Honsou is a Chaos Space Marine and a Warsmith of the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion. Honsou managed to attain the position of Warsmith (Captain) of his own Iron Warriors Grand Company despite heavy prejudice against him from other Iron Warriors Astartes for being a "half-breed" whose gene-seed came in part from the Iron Warriors greatest rivals, the Loyalist Imperial Fists Space Marine Chapter. Despite his fellow Iron Warriors' prejudice, Honsou's abilities and tenaciousness helped him to succeed in becoming one of the Iron Warriors' greatest champions and a great bane to the servants of the Corpse Emperor.
Siege of Hydra Cordatus
During Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41, the Iron Warriors, under the command of an unnamed Warsmith, attacked the Adeptus Mechanicus Forge World of Hydra Cordatus which supplied weapons and other war materiel to the Imperium of Man at large, and was one of the few locations in the galaxy where the Mechanicus secretly stored its tithes of Space Marine gene-seed. Alongside his chief rivals Forrix and Kroeger, of the 1st and 2nd Grand Companies, respectively, Honsou was one of three champions of the Warsmith that laid siege to the large citadel and manufactorum complex known as the Tor Christo. Deep within this formidable Imperial citadel lay the stasis vaults which contained the genetic material drawn from the Iron Warriors' most hated and ancient rivals, the Imperial Fists.
The Iron Warriors desperately needed the Astartes' pure gene-seed to reconstitute their numbers as the corrupting power of Chaos tended to mutate their own gene-seed to the point that it was unusable to replenish their ranks with new Chaos Space Marines. Honsou was often belittled by his fellow Iron Warriors for having mixed gene-seed which consisted of spliced Iron Warriors and Imperial Fists genetic material. He was referred to by his fellows as a "half-breed", due to his gene-seed's mixed heritage. Despite the Imperial forces arrayed against them, including a large garrison of Imperial Guard troops and even a small detachment of Titans of the Legio Ignatum protecting its precious contents, in the end the Iron Warriors emerged triumphant. They defeated the Imperial forces defending Tor Christo, as well as an entire company of Imperial Fists who had arrived as reinforcements to try and prevent the theft of their genetic legacy.
Having greatly pleased the Chaos Gods through his monumental victory over the Imperium, the commanding Warsmith was allowed to ascend to become a Daemon Prince. Before his final ascension to daemonhood, the Warsmith appointed Honsou as his successor, declaring him the new Warsmith of his Grand Company. He then commanded Honsou to take the stolen Imperial Fists gene-seed back to the Iron Warriors' Daemon World of Medrengard within the Eye of Terror. After the Iron Warriors withdrew from Hydra Cordatus they bombarded the remains of the citadel to dust, leaving behind a lone Imperial survivor to tell the tale of what had occurred.
When Honsou returned to the Iron Warriors' homeworld of Medrengard within the nightmarish realm of the Eye of Terror, he sent the newly obtained gene-seed to the Forces of Chaos' Warmaster Abaddon the Despoiler as was required, but he secretly kept a small portion of the pure genetic material for himself. With his ill-gotten gains, Honsou set about constructing a bizarre and horrific genetic system known as the Daemonculaba -- which combined the application of technology and the arcane to create new Astartes to swell the ranks of the Iron Warriors. This process required an adolescent human boy to be sealed within the womb of a genetically-modified human female slave, known as a Daemonculaba, who had been impregnated with the stolen Astartes gene-seed. The Daemonculabas either produced horribly mutated freaks known as the Unfleshed (who were cast out into the wastelands of Medrengard) or a new Chaos-corrupted Astartes ripe for incorporation within the Iron Warriors' ranks. The Daemonculaba hosts were kept within Warsmith Honsou's fortress of Khalan-Ghol.
