"Let my epitaph be this; I was born nameless and abandoned in the gutter of a sunless pit, but I have died a conqueror of worlds."
- — Reputed last words of Lord Militant Erais Slaithe
Ireton MaSade was a Lord Marshal of the Imperial Army and a warrior of much fame during the Great Crusade-era and an exemplar to the men of the Excertus Imperialis. Enlisting as a simple trooper in the Imperial Army, Ireton MaSade's ascension would be steep indeed, ending not only in command of an entire Expeditionary Fleet, but as ruler of a newly Compliant Imperial world.
While exemplary, his career would hardly have led him to be remembered as he is now -- the esteemed former Imperial Commander of the Agathean Domain -- having retired several solar decades prior to the events of the Horus Heresy.
Had it not been for the death of his beloved granddaughter, Ireton MaSade, the "Old General" might well have been forgotten and the Imperium deprived of one of its greatest heroes. As it was, this minor event would make Ireton MaSade come out of seclusion and take command of the Agathean Cohorts, who would go on to valiantly fight against the traitorous forces of the Warmaster Horus during the galactic civil war.
Rise of the "Old General"
By birth, Ireton MaSade was a Terran, having been born to the scavenger tribes of the Talacra Silt Wastes to the west of Old Albia in the late eighth century of the 30th Millennium. As a young man, he, like millions of others, joined the muster of what would soon become the Exercitus Imperialis or Imperial Army. Ireton MaSade enlisted as a common soldier, but his aptitudes would see him assigned to the Solar Auxilia, the highly-equipped elite Cohorts of the Emperor of Mankind's human troops.
Over solar decades of front line service, the former void-soldier would ascend swiftly through the ranks by dint of great intelligence, cold-blooded bravery and a phenomenal natural talent for warfare. Throughout his career as a common infantry man as well as a commanding officer, Ireton MaSade fought against numerous different species of hateful xenos. On hundreds of different worlds, he had proved that he could overcome every situation, adapt to every enemy and use any tactic to its maximal efficiency.
As well as having fought beside forces of the Mechanicum -- whose strengths and weaknesses he intimately knew -- MaSade had also had the honour of fighting alongside Warmaster Horus Lupercal himself, studying his methods and learning the strategic value of a decapitation strike -- for an enemy without a leader was an enemy half-defeated. As the Great Crusade rolled onwards, Ireton MaSade reached high command position. When the previous leader of the 60th Expeditionary Fleet died in battle, Ireton MaSade was promoted in command of it, his brevet command being later ratified by the hands of the Emperor Himself.
Though he served with distinction, MaSade's efforts were overshadowed by the exploits of the Legiones Astartes. Amongst the Auxilia, however, his fame grew rapidly. At the head of the 60th Expeditionary Fleet, MaSade flew from victory to victory until the War Council called upon him to break the deadlock of the Agathon Compliance. Agathon, a Hive World of some five billions souls, had until then, successfully resisted Imperial Compliance for nearly fifteen standard years.
Under MaSade's orders the 60th Expeditionary Fleet would finally break Agathon's resistance and prove victorious. The cultic aristocracy that had ruled Agathon for so long was purged, and in reward for this final victory and a lifetime of services, MaSade and his officers were awarded right of conquest over Agathon and the "Old General" as his troops had nicknamed the aging Ireton MaSade, became its first Imperial Commander.
Protector of Agathon
Under MaSade's rule, Agathon thrived. Although much has been lost in the way of precious documents and knowledge, it would seem that Ireton MaSade would prove as outstanding a planetary ruler as he had been a military commander. MaSade made sure that the martial traditions of the 1522nd Cohort would subsist, the descendants of the original Solar Auxilia being trained in the way of their forbearers to form the Agathean Cohorts. It would seem that the colonisation of the nearby world of Legatus was conducted at Ireton MaSade's initiative, securing Legatus' mineral wealth both for Agathon and the Imperium and thus providing the new planetary ruler a convenient place to exile dissidents amongst the population.
Those that did not bow before Imperial rule soon swelled the population of the miners on Legatus, ensuring Agathon's prosperity and military might. Ireton's reign was a prosperous and a long one -- if not entirely uncontested -- when time came to let his heir take over the reins of the nascent Agathean Domain, Ireton left his successor with a thriving world, a strong military and fleet, as well as a comfortable position.
Although overt resistance had quickly been overcome, some parts of the population, especially the lower tiers which never mingled with the Imperial colonists, still harbored considerable resentment against those they perceived as invaders; a strong feeling that could easily be spurned into civil unrest as the dark days to come would prove.
His lifespan considerably augmented by Imperial anti-aging and rejuvenat technology, the old Lord Marshal retired from political life and lived a peaceful, if reclusive life. His family continued to play an important role amongst Agathon's ruling elite, but on a political level Ireton MaSade would not intervene again until the fateful day his dead grand-daughter would return to Agathon.
In a spirit of peace and cohesion Ireton's successor would relinquish some of his Emperor-granted powers to the Parliament of Electors, a political assembly intended to let the population participate to some extant in its governance.
