The Fidelitas Lex was an ancient Imperial Gloriana-class Battleship that served as the flagship of Lorgar Aurelian, the Primarch of the Word Bearers Space Marine Legion, during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy of the late 30th and early 31st Millennia.
This vessel led a large flotilla of Word Bearers warships which comprised the XVIIth Legion's 47th Expeditionary Fleet. The Fidelitas Lex served as Lorgar's flagship throughout the Great Crusade during many notable Imperial Compliance actions and various other campaigns.
These included the Castigation of Khur, where the entirety of the Word Bearers Legion was chastised and humiliated by the Emperor of Mankind for their flagrant violations of the secular Imperial Truth, as well as the infamous Compliance action fought on the planet designated Forty-Seven Sixteen. This was the first world brought into Imperial Compliance after the rebuke of the Word Bearers by the Emperor on Khur.
The Word Bearers proceeded to massacre the entire population for their blasphemous worship of the False Emperor. The Fidelitas Lex was also present during the Word Bearers' participation in the infamous Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V. Beyond the desecration of the Imperial Aquilas that once lined its spinal battlements, the golden flagship of the XVIIth Legion remained unchanged beyond the battlescars earned in the name of rebellion.
The Fidelitas Lex finally met its end during the Shadow Crusade, a joint campaign conducted by both the Word Bearers and the World Eaters Traitor Legions, in which the XVIIth Legion's flagship was destroyed during the fighting above Angron's homeworld of Nuceria by the ragtag Retribution Fleet of the Ultramarines Legion led by the Primarch Roboute Guilliman. Its remains settled into the depths of that world's ocean.
The Fidelitas Lex (loosely translated from High Gothic as "The Law of Faith") was a Gloriana-class Battleship constructed from a Standard Template Construct (STC) pattern recovered during the progress of the Great Crusade. A Gloriana Battleship was the size of a densely compacted city, and accordingly populated not only by officers and expert crew, but by a serf-caste numbering in the tens of thousands of souls.
This vessel was gifted to Lorgar, along with command of the XVIIth 'Imperial Heralds' Legion following the Primarch's reunification with his gene-sire, the Emperor, after he was discovered on the world of Colchis. Lorgar and his people embraced the ruler of the Imperium as their prophesied messiah and God-Emperor. When the Emperor finally met his long lost son face-to-face, as Lorgar had foreseen, the Primarch immediately dropped to one knee in obeisance, leading the population of his world in rejoicing and worshipping the Emperor as the one, true God of Mankind.
Lorgar gratefully took up the Emperor's purpose, but he renamed the XVIIth Legion the Word Bearers to express his deeply-held desire to spread his faith in the God-Emperor to every world in the Imperium, despite the Emperor's continuing admonishments that his Imperium was to be built on the foundation of the Imperial Truth, an atheistic, rationalist doctrine that forbade the practice of religious faith as mere superstition.
Taking the reigns of command of his new flagship, the Fidelitas Lex, Lorgar and his newly-dubbed Word Bearers Legion joined the Emperor on his Great Crusade to reunify the human worlds of the galaxy under the new Imperium. Lorgar appointed trustworthy regents to rule over Colchis in his absence and devoutly complied with what he believed were his father's divine commandments.
Lorgar was an unusual Primarch because he was less martial in nature than his brothers, and possessed an abiding faith that religion represented the pinnacle of human expression and a deeply-held belief that the Emperor of Mankind was actually a divine being made manifest in the mortal realm. As a result, Lorgar was determined to spread his own faith in the Emperor to every world that his Legion encountered in the course of the Great Crusade, a policy that would be in direct contradiction to the principles of the Imperial Truth.
During the early years of the Great Crusade, the Word Bearers came across the world of Forty-Seven Ten, also known as Khur, which they proceeded to bring into Imperial Compliance approximately a Terran century before the events of Istvaan III at the outset of the Horus Heresy. The beautiful capital city of Khur, known as Monarchia, called "the Perfect City" by the Word Bearers, was built by the people of Khur at the direction and exhortation of the Word bearers to demonstrate their faith and devotion to the God-Emperor.
Six solar decades after being brought into Compliance, the XIIIth Legion, the Ultramarines, would utterly destroy Monarchia on the order of the Emperor as an example to both Lorgar and his Word Bearers that violations of the Imperial Truth through the encouragement of the continued error of religious faith and the spread of idolatrous doctrine would not be tolerated. This action crushed Lorgar and his Space Marines and led them to seek out new gods more worthy of their worship -- the Ruinous Powers of Chaos.
