- "Warriors of Chogoris! Brothers of the Great Tribe! The star hunt calls you, do you not hear it? The battle’s red edge is your home, the respect of your kinsmen your hearth. Plunge into the enemy's breast like a blade, cut out his heart, and you will know fulfillment. The Emperor has given us strength. In return we give him victory!"
- — Jaghatai Khan, the Last Charge of Galathamar
Jaghatai Khan, also known as "The Great Khan," "the Khagan" and the "Warhawk," was the Primarch of the V Legion of Space Marines, the White Scars, who led them through the years of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy.
Jaghatai fought alongside his White Scars for another 70 standard years following the end of the Heresy, eventually disappearing in 084.M31 into a region of space known as the Maelstrom, a large Warp rift in the Ultima Segmentum that is a smaller counterpart of the Eye of Terror.
Jaghatai is believed to have been in pursuit of the Drukhari who had savaged his homeworld of Chogoris following the Battle of Corusil V with his 1st Brotherhood when he went through a Warp Gate into the Drukhari portion of the Webway. Jaghatai had been in pursuit of a mighty Drukhari lord, likely the Archon of the Drukhari Kabal that had attacked Corusil V and perhaps even Chogoris itself.
Jaghatai Khan has not been seen since, though the White Scars believe he is still alive somewhere within the Webway and will one day return to the Chapter in a time of great need. As a result of their Primarch's disappearance, the White Scars hold a particularly savage grudge against the Drukhari and will gladly seek out any opportunity to make war upon those savage and terrifying xenos.
- "Even his brother Primarchs understand little of him. His prowess with the blade earns him their respect even as his waywardness causes them concern. Guilliman has never trusted him. Russ is exasperated by him. Lorgar despises him for an untutored savage. Only Horus sees him for what he truly is. They are kindred souls, those two: warrior archetypes, bound by shared codes of martial honour and impatient with the heavy fetters of empire."
- — Scars by Chris Wraight
It is said that after being mysteriously transported from Terra through the Warp in his gestation capsule by the Ruinous Powers of Chaos, Khan landed on a planet in the Segmentum Pacificus named by the Imperium Mundus Planus, or as the native population called it, Chogoris. It was a fertile world with wide, open, green plains and tall, white mountains and blue seas.
At the time of the Great Crusade, the Chogorian people had managed to restore their technological level in the wake of the Age of Strife to one similar to the pike-and-shot level of the late Renaissance on Old Earth. The dominant empire was a well-organised feudal aristocracy which had conquered most of the planet with well-equipped and highly disciplined armies, maintaining plate-armored horsemen and tight blocks of pike and arquebus-armed infantry. Their leader was the Palatine, and he won all of his battles with this great army.
To the west of the Palatine's empire was the Empty Quarter, a barren grassland with few resources, and as such it was never invaded by the Palatine's armies. It was home to wandering tribes of vicious, nomadic horsemen and pastoralists who fought each other for their ancestral lands. The Palatine or other nobles of his empire would sometimes lead forces into the Empty Quarter to capture slaves or merely to hunt the tribesmen for fun.
Khan's legacy began in the Empty Quarter. He was found by Ong Khan, the chieftain or khan of a small tribe called the Talaskars, who saw the young Primarch as a gift from the gods. It is said he had a "fire in his eyes," the sign of a great warrior among the nomads. He was hated by the other tribes because of his ability to see beyond the constant warfare on the steppes to a vision of unity for all the downtrodden peoples of the Empty Quarter.
Legends recount that the most influential moment in Jaghatai's life was the slaying of his adopted father by the rival Kurayed tribe. Jaghatai, even as a young child, was the greatest warrior of the tribe and gathered Talaskar troops to avenge the death of his father.
They moved on the Kurayed tribe and razed its yurts to the ground, slaying every man, woman and child in a murderous, revenge-driven frenzy. Khan took the head of the enemy tribe leader and mounted it on his tent. This is what shaped him into a man of fierce honour, loyalty and ruthlessness. From then on, he swore to end the constant tribal in-fighting, unite all the people of the Empty Quarter and bring an end to the practice of brother fighting brother.
Khan fought hundreds of battles against other tribes and defeated hunting packs of nobles sent by the Palatine. Each tribe the Talaskars conquered was absorbed into the larger Talaskar confederacy and Jaghatai made military service mandatory while splitting tribes up and merging them with others to remove and ameliorate tribal differences and long-standing blood feuds. His warriors were fiercely loyal and Jaghatai promoted from the ranks based on merit and ability.
Ten summers after his arrival on Chogoris, as his tribe moved to their winter settlements, the Primarch was traveling on a mountainside with a group of his followers. A vast avalanche pushed him and his group back down the mountain, killing the normal men. Jaghatai survived, but could not get back up the mountain in time before the tribe moved on.
Khan was caught by one of the Palatine's aristocratic hunting bands led by the son of that emperor. All that returned of that band was one mutilated rider with the head of the son of the Palatine and a note saying that the people of the steppes were no longer his toys.
When the snows cleared that year, an enraged Palatine gathered a massive army and determined to march west to wipe the tribes of the Empty Quarter from the face of the planet. He had, however, underestimated the power and ability of Khan and brought his highly-disciplined army of heavily armoured warriors and arquebusiers. This proved to be his downfall as they could not catch the lightly armored Talaskar tribesmen.
The constant rain of arrows from the tribesmen took their toll on the tight ranks of the Palatine's warriors. Eventually the tribesmen defeated the army of the Palatine, who escaped back to his capital with a select few bodyguards. The rest of his army was slaughtered, almost to the last man.
After the battle, all the tribal elders of the Empty Quarter gathered and announced that Jaghatai Khan was now the Khagan, the "Khan of Khans," of the Empty Quarter, the rightful ruler of all its people.
The Khagan now began the long process of conquering the rest of the planet, which possessed only a single continent. It was during this momentous time that Jaghatai would meet several lifelong comrades -- including Targutai Yesugei, Qin Xa and Hasik -- all of whom would fight alongside the Primarch during their conquest of Chogoris, and would eventually go on to serve the Khagan for many Terran centuries to come.
Jaghatai gave those cities of the Palatine he besieged two choices -- to surrender or die. Most surrendered, but many resisted and were destroyed, utterly wiped from the face of the planet. Eventually the armies of Jaghatai came to the Palace of the Palatine, where the Primarch demanded the head of the Palatine on a spike.
His request was obliged by the capital city's population, which turned on their ruler to save their own lives from the fierce tribesmen of the Empty Quarter. Jaghatai Khan adorned his tent with his greatest conquest's head, just as he had with his first enemy two solar decades before.
In only twenty standard years Jaghatai Khan had conquered the largest empire in his world's history. He now had the problems of ruling that empire, not something he had originally expected. His nomadic people had no wish to rule these new, settled lands, only to carry on living in their old ways. The Talaskar people dispersed back to a tribal existence and Khan ruled over them all with his generals by his side.
As the ruler of his world, Jaghatai ended the wars that had wracked Chogoris, keeping the peace with the threat of utter ruin for those who transgressed his simple laws.
What the Khagan might have created in isolation from the embers of civilisation on Chogoris will never be known, for it was but a short while after his ascension to the throne that the Emperor of Mankind arrived to change his destiny forever.
Coming of the Emperor
Jaghatai's campaign of global conquest ended less than six solar months before the Emperor came to Chogoris in 865.M30 as part of His Great Crusade. Ironically, despite their role as pathfinders and discoverers, it was not a Pioneer Company of the Vth Legion that would discover lost Chogoris, but instead a fleet of the Luna Wolves Legion accompanied by both Horus and the Emperor.
On that long-isolated world, Jaghatai had prospered, binding together the fractured tribes of the hinterlands to conquer empires and subjugate the entire world to his will. It was an achievement to rival any of those of his brother-Primarchs in their foundling years, and the Emperor hailed him as a true son and inheritor of the legacy He had prepared for him.
The Great Khan, himself a builder of empires, was handed a destiny that saw him resigned to the role of servant and not master, bound to the ambitions of the Emperor. Such abasement did not come easily to such a conqueror as he, one who had slain kings and tyrants across the breadth of Chogoris, but still the Great Khan knelt before this Emperor.
Most historical accounts indicate that Jaghatai was overawed by the Emperor of Mankind and submitted without question, but his own journals and writings show a more pragmatic reasoning behind the submission. Jaghatai, who had struggled long with the disunity of his adopted people, saw clearly the benefits of the Imperium and the Emperor's secular doctrine of the Imperial Truth, and in the ranks of the Luna Wolves he saw the dire cost of opposition.
It was the same choice he himself had once offered to the tribes and cities of Chogoris, and even when it was cloaked in pomp and ceremony, the Khan of Khans understood what the Emperor's offer meant: to live as His vassal or perish as His rival. So the Khagan bargained for his loyalty and that of those he ruled, taking from the Emperor those guarantees he deemed fair regarding the treatment of the people of Chogoris and of his role in the future empire.
He would fight once again for unity and in secret revelled in the new challenge before him, at last able to slip the bonds of duty that had kept him busy with the mundane realities of governorship on Chogoris.
Despite having already mastered the strategies of conquest in his own war against the petty empires of Chogoris, Jaghatai Khan was unfamiliar with the advanced weapons and war engines of the Imperium. With fighting across the galaxy reaching a fevered intensity, the forces of the Emperor could ill spare any Primarch for lengthy training in the etiquette of the Terran Court or the intricacies of Imperial history.
All were needed upon the front lines as the expanding Imperium began to encounter more and more powerful xenos realms and fallen kingdoms of Mankind hidden in the dark void. The conquest of Chogoris was, in the eyes of the Emperor and many of the Primarchs, more than proof of Jaghatai's skill at war.
Indeed, of all of his new brother Primarchs, only Roboute Guilliman and Rogal Dorn objected to the all too brief period of induction that Jaghatai received. Both felt that to leave the new Primarch bereft of a true understanding of the Imperium's foundation and culture would leave him ill-prepared to integrate properly with its factions and politics.
Despite these objections, whose foresight was to prove unfortunate, the full authority of Legion Master of the Vth Legion was invested in Jaghatai, known among his brothers as "the Khan" and among his own as the Khagan, the Khan of Khans.
Star Hunters to White Scars
Such a title, Master of the Vth Legion, held little meaning at that time in history, for the Vth was scattered to the far corners of the galaxy, absorbed in a thousand separate wars. He was master of a Legion of vagabonds, a situation that might have sat less well with others of his brethren, but was a challenge well-suited to the Great Khan's talents and history.
Just as he had on the vast plains of Chogoris, the Great Khan sought to build a conquering army from insular nomadic bands, and he began in the same fashion. Recruiting from among those of his Chogorian comrades that were of an age to undergo the arduous transformative surgery and be reborn as Space Marines, the Great Khan formed a new core of warriors for his Legion. At the same time, he dispatched a grand summons, calling upon all of the disparate bands of the Vth Legion, the scattered Pioneer Companies that warred across the galaxy, to attend him.
Proclaimed by astropathic signal and courier ship, Jaghatai's call would take many years to reach the furthest of his warriors. After his discovery in 865.M30, the Khagan would wait for nearly a solar decade for the majority of the Pioneer Companies to assemble at Chogoris, the most isolated or heavily engaged still out of contact even as late as the start of the 31st Millennium.
The force that finally assembled in the skies above Chogoris in those early years of Jaghatai's command was not a unified Legion. Each company kept to their own, looking on those who should have been their brothers with suspicion and no little disdain, a gathering of strangers in a strange land.
When the Khagan brought them all together on the wide plains of the Empty Quarter, he beheld a thousand different heraldries on warriors of a hundred different worlds bound together only by the tenuous strands of their shared genetic legacy. The Khan of Khans wedded those genetic ties to the culture of Chogoris, making this the glue to unify his Legion. Through the rituals and traditions of the Chogorian hill tribes, they became the White Scars that day, their loyalty to the Khagan and each other secured by the trials of blood and pain they had undergone and the oaths they had sworn.
The gathering on Chogoris saw the first occurrence of a ritual that would grant the Vth Legion its new title, the White Scars, and seal its bond as a unified host. Adapted from the traditions of the Chogorian steppe tribes, "the Blooding," also known as "the Ascension," is a simple ritual, dispensing with much of the shamanistic pageantry of the original. It comprises but two parts, a cut and a name.
On the open fields of the Empty Quarter that day, more than 50,000 warriors took up blades in forms beyond count and cut a mark upon the flesh of their own faces, each gauging the depth and pattern of the wound to mark their loyalty. The scars inflicted as part of the ritual vary in size, shape and placement, and among the original tribesmen of Chogoris, this would serve to mark out different tribes and bloodlines, though among those not born of Chogoris, the significance was less important.
Among later generations of the Legion, certain patterns of scarring began to identify separate Brotherhoods within the Legion, but such patterns did not begin to emerge until the last few decades of the 30th Millennium.
The second part of the ritual, conducted on that first day with the blood of the scarring still bright on the first White Scars' skin, was to choose new names to represent their new lives as part of the Ordu of Jaghatai, as warriors of the White Scars, discarding the lives that had gone before. Such symbolism was fairly common among the various warrior societies that made up much of the early Imperium's vast armies, with many of the Space Marine Legions employing similar trials for their recruits.
Such ceremonies have been employed for centuries as tools to enforce solidarity and loyalty among the most brutal of warrior societies, those tasked with the most onerous of duties and the harshest of sacrifices. On Chogoris, such rituals had held the tribes together through centuries of murder-raids and slave hunts, and Jaghatai knew well its power to harden the soul and bind warriors together.
The names themselves were symbolic, and no strict pattern has ever been enforced on newly marked White Scars. That first generation on the fields of Chogoris named themselves for their deeds, while later levies of the Legion chose names from the world of Chogoris in honour of their Primarch.
The Khan of Khans gave them more than scars, encouraging the study of the "Noble Pursuits," as they were known on Chogoris -- such things as calligraphy, hunting and the telling of ancient tales. He made the ways of Chogoris the Truth of his Legion, a strange blend of practicality and superstition that was ill at ease with the strict tenets of the Imperial Truth which denied any and all brands of religion.
Jaghatai's refusal in later years to amend the practises of his Legion to more closely fit the Imperial Truth were yet another source of conflict between the Great Khan and some of his brothers, notably Lorgar and Roboute Guilliman.
Invasion of the Kolarne Circle
This was but the first part of the Khagan's strategy, for tradition alone would not suffice. In the wake of the games and ceremonies conducted on Chogoris, he led the combined ranks of the newly christened White Scars on campaign, the first battles they had fought as a unified host since leaving Terra.
The Khagan chose the lawless worlds of the Kolarne Circle for his initiation campaign. This region of space had been scouted several solar decades before by the 103rd Pioneer Company, the Soul Hunters, and was found to be teeming with wild outposts of renegade strains of Mankind and roaming xenos hosts.
On each of the dozens of feral and hellish worlds that made up the Circle, a long and vicious struggle awaited the White Scars, with few obvious gains in terms of strategic resource or value. However, the Khagan had chosen this battleground and his strategy with care.
He set his Legion against enemies that could not be overcome by any one company alone. Only by working as one Legion would they prevail. He dispersed the Keshig he had raised from Chogoris, the core of his new White Scars throughout the various companies, warriors whose names would only grow with the passing of years: Qin Xa, Targutai Yesugei, Hasik Noyan-Khan and others besides. These warriors he trusted to spread his teaching and to lead by example, to stand as his champions among the Vth Legion as it went to war in his name.
Of the 80,000 warriors that they led into the fighting, one in ten would perish in the five Terran years of struggle to cleanse the Circle, a baptism of fire and blood that sealed the bonds between the survivors stronger than any simple oath. The Orkish hordes of Sengr Mar and Vorgheist were cut to pieces in a series of hit and run campaigns that bore the tell-tale hallmarks of the Chogorian plains tribes' tactics.
Severely outnumbered by their foe, these tactics, intimately familiar to the Chogorian initiates of Jaghatai's inner circle, were best suited to make the most of the White Scars' native ferocity and war-honed skills.
Those companies assigned to the deepest systems of the Circle fought alone and unsupported for almost three Terran years before the remainder of the Legion secured the outer regions. Here the long-honed survival skills of the Pioneer Companies were put to the test, wedded to the Chogorian recruits' savagery and talent with a blade.
Where other Legions might have faltered or fallen back to regroup, losing the momentum of victory, these rugged warriors thrived, taking heart from the presence of their new lord.
In every battle in which he fought, Jaghatai led the assault. At first, the Legion simply followed him into the maelstrom but as tales of the Primarch's wild valour and consummate skill spread among the warriors of the Vth Legion, they soon began to compete to fight by his side.
It was his example that stood as their banner throughout the conflict and it was to the Khagan and each other whom they were bound, not to the distant dream of the Imperium or any one of its worlds, but only to the Khan of Khans and the savage joy he took in war and in life.
In those turbulent times, such things were considered of little note, for none would countenance the idea that a Primarch sworn to the Emperor would or could ever forsake his vows and, as such, absolute loyalty to the Khan was considered the same as absolute loyalty to the Imperium.
With the final battle for the Kolarne Circle fought and won upon the desolate ash-fields of Kolarne itself, the many inhabited worlds fell into the Great Khan's hands. Those worlds had served to bind his Legion together in blood and war, and now they would serve to rebuild it. From the wide plains of Chogoris, the rugged wastes of Kolarne and Old Earth's many recruitment camps, the Khagan replenished the ranks of the Legion and the White Scars emerged from the Kolarne Circle campaign a Legion reborn.
No longer were they a shadow that haunted the fringes of the Great Crusade -- the Great Khan had brought them into the light and he intended The First Blooding to stand at the forefront of the Emperor's Great Crusade, shoulder to shoulder with the other Legions.
The Laughing Killers
The Vth Legion returned to the Great Crusade not as the Pioneer Companies of old, but as the White Scars, united as a true Legion. This was the Great Crusade's apex of glory, the last century of the 30th Millennium. The nascent Imperium had pushed its borders to the very edges of the galaxy and thrown down the dragons that lurked at the margins of its ancient star charts. Now it grappled with those who would challenge its supremacy.
Many terrible hosts and fel empires sought to lay claim to what was the rightful domain of Mankind and the Emperor, and it fell to the Legiones Astartes to break them utterly. The White Scars were to number among the heroes of this age, spreading across the stars to bring war and death in the name of their new master. Though they lacked the numbers of some of their brother Legions, they were unmatched in the sheer impetuous fervour with which they made war.
These were heady days full of fire and conquest, the wild rush of unceasing war against enemies too numerous to count. Where other Legions sought to prosecute a war of stern discipline and careful planning, conquering with implacable might and securing those domains they seized, the White Scars descended upon the foe like a storm from clear skies.
Where the enemy was weak or exposed, they enveloped and overran its positions without mercy, using speed and fury to overwhelm any defence. Where it was strong or well-emplaced they harried the enemy where it was weak, leaving it vulnerable to the Legions that followed the trail of destruction they wrought. Many tales of their exploits speak equally of their ferocious skill-at-arms and the strategic insight of their commanders, different in style to that of other Legions, wilder and more direct, but no less effective.
Some considered them little more than barbaric reavers, akin to the wild butchers of Angron's World Eaters Legion or the executioners of Leman Russ' Space Wolves, but the records of their campaigns suggest otherwise. They were pathfinders in both a tactical and strategic sense, amongst the keenest and most proficient breed of the Legiones Astartes created by the Emperor. Exhaustive plans and interminable preparations were not their ways, often leaving them at odds with more deliberate warriors like the sons of Rogal Dorn or Roboute Guilliman.
Yet they valued learning and knowledge highly, many among them skilled as artificers, philosophers and artists. They gathered wisdom as other Legions gathered weapons, to be kept at the ready until the time came to unleash them upon the foe. They were the wind, everywhere and nowhere, insubstantial and yet forceful, and they took to the duty they were given with a passion, taking joy from the thrill of battle and the hunt across the stars. As Sanguinius is recorded to have once said of the reborn Vth Legion, "...they smile often and they laugh when they kill."
Unlike the brutal sons of Angron or the wild wolves of Fenris, the White Scars did not lack in discipline, and though they wore the cloak of the savage, they were not the same wild killers as those more infamous of their kin. Their nature was untamed, but still bound by the chains of duty and honour as defined by the Chogorian code. They were merciless and sometimes cruel on the attack and often seen as insolent or fractious, but such rumours were founded on misunderstanding.
When the White Scars granted no mercy to their foe, they did so not for the joy of simple slaughter, but in honour of the valour shown them, they held back nothing just as had a worthy foe. When they failed to respect the policies and plans of others, it was because their own ways served them better, rarely did they make counter-accusations of their own, allowing the results they garnered to speak for the rightness of their actions.
They valued courtesy and forthright honesty over protocol and rigid adherence to rules ill-suited for the battlefield, but did not fail to punish those who transgressed the rules they set themselves.
Yet, despite these qualities they were often seen as the least among their kin, followers and not lords, a fact that sat ill with warriors of such skill and dedication. For much of the Great Crusade they remained outsiders to most of their brethren, few among the other Primarchs sought the company of Jaghatai Khan and his sons, and Jaghatai did little to encourage them.
Some found the strategies by which his Legion fought to be flawed, especially the inflexible sons of Dorn and Guilliman, while others looked down upon the trapping of Chogorian tradition that bound the Legion together. The Khan of Khans did little to dispel his reputation as a crude barbarian and wanton killer, keeping his own counsel and the company of those who cared to see past the veil of rumour that hid the true character of his Legion.
Of all of his brothers, the Khagan found common cause with but a handful. Of these the closest was Magnus the Red of Prospero, for he was also an outcast in the small society of their peers and a man of integrity and brusque honesty. Those few records of the two often note this friendship between two otherwise isolated Primarchs. Horus, who appreciated talent above appearances, also showed some favour to the Khagan, as did Sanguinius who had ever been a statesman and diplomat among his often quarrelsome brothers.
Of the others there is little recorded, possibly as there were few occasions where the Primarchs gathered in numbers and fewer still where the Khagan was present.
Jaghatai Khan was ever to be found on the move, always where he was least expected and always at that critical locus that would decide the fate of battles and empires. Yet, as the Great Crusade moved into its final throes in the first years of the 31st Millennium, the White Scars found themselves called upon less and less. The Emperor's Great Crusade had eclipsed its major rivals and charted most of the fractured and changed galaxy. Where, at the beginning of the long war the maps had been blank and the enemies unknown and terrifying, they were now replete and Mankind's enemies largely known and cowed.
In these final years of the conquest there were fewer wild spaces for the White Scars to make war as they liked. They were becoming obsolete, unnecessary to the empire that was to be; the Khan of Khans knew it and it made him restless. The chance to run ahead of the storm, to exult in the unknown and the sheer joy of the destruction that follows was fading, leaving only the dull work of governance.
Things were becoming ordered and known -- the Imperium was winning, and in a final victory the White Scars would be undone. The Khan could sense that a choice was coming, a grand choice. They would be given the chance to be again what they had once been -- but in doing so they would need to betray all that they had fought for. The other choice, no less invidious, was to remain true to their oaths and bound to a slow diminishment.
The Emancipation of Drune
By the latter years of the 800s.M30, the Vth Legion had earned itself a reputation for the types of operation for which it would later become most well-known, but not all of its wars were fought in isolation. At Tarel III, Jakor-Tal and Terlaken B3, the Legion fought noted campaigns as part of combined Legiones Astartes Expeditionary forces, and at Arco took its place in the line with the Blood Angels, Ultramarines, Salamanders and Emperor's Children Legions. Indeed, the battle honour "Arco" would be borne on the banners of all five Legions, including the treacherous sons of Fulgrim, throughout the Horus Heresy and well into the latter age of the Great Scouring.
Another battle honour borne with pride long after the outbreak of the Horus Heresy by Loyalist and Traitor alike was that won at Drune in 881.M30, a lonely, arid world spinward of the Morpheus Rift. At Drune, the greater part of three entire Legions stood together, each headed by their Primarch.
The Imperial Compliance of a world that had once been a beacon of civilisation was to be a crowning glory to an otherwise fruitless expedition, and so the Primarchs of all three Legions present -- the Luna Wolves, the Death Guard and the White Scars -- determined to deliver the Imperial Truth in person. Three entire Legions made planetfall as one, but what transpired when they came to stand before the gates of the world's capital was quite unprecedented in the decades of the Great Crusade.
Those gates remained barred, and no reaction to the massing of three Legions before them was forthcoming. His choler rising, Horus raised his mace as to strike the mighty gates, but before he could do so, a word of caution rung out from the throng of counsellors and attendants. The warning had been voiced by Kulek Senn, a senior Stormseer of the Vth Legion.
"The shadow hangs over this place. The shadow of domination. Only death will sever the strings."
Mortarion counselled Horus to press onwards, discounting the Stormseer's warning, and press onwards Horus did, striking the gates such a resounding blow with his mace that it caused them to buckle inwards and collapse with a billowing cloud of dust. Advancing within the city, a great mass of humanity pressed in from every quarter. The eyes of the occupants were unfocused and vacant, every mouth slack and drooling. Every body was unwashed and stinking and clad in shredded rags, as if the wearer had given no thought to their own bodily well-being for many solar months, perhaps even years.
Once more, Kulek Senn offered his master his warning as the party moved through the streets, this time with increasingly strident concern. Once more, Mortarion heard and sneered his derision of the psyker's arts, but this time the Great Khan interjected, insisting that his brother Horus heed the Stormseer's words.
This time, Horus did so. Whatever it was that the Stormseer had detected an echo of before the gates was now evident for all to see. In the heavens above, a churning vortex of unnatural energies was forming, its eye directly above the centre of the city. Aetheric gusts caught the Primarchs' personal banners and the massed bodies finally stirred, a deep, sonorous groan voiced simultaneously from 100,000 throats.
Fighting their way clear, the Primarchs reunited with their gene-sons outside of the city, and in council with the Great Khan's Stormseers they determined that the entire world was under some manner of xenos domination, one born not of physical reality, but of the other-realm of the Warp. Worse still, they counselled that this domination was being exerted upon the human population of Drune via a series of extradimensional portals, each centred upon one of the major mesa-top cities. Only by closing these portals, the Stormseers claimed, would the enslavement of Drune be ended.
And so the war to deliver Drune from the yoke of alien domination began. Jaghatai Khan was nominated by Horus as campaign commander. Such a thing was rare indeed, for even though the Emperor's gene-sons fought beneath the same banner and the sundering of their ranks was still many solar decades away, there existed a deep-seated rivalry between many.
The wisdom of the Lupercal's decision was plain to see, but the Primarch of the Death Guard Legion protested it nonetheless, for Mortarion detested the employment of psykers in any form, for any reason and against any foe. Thus the Death Guard served in the Drune campaign only nominally under the Great Khan's leadership, Mortarion ensuring they remained apart from the other two Legions.
The war for Drune would rage for almost six Terran months, the Great Khan utilizing each element of his command as best suited its nature. Jaghatai's own Legion ranged far and wide across the wastes of Drune, striking at concentrations of xenos power identified by his Stormseers. They encountered a range of horrifying creatures of barely definable form, though all had in common bloated bodies that floated on invisible aetheric tides, multiple eyes, thrashing tendrils and the ability to unleash fearsome blasts of Warp energy even as they directed wave after wave of sub-human mind-slaves at the Legionaries.
The Stormseers proved crucial not just in locating these abominable foes, but in combating them on the field of battle too, for they were able to deaden the psychic domination effect and thus allow their brother Legionaries to engage the xenos puppet-masters and defeat them, albeit not without loss.
At the last, the campaign reached its climax where it had began -- at the mesa-top city where the three Primarchs had first encountered the xenos dominators. The closer to the heart of the city the Primarchs advanced, the more potent the psionic waves assaulting them grew, and the more massive and hideous the xenos abominations they encountered.
Though a potent force indeed, none can say what harm might have befallen the Primarchs had the White Scars Stormseers not been close at hand to repel the worst of the aliens' psychic counterassaults. The air itself screamed in torture as the very stuff of reality was stretched to breaking point, the un-light of the Warp glimmering through a million cracks and rents.
Jaghatai, Horus and Mortarion knew that they had reached the centre of the xenos incursion when even they could proceed no further, so powerful were the psionic tides flooding out from the hideously pulsating wound in reality at the very centre of the city.
Overhead loomed an archway of the quivering, still-living flesh of what must surely have once been a man. Beneath the archway was a void pulsing with the raw power of the Warp, and from it was emerging a vast and bloated form, a distended central sac replete with thrashing pseudopods and dozens of too-knowing eyes.
Voicing an ancient Chogorian curse, the Great Khan swore the behemoth would not establish dominion in his gene-father's realm, and in answer, his brothers took their place on either side while what remained of his depleted Stormseer council formed a loose ring all about, every last iota of their power bent to the task of warding off the behemoth's vile kin.
Scholars of war might ponder what force might test the powers not just of one, but of three of the Emperor's gene-sons, and in the contest that ensued they might find one such possible answer. The behemoth brought to bear an array of weaponry, from whipping, diamond-sharp tentacles to the unrelenting power of its utterly alien will -- 10 Stormseers lay dead upon the ground in as many seconds, their minds torn apart by the behemoth's battering ram of psionic domination.
The Primarchs were sorely tested, for while such as they could scarcely know fear, each soon bore a dozen and more hurts. Even the mighty Horus felt the behemoth's mental whip, and though he repelled its will, the effort left blood gushing from his eyes in crimson rivers.
Mortarion too struggled against this vile foe, and while his scythe cut through its thrashing tentacles by the dozen, it strove to gain dominion over his mind and to become master of his flesh. As with Horus, the behemoth was unable to batter down Mortarion's defences, but resisting it drove the Death Lord to his very knees.
It was Jaghatai Khan who at the last put an end to the xenos beast. By the combined efforts of his last remaining Stormseers, the Great Khan was rendered unseen to the behemoth, so that even as it concentrated its assault upon Horus and Mortarion, Jaghatai was able to work his way around the creature's vast, bloated form and thereby locate a weak point upon its underside.
Many Imperial savants now wonder how different later ages might be had only Jaghatai stayed his final strike or but delayed it long enough for the behemoth to press its assault upon his brothers. Such ponderings are of course futile, and they ignore his essential nature. Jaghatai thrust upwards, spearing some essential node or organ in the behemoth's central mass. It died upon his blade, but the explosion of aetheric force unleashed was very nearly his end too.
It was Horus who saved Jaghatai from being sucked into the now collapsing vortex, Lupercal hauling his brother clear. And thus was the Emancipation of Drune achieved -- though not a single one of the world's populace would benefit from the defeat of their alien masters.
With the behemoth slain, and the Warp portals through which the aliens had exerted their domination sealed, hundreds of millions of meat-puppets collapsed wherever they were standing, never to rise again.
In truth, such a fate was a mercy for the people of Drune and for the Imperium, for one way or another, they could not have been allowed to live.
The Pale Emperor
The tale of the Pale Emperor is known to very few. No Remembrancers have spun its events into epic stanzas or captured it in lurid pict record, but many among the White Scars speak of it when outsiders make light of the Great Khan's prowess in battle or of the cruel streak that hides behind his smile. Its exact details are lost to the casual embellishment and adaption by the White Scars who still spin the tale, but a truth can be learned from the core of it, which remains a constant no matter which of the Brotherhoods recalls the story.
In the late years of the Great Crusade, most likely around 980.M30, a force consisting of approximately five Brotherhoods ventured into the wild space at the edges of the Mandragoran Sector. The exact Brotherhoods involved change with each telling, and the nature of the White Scars' record-keeping makes it difficult to establish which accounting is correct, but the one fact that never changes is that the Great Khan himself was at their head.
