"The Emperor is assembling a carnival of monsters for his amusement, although I doubt whoever he unleashes them upon will see the jest."
The world of Bodt was the former fief world and Legiones Astartes training ground of the savage World Eaters Traitor Legion during the Great Crusade and early years of the Horus Heresy in the 30th and early 31st Millennia.
Only a few short standard years following the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V in 008.M31, Bodt was attacked by an allied independent Loyalist force from the Shattered Legions, led by the infamous Iron Lord Autek Mor, leader of the Iron Hands Legion's notorious Morragul Clan Company, the so-called "Red Talons."
After a savage battle, Mor was believed to have entered the subterranean macro-vaults of the city of Tredecimmia before scouring every trace of life from the surface. Bodt's supply line of Initiates for the traitorous XIIth Legion was permanently severed as a result.
The world of Bodt was one of the oldest fief worlds of the XIIth Legion -- the ferocious World Eaters.
It was the planet's singular honour to serve as the mustering ground upon which the Primarch Angron was to assume command of his own Legion as well as the numerous auxilia and allied forces of the 13th Expeditionary Fleet, the so-called "Bloody 13th," including the largest recorded gathering of the Numen Gun Clans, massed scout maniples of the Legio Audax and numerous other forces drawn from the most bloody-handed of the myriad hosts of Mankind.
When the XIIth Legion's lost primarch, Angron, was finally found upon the world of Nuceria, he swiftly took charge of his Legion, originally called the War Hounds. On the world of his youth Angron had led a force in rebellion known as the Eaters of Cities for its members' wrath and violence. Now his Legion would become the Eaters of Worlds.
To his Astartes, the mutilated, reeking, wrathful figure that now stalked among them as their master swiftly became a kind of savage messiah; a greater warrior than any had known, an exemplar of a brutal ideal of honour and combat that sang to their souls.
Angron became to them their first master; displacing for many the loyalty they had once only given their Emperor. He became their judge, their general and a conqueror whose banner they would follow into the depths of hell.
Taking charge of his Legion on the mustering grounds of Bodt, Angron swiftly worked many changes on his forces, his "World Eaters" as they were now known. In this he seems to have been given a surprisingly free hand for a newly invested primarch -- not for Angron a period of shadowing one of his brothers while he grew into command, or even time spent in his new-found father's company. Instead, he was given license to take full command of his host from the start, and with bellicose energy he prepared it for war.
When Angron and the massed armies of the "Bloody" 13th Expeditionary Fleet marched off to make war upon the enemies of Humanity, he left behind a world dedicated to maintaining and supplying the age of war to come. Bodt had been transformed from an arid, volcanic world to a planetary mustering ground that was host to entire cities of barracks, extensive subterranean macro silos and continent-spanning weapons testing ranges.
Throughout the second century of the Great Crusade, Bodt, and in particular the capital city of Tredecimmia's muster ground, served as a crucial centre of power and might for the World Eaters. Legion Aspirants inducted from the worlds conquered by the World Eaters were sent there to begin the implantation and indoctrination process that would see the strongest of their numbers transformed into post-human Astartes, and the world hosted a large detachment of the XIIth Legion's Apothecarion to that end.
The Numen Gun Clans and other cultures from which the auxilia forces attached to the 13th Expeditionary Fleet were recruited were likewise mustered and equipped for war at Tredecimmia, and the Legio Audax established a forward base there to serve its Scout Titan maniples.
At length, the gun clan auxilias took root upon Bodt in their own right when a large population born of the indentured feral warrior-tribes became established in the wastes about Tredecimmia. These soon contributed their own sons and daughters to the musters that fuelled the 13th Expeditionary Fleet as it conquered the void at the leading edge of the Great Crusade.
As more World Eaters aspirants were processed at Tredecimmia, the Legion began to recruit directly from the gun clans and in time the practice arose of would-be World Eaters from the gun clans being pitched into battle with those in the latter stages of Legion training.
These contests became sprawling battles fought with whetted blade and live ammunition, battles which only the very strongest gun-clanners would survive to be accepted into the ranks of the World Eaters Legion's Aspirants.
A bitter co-dependence arose between the World Eaters and the waste-dwelling clanners, the two factions bloody rivals who yet relied upon one another for their very existence.
By the close of the second century of the Great Crusade, Bodt was barely recognisable as the planet upon which Angron had taken charge of his Legion, and the same was true of the World Eaters themselves. Always a tectonically unstable planet, the Legion's unleashing of all manner of macro-scale weaponry across the surface in relentless, some said reckless, live-fire battle exercises had rent the very crust asunder in places so that it was a rare day indeed when the sub-sonic growl of shifting plates did not roll across the wastes.