Refusing to uphold his predecessor's promise to share the stolen gene-seed amongst his fellow Iron Warriors commanders, Honsou led his warriors in a brutal civil war with two rival Warsmiths -- Lord Toramino and the Chaos Dreadnought Berossus. Recently exiled from the Ultramarines Chapter for violating the Codex Astartes, Captain Uriel Ventris and his best friend, the Veteran Sergeant Pasanius Lysane, were tasked to fulfill a Death Oath sworn by their Chapter Master Marneus Calgar. They accomplished this by traveling aboard the ancient Daemon Engine Omphalos Daemonium into the Eye of Terror and infiltrating Medrengard. Once there, they were tasked with the impossible mission of seeking out and destroying the Daemonculaba.
Engulfed by the Iron Warriors' civil war, Khalan-Ghol was under seige by the Warsmiths Toramino and Berossus. The Ultramarines enlisted the help of the Raven Guard Renegade Ardaric Vaanes, and his group of fellow Space Marine Renegades, to infiltrate the fortress at the height of the siege. However, the group was soon captured by Honsous's daemon-possesed Iron Warrior bodyguard, Onyx and taken to the halls of the Savage Morticians, Dark Mechanicus techpriests that had created and oversaw the Daemonculaba process. Once there, the Savage Morticians entombed Uriel within the womb of one of the Daemonculaba so as to kill him. Honsou showed great interest in Pasanius' bionic arm of living metal, which was made from Necrodermis, the living metal that comprised the cybernetic bodies of the Necrons and their C'tan Shards. Pasanius' bionic arm was removed and reattached to Honsou for him to use. This enraged Pasanius against the Savage Morticians who had performed the surgery, even as Uriel miraculously fought free of the Chaos-corrupted womb and made good his escape, along with a few survivors, down a sewage chute.
In the meantime, making one final push against Khalan Gol, the forces of Lord Berossus stormed Honsou's citadel. The two rival Warsmiths fought a titanic duel, but with the help of his daemon-possessed bodyguard, Honsou eventually emerged triumphant. With the death of their lord, Berossus' men defected to the forces of the victorious Honsou, and joined his forces against the rival Toramino. Leading a band of the mutant Unfleshed, Uriel once again infiltrated Honsou's citadel and successfully destroyed the Daemonculaba. Uriel also freed the Heart of Blood, one of the most favoured daemonic avatars of the Blood God Khorne, which had been imprisoned by the Iron Warriors and forced to create and sustain an unbreakable psychic barrier around the fortress of Khalan-Ghol for over ten thousand Terran years. With the psychic barriers broken, the Chaos Warsmith Toramino was able to employ psychic attacks against his rival's citadel.
During the ensuing melee, Honsou and his retinue discovered and cornered both Uriel and Pasanius before they could flee the citadel. But before the Warsmith could have his retinue slay the upstart Ultramarines, the Unfleshed arrived on the scene and viciously attacked the Iron Warriors and slew them. Fleeing from the battle, Captain Ventris chased after Honsou and shot him in the back of the head with his Bolter. Having fulfilled their Death Oath, the two Ultramarines returned to their Chapter on Macragge. After their departure, by some dark miracle, Honsou managed to survive the near-fatal wound. The wounded Warsmith then discovered the Heart of Blood, thoroughly exhausted from its battle with a daemonic rival, and collapsed upon the floor of the ruined citadel. Employing the formidable powers of the Heart of Blood against Toramino's attacking forces, Honsou eventually emerged triumphant. The slaughter and destruction the Bloodthirster unleashed was unlike anything the Warsmith had ever seen before, its ancient fury deeper than the darkest chasm in the Daemon Primarch Perturabo's lair. It reduced everything before it to utter ruin as Medrengard's blazing black sun gorged on the souls released into the dead sky.