There, at the very edge of known space, where xenos threats lurked in the dark between the stars, the White Scars encountered a handful of worlds sparsely inhabited by a people of ancient Terran descent, though in the tales of the White Scars they are never named. The first of these worlds they encountered played host to several small cities, and unlike many other human colonies that had weathered the terrors of the Age of Strife, these appeared to have prospered at the edge of space.
It was a rare find, a realm of unsullied human genestock whose advanced technology was well-matched to that of the Imperium, but whose small size precluded any extended resistance to the Imperium's authority. Despite the offers of unity and peaceful integration transmitted by the Great Khan, he and his warriors were greeted not as long-lost kin or saviours, but as invaders, and their fleet came under swift attack.
Though Jaghatai, a statesman and empire-builder as much as a warrior, had hoped for a peaceful Compliance campaign, he was equally pleased to test his warriors against a worthy foe in honest battle.
The voidcraft that rose from low orbit to meet the sleek White Scars cruisers were sturdy vessels, no doubt hardened from centuries of warring against xenos raiders and corsairs, but they were too few to stand against the dozen Imperium warships that awaited them. Within the space of a few short exchanges of weapons fire they were left aflame and crippled, though in recognition of their bravery, the Great Khan gave orders to allow them to withdraw.
Having secured orbital space, Jaghatai proceeded with a combat drop, with several squadrons of gunships and landing craft descending onto the boreal plains that marked the edge of the world's inhabited zone. Here, several thousand White Scars engaged the enclave's defenders, several hundred warriors clad in huge and ponderous battle-plate, studded with heavybore cannon and beam arrays, each more like a small tank than a normal warrior.
Almost as if by silent mutual agreement, the two sides mustered outside of the clustered towers of the city, neither wishing to see it broken as they fought and, with but a brief pause, gave voice to the deep roar of cannon and the cacophony of clashing blades.
The cumbersome plate of his foes was proof against much of the White Scars' lighter weaponry, no doubt a relic of some lost technology of the by-gone Dark Age, but these forgotten cousins of Terra could not match the White Scars' speed. Where other Legions might have met them head-on, the White Scars vanguard, mounted on Scimitar Pattern Jetbikes, outflanked and harried their foe, marking weak points in armour joints and power transfer cables as they raced to and fro across the battlefield.
By contrast, their enemy advanced in lockstep, trying to maintain a tight formation while their cannon tracked the fleet Legiones Astartes warriors, blasting great craters into the ground in their wake. Manoeuvring in patterns that seemed almost random, the White Scars sought to disrupt their foes' formation and isolate them from the protection of their brethren. Following on the heels of the Jetbike-mounted vanguard, the remaining White Scars warriors deployed heavy weapons and armoured vehicles to cripple individual enemy war engines as they were isolated from the main body.
As their casualties began to mount, gaps opened up in the protective formation adopted by the hulking battle armour of the foe and the circling White Scars Jetbike squadrons were quick to pounce, switching suddenly from a whirling skirmish line to a concentrated wedge aimed at the heart of the enemy formation.
At the head of this assault was the Great Khan, the Primarch a match in size and power for these towering war machines and his blade far quicker than the sensor-augurs that guided their weapons. Spurred on by the example of their lord, the White Scars redoubled their efforts and, one by one, the enemy's war machines were isolated and cut down.
In the wake of his victory, the Khagan showed mercy to his foes and left their cities untouched. From among those of his warriors who had acquitted themselves well in the battle, Jaghatai Khan chose three to act as his ambassadors to the enclave's ruler, exemplars of the Primarch's Legion and fitting to carry his words, a symbol of both his respect for a worthy foe and of the strength which backed his pledge.
Through these champions he would make the offer he had made so many times before: serve the Emperor and prosper, oppose him and find only ruin. This was war waged as the Great Khan preferred it, the clash of warriors in open and fair battle quickly followed by an honourable surrender, not the prolonged slaughter and utter destruction advocated by some of his brothers. He had ever been more than a simple butcher and general, more a builder of empires than some among his kin.
Within a short span of time, the Great Khan's emissaries were returned to his camp in pieces, slaughtered by the guards of the Pale Emperor who ruled this small realm. His largesse had been repaid with scorn and blood, despite the obvious advantage held by the Legion, who had already proven themselves more than a match for the foe's warriors.
Such a callous gesture of foolish and doomed defiance set the Great Khan into a quiet rage, both for the deaths of his warriors and for the brutal acts he was now forced to undertake. That same night, his Legion razed the unnamed city to ruin. They burned and blasted its towers, and hunted down every last inhabitant and put them to the sword. They went from world to world and brought only death and destruction, scorching a path of ashes to the Pale Emperor's throneworld.
There, the White Scars took the field of battle against the finest warriors and war engines he could assemble and tore them apart. They smashed down the gilded gates of his palace and killed all within. All except one.
Cornered on the throne he had valued more than the lives of his subjects, the Pale Emperor was the only man left alive in the wake of the White Scars' vengeful assault. Jaghatai Khan confronted him there, armour slick with the blood of the slain and coated in the ashes of his empire.
He spoke but a few words to the fallen Emperor, "You chose this doom. You forced my hand for the sake of your own petty pride. I would like to kill you, to have your blood join that of all the others you have forced me to kill, but I will not. You will remain here and let others know of the price of pride, that we shall not have to sully our blades again."
There ends the tale as told by the White Scars, who see it as a testament to the dedication of their Legion and a warning to those who would underestimate their lord or his gene-sons. However, an alternative version is also known of, told only rarely and by those Brotherhoods whose ranks comprise the oldest Chogorian recruits.
These veterans recite a different end to the tale, a different declaration by Jaghatai Khan to his enemy, one that speaks of a wound long left untended in the Legion and its Primarch.
"You have chosen the doom I could not. You have chosen pride over servitude. I would like to kill you, for you remind me of my own choices, but I will not. You will remain here so that I will remember the price of pride and why we sully our blades with the slaughter of small emperors."
Relations with other Legions
Jaghatai's closest relationships with his brother Primarchs were with Horus Lupercal of the vaunted Luna Wolves Legion and Magnus the Red of the Thousand Sons. With Horus, the Khan shared a love of the rapid assault, as well as feeling understood and accepted by Horus.
This understanding was also only truly shared by Magnus, who, like the Khan, was as much an outsider to the other Primarchs as Jaghatai. The close relationship of the White Scars Primarch to these two brothers was matched, somewhat, by the relationships between their respective Legions.
Several White Scars Brotherhoods (companies) would often be seconded to fight alongside their cousins from the Luna Wolves. These Brotherhoods would utilise a mix of both Vth and XVIth Legion tactics, including the latter's more consolidatory approach to rapid warfare and the more standardised manner of the Luna Wolves' military hierarchy.
However, for some Chogorians these tactics could be difficult to understand. Similarly, the Thousand Sons were also known to be close to the Vth Legion for many reasons. The love of knowledge of the sons of Prospero, their enjoyment in the subtleties of the universe and each Legion's detachment from the rest of the Imperium would render a fruitful relationship between these two forces of Astartes.
In stark contrast, the Vth Legion seemed to have a very poor relationship with many of the other Space Marine Legions, most of all with the Death Guard and their equally mysterious Primarch Mortarion. It was also known that the White Scars did not get along well with the Space Wolves Legion. All Legions had reputations, and some of these overlapped. The Space Wolves were known to boast of theirs as the Emperor's executioners. When the White Scars fought alongside other Imperial forces they were often unfairly judged, due to their use of ritual tribal marks and scars.
People automatically assumed that they were savages, and were no better than the barbarous warriors of Leman Russ that hailed from the Death World of Fenris. The White Scars did not wish to be seen as savages, for they constantly strove to achieve the most noble of human pursuits. In addition, the comparison added salt to the wound of the Vth Legion's entrenched estrangement from the Imperium, suggesting how little others took to understand the Chogorians. Though the White Scars were not "executioners" like the Space Wolves or "world eaters" like Angron's berserk XIIth Legion's warriors or "the perfect" Astartes like Fulgrim's Emperor's Children, the White Scars were what they were.
They never demanded respect from anyone, and if the other Legions knew nothing of them, then that was their loss, because the White Scars knew about them. The Vth Legion was faster -- they moved faster and they killed faster. Secretly, the White Scars resented the outsiders' disregard greatly, and yet they refused to change their ways or Legion culture.
Many Space Marine Chapters have existed for millennia, with those of the First Founding having their roots in the original Legions created to prosecute the conquests of the Emperor's Great Crusade. With histories stretching back into the dawn of the Age of the Imperium, it is perhaps inevitable that Chapters should come to blows, both metaphorically and at times literally.
There are many instances of rivalries, and some of outright hostilities. The deep-rooted and mutual antagonism between the Space Wolves and the Dark Angels is well-known, but there are many more examples. One example of such rivalry can be found in the case of the Raven Guard and the White Scars, who have harboured a mutual mistrust dating back centuries.
In truth, there may be no single cause of the bad blood between the two present-day Chapters, but the mere mentioning of several battles are sure to raise the ire of Raven Guard and White Scar alike. The Assault on Hive Lin-Mei is one such conﬂict, as is the Last March on the Sapphire Worlds.
Most acrimonious of all is Operation Chronos, in which a venerated Raven Guard Chaplain fell to Enslaver domination in circumstances where a nearby White Scars force might have been able to intervene. The ill will created by these and numerous other incidents has led to the two Chapters even in the late 41st Millennium regarding one another with barely-contained loathing, a situation that none can see an end to any time soon.
A bolt of lightning in clear skies, a sudden gale from an unexpected quarter -- the White Scars Legion was war's sudden and merciless slaughter. Swift action and a joy for the rush of combat and clash of blades were the hallmarks of its battles, tempered by a quiet and hidden wisdom that few took the time to uncover.
The White Scars thrived in the chaotic heart of battle, anticipating its vicissitudes and flowing with them, always to be found where the foe was weakest, where they were least expected, and leaving only cold corpses in their wake.
They were the Great Crusade's pathfinders, the bleak wind that ran ahead of its serried armies culling the weak and harrying the strong that they might fall more easily to those who followed. There were many victories claimed by the Great Crusade that would not have been possible without the depredations caused by these warriors.
The lightning-fast style of mobile warfare that had served Jaghatai Khan so well on the steppes of his homeworld proved to be equally effective on the many different battlefields of the Great Crusade. The White Scars soon became involved in some of the bloodiest battles of the time after the rediscovery of their Primarch.
The White Scars most famously took part in the historic Ullanor Crusade, the vast Imperial assault on the Ork empire of the Overlord Urrlak Urruk. The White Scars and Ultramarines Space Marine Legions, supported by the Imperial Army, the forces of the Mechanicum and the Collegia Titanica, took part in the massive Imperial campaign against the largest concentration of Orks yet encountered by the burgeoning Imperium of Man.
In the aftermath of this monumental victory, the Great Khan watched with approval as Horus Lupercal, greatest of the Primarchs and most favoured son of the Emperor, took up his new office as Warmaster of all the Imperium's military forces. The two of them, Horus and the Khan, liked one another. Of all his brothers, the Khan had only ever been close to two, and Horus was the first. Then they had parted.
The grand gathering of Primarchs and commanders and Battleships and officials at the Triumph of Ullanor dispersed, setting course for a thousand destinations and making the Warp light up with the trails of their passage. The Great Crusade commenced again, though this time with a Warmaster at its apex, not an Emperor.
Council of Nikaea
Just before the White Scars were sent on another campaign to continue prosecuting the Great Crusade, a great Imperial conclave was called upon the world of Nikaea. This grand convocation, known to history as the Council of Nikaea, was called by the Emperor of Mankind Himself, and was intended to determine whether or not the use of psychic powers represented a boon or a grave danger to both Mankind and the nascent Imperium of Man.
There were three Primarchs who were primarily responsible for the creation of the Legiones Astartes Librarius. Two were quite well known within the official historical records; Magnus of the Thousand Sons and the angelic Sanguinius of the Blood Angels. Though Magnus was the figurehead, the most powerful and the most vocal in support of the use of psychic abilities, he was not the only voice. His brother Sanguinius was more subtle in his support.
On this, though, Jhagatai always argued the same way. The Khagan had drawn up most of the rules for and formalised the structure of the Legions' Librarius, even though his name was never entered into the official datacores. Jaghatai's contribution to the development of the Space Marines psychic arts was never known by the other Legions or the rest of the Imperium.
The citizens of the Imperium at large were taught that humanity had moved beyond religion and superstition. They believed this inherent Imperial Truth, just as they were meant to. There were no gods, they were told, and what looked like magic was just the growing power of the human mind. The Chogorians, on the other hand, never stopped believing. They understood, perhaps better than anyone, that the Warp could corrupt the finest -- the greater the strength, the greater the corruption.
On Chogoris, the ability to wield the power of the psyker was called the "Test of Heaven." The Chogorians had always known of the existence of the Warp and the dangerous entities of Chaos that lurked within. It was how their Stormseers had become so powerful.
Their cousins amongst the Space Wolves, the Rune Priests of Fenris, worked the same source for their elemental powers, though they would never openly admit it. The masses never learned about the Warp, and the vast majority did not even know of its existence.
The Emperor preferred to keep those truths hidden from the people of the Imperium, and for all anyone knew He had tried to stamp out those who still understood them. The Khan never agreed with this obfuscation of the truth, especially the Emperor's refusal to explain to His people the dangers of Chaos, and father and son had often argued over the matter.
This was the great question, the one they fell out over -- can you rest an empire on a lie? The Warp was not what the masses of humanity thought it was. It was alive and dangerous, and could be used. The Imperium was willfully blind, deliberately so. It had never wished to look at what held it together.
In the beginning, Magnus had not wanted the Librarius integrated into the Legions. He wanted every human psyker to unlock their full potential, to explore all they were safely capable of -- with no restraint, and no guidance. But his two brother Primarchs disagreed, for they felt that such potentially dangerous abilities needed to be curbed. So the Khan and the Angel agreed to create a strict structure for the use of psychic powers, a structure intended to limit what psykers were allowed to do.
As already noted, on Chogoris the use of such esoteric abilities was known as walking the Path of Heaven. Psykers, the zadyin arga, were taught that if they strayed from this path, the Warp would eat away at their very souls. The Chogorians had always known that utilising the powers of the Warp was inherently dangerous.
As the argument over the use of such abilities came to a head in the Imperium, there were those who understood that the survival of the Space Marine Legions' Librarius was balanced on a narrow ledge. But there were those who thought that Librarians were witches, ripe for burning, and those who thought they were still-forming gods. Neither side could be allowed to win their arguments if the Imperium was to prosper. But in the end, the witch-hunters largely carried the day.
When the Crimson King spoke in favour of the use of psykers and even psychic sorcery at the Council of Nikaea, as many proponents feared, he went too far. He never understood how much fear he caused. If he had managed to rein himself in, and acknowledge that his Legion needed to reform and that they understood that they needed to be more careful in their use of the Warp, then the outcome of the Council might have been very different.
But instead he preached about knowledge and power and gave the impression that he was some kind of prophet. Finally, at the end of the conclave, Stormseer Targutai Yesugei, at the time a junior Librarian of the White Scars Legion, presented the Council of Nikaea a third option in regards to the use of psychic abilities and the maintenance or abolition of the established Legions' Librarius.
He explained that there was nothing inherently evil about a psyker. If such a gifted individual was properly trained in order to obtain the greatest results, like any weapon, he or she could still be used, but with respect and not indiscriminately. Yesugei argued that human psykers should be trained rigorously to take advantage of their innate abilities in order to assist the Imperium in completing its galaxy-spanning conquest.
With such an elite cadre of trained psychic specialists utterly loyal to the Emperor, the galaxy could be brought into the Imperial fold with ease. Yesugei also argued that psychic sorcery should be strictly forbidden, since in dealing and bargaining with the entities of the Warp, the ever-present risk of corruption was simply too great to be avoided.
