that his fortress would be used as a staging area and resupply point for the inevitable campaign of the Traitors against Terra, Dantioch refused to acknowledge his former brethren, declaring his loyalty to the Emperor.
Following a brutal internecine conflict that raged for just over a Terran year, the mighty fortress fell to the Traitor Iron Warriors, but not before Dantioch played one last desperate hand. He and a small contingent of Loyalists managed to teleport aboard the Traitors' command ship, commandeered it and escaped to Ultramar.
Dantioch ultimately gave his life to protect the alien artefact known as the Pharos on the world of Sotha from being seized by a contingent of the Night Lords Traitor Legion in their attempt to reunify their scattered forces in the wake of the Thramas Crusade.
- "I was there. On that tiny world, in a forgotten system, in a distant corner of the galaxy: where a mighty blow was struck against the renegade Warmaster and his alliance of the lost and damned. There, on Lesser Damantyne. I was among the few, who stood against many. The brother who spilled his brothers' blood. The son who betrayed his wayward father's word. And that word was...heresy."
- — Attributed to Warsmith Barabas Dantioch
Warsmith Barabas Dantioch once commanded the 51st Expeditionary Fleet of the Iron Warriors Legion during the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium. He was the favoured son of his Primarch Perturabo due to his supreme tactical acumen and skill at building formidable fortifications. Commanding the 51st Expeditionary Fleet, Warsmith Dantioch led a large Iron Warriors contingent against a massive xenos incursion known as the Vulpa Straits Hrud Migration. Upon the Fortress World of Gholgis the Hrud infiltrated and destroyed the Iron Warriors garrison. The intense entropic fields generated by the migratory Hrud swarms caused stone to age and brought flesh to ruin, turning the Astartes warriors into so much dust and bones, rusting their armour and jamming their Bolters as the Iron Warriors' fortress crumbled all about them. Only then did the rachidian beasts creep out of every nook and crevice to attack, stabbing and slicing with their venomous claws. This left Warsmith Dantioch prematurely aged and crippled. Very few survivors made it out alive when Stormbirds extracted the survivors from the remains of Gholgis. Many of the Astartes died from premature aging or were left in aged, superhuman bodies. In the Hrud Migration's aftermath, the worlds of Krak Fiorina, Stratopolae and Gholghis were lost. The Warsmith questioned Primarch Perturabo's prosecution of the Hrud extermination campaign, which left half a Grand Company dead. Dantioch soon found himself relieved from command of the 51st Expeditionary Fleet and permanently garrisoned on the world of Lesser Damantyne for his presumption.
After the incident, Dantioch chose to wear no helmet, for his face and skull were enclosed within an iron mask he had crafted. The faceplate was a work of brutal beauty, an interpretation of the IVth Legion's badge, the very same iron mask symbol that adorned his shoulder. It was whispered that Dantioch had worn the mask immediately after he pulled it glowing from the forge, the better to hammer it into shape around his shaven skull. He then plunged head and iron mask alike into ice water, fixing the beaten metal in place forever around his equally grim features. Dantioch left the 51st Expedition to garrison the world of Lesser Damantyne, becoming the planner and architect of the superbly constructed Schadenhold fortress on that world. After the triple disasters of Gholghis, Stratopolae and Krak Fiorina the name of Dantioch and his legacy was utterly expunged and his name became a byword for failure on an epic scale within the IVth Legion.
During the many months the small Iron Warriors detachment garrisoned the planet, they heard disturbing rumours of the galaxy being conquered by the forces of the Warmaster Horus. Dantioch suspected that the bulk of the IVth Legion had willingly joined the traitorous Warmaster's cause. When Warsmith Krendl arrived at Lesser Damantyne with the 51st Expeditionary Fleet, he came to the Schadenhold with new orders for the Iron Warriors garrison. They were ordered by their Primarch to prepare for the Traitor Legions' offensive against Terra. Lesser Damantyne would be used as a resupply point for Horus' forces. Dantioch refused to acquiesce to his Primarch's orders for the Iron Warriors on Lesser Damantyne remained Loyalists and would not share in their traitorous brethren's damnation. Krendl vowed to destroy Dantioch's beloved fortress in the name of Horus.
Unknown to Krendl, an interloper had clandestinely observed their meeting. Disguised as a hooded cleric, he lowered his hood to reveal his true identity. He was a brother Space Marine of the vaunted Ultramarines Legion, sent to Lesser Damantyne in order to recruit Warsmith Dantioch's art and expertise in the field of siegecraft. The Ultramarine's name was Tauro Nicodemus, and he was a Tetrach of Ultramar and Honour Guard to Roboute Guilliman himself. The Ultramarines Primarch knew of Dantioch's particular skills and suspected that they would be sorely needed. The Warmaster had exploited the weakness of the Iron Warriors' Primarch's pride. Dantioch's history with Perturabo was no secret. Lord Guilliman felt he too could rely on this same weakness.
