"Tell them ruin has come to their world,
Death, despair and red war...
Tell them their hopes and pride have come to nothing,
Tell them their empty whispers fall upon deaf ears
their gods are dead,
human reason has killed them,
Tell them the Angels of Death have come,
Tell them nothing can save them now."
Perturabo, sometimes called the "Lord of Iron," "The Breaker" and "The Hammer of Olympia," is the Primarch of the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion, one of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Weaned on war and intrigue in the strife-ridden courts of his homeworld of Olympia, Perturabo was a grim warrior and master of technological arcana who wielded logic and the mathematics of warfare as keenly as he did a blade and Bolter.
The Lord of Iron was taciturn to the point of insult, preferring to harbour his thoughts against the threat of treachery, even amongst his kin. Few would call him friend, but none could fault his ability to wage a campaign and plot the most direct course to victory regardless of the cost and despite the strain put on him and his IVth Legion during the long years of the Great Crusade. His word was as unbreakable as iron.
Unlike his brothers, many of whom embraced the Emperor of Mankind's Great Crusade with near-fanatical devotion, Perturabo thought of it simply as a task that his sworn duty to the Emperor compelled him to pursue. His conquests were innumerable, but unremarked and unthanked, as his Iron Warriors brought many worlds into the Imperium of Man, but he left behind him shattered planets on the brink of extinction by his brutal, if effective, strategies.
So it was that, rotting from within with loathing and bitter spite, the iron facade the Iron Warriors Legion presented to the Imperium obfuscated the extent of how rapidly and how deeply it had descended into homicidal madness, until at last it was called on to help in the punishment of the rebellious Warmaster Horus at Istvaan V, and the dark truth was revealed.
Perturabo arrived at Istvaan V in the wake of the bloody pacification of his homeworld of Olympia, a campaign that wiped out the entire population, and some claim tipped Perturabo and his Legion over the edge of madness and fully into the abyss of betrayal during the subsequent Drop Site Massacre, an infamous action that will echo forever in the history of the Imperium. In the wake of the Drop Site Massacre, Perturabo left the blasted carcass of Istvaan V, carrying his fallen brother Ferrus Manus' hammer Forgebreaker as a token of his new allegiance to Horus' cause. Following the tragic events of the Horus Heresy and his Legion's subsequent flight into the Eye of Terror, he has since ascended to Daemon Prince status by the will of the Ruinous Powers and currently resides within the Eye of Terror on the Daemon World of Medrengard.
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 give 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 Lochos and Dammekos, a shrewd and cunning ruler, and he 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 make veiled references to a child who was both cold and devious, 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 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 majoring, 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 defacto 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 Perturabo'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 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 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 Mandkind's fores would feel the terrible power of this murderous mind at world.
Oath of Moment
In time the Emperor was ready to send his son back out into the galaxy to help with the galactic conquest known as the Great Crusade, the effort to reunite all of Mankind beneath the rule of the newborn Imperium of Man. Perturabo, like his fellow Primarchs before him, ascended to the crenellated peak of the Astartes Tower to swear his Oath of Moment. He made the long ascent upwards to the polished marble spire, the night before leaving Terra for a life of war. Each step required a superhuman effort of will, determination and courage. It was not simply a physical ascent, but a challenge to the heart and intellect, a psychic communion with the Emperor himself that tested the very boundaries of a warrior’s endurance.
Perturabo pledged his devotion to the fledgling Imperium, and assumed the mantle of Primarch and commander of the IVth Space Marine Legion, whom he renamed the Iron Warriors. According to established practise, the Primarch was declared lord of the world on which he had been raised, effectively deposing his adoptive father, the Tyrant of Lochus, as the most powerful ruler on the world. Given command of the IVth Legion which had been created from his own genome, Perturabo ordered the Iron Warriors to begin the process of inducting new recruits from the most able candidates amongst the peoples of Olympia. Dammekos is said to have spent his remaining few years gathering forces to attempt to retake his power and overthrow Perturabo and the Imperium's rule of Olympia. Dammekos failed in these efforts at rebellion, but created a current of anti-Imperial political unrest among the people of Olympia which would come to haunt Perturabo and his Iron Warriors later.
