"Rest? We were not made to rest; we go on, unflinching, unstoppable, unending in our strength. The Emperor did not make us for such mortal concerns as hearth and home, vanity or contemplation; we are his engines of war, his hammers, beating out the fabric of existence into a vessel fit for Mankind to inhabit."
- — Ferrus Manus, as quoted in Shadow of the Gorgon by the Remembrancer Czel Atternus
Ferrus Manus, also known as "The Gorgon," was the primarch of the Iron Hands Space Marine Legion, a master smith known for creating weapons that were able to inspire awe in any who saw them, such as the sword he created for Fulgrim, primarch of the Emperor's Children Legion or the bolter he crafted for Vulkan, the primarch of the Salamanders Legion, said to have a barrel designed to look like the gaping mouth of a dragon.
Ferrus' hands were covered in the metallic substance known as necrodermis and he needed no hammer or flame to create beauty through metallurgy, using only his exceptionally powerful hands to mold and shape molten metal. Ferrus forged his closest bond with his brother Fulgrim, but this relationship ultimately ended in tragedy after Fulgrim fell to Chaos during the Horus Heresy.
During the Drop Site Massacre on the world of Istvaan V at the start of the Heresy, Fulgrim decapitated Ferrus with a daemonic sword, an action that ultimately marked the point of no return on his path to becoming a Daemon Prince of the Chaos God Slaanesh.
"They are not my hands. This fact is forgotten by my brothers -- inexplicably, it has always seemed to me. The hands are strong, to be sure, and have created great things for us all, but they are not mine. And that counts for something. They forget that the silver on my arms comes from a beast that I vanquished. It is the mark of a great evil that I ended, and yet it persists within me...I would struggle to remove it now...I will not remove the silver from my flesh because I have learned to depend on it. The fault is with my mind. I rely on the augmentation given to me by my metal gauntlets, so much so that the flesh beneath them is now little more than a distant memory...A day will come when I will strip it from me, lest I lose the power to master myself forever. Already my Legion's warriors replace their shield hands with metal in my honour, and so they too are learning to doubt the natural strength of their bodies. They must be weaned off this practice before it becomes a mania for them. Hatred of what is natural, of what is human, is the first and greatest of the corruptions. So I record it here: when the time comes, I will strip my hands of their unnatural silver. I will instruct my Legion to recant their distrust of the flesh. I will turn them away from the gifts of the machine and bid them relearn the mysteries of flesh, bone and blood. When my father's Crusade is over, this shall be my sacred task. When the fighting is done, I shall cure my Legion and myself. For if fighting is all there is, if we may never pause to reflect on what such devotion to strength is doing to us, then our compulsion will only grow."
- —The Neimerel Scrolls attributed to the Primarch Ferrus Manus
At the dawn of the Imperium of Man, before the Great Crusade had begun, the 20 gene-children of the Emperor of Mankind, the Primarchs, were scattered across the known galaxy through the Warp in a mysterious accident due to the intervention of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. The gestation capsules of all 20 Primarchs were stolen from the Emperor's secret gene-laboratory deep beneath the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains on Terra and were flung across thousands of light years, all eventually coming to rest on backwater human colony planets. It was this first touch of Chaos before the Primarchs had even been born that may have corrupted so many of them and laid the foundation for the agonising tragedy of the Horus Heresy that was to come. One of these infant Primarchs turned up on the dark, geologically unstable Feral World of Medusa in the Segmentum Obscurus very near to the Eye of Terror, his gestation capsule burning a trail through the cloud-dominated sky as it impacted the highest mountain on the world, Karaashi, the Ice Pinnacle. The impact shattered the mountain top, burying Ferrus deep in the ice in a tremendous explosion of steam. The land shook under the impact which could be felt the world over. Mountains were toppled and great chasms were formed as the planet rumbled under the coming of the Primarch. Medusa rumbled with such ferocity that the Medusans later said that many of the world's mountains simply shook themselves to pieces.
Years later that special infant, named Ferrus Manus (High Gothic for "Iron Hand") by the Medusans, walked unscathed and already fully grown from the uninhabited mountain ranges of the far northern wastes where the Ice Pinnacle lay. The legends of the roaming clans, taught from father to son throughout the ages, revolve around the early exploits of Ferrus, who came to be regarded as a great warrior amongst the nomadic clans of Medusa. Much about the formative years of Ferrus Manus on Medusa remains unknown, not so much through any deliberate veil of secrecy perhaps, but because what was later retold by the Medusans themselves was filtered through the barbaric folk-memory of their culture, while the Gorgon himself was taciturn on the matter to any save the Emperor. There have been many who have studied the formative situations of the Primarchs who have drawn parallels between the conditions in which Vulkan found himself on Nocturne and Ferrus Manus encountered on Medusa; both were found on savage, barren worlds riven by hostile conditions and both were home to primitive cultures, long cut off from the rest of Mankind during the Age of Strife. But beyond these surface features, the two worlds and, in particular, those who dwelled upon them could not have been more different.