Nicodemus had also informed Dantioch of Horus' treachery and besmirched the IVth Legion with accusations of rebellion, heresy and murder. At first enraged by such baseless accusations, Dantioch was tempted to blow the Ultramarine from the Schadenhold's battlements. To prove his statements were true, Dantioch agreed to hear out his kindred's treason first hand. Once convinced of the Iron Warriors' betrayal of the Emperor, Dantioch inquired as to what Guilliman would have them do. Nicodemus looked upon the grim faces of those gathered within the chamber, and saw nothing but loyal servants of the Emperor. He informed Dantioch and the other Iron Warriors to hold their ground for as long as they could, for the efforts of a faithful few could slow the Traitors' advance, giving the Emperor time to fortify Terra for the coming storm and for Roboute Guilliman to cut through the confusion Horus had sown to prepare a Loyalist response.
Dantioch commanded his meagre forces against the entire might of the 51st Expeditionary Fleet and the 14th Grand Company of the Iron Warriors for 366 solar days, until the Traitors deployed an Imperator-class Titan to destroy the Schadenhold. Just before the fortress fell, Dantioch and the surviving Loyalist Iron Warriors teleported aboard the Traitor's flagship and commandeered it. Tetrach Nicodemus convinced Dantioch that Roboute Guilliman still had need of such ingenuity and skill, for the Imperium was frail and an Iron Warrior's eye would spot such weakness and the good grace of his hand might make it strong once again. Dantioch then set course towards the Five Hundred Worlds of Ultramar with the aim of helping to fortify and defend it against the forces of the Traitor Legions.
A New Purpose
Dantioch and his compatriots managed to arrive in the Realm of Ultramar before the Battle of Calth was initiated by the treacherous Word Bearers Legion. During the attack, the Dark Apostle Erebus managed to complete a blasphemous ritual on Calth's surface, which summoned a Ruinstorm to the galaxy's Eastern Fringe -- a monstrous Warp Storm larger and more destructive than anything space-faring humanity had witnessed since the days of the Age of Strife. It would split the void asunder, dividing the galaxy in two and rendering vast tracts of the Imperium impassable for centuries. The Five Hundred Worlds were unnavigable at this time except for the most high-risk enterprises. Trade and communication across the realm collapsed. Ultramar, as a single and admirable area of Imperial governance, was ruined. The Ruinstorm would also isolate and trap those Loyalist forces caught behind it like the Ultramarines, preventing them from coordinating their efforts and supporting one another as the Traitor Legions moved towards Terra.
Barabas Dantioch, Warsmith of the Iron Warriors, was technically a Traitor. He was a Traitor to the Throne of Terra, because his IVth Legion had crossed the line and sided with the Renegade Warmaster Horus. Simultaneously, he was a Traitor to his own Legion, because he had foresworn the Iron Warriors and decided to stand with the Loyalists. He stood alone, besieged by the conflicting loyalties of the new, riven Imperium. For his excellence in siegecraft, and his staunch loyalty to the Emperor, Barabas Dantioch had been recruited by the Lords of Ultramar to help them construct and defend the greatest contingency plan, and perhaps the second greatest heresy, the Imperium had ever known -- Imperium Secundus. Dantioch stoically accepted the challenge. He had supposed that he would be employed in fortifying the physical defences of Macragge and other key worlds of Ultramar, for this was his forte.
Then Roboute Guilliman had revealed to him the long-sequestered mysteries of Sotha, and Dantioch had realised that the survival of a pocket empire like Ultramar lay less in fortifying its physical defences and far, far more in strengthening its function and operation. Sotha was a far-flung world close to the edge of the galaxy's Eastern Fringe, almost at the limits of both the fiefdom of the Five Hundred Worlds and the span of all Imperial territory. It was one of the few Terra-comparable ecosystems discovered so far out in the galactic east during the Great Crusade. Imperial surveyors of the world had discovered something amazing beneath Mount Pharos, the tallest of all the peaks in the planet's majestic mountain ranges. A survey mission conducted by both archaeologists and xenoculturists discovered a massive aperture constructed by an unknown xenos species. Known as the Pharos, the interior spaces of the large archaic device were cut from the mountain's living rock by processes that no one had been able to explain. Dantioch spent over nine solar months unlocking Sotha's mysteries and activating the planet's deep-time secrets. Dantioch agreed absolutely with the Primarch's assessment -- Sotha offered a way in which they might overcome the Ruinstorm rather than batten down against its wrath.