The Emperor's judgement at the Council of Nikaea proved severe, largely as a result of His anger at Magnus for delving into forbidden sorcery in contravention of the Emperor's explicit warnings to him decades before. The Emperor rejected the White Scars Librarians' compromise. With the exceptions of Navigators and Astropaths who were properly trained, controlled and sanctioned by the Imperium and were necessary to its continued existence, the Space Marine Legions were no longer to employ psykers within their ranks.
He commanded that the Primarchs were to close their Legions' Librarius departments forthwith and not to indulge the undoubted psychic talents of those Legionaries who possessed the gift. All existing Space Marine Librarians were likewise forbidden to make use of their abilities.
The Council's rulings also created a new position amongst the Space Marine Legions, the Space Marine Chaplain, to uphold the Imperial Truth and help maintain the purity of an Astartes Legion's dedication and fidelity to the Emperor's commands.
Afterwards, Jaghatai came to believe that the outcome of the Council of Nikaea should have never been left in the Crimson King's hands. The Khan should have been there, side-by-side with his two brothers, standing with the Angel and Magnus. No one could have accused him of being a sorcerer. It would have calmed the others, to see a warrior-Primarch making his case in support of the Librarius.
He did not attend because he was sent away to the Chondax System, just as the Council was preparing to meet at Nikaea. He spoke to Stormseer Yesugei and considered rejecting the Warmaster Horus' command to leave for Chondax, for he could have done so, but both White Scars warriors believed that the campaign on Chondax would be over in a matter of solar weeks. The enemy infesting that system were only Greenskins, remnants of the Ork empire destroyed on Ullanor, the last slivers of the Warlord Urrlak Urruk's horde.
Perhaps some of the Primarchs would have balked at being ordered to hunt down the xenos -- it was not prestigious work -- but the Khan was happy enough. It was hunting, and in a way that he understood: cavalry charges across open spaces, going up against prey that had no concept of capitulation or self-pity. He had never complained. Nearly all of his Legion went with him, ranked in their various Brotherhoods, eager for the hunt. Scores of white starships cut the void, each crammed with warriors of the ordu, all desperate to get back in the chase.
- "It is not enough to take from an enemy their life -- rather take from them also their places of safety, their allies, their homes and their loved ones. Crush all those in their care, lay their chattels to waste and then drive them alone and naked into the darkness. Take everything they have and burn it for the mere pleasure of seeing the ash crackle between your fingers, and call it nothing more than a beginning."
The Vth Legion's legend was to grow with the events of the Horus Heresy, when the White Scars fought on hundreds of worlds for over 7 Terran years against the Traitor Legions and the other Forces of Chaos. Unlike many of the other Primarchs, Jaghatai never even considered betraying the Emperor for the service of the Ruinous Powers.
Such a course would have been dishonourable in the extreme since the Emperor had done no wrong to His sons and also because Jaghatai so deeply believed in the Emperor's goal of reunifying the entire human race under a single ruler so that it might claim final dominance over the Milky Way Galaxy.
The White Scars Legion had already been engaged for several standard years on the orders of the Warmaster Horus in a surprisingly punishing campaign against the Orks of the Chondax System where Jaghatai had recalled his entire Legion when the Heresy began. It was at Chondax that they first received the news of the Space Wolves Legion's actions during the Burning of Prospero.
These reports said Russ had turned rebel, and driven by his hatred for Magnus, his Legion had utterly decimated the Thousand Sons Legion and their Primarch Magnus had died at the Wolf King's own hand. But due to the effects of the Ruinstorm, a monstrous Warp Storm unleashed by the Word Bearers during the Battle of Calth, astropathic communication was unreliable and vast tracts of the Imperium were made all but impassable. Furthermore, the White Scars' fleet Astropaths continued to interpret the astropathic messages they received in a contradictory manner.
Delay and Deception at Chondax
It had begun in the Chondax System, right towards the end of the long and brutal Chondax Campaign against the Greenskins -- the first inkling that all was not well in the wider Imperium. There had been no detail then, no authentication, just stray astropathic messages of dubious provenance. It should have been easy to dismiss, to put down to the warping power of the Empyrean.
But it had worn on the Khan, unravelling his sleep. He felt that Imperium was standing upon a precipice. There were also conflicting reports received from the Imperial Fists Legion's Primarch Rogal Dorn that urged the White Scars to return to Terra to help defend the Throneworld alongside Dorn and Leman Russ, supposedly now a Traitor, as soon as possible.
Everything had changed so quickly, garbled in a flurry of contradictory astropathy and secure comm-bursts: Russ of the Space Wolves had gone rogue; or the Warmaster had, taking several Legions with him; the White Scars were ordered to reinforce the Alpha Legion at the Alaxxes Nebula; Ferrus Manus had killed the peacock Fulgrim; Mars and the Mechanicum was in open revolt against the Emperor. Some of the Warp-translated messages bore chrono-marks from many solar months previously; some had been sent, it seemed, only solar hours previously.
Though the Warmaster had ordered the White Scars to bring judgement upon the Space Wolves, the Khan would not unleash his vengeance upon Leman Russ and his get until he had more detailed information. The Khan had the strength of the Vth Legion arrayed before him, his ordu assembled and ready to strike, yet none could tell the Primarch who was the true enemy of the Imperium and all he held dear.
Jaghatai was next contacted by Leman Russ himself, who had just returned from the Burning of Prospero and the assault against the Space Wolves' old rivals, the Thousand Sons Legion. The VIth Legion's fleet had mustered at the Alaxxes Nebula to lick its wounds after the recent campaign, when it was beset by the forces of the Alpha Legion. Horus had deployed the XXth Legion to launch a massive assault on Russ' battered and outnumbered Space Wolves.
The Alpha Legion and its twin Primarchs, Alpharius Omegon, had long harboured deep grudges against the Space Wolves, and Leman Russ in particular, for his criticism of their reliance upon trickery, manipulation and subterfuge to win battles rather than engaging in what the Space Wolves Primarch saw as honourable, open combat. The Alpha Legion relished the chance to prove their superiority against the arrogant Space Wolves of Fenris by delaying them long enough to keep them from contributing to the Imperial defence of Terra.
Although the Khan sympathised with the Space Wolves' predicament, he refused to get involved until he was able to sort out the conflicting and often contradictory astropathic messages he had received. Until he knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, who was ally and who was an enemy, who had truly betrayed the Emperor and who was still loyal, he refused to choose sides. Wishing his brother the best of luck, Jaghatai decided to seek his answers elsewhere.
As the White Scars fleet made preparations to depart the Chondax System, they encountered a massive Alpha Legion flotilla. The Alpha Legion were an unknown quantity to the White Scars. They did not respond to communication requests and had hung back on the edge of the system, quietly accumulating more warships across a wide sweep of local space.
There was no response from the XXth Legion's command despite all queries. All White Scars vessels were ordered not to escalate the situation and not to fire upon the interlopers unless fired upon. The warriors of the Vth Legion were to maintain perimeter integrity and not to permit Alpha Legion spacecraft to penetrate within range of the core White Scars fleet.
As the Khagan decided on his Legion's next move, the Alpha Legion cordon remained intact, its smooth unity broken only by minor adjustments to the twin defensive lines. Every move that the White Scars made was reflected by Alpha Legion warships in what had become a bizarre game of mirrors. Though the Alpha Legion had presented no threat, these were not the actions of a friend. This could not be denied, but despite that, the Khan still resisted giving the order to attack. Mere hours earlier, the shape of the reported rebellion within the Imperium had been simple: Russ and his savages had defied orders once more. Now it had become complex, far more complex.
Things were further complicated when the White Scars Astropathic Choir received official messages directly from Terra, from Rogal Dorn himself -- the White Scars were commanded to make the swiftest possible passage to the Throneworld where further instructions and further explanations would be given. The meaning was clear, its origin unambiguous.
The Vth Legion had been ordered to ignore all other claims on their fealty, in particular those of the Warmaster Horus, who had been declared Traitor to the Emperor along with any other Legion answering his summons. But the Khan was not moved by these demands.
He felt the old stirrings of resentment again, the chill anger of the unregarded son and the man who had bent the knee to avoid having domination forced upon him. A price always had to be paid for his inclination to freedom, for skirting along the edges of Imperial communication. The reality was that the White Scars were always the last to know what was happening in the wider galaxy.
The Khan now saw the larger strategic picture -- the Alpha Legion did not wish to fight the White Scars, nor did they want to join them. They wanted to cause doubt, keeping the White Scars in the Chondax System to tie them up in questions, because they knew the veil was slowly lifting and that messages were only now getting through the aether of the Warp.
The Sons of Alpharius were manipulators -- they wanted the White Scars to hear from Dorn. They had purposely kept the Vth Legion's fleet at Chondax until they could be sure the White Scars had picked up Dorn's message and call for aid.
The Alpha Legion, for some unknown reason, wanted the White Scars to return to Terra and aid in its defence from whomever the real Traitors were. But the Khan would not take direction from anyone, not even from a Throneworld that only now that its Legions were tearing one another to pieces, deigned to remember that it had his warriors at its service.
His White Scars were nobody's slaves. They were the ordu of Jaghatai Khan and they took orders from no one else. They would take no one's word for the truth, for they were on their own, just as they had always been, and if there was truth to be found in this, then they would find it for themselves before acting.
Jaghatai ordered his fleet to prepare for immediate departure from Chondax. All across the vast battlefront, White Scars Escort craft moved as one, sweeping towards the encircling Alpha Legion forces in a unified screen. Inter-fleet communications were shut down and incoming bursts blocked -- the enemy had had their chance to make themselves understood.
Anything that they said now would be disregarded. The White Scars coordinated to perform a standard zao (known in Low Gothic as "The Chisel") manoeuvre -- full-fleet, enacted on a single command from the Vth Legion's flagship Swordstorm.
Every starship in the service of the Imperium was different. The secrets hidden within their reactor hearts were jealously guarded by the lords of the Red Planet and shared with no one outside the privileged circles of the elect. Every Primarch asserted various preferences during construction: Corax had worked obsessively to make his vessels as stealthy as possible, Vulkan to make them durable and Fulgrim to make them beautiful.
Primarchs had ways of circumventing standard Imperial command structures -- they could bend rules, uncover hidden data-cores and suborn Mechanicum Magi to their desires. So it was, as the Great Crusade progressed, that each Legion fleet slowly took on the character of its master through an endless programme of refits, retrofits and base modifications. In the case of the White Scars, only one change had ever been requested of the Tech-priests and only one metric was ever improved upon -- speed.
The Vth Legion's Techmarines spent solar decades boosting reactor power-feeds and finding ways to hone manoeuvrability far beyond the tolerances that each standard starship class had been designed for. The endless pursuit of velocity came with its costs: gunnery captains had been heard to complain of reduced Lance range, and it was well known that a White Scars warship would not carry as many troops or dropships as the equivalent vessel in a standard fleet, but such factors carried little weight in a Legion drenched in the wild-riding tradition of the Chogorian plains.
Under standing orders from the Khagan, the Legion had never shown off its drives' modified capabilities outside of active warzones. Since so few of the other Legions had ever fought alongside the White Scars, this specialisation had not become widely known, except for a few speculative reports here and there of strangely elongated engine-housings, extravagant thruster formations and oversized fuel lines. It all made for a ferociously fast set of warships, from the largest behemoths to the most slender of system-runners.
As the White Scars' vessels began to move, the Alpha Legion reacted. They maintained the integrity of the cordon, warding the routes to the nearest suitable Mandeville jump-points and keeping the White Scars corralled within the vicinity of Chondax. As they had done ever since arriving, each ship of the blockade matched the movements of its White Scars counterpart, maintaining a gigantic mirror-image across space.
The gap between the fleets slowly closed. The Alpha Legion formation reacted just as a blockade ought to react, maintaining a rigid web across the widest area of space, each node backed up by a second rank of warships held in reserve. Their movements remained cagey, as if they wished to do nothing more than hold the impasse for as long as possible. As the two vanguards closed to within Lance-range, for the first time the White Scars noticed incoming Vox-requests from the enemy on the sensorium array, and ignored them. The Alpha Legion had already been given every chance to explain themselves.
It was then that the Alpha Legion opened fire on its former brothers. All along the front, White Scars ships probed the line and Alpha Legion ships resisted them. It was a classic containment pattern, designed to hem the Vth Legion formation in and prevent isolated warships from running the cordon.
The standard breakout response was a full-scale assault on the containment net, aiming to drive it back through a massed volume of concentrated ship-to-ship fire. Such an order was not taken lightly -- the result would be ruinous for both sides, and only hotheads like Leman Russ or Angron enjoyed taking such risks. The Alpha Legion clearly judged that the Khan was not so cavalier. In this, of course, they were entirely correct.
The White Scars' vanguard began to drift spinwards, pulling clear of their jump-point trajectory and dragging the centre of the engagement back towards Chondax's gravity well. It looked almost careless, as if aimless commanders had launched a half-hearted breakout without the commitment to see it through.
The drift became more pronounced as the intensity of the las-fire picked up. For all that, the individual engagements were muted, probing, restrained. No torpedoes were launched, no gunship wings were unleashed. The two walls of minor warships grappled in a bizarre half-embrace of limited ferocity.
All across the engagement zone, Vth Legion positions began to collapse, withering in the face of steady, professional pressure from the enemy. White Scars vessels dropped formation, protecting their own flanks and leaving holes in the offensive wall. As if fighting a strong headwind out on the Altak back on Chogoris, the vanguard's momentum faltered.
When the chronograph reached 0, the White Scars vessels moved, every one of them, all at the same time, into full attack speed. Everything quickly changed as the Vth Legion's fleet formation morphed in an instant, suddenly switching from an aimless drift-pattern into an arrowhead shock assault of astonishing precision. The White Scars vessels took on new trajectories and moved in perfect concert, suddenly leaping from semi-committed holding patterns into a single attack vector. The Alpha Legion most likely had never witnessed such ship mastery.
The best Imperial naval officers could not have performed such a manoeuvre in less than five solar minutes, and it would have required hundreds of course-correction warnings and solar hours of preparation to bring off. The White Scars had done it, as one -– with no extraneous prompting -- in five seconds. The White Scars' deployment was now a single spearhead. Escorts shot out, pulling together into a single mass and punching a hole through the enemy cordon. Their sudden burst of speed and concentrated Lance-strikes wrong-footed the Alpha Legion vessels in their path, and three bronze-prowed Destroyers were overwhelmed almost immediately, lost amidst a whirlwind of plasma and exploding torpedo trails.
More White Scars Destroyers screamed through the wreckage, corkscrewing and diving like plunging pods of cetaceans. Everything was aimed at a single point: the flanks were discarded, surrendered to the enemy as every Vth Legion asset in the battlesphere shot into close formation and boomed up to top velocity.
The encircling Alpha Legion cordon was now compromised and fractured, its constituents struggling to respond to the lone column of ships that burned its way through their heart. Their capital ships were even slower, unable to take advantage of modified engines or the White Scars' almost preternaturally-skilled ship crews. The Swordstorm pulled up to the forefront of the Chisel formation, propelled by its monstrous, raging plasma engines and surrounded by a swarm of racing Escorts. Bulky vessels of the Alpha Legion's second rank tried to bar its path, sliding into a hurried defensive formation with what now looked like ponderous clumsiness.
All around their Legion flagship, other White Scars warships launched forward-facing barrages, vomiting las-beams and plasma bolts and torpedo salvoes in a vast, intense column of pure destruction. The Chisel had hammered its way through the Alpha Legion cordon, breaking it open at its weakest point. The entire formation -- tightly-knit, long and slender like a throwing javelin -- raced out into open space. The Alpha Legion struggled to regroup in its wake, pulling warships from the far-flung cordon formation like an octopus clutching its many limbs back to itself.
They had not lost critical numbers of ships, but the sudden attack run had blown their formation wide open and destroyed the cohesion that they had so painstakingly built. The White Scars' run did not slow. If anything, free of the need to maintain a barrage of las-fire, it accelerated.