If what can be gleaned from the Medusan folk tales holds true, it was not into the clan-ranges he first fell in blaze of light that sundered the grey, shrouding skies of the planet, but in the northern polar regions, shattering Karaashi, the Pinnacle of Black Ice. This locale was one of many places the Medusans considered the accursed abodes of the malign shades of the dead and slumbering iron-skinned monsters of legend. This set the scene for the Primarch's entrance into mythic history, and the Medusan legends teach of him wandering the northern realms, casting down hulking storm giants, performing superhuman feats of cunning and strength, and slaying monsters and murderous machine-creatures left relic beneath the black ice of Medusa from bygone ages of war and slaughter. The most renowned of such fables featured the deathless horror of the great silver wyrm Asirnoth, who Imperial savants hypothesize to have been a Necron machine construct impervious to harm. The Primarch had to draw the creature into molten magma in order to kill it. The creature's quicksilver-skin (Necrodermis) marked the Primarch in its death-throes and now perpetually coated the Primarch's own hands and forearms, lending him his common name.
When the Gorgon, as he had become known, strode forth from the forbidden realms of sundered Medusa to batter the disparate clans of his world into submission to his overlordship, he was already thought of as a living god by its natives. But while he did not require of the Medusans worship and did nothing to encourage it, he demanded obedience to his will, and bloodily broke any who would contest his word. Nor did he quell conflict or bring peace upon the planet, but instead he gave the Iron Fathers -- the half Tech-priests, half-shamans who ministered to the clans' spiritual and technological needs -- the fruits of his own intervention in exchange for the technological secrets they had kept down the generations. Through the Gorgon's teachings the Medusan clans then forged better weapons and stronger machines with which to fight to prove their worth to survive.
Ferrus Manus also led the bravest warriors of the clans to delve into the frozen realms below, breaking open long-sealed vaults and intruding into ice-buried fragments of the great machine-works that had plunged from the skies in ancient days in search of salvage and strong metal. In the depths, the warrior-bands and the silver-eyed giant who led them fought degenerate mutants, living-dead cyborgs whose decayed flesh hung in tatters from corroded metal bodies, and subdued the dark-engines of the nightmare ages that had gone before to take their plunder. By the time the Emperor had come to claim him for the Great Crusade, Ferrus Manus was warlord, demi-god and sage to the people of Medusa, and it is said that he was waiting, and that he more than half-suspected the true purpose of his creation.
When the Primarch of the Xth Legion was discovered, he was among the first of the Emperor's lost sons to be found, and, like Horus Lupercal and Leman Russ before him, had risen to become a warlord in his own right on the world on which he had been cast. So it was that Ferrus Manus' transition from planetary warlord to general of the Great Crusade was a swift one, aided by his evident hunger for the task set before him and the uncompromising intelligence and diligent application to this greater challenge he displayed. In a scant few years, Ferrus Manus was transferred full control of the Xth Legion which he took command of body and soul, renaming it and remaking it in his image. Sweeping away much of what had gone before by way of organisation at a stroke, the Primarch took the Xth Legion apart with the precision and intent with which an artisan might deconstruct a mechanical chronograph, reconfigure its components and re-assemble it in a fashion more to his liking.
When Ferrus Manus took charge of his Legion, he, like most of the other Primarchs, used his foster-world as the base and principal headquarters of his Legion. In doing this he wedded the two: the Medusan people and the Terran-founded Xth Legion together forcibly, creating something new that shared aspects of both that had gone before and eradicating with bloody-handed ruthlessness anything that would not yield to his will. Where once there had been Chapters as constituent units of the Legion in the Terran style, there would now be Clans, but this was not a mere symbolic union, and Terran Space Marines were ordered to displace the existing Clans' rulership both temporal and spiritual in the only way that the Medusans knew: by brute force. So the Iron Hands became the new Medusans; the Astartes walking among them as demi-gods, and the people of the nomad clans under their thrall fighting and dying not simply just to survive any more, but ultimately for their children to prove worthy to join the Iron Hands Legion's ranks.
The installation of the Iron Hands on Medusa and the establishment of Imperial Compliance over the world did little to alleviate hardship, halt conflict or undo the barbaric superstitions of the natives. Ferrus Manus saw to that, for the trials and hardships of life on Medusa would winnow the weak from the strong and see that only the physically fittest, most warlike and psychologically "suitable" recruits would join the ranks of his Legion. To counteract the potential flaw of Medusa's small population base, Ferrus Manus saw to it that on suitably recalcitrant human worlds his Iron Hands conquered by force, he exacted a tithe in perpetuity of strong male youths, taking them in early adolescence and selected at his behest by mendicant priests of the Mechanicum as tribute to Medusa: there to live, struggle, fight and survive if they were strong enough, as fresh blood for its clans. Should they prove worthy, they would become Aspirants for his Legion upon attaining their maturity. So it was that the bloody inheritance and bleak creed of Medusa was spread to successive generations of the Iron Hands, forging the X Legion into a weapon of unparalleled ruthlessness.
