The Laer were a non-humanoid reptilian xenos species native to the world of Laeran who were dedicated to the worship of the Chaos God Slaanesh. They were first encountered by the Emperor's Children Space Marine Legion during the Great Crusade in the early 31st Millennium.
Like the Emperor's Children themselves, the Laer prized perfection in all aspects of life. By the use of chemical and genetic manipulation from birth, individual Laer were best adapted to their cultural roles, whether they were workers, soldiers, diplomats, or even artists.
In a brutal and bloody campaign fought on Laeran, the Emperor's Children ultimately wiped out the Laer race, though at high cost, for the Astartes' exposure to the Laer's corruption ultimately marked the start of the downfall of the III Legion and its Primarch and their transformation into the most vile servants of the Prince of Pleasure.
Anatomy and Physiology
In appearance the Laer could be wildly diverse. They were engineered for each particular theatre of war. During the xenocidal campaign carried out by the Emperor's Children on Laeran they witnessed winged, aquatic and all other manner of adaptations engineered from the basic Laer form.
The Laer were often tall and sinuous, with a snake-like lower body common to their species, and muscular thoraxes sheathed in silver armour, from which sprouted two pairs of limbs. The upper arms of Laer warriors bore long, lightning-wreathed Power Blades, while the lower arms wielded crackling gauntlets that fired lethal green energy bolts. Their heads were insect-like and bulbous, with glossy, multi-faceted eyes and jutting mandibles that produced a grating screech when they attacked.
In his desire to enhance the physical perfection of the Emperor's Children Astartes, the III Legion's Chief Apothecary Fabius, with the consent of his Primarch Fulgrim, used the advanced knowledge of genetic engineering he had gained from the corpses of the reptilian Laer to develop a series of modified gene-seed organs.
These organs were eventually implanted into all members of the III Legion who joined The Phoenician in turning against the Emperor. These early genetic experiments would led to the creation of the first Noise Marines, as well as other types of variant mutant Chaos Space Marines.
Shortly after the beginning of their participation in the Great Crusade on their own terms after ending their time with the Luna Wolves, the Emperor's Children Legion's 28th Expeditionary Fleet encountered a hitherto-unknown serpentine alien race who called themselves the Laer. Analysis of captured scouts and envoys showed the Laer to be concentrated in a single star system on a single homeworld completely covered by a global ocean called Laeran, officially codified in Imperial records as Twenty-Eight-Three.
Nonetheless, the Laer had the potential to be a powerful foe. Like the Emperor's Children themselves, the Laer prized the pursuit of perfection in all aspects of civilisation. By the use of chemical and genetic manipulation from birth, individual Laer were biologically adapted to their socioeconomic roles in Laer civilisation.
Observers from the Imperial administration accompanying the III Legion's Expeditionary Fleet wondered if perhaps the Laer might be made a protectorate of the Imperium as conquering such an efficient race could prove to be a long and costly endeavour. Fulgrim was disgusted by any notion of co-operation or alliance with a xenos species. Only humanity was perfect, he insisted. For an alien race to hold its own ideals to be comparable to those of Mankind was unthinkable, and deserved only annihilation. He ordered his Lord Commanders to attack immediately, and initiated a war that the Council of Terra had predicted would last for several solar decades.
Fulgrim heard this prediction, and shook his head. In one solar month's time, he promised, the Imperium would rule Laeran. The Emperor's Children, in concert with Lord Commander Fayle's Archite Palatine regiments of the Imperial Army, attacked the Laer in space, on the surface of their homeworld, beneath their oceans and over the hulls of their orbital platforms.
Laeran itself was a remarkable world in which the serpentine Laer had used anti-gravity technology to float massive coral platforms above their planet's global ocean. It was on these platforms that they had chosen to live after global warming had sunk all of Laer's continental masses beneath encroaching waves.
Everywhere the Astartes faced enemies adapted to their conditions by genetic and chemical enhancement -- warships connected directly to their crews' minds using cybernetic technology, amphibious warriors who could breathe underwater through gills, scouts capable of moving as fast as a Land Speeder, gunners possessed of eyesight so acute that it allowed them to target individual Space Marines who were miles distant. The casualties on both sides were horrendous -- it is estimated that, if not for the excellence of the III Legion's Apothecaries, more than half of its warriors would have died from their wounds.
The Laer never surrendered -- their last warriors died fighting in the ruins of their capital city to protect their central temple dedicated to the worship of the Chaos God Slaanesh. One solar month after he had begun the attack, Fulgrim planted a standard displaying the Imperial Aquila over the last Laer's corpses, leaving it the only thing standing unblemished on Laer.
Over seven hundred of his warriors were dead, six times that number injured, but Fulgrim believed that he had kept his promise to the Council of Terra. Against the most finely-honed alien warriors ever encountered, humanity had proven itself more powerful.
Of course, the conquest of the Laer represented the beginning of Fulgrim and the entire III Legion's damnation and their turn away from the service of the Emperor, as every member of the Legion, including Fulgrim and the civilian Remembrancers who entered the Laer's temple, were unwittingly exposed to Slaanesh's touch. Only the strongest-willed among them would prove able to resist the temptations of the Prince of Chaos.
Yet the Laeran System, for ten thousand standard years now, has been home to three Imperial cities and a dozen mining colonies, and all traces of its former xenos rulers and their corruption are long gone.
Originally, White Dwarf 255, released in March 2001, indicated that the Emperor's Children had invaded Laeran in 893.M31, long after even the Second Founding. This was retconned with the release of the novel Fulgrim in the Horus Heresy series in 2007, which placed the invasion during the final days of the Great Crusade in the first decade of the 31st Millennium.
- Index Astartes I, "Children of the Emperor - The Emperor's Children Space Marine Legion"
- White Dwarf 255 (UK), "Index Astartes First Founding: Children of the Emperor"
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill