It was not unusual for those of the nascent Imperial Creed to pray to the divine God-Emperor before battle. They would often decorate their battle stations with icons of religious significance, such as warding tokens and other icons, like the double-headed eagle known as the Aquila.
For the most part, their prayers only functioned to irritate their brethren, though sometimes their faith in the Emperor could manifest in miracles when the circumstances were right...
The Legio Defensor, known more commonly as the "Nova Guard", hold unwavering loyalty to the Emperor is indisputable, for their dedication was fuelled by beliefs many amongst the Imperium, including the Emperor Himself, publicly denounced -- those of the Lectitio Divinitatus.
The path through which the outlawed cult devoted to the veneration of the Emperor as a divine being took root within the Titan Legion is unknown, though clues may lie in the extensive service elements of the Legio Defensor saw alongside the Word Bearers Legion prior to the latter's chastisement by the Emperor upon Khur.
Given that it was Lorgar Aurelian, primarch of the Word Bearers, who first penned the book that served both as the namesake and guiding tenets of the cult, it stands to reason that the foundation of unyielding devotion towards the Emperor was first established in service alongside the Word Bearers, a bitterly ironic origin given the later treacherous actions of the XVIIth Legion.
Upon the rediscovery of Satyraes XII by the 914th Expeditionary Fleet, it was noted that the Forge World and its people maintained an almost fanatical devotion to the Omnissiah, above and beyond that displayed by many other Forge Worlds.
The primary tool for such devotion proved to be the Forge World's three moons, each tidal locked to the planet and settled in the centuries following the colonisation of Satyraes XII.
Each moon had undergone extensive transformation during the Age of Strife to transform them into vast, functional industrial cathedrals dedicated to the Omnissiah.
In accordance with principles laid down upon the world's founding, the work completed within the manufactoria of Satyraes XII was to be dictated by devotional sigils broadcast via lumen displays positioned on the Forge World's moons that, when activated, could be observed from the planet below.
Such displays were monitored by a dedicated sect of magi logis which accurately plotted the movement of Satyraes' celestial bodies and, through that, divined the Omnissiah's will and dictated it to the Forge World.
Each sigil held meaning to the planet's tech-priests, with further complexity divined depending on the moon from which a sigil was broadcast. In turn, these sigils dictated the work patterns of Satyraes XII and the goods each manufactorum would produce at a given time, the illuminated celestial bodies a permanent reminder of the Omnissiah's presence.
The archives of Satyraes XII tell of the system of devotional sigils failing only twice in the recorded history of the Forge World, both of which caused great upheaval.
In the first instance, in which a single moon experienced failure of its lumen display and broadcast an unknown sigil, Satyraes XII entered a period of shutdown that lasted six solar weeks, its tech-priests debating the meaning of such a sigil.
The second instance proved a momentary power failure in which all three lumen displays shutdown for 14.56 seconds, leading to mass dissent as the Forge World's labourers preached of the Omnissiah's displeasure.
Seventy-two standard years of civil war followed during which the Nova Guard saw heavy combat, hunting down and destroying any who showed the slightest deviation from the prescribed worship of the Omnissiah.
It is noted that, during the later years of the Great Crusade, many returning demi-Legios showed resistance to the idea of being guided by Satyraes XII's sigils; several redacted reports state that a handful of princeps spoke of the Omnissiah as a prophet of the Emperor, who was a true divine being above and beyond that of the Machine God.
Spread of Faith
Following the destruction of Monarchia, a city upon the world of Khur that stood as a monument to the Emperor's perceived divinity, and the public rebuke of the Word Bearers Legion by the Emperor Himself, Satyraes XII withdrew its military support for the XVIIth Legion.
Though official communiqués claim such a move derived from a need to reinforce the Legio Defensor's strength elsewhere in the galaxy, honour records of those princeps who served alongside the Word Bearers show that nearly all were censured for deviant beliefs, the nature of which remain undocumented.