Dantioch and the Ultramarines descended into the vast chambers of the Pharos on pre-fabricated walkways of STC design to provide platforms, ladders, stairs and bridges that would allow humans to traverse and explore the almost endless interior of the Pharos. During their explorations they discovered a central chamber, later known as Primary Location Alpha, which Dantioch was convinced was the centre of the entire mechanism. Dantioch took to referring to it in his notes as the "tuning stage" or the "sounding board". He had been fairly confident that he understood the function of the Pharos even from the data he had studied before his arrival on Sotha. The Pharos was part of an ancient interstellar navigation system, both a beacon and route-finder, and it also permitted instantaneous communication across unimaginable distances. Unlike Imperial Warp technology that used the Immaterium to by-pass realspace, the quantum function of the Pharos once allowed for site-to-site teleportation, perhaps through a network of gateways. Its fundamental function lay not with psychic energy, but with empathic power.
Dantioch also believed that other way stations like the Pharos still existed, or once did, on other worlds throughout the galaxy. It was not one, single beacon like the Astronomican. Dantioch believed the Pharos and other stations like it were once used to create a network of navigational pathways between stars, as opposed to a single, range-finding point the way the Astronomican did. It was more like a lantern than a beacon. The Pharos could be tuned and pointed, illuminating a site or location for the benefit of range-finding. Though Roboute Guilliman was loathe to use xenos technology, Ultramar had to be held together, and to rebuild the Five Hundred Words, they had to restore communication and travel links by piercing and banishing the current age of darkness. Utilising the Pharos' strange abilities, Dantioch was able to illuminate Macragge, lighting it up as a bright spot that was visible throughout realspace and the Warp, despite the effects of the Ruinstorm, providing a directional beacon for navigation in the absence of the Astronomican.
A Light in the Darkness
From the heart of the Ruinstorm they came, over hours, then days, then weeks: lone voidships, wounded vessels, broken flotillas and piecemeal fleets. Some of these ships brought much needed imports and materials from the other Five Hundred Worlds. All brought news, or pieces of news of Horus' rebellion. Many were warships of Guilliman's own Legion, storm-lost on their way back from the Underworld War raging on Calth, or the bitter campaign against the Traitor sons that snarled across Ultramar as a whole. Some carried more of the Shattered Legions -- the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and a handful of Salamanders -- survivors of the treachery of the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V.
It was later discovered that the Pharos possibly possessed some sort of sentience. Dantioch first discovered this by-product of its process when he was conducting his daily communique with the Imperial Fists Captain Alexis Polux, a survivor of the Battle of Phall, who had been drawn to Ultramar by the strange navigational light of the Pharos. When the Dark Angels' entire expeditionary fleet arrived at Macragge, drawn by the light of the Pharos, they carried with them a most dangerous prisoner -- the murderous Konrad Curze, Primarch of the Night Lords Legion. The Night Lords Primarch and some of his Astartes had been captured months earlier aboard the Dark Angels flagship Invincible Reason, but somehow the Night Haunter had effected his escape. Over the next four solar months he managed to stay one step ahead of his pursuers within the bowels of the mighty warship. Once the Dark Angels had arrived in Ultramarran space, Curze managed to make his way down to the surface of Macragge in order to spread as much murder and mayhem amongst the populace as possible. The majority of the Night Haunter's murderous spree occurred behind the supposedly impenetrable walls of the Lord Macragge's mighty citadel, the Magna Macragge Civitas.
During his daily communication briefing with Captain Pollux, Dantioch had empathically detected the presence of the Night Haunter, and quickly warned the Imperial Fist of his impending attack. Utilising the communication field of the Pharos, the empathic resonance enabled Dantioch to detect Konrad Curze in the darkness and forewarn Polux before each of the Renegade Primarch's impending strikes. Then, when his life was in true jeopardy, Dantioch wanted to save him, and so, he reached out and took the hand of the fallen Imperial Fist, and pulled him through into the massive chamber of Primary Location Alpha on Sotha. When both Primarchs Guilliman and Lion El'Jonson confronted the Night Haunter a short while later, and their lives, too, were imperiled, both Polux and Dantioch were able to pull the Primarchs through the Pharos, saving them from certain death.
Battle of Sotha
Following their defeat at the hands of the Dark Angels at Tsagualsa, remnants of the Night Lords Legion followed the strange beacon they detected in the Warp, which guided them safely to the world of Sotha. Over many solar months, the Night Lords secretly gathered intelligence on the suspicious activities of the Ultramarines, and soon discovered the nature of the arcane device, named the Pharos, upon the restricted planet.
The Night Lords launched a surprise assault upon the lightly garrisoned world, intent on seizing the Pharos in order to use it to determine the location of their flagship, the Nightfall, as well as the whereabouts of their missing Primarch Konrad Curze. In the ensuing battle, Warsmith Dantioch sacrificed himself by overloading the Pharos, so that the Night Lords would be unable to utilise the device's powerful empathic abilities. The far-reaching consequences this had for the galaxy would not come to pass for another ten millennia -- with the arrival of the Tyranid Hive Fleets, drawn like moths to a candle across the intergalactic void by the Pharos' powerful beacon.
- Age of Darkness (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn, "The Iron Within" by Rob Sanders, pp. 264-311
- The Unremembered Empire (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Pharos (Novel) by Guy Haley