Gorgon and the Phoenix
The brotherhood shared by the Primarchs Fulgrim and Ferrus Manus, the Phoenician and the Gorgon, was well known in the Imperium at the time of the Great Crusade, as the two superhuman leaders formed an instant connection upon their first meeting. This initial encounter occurred on Terra, beneath Mount Narodnya, the greatest forge of the Urals, where Ferrus Manus was busy toiling with the forge-masters who had once served the Terrawatt Clan during the Unification Wars soon after his arrival from Medusa. The Primarch of the Iron Hands had been demonstrating his phenomenal skill and the miraculous powers of his liquid metal hands when Fulgrim, the Primarch of the IIIrd Legion, the Emperor's Children, and his elite Phoenix Guard, had descended upon the sprawling forge complex.
Neither Primarch had yet met the other, but each had felt the shared bonds of alchemy and science that had gone into their making. Both were like gods unto the terrified artisans, who prostrated themselves before these two mighty warriors as though fearing a terrible battle might ensue between them. Ferrus Manus later told the tale to the Astartes of the Xth Legion claiming that Fulgrim had declared that he had come to forge the most perfect weapon ever created, and that he would bear it in the coming Great Crusade. Of course the Primarch of the Iron Hands could not let such a boast go unanswered, and he had laughed in Fulgrim’s face, declaring that such pasty hands could never be the equal of his own living metal appendages. Fulgrim accepted the challenge with regal grace, and both Primarchs had stripped to the waist, working without pause for weeks on end, the forge ringing with the deafening pounding of hammers, the hiss of cooling metal, and the good-natured insults of the two demigods as they sought to outdo one another.
At the end of three months' unceasing toil, both warriors had finished their weapons. Fulgrim had forged an exquisite warhammer -- Forgebreaker -- that could level a mountain with a single blow, and Ferrus Manus a golden bladed sword -- Fireblade -- that forever burned with the fire of the forge. Both weapons were unmatched by any yet crafted by Man, and upon seeing what the other had created, each Primarch declared that his opponent’s was the greater. Fulgrim declared the golden sword the equal of that borne by the legendary hero Nuada Silverhand, while Ferrus Manus had sworn that only the mighty thunder gods of Nordyc legend were fit to bear such a magnificent warhammer. Without another word spoken, both Primarchs had swapped weapons and sealed their eternal friendship with the craft of their hands.
The weight of the formidable warhammer Forgebreaker was enormous and unbearable for anyone but one of the Emperor’s Astartes. Its haft was the colour of ebony, elaborately worked with threads of gold and silver that formed the shape of a lightning bolt, and the head was carved into the shape of a mighty eagle, its barbed beak forming the striking face and its tapered wings the claw. Anyone who looked upon the mighty warhammer could feel the power radiating from within it and know instinctively that more than just skill had gone into its forging. Love and honour, loyalty and friendship, death and vengeance...all were embodied within its majestic form, and the thought that the Iron Hands Primarch’s sworn honour brother had created this weapon made it truly legendary.
According to legend, Ferrus Manus was commonly referred to as The Gorgon. Some on Terra said the name was in reference to an ancient legend of the Olympian Hegemony. The Gorgon was a beast of such incredible ugliness that its very gaze could turn a man to stone. Many would be outraged at the disrespect in the implication of such a term when referring to a Primarch, but those who knew him best believed that Ferrus Manus quite enjoyed the name, because in any case, that was not where the name originated. It was an old nickname Fulgrim had given his brother after their initial meeting. Unlike the Phoenician, Ferrus Manus had little time for art, music or any of the cultural pastimes the IIIrd Legion's Primarch so enjoyed. It is said that after the two Primarchs met at Mount Narodnya, they returned to the Imperial Palace where Primarch Sanguinius of the Blood Angels Legion had arrived bearing gifts for the Emperor, exquisite statues from the glowing rock of Baal, priceless gem-stones and wondrous artefacts of aragonite, opal and tourmaline. The lord of the Blood Angels had brought enough to fill a dozen wings of the Palace with the greatest wonders imaginable.
Of course, Fulgrim was enthralled, finding that another of his brothers shared his love of such incredible beauty, but Ferrus Manus was unimpressed and said that such things were a waste of their time when there was a galaxy to win back. Fulgrim laughed and declared Ferrus a "terrible gorgon," saying that if the Primarchs did not value beauty, then they would never appreciate the stars they were to win back for their father. After that time the name stuck, and forever after Ferrus Manus was often referred to as The Gorgon.