Four solar weeks after the Word Bearers fleet sailed from the ruin of Khur, they translated in-system, prowling around the newly discovered world of Forty-Seven Sixteen with the predatory promise of ancient seaborne raiders. This would be the sixteenth world ready to be brought to compliance by the 47th Expeditionary Fleet. The grey warships remained in orbit for eight solar hours, engines dead, doing nothing at all.
Following his Legion's castigation by the Emperor, the Primarch remained locked within his personal shrine-chamber in self-exile for a full Terran month. He finally emerged at the ninth hour, cheers echoing throughout every Word Bearers vessel in the fleet. Lorgar addressed his sons - the past was to be put behind them, they would only now look forward, towards a brighter future. The Emperor wished the XVIIth Legion to conquer with greater alacrity. If a world could not be brought into compliance with haste, then it must be purged to its core. Lorgar ordered his Legion to kill every man, woman and child on the newly discovered heretic world. Their only crime - their 'blasphemous' worship of the False Emperor.
The Fidelitas Lex and every capital vessel within the fleet, proceeded with a twelve-hour long orbital bombardment of the doomed planet. This was followed by a planetary assault by the entirety of the Word Bearers Legion, which proceeded to slaughter the entire population. The Word Bearers successfully wiped out the entire population in only a day.
Augury estimates placed the number as almost two hundred million souls sacrificed that day. Following their inevitable victory, the Primarch spoke to his sons about undertaking a sacred Pilgrimage, to seek a place where gods and mortals met. The true gods of old Colchis. The Word Bearers would undertake such a pilgrimage to commune with the gods.
Pilgrimage of Lorgar
Prompted by Kor Paheron and the First Chaplain Erebus, Lorgar journeyed with his Word Bearers Legion's Chapter of the Serrated Sun to what was then the fringes of known Imperial space as part of the 1301st Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade. At this time, Lorgar had not yet fallen to the corruption of Chaos, though he had turned against the Emperor of Mankind as a deity no longer worthy of his worship.
Lorgar believed that the Emperor was wrong to condemn Mankind's natural instinct to seek out the divine as an unworthy superstition and he intended to discover if there were truly deities worthy of humanity's respect. To this end, though Lorgar no longer had any love or loyalty for the Emperor, he and his XVIIth Legion rejoined the Great Crusade but did so only as a front to mask their pursuit of the Pilgrimage.
The Word Bearers' pursuit of any scrap of information that could be found on the Primordial Truth or the nature of the place where gods and mortals could mingle ultimately led the 1301st Expeditionary Fleet to the Cadia System near the largest permanent Warp Storm in the galaxy, later known to the Imperium as the Eye of Terror. The Expeditionary Fleet's Master of Astropaths advised Lorgar that unusual "voices" in the Warp were heard in the vicinity of the great Warp rift, voices that spoke directly to the Primarch as well, which were the voices of the Chaos entities within the Immaterium.
It would be in the Cadia System that Lorgar would learn that his suspicions had been correct and that the shape of all of the religions across the galaxy that possessed so many similarities to the Colchisian Old Faith were not artefacts of Mankind's collective unconsciousness, but expressions of worship in the universal truth that was Chaos.
This "truth" changed Lorgar and the Word Bearers forever as they were exposed to the Ruinous Powers of Chaos and slowly corrupted, the first of the Legiones Astartes to worship the Chaos Gods and become Traitors to the Emperor in their hearts. Lorgar and the Word Bearers spent the remaining years of the Great Crusade attempting to enlighten humanity about the true spiritual nature of Creation, ultimately resorting to manipulation and deception to sway nine of the Primarchs to the cause of Chaos as their Gods demanded, the most notable being the Warmaster Horus.
When it became clear that Mankind could not be enlightened by Chaos without first being forcibly weaned at a great price in blood from the Emperor's false Imperial Truth, Lorgar willingly helped orchestrate the terrible Battle of Istvaan III and the Drop Site Massacre at Istvaan V as well as the larger Horus Heresy itself.
When Horus openly declared his rebellion against the Emperor, the Word Bearers were one of the first Legions to support him and his cause. The worlds they had conquered since their conversion to Chaos also joined the side of the Traitors, having been secretly corrupted to the worship of the Ruinous Powers in the final days of the Great Crusade.
Shadow Crusade and the Purge of Nuceria
During the opening days of the Horus Heresy, Lorgar had ordered his two most trusted advisors, First Chaplain Erebus and the Dark Apostle Kor Phaeron, to unleash their wrath against the Realm of Ultramar. This was done in retaliation for the humiliation the XVII Legion had been forced to endure by being forced to kneel in disgrace before the Emperor and Roboute Guilliman and his Ultramarines on the world of Khur by the XIIIth Legion at the Emperor's orders during the Great Crusade.
The Word Bearers proceeded to achieve a monumental victory at the Battle of Calth which ensued. The Ultramarines Legion was badly crippled and no longer presented a viable threat to Horus' plan to drive on Terra. Erebus had managed to complete his blasphemous ritual on Calth's surface, which summoned the beginnings of the sorcerous 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.
Simultaneously, with the Word Bearers' assault on Calth, Lorgar and the more reliable Word Bearers under his command launched a second offensive, a joint Shadow Crusade with his brother Angron's World Eaters Legion into the rest of the Realm of Ultramar, laying waste to the Five Hundred Worlds with reckless abandon, slaughtering twenty-six worlds in rapid succession.
This was to ensure the success of the sorcerous Ruinstorm, which would ultimately split the void asunder, dividing the galaxy in two and rendering vast tracts of the Imperium impassable for centuries, effectively cutting Ultramar off from the rest of the Imperium. This prodigious Warp Storm would deny needed reinforcements to the Loyalists as Horus drove on Terra in an attempt to overthrow the Emperor of Mankind. Nothing from Terra would get in and nothing would get out. Not even an astropathic whisper would be able to pierce this storm of Warp energy bleeding into realspace.
To save the life of his brother Angron, Lorgar convinced the Lord of the World Eaters to go back to his homeworld of Nuceria. The overlords of the gladiatorial games on that world who had first hammered the foul device known as the Butcher's Nails into his skull would know more of the implant's function than the Traitor Legion's savants and the Dark Mechanicum.
The two Primarchs would learn all that was known about the Nucerians' insidious cortical implant technology, and then they would burn that loathsome world until its surface was nothing but glass. Angron would finally take the vengeance he pretended to no longer desire. Whether Angron fought him, hated him or trusted him, mattered little to Lorgar, who intended to drag Angron into the immortality that he deserved before the Dark Gods whether he wanted it or not.
Roboute Guilliman's retribution fleet, which had been tracking the rest of the Word Bearers Legion in the wake of the Battle of Calth, finally caught up to the Traitors upon Angron's homeworld of Nuceria, which the World Eaters Legion were preoccupied with wiping clean of all life in vengeance for the treatment the Nucerians had merited out a century before to Angron. The XIIIth Legion warship Courage Above All, Guilliman's temporary flagship, broke Warp at the system’s edge, at the head of a large void armada consisting of 41 vessels. The Ultramarines armada looked wounded, cobbled together from separate fleets.
It was not a dedicated interdiction war-fleet, but clearly a ragtag strike force, a lance thrust to the enemy’s heart. Guilliman himself had done the best he could with limited resources. The XIIIth Legion's Cruisers and Battleships ran abeam of the enemy fleet for repeated exchange of broadsides, offering targets too big and powerful to ignore, while the rest of the Ultramarines fleet used calculated Lance strikes from safer range. The armada then divided its assault potential, doing its utmost to destroy Lorgar's flagship Fidelitas Lex, and attempted to take the World Eaters' flagship Conqueror in a boarding action.
But the Ultramarines' warships not only fought a void war, they also attempted to take the fight to the surface of Nuceria, for this attack was personal. The Ultramarines had come for revenge against Lorgar and the Word Bearers, just as they had pursued Kor Phaeron all the way to the Maelstrom on the other side of Ultramar.
Several Ultramarines warships attempted to make a run on Nuceria, haemorrhaging Drop Pods, landers and gunships, forcing planetfall by any means necessary. The Ultramarines fleet swept over and against the Traitors like an insect horde. But the tenacious commander of the Conqueror, Lotara Sarrin, put up a difficult fight and destroyed a number of Ultramarines vessels that attempted to make a run for the surface.
Though the World Eaters' flagship transformed a number of the smaller vessels into flaming wreckage, the Ultramarines eventually punched through her tenacious defence and managed to land troops on the surface of Nuceria.
Meanwhile, the Fidelitas Lex was already a ruin, its armour pitted and cracked, its shields a memory. The cathedrals and spinal fortresses barnacling along its back were gone, laid waste by the Ultramarines' incendiary rage. The XIIIth Legion's armada attacked in strafing runs and protracted exchanges of broadsides, trading fire with the superior warship and accepting their own casualties as the cost of bleeding the bigger vessel dry. Each assault left the Lex weaker, firing fewer turrets and cannons, taking punishment on its increasingly fragile armour. But she fought on.