These princeps were further admonished through the dissemination of the battlegroup structure they once served in, their numbers divided across numerous other battle groups.
This disruption of maniples that had served together for solar decades supports the theory that the withdrawal of military aid from the Word Bearers was intended to forestall the continued growth of beliefs learned from the Space Marines.
In truth, however, the move appeared to only further spread the teachings of the Lectitio Divinitatus, exposing increasing numbers of Legio Defensor personnel to the emerging cult.
Given that the Titan crews of the Legio Defensor hailed from Satyraes XII, a Forge World noted for its zealous dedication to the Omnissiah, the ranks of the Legio Defensor offered fertile ground for new beliefs to grow.
By the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, numerous reports attested to elements of the Legio Defensor striding into battle to audio barrages of hymnodic fashion, though the exact focus of its praise remained elusive and was commonly attributed to the Omnissiah.
The growing religious devotion to the Emperor changed not just the beliefs of the Nova Guard but also its methods of war. Even during the early days of the Great Crusade, the Legio Defensor was noted as holding a measure of self-righteousness, believing its work held higher purpose.
Many of the Nova Guard's exaltations were focused on the tenets of the Great Crusade, razing entire worlds as if in monument to the unstoppable might of Humanity. This righteousness took on new meaning with growth of the Lectitio Divinitatus and the dawning of the Horus Heresy.
Pre-battle audio logs obtained from Legio Defensor briefings during the early years of the conflict make numerous mentions to the Emperor as a divine being. Further investigation notes propaganda, disseminated both amongst the ranks of the Legio Defensor and upon Satyraes XII, framed the Warmaster Horus' actions as a desire to topple the Emperor and claim godhood in His place.
To the Legio Defensor, the conflict was a battle for the soul of Humanity, a belief only strengthened in light of the emergence of Warp denizens alongside the Warmaster's forces and the horrific physical transformations exhibited by many Traitor Titan Legions.
The Nova Guard held no mercy for those who turned against the Emperor, willingly or otherwise, and the Titan Legion soon earned a fearsome reputation for the brutal nature with which it pursued its foes.
Events such as the Tarren Suppression highlight the zealotry that took hold within the Titan Legion's ranks. Tasked with bringing retribution down upon the leaders of the world of Tarren for having sided with the Traitor forces, the Legio Defensor made extensive use of both Warlord and Warbringer Nemesis Titans in their initial assault, condemning entire cities to a fiery demise as an example to all who strayed from the Emperor's side.
Any further displays of anti-Imperium sentiment were dealt similar fates and soon the Nova Guard held onto the world as much by fear as by strength, having cowed the population into subservience, lest tens of thousands die for the transgressions of a single individual.
The iron grip with which the Legio Defensor ruled the planet was only relinquished upon the arrival of a detachment of Emperor's Children accompanied by elements of the Legio Mortis, an arrival seen by the population of Tarren as a liberation rather than invasion.
If reports from Tarren are to be believed, the Nova Guard upon the planet were destroyed not by the invading Traitors but by the actions of its own princeps who, after several solar weeks of conflict and numerous casualties, deemed their position untenable.
Thus, in an action of tactical spite, the few remaining Titans of the Legio Defensor overloaded their reactors in close proximity to vital sections of the planet's power grid, reducing much of its infrastructure to rubble.
The final words of the commanding princeps, issued across the planet so all could hear, simply stated that "If you wish to stray from the Emperor's light, then it is darkness you shall have."