"And where my hand shall strike, the foes of Mankind shall be laid waste; so shall I be the hammer of the Emperor, and I shall never tire."
- — Attr. Ferrus Manus before the Battle of Ke'ar Madoc
Although torn between the people of Medusa and the needs of the greater Imperium he had been created to serve, Ferrus eventually accepted from his father the command of the Xth Legion, who were re-named the Iron Hands to honour their Primarch's necrodermis-sheathed hands. The Legion quickly added their efforts to the Emperor's ongoing Great Crusade, becoming the heart of the 52nd Expeditionary Fleet. They were said to fight with valour across the galaxy, cutting a swathe through any that opposed the Emperor's word. New Aspirants for the Legion were now drawn from Medusa rather than Terra, and Ferrus' early beliefs about the Medusan tribesmen's healthy competition made them more than capable of adapting to the rigours of life as Astartes. The Xth Legion believed deeply in the Emperor's efforts to reunite all of humanity after the Age of Strife, and held that the greatest danger to the human race was to be found in its own divisions. Only unity—unity under the rule of the Emperor—could truly ensure the survival of Mankind in such a hostile galaxy. The Legion believed that any weakness in humanity should be stamped out, which resulted in many culls of newly-discovered populations who were unwilling to accept the Emperor's rule and the teachings of the Imperial Truth.
During the latter part of the Great Crusade, the Iron Hands encountered a nomadic, fleet-based civilisation composed of both humans and xenos known as the Diasporex. The Iron Hands shared the Imperial Truth of the Emperor of Mankind and offered the human members of the Diasporex the opportunity to separate from their alien allies and to join the newly forged Imperium, but they declined the Astartes' offer. Their offer rejected, the Iron Hands passed judgement, and in the following months the Iron Hands fleet attempted to annihilate the Diasporex, but they proved to be highly skilled and experienced in the realm of naval warfare, and managed to easily evade crucial battles and even to severely damage the Iron Hands' Strike Cruiser Ferrum. The Emperor's Children of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet were called in as reinforcements, and so, a joint Imperial strike force composed of both the Iron Hands and forces from the Emperor's Children Legion launched an all-out assault against the willful Diasporex. Though the Diasporex knew that a powerful fleet of warships was hunting them and sought their destruction, they refused to leave the sector and move on to someplace safer. The Iron Hands' scout ships soon discovered the truth—the Diasporex used hidden solar collector arrays to collect fuel for their vessels from a star. This was the reason why the Diasporex remained within the sector. Attacking these vital fuel stations, the two Imperial Expeditionary Fleets drew the Diasporex fleet out into open battle as the human-alien alliance sought to avoid utter annihilation at the Imperials' hands.
During the massive naval battle that ensued Fulgrim's personal gunship, the Firebird, came under heavy attack and soon found itself in trouble. Rushing to his brother's side, Ferrus Manus' flagship, the Battle Barge Fist of Iron, came rushing to the rescue of his beleaguered brother. To restore his wounded pride, Fulgrim led a brief shipboarding action where the Emperor's Children wreaked bloody havoc on the troops of the Diasporex. But ultimate victory was robbed from him when the enemy ship's bridge was taken by one of his subordinate commanders. For months thereafter, Fulgrim would resent The Gorgon's actions, unable to truly understand the altruism of Ferrus' deed and the loss of life his selfless act had incurred on his Legion. Under the malignant influence of the daemon-possessed Laer blade that he wore at all times, Fulgrim could only see self-aggrandisement in his brother’s action, instead of the the heroic deed it had truly been. Ferrus' critical comments, the wounding darts that Fulgrim believed were meant to undermine him, were in actuality only jests designed to puncture Fulgrim's self-importance and restore his humility. What Fulgrim perceived as Ferrus’ prideful boasts and rash actions had been deeds of courage that he spitefully dismissed as the influence of Chaos began to claim the Phoenician's soul.
As the Warmaster Horus made the opening moves of his rebellion on Istvaan III, Ferrus Manus' oldest and dearest friend Fulgrim was ordered by the Warmaster to meet with the Iron Hands Primarch aboard his flagship Fist of Iron in the hope that he could be swayed to the side of the Traitor Legions who now served Chaos. Fulgrim had sent the bulk of his IIIrd Legion and the 28th Expeditionary Fleet on to meet Horus and the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet in the Istvaan System while he and a small force aided the Iron Hands' 52nd Expeditionary Fleet in retaking the world of Callinedes IV from Orks. Great bonds of friendship and brotherhood had long existed between the two Legions, and Fulgrim felt that he could convince Ferrus of the righteousness of Horus' cause. Fulgrim's hope proved disastrously wrong and the meeting of the two Primarchs in Ferrus's private inner sanctum in his flagship's Anvilarium did not go well, as Ferrus was utterly outraged that his brothers would turn against their father the Emperor. The meeting ended in violence as The Gorgon made his difference of opinion over continued loyalty to the Emperor known to the Phoenician with his weapons, determined to stop Fulgrim's betrayal of the Imperium before it could begin. Ferrus attempted to use his silvery necrodermis hands to destroy Fulgrim's golden sword Fireblade, but the resulting explosion knocked him unconscious.