As the orb of Chondax fell rapidly away aft, it was mediated by the glowing corpses of a dozen burned-out Alpha Legion warships. The starships of the White Scars fleet soon reached their Mandeville Points and translated without delay into Warpspace, their destination unknown.
The White Scars understood that fate was against them. Somehow the Warp Storms around Chondax had been orchestrated by some mysterious outside force. Though it took enormous power, or devices of ancient and unknown origins, it could be done.
To seek out the answers they sought, the Khagan ordered his Legion to head for the source, to find the architect of the chaos engulfing the Imperium. Yet, only one soul could see the Warp as it truly was, and that was Magnus the Red, the only one of his brothers that Jaghatai had ever truly trusted.
If Magnus yet lived then everything could be salvaged. If he was dead, then the Imperium was finished. The White Scars set course for Prospero. As the Swordstorm broke free of the Warp on the Prospero System's outer limits, the warship's systems were brought online and began to run forward Augur sweeps. The results were not encouraging -- no Vox signals were detected and there were no transports nor energy-trails. A major star system like Prospero ought to have had thousands of ship-spores hanging in the void, the chemical residue of void engine release, but the routes inbound from the Mandeville Warp point were sterile.
Soon the Thousand Sons' homeworld swam into extreme forward sensor range. Blurry pict-feeds flickered into life, clarifying rapidly as Servitors adjusted the image gain logic engines. The planet was entirely dark. Prospero had once been a jewel of a world, a pale-orb the colour of a Terran dawn, banded with lilac and under-lit by glistening ice caps. From space it had been pristine, untouched by the industrial hyper-sprawl that had turned the throneworld of Terra into a grey-tinged ball of rockcrete and iron.
Now it was mottled the colour of burned charcoal. Swirls of drifting cloud, as thick and dark as those that swept across Ullanor, covered the ravaged planet. As the White Scars fleet moved into orbit, the Khagan instructed the fleet to blockade, then prepare for planetfall. If his ships detected anything with a Fenrisian marker, they were ordered to kill it.
By the time Swordstorm reached geostationary orbit over the world's capital city of Tizca, there was no longer room for doubt. Atmospheric readings streamed in, adding to the visual evidence. There was substantial tectonic activity, atmospheric pollution levels were far in excess of mortal tolerances. These markers were indicators of a heavy bombardment consistent with mass drivers from orbit, followed by a secondary trauma. Toxins across a wide spectrum were present in lethal quantities, and extensive volcanism scarred the equatorial zone.
Something in the upper atmosphere -- an aetheric field, a truly massive one -- was preventing the White Scars from sending landers or Drop Pods. The world was rapidly dying and the phenomenon was still growing, perhaps as a result of what had happened there. One did not kill an entire planet without aftershocks.
Undeterred, the Khan opted to teleport to the surface. But it was made clear that the topographic interference might make it impossible for the flagship to extract the Primarch, or even make Vox-contact. Jaghatai and twelve of his Terminator-armoured bodyguard, the keshig, teleported down to the unstable surface of Prospero.
As the Primarch and his warriors explored the ruined capital city, they observed the scene of devastation stretching away under the darkened sky. The whole city reeked of burning metal. The Khan's armour sensors told him the surfaces around him were still warm from the afterglow of whatever apocalypse had overtaken Prospero.
Everything was simply gone -- all the libraries, the repositories, the arcana. If the Space Wolves had truly done this, then perhaps their power did match their boasts. The Khan instructed his warriors to search for the caves that he knew were under the city. They would begin their search for the Crimson King there.
Some amongst the Khan's command were a part of the Warrior Lodges, a closed fraternity of warriors that existed outside of the Space Marine Legions' formal structure. It was common knowledge that the Emperor frowned on such institutions, claiming they were dangerously close to the cults of ancient superstition. Despite this, the proliferation of these Warrior Lodges quickly spread amongst the other Legions -- even into the White Scars Legion.
Many of the Terran warriors of the Vth Legion as well as some of their erstwhile Chogorian brethren took part in the clandestine activities of the lodges. They felt that the Khagan was too slow in deciding which side the White Scars should choose in the coming conflict that had only begun to rage amongst the Legiones Astartes.
These lodges had already made their choice. The moment had finally come, and so, they moved as one, silently and efficiently. Led by the esteemed Hasik Noyan-Khan, the Warrior Lodge members declared their allegiance to Horus. They had remained secretly in contact with Horus' partisans through arcane means at least since the campaign at Chondax.
In the absence of the Khagan on the surface of Prospero, Hasik Noyan-Khan was in command of the flagship and, by extension, the Vth Legion's fleet. Personnel began to move between the warships as the lodge members began to move themselves into position for their coup d'etat. Discovering the clandestine activities of Hasik and his co-conspirators, Shiban Khan, commander of the Brotherhood of the Storm, attempted to bring to the attention of Jemulan Noyan-Khan, that his ordu commander Hasik was a part of this cancer at the heart of their Legion, and informed him of their intended plans.
Unable or unwilling to assist, Jemulan dismissed these accusations out of hand and ordered Shiban to return back to his ship until he had received further orders. It had been a slim hope -- Jemulan did not have quite the same reputation as Hasik and had not been with the Legion from the start.
As a result, he was not as close to the Primarch. Perhaps it had been too much to expect. Back aboard his ship, the Kaljian, Shiban Khan was unable to sit idly by. He ordered the entirety of his Brotherhood to muster and prepare for action. They would seize the initiative and oppose this madness before it could seize hold of their entire Legion.
A New Threat
On Prospero, it was difficult to witness what had become of Magnus' iridescent city of glass and crystal. The Khan made his way through the layers of grey-silver dust, watching heavy skies scud across the blackened shells of old structures. The lightning never ceased, flickering away on the northern horizon. The Khan's keshig of Terminators fanned out around him. They went as warily as he, and their bone-white armour made them look like ghosts in the dark. Jhagatai had not wanted to believe it, not truly.
His feelings about Leman Russ had always been mixed -- respect for the warrior; exasperation at the boasts, the self-appointed exceptionalism. It was another thing, though, to witness what he had done, to see the truth of the White Scars star-speakers' (astropaths) testimony.
The Khan found that the truth, now that it was before him, was a bitter draught indeed. As the small landing party of warriors made their way deeper into the ruins of the city, they found themselves near the cult temples. As the Khan investigated the immediate area he heard an unmistakable buzzing noise, like the drone of massed insect wings. Though there were no life signs detected, the Khan could not shake the feeling that he heard a distinct buzzing sound.
The Khan ordered his warriors to disable their auto-senses and to use their own eyes. Blink-dismissing the lattice of targeting reticules and environmental compensators hovering in their field of vision within their helmets, only then did the White Scars see them: shimmering in spectral blue-white, arthropodic, winged and massive. There were dozens, sliding up out of the ground like unquiet shades rising from the grave.
They were ruined things, twisted and hunched, though still twice the size of the Terminators before them. Once free of the broken earth they swayed through the air jerkily, lurching as though blind and famished. The Khan recognised the vile creatures immediately -- Psychneuein -- vile Warp entities drawn to the mental emanations of unprotected, badly-injured or nascent psykers whose minds they attack for the obscene purpose of gestating their progeny.
These creatures had been a blight on the otherwise benign world of Prospero for centuries, consuming the minds of mortals. The Thousand Sons had hunted them, driving them into the wilds and far from the glittering spires. Now, like everything else, they had been reduced to ghosts -- remnants of the living horrors they had been. Only, unlike all the other destroyed fauna, they had retained some vestige of their old wills.
The White Scars quickly found that their physical weapons had no effect on the spectral insects, their blades passing through their arthropedal forms harmlessly. Their only advantage was that the creatures were blind, yet they could still sense their prey. When the Psychneunin struck, they angled their swollen abdomens to sting. The glowing tips of their long proboscis passed through the Terminators' Ceramite with ease.
Howls of agony filled the air as lumpy matter was sucked up the creatures' translucent proboscis. Unable to fight such fell creatures, the Khagan ordered his warriors to fall back. As Jaghatai fought the hideous creatures, the ground beneath his feet gave way, the flagstones damaged by the Space Wolves' relentless orbital bombardment.
Falling for a long distance, the Primarch came to a sudden halt. Buried up to his chest in the fallen debris, the Khan attempted to contact his Keshig on the surface. He received nothing but static for his trouble. Pulling himself free from the pile of rubble, Jaghatai found himself in a strange underground world of sink-holes and chasms that might open up into something bigger. He had come looking for caves. And he had found them.
The Keshig master Qin Xa ordered his warriors to withdraw, for they could not fight this new threat. Staggering away from the creatures, the other warriors did not respond immediately. Despite their fearsome levels of discipline, leaving the site of the Khagan's fall was anathema. They surged back across the heaving terrain, lumbering away from the Psychneuein attacks as best they could, trying to reach the crumbling maw of the fissure that had swallowed their Primarch. It was a doomed attempt.
The Keshig pulled together and retreated towards a bombed-out terrace. The Psychneuein came after them. Soon the surviving Keshig found themselves trapped, and so they formed a broken line, determined to face the enemy. Then suddenly, they all felt the static build-up of enormous power. A second later the entire chamber was filled with light as flames leapt up from underneath the Psychneuein. Caught up in the maelstrom of blazing, purple-tinged fire, the creatures simply burst apart.
Turning to investigate the source of the flames, Qin Xa felt a fresh surge of power just behind him. His arms went rigid, locked by some mysterious force. A huge weight pressed against his twin heart, slowing him down and deadening his movements. A Bolter was pressed against his chest and a figure stood before him in crimson armour.
His faceplate was that of a suit of gold-crested Mark III Power Armour, archaic and festooned with Thousand Sons iconography. He introduced himself as Revuel Arvida, a Sergeant of the Thousand Sons Legion's 4th Fellowship and a member of its Corvidae Cult. He was the last surviving member of his squad. He led the Keshig away from the danger of the ravenous Warp-spawned insects.
Arvida led the surviving Keshig far through the empty city, until they found themselves within the ruins of a grand audience chamber. The White Scars inquired as to how the Thousand Sons Sergeant had come to be on Prospero and how long he had been there. Arvida informed them that he had arrived on Prospero after its destruction, and that he could give them no answers as to what had previously occurred. As for how long he had been there, he did not know, for his Power Armour's internal chronometre had been blown in battle.
He understood that the White Scars were trying to find their missing Primarch, but their efforts were futile. Their gene-sire could fight the Psychneuein, for he was made to fight them. They needed to get away from the benighted planet, and that when they did, to take him with them. Qin Xa explained that they would make one more final attempt to find their Primarch. Arvida acquiesced to their wishes, but requested that they wait for a short time until he had fully recovered from his last encounter with the vile Warp-entities. They would need his psychic abilities if they wanted to survive the coming conflict.
The Warhawk and the Crimson King
Jaghatai Khan made his way through the newly discovered tunnels. He had only been able to go down, despite several attempts to find a route back to the surface. The Psychneuein had not followed him down, but the absence of any movement beyond his own was chilling. Eventually he made his way to a large chamber. The space was immense, and the upper reaches soared away into the darkness.
The walls curved upwards steeply, terraced like an auditorium and striated with bands of metallic ore. Brass instruments lay about it, each one smashed or warped. There were bodies buried beneath the ash and metal: human bodies, mortal in stature. The keshig master had been right -- there was nothing left on Prospero. The Khan had been a fool to come, and a greater fool to come down to the surface in person.
As he stared grimly at the macabre surroundings around him, he suddenly felt a restless, gentle movement in the dust. A ghostly outline of a figure flickered, burning coldly. He stood a little taller than the Khan, just as he had done in life. His face was the same, though the expression was infinitely weary, and a little distracted. His lone eye did not focus -- in the past, its focus had been remorseless.
Holding his ground, the Khan stood speechless, still gripping his blade. His defensive posture was unnecessary. When the figure spoke, the voice dispelled any trace of doubt. It was an apparition of his missing brother, Magnus the Red, the Crimson King. At first the Khan did not believe the evidence of his senses for a long time. The shade explained that it was merely a remnant or psychic fragment of Magnus -- a dream of something destroyed. Though the Khan had doubts that it truly was his brother, the Magnus fragment explained that it was not the Crimson King -- at least not entirely -- but they did share a soul.
The shade explained to the Khan what had occurred recently on the devastated world, that it was their father's vengeance for his hubris, for daring to break the Emperor's edicts. Magnus confessed that Jaghatai had been right -- he should have restrained his sons in their explorations of the power of sorcery. However, Magnus added that the Khan had never had to make the bargains he had subscribed to, and the Vth Legion had never been compromised by the Warp as the Thousand Sons had been to ensure their survival against the threat of constant mutation.
But the truth of the matter was that everyone in the Imperium had been deceived. The Great Ocean was never benign, and it was conspiring against Mankind even as they stepped into its shallows. The greater the soul, the greater the jeopardy. Horus was the greatest soul of them all, and so his was the furthest fall. Horus had been eaten by the Warp. His body was bursting with it, corroding him, gnawing at him from the inside. There were others -- First Chaplain Erebus, their brother Lorgar of the Word Bearers -- but it was always every mortal's decision in the end whether to reject or embrace the corrupt promises of the Empyrean.
Magnus had tried to warn the Emperor. That was his crime, and the destruction of his Legion and his homeworld was his punishment. It was pride, that was all. Pride that had swallowed Horus, as well. The Ruinous Powers waited and they watched, and they realised what the Primarchs had not -- that only the Primarchs could destroy the Primarchs. Only they could bring down the eternal Imperium, because everything else had been annihilated.
That's what Lorgar called the Chaos Gods -- the Primordial Annihilator. Most of the Primarchs, without realising it, had already cast their lots in the great drama about to unfold, and only a few remained. They were being lined up, one by one, to tear at each other's throats. The Khan was one of the last. The Chaos Gods did not know which way the White Scars would go. None of them did, and that was why the White Scars had the eyes of the galaxy on them at last. Jaghatai Khan had never taken sides.
He would take everyone on if he had to. But the shade of Magnus explained that there were but two paths to chose from -- he could hunker down in what remained of their father's Imperium and try to keep Horus from beating down the door, or he could choose to remember how Horus had once been, and stand at his side as he brought terror to the complacent. The first would be the more loyal course, but the other had its merits.
When Jaghatai pressed Magnus for where his allegiances lay, the shade explained that his choices were constrained. He now knew more than anyone what awaited those on the other side. It turned out to be the ruin the Crimson King had worked for centuries to avoid, but their father was not the forgiving sort. Magnus had burned his bridges with the Emperor. They were burned when he had broke the wards over the Emperor's secret Webway project after he had projected his astral form into the dungeons of the Imperial Palace to bring his father the dire warning of the corruption of Horus and his intentions for insurrection.
Khan did not quite believe that the apparition that now stood before him was truly his brother. The Khagan had come to Proserpo to find a friend. Whatever else had happened, he thought he could come to Magnus for his counsel. Despite all this, Magnus still wanted to know whose side Jaghatai would choose. Jaghatai was ambiguous about his choice, for he believed that Horus was corrupted and that the Emperor was a tyrant. The Khan informed him that he could choose neither. But Magnus explained it did not work like this. Sooner or later, the Khan would have to choose between the two sides, and that the next time they met they would either be allies or enemies. Jaghatai still had a choice, and Magnus implored his brother to make the right one.
Jaghatai expressed his regret at not being there at the Council of Nikaea besides both Magnus and Sanguinius. The Khan explained that their brother Horus had purposely sent him away, for there were no accidents. But Magnus dismissed his misgiving, telling him instead to focus on the future. Jaghatai snapped at the aether-shade that there was no future. Khan and his brothers had all been working for something better than... this. Magnus countered that this was certainly true of Roboute Guilliman and perhaps Lorgar as well, in his own warped way.