Iron Within, Iron Without
After a brief period in the Emperor's company fighting alongside Him and consuming knowledge of the Great Crusade, its history, war machinery and operations, Perturabo was handed the command of the IVth Legion which bore his gene-seed, and the transition of authority to him was swift and absolute. At the time, around 35,000 Astartes of the IVth Legion had been mustered to create his independent command, with perhaps half that number again scattered across the conquered domains of the Imperium in smaller independent garrisons and detachments bound to their watches and their duties. Having instituted a full review of the IV Legion's war record, doctrines and practices and having compared those with the other Legions, Perturabo found his sons wanting and acted accordingly. His punishment was decimation. For the Legion's failing all would suffer, all were guilty. As the edict of decimation would state, "War is unequivocal, uncaring, unforgiving and blind. Blind also will be the selection of those who will pay the blood price for the greater failure of your record." One in ten of the Legion, determined by lottery, was put to death without honour, a deed carried out by each Legionary's own comrades with their bare hands. At this bloody edict some within the Imperial Court protested, believing that the Emperor had given absolute power of a Space Marine Legion to a madman, while others, more guarded in their criticism, opined only that command had been given too soon to the Primarch -- unused as he was to the ways of the Imperium. Loudest of these critics was Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, who bridled at the ignominy of the deaths to which valiant Astartes -- warriors alongside which his own Legion had often fought -- had been thus consigned. It was a spur of discord between the two Primarchs that, though later eclipsed by other rancours and feuds among the Emperor's sons, would be one that neither would ever forget. All such criticism the Emperor silenced.
To those who survived the IVth Legion's self-decimation, the lesson was plain: such was to be the rule of Perturabo, ruthless and unforgiving, and without favour or preference. Death would be the price of failure in Perturabo's service and war was to him a binary equation. Their sin was not that they had failed in the Great Crusade's service -- for by no measure had this been the case, but instead that they had not reached their full potential. It was not enough for Perturabo that they were merely superior, their fault lay in that among the Legions they were not already supreme. Perturabo demanded that his Legion would be a peerless engine of war, and he immediately set about fashioning it into the weapon he desired it to be, a weapon whose edge he would first test against the rest of the Meratara Cluster at whose edge the Olympia Majoris star system sat. There he first overthrew the vaunted "Black Judges" and claimed their once-held domain for the Imperium, before purging the xenos Ecto-Saurids of Verikhonia and subjugating the Renegade Knight-fiefdom of Lyxos, completing his conquest of the cluster. In this last conflict, Perturabo's Legion ended by force a schism that had lasted for millennia back into the Age of Strife between the fragmented empire and its former masters in the Mechanicum, winning the Legion much favour with the Lords of Mars. This period was for the IVth Legion a winnowing; a time of trials and testing at their Primarch's hand. With calculated forethought and savage experiment Perturabo remade the Legion to his own image -- an image not echoing the Olympian or Terran ideal -- but one fashioned purely from his own bleak and unflinchingly ruthless psyche. At the end of the Meratara Custer campaign, the IVth Legion of old was no more, and the Iron Warriors had been forged from blood and fire in their place.
By the time Perturabo returned again to Olympia with his renamed force, the machinery of his plans was well into effect. In alliance with the Mechanicum, new orbital shipyards and foundries burned with frenetic activity, many had been torn from dead orbits around conquered stars, dragged to Olympia and refitted and expanded to his Legion's purpose. The worlds of the Meratara Cluster too now paid their tribute of flesh and blood to the Lord of Iron to feed his Legion's hunger for fresh warriors, weapons and munitions. All was by Perturabo's hand and design. In the crucible of war, the Iron Warriors had undergone its reshaping, with the changes that had occurred seen in many ways to have amplified what was already present in the IVth Legion rather than changing it beyond recognition; where once the Legion had been ruthless in its willingness to accept losses in return for victory, now it was utterly driven to the point where such considerations were as beneath it as mortal fear. War had become a deadly equation which the Iron Warriors were supremely suited to solve; a relentlessly unyielding engine of war, a beast of steel and fire which swept worlds clean and devoured whole armies.
At the head of a newly constituted force, the 125th Expeditionary Fleet, into which Perturabo drew the bulk of his Legion's strength, the Primarch had command of a force which quickly became the battering ram of the Great Crusade. As they fought alongside each of their fellow Legions in turn, they gained an unmatched reputation for brutal efficiency in battle, mastery of armoured warfare and as artillerists without peer among the Legions. It was said of the Iron Warriors that there was no fortress built by the hand of humanity or that of the xenos they could not smash down, no stronghold they could not storm and no army they could not drown in its own blood through shot and shell.
The wedge that had been hammered between the Iron Warriors and the other Space Marine Legions, however, was only driven home further as time passed, and resentment, pride and paranoia gathered in the hearts of many within the IVth Legion. By his grim methods and savage example, Perturabo had awoke in his warriors a reflection of his own dark soul, and within them his own suspicions, malevolent distrust and callous indifference to life grew alongside the ruthless determination, cold intellect and strength he wished to unlock there. It is then not perhaps unsurprising, given the IVth Legion's predilection for open battle, its employment in siege assault -- the most dangerous and unpredictable of all forms of line warfare -- and its willingness at every level from its Primarch downwards to accept attrition as the price of victory, that the Iron Warriors are estimated in many sources to have suffered the highest overall number of casualties taken over time of any of the Legions in the Great Crusade. It is also similarly a testament to them and the cold and cruel genius of their Primarch, that such losses were routinely absorbed by the Legion without serous lasting depreciation of the Iron Warriors' strategic fighting power