- Second Battle of Paramar V (011.M31) - The strategic Mechanicum provender world of Paramar V fell to the Warmaster Horus' hosts led by the Alpha Legion and the Dark Mechanicum in one of the opening moves of the Horus Heresy. Several Terran years later, a mixed force of Loyalists consisting of the Legio Ignatum, Legio Atarus ("Firebrands"), Legio Solaria ("Imperial Hunters") and elements of the Legio Defensor, with ground assault units from the Blood Angels and White Scars Legions, clashed with the defending Traitors. The Traitor forces were comprised of god-engines drawn from the Legio Fureans ("Tiger Eyes") and Legio Mortis ("Death's Heads") Titan Legions that were rearming and resupplying in the system after several Terran years of intensive campaigning, as well as extensive elements of the Sons of Horus and Word Bearers Legions. The Loyalists conducted a series of diversionary attacks across the Paramar System in order to draw troops away from their true target, before conducting a full scale planetstrike against Paramar V's primary spaceport, the Paramar Nexus. They captured it intact and then pressed outwards to begin the destruction of the mass-provender silos containing wargear and vehicles that sprawled across the plateau beyond. It was soon revealed, however, that the Traitors had seen through the ploy and prepared a huge counterattack force. Though they inflicted heavy damage on the provender silos before the Traitor counterattack hit home, the vast majority of the Loyalist invasion forces was surrounded and destroyed without mercy. The Paramar System would remain in Traitor hands for the rest of the Horus Heresy.
- Tarren Suppression (011.M31) - During the Horus Heresy, the world of Tarren IV declared for Horus, its rulers having fallen for the honeyed words of the Warmaster's emissaries. A Loyalist retribution fleet moved quickly to crush the treachery, occupying Tarren IV's capital city of Brandstat and stamping out anti-Imperium sentiment in a mirror of the Traitor's so-called "Dark Compliance" of conquered worlds. Key to the suppression were the Titans of the Legio Defensor, who bestrode the surface of Tarren IV, the mournful dirge of their war sirens demanding submission to Terra and making examples of cities that refused to do so by blasting them to flaming ruins. As if to mock the natural order of things still further, later on, it was an allied Traitor force of the Emperor's Children Legion, the Legio Cybernetica and the Legio Mortis (Death's Heads) that conducted a heavy planetary landing and "liberated" the world from the Loyalists during the Relief of Brandstat.
- Imperial Muster at Beta-Garmon (012-013.M31) - For reasons only understood later in the war, the Ruinstorm that had been invoked by Lorgar, primarch of the Word Bearers, several standard years earlier during the Battle of Calth, began to abate across vast swathes of the galaxy. Loyalist high commanders were able to utilise the potent astropathic relay at Beta-Garmon to contact and recall formerly lost or stranded forces from across the war-torn reaches of the northern Imperium. The Imperial Muster at Beta-Garmon rapidly escalated into the largest gathering of Loyalist might since the early years of the war, a concentration of forces so mighty that the Traitors had to respond in kind. The resulting clash of arms would become known as the Great Slaughter, a theatre of war of such scale that it would encompass the "Titandeath" and the Sea of Fire campaigns, each major campaigns in their own right. By its end, both sides were so badly bled that their only remaining option for ultimate victory was to force a final, decisive confrontation. As history related, the final battle would be fought at Terra, but only after the weighty butcher's bill of the Great Slaughter was paid in full.
- Battle of Beta-Garmon, the "Titandeath" (006-013.M31) - The Legio Defensor 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, the "Titandeath."
- Hive War on Beta-Garmon III (643.012.M31) - While Beta-Garmon II has all but fallen to the Traitors, Beta-Garmon III remains loyal to the Imperium, though its hive cities are under constant assault by Sons of Horus and Iron Warriors siege battalions. Nova Guard Titans muster around its hives, defending against ground assault, while other Legions patrol the storm-covered wastes repelling battle groups sent across the void from Beta-Garmon II. On the shores of the Chymist's Sea, Legio Solaria Titans oppose landings by neuro-slave armies of captured Garmonite soldiers, the Loyalists forced to annihilate their former allies and drive their formations into the caustic ocean.