Fulgrim intended to kill his unconscious brother with the weapon he had forged for him, the warhammer Forgebreaker, but proved unable to kill his oldest friend despite the promptings of the Slaaneshi daemon that now corrupted his soul. Instead he took the wondrous weapon that he had once crafted in brotherhood for Ferrus as a reminder of their former friendship, and left behind Fireblade, which Ferrus had forged for him. When Fulgrim emerged from Ferrus' inner sanctum, he gave a signal to his elite Phoenix Guard, who instantly beheaded all of the Iron Hands Morlocks Terminators who served as Ferrus' own elite bodyguard with their Power Halberds. The Emperor's Children also nearly slew the Iron Hands' First Captain Gabriel Santor. Fulgrim successfully fled the Iron Hands' expeditionary fleet in his personal assault craft, the Firebird, as he ordered his warships, the Battle Barge Pride of the Emperor and its Escorts, to open fire upon the ships of the 52nd Expeditionary Fleet. This surprise attack crippled the Iron Hands force and provided a distraction while Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children warships fled into the Warp to rendezvous with the rest of their 28th Expeditionary Fleet in the Istvaan System.
Drop Site Massacre
Overcome with mind-numbing rage at such treachery, Ferrus and his warriors gratefully received the Emperor's orders through his brother Rogal Dorn. Together with the Raven Guard and Salamanders Legions, the Iron Hands were to confront Horus and his lieutenants on the world of Istvaan V and crush them utterly. A second wave, comprising the Night Lords, Iron Warriors, Alpha Legion and a contingent from the Word Bearers Legions, would follow them and support their initial attack. The Imperial fleet managed to make orbit over Istvaan V and the Loyalist Legions proceeded with their planetary deployment. Thousands of Drop Pods and Stormbirds were deployed for the assault. The first wave was under the overall command of Ferrus Manus and besides his own Legion, the Iron Hands, the Loyalist forces included the Salamanders led by Vulkan, and the Raven Guard under the command of Corax. Vulkan's Legion assaulted the left flank of the Traitors' battle line while Ferrus Manus, First Captain Gabriel Santor, and 10 full companies of elite Morlock Terminators charged straight through the centre of the Traitor Legions' lines. Meanwhile, Corax's Legion hit the right flank of the enemy's position. The odds were considered equal; 30,000 defending Traitor Astartes against 40,000 Loyalists. Horus was aware of the location of the Loyalists' chosen drop site and his troops fell upon the Loyalist Legions.
The battlefield of Isstvan V was a slaughterhouse of epic proportions. Treacherous warriors twisted by hatred fought their former brothers-in-arms in a conflict unparalleled in its bitterness. The mighty Titan war engines of the Machine God walked the planet’s surface, and death followed in their wake. The blood of heroes and traitors flowed in rivers, and the hooded Adepts of the Dark Mechanicum unleashed perversions of ancient technology stolen from the Auretian Technocracy to wreak bloody havoc amongst the Loyalists. All across the Urgall Depression, hundreds died with every passing second, the promise of inevitable death a pall of darkness that hung over every warrior. The Traitor forces held, but their line was bending beneath the fury of the first Loyalist assault. It would take only the smallest twists of fate for it to break.
The second wave of "Loyalist" Space Marine Legions descended upon the landing zone on the northern edge of the Urgall Depression. Hundreds of Stormbirds and Thunderhawks roared towards the surface, their armoured hulls gleaming as the power of another four Astartes Legions arrived on Isstvan V. Yet the Space Marine Legions of the reserve were no longer loyal to the Emperor, having already secretly sworn themselves to Chaos and the cause of Horus. The Night Lords of Konrad Curze, the Iron Warriors of Perturabo, the Word Bearers of Lorgar, and the Alpha Legion of Alpharius represented a force larger than that which had first begun the assault on Isstvan V. The secret Traitor Legions mustered in the landing zone, armed and ready for battle, unbloodied and fresh.
Though the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders had managed to make a full combat drop and secured the drop site, known as the Urgall Depression, they did so at a heavy cost. Overwhelmed with rage, the headstrong Ferrus Manus disregarded the counsel of his brothers Corax and Vulkan and hurled himself against the fleeing rebels, seeking to bring Fulgrim to personal combat. His veteran troops—comprising the majority of the Xth Legion's Terminators and Dreadnoughts -- followed. What had begun as a massed strike against the Traitors’ position was rapidly turning into one of the largest engagements of the entire Great Crusade. All told, over 60,000 Astartes warriors clashed on the dusky plains of Isstvan V. For all the wrong reasons, this battle was soon to go down in the annals of Imperial history as one of the most epic confrontations ever fought.
Fulgrim smiled as his brother Ferrus Manus renewed his attack into the heart of the Traitors' defensive lines atop the Urgall Depression. Backlit by the flaring strobe of battle, his brother was a magnificent figure of vengeance, his silver hands and eyes reflecting the fires of slaughter with a brilliant gleam. For the briefest second, Fulgrim had been sure that Ferrus would pause to muster with the Raven Guard and Salamanders, but there would be no restraining his brother's aggrieved sense of honour. Around the Phoenician, the last of the Phoenix Guard awaited the blunt wedge of the Iron Hands, their golden halberds held low and aimed towards their foes.
Ferrus Manus and his Morlocks charged through the shattered ruin of the defences, his black armour and their burnished plates scarred and stained with the blood of enemies. Fulgrim’s fixed smile faltered as he truly appreciated the depths of hatred his brother held for him and wondered again how they had come to this point, knowing that any chance for brotherhood was lost. Only in death would their rivalry end. The Iron Hands pushed through the defences, the bulky Terminators unstoppable in their relentless advance. Lightning crackled from the claws of their gauntlets and their red eyes shone with anger. The Phoenix Guard braced themselves to meet the charge, fully aware of the power of such mighty suits of armour. The Phoenix Guard answered with a terrible war cry and leapt to meet the Morlocks in a searing clash of blades. Electric fire leapt from the golden edges of the halberds and the Lightning Claws of the warriors, and a storm of light and sound flared from each life and death struggle. The battle engulfed the Primarch of the Emperor’s Children, but he stood above it, awaiting the dark armoured giant who strode untouched through the lightning shot carnage as brothers hacked at one another in hatred. Ferrus had long dreamt of this moment of reckoning, ever since Fulgrim had come to him with betrayal in his heart. Only one of them would walk away from their final confrontation.
Death of Ferrus Manus
Ferrus taunted Fulgrim for his betrayal of the Emperor and siding with the Traitor Horus. He thought his brother mad, for the Warmaster was defeated—his forces routed and the power of another four Legions would soon be brought to bear to crush their attempt at rebellion utterly. Unable to contain himself any longer, Fulgrim shook his head, savouring the final act of betrayal to come, revealing to Ferrus that it was he who was naive. Horus would never be foolish enough to trap himself like this. He pointed out towards the northern edge of the Urgall Depression so that Ferrus could see that it was he and his fellow Loyalists who were undone. Ferrus looked and saw a force larger than that which had begun the assault during the first wave of attack, mustered in the landing zone, armed and ready for battle.
Dragging their wounded and dead behind them, Corax and Vulkan led their forces back to the drop site to regroup and to allow the warriors of their recently arrived brother Primarchs of the second wave a measure of the glory in defeating Horus. Though they voxed hails requesting medical aid and supply, the line of Astartes atop the northern ridge remained grimly silent as the exhausted warriors of the Raven Guard and Salamanders came to within a hundred metres of their allies. It was then that Horus revealed his perfidy and sprung his lethal trap. Inside the black fortress where Horus had made his lair, a lone flare shot skyward, exploding in a hellish red glow that lit the battlefield below. The fire of betrayal roared from the barrels of a thousand guns, as the second wave of Astartes revealed where their true loyalties now lay. Ferrus looked on in stunned horror as Fulgrim laughed at the look on his brother's face as the forces of his "allies" opened fire upon the Salamanders and Raven Guard, killing hundreds in the fury of the first few moments, hundreds more in the seconds following, as volley after volley of Bolter fire and missiles scythed through their unsuspecting ranks.
Even as terrifying carnage was being wreaked upon the Loyalists below, the retreating forces of the Warmaster turned and brought their weapons to bear on the enemy warriors within their midst. Hundreds of World Eaters, Sons of Horus and the Death Guard fell upon the veteran companies of the Iron Hands, and though the warriors of the Xth Legion continued to fight gallantly, they were hopelessly outnumbered and would soon be hacked to pieces. Ferrus Manus turned to face Fulgrim, his teeth bared with the volcanic fury of his homeworld. The two Primarchs leapt at one anther, Ferrus wielding Fireblade and Fulgrim holding Forgebreaker. Their weapons had been forged in brotherhood, but were now wielded in vengeance, meeting in a blazing plume of energy. The two Primarchs traded blows with their monstrously powerful weapons, Ferrus Manus wielded his flaming blade in fiery slashes, his every blow defeated by the ebony hafted hammer he had borne in countless campaigns. Both warriors fought with the hatred only brothers divided could muster, their armour dented, torn and blackened by their fury.