Cry for Justice
Jocasta MaSade had been an officer of Battlefleet Agathon and captain of the henceforth famous Cruiser Telemachus, the sole surviving Agathean vessel of the Treachery at Port Maw. Her death would have gone unmarked next to the tens of billions that would die during the Heresy had it not been for the repercussions it triggered on distant Agathon. Jocasta's death would be the key event that would bring her grandfather Ireton out of his retirement. By now nearly two hundred standard years old, the former Imperial Commander of Agathon and its domains was much different from the man he had been.
Physically, he was almost feeble, the expensive anti-aging and rejuvenat treatments having extended his life far beyond the human norm, but having failed to preserve his physical strength; in fact, Ireton MaSade relied on an exoskeletal ambulator frame to move. However, his mind was still as sharp as the day he had conquered Agathon, and the grief and rage at his granddaughter's death had given new vigor to his limbs.
Loath to see his world and his legacy fall into ruin, Ireton MaSade would take drastic actions to ensure that the Agathean Domain would remain loyal and honour their obligations to the Emperor. His ultimate goal was however far more personal: vengeance...vengeance for Jocasta. But to reach his goal, he would first need to reinstate himself as the sole ruler of Agathon and its military might, only then would he be able to wage war against those whom had had a hand in his granddaughter's demise.
Without explanations or being summoned there, Ireton MaSade made for the Parliament of Electors -- Agathon's ruling council of officials which had governed over the Agathean Domain since his own retirement. The Parliament's officials had been vehemently arguing among themselves, trying to hold at bay the growing civil unrest and desperately trying to prevent the outbreak of overt civil warfare. MaSade's intrusion shocked the Electors into silence for he had not come alone: behind him, a troop of Solar Auxilia Veletaris formed an honour guard around Jocasta MaSade's body which was being transported on a floating, anti-gravitic stasis bier.
All the Veletaris were dressed in Agathon's traditional colour of mourning -- a frosty ice white -- and carrying their Volkites in solemn silence before them. The gathered Electors were forced to listen as MaSade spoke, first on his grief and the noble sacrifice of his granddaughter, then of the dream of the Imperium -- a dream of humanity and harmony under the Imperial Truth. As his oratory turned to rage at the moral weakness of his successors, Ireton MaSade denounced the Parliament and declared them traitors to the Emperor, sentencing them all to death.
Before the gathered nobles of Agathon could give reply or protest, the funeral guard turned their weapons on the council members and burned them to ashes. With no one left to countermand his orders, Ireton MaSade assumed control of the Agathean Domain with the support of the remnants of the 60th Expeditionary Fleet's officer cadre and their descendants. This effectively put him in command of Agathon's military. Martial law was decreed within the first solar day of MaSade's rise to power and soon mass-mobilisation would ensure that the entire Domain was on a war-footing. Burning with hate, but with deliberate care, Ireton MaSade began to make plans to avenge the loss of his granddaughter.
Despite being a minor Hive World, the industrial output of Agathon and its Domain was quite sizable. In times of peace it was already sufficient to maintain several squadrons of Cruisers and equip several Cohorts of Solar Auxilia, but girded for war this output was vastly increased. Ireton MaSade showed an unusual clairvoyance in prioritising the manufacture of augmented blast-charger capacitors.
These devices vastly increased the output of a soldier's Lasrifle, but put its barrel under horrible and often disastrous stress. Even at the time of the Great Crusade, blast-chargers were only rarely issued, however, they saw fairly regular use against the most dangerous and powerful alien creatures of the galaxy. Fortunately for the soldiers of the Agathean Cohorts, Ireton MaSade was a veteran of countless xenocide wars and had had to resort to this technology several times at the head of the 60th Expeditionary Fleet.
Fully expecting to be confronted by either traitorous Legiones Astartes or the dark and deadly constructs of the Mechanicum -- both being considerably better armoured than his troops -- the increased power of the Auxilia's small arms could potentially prove invaluable.
From the beginning, MaSade's intent was not solely to mount a strong defence but to take the fight to the enemies of his Emperor and punish them for the grief they had caused him. Displaying his tactical brilliance as he had done in the past, MaSade divided his forces into three separate taskforces that would attack the enemy in quick succession and on a wide front. It is unclear if MaSade's choices were motivated by his personal grief or by strategic expediency, as both the liberation of the Agri-world of Numinal and the despatching of the remaining Agathean warships to Cerada Secundus, seem to have been directed towards thwarting Cyclothrathe's expansion.
No doubt the survivors of the Telemachus had told Ireton how the Cyclothratine war-ark Arithmetic of Violence was to blame for opening fire upon them during the events known as the Treachery at Port Maw, and were thus to blame for the death of his beloved granddaughter. The last taskforce was sent to the galactic East, to secure the Frontier World of Bitter Hold against enemy intrusion. Acting perhaps on knowledge of Archmagos Draykavac's presence on Numinal -- or more likely, the ongoing resistance of several insurrectionists and military units -- Ireton MaSade decided to personally lead his men in the counter-invasion of Numinal.