- War for the Outer Worlds (859.012.M31) - Fresh Traitor forces continued to pour into the Beta-Garmon star cluster, while the astropathic choirs of the Cathega Telepathica send out an almost constant cry to the Emperor's armies for aid. Across the outer systems of the cluster, the Loyalists abandon any pretence at strategy and hurl their reinforcements into the fray as they arrive. Heavily damaged Titans of the Legio Defensor, Legio Astorum and a dozen smaller Titan Legions continue to hold the line on Alpha-Garmon IX around the last remaining Mechanicum citadels, their exhausted crews facing the Legio Krytos over barricades built from fallen god-machines.
- A Hole in the Sky (559.013.M31) - While the war on Beta-Garmon II unfolds, the Warmaster Horus launches his fleets and reserve Titan Legions against Beta Garmon III. Detonating a vortex warhead in the upper atmosphere, the Traitors create a hole in the caustic storms surrounding Caldrea Primus, and for the first time in millennia the sun touches its spires. Without the constant toxic storm assailing it, the hive city's ancient and esoteric void shields fall dormant. In the vacuum created by the warhead, the Legio Defensor and Legio Krytos Titans fight for the fate of the hive as the boiling storm closes back in around them.
- The Needle Breaks (788.013.M31) - The tipping point of the Beta Garmon campaign comes in the shadow of the Carthega Telepathica on Beta-Garmon III, its astropaths still screaming out for aid from Terra. Having pinned 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 Defensor, Legio Astorum, Legio Atarus and Legio Solaria -- some reduced to a single maniple of undamaged war machines. Unbroken by solar months of fighting, the Legio Mortis leads a massive host of Traitor Titan Legions against the tower's defences, the Titans and Renegade Knights marching up through the toxic storms to battle on the mountain top, and ultimately bring the spire down. As it falls, a psychic scream reaches out across the cluster and beyond, spreading dismay and horror to all Loyalists it reaches. Though the fighting at Beta-Garmon will continue until Horus stands at the gates of Terra, and long after, history will record 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.
Many Legio Defensor princeps felt rage rise within them when battle was joined against a Traitor force. Transmitted through the MIU, this hatred reached down into their Titan's Plasma Reactors, and the burning heart of the god-engine increased the Titan's power output.
The Legio Defensor had a well-deserved reputation for standing their ground, no matter the odds. These qualities were among those that drew the praise of the Emperor Himself, and earned them many honours during the Great Crusade.
Utterly devoted to the Emperor, the Nova Guard rarely gave ground in the face of Traitors, preferring to martyr themselves than fail their divine master.
Death is preferable to defeat in the mind of many Legio Defensor princeps. Even as their Titan burns around them, they will fight on if it means exacting their vengeance.
It has been noted that many princeps have commanded their god-engines for solar decades, and are able to control their Titans in ways that seem almost preternatural to their enemies. Some princeps are beacons of the Imperial cause, and when their Titan strides onto the field of battle, their allies grow ever more resolute.
Often during the Horus Heresy, when a Nova Guard princeps recognised the heraldry of a particularly hated foe, they would ignore all other enemies in their sights and unleash a torrent of weapons fire against their chosen adversary, pushing their Titan hard to score the first hit.
Many Warlord Titans of the Nova Guard often marched into battle fitted with devotional war sirens. These blaring speakers issued forth Lectitio Divinitatus devotional chants and sermons on the divine glory of the Emperor, filling their brothers with renewed hope and purpose.
- Vengeful Scion (Warlord-class Titan)- Vengeful Scion went on to survive the horrors of Beta Garmon and joined the final defence of Terra against the Warmaster during the epic Siege of Terra. That this Warlord endured, when so many of its brethren did not, became just another sign to the believers within the Legio that the Emperor was watching over them. The Vengeful Scion was to become a relic of those dark days, and centuries later, its hull resplendent in the icons of the faith, it continued to wage war for the Emperor as He sat upon His Golden Throne.