The shallow seas were turned black and toxic. The arid lands, which were once host to thinly-spread yet stubborn flora and fauna, were by then devoid of almost all life and the planet-wide cadmium sub-strata was exposed to the tortured atmosphere. Only the very strongest of the wasteland-dwelling clanners could survive in the poisoned lands, making the periodic battle-trials their only possible escape and one which few indeed lived long enough to partake in.
Throughout its history, Bodt's primary city, Tredecimmia, proved a vital asset to the XIIth Legion, and as such it was heavily fortified with an extensive network of defence emplacements and subterranean bunkers. The weapons silos used to equip newly-inducted Aspirants came to house not just conventional armaments, but other weapons and devices the World Eaters had claimed as prizes of war from those they had vanquished during their conquest of the outer dark.
Technologies considered too dangerous to exist and proscribed by ancient writ were secreted away in the deepest vaults beneath Tredecimmia, weapons which in all likelihood Terra believed destroyed or had no knowledge of at all.
These ancient and forbidden technologies, though ostensibly wards of the XIIth Legion, were to be tended to by a singular order of the Priesthood of Mars. It was during the conquest of the Golgothan Wastes that the World Eaters had formed a mutual compact with the so-called Crimson Priests of Sarum, a Mechanicum domain Angron had delivered from the predations of the debased stellar empire of the Brotherhood of Ruin.
Following their liberation from their ancient rivals, the Crimson Priests had pledged Angron their co-allegiance, some said over and above the fealty they owed to distant Mars. The Crimson Priests went wherever the World Eaters went, and thus it came to pass that the induction-forges and weapons silos of Tredecimmia were tended exclusively by this ill-starred sect and their flesh-bonded Adsecularis Covenants.
Such was the state of the XIIth Legion fief world at the dawn of the great heresy, but it was a state soon to alter once more. In the aftermath of the Isstvan V slaughter, an event that Bodt's masters only learned of after the fact, a delegation of senior World Eaters Apothecaries, aided and advised by peers from the Emperor's Children and Word Bearers Legions, arrived there unannounced. They quickly assumed command of the induction facilities and instigated a series of revisions to the Legion's recruitment practices.
It was long-established that the XIIth Legion's gene-seed implantation protocols sat at the extreme end of the spectrum of tolerance. There had been many calls from Terra and from other Legions to rein in these practices, but in the aftermath of the Drop Site Massacre and with the arrival of the new overlord cadre, all restraints were removed.
It was said that the raw fuel for the new processes had been harvested from the blood-soaked killing fields of the Urgall Depression, ritually gathered up by the sons of Lorgar and alchemically-rendered down by the fell genius of the Emperor's Children. It was to the World Eaters Apothecaries that the final duty of implantation would fall, and the result was hideous indeed.
Using the raw material of the gun-clanners, the Apothecaries created a new generation of recruits. Where the process of creating a warrior of the Legiones Astartes should have ordinarily been painstakingly undertaken over a period of standard years, this new generation was brought into being in only solar months.
The process was shockingly wasteful and while many aspirants simply perished in the bio-vats, many more underwent catastrophic biological destabilisation, necessitating the purging of the implantation chambers by fire and radiation. Those few who survived fell far short of the trans-human ideal the Emperor had intended for the Legiones Astartes.
Even for the World Eaters, these were monsters made flesh, their bodies swollen by forbidden processes and their brains flooded with burning autonomic stimulators that, in conjunction with the so-called "Butcher's Nails" cortex implants that were standard throughout the Legion, induced a permanent state of hyper-aggression.
Furthermore, the flash-indoctrination protocols to which each aspirant was subjected invested him with the stolen memories of a hundred thousand kills, a flickering montage of other warriors' lives and deaths cycling through their consciousness in an eternal loop.
From the moment each awoke from the gene-vats, the new Initiate believed himself a red-handed champion and a veteran of countless wars. His only desire was to shed blood -- his enemies' or his own -- in the name of his Primarch.
Assault on Tredecimmia
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 Iron Hands Legion.
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 Horus 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 force strong enough 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 solar 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 subjected themselves to.
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 solar 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 solar 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 solar hour the fighting reached a climax. During this period 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 only solar 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 of Bodt 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 Astartes, Sarum Mechanicum, Legio Titanicus and gun clan alike burned to ashes and cast to the fiery winds.
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 86-88
- The Horus Heresy - Book Six: Retribution (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 21, 29, 104, 106-117, 120, 122-125, 168