Olympia was the original homeworld of the Primarch Perturabo and his Iron Warriors Traitor Legion before they turned to Chaos during the Horus Heresy. Olympia was an Imperial Civilised World before it was destroyed following the Heresy by the Imperium because of its irrevocable Chaotic taint, leaving it a barren Dead World.
Olympia was an ancient human-colonised planet in the marches of the Ultima Segmentum on the opposing side of the galactic core from Terra, and was one of a number of worlds in a region heavily settled, it is believed, in the latter days of the Dark Age of Technology. Having survived the Age of Strife largely intact, scientific lore and industry on Olympia had regressed to a fractured but largely pre-atomic industrial level, but there remained stagnant as a sophisticated feudal culture had developed. Although relatively rich in organics and with a plethora of lithic mineral forms, much of its fissile materials and easily available conductive metals had been strip-mined in antiquity and removed offworld, serving to enforce a bar on Olympia's progression technologically. Further complicating matters was the almost unbroken mountainous terrain which dominated Olympia's land masses and made large scale urbanisation and agriculture impossible. These unique conditions bred an equally singular culture which evolved into a diverse patchwork of hundreds of independent city-states and client satrapies. These dominated and fought endlessly over the most verdant mountain valleys, sizable plateaus and richest vales in a shifting web of power and warfare. A secular, opportunistic culture, given to the pursuit of wealth, security and dominance, the Olympian arts of war evolved towards a sublime mastery of fortress-building, siege craft and stone masonry.
On Olympia, power was the ability to not only take resources but to defend them. The mountainous terrain, abundance of high quality stone and the artisanship to put it to use made the fashioning of elaborate keeps to guard vital passes and citadels to defend stockpiles of wealth and foodstuffs essential. These artificer-wrought defences were of murderous cunning and impregnable strength, and soon came to be the hallmark and measure of the greatest of the city-states and their rulers; the twelve most powerful which were dubbed by ancient tradition the "Tyrants of Olympia". Warfare in this fractious realm was a complex game of cunning political subterfuge and assassinations mixed with all-out assault. Olympia's incessant wars were fought between often mercenary armies of professional sellsword grenadiers and storm-gunners, and sieges were carried out by steel-plated creeper-tanks, clanking steam mortars and hulking scout airships held aloft by volatile gasses. The warlords who commanded Olympia's battles owed such loyalty as they possessed to the purses of the wealthiest of the Tyrants, individuals whose rule was carried by right of possession, bribery, preferment, statecraft and fear. It was to the court of one of these Tyrants, Dammekos of the city-state of Lochos, that the young Perturabo was brought after his arrival on that world.
The Iron Lord
When the Primarchs were scattered across the galaxy from the Emperor's gene-laboratory beneath the Himalazian (Himalayan) Mountains on Terra by the Chaos Gods, Perturabo landed on a Civilised World named Olympia. The full details of this early period in Perturabo's life remain somewhat mysterious, with the only extant accounts given to Imperial Iterators years later, and ever distrusted even then as coloured by Olympia's endemic intrigues. The most reliable information points to Perturabo as having been recovered from the rocky wilds outside the city-states by the Tyrant's guards. They had been pursuing tales of a strange and wondrous boy wandering between outlying minor settlements and outcast communities -- the boy plying his way both as a fighter for hire and as an artisan of phenomenal talent despite his great youth, staying in no one place for any length of time before moving on. Tales of the boy had reached the court of the city-state of Lochos and Dammekos, a shrewd and cunning ruler, had been intrigued enough to despatch his retainers to find if any truth was in them and if so, how indeed they could be turned to his advantage. Perturabo was discovered climbing the mountains below the walls of Lochos. The city guards, having realised this was no ordinary child, brought him before Dammekos, the ruling Tyrant of Lochos. On seeing the strange boy in the flesh, Dammekos put him to the test, witnessing his ability to defeat warriors twice his size and many times his age in combat on the one hand, and the boy's ability to solve any puzzle put to him by the Tyrant's own scholars on the other. Dammekos was intrigued enough to offer the boy a place in his court. Between the boy and the Tyrant a bargain was struck; fealty, loyalty and service on the boy's part and on that of the Tyrant, patronage and protection, and access to the finest military training and scholarship the Tyrant's resources could confer upon him.