The Warsmith's Wrath
Though Honsou had emerged as the victor in the brutal conflict between the Iron Warriors Warsmiths, it was a pyrrhic victory at best. Most of his forces has been smashed by the two rival Warsmiths and their armies during the internecine war. Despite the losses to his troops and the destruction of the Daemonculaba, Honsou began the task of rebuilding his forces. He accomplished this by inviting those surviving Renegade Space Marines, led by Ardaric Vannes, a former Battle-Brother of the Raven Guard, into his growing army. His personal retinue also changed to include Cadaras Grendal, a particularly murderous Iron Warrior who had previously served under Berossus, and the loathesome but powerful Warp-creature known as the Newborn -- who was genetically cloned from the genetic material of Uriel Ventris by the Daemonculaba before their destruction.
The recent destruction of Khalan-Ghol on Medrengard made the Warsmith seethe with rage at the bitter defeat by the hands of Uriel Ventris. Honsou plotted his vengeance against the upstart Ultramarines captain and his Chapter. Honsou knew he would not be satisfied until he had inflicted the most wretched humiliations on the one enemy who had escaped him. Honsou attacked Defence Platform Ultra Nine, an Imperial space station that orbited above Tarsis Ultra, the sight of Captain Ventris's stunning victory over the Tyranids a few short years before. Honsou's warband slaughtered everyone aboard the station and seized control of its deadly missile payload.
A salvo of sixteen orbital torpedoes surged from the station's launch bays, followed by another rippling salvo seconds later. Another three salvos launched until all but one of the platform's entire payload of missiles was expended. Each missile dropped away rapidly from the platform in a ballistic trajectory towards the planet's surface. As the missiles reached a predetermined altitude over the planet's surface, each one exploded and spread its viral payload into the air. Vast quantities of the experimental Heraclitus viral strain were released into the atmosphere. All across the planet, a terrible rain fell, wreaking terrible damage as the insidious microbes went to work on Tarsis Ultra's indigenous and xenos vegetation.
The world of Tarsis Ultra had suffered the horror of invasion by the monstrous swarms of the Tyranids. Though the invasion had been defeated, the dreadful legacy of the alien invaders remained to taint the planet's ecology forever. From pole to pole, horrific spires of dreadful alien vegetable matter towered over the landscape, slowly choking the life from the natural landscape. The alien flora had subsumed entire continents, a rapacious instinct to devour encoded in every strand of its genetic structure. Nutrients were leeched from the soil and used to create hyper-fertile spore growths that drifted on the heated currents of the air to seed new regions and pollute yet more land.
The Heraclitus virus had been developed from a partial fragment of ancient research conducted by the Mechanicus' Magos Heraclitus. The bio-toxins were intended to increase the growth rate of crops on Agri-worlds, and were designed to increase the productivity of such worlds a thousand-fold. Within seconds of the Heraclitus strain's release into the atmosphere, the alien growths reacted to its touch, surging upwards and over the planet's terrain. Overwhelmed by mutant growths, poisonous plant life expanded whole kilometres in seconds as the virulent growth strain sent its metabolism into overdrive.
Huge amounts of nutrients were sucked from the ground and released as enormous quantities of heat, raising the ambient temperature of the world in a matter of moments. Oxygen was sucked greedily from the atmosphere by horrifyingly massive spore chimneys and the planet's protective atmospheric layers were gradually stripped in an unthinking biological genocide. This was not the rapid death of Exterminatus, but ecological death of global proportions. Panicked messages were hurled out into the Immaterium and only those with the money, influence or cunning escaped on hastily-prepared starships that fled the planet's destruction.
In the wake of the attack, billions had been left behind and, weeks later, as the last of the planet's atmosphere was stripped from it by the hyper-evolved alien biology, hard stellar radiation swept the surface, killing every living thing and laying waste to all that remained. Months after the launch of the Heraclitus missiles, nothing remained alive, the deadly alien vegetation killed by lethal levels of radiation and the frigid cold that gripped the planet without its protective atmosphere. All that now remained of the planet was a dead, lifeless ball of rock, its surface seared and barren, with only the skeletal remains of its blackened cities left as evidence that human beings had once lived upon it.