The two Primarchs traded terrible blows, wounding one another deeply during their fierce struggle. As Ferrus pushed himself to his feet and staggered towards the wounded Fulgrim, he cried out as he brought the flaming blade towards his brother's neck. But Fulgrim lashed out as he drew the single-edged, daemonically-possessed sword he had taken from the Laer temple and blocked the descending weapon. With the power of Chaos streaming from the blade, diabolical strength flooded Fulgrim's limbs as he pushed against the power of Ferrus Manus, feeling his brother's surprise at his resistance. Fulgrim managed to surge to his feet and lashed out, his silver blade biting deep into the breastplate of Ferrus' armour, and the Primarch of the Iron Hands cried out, falling to his knees once again. Fireblade slid from his grasp as he gasped in fierce agony. As Fulgrim raised the silver sword in preparation of delivering the deathblow to Ferrus Manus, he found that he did not possess the fortitude to deliver the killing blow. In an instant he saw what he had become and what monstrous betrayal he had allowed himself to be party to. He knew in that eternal moment that he had made a terrible mistake in drawing the sword from the Temple of the Laer, and he fought to release the damnable blade that had brought him so low.
His grip was locked onto the weapon, and even as he recognised how far he had fallen, he knew that he had come too far to stop, the realisation coupled with the knowledge that everything he had striven for had been a lie. As though moving in slow motion, Fulgrim saw Ferrus Manus reaching for his fallen sword, his fingers closing around the wire-wound grip, the flames leaping once more to the blade at its creator’s touch. Fulgrim’s blade seemed to move with a life of its own as he swung the blade of his own volition. Fulgrim tried desperately to pull the blow, but his muscles were no longer his own to control. The daemonic blade sliced through the genetically-enhanced flesh and bone of one of the Emperor's sons. The Iron Hands' Primarch fell to the ground, his head decapitated. Ferrus Manus was dead by his brother's own hand and his Legion nearly shared his fate. A small group of surviving Iron Hands managed to elude the Traitors' closing trap and flee off-world, but the Xth Legion had been shattered in body and spirit and would play no further role in the Horus Heresy as it moved to recover from its critical losses at the Drop Site Massacre.
The fate of their Primarch was a mystery to the Legion as his last known position was overrun by hordes of screaming enemy warriors. What became of the great Primarch Ferrus Manus would remain a mystery to the Astartes of the Xth Legion. Their enemies proclaimed the Iron Hands' Primarch dead upon the blasted wastes of Istvaan V, but the Xth Legion refused to accept this for no body was ever recovered, and many Iron Hands Astartes believed that Ferrus had somehow survived. One particular Imperial legend tells that his wrecked body was rescued and restored, and that he took refuge on Mars where he resides still, though this is violently refuted by the Iron Hands themselves. Their Primarch lost, the Iron Hands despaired as to the fate of Mankind. Their distress and confusion grew further when they learned that the Emperor had fallen in a titanic battle with the corrupted Horus. For the next 10,000 Terran years, the sons of Ferrus Manus would continue to stoke the unquenchable fires of their hatred, drawing strength from their bitterness and awaiting with faithful devotion the day of their Primarch's return.
The Sapphire King
It was at the precise moment that Ferrus Manus' head was scythed from his shoulders by the Traitor Fulgrim that the Daemonic entity known as the Sapphire King came into being. Spawned from the psychic bow wave of Ferrus Manus' death, this Daemon was forged from the Primarch's frustrated pride, his boiling anger and sorrow, and from his shame. From the moment of its birth, the Sapphire King fed on the repressed emotions of the soul-scarred Iron Hands. It basked in their chained desperation, bound to their fate by the emotions they felt but would not express. The Daemon bedevilled them across the centuries, offering opportunities for damnation disguised as steps away from the weakness they so feared. It nudged the minds of Imperial officials and potential foes, forever seeking to goad the Iron Hands into spending away their humanity like coin. The Chapter bent their every effort to purging the weaknesses of the flesh, never realising that the more they demonised their wants and needs, the greater the hold the spectre of their repressed emotions gained upon them.
Following the aftermath of the campaign fought against a massive Ork WAAAGH! dubbed the Weirdwaaagh!, upon the Forge World of Columnus in 249.M41, questions arose in the Iron Council regarding Iron Father Kristos' questionable conduct. In 260.M41, sufficient dissent continued to arise amongst the Iron Fathers in regards to Kristos' behaviour. Only an entire Iron Council could resolve the wider issues raised. Though a fair and logical process, it was not a swift one; the years turned to decades as the Kristosian Conclave ground on over the next couple of centuries.
As the Kristosian Conclave reached its zenith in 460.M41, the Sapphire King judged the Iron Hands ripe to fall and set its trap in motion. Each Iron Hand carried within his heart a rancid seed, a bomb of repressed passions that could erupt to destroy him at any moment. The Daemon would simply provide the spark to light the flame and watch the Chapter burn upon a pyre of their own emotions. In that same year, a vast host of Iron Hands descended upon the Gaudinia System. Iron Father Kristos had assumed the mantle of war leader and had assembled more than eight hundred Iron Hands under his control. This was the greatest deployment of the Chapter for centuries, and was accompanied by the majority of the Iron Council. Clan Company Raukaan once again took the lead in a massive planetary assault upon Gaudania Prime and so was at the heart of the abominable trap that was there unleashed.