Later accounts differ of what came after. Many paint the boy as a prodigy of staggering and indeed inhuman ability, who spent his life in an unending regime of solitary training, and devouring whatever learning and lore was set before him, or he could dig out himself to study. Others mark veiled references to a child who was both cold and devious, for the rapidly growing boy never fully accepted his lot, never truly trusted the Olympians and refused to return any affection given him by his adopted father. Dammekos spent plenty of time with his new adopted son, but never received any affection in return.
There was a mysterious explanation for Perturabo's inherent mistrust, unknown to anyone but himself. Upon reaching the summit after climbing the rain-slick cliff, the exhausted youth had peered towards the heavens and gazed upon a strange, nebulous stellar maelstrom erupting across a corner of the heavens. When he inquired of the Tyrant's guards whether they could see the strange phenomenon, the bewildered guards replied that they could not. For the rest of Perturabo's life, this maelstrom would continue to look down upon the Primarch; making him feel as if it judged and measured his worth and spied on his every movement. A life lived beneath its cold scrutiny made him brooding and loath to offer his trust, ever-watchful and aware of its baleful glare. It would be over two standard centuries later before he found a reason to venture into this strange star maelstrom's mercurial depths, a galactic phenomena whose name he would coin, a name that would one day strike fear into the hearts of all those that heard it. This stellar maelstrom, in truth a giant rift between realspace and the Immaterium, would one day be known as the Eye of Terror.
Many Olympians saw the boy as a particularly cold and brooding child, though the fact that he was a genetically engineered superhuman who had been mysteriously thrown onto a far-off world with no idea of his origins or purpose was certainly not conducive to the development of a trusting nature. Despite his aloof demeanour, the adopted boy learned from the culture in which he found himself the arts of the siege, for Olympia's myriad warring city-states afforded plenty of opportunity to study both the theory and the practise of this highly specialised branch of warfare.
Upon his age of majority, the foundling took a name for himself to be known all his adult life, but against custom he chose not to honour the family into which he had been taken by assuming one of the names of its venerated history as was expected. Instead he chose an ancient name that he had long favoured, a name that some claimed had been found in a forgotten text from before the fall of humanity -- a text written in a language only the boy in his precocious ability had succeeded in translating: Perturabo. What true meaning it held, he did not divulge. To war the young Perturabo now set himself, and in this he had much to work on. Dammekos was a powerful Tyrant, but he and his realm were beset by rivals and bitter vendettas on all sides, and having given an oath unbreakable, Dammekos' enemies were now Perturabo's. Granted first minor commands, the young Primarch ascended the ranks of his adopted house's armies at a frightening rate.
Victory after victory followed under his command and his legend grew, as did the mercenaries and war-artisans, flocking to the banner of Dammekos in their lust for success and plunder. But more than mere success in battle did Perturabo bring to Lochos, and even from the beginning was his genius noted not simply for war, but also invention. Having absorbed with superhuman clarity the breadth and depth of Olympia's science and artisanship, he soon surpassed it on every level and from his chambers a constant stream of blueprints and discoveries sprung, encompassing everything from revolutionary new machines, to treatises on architecture and production methods, and even ground-breaking works on medicine and astronomy. But it was first and foremost by his advances in warfare that Perturabo's dark fame was bred and his legend as the "Hammer of Olympia" was born. New weapons, munitions and hitherto unimagined siege engines were all birthed at Perturabo's hand and, in a brief span of years, it was they and Perturabo's own generalship, now as Warlord to the Tyrant Dammekos, that made Lochos the most powerful and feared domain on Olympia, with a hundred others underneath its heel, and countless more cowed into de facto submission to its rulers.