Liberaton of Numinal
Prior to the Agathean counterattacks, Agathon had welcomed an unusual and unexpected guest in the person of the famed Rogue Trader vessel Hammer of the Deeps -- which used to belong to Rogue Trader Militant Charid Undine, known to serve the Warmaster Horus' cause. This was no longer the case, as the new leader of the Agathean Domain would soon discover. The Hammer of the Deeps had been taken by the Loyalist Knights of House Orhlacc on their homeworld of Dark Haven when her impetuous former master had demanded of High Seneschal Valdemar Orhlacc to bow before the power of Horus and submit to his will. With all contact with Dark Haven lost, most had assumed the Knights defeated or destroyed, but the wise Seneschal had mobilised what vessels he could, and evacuated their homeworld before covertly trying to find refuge in an Emperor-loyal system.
Seizing upon this occasion, Ireton MaSade brokered a deal with High Seneschal Valdemar: a new world to call their own, and the promise that the Agathean authorities would not interfere there, in exchange for House Orhlacc's support in the dark times ahead. After some deliberation the bargain was struck: House Orhlacc would receive dominion over the savage world of Wychval and the famed Knights of the Manticore would accompany the Agathean Cohorts to do battle against those who had forsaken their oaths and allied with the Arch-Traitor Horus.
With such a powerful vessel as the Hammer of the Deeps to call upon, Ireton MaSade devised a new strategy to reconquer the occupied Agri-world. Sadly, it is unclear how much information Ireton MaSade acted upon. Did he know that the vaunted warleader of Forge World Cyclothrathe, Archmagos Draykavac, was on Numinal? Was this to be a personal vendetta? Did he know that some elements of the Obed Cohorts still waged guerrilla warfare against the occupying Mechanicum forces? Or had he heard of the huge amphibious crawlers forcibly converting Numinal's civilian population into Cyclothrathe-bound Servitors and Adsecularis?
We shall never know. Tactically, the counter-invasion was sound: the Warp-route of Numinal being the best-known and most-travelled connection to the Agathean Domain. Retaking Numinal would mean securing Agathon from future enemy invasions. These and various other reasons must have crossed Ireton MaSade's mind while he formulated his master-plan.
Using the ancient nature of the Hammer of the Deeps as camouflage to Horus' forces, Ireton MaSade used the mighty vessel to covertly approach the moon of Quachil where Numinal's astropathic relay was established. Counting on the element of surprise, he seized the relay and prevented the Traitors from calling for assistance or raising the alarm on Numinal. Whilst his own troops landed on the planet and established a fortified beachhead, House Orhlacc would remain on stand-by onboard the Hammer of the Deeps, ready to intervene once the enemy warlord had shown himself.
Never prone to stay behind, Ireton MaSade would personally lead the Agathean Cohorts on Numinal, ensuring they would dig in and fend off any attack until the time was right for a textbook decapitation-strike -- a tactic favoured by the Sons of Horus since their time as the Luna Wolves -- and one which Ireton MaSade had learned at the side of Horus himself.
MaSade's own experience would prove a precious boon for the Agatheans as he had also fought besides the untiring constructs of the Mechanicum and knew both their strength and their weaknesses. Given an opportunity to entrench or retreat into the myriad of outposts and processing plants that covered Numinal, MaSade's human troops would be at a disadvantage. To obtain victory Ireton MaSade would have to trust that the enemy commander would think as all Mechanicum-priests did and rely on cold logic to win his battle. MaSade could use this knowledge against his opponent until the moment was right for the decapitation strike.
The Liberation of Numinal would be a huge success and Ireton MaSade's first victory in the bitter wars of the Horus Heresy. This resounding Imperial victory greatly affected the balance of power in the region of the Coronid Deeps. Although distant and cut-off from Terra, or indeed any Loyalist reinforcements, Ireton MaSade's determination and skill would ensure the opening of a new front within this region of space.
In particular, it would hinder the expansion of the Cyclothrathine Mechanicum, whose offensive was considerably slowed at the same time that it was forced to abandon the rapid expansion it had pursued thus far, even being forced to retreat from Cerada Secundus. These attacks from an unexpected quarter would also prove a thorn in the Traitors' side in the larger war. Disrupting convoys, launching raids, and unleashing periodic attacks, the Agatheans would tie up precious troops and vessels that would have been put to better use in Horus' push for the Segmentum Solar.
- Master-crafted Power Sword
- Archaeotech Pistol
- Iron Halo
- Ambulator Frame - Ambulator frames are medical exoskeletons that use irreplaceable relic technology dating back to the Dark Age of Technology to counteract the infirmities of old age. These precious relics are only found amongst the most powerful and senior members of the Imperium of Man's ruling elite as they not only continue to keep their wearer alive, but the ambulator provides protections and enhanced physical strength comparable to that provided by Artificer Armour. Most of ambulator frames also include batteries of stimulants, drugs or other medicines that can keep their wearer alive even after having suffered the most horrific of wounds as later illustrated by the legendary resilience of Inquisitor Commodus Voke.
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 54-63, 257