But Jaghatai had not -- he had only been a part of the Great Crusade for the hunt. Jaghatai countered that the hunt had kept his Legion pure. Magnus argued that it had kept his brother away. He had been so easy to keep out of the conversation. The Crimson King had been there the whole time -- he just did not hear the words being sibilantly whispered by the powers of the Warp. The Magnus-apparition explained that it was glad that the Khan had come to see him -- they had always seen eye-to-eye.
Though he thought Jaghatai brittle, at least he always spoke the truth. When they finally concluded their conversation, the Khan informed Magnus that he had got what he had come for. He told Magnus that he had always been his friend. Magnus understood, and looked at the Khan for a moment. Jaghatai knew what he had to do. With a final parting word, Jaghatai swung his great bladed dao and struck Magnus' outline, and the ghost shell shattered, spilling a thousand pieces like broken glass.
The Khan remained still. He felt as though moving, even by a fraction, might break what remained. Around him, the Reflecting Caves sighed with emptiness, their majesty in tatters. The Khan bowed his head. At least, amidst all the numbness, the truth was now known. The choice could be made, for the Traitor had been unmasked. Duty could now be done, the call to war could be given. But, for all that, still he could not stir. The dream had died.
A Legion Divided
As Shiban Khan secretly prepared his Brotherhood to storm the Vth Legion's flagship, the Terran commander Torghun Khan warned Hasik Noyan-Khan that their plan to suborn Shiban's loyalty to their cause had failed. Torghun informed him that the Brotherhood of the Storm's khan had been to see Jemulan Noyan-Khan. Things were now moving very quickly. Hasik had the Swordstorm and Torghun Khan would take the Tchin-Zar.
As long as the Warrior Lodge brothers held onto the capital ships, the others would fall into line. When the Khagan returned he would see the wisdom of the actions of the lodge brothers. Horus and Jaghatai had always seen things the same way. What could the Khan do if his fleet was of one mind? He would recognise what they had done and see the justice in it.
Torghun, like many of his erstwhile lodge brothers, had made their choice a long time ago, years back when the first stirrings of the lodges had come to their ears. It was the chance to mould the White Scars Legion into what it should have been -- a shock-attack force to rival the vaunted speartip of the Sons of Horus, only shackled to a greater, more generous mind than that of the mighty Khan.
This was the destiny of the Vth Legion. All the lodges had done was help the process along. Suddenly, every Warrior Lodge member within the Vth Legion received a relayed Augur-reading from the Swordstorm. They rejoiced, for they had called, and Horus had answered. Looking at the signals, still on the edge of the system but already moving in close -- three, then four vessels allied to Horus were moving towards the Prospero System.
Meanwhile, Shiban Khan had his ship, the Kalijan, slide close to his Legion's flagship. When they were in position, he led his Brotherhood in a daring orbital assault by launching specially modified Sojutsu Pattern voidbikes. They were more like one-man fighters than Jetbikes, and an armour-sealed White Scars Legionary could use them for short bursts in the void just as other Legions used their Land Speeders for atmospheric work.
As Shiban and his men launched a lightning assault upon the massive flagship, the Swordstorm's weapon batteries buffeted them in a flurry of las-fire. As they pushed their bikes close to the flagship, scanning for an entry point, the Khan finally saw a single docking port, un-shielded and unbarred.
Leading the way, Shiban and his warriors tore through the oncoming las-fire, jerking and ducking to avoid the beams, sweeping past a whole row of angled torpedo launchers and streaking towards the signalled port. Kicking the retros at the last moment, the voidbikes skidded around in zero-gravity then powered into the Swordstorm's inertia bubble. Their bike's grav-plates whined instantly, adjusting to the rapidly moving environment, before locking on the docking bay floor and righting themselves.
The Brotherhood of the Storm followed their commander into the corridors beyond. Hasik Noyan-Khan and his co-conspirators had been blindsided by Shiban Khan's daring assault. Reports streamed in -- there was disorder on many vessels now as both factions vied for control of their respective vessels. Hasik ordered a Vox-link to be opened with the flotilla, and to prevent any of their vessels from opening fire on them.
This was their moment -- they would hold their position. Turning to the dozens of White Scars around him there were khans, captains, senior ship-officers and mortal commanders -- just a few of those who had been persuaded and who were now working to free the Legion from the hand of tyranny in service to Horus. They would remain resolute. They had no choice.
Suddenly, the bridge detected signs of a boarding party making their way towards the bridge. Hasik gave the order to repel boarders. A lone White Scars Brotherhood posed no real risk -- they had run the calculations. But still, he had hoped to avoid full-scale combat with his Battle-Brothers in persuading others to the honourable course. Perhaps that had always been a foolish hope. The Noyan-Khan did not understand why the flotilla of newly arrived Traitor vessels did not make contact. Why the silence? He assured his warriors that this was the test. This is what they had been working towards. It could not be halted now. For the sake of the Imperium, no backward step.
As Shiban led his Brotherhood further into the interior of the White Scars' flagship he encountered resistance from a rival Brotherhood commanded by his former comrade, the Terran commander Torghun Khan. Halfway up a staircase, on a colonnaded landing area, a line of White Scars waited. The Brotherhood of the Moon was well-established, already crouched in fire-positions and able to shelter behind the curve of the pillars around them. Beyond lay the approaches to the strategium and bridge.
Torghun attempted to reason with his erstwhile brothers. He informed Shiban and his men that the bridge was sealed. Shiban inquired as to the whereabouts of the Khagan. Torghun calmly replied that Hasik Noyan-Khan spoke for the Khagan. Shiban felt his blood run hot. No one, not even the Emperor Himself, spoke for the Great Khan. Undeterred, the Brotherhood of the Storm burst out of cover and surged up the stairway, charging into the incoming torrent of bolt-shells as the hall exploded with light, sound and fury.
The Loyalist Brotherhood of the Storm surged up against the hammering deluge, sprinting in loose formation. For every one knocked back, ten more gained ground. Brother locked blades with brother, and the echoing din of Bolter-fire was joined by the acrid snarl of energy weapons. The Loyalist White Scars fought in a flurry of vicious strokes, wrenching their blades deep into the flesh of their enemies.
If the enemy had been Greenskins, they would have kept going -- carving into the organs, making sure -- but these were their brothers. They had no wish to kill if it could be avoided -- they immobilized, shattered bones, throttled and bludgeoned, then moved on, sprinting further up through the throng of warriors. The fighting was bizarre -- close-packed, confused and brutal, but strangely detached. No fighters whooped or cried out in battle-cant. They fought with cold-discipline, going through the movements with consummate skill but taking no joy in it.
It was poor fighting, cramped and bitter. None of them let loose with the flamboyance that they were used to. Shiban urged his brothers onwards, trying to instill the virtues of greater speed, greater power. Torghun did the same -- exhorting those about him into a typically dogged defence. Neither side relished the carnage. Shiban's forces pushed up through the narrowing space, gaining ground with every surge. Many fell to the concentrated volleys of covering fire, their armour pulverised in the withering barrage, but their momentum was not halted.
Torghun's forces had lost too many warriors to hold the ground, and soon struggled to keep them back. Just as the arch of the observation deck soared away ahead of Shiban and his forces, Torghun had his forces fall back en masse. They all went quickly, decisively, as if the move had been long planned. Shiban's instinct was to charge after them, cutting them down as they broke. All around him his brothers did the same, sprinting ahead to run the enemy down. That was when Shiban realised they had been drawn into a trap.
Skidding to a halt, Shiban crouched down, just as the hurricane hit. From high up on the terraces on either side of the bridge, many metres up between the pillars and suspended platforms, massed Bolter-fire tore up the floor in a cloud of debris. Many of Shiban's warriors were caught in the conflagration and were ripped apart by the hail of Bolter-fire. The rest of them retreated to what cover they could.
Just as they did so, the wave of Bolter-fire ceased. Scanning ahead, Shiban observed that Torghun's warriors had hunkered down in a long line across the Servitor pits bisecting the hall. Dozens of sharp-shooters were stationed above them on the terraces, holding fire for now but still primed. Beyond that, he saw more heavy infantry holding position around the epicentre of the bridge itself -- the command throne. Hasik's own keshig were amongst them, hulking in Terminator battle-plate. Other defending White Scars occupied strategic points in the observation deck beyond. The bridge was covered, locked down, utterly secure.
Hasik Noyan-Khan stood stoically, addressing the crouching intruders, trying to get them to stand down. Meanwhile, the four incoming Traitor warships drifted closer, utterly incautious, prowling through local space as though they owned it. Up close, their fleet-markings were now easily identifiable -- they were XIVth Legion, the Death Guard, not warships from the Sons of Horus.
More Traitor starships soon entered the system. Two of them burned through the outer system at high speed. No markers, no idents marked them, just sub-Warp signatures and the telltale flicker of Void Shield activation. The White Scars fleet was paralysed. Their ships were not moving to counter either threat closing in on them.
The Legion had turned upon itself, as the hidden divisions were suddenly exposed everywhere at once. Hasik explained that the Khagan would return. He and his men were not Traitors -- it would all be resolved. The stakes were too high to leave things hanging unresolved -- the invaders were going to charge again. This time it would not stop, not until only one faction remained on the bridge, Traitor or Loyalist, whichever was which.
As Shiban ordered his men to prepare to engage the enemy, a deafening roar suddenly boomed through the entire bridge. The blinding iridescence of a teleportation beam burned brightly for a few moments. When it finally cleared, the scene on the bridge looked entirely different. Now a hundred more White Scars Legionaries stood arrayed in ranks across the outer circle of the bridge, all aiming their Bolters at the command throne.
Jemulan Noyan-Khan stood at the forefront in his master-crafted Terminator battle-plate, with his retinue of Veterans at his back. He ordered Hasik to stand down, as the attempt to alter the Vth Legion's path had failed. The tension hung heavily, like a thunderhead about to break.
A command was given, issued from the Vox-grill of one of the commanders. Shiban's elation at Jemulan's entrance had been short-lived. The forces were even now, each carrying devastating amounts of firepower. Every stage of the escalation had brought the ruin of the Vth Legion closer -- weapons that had been made to turn upon enemies were now opening up at one another.
Shiban leapt from cover and beckoned his warriors into the fray. Legionary fought Legionary, full-blooded and committed. The mortal crew of the flagship, unable to do anything in the face of such unleashed fury, cowered behind what defences they could find. All but one -- a grey-haired woman wearing a rumpled and torn Imperial Army general's uniform.
She ran straight towards Shiban as he charged the Servitor pits, her arms waving frantically. Something in her eyes stopped him -- she was not desperate to survive but to get his attention. She informed Shiban that she had the Khagan's locus. She ordered Shiban to get her to the teleport platform. The frail woman explained to him that it was she that had opened the docking bay doors. She had a positive lock on the missing Primarch, and if Shiban did not want to watch his Legion destroy itself, then he would get her to the teleporter controls.
The Death Lord
Qin Xa and the surviving Keshig made their way back towards the central part of the ruined city of Tizca where their Primarch had been swallowed up by the massive hole in the centre of a ruined square. As they approached their designated goal they could hear the first trace of buzzing. Psychneuein materialised over the Legionaries, coalescing instantly as if sucked from the atmosphere itself. The Keshig prepared to face the ghostly insects, knowing full well their weapons were useless against the Warp-spawned creatures.
Then the Thousand Sons Sergeant Arvida cried out, as he conjured lightning that slammed into the insectoid bodies of the creatures. The glowing exoskeleton of one of the creatures hardened, solidifying like freezing ice, allowing Qin Xa to strike the vile creature with his Power Sword. Positioned in the centre of the Keshig, Arvida continued to unleash bolts of Warp-fire into the foul insectoids. When the bolts hit, the half-corporeal creatures crystallised into physicality. Once in this state, the White Scars could take them on.
Soon more of the creatures materialised; first a few, then dozens. Ever stranger creatures emerged among them: giant scarabs, towering mantids and Vespid-like beasts. Arvida worked hard, throwing bolt after bolt at the emerging horrors. The White Scars kept fighting, hacking their way towards their intended goal. But the numbers began to tell. The spectres kept materialising, bursting into ghoulish life from all directions, spilling out of the air. Arvida worked frantically, lighting up the skies with his sorcery, but it was not quick enough. Still there was no signal -- no location reading for the Khan.
As the creatures began to overwhelm the Legionaries, pressing in from all sides, Qin Xa roared the Khan's name defiantly as he prepared to meet his death with both eyes open. Suddenly, one of the creatures blasted apart, spinning into a thousand fragments that sailed high across the ruins. A tall figure stood on the far side of the annihilated phantasms. His sword glowed with aetheric residue, as though dipped in molten iron.
For a second, lost in shock, Qin Xa just stared at the newcomer, breathing heavily. Then the armoured figure spoke, and all became clear. It was the Khagan! The Primarch of the White Scars strode forth after the retreating horrors, his long dao power blade shimmering. Killing the creatures was straightforward enough.
It was a matter of belief, as much as anything: attuning himself to the potential that existed within him, just as it did in all of his Primarch brothers. They were, every one of them, creatures of the Warp, whatever Malcador the Sigillite told the masses. The Warp ran through the minds of the Primarchs like blood in a vein.
Qin Xa and his surviving Keshig warriors gathered around the Khagan. He inquired whether they had a fix on the Swordstorm. The Keshig master replied that unfortunately they did not. The Khan turned back, and caught sight of the Thousand Sons Legionary among the others.
For a terrible moment he thought it was Ahriman -- for he wore the same crimson armour and bore the same arcane sigils. After Arvida introduced himself, the Khan regarded him closely. He could see the vigour of the psychic soul glowing inside the Thousand Son Astartes like a candle-flame.
His warriors inquired of their gene-sire whether or not he had found the answers he was looking for. Jaghatai thought for a moment on that, for he did not know what to say. He replied that he now knew more than he had before they came to Prospero, and that everything they had been told was the truth.
Prospero did indeed bear the kill-mark of Leman Russ, just as they had been told, but Magnus had already fallen, just as they were also told. Behind them all stood Horus, the Lord of Primarchs. They were all to blame -- there was no single Traitor -- there was only a web, stretching back in time, clutching at them all. And now it came for them.
As the clouds above them began to glow, a vibrant shard of light speared down from the smog, crackling as it hit the stone below. The Terminators turned to face it, powering up their weapons. Qin Xa stepped in front of the Khan. Jaghatai told his warriors he had felt this new arrival's presence following them for a long time. He had been on the Khan's heels since Ullanor. At long last he had finally caught up.
The Keshig moved into a loose semicircle, poised to strike. None of them would move before the order was given, though; they were the extension of the Khan's will. The Khan ordered his warriors to stand down, for the stranger was beyond all of them. How could he not be? For it was his brother -- Mortarion, the Death Lord, Primarch of the Death Guard Legion.
Watching the ash settle and the residual snags of aether-burn ripple into nothing, seven figures within the maelstrom emerged. Six of them were Legionaries. They were clad in pale, thick-slabbed Terminator Armour and carried huge Power Scythes known as Manreapers. Their pauldrons were olive-green and the links between the plates were cold iron. They were massive, heavier-set than Qin Xa's retinue, hunched at the shoulder and leaking pale green vapour from the last of the teleportation beams. These were members of Mortarion's elite bodyguard, the Deathshroud.
The seventh figure occupied a different order of power. He towered over his fellows, clad in battle plate of bare brass and corpse-white Ceramite. A long cloak of dark green hung down from high-rimmed shoulder guards. Skulls dangled from chains around his belt, some human, some xenos. A long pistol nestled among them -- drum-barrelled, and studded with bronze kill-markers. His eyes were amber, glinting from under the deep shadow of a tattered cowl.
An ornate rebreather covered the lower half of his face. Coils of oily gas spilled from the lining of his battle plate, dribbling down the skull-painted surfaces and hissing on contact with Prospero's death-dry soil. Mortarion planted the heel of his enormous scythe into the dust. The Khan looked up at the blade. It was known as Silence, the greatest of the XIVth Legion's infamous Manreapers.