Perturabo's score upon score of military victories brought no peace to Lochos, however, only dominance, and the growing threat of an enemy within, the assassin's blade and the poisoner's kiss. It is believed that a great many attempts were carried out upon the life of Lochos' "Lord of Iron" during this time, both by subjugated Tyrants reasoning -- and rightly -- that without Perturabo, Lochos' supremacy would crumble, and by those who to Perturabo's face called him family and friend, but who secretly held him in terror or jealous hatred. The Primarch, now full-grown, towered over them all both in stature and intellect, but cared little for the baubles and trappings of power, and nothing at all for the falsehood of court. Aloof, prideful and justly wary of friend and enemy alike, Perturabo is depicted in the evidence of the time increasingly as a particularly bloody-handed warlord even by the standards of his world, to whom mercy was an alien concept, and who would meet any insult with murderous violence. The steel executioner's mask and the ancient Kaveathos heraldry warning death to the transgressor were Pertuabo's signs and seals, and promised savage punishment in repayment of failure by those beneath him, just as it promised death to his enemies.
It is of note that despite the fact that should he have wished it, Perturabo could have overthrown his "master" Dammekos and displaced him as Tyrant, he did not do so. The Primarch, it seems, would not break his word or his bargain willingly, and Dammekos, for all his vainglory and corruption was careful never to give him cause or excuse to do so. It is thought perhaps that true to his oath, Perturabo would have let the aging Dammekos die a natural death as he remained unprovoked, hastened by the Tyrant's own licentious excesses, before taking Lochos and then all of Olympia as his own in time. What he would have made of his world then can only be guessed at, for it was not to be, as a new star had been seen in the heavens -- the Emperor had finally come for His lost son.
The Emperor Comes
In time, the Emperor of Mankind arrived on Olympia as part of the Great Crusade and informed Perturabo of his true place in the wider galaxy. Such evidence that remains of the recovery of Perturabo and his installation in the forces of the Great Crusade indicates that the process occurred swiftly, and with immediate acceptance on Perturabo's part, in marked contrast to several other Primarchs. It is likely that the Tyrant Dammekos was more than willing to bring Olympia into the Imperium's fold, as its Satrap, and the price of voluntarily releasing Perturabo from his service was but a small due to pay. Perturabo for his part, it is believed, had already reasoned out his true nature, at least in abstract, as an artificial post-human being, and indeed expected his creator to one day be revealed to him, even though the particulars no doubt remained a mystery until the Emperor Himself appeared in orbit with his fleet.
After his rediscovery by the Imperium, the young Primarch was brought to Terra to learn from his father about his chosen destiny and to meet some of his brother Primarchs. During his studies, Perturabo learned of the ancient people known as the Firenzii. Captivated by the history of the past, Perturabo and his brother Magnus of the Thousand Sons Legion spent many solar months together in search of the buried secrets of Mankind's past glories that had been swept away in the chaos of the Age of Strife, known by Terrans as Old Night. It was the esoteric writings of the world's former masters that most interested him. He cared more for the ancient philosophies of the lost civilisations of Terra than their mechanical wonders, but it was a heady time of exploration for both Primarchs. Perturabo got along well with his brother Magnus, for both Primarchs shared a love of learning, and a hunger to know new things. Perturabo was not a Primarch to whom the natural ebb and flow of friendship came easily. His friendship was not easily achieved, but his loyalty, once won, was as unbreakable as the hardest iron. Or so he had thought, until time would show him that even the hardest iron could break if worn thin enough.
It was remarked upon at the time of his early reception in a number of sources, just what a ravenous mind the new-found Primarch possessed. While all of the Emperor's post-human sons displayed an intellect and capacity to absorb and adapt to new knowledge that surpassed that of an unmodified human, Perturabo's capacity for learning was truly incredible, and it swiftly came to be said that of all of the Emperor's sons, he was the most gifted in terms of raw scientific and technical intelligence. Much of this sagacity was turned inwards, however, and Perturabo was from the outset a distant, calculating mastermind who cared little for the society of others, nor readily deigned to explain his actions or intentions to those around him, even to his fellow Primarchs upon meeting them, who he was cold and guarded against to the point of bristling indifference. To the Emperor such foibles mattered little, and in Perturabo He found a new weapon for the arsenal of the Great Crusade, a warlord and general whose savage might was only eclipsed by his razor-keen intellect. To Perturabo each battle and each campaign was no more than a problem to be objectified, deconstructed and overcome, and it would not be long before the first of Mankind's fores would feel the terrible power of this murderous mind at work.