- Horns of Satyraes (Reaver-class Titan) - Horns of Satyraes fought on Beta Garmon III during the Horus Heresy. It was one of several Titans sent to hunt down Sons of Horus and Iron Warriors siege battalions, the Titan's heavy weaponry powerful enough to target Termite breeching vehicles beneath the earth. For days, the Titan and its maniple hunted these interlopers, some defending against overland assault, others using their potent auspexes to track the ghostly shadows of companies tunneling beneath their feet.
- Beast Lord (Warhound-class Titan) - True to the teachings of the Collegia Titanica, in battle doctrine at least, the Nova Guard favoured the Axiom Maniple configuration for its versatility and resilience. Beast Lord was typical of the Warhounds of these maniples, armed with Turbo-Laser Destructor and Plasma Blastgun to engage the most common enemy of the Axiom -- another Titan maniple. In this capacity, the Beast Lord preyed upon the weak and damaged among their adversaries. Unlike other Legions, however, the Nova Guard readily embraced the virtues of sacrifice, Titans like the Beast Lord regularly shielding their Princeps Seniores from harm with their hulls.
- Alacrity of Thought - A Rapier-class Scout Titan of the Legio Defensor that was destroyed on Beta-Garmon III during the Horus Heresy.
- Guillame Ferré - Guillame Ferré was the commanding princeps majoris of the Legio Defensor 3rd Maniple that fought on Beta-Garmon III during the Horus Heresy.
- Word Bearers (Pre-Heresy)
As a Secundus-grade Titan Legion at the onset of the Horus Heresy, the Legio Defensor stood 136 god-engines strong. In war, it relied upon the employment of heavier weaponry, favouring the deployment of Battle Titans.
The employment of Warhound-class Scout Titans was a rarity within the Legio Defensor, with the Titan Legion recording roughly two dozen of their numbers, spread across Warhound, Rapier and Jackal-class Titans, in active service at the onset of the Horus Heresy, all of which showed heavy preference towards flame and plasma weaponry.
The Legio Defensor was capable of fielding at least one Imperator-class Titan, which was recorded as having undergone extensive retrofitting in the early days of the Horus Heresy so that it bore decorative structures designed to praise the Emperor upon its shoulders.
The colours of the Nova Guard are white, black and green with gold highlights.
Originally, the Legion's livery was the twin sunburst motif, which depicted the twin suns of their homeworld of Satyraes XII which would later become the Emperor's divine crown of light after their incorporation within the Imperial forces.
Despite the rise in popularity of the Lectitio Divinitatus among the ranks of the Legio Defensor, the prominent displaying of its religious iconography was still strictly prohibited by the Collegia Titanica at the time of the Great Crusade.
During the battles of the Beta Garmon campaign in the Horus Heresy, the Legion bore the symbols of their homeworld Satyraes XII. Central to the Legion's heraldry of Satyraes is the stag, its skull lit by the Forge World's two suns.
Legends among the Legion tell of a time when the people of Satyraes worshipped their great forest stags as gods, now believed by the Satyrii to be a forerunner manifestation of the Emperor.
Beneath these icons of old Satyraes, skulls indicate the Titan's battlefield victories, while the signum nobilis details its maniple and rank laid out in the form of axe blade icons.
The 1st Edition Nova Guard's badge was depicted as a red sunburst, centred on top of an orange sun. Below the red sunburst was a letter "D" (possibly a reference to the High Gothic numeral for the number 500).
Below these was a vertical line of three skulls. The background field was halved, with green on the left and a lighter greenish-brown on the right.
- Adeptus Titanicus - The Horus Heresy: Rulebook (Specialty Game), pp. 7, 17, 50-51, 76-77, 89
- Adeptus Titanicus - The Horus Heresy: Titandeath (Specialty Game), pp. 14-17, 24-28, 72-73, 78-79, 91-95
- White Dwarf 108 (UK), "'Eavy Metal", pg. 76
- Titandeath (Novel) by Guy Haley, Chs. 14, 16
- Warhammer Community - Titandeath: The Legions of the War for Beta-Garmon (19 Jan 2019)