After the death of Tarsis Ultra, Magos Locard of the Adeptus Mechanicus and members of the Skitarii landed upon the dead planet, attempting to investigate what occurred. Following a lone beacon, the Explorator team found a lone battered orbital torpedo. Removing the payload bay of the torpedo, the Magos reached inside and removed its contents -- a cracked helmet, the paint chipped and one eye lens missing. The helmet was a deep blue and bore the badge of the Ultramarines Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. The helmet was meant to send a message to Uriel Ventris -- that you don't walk away from a fight with the Warsmith Honsou without paying a price.
The Skull Harvest
In order to rebuild his forces, Honsou travelled to the Badab Sector, the site of the infamous Badab War, to the heart of the Warp rift called the Maelstrom. Within the heart of this hellish realm lay New Badab, the homeworld of Huron Blackheart, the infamous Tyrant of Badab and now the leader of the Red Corsairs. Honsou attended the Skull Harvest, a contest hosted by Blackheart between Chaos warbands where Chaos Champions vyed with one another for supreme dominance, until only one victor emerges. The reigning Champion than took total control of the losing Champions' warbands. The Skull Harvest took place within the Arena of Thorns, the large venue that hosted the murderous contest; the decapitated heads of the fallen were mounted and displayed upon spikes. Blood would be spilled, the weak would die and the victor would benefit greatly from the Tyrant of Badab's patronage. Honsou was determined to win the murderous contest at any cost, for he possessed a grand vision of revenge.
With the victories the Warsmith and his champions had won over the following days, Honsou's force had grown exponentially in size, numbering somewhere in the region of 5,000 soldiers. Scores of armoured units and fighting machines, as well as all manner of xenos and corsair troops were now his to command. The swords of seventeen warbands now belonged to Honsou and, by any measure of reckoning, he had a fearsome force with which to wreak havoc on his enemies. But the Skull Harvest was not yet over and the Tyrant's rule decreed that there could be only one champion left standing at its end.
As the fourth day of killing drew to an end only the armies of three Champions remained. There were the forces of Honsou, those of the Blood God Khorne's Champion, Pashtoq Uluvent and his force of 6,000 blood-hungry skull-takers, and the Pleasure God Slaanesh's Champion, Notha Etassay and his procured warband of 5,000 fighters. And Warsmith Honsou's warband of Iron Warriors. On the final day of the Skull Harvest, the three warriors stepped into the arena, clad in their armour and each armed with their weapon of choice. This stage of the battle would be where each warrior sought to gauge the measure of the other, searching for signs of weakness or fear to be exploited. Honsou knew he would find neither in these two opponents, warriors hardened by decades of war and devotion to their Gods. Honsou cared nothing for the thrill of the fight, nor the honour of the kill. This entire endeavour was a means to a single end.
The Slaaneshi Champion was quickly bested, and Honsou then faced the berserk Uluvent. In the ensuing battle, Honsou managed to destroy the Khornate Champion's weapon, forcing him to grapple with his opponent in bloody close quarters. The sheer ferocity of Uluvent's attack nearly overwhelmed Honsou, who only just managed to free his necrodermis arm and use it to rip open a jagged wound in Uluvent's neck. Weaponless and bleeding out quickly, the Khornate Champion called for another weapon to finish the dual between himself and the Warsmith. As he reached for a sword from his ally, the apparent turncoat Cadaras Grendel (who had recently served Honsou, but had changed allegiances) reversed his grip and rammed the blade into the Khornate Champion's chest. The tip of the weapon ripped through the back of Uluvent's armour and the mighty warrior staggered as Grendel twisted the blade deeper into his chest. Honsou gave him no chance to recover from his shock and pain, and brought his axe down upon the Khornate warrior's shoulder, the dark blade smashing the warrior's shoulder guard to splinters and cleaving the champion of the Blood God from collarbone to pelvis. Honsou then honoured the former Champion's last request, and took his skull off his neck with a sweep of his axe. Honsou emerged as the sole victor of the Skull Harvest.
At the final tally, Honsou left New Badab with close to 17,000 Chaotic warriors sworn in blood to his cause. Pashtoq Uluvent's warriors, and the others that he had won, were now Honsou's, their banners now bearing the Iron Skull badge of the Iron Warriors. The Slaaneshi Champion Notha Etassay survived the final battle and then willingly swore allegiance to Honsou. As the Warsmith's starship broke orbit over New Badab, numerous other vessels now accompanied it, gifts from the Tyrant of Badab to be used for the express purpose of dealing death to the hated forces of the Corpse Emperor. In addition, a ragtag, yet powerful fleet of corsairs and Renegades also formed up around Honsou's flagship. The Warsmith's fleet departed the Tyrant's domain and set course for the Eastern Fringe and the Realm of Ultramar.
Ultramar and the 13th Black Crusade
With his army assembled, Honsou was finally ready to unleash his audacious plan for revenge against Uriel Ventris by completely destroying the Realm of Ultramar. He would enact his plan with the help of the Daemon Prince M'kar the Reborn, who had once been Maloq Kartho, a Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion during the Horus Heresy. Learning of the vile daemon's long-standing hatred for the Ultramarines, Honsou was able to enlist the aid of Abaddon the Despoiler's damned seer Moriana to help free the daemon's spirit from its prison, which had been trapped within the Warp core of the Star Fort Indomitable by the Ultramarines' Chapter Master Marneus Calgar decades earlier, in 935.M41.
With his formidable army of Chaos Renegades, Honsou easily captured the Star Fort and was able to free M'kar from his prison. The Daemon Prince then possessed the armoured Dreadnought chassis of Brother Altarion, an Ultramarines Astartes assigned to guard the fort. M'kar used Altarion's once-sacred shell as his host-body in order to remain in the material universe. With his army ready, Honsou's forces first struck within the Realm of Ultramar on the arid Imperial Agri-World of Tarentus. The newly freed M'kar bound the Indomitable to a Warp Gate and called forth a huge army of daemons to attack the cities of the planet from within, slaughtering the entire world's population. When the Ultramarines Chapter responded to the dire threat that Honsou's forces presented, the Warsmith left a trap for them in the planet's capital city of Axum, which nearly annihilated Captain Uriel Ventris and the entirety of his 4th Company.
After their success on Tarentus, Honsou's forces next assaulted the Imperial Ocean World of Talassar. After laying siege to the planet, M'kar quickly forced himself into a position of shared command of the Warsmith's Chaotic army and divided its forces amongst the various Chaos Champions, a situation neither Chaos Lord could tolerate for any length of time. The Forces of Chaos gathered by Honsou were dubbed by the Daemon Prince as the "Bloodborn," much to the Warsmith's resentment. Each subordinate commander was then assigned a different strategic target.
M'kar convinced Honsou to travel to Ventris' homeworld of Calth, with explicit instructions from M'kar to destroy the Tomb of Ventanus -- the famed Ultramarines Captain who slew the Daemon Prince when he was still a mortal and a former Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers during the Horus Heresy. M'kar could not himself go near the tomb, which radiated the power of Imperial faith in the Emperor and was thus anathema to a creature of the Warp. Armed with the knowledge of Ventris, the clone known as the Newborn were able to find the location of the subterranean tomb within the Cavernas Draconi on Calth. Hounsou and his ally Grendel were led by the Newborn and eventually discovered the tomb's exact location. As they prepared to destroy it, the keen mind of Honsou perceived that there was more to M'kar's reluctance to come near the world of Calth than the foul creature had admitted. Therefore, the Warsmith decided to investigate further and soon discovered that there was an artefact, a Combat Knife, buried with the long-dead Ultramarines captain that was known as the Shard of Erebus. Honsou realised that the simple blade was capable of badly harming the Daemon Prince because of the faith that had been invested within it after so many millennia of devotion. But before the Warsmith could capitalise on the newly acquired weapon, Captain Ventris and a Command Squad of Ultramarines arrived and began attacking Honsou's forces. Honsou tasked the Newborn to kill Ventris, but in the ensuing battle the Ultramarines captain was able to defeat his corrupted clone.
At the height of the battle, the Iron Warriors were overwhelmed and defeated by what appeared to be the ghosts of Captain Ventanus and his fellow Ultramarines that were housed within the tomb. With his men dead and his quest for vengeance foiled, Honsou activated the trigger for explosives intended to destroy the tomb. The resulting explosion buried Captain Ventris and his men, but he and the majority of his allies managed to survive the explosion and subsequent cave-in. Upon further investigation, the body of Honsou was never found.
M'kar survived to eventually face Marneus Calgar once more on the planet Talassar, but his essence was completely annihilated after Calgar struck him with the Shard of Erebus -- the same blade that Captain Ventanus had used to slay M'kar's human form of Maloq Kartho on Calth during the Horus Heresy.
Honsou, however, had planned for this eventuality and escaped the collapsing tomb on Calth. A drilling machine that had been used by the Iron Warriors to reach the tomb complex had served him well as an escape vehicle, and he hid away, patiently waiting for the Ultramarine presence on Calth to decrease, while he plotted an escape plan. Over the course of the next six standard months, Honsou prowled the remains of the Calth battlefields, scavenging multiple items. Any Imperial citizen that chanced upon him simply disappeared, leading to rumours about a "Beast of Calth" on the loose that was killing civilians. These rumors eventually attracted the attention of one of the Inquisitors overseeing the post-battle purges of any Warp-tainted entities, and Honsou realised that his time in hiding had run out. He ambushed a Calthian Planetary Defense Force (PDF) patrol, killing all but one of the troopers. He then butchered and dismembered the dead troopers, simulating a ritual sacrifice to the Dark Gods; while torturing his still-living victim, he boasted of how he was now ready to deliver a death blow to Calth in revenge.
The disappearance of the patrol, and the eventual discovery of Honsou's butchery, quickly brought the Inquisitor, a squad of Ultramarines and a whole PDF platoon on-site, and the dying trooper dutifully repeated everything he could remember of Honsou's ramblings. The Inquisitor deduced that the only way a single Iron Warrior could possibly hope to deliver a death blow to Calth on his own was by sabotaging one of the geothermal power plants that kept the atmosphere sealed and warm enough to sustain life deep wothin the planet's subterranean hive cities. While heavily defended, should such a station overload, the massive tectonic shifts and power shortages resulting from its destruction would indeed devastate Calth's fragile underground ecosphere. Confirmation of Honsou's plan soon came in the form of a warning call from the nearby geothermal station, as the resident Tech-priest detected an Iron Warrior Seeker drone hovering above the station, and broadcast a warning of a possible attack. The Inquisitor and the Ultramarines immediately set out to confront the threat, and ordered the PDF troopers to gather up the remains of their fallen comerades and retreat to Highside City, Calth's main spaceport. This was exactly what Honsou expected, and he then hid in one of the reserve fuel tanks for a PDF Chimera. The Ultramarines would only find booby traps and a decoy close to the geothermal station, and in that time, the PDF would have since long returned home at their base next to Calth's spaceport. Once there, the Iron Warrior easily slipped out of his concealment and boarded a departing voidship, already plotting the next steps in his eventual revenge on Uriel Ventris and the accursed Ultramarines.
- Storm of Iron (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Dead Sky, Black Sun (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Planetkill (Anthology), "The Heraclitus Effect" by Graham McNeill
- Heroes of the Space Marines (Anthology), "Skull Harvest" by Graham McNeill
- The Chapter's Due (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Iron Warriors Omnibus (Novel), "The Beast of Calth" by Graham McNeill