The Great Crusade
After assuming the mantle of the Primarch of the IVth Legion, according to established practise, Perturabo was declared lord of the world on which he had been raised, effectively deposing his adopted father, and the Legion began the process of inducting new recruits from the most able candidates amongst its people. The deposed Tyrant of Lochos spent the last few years of his life trying to marshal support to reclaim Olympia. He failed, but created an undercurrent of unrest on the world against Imperial rule that was to be harnessed many years later.
In the campaigns of the Great Crusade that followed the re-discovery of their Primarch, the Iron Warriors proved themselves amongst the most able siege troops in the Emperor's armies. Perturabo led his Iron Warriors in their first operation of the Great Crusade under his command: a lightning assault against the world of Justice Rock and its ruling Black Judges which lay near to Olympia. They succeeded in bringing the world into Imperial Compliance. The new recruits of the IV Legion drawn from Olympia served well and their triumphant return was celebrated in the Palimodes Fresco, now known only through fragmented holo-recordings.
Perturabo proved to possess a keen, cold, and calculating mind well–suited to the highly technical aspects of such a style of warfare. Furthermore, he was gifted with an affinity for technology, and able to debate the finer points of the most esoteric arts with the highest placed Adepts of the Mechanicum. The Iron Warriors received cross training on Mars, further refining their specialisation in siegecraft, until only the Imperial Fists of Rogal Dorn could equal their expertise. World after world that rejected the future espoused by the Emperor's Iterators capitulated when confronted with the prospect of a protracted siege by the Iron Warriors, and countless worlds were brought to Imperial Compliance that would otherwise have been devastated in bitter, and ultimately pointless wars if not for the IVth Legion's brutal reputation. There are apocryphal accounts that it might well have been the Warmaster Horus who kept the IVth Legion in this role in the last days of the Great Crusade. Horus knew that the strains and frustrations engendered by constant siege warfare would allow him to more easily sway the mind of Perturabo towards his cause and the service of Chaos as the Iron Warriors' Primarch grew increasingly resentful of his Legion's assigned duties.
As the tragic outbreak of the Horus Heresy grew closer, it appears that Perturabo was put under ever-increasing pressure, and as a result the fires of his bitterness were stoked to a raging inferno. Some have postulated that it was the Warmaster Horus who, time after time, engineered events and adjusted deployments to the Primarch's detriment. For the Iron Warriors Legion the Horus Heresy came as the culmination and a series of reversals and fell tragedies that had occurred in the latter years of the Great Crusade, stalked the Legion and by their effect both deranged and twisted is Legionaries. Foremost of these had been the rebellion of Olympia, the seat of the Legion's domain in the Meratara Cluster and foundling homeworld of their Primarch Perturabo. With the death of the long-lived Tyrant of Lochos and the Satrap of Olympia finally dead, the duplicitous and viperous politics of Olympia had severely developed into infighting and insurrection. The violence and division flared up worse than ever before because of the changes the Imperium had wrought onto Olympia, and the discontent grew, due to generations of the planet's finest youth having been tithed for the IVth Legion, never to return. The shocking start of the rebellion struck at the heart of the Legion and its master, and could have come at a worse time, but over a year, the Iron Warriors Legion had been engaged in the almost single-handed suppression of a major infiltration of the infamous xenoform known as the Hrud. All such actions in the history of the Great Crusade have proved costly both in terms of lives and the sanity of those who must fight such nightmares, and this was to prove no exception.
Perturabo and the IVth Legion returned to their homeworld and brutally purged Olympia of its rebels city by city, overrunning the fortresses he had built and sparing no one who stood against him. By the time the massacre was over, five million Olympians had been killed and the rest put into vicious slavery to the Iron Warriors. Perturabo looked on at the remains of his homeworld in cold silence. Only once the great pyres were burning to cleanse the world of the heaps of corpses created by the IVth Legion's assault did Perturabo fully realise what he had done. The Iron Warriors were no longer the saviours of the Imperium; they had been destroying the alien Hrud one moment and yet, in the next, they were committing genocide against their own people. With the cooling of Olympia's mass funeral pyres had come the realisation that nothing the Lord of Iron could ever do from that moment could ever atone for a worldwide genocide. His father would never forgive him so grievous a sin, but Horus had not only forgiven it, he had lauded his brother's thoroughness and dedication. Horus had sworn Perturabo never to feel guilt over what he had done to Olympia, but that was an oath easier to make than to live by.