Crawling with smaller ships, the Lex lashed back with its remaining Macrocannons, rolling in the light of its own burning hull. Guilliman guided the battle from the command deck of Courage Above All, and had decided that the Lex would die first, killed in the death of a thousand cuts and swept from the game board, while the Conqueror would be boarded and killed from within.
In the course of the battle in Nucerian orbit, the Conqueror could not rise to its sister-ship's defence. Both Traitor Legion flagships fought alone, starved of support and suffering the endless attacks of the XIIIth Legion's ragged armada. Salvation Pods streamed from the Lex's sides and underbelly, along with heavier Mechanicum craft and bulk landers.
With the Legionaries of the Word Bearers already on the surface, the ship's human population fled in the vessel's final minutes. And still the great vessel fought -- rolling, turning, raging. The Ultramarines Cruisers that drifted past burned as badly as the warship they were killing. This void battle was a form of dirty fighting between warships, too close for the neat calculations of ranged battery fire. Instead, it was an up close and personal slugfest.
The Conqueror could not rise to its sister-ship's defence. Both flagships fought alone, starved of support and suffering endless attacks by the XIIIth Legion's ragged armada. The Lex knew it was doomed, and so, before it reached Nuceria's atmosphere, the order to abandon ship was given, marking twelve kills.
As the fighting raged on the planet's surface, the burning shell of the Fidelitas Lex cut through the clouds into the planet's atmosphere, shuddering on its way east, rolling ever downwards, achingly slow for something of such scale. The weight of the Fidelitas Lex's massive plasma engines dragged the stern down first, colliding with the Nucerian ocean's surface far from shore, and at last bringing the great vessel to rest deep within its watery embrace.
The Peregrinus Basilica was an armoured fortress jutting from the Word Bearers flagship's spinal battlements, commanding a view of the Warp above the entire spread of the warship Fidelitas Lex below. The cathedral itself would be a palace on any world, the size of a city sector in its own right, built in relative humility as a modest echo of the Imperial Palace on Terra.
The formality seen so often in the works of the other Space Marine Legions was absent, here. On a golden plaque by the chamber's black iron altar, Colchisian runes stated in elegant script: "Here all stand equal beneath the gaze of the gods."
Hall of Anamnesis
The Hall of Anamnesis -- called the Hall of Hindsight by disloyal slaves when no Word Bearers were nearby to overhear -- housed the bones of almost a thousand heroes of the XVIIth Legion, deep in the core of Fidelitas Lex. Only one statue stood above a stone coffin, and it belonged to the only human interred among nine hundred Legionaries.
She was known as "The Blessed Lady" -- Cyrene Valantion, the Confessor of the Word, and the lone survivor of the destruction of the Perfect City of Monarchia at the hands of the Ultramarines on the world of Khur. Her name was a sainted whisper among the Word Bearers fleet's vast human population, for she held the dubious honour of being the first human slain by the Emperor's minions for praying to the pantheon of Chaos -- she was nothing less than the first Chaotic saint.
Following the Word Bearers' open display of their worship of the Ruinous Powers during the Battle of Calth, the Lex became a den of filth. Most of the Word Bearers voidships came to look like this; winding corridors were forever home to chanting voices carrying through the ship's metal bones. Sometimes an individual could here weeping around a corner ahead, only to find the passageway empty when they reached it. Sometimes it was screaming or earnest hymns sung in a language that could not be understood.
Half the corridors were thick with detritus and the mess of the foulest inhabitation. In several, an individual would have to step over corpses, most of which showed the marks of knife-wounds that had ended their lives, though others showed signs of strangulation and gunshots.
Too many new, "faithful" souls were coming aboard at this time. Their filth and waste spread, as did the sickness in the lower decks, where the Legion's growing army of Chaos Cultists lived herded together like beasts. Though this situation was considered a disgrace by the Legion, it was difficult to prevent or remedy. The Word Bearers fleet's holds were swollen with faithful mortals, and could Lorgar not turn away anyone from the salvation and glory offered by the lords of the Empyrean.
- Tales of Heresy (Anthology), "Scions of the Storm," pp. 114-115
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Demski-Bowden, pp. 78, 88, 115, 120, 124, 245, 357, 360, 363
- Butcher's Nails (Audio Book) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Betrayer (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, pp. 10-11, 16, 22, 113, 122-123, 139-140, 155, 167, 189-191, 194, 199, 216, 235, 245, 254