As the Daemonic entity was confronted by the Clan Companies Raukaan and Sorrgol in their entirety on Gaudinia Prime, Iron Father Kristos was corrupted, both body and soul. Everywhere, the adherents of Kristos (known as Kristosians) were overcome by the twisted perfection of strange flesh engines -- the harder they attempted to repress their urges with logic, the faster they succumbed. Howling Daemons of Slaanesh burst forth from tears in reality, and set themselves upon the beleaguered Iron Hands. With them came warriors of the Emperor's Children. Amid the madness, the bejewelled Daemon itself strode forth to confront the Iron Hands.
At that moment, Iron Father Kardan Stronos was struck by the revelation that by cutting off their emotions, his Battle-Brothers were only causing themselves to fall to the corrupting influence of Chaos. Their only chance to save themselves was not by cutting themselves off from their emotions, but by embracing them, and shackling them to their iron will. Activating his Vox, Stronos barked commands to the forces around him, ordering them to release their anger, lest their foes destroy them with it. The Battle-Brothers disengaged their inhibitor protocols and loosed furious battle cries. As the emotional floodgates burst open, the Sapphire King shrieked its rage as the repressed energies that had fuelled its spell were vented like steam from a boiler. Freed from the debilitating Warp-craft, the surviving Iron Hands gave vent to their revulsion, blasting the Daemons apart in rains of ectoplasmic filth or tearing them limb from shimmering limb. With a fury they had never before allowed themselves to display, the Iron Hands made short work of their Chaotic foes. The Sapphire King was utterly destroyed and the remaining Emperor's Children were swiftly blasted into bloodied ruin. To ensure the destruction of the surviving machine-spawn, the Iron Hands launched a massive orbital bombardment, ensuring the Daemon Engines' destruction.
One of the most physically powerful of the Primarchs, whose skills as an artificer of arms and armour were every bit as potent as his martial prowess, Ferrus Manus despised weakness. By his presence on the battlefield, the Primarch drove his men to acts of superhuman endurance and remorseless fervour.
- The Medusan Carapace - Ferrus Manus operated a wide variety of arms and armour, almost all of which were the products of his craft and genius. Never fully satisfied with his work, he was always looking to improve upon it and test new prototype designs, the fruits of his labour later forming the basis of many Space Marine Legion designs such as the early Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour. The Medusan Carapace is an examplar of these armour designs, incorporating servo-mechanisms and a plethora of systems.
- Forgebreaker - Fashioned by his close comrade, and later hated enemy, the Primarch Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children Legion, this exquisitely fashioned Thunder Hammer would prove to have a dark infamy of its own and serve the hands of many masters before the Horus Heresy ended.
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 6-13
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Index Astartes III, "Hand of Justice - The Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter"
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh, pp. 23, 26, 33, 35, 41-42, 64, 66-68, 71-73, 89-91, 234-235
- Clan Raukaan - A Codex: Space Marines Supplement (Digital Edition) (6th Edition)
- White Dwarf 290 (US), "The Flesh Is Weak"
- White Dwarf 286 (US), "The Eye of the Storm: Space Marine Chapters fighting in the Eye of Terror", pp. 66-71
- White Dwarf 281 (US), "Codex Eye of Terror: The 13th Black Crusade"
- White Dwarf 263 (AUS), "Index Astartes – Iron Hands"
- White Dwarf 262 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding: Hand of Justice, The Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter"
- White Dwarf 197 (US), "For They Shall Know No Fear", pp. 22-29
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Innocence Proves Nothing (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Iron Hands (Novel) by Jonathan Green
- Mechanicum (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Angel Extermiantus (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Rogue Star (Novel) by Andy Hoare
- Scourge the Heretic (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Star of Damocles (Novel) by Andy Hoare
- The Primarchs (Anthology), "Feat of Iron" by Nick Kymes
- Wrath of Iron (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- Mortis (Novel) by John French, Limited Edition Artwork
- Ferrus Manus - Primarch of the Iron Hands
- Genesis of a Primarch Ferrus Manus The Gorgon with Simon Egan
|Loyalist Primarchs||Lion El'Jonson • Jaghatai Khan • Leman Russ • Rogal Dorn • Sanguinius • Ferrus Manus • Roboute Guilliman • Vulkan • Corvus Corax • Lost Primarchs|
|Traitor Primarchs||Fulgrim • Perturabo • Konrad Curze • Angron • Mortarion • Magnus the Red • Horus • Lorgar • Alpharius Omegon|