The Legio Atarus ("Firebrands") are a Loyalist Titan Legion of the Collegia Titanica, one of the military arms of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Young by the standards of other Titan Legions, the Firebrands were formed in the latter part of the Great Crusade on the remote world of Atar-Median by exiles from the Forge World of Phaeton.
Distrusted and looked down upon by many of their brethren in the Adeptus Titanicus, the Legio Atarus had to prove themselves time and again, gaining a reputation as being independent and headstrong. Despite this reputation, the Firebrands would go on to prove their mettle where other, more lauded names, would ignominiously fall.
Years of war and headstrong commanders gave the Machine Spirits (artificial intelligences) of Firebrands Titans their own distinctive personalities. When the Machine Spirit takes control of the Titan, it is even more determined than ever to close the distance with its foes.
Many Princeps cannot see beyond the ancient tactica doctrines laid down by the Collegia Titanica -- not so the Firebrands, who practise the theorems of adaptive warfare. This is most evident in their flexible approach to the concept of the maniple, individual Princeps often changing their tactics in the midst of combat.
Perhaps the Firebrands' most defining moment came during the Shedim Drifts campaign, when the Warmaster Horus callously sacrificed dozens of their Titans to attain victory -- a slight that the Legion would not soon forget, and which ultimately led the Legion to side with the Loyalists during the Horus Heresy.
Before the dark treacheries of the Warmaster Horus plunged the entire galaxy into bloodshed, the Firebrands were considered by some to be a particularly fractious and ill-disposed Titan Legion. Distrusted and looked down upon by their fellow Titan Legions, the Legio Atarus would go on to prove their loyalty and unswerving dedication to the Emperor.
The seeds of the Firebrands' ill-repute during the Great Crusade can be traced to the highly unusual circumstances of their inception. In the early years of the Great Crusade, one of the first tasks of Imperial expansion from Terra was to link up with a number of key domains within the Segmentum Solar identified as vital to the Great Crusade's success. Critical among these were several Forge Worlds with whom the Mechanicum of Mars had maintained some relationship throughout the tribulations of the later Age of Strife.
In many cases, these inclusions went without difficulty, such as with the world of Voss whose masters had bent the knee to Mars without qualm, but on others such as Phaeton, inclusion was the matter of some negotiation and difficulty, and the final acquiescence bought with considerably more autonomy than the Fabricator-General of Mars would perhaps have preferred from a vassal-domain.
What began as a coldly cordial relationship quickly grew into one of veiled and open rivalry, with Phaeton's position being further strengthened by it quickly becoming perhaps the second most productive Forge World of the Great Crusade until the later discovery of mighty Anvilus.
Although never faltering in its commitment to the Great Crusade, machinations by the authorities of Mars brought matters close to outright conflict over religious doctrine and subtle accusations that Phaeton was building its military assets to threatening levels, and this began to have a corrosive effect on the Forge World's reputation -- to the point where the storm clouds of hostile censure and perhaps even armed retribution gathered.
At last, the Revered-Comptroller of Phaeton Prime, realising that his domain could not stand before such power, brokered a compromise, offering publicly to give up a full third of his world's war engines, armed forces and chattels in the interests of equanimity with Mars. This was quickly agreed, but as the Fabricator-General, no doubt with some lust for the task, despatched an assayance taskforce to Phaeton, he discovered that he had been outmanoeuvred.
Rather than give up its lore and dominion to Mars, Phaeton had created a fleet of vast Explorator Arks, and into these were divided an equal third part of its priesthood, chattels and machineries, and even as the Martian emissaries looked on, despatched them into the void.
Conflict was averted, Phaeton diminished and its subservience to Mars was assured, but it and its allies gained a long-burning enmity towards the Red Planet and its masters. After a long and perilous journey through the Warp, the Phaetonite Covenant alighted in the vicinity of the white super-giant star Atarath, on what was then the edge of known space.
Here they founded the fledgling Forge World of Atar-Median in its shadow, on one of the many rogue planets caught in the colossal star's gravitational pull. With frightening swiftness the transplanted Magi rose up from their domain of steel and fire, and using as its core ancient god-engines taken from Phaeton in the anarchy of Old Night, it founded the Legio Atarus as its shield and sword.
Counted then as one of the younger Titan Legions, the Legio Atarus were looked down upon by many among the more ancient Titan Orders, and distrusted for their origins by some with close ties to the Fabricator-General's faction on Mars, where a bitter humour over Atar-Median's founding still lingered. The Legio Atarus therefore was always a force who had much to prove.
They responded to this status both by the eagerness and devotion which they displayed for the Great Crusade and its cause (over and above the fealty they owed to the Martian Mechanicum), and by displaying defiance and swift anger when they felt themselves slighted by any other Legion. Their zealous impetuousness in battle and the open belligerence and pride in arms they displayed, combined with the symbol of the burning blade they had adopted as their heraldic device, quickly set the cognomen by which the common soldiery of the Imperium would know them -- the Firebrands.
For much of the latter third of the Great Crusade, it was common for the Firebrands to operate several separate demi-legions as was the common case with many Secundus-class Titan Legions, and seldom came together en masse for battle. It was commonly the case for one demi-legion to be rotated through deployment on Atar-Median for repair and refit between major engagements, with the bulk of the Legion deployed to different warzones as needed as part of the overall Imperium military reserve, and seldom stayed attached to a particular Expedition Fleet for long.
Particular campaigns which saw the notable actions of the Firebrands during this period included the Liberation of Vayber and the 2nd Gehenna Campaign, the great Ullanor Crusade and the Lament of Shedim. In this last campaign, a notable incident occurred which was to have a later bearing on events of the Horus Heresy and accounted, in part, for the presence of Demi-Legio Karkanos of the Firebrands at Istvaan V.
During the war in the Shedim Drifts against the Aeldari, a mighty clash occurred on the arid world of Anark Zeta between the forces of the Craftworld of Mór-ríoh'i and the Great Crusade. The vast Imperial force raised to destroy the marauding Craftworld included detachments from no fewer than four Titan Legions: the Legio Mortis (the Death's Heads), the Legio Fureans (the Tiger Eyes), the Legio Osedax (the Cockatrices) and the Legio Atarus, and was under the overall direct strategic command of Horus Lupercal and his (then) Luna Wolves Space Marine Legion.
During the apocalyptic battle which raged on the planet's surface, the Legio Atarus was used as part of a probing attack against the Aeldari Warp Gates. This was successful in drawing forth the ash-grey and crimson Titans of the enemy in open battle.
Heavily engaged and outnumbered by the ghostly war machines of the xenos, the promised support of the Death's Heads did not materialise, while the Titans of the Tiger Eyes, holding the Firebrands' flank, crumbled under the Aeldari assault and retreated, leaving a full demi-legion of the Firebrands to be encircled and all but destroyed, with only a single Warhound-class Scout Titan surviving the engagement still able to fight.
In the aftermath it was revealed that the attack had been a ruse, a distraction planned by the Lupercal to divert the strength of the enemy away from the direct defence of their Craftworld while his Legion undertook a surprise-assault against it.
The war of the Shedim Drifts was a great victory for Horus and all those of the Imperium who fought in the campaign gained glory because of it, but to attain that victory the Legio Atarus had been cruelly used without its foreknowledge or consent, and its losses worsened by the callous scorn held for it by the Legio Mortis and the Legio Fureans in their refusal to stand beside them in battle. It was an injury the Firebrands would not forget.
- Ullanor Crusade (ca. 000.M30) - The Ullanor Crusade was a vast Imperial assault on the Ork Empire of the Overlord Urrlak Urruk during the Great Crusade. Ullanor, the capital world of this empire, and the site of the final assault, lay in the Ullanor System of the galaxy's Ullanor Sector. The Crusade included the deployment of 100,000 Space Marines, 8,000,000 Imperial Army troops, and thousands of Imperial starships and their support personnel. The main attack force dedicated to capturing the capital planet of the Ullanor System consisted of the entire Luna Wolves Legion, over 2 million Imperial Army soldiers, and one hundred Titans of the Collegia Titanica, including Titans from the Legio Atarus and the infamous Legio Mortis.
- Lament of Shedim (Unknown Date.M31) - This was an Imperial Compliance action carried out against the Aeldari upon the arid world of Anark Zeta between the forces of Craftworld Mór-ríoh'i and the forces of the Great Crusade, which included detachments from no fewer than four Titan Legions: the Legio Mortis, Legio Fureans, the Legio Osedax and the Legio Atarus. Overall command fell to Horus Lupercal, most-favoured son of the Emperor and Primarch of the Luna Wolves Legion. During the apocalyptic battle, the elements of the Legio Atarus present were cruelly used, and without their foreknowledge they were sent to probe the enemy lines of the Aeldari and were subsequently destroyed. The grievous losses suffered by the Firebrands due to the Legio Mortis and the Legio Fureans refusal to fight alongside them due to internal Mechanicum politics, was a grievous injury not soon forgotten. That Horus allowed their Legion to be used in this way would go far to determining the Firebrands' continued loyalty to the Emperor when the Warmaster's rebellion began.
- Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V (566.006.M31) - War Maniple Red Naga, a Demi-Legio of the Legio Atarus were deployed in support of the Loyalist forces on Istvaan V. Demi-Legio Red Naga was destroyed fighting against the treacherous Legio Mortis, after which it was considered to have martyred itself in the holy cause of the Omnissiah by the Magi of Altar-Median. The unique designation and titles of the Demi-Legio's God-Engines were afterwards recommissioned and kept in continuous service by the Legio Atarus.
- The Cataclysm of Iron (010.M31) - Across border sectors of the Segmentum Tempestus and the Segmentum Pacificus are located numerous lesser Forge Worlds known collectively as the "Belt of Iron". Since the sundering of the Imperium, many declared for the Traitor cause at the engineering of the Fabricator-General of Mars, while others remained loyal to Terra or sought to remain as aloof as possible from the conflict. Strife and tentative conflict between these once-aligned worlds erupted into full-scale war in 010.M31, pitching the Mars-aligned Forge Worlds of Incunabula, Urdesh, Valia-Maximal and Kalibrax against the forces of the Loyalist worlds of Graia, Arl'yeth and Atar-Median, while Arachnis and Jerulas Station both fell into civil war. The resulting conflict, that later becomes known as the "Cataclysm of Iron", sees the forge lords, their armies and allied Titan Legions and Knight Houses turn on each other in protracted warfare, with scores of human-inhabited worlds in the region suffering as they become the battlegrounds upon which they fight.
- Battle of Tallarn (010-011.M31) - The Titans of the Legio Atarus supported a unit of Salamanders Space Marines in battle against a force of Word Bearers Chaos Space Marines and the Fire Masters Traitor Titan Legion during the Battle of Tallarn.
- The Second Battle of Paramar V (011.M31) - Paramar V having fallen to the Warmaster Horus' hosts in the opening moves of the Horus Heresy, a mixed force of Loyalists launched an assault against the strategically vital supply nexus with the intent of denying it to the Traitors' war efforts. The Traitors numbered a substantial combined force of Legio Fureans, and Legio Mortis god-engines that were in the system re-arming and re-supplying after several years of intensive campaigning, and a large presence of Sons of Horus and Word Bearers. The Loyalists committed a large Titan force drawn from the Legio Atarus, Legio Ignatum and Legio Solaria, with ground assault units of the Blood Angels and White Scars Legions. The Loyalists conducted a series of diversionary attacks across the Paramar System in order to draw forces away from their true target, before conducting a full-scaled planetside assault against Paramar V's primary spaceport, capturing it intact and then pressing outwards to begin the destruction of the mass-provender silos sprawling across the plateau beyond. It was soon revealed that the Traitors had seen through the ploy and prepared a large counterattack. Though they inflicted heavy damage on the provender silos before the counterattack hit home, the vast majority of the Loyalist invasion force was surrounded and destroyed without mercy.
- The Battle of Ice World Tralsak (011.M31) - The shallow, frozen oceans of Tralsak are flash-boiled to steam by the fury of engine-war as Loyalist Titans of Legio Atarus and Legio Agravides clash with the Traitors of the Legio Magna and Legio Victorum as the Loyalist Shattered Legions and Traitor World Eaters fight across the disintegrating landscape of ice floes. Ultimately, outright victory eludes both sides, and each uses the cover of the world-enveloping fog thrown up by the destruction to extricate their forces and redeploy them elsewhere. Nevertheless, numerous supporting Knights of both sides remain to fight a war in which neither will concede defeat.
- Battle of Beta-Garmon, "The Titandeath" (006-013.M31) - The Legio Atarus took part in the long and savage Beta-Garmon campaign, which included hundreds of war zones across dozens of worlds. Even before the greater armies of the Warmaster Horus reached the star cluster, the battle lines had long since been drawn, and fighting had been going on for many Terran years. It was a cauldron of battle that would consume millions of lives before its end and see the demise of entire Titan Legions, earning this campaign the dire moniker of the "Titandeath." The Beta-Garmon Cluster, also known as the gateway to the throneworld of Terra, was the last hurdle that the Warmaster Horus' forces had to overcome before they reached the Imperium's capital world. Heavily fortified by the Loyalists, Beta-Garmon would become one of the greatest and bloodiest battles of the Horus Heresy, as well as one of the longest-lasting.
- Among the Omega Dead (705.012.M31) - On a special directive from the Warmaster Horus, a maniple of Legio Mortis Titans are sent to Omega-Garmon at the head of an army. There they find Legio Atarus Warhound Scout Titans waiting for them among the ruins of a dead planet. Few records remain of the confrontation, and those Legio Atarus Princeps to survive swear oaths of silence, vowing to never speak of events on the graveyard world.
- On the Edge of the Void (286.013.M31) - A Loyalist fleet attacks the shipyards at Theta-Garmon V, the Firebrands Legion leading the ground assault. Titans fight across the skin of the orbital shipyards as ships battle above their heads. Though the initial Loyalist assault captures key fortress docks, the Dark Mechanicum trigger a solar event that bombards the gas giant and blinds the unprepared Loyalist Titans and voidcraft. Legio Fureans Titans inflict a heavy toll upon the Legio Atarus and their allies, though the blinded Titans fight on bravely to the end.
- The Titandeath (356.013.M31) - More than twenty Legions and hundreds of Titans converge on Beta-Garmon II as the Loyalists seeks to strike a decisive blow to reclaim Nycron City and clear the system of Traitors. Shoulder to shoulder, the Loyalists meet their enemies in battle like infantry formations facing off, only on a much grander scale, Knight banners racing around their feet like hunting hounds. Many Titan Legions are extinguished forever in the day of battle that follow, and even legendary formations such as the Legio Astorum and Legio Fureans are reduced to a fraction of their initial size. By the time the Loyalists reach the shattered walls of Nycron, both sides are staggering over fields of fallen god-machines, while the light from Beta-Garmon II's burning hive cities is visible in space.
- The Needle Breaks (788.013.M31) - The tipping point of the Beta-Garmon campaign comes in the shadow of the Cathega Telepathica on Beta-Garmon III, its Astropaths still screaming out for aid from Terra. Having deployed the bulk of the Loyalist forces against the defences of Caldera Hive, only a handful of Loyalist Titans drawn from different Legions defend the Diviner's Needle along with their Knight allies, among them the Legio Atarus, Legio Defensor, Legio Astorum and Legio Solaria -- some reduced to a single maniple of undamaged war machines. Unbroken by solar months of fighting, the Legio Mortis led a massive host of Traitor Legions against the tower's defences, the Titans and Renegade Knights marching up through the toxic storm to battle on the mountain top, and ultimately bring the spire down. As it fell, a psychic scream reached out across the cluster and beyond, spreading dismay and horror to all Loyalists it reached. Though the fighting at Beta-Garmon would continue until Horus stood at the gates of Terra, and long after, history recorded this as the point when the fate of the cluster was sealed, and the Warmaster's armies began their final march toward the heart of the Imperium.
Counted by the assessors of the Divisio Militaris as a fully operational Titan Legion of the second rank, the Legio Atarus was estimated to have between 100-130 god-machines in active service at the time of the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. It was also known to possess a highly respected armoured support battalion and Skitarii Auxilia Legion as part of its retainer forces (known collectively as the "Brotherhood of Axxos.")
Like many Secundus-class rated Titan Legions, the Legio Atarus ' principal strength in number ranged across the mid-classes of Titan, with Reaver, Nightgaunt and Carnivore-classes making up the majority of its ranks, with sizable contingents of the Warlord and Warhound-classes constituting the balance of their Titan forces.
It is believed the Legio Atarus possessed a single Nemesis-class Titan, the Immaculata Athartus, which served as the god-engine of the Legion's Grand Master Everard Mazarin, and the primary defender of the Forge World of Atar-Median.
In times of war or when the Forge World itself came under threat, the Legion could also call upon its allies of the Col'Khak Collective, a Knight House established on the nearby planet of Atar-Planitia. During the Battle of Beta-Garmon, the Legio Atarus was supported by House Arakon and House Vornherr.
- Infernus Missiles - Legio Atarus Titans make extensive use of incendiary missiles, weapons that are produced in vast numbers on Atar-Median and supplied almost exclusively to the Firebrands, and that are highly effective against supporting units and terrain.
- Immaculata Athartus (Nemesis-class Titan) - The Immaculata Athartus was a Nemesis-class Titan of the Legio Atarus, which served both as the god-engine of the Legion's Grand Master Everard Mazarin, and defender of the Forge World of Atar-Median.
- Ex Noctia (Warlord-class Titan) - The Ex Noctia was a Warlord-class Titan that took part in the savage and bloody Beta-Garmon conflict during the Horus Heresy. Utilising paired Belicosa Pattern Volcano Cannons, these deadly weapons proved both popular and effective anti-Titan weapons during this conflict. Over the years of the Great Crusade, few enemies of the Emperor could hope to face the firepower of a Battle Titan, and the excessive brutality of the Volcano Cannon was often wasted on xenos hordes and rebel fortifications. Against other Titans, however, such a weapon stood amongst one of the few things that could reliably punch through the hull of such a war machine.
- Exultant (Warlord-class Titan) - The Exultant was a Warlord-class Titan that took part in the Battle of Beta-Garmon and was eventually destroyed by the Legio Vulpa Titan Nuntio Dolores.
- War Wrought (Nightgaunt-class Titan) - The War Wrought was a Nightgaunt-class Titan that took part in the Battle of Beta-Garmon and was eventually destroyed by the Legio Vulpa Titan Nuntio Dolores.
- Aurora Ignis (Reaver-class Titan) - A Reaver-class Titan of the Legio Atarus that served as part of a Janissary Battleline Maniple during the savage fighting of the Beta-Garmon campaign.
- Bellum Sacrum(Reaver-class Titan) - A Reaver-class Titan of the Legio Atarus which took part in the Drop Site Massacre.
- Incendrium Rex (Reaver-class Titan) - The Incendrium Rex was a lauded Reaver-class Battle Titan that took part in several campaigns of the Horus Heresy, including the Battle of Beta-Garmon.
- Liber Bellum (Reaver-class Titan) - A Reaver-class Titan of the Legio Atarus that served as part of a Janissary Battleline Maniple during the savage fighting of the Beta-Garmon campaign. Titans of a Janissary Maniple were often seen in support of Knight Houses, much in the same manner as Questoris Banners gathered in the shadow of Titan Legions. The Liber Bellum spent much of the war for Beta-Garmon as part of a Janissary Maniple fighting alongside the House Arakon Banners. These formations of Imperial Knights largely fought against massed infantry and armour formations, but were always thankful for the commanding presence of a Reaver Battle Titan in their midst.
- Red Naga (Reaver-class Titan) - The Red Naga is a Reaver-class Titan of the Legio Atarus which took part in the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V .
- Dae Canum (Warhound-class Titan) - A Warhound-class Titan of the Legio Atarus that served as part of a Janissary Battleline Maniple during the savage fighting of the Beta-Garmon campaign.
- Enervatus (Warhound-class Titan) - A Warhound-class Titan of the Legio Atarus which took part in the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V.
- Fortis Caldreian (Warhound-class Titan) - A Warhound-class Titan of the Legio Atarus that served as the Legion's eyes and ears during the savage fighting of the Beta-Garmon campaign during the Horus Heresy. On Beta-Garmon III, amid the thick toxic clouds where visibility was restricted to only a few hundred metres, the Legio Atarus relied on its Warhound Scouts to find threats or hunt down prey. The reduced height of the Warhound, relative to the Reaver or Warlord, also lent itself to this task, their Princeps closer to the earth and the foes who might hide from the Legion's gaze.
- Furor Solis (Warhound-class Titan) - A Warhound-class Titan of the Legio Atarus that served as part of a Janissary Battleline Maniple during the savage fighting of the Beta-Garmon campaign.
- Iron Hunger (Warhound-class Titan) - A Warhound-class Titan of the Legio Atarus which took part in the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V.
- Mandragorax (Warhound-class Titan) - A Warhound-class Titan of the Legio Atarus which took part in the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V.
- Pater Infurium (Warhound-class Titan) - A Warhound-class Titan of the Legio Atarus that served as part of a Janissary Battleline Maniple during the savage fighting of the Beta-Garmon campaign.
- Grand Master Erwin Malky - Erwin Malky served as the Grand Master of the Firebrands Legion.
- Grand Master Everard Mazarin - Everard Mazarin served as the Grand Master of the Firebrands Legion during the Horus Heresy.
- Princeps Marakaru - Commander of War Maniple Red Naga, which fought at the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V.
The colours of the Firebrands are red, white, black and gold. As each Battle Titan is a sacred weapon of the Adeptus Mechanicus, each is revered by its crew and served by an army of attendant Tech-priests. A Battle Titan's primary armaments carried to war bear the seal of the Adeptus Titanicus, a holy mark professing the sanctity of the weapons.
These purity seals are intended to keep the weapons functioning in battle and bear prayers to the Omnissiah, the victories of the Legion, and the names of the Magi and Tech-priests who have attended the god-machine.
Upstarts and rebels in the eyes of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the heraldry of the Legio Atarus nonetheless attests to their loyalty to the Emperor with the iconography of the Imperium. Their primary symbol is a burning brand centered within the Opus Machina, the symbol which earned the Legio Atarus their more common moniker -- the "Firebrands."
The cog within a cog speaks to the division between Phaeton and Mars, a dispute many within the Firebrands still considers an unnecessary act of submission, even of it did ultimately lead to the creation of their Legion and the founding of Atar-Median.
Few Legions have had to fight as hard as the Firebrands to earn their place among their fellow Titan Legions, and every Legion banner contains a long list of campaign honours, each a victory for the Legion and shared by all members of the Firebrands.
- Adeptus Titanicus - The Horus Heresy: Rulebook (Specialty Game), pp. 14, 16-17, 63, 74-75, 89
- Adeptus Titanicus - The Horus Heresy: Titandeath (Specialty Game), pp. 16-17, 29-33, 62-63, 93
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 156-159
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 98-99
- White Dwarf 111 (UK), " 'Eavy Metal", pp. 77-78
- White Dwarf 110 (UK), "Adeptus Titanicus", pg. 41
- White Dwarf 109 (UK), "Adeptus Titanicus", pp. 14-15, 22
- Titandeath (Novel) by Guy Haley, Ch. 20