Mortarion proceeded to explain the reason for his recent arrival; he told Jaghatai that he had sought him out, for things had changed. Jaghatai realised that his brother had come to persuade him to join the Traitors' cause. The Khan observed him guardedly, for Mortarion had always been hard to read. He left his blade unsheathed, holding it loosely at his side. Observing the physical changes in his brother, he noticed that Mortarion's power seemed to have grown.
Something burned in him, dark like old embers. His flesh was somehow bleaker, his stance a little more crabbed, and yet the aura of intimidation around him had been augmented. Back on Ullanor, even at the height of triumph, he had not possessed quite the same heft. Jaghatai commanded his brother to say what he had come to the ruins of Prospero to say. The Khan correctly surmised that Horus had not sent Mortarion, he had come of his own accord, with his own agenda.
Mortarion brushed off the Khan's reasoning, but Jaghatai pressed him. The Death Guard Primarch attempted to sway the Khan to Horus' cause, to imagine for himself a galaxy of warriors, of hunters, where the strong were given their freedom to act as they would, unbound by the Emperor's demands.
The Khan was no fool, and of course this new galaxy would be led by Horus. Mortarion merely shrugged -- Horus would be the start of the new order. He was the champion, the sacrificial king. He might burn himself out to get to Terra, he might not. Either way, there would be room for others to rise to power over the galaxy to come.
Mortarion told his brother that he should not have thrown in his lot with the Sanguinius, let alone Magnus. He hated to see the three of them getting dragged in deeper by the Emperor's hypocrisy. Their father had tried to pretend that it was not there, the Warp, as if He were not already up to his elbows in its soul-sucking filth. In Mortarion's opinion it should have been cordoned off, put away, forgotten about. But the Khan was not fooled by his brother's sincerity. He had seen what had happened.
The Death Lord had never hidden what he wanted. Jaghatai could see how his brother thought it would all play out; first hobble the sorcerers. Silence the witches. Drive them out, and rule would pass to the uncorrupted, the healthy. This was Mortarion's great project. He had even told the Khan on Ullanor. The Khan had thought back then that they were empty threats, but he should have known better. Mortarion did not make empty threats.
But it had all gone wrong. Though Mortarion had completed his great mission and the Emperor had handed down the Edicts of Nikaea forbidding the use of sorcery and the disbandment of the Legions' Librarius, there were now more sorcerers than ever amongst the ranks of the Traitors. Horus had sponsored them, and Lorgar had shown them new tricks. If Magnus had not already made up his mind on which side of the conflict he would be on, then he soon would, and then Mortarion would be surrounded. He had destroyed the Librarius of the Legions only to find witches were now untrammelled amongst the Traitors.
The Khan had seen the overall picture perfectly. Magnus had shown him. Jaghatai warned his brother that though his Legion might be free of the Warp's corruption for now, the change would come, for Mortarion had made his pacts with the masters of the Empyrean, and now they would come to collect.
But the Death Lord explained that this was why Mortarion had come to find Jaghatai. Mortarion had run out of friends. Who would stand with him against the aether-weavers now? Most assuredly not their brother Angron, nor the half-mad Konrad Curze.
The Khan gazed at Mortarion disdainfully as he made his complaints. His brother had tasted the fruits of treachery and found them bitter. The Khan did not wish to be dragged into his brother's ruin -- Mortarion was on his own.
Struggling to contain his anger at this response, Mortarion warned the Khan that he had come to give his brother a choice -- half of the White Scars Legion had already declared for Horus, and the others would follow wherever the Khagan ordered them. Their father's time was over -- the Khan could either be a part of the new order that replaced him or be swept aside in its wake.
The Khan merely smiled in retort -- a cold smile, imperious in its contempt. He would not countenance a new Emperor -- neither himself or his brother. Jaghatai explained that the reason neither one of them would ever rule the galaxy is that both of them were never the empire-builders. They were the outriders. Mortarion had chafed at this role, while the Khan had embraced it.
Enraged, Mortarion backed away, Silence crackled into life, sparking with green-tinged energy. The Deathshroud lowered their scythes in a combat posture. Behind the Khan, the Keshig readied their blades. The Khan prepared to settle their argument once and for all.
The two Primarchs circled one another, prepared to finally engage in a deadly duel that would decide one another's fate -- speed against implacability. An interesting contest. Though the Khan was blindingly fast, Mortarion's raw strength was phenomenal. Facing it full-on, Jaghatai doubted that any of his brothers, save perhaps Ferrus Manus, could have matched it.
The Death Lord absorbed every strike that connected, sucking the power out of the Khan's blows like a leech, taking the hits and coming back for more. The tenacity of the Death Guard was legendary, as was their ability to absorb punishment and just keep coming. The silent Deathshroud were just as implacable as their master, as they fought the White Scars Keshig amidst the wreckage.
Warriors of both sides had already fallen, their bodies caked in the drifting dust, but the fighting continued around them, bitter and unyielding. As the Primarchs continued to fight, the Khan actually felt himself begin to tire. Never in uncounted years of combat had he felt more than trivial stirrings of fatigue. He had never felt the bone-deep drag that Mortarion inspired. But the Khan knew that his brother suffered as well -- blood flecked his sallow cheeks and forehead, and his rebreather rattled as he hauled in thick breaths.
Mortarion barrelled into the Khan, using his scythe like a halberd and smashing the hilt into the Khan's midriff. The Khan lurched away, stumbling, and Mortarion lumbered after him. More blows came in -- hard, heavy, earth-shaking blows. The Khan was driven further, only barely able to weather the explosion of fury directed at him. When they slammed together again the impact was bone-jarring. They tore into one another, each strike powered by raw defiance.
Fragments of armour flew like shrapnel. Gas exploded from Mortarion's store of vials as the glass shattered, nearly blinding them both. Blood flew in straggling splatters, trailing across both combatants and staining their armour. As they hacked and countered, neither giving up so much as a centimetre of ground, it mingled upon the blades' edges, as rich and dark as wine.
Summoning up one last burst of energy, the Khan held position, panting hard, trying to drag up energy for the final clash. He held his dao poised, waiting for his enemy to move. One thrust, one perfect thrust, angled precisely -- he had the strength for that. But Mortarion did not move. He stood, rigid, as though suddenly listening for something. His scythe fell into guard. A thin coughing broke from his mask, which the Khan realised was an exhausted kind of chortle. "So the choice has been made."
Mortarion informed Jaghatai that their respective starships were at war. This was not what they had been promised by the White Scars Warrior Lodge brothers, but the Death Lord refused to lose a fleet for this fight. Feeling the dust stir around his feet, coils of marsh-green teleportation energy rippled down. He saluted the Khan mockingly, and spears of hard-edged light suddenly lanced down from above, bursting through the cloud cover and crashing through the heart of the ruined Tizca pyramid they had been fighting within.
The Khan sprang forward, seeing too late what was happening. In an instant, the Death Lord and his retinue were snatched away, sucked into the vortex of the Warp. The world's wind howled in their empty wake, the ash stirred, the lightning forked. Jaghatai, carried by the momentum of his final thrust, staggered though the empty space where his enemy had been.
Qin Xa faced him, unblooded but for his blades. The Thousand Sons Legionary was still there, as were five of his Keshig. The Khan was enraged -- the hunt had not been concluded, the kill had been ripped away. Qin Xa lowered his weapons. For a moment he said nothing, but faint clicks from his helm gave away the attempts he was making to contact the White Scars warships in orbit. The Khan turned to Arvida and ordered him to get him off of Prospero.
Arvida warned them that it would be difficult. He could only manage the use of his powers for a short while, and hoped that someone would be watching carefully. Collecting himself, Arvida summoned silvery witch-light from his hands, the light blazing so intently that it was hard to look at. Then he extended his hands heavenwards, and released a column of coruscating luminescence, electric-white and searing hot. It shot out vertically, leaping up and bursting into the skies above. The Khan looked upwards, over to where Arvida's released energy still shot into the turbulent skies, and hoped someone saw their signal.
A Primarch's Wrath
Caught up in the maelstrom of the two opposing factions of White Scars aboard the bridge of their Legion's flagship, Shiban Khan had to make a decision -- fight and most likely die alongside his brothers or listen to the pleas of a mortal woman. The young Khan's first reaction was to shove her aside and get to the enemy. But the desperation in her eyes stopped him. Shiban glanced at the teleportation platform, and then looked back at the pleading grey-haired woman in the tattered Imperial Army uniform.
Coming to a decision, he quickly scooped her up in his arms and sprinted towards the teleportation mechanism as fast as he could. As he ran across the bridge he was shot multiple times by stray bolt rounds. He kept going, gritting his teeth through the agony. As the platform's columns rose above them, he pushed the mortal clear before his falling body could crush her. The woman crawled free, darting into the relative safety of the chamber's inner mechanisms. As more bolts exploded against the circlet of columns, she frantically punched in a series of codes, and the apparatus began to hum with building power.
A second later, the space between Shiban and the mortal woman exploded with light. A hard bang shot out, radiating across the entire bridge. For a moment no one could see anything within the seething mass of energy. Then figures clarified within it -- White Scars in Terminator Armour, and a Space Marine Legionary in red armour on his knees from exhaustion. Before them stood a greater silhouette, massive in ornate armour, his cloak shredded to ribbons, his face an armoured mask of burns and heavy cuts. Jaghatai strode out of the failing storm of light and cast a baleful gaze across the bridge.
The hall was still in torment, with Battle-Brothers at each other's throats, lost in a maddened world of battle-cries and muzzle-flares. The Khan strode down from the platform, his Keshig following him closely. Ahead of him, the command hall remained swamped in combat. Many of those close enough to the teleportation flare to hear it over the clamour of the fighting broke off in sudden confusion, but others remained committed, locked in the storm of bolt-shells that crisscrossed the entire space.
Witnessing in that terrible moment warriors of his own Legion at each other's throats, Mortarion's words rang in his head, as mocking as his final salute -- "Half your Legion has already declared for Horus." He scanned over to the command throne, where the fighting was heaviest. With a lurch of recognition, he saw Hasik Noyan-Khan occupying the dais, fighting hard to repel a surge from Jemulan's warriors. The Khan's battered body carried him to the heart of the storm. His dao felt heavy in his grasp, still slick with Mortarion's blood.
The Keshig came with him, forming a protective cordon around their Primarch. As he swept through the heart of it, some of the fighting broke down. Warriors looked up from their duels, seeing the ravaged armour of their Primarch again as he strode up to the throne, as if realising only then the depths to which they had sunk in his absence. The echoing cacophony of Bolter-fire abated.
Hasik was waiting for him. The bridge fell silent. Warriors remained in position, their weapons still poised. Every eye was fixed upon the command dais. The Khan asked the Noyan-Khan what madness he had unleashed. Hasik replied that what he had done was for the good of the White Scars Legion. The Khan coldly noted that Hasik had been aware that he would return when he launched his coup. Or did he also plan to keep the Khagan away until the fleet was secure in his hands? The Noyan-Khan replied that he had only wished for his Primarch and Horus to be reunited once more. That was his only hope. That the whispers of the faithless could not be allowed to prevail.
The Khan was incredulous at this statement. How could Hasik call those who opposed him faithless, when it was he who had caused such madness and betrayed his Primarch? Hasik admitted that mistakes had been made, but nonetheless he and his Warrior Lodge brothers saw the truth. The Warmaster had called, and the White Scars must follow, for that had always been the way. The Khan informed Hasik that they had all been lied to by Horus.
As the Noyan-Khan tried to explain the reasons for his actions the Khan roared in anger at his commander's treachery. As he did so, he raised his blade. Perhaps unconsciously, perhaps without meaning to, or perhaps through some misguided belief that his cause lent him the power to do so, Hasik lifted his own in response.
The Khan pounced, sweeping his dao hard and locking edges with Hasik's tulwar. With a twist, he wrenched the sword from the Noyan-Khan's gauntlet, then switched back and plunged the dao's point deep into Hasik's midriff. The strike was aimed with perfect precision, lancing through the Terminator battle-plate with a hard crack of disruptor field discharge. Hasik went rigid, impaled just below his hearts, unable to respond as searing energies rippled across his body and locked him in paralysis.
Slowly, grindingly, Jaghatai Khan hefted Hasik off the ground one-handed, pulling him upwards until their faces were level. His blade kept Hasik in position, bearing his full weight and preventing him from responding. With every ounce of his posthuman strength, the Khan reached for Hasik's helm with his free hand and wrenched it from his head, casting it to the ground in contempt. For a moment they stared into one another's eyes -- one face white with shock, the other rigid with anger.
The Khan told Hasik that he knew nothing of the truth. If he had done as commanded, Jaghatai would be telling him of it now. Instead he would only tell him this -- the Vth Legion was the ordu of Jaghatai, and none bore their blades in it save by his word. Thus it had been since they first fought together on the Altak, and no power of the universe, be it Horus or the Emperor, would ever change that.
The Noyan-Khan had been given freedom that no other lord of a Space Marine Legion would countenance. But this was how Hasik repaid the Khan, with betrayal and fire, and so the impertinent warrior would be struck down for his hubris. The Khan flung Hasik's body aside. It flew free of the great power blade and crashed into the warship's command throne, cracking it lengthways, before rolling down the steps of the dais. Qin Xa strode over to him, his own weapons drawn, but Hasik did not get up.
Turning away, rage still pulsed through the Khan's veins, laced with the heavy grief of betrayal. For an instant his mind was filled with visions of lashing out further, of bringing punishment down on the entirety of his errant gene-progeny like some vengeful god of the forgotten past. But in the end, his eyes were drawn up to the observation arch, out through the enormous real-view portals towards Prospero's orbital space.
Far out into the void, silent bursts of light flashed out. Mortarion had spoken the truth about that, at least -- warships had engaged, Lances were being fired, shields were buckling. There was no time. A reckoning would come, the Khan cried, addressing the hundreds who waited for guidance. But for now, battle called.
He ordered the crew to Vox the rest of the White Scars' fleet. They would engage the Death Guard, guang-cha formation, full burn. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Death Guard formation quickly fell back into a defensive cordon. The White Scars went after them, harrying, strafing, hurling all their pent-up fury in a maelstrom of Lance-energy.
Second Battle of Prospero
The Second Battle of Prospero did not match the horror of the first, for the Death Guard had come to hopefully oversee the incorporation of an ally, not embark upon a protracted void conflict. The two fleets grappled together as they pulled away from Prospero, locked in a web of broadsides and attack runs.
Under Mortarion's leadership, the smaller XIVth Legion forces rallied enough to withdraw from the system intact, but they could match neither the speed nor the firepower of the reunited White Scars. The battle moved steadily out of the system until Mortarion finally gave the order to disengage and make for the Mandeville jump-points.
Leaving a trail of fire and plasma in their wake, the Death Guard entered the Warp, abandoning local space to the control of Jaghatai Khan. With the enemy driven from Prospero, the Vth Legion halted its pursuit. The fleet mustered once more, holding position in loose formation, just as it had done at Chondax. Some ships still ran with dissension, and the process of restoring order was neither quick nor without violence. The Khan visited every Battleship in person, stamping out the last traces of rebellion where he found them.
Blood had been shed on many vessels, and some had been commandeered entirely by White Scars Warrior Lodge members still hoping to sway the Legion to the cause of Horus. Some took their own lives rather than endure the shame of surrender, though most recognised the authority of the Khagan and offered up their blades in contrition.
A few smaller vessels never made it to the muster, either destroyed by the Death Guard during the engagement or disappearing quietly, presumed unwilling to accept the rejection of their planned accord with the Traitors. The seeds planted by the lodge were set deep, and not all of their growths were capable of being removed.
The wounded Hasik Noyan-Khan remained on the Swordstorm throughout the engagement. Only when Mortarion had been banished did Qin Xa come for him, removing his weapons and armour and escorting him to the confinement chambers. Hasik did not resist.
His face gave away the soul of a man destroyed. Others went with him into confinement, among them Goghal, Hibou and Torghun Khan. There they awaited judgement, guarded by the Khagan's own retinue. No precedent existed in the Vth Legion for their actions, though under the old law of the Altak steppes on Chogoris, the crime of treachery and betrayal had only one punishment -- death.
The Thousand Sons Astartes Arvida remained with the White Scars Legion and was given quarters on board the Swordstorm. His health had been ravaged by the long sojourn on a dying world, and it took solar days for him to recover enough to speak of what he had seen. The Stormseer, Yesugei Targetei, had fought his way halfway across the galaxy aboard the frigate Sickle Moon in order to reunite with the Khan, and both the zadyin arga and Arvida spent many hours together after that, though what they discussed was not revealed to any but the Khan.
It was known Yesugei asked after the fate of his friend Ahzek Ahriman, whom he had hoped to see again, but Arvida could give him no guidance. The Stormseer was forced to conclude that either Ahriman had been killed by the Space Wolves or had escaped into the Warp along with his master Magnus. In either case it seemed most likely that they would never meet again. Of the many links that had once existed between the White Scars and the Thousand Sons, only Arvida remained.
As for the Khan himself, once the violence of restoration had ebbed, he retreated to his chambers on the flagship and took counsel on the Legion's next move. Only Qin Xa and Yesugei stayed with him during that time, though it was known that a kurultai -- a summit of the Legion's khans -- would be convened to purge any remaining bad blood. It became quickly evident that the Warrior Lodge faction of the Vth Legion had not truly understood what they had been working towards, for the Horus they venerated no longer existed.
The knowledge gleaned from Magnus needed to be propagated swiftly, ending the long period of uncertainty that had blighted the White Scars Legion. Such was the way of the old plains: grievances would be heard, penance would be meted, bonds restored. No time was set for the gathering, but all the Brotherhood khans knew it would be soon.
Now that the true shape of the treachery against the Imperium was known, it would not be long before the Brotherhoods were ordered to war, unified once more and thirsting for vengeance. Until then, there was nothing to do but prepare, restore, and hope that the wounds of the Legion would heal before they faced the Traitors once more.
Flight from the Traitors
As Arvida spent his time recovering from his ordeal on Prospero, he befriended the Stormseer Targutai Yesugei. As the Thousand Son slowly regained his strength and precognitive powers, Yesugei repeatedly attempted to convince Arvida to become a member of the V Legion, since the Thousand Sons were now considered Excommunicate Traitoris by the Imperium.
He even went so far as to commission his Legion's Artificers to created a hybrid pauldron, incorporating the iconography of both Legions, to replace the one of Arvida's that had been severely damaged during the fighting against the Death Guard.
Though Arvida seriously contemplated becoming a part of a Legion once more, he eventually refused -- he would would remain, always and forever, a Son of Magnus and a loyal servant of the Emperor.
Arvida was determined to follow his fate, for he believed that his destiny was somehow connected to the image of the raven associated with the Corvidae Cult's sigil that he had foreseen while he was stranded on Prospero. During this time, Arvida had also begun to experience the mutational effects of his Legion's gene-curse, known as the "Flesh-Change."
The Path of Heaven
Nearly four Terran years later, the White Scars had successfully waged a guerrilla war against the Traitors' supply lines deep in the void. Though their attacks were devastating initially, over time, the White Scars' numbers were slowly being whittled down to near-critical levels. Following a particularly devastating ambush by the Iron Warriors at Iluvuin, the Khagan was determined to make his way to the Imperial Throneworld, to stand by the Emperor's side when the Warmaster and the Traitors would inevitably invade the Sol System and lay siege to Terra.
But they were hindered at every turn -- trapped by the Ruinstorm, the massive Warp Storm conjured by the Word Bearers Traitor Legion during the Calth Atrocity, that blocked off large portions of the Milky Way Galaxy to both interstellar travel and communications. They were also constantly being stalked and harangued by Traitor ships from a combined Traitor taskforce comprised of both the Death Guard and the Emperor's Children, led by Lord Commander Eidolon himself.
An opportunity soon presented itself when the White Scars discovered the Kalium Gate, an ancient Warp Gate that dated back to the Dark Age of Technology and had long been abandoned since the Age of Strife. Unfortunately, the White Scars were not able to make use of this Warp Gate, as their tactics and patterns had become predictable to the Traitors, and Lord Commander Eidolon correctly deduced that the White Scars would attempt to utilise the Kalium Gate to reach Terra.
By the time the White Scars arrived, they found the Warp Gate was in ruins and that it was teeming with the forces of the enemy. A vicious battle ensued between the two opposing forces. In the ensuing conflict, it appeared that the Khagan had been mortally wounded when he faced the much-changed Lord Commander in battle. But this was merely a feint, as it was actually Keshig Master Qin Xa, wearing the Khagan's armour. Fleeing their attackers aboard the White Scars' flagship Lance of Heaven, Qin Xa would eventually succumb to his wounds.
During this time, Arvida could barely hold back back the ravages of the Thousand Sons' mutational Flesh-Change, and each time he utilised his innate psychic abilities, his genetic curse threatened to overwhelm him completely. But before his friend Qin Xa died, he told Arvida to do everything in his power to find a cure for the Flesh-Change. Arvida vowed that he would.
It was later revealed that the White Scars presence at the Kalium Gate was merely another diversion, as they had no intention of utilising the Warp Gate, for the Khagan's true purpose was to find the notorious senior Navigator, Novator Pieter Achelieux. Once Novator Achelieux had been found, he led the White Scars to the Catallus Warp rift, where hidden amongst its turbulent Warp eddies was a long, crystalline void station.
Within its edifice was an ancient and powerful device known as the Dark Glass, a relic archeotech device from the Age of Technology. Discovered early on by Rogue Traders during the Great Crusade as they opened up new regions of the galaxy for the Imperium, this device was believed to have been used in ancient times to test the technology that would later result in the construction of the Golden Throne. The Dark Glass, like its counterpart on Terra, could access the Webway through the use of a central throne controlled by a psyker of enormous power to operate.
Still pursued by the forces of the Death Guard and the Emperor's Children, the White Scars discovered the location of the Dark Glass and intended to use it to instantaneously travel to the Sol System. However, a rogue agent of the Navis Nobilite named Veil, who had accompanied the White Scars, was secretly tasked with the destruction of this archaic device, for it could spell the end of the Navis Nobilite if the technology was widely disseminated across the Imperium.
Targutai Yesugai led a small strike force onto the crystalline space station, desperate to make use of the Dark Glass. With the enemy closing in, and the station collapsing all around him due to explosions of Vortex Charges set by Veil, Stormseer Yesugai sacrificed himself by inserting himself into the Dark Glass' command throne and then opened a portal through the Webway to Terra, which allowed the White Scars fleet to swiftly flee through and escape the Traitors' clutches.
Before he died, Yesugai's astral form imparted a final message for his friend Arvida -- he asked him to utilise his vast psychic abilities to guide the White Scars' fleet to the Throneworld. As the White Scars' fleet passed through the Immaterium, it was assaulted by hordes of daemons.
After he managed to guide the White Scars' fleet closer to Terra, Arvida finally succumbed to the effects of the Flesh-Change and was rendered unconscious. Khalid Hassan, Captain of the Imperial Army's 4th Clandestine Orta and an agent of Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra, arrived aboard the Lance of Heaven. He promised the White Scars that his master would do everything in his power to treat Arvida's condition, for the Sigillite had long been awaiting his arrival at Terra.
In an attempt to save Arvida's life, he was transformed in an arcane ritual conducted by Malcador the Sigillite into an amalgam of Arvida's own psyche and a psychic fragment of the personality of the Primarch Magnus the Red which had been left on the Throneworld after his ritual incursion into the Imperial extension of the Webway. The new hybrid being chose to call himself Ianius, later known to history as Janus, who would go on after the Heresy to become the first Supreme Grand Master of the Grey Knights.
Siege of Terra
It is known in Imperial records that much of the White Scars Legion, including its Primarch, was present to defend the Imperial Palace during the climactic Siege of Terra alongside the Blood Angels and Imperial Fists Legions. Such was the ferocity of the attack by the Forces of Chaos that the besiegers forced the Imperial defenders back to the walls of the Imperial Palace, where thousands died slowing the assault.
When the beleaguered forces faced a breach and potential collapse of the Imperial defences, Jaghatai decided on a change of plan. Rather than assaulting the almost-invincible flanks of the Chaos army, he redirected his highly mobile ordu and the surviving Loyalist tank divisions of the Imperial Army to the Lion's Gate Spaceport. At dawn, Jaghatai's lightning raid caught the Traitor garrison at the spaceport completely by surprise, and reclaimed the spaceport for the Emperor.
The Khan ordered his troops to reactivate the spaceport's Defence Lasers to prevent the Traitor fleet from bringing down any more troops and equipment and form a defensive perimeter to hold their newly reconquered territory. Khan's troops repelled several frenzied counterattacks from the Traitors, and began firing on Horus' unprotected dropships.
The Khan's plan worked perfectly: the flow of the Traitors' men and machines to the Imperial Palace had been cut in half at a single stroke. Inspired by this success, the Loyalists also tried to seize the Eternity Wall Spaceport, but were driven back by the Chaos forces without difficulty, as they had reinforced their garrison following the loss of the Lion's Gate.
History recorded little else of the Great Khan's actions during the Battle of Terra, but it is known that his Legion ranged the once-proud thoroughfares of Terra during the campaign, engaging the Traitors in punishing hit-and-run strikes. When the end finally came, when Horus died at the hands of the Emperor aboard his Battle Barge Vengeful Spirit in orbit above Mankind's homeworld, the White Scars emerged from the fires of galactic civil war bloodied, but alive.
It was said that Jaghatai and his warriors fought many of the Chaos Space Marines that tried to retreat to Terra's spaceports and flee. The White Scars launched several highly-successful hit-and-run assaults against the Traitor forces and together with remnants of the Imperial Army's 1st Terran Tank Division and several infantry regiments they successfully harassed the enemy supply lines as the Chaos armies fled to the Eternity Wall Spaceport to get off-world and escape Imperial vengeance.
The White Scars Legion must surely have been at the forefront of the Legions that pursued the defeated Traitors to the Eye of Terror during the Great Scouring, for the White Scars rarely allowed a defeated foe to slip away once their blood was up.
Seven Terran years after the end of the Horus Heresy, during the period called the Reformation when the Imperium was largely guided by the Ultramarines Primarch and Lord Commander of the Imperium Roboute Guilliman, the White Scars adopted Guilliman's Codex Astartes and the Vth Legion allowed itself to be grudgingly divided into several different Successor Chapters.
In order to contain the outlaws, Renegades and aliens that dwelled within the Warp rift called the Maelstrom that had taken advantage of the disruptions of the Heresy to run amok in the Ultima Segmentum, Roboute Guilliman ordered the surrounding star systems to be reinforced.
The White Scars were tasked with the main responsibility of securing the Yasan Sector -- the star systems that surrounded their homeworld. According to the writings about the Great Khan found in the White Scars' fortress-monastery of Quan Zhou, the White Scars learned upon their return to Chogoris following the end of the Heresy that their homeworld and its people had been the target of numerous raids by the Drukhari to seize thousands of Chogorians as slaves.
Jaghatai swore many oaths against the Drukhari because of this crime and fought them in many battles until peace had largely been restored amongst the Imperial worlds that were adjacent to the Maelstrom.
Jaghatai fought alongside his White Scars for another 70 standard years following the end of the Horus Heresy, eventually disappearing in 084.M31 when he traveled into the Maelstrom. Jaghatai is believed to have been in pursuit of the Drukhari who had savaged Chogoris following the Battle of Corusil V with his 1st Brotherhood when he went through a Warp Gate into the Drukhari portion of the Webway, ultimately vanishing forever.
Jaghatai had been in pursuit of a mighty Drukhari lord, likely the Archon of the Kabal that had attacked Corusil V and perhaps even Chogoris itself. None can say what befell the Primarch -- if he was lost in the Warp or if he was slain or captured at the hands of an alien warlord -- but the White Scars believe he still hunts across the galaxy, and beyond, in pursuit of his greatest foes.
The White Scars believe the Khan is still alive somewhere within the Webway and will one day return to the Chapter in a time of great need. As a result of their Primarch's disappearance, the White Scars hold a particularly savage grudge against the Drukhari and will gladly seek out any opportunity to make war upon those sadistic aliens.
The White Scars thus continue to fight in Jaghatai's name, destroying the enemies of the Emperor in preparation for the day when the Great Khan completes his consummate hunt and returns to once again lead his chosen warriors and begin the next Great Crusade to unify the galaxy.
Of all the Primarchs, Jaghatai Khan found the Great Crusade most to his liking, as it was an endless hunt in the dark places of the galaxy. As the Great Crusade raged across the galaxy, he had sat at its heart, always fighting and always on the move, laughing as he killed.
Yet the Great Khan was no simple berserker, for in even the simplest task he sought perfection through discipline. His was the quiet competence of a master, seeking no acclaim from others, but only the satisfaction to found in a perfect stroke of the sword or a well-placed diplomatic word.
Among the Primarchs, the Khan was the most reclusive, bound to the hunt and the glory of the chase rather than parade ground or strategium halls, and was oft overlooked by the eyes of history. He managed no great empire, nor wrote any great treatise of war, yet his actions guided the course of the Great Crusade with the quiet skill that was the hallmark of his Legion.
Thus, when Horus brought civil war to the fledgling Imperium, few looked to the Khan, his loyalty presumed by those who thought themselves his better and demanded by those he once counted as friends. When the Khan at last made his choice, when the forgotten Legion chose for itself a path to walk, it ultimately shook the pillars of heaven and helped to save the Emperor's dream -- and all Mankind -- from ruination.
- The Wildfire Panoply - Fashioned to be as aesthetically pleasing as it was impregnable, the Khagan's Artificer Armour perfectly complemented his fast and uncompromising style of warfare, and bore a number of unique systems to improve his already unmatched reflexes.
- The White Tiger Dao - The White Tiger Dao was the Khagan's personal close-combat weapon, a master-crafted sabre or tulwar-like blade that was particularly effective when used from the seat of his favoured mount, a Sojutsu Pattern Voidbike.
- Archeotech Pistol
- Frag Grenades
- Sojutsu Pattern Voidbike - The Sojutsu Pattern Voidbike, the favoured mount of the Great Khan, is an early prototype Jetbike that predated the more common Scimitar Pattern Jetbike in use with the Legiones Astartes. During initial trials its thrusters were capable of providing sufficient thrust to grant the bike limited periods of true flight, and even some manoeuvrability in deep space, and it was classed by the Logisticae Imperialis as an ultralight fighter craft instead of a Jetbike.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition) "The Fate of the Great Khan," "Victories of the Khans," pp. 33-34
- The Horus Heresy - Book Eight: Malevolence (Forge World Series) by Neil Wylie and Anuj Malhotra, pp. 137-157, 226-227
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 27-28, 31
- Horus Heresy Collected Visions (Artbook), pp. 344-345
- Index Astartes I, "Lightning Attack - The White Scars Space Marines Chapter," pp. 40-47
- White Dwarf 256 (US), "Index Astartes - Lightning Attack - The White Scars Space Marine Chapter"
- White Dwarf 93 (UK), "Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader Edition Preview," pp. 33-44
- A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Aurelian (Novella) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Jaghatai Khan: Warhawk of Chogoris (Novel) by Chris Wraight, Ch. 1
- Scars (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- The Path of Heaven (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- Savage Scars (Novel) by Andy Hoare
- Forge World Preview: Malevolence
|Horus • Leman Russ • Lost Primarchs • Ferrus Manus • Fulgrim • Vulkan • Rogal Dorn • Roboute Guilliman • Magnus the Red • Sanguinius • Lion El'Jonson • Perturabo • Mortarion • Lorgar • Jaghatai Khan • Konrad Curze • Angron • Corvus Corax • Alpharius Omegon|