It was at this time that disturbing news of the outbreak of the Horus Heresy on the world of Istvaan III reached Olympia and new orders for the Iron Warriors came from Terra. Leman Russ and the Space Wolves had attacked Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons Legion on their homeworld of Prospero at the direction of the Emperor and as a result of the deceit of Horus. Horus had turned Traitor with his XVIth Legion, the Sons of Horus, alongside some other allied Legions such as the Death Guard, Emperor's Children and the World Eaters. The whole of the Imperium was on the brink of an outright civil war. The new orders from the Emperor ordered the Iron Warriors to join with six other Loyalist Space Marine Legions to face Horus and his Traitor Legions on the world of Istvaan V. During the battle that followed the Iron Warriors, Night Lords, Word Bearers and Alpha Legion all went over to the side of Horus and almost completely destroyed the three remaining Loyalist Legions of the Imperial assault force -- the Iron Hands, the Salamanders and the Raven Guard -- at the infamous Drop Site Massacre on that world. In truth, Perturabo and the other Primarchs who turned Traitor on Istvaan V had already been seduced by the Warmaster and made their decision to stand with him against the Emperor, guaranteeing that the Traitors would field nine Space Marine Legions against the Loyalists.
In the wake of the Drop Site Massacre, to celebrate Perturabo's decision to join his side in the conflict, Horus presented Perturabo with a Power Hammer called Forgebreaker that had been the personal weapon of the fallen Primarch Ferrus Manus of the Iron Hands, who the Traitor Primarch Fulgrim had beheaded during the Drop Site Massacre. The granting of this boon was the embodiment of a new pact between the Warmaster and the Iron Warriors' Primarch, a gift from Horus to Perturabo intended to symbolise Perturabo and the Iron Warriors' newfound allegiance to the Warmaster rather than the Emperor. Fools claimed that Forgebreaker had sealed the pact between Horus and the Iron Warriors, but only Perturabo knew it was forgiveness that truly bound the Iron Warriors to Horus Lupercal.
Towards the end of the Heresy, a strong contingent of the Iron Warriors Legion accompanied Perturabo to Terra during the Battle of Terra, where he supervised the siege of the Emperor's Palace. Here his skills were invaluable and the Iron Warriors found a sublime pleasure in tearing the edifices of the Imperium down. The end was near for the defenders when the Emperor confronted Horus on his flagship and defeated him. Like many of Horus' followers, the Iron Warriors fled to the Eye of Terror, securing a new homeworld where they could brood on the turn of events and plot vengeance.
The rest of the Iron Warriors defended their small empire based on Olympia, but there was no refuge from the retribution of the Loyalist Legions. The Imperial Fists supported the Ultramarines in a decade-long campaign to liberate the subjugated worlds from the control of the Traitor Legions. They discovered the Iron Warriors to be like a barbed hook that, once embedded into a victim, could only be removed with great risk of injuring the patient further. The Iron Warriors' Olympia garrison held out for two standard years during the campaigns of the Great Scouring, eventually triggering their missile stockpiles when defeat was unavoidable. They left a blasted wasteland that, like the other Traitor Legion homeworlds, was declared Perdita by the Inquisition.
After the end of the Horus Heresy, the Iron Warriors retreated into the Eye of Terror with the other Traitor Legions and took a Daemon World for themselves called Medrengard. Nothing is known for certain to the Imperium about what this world truly looks like, as the realm of Chaos is constantly shifting. Reports of the Inquisitor Maul describes it as a world that is one great fortress, the entire world transformed into a tremendous fortified position with impossibly high towers and Chaos warships hovering everywhere above it.
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pg. 92
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions, pp. 70, 226
- Index Astartes I, "Bitter and Twisted - The Iron Warriors Space Marine Legion" pp. 32-36
- The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination, pp. 53, 107-110, 119, 129
- White Dwarf 274 (US), "Iron Within, Iron Without"
- White Dwarf 257 (AUS), "Index Astartes – Iron Warriors"
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 327, 355
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, pg. 320
- Angel Exterminatus (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 19, 37, 39, 54, 56-57, 118, 206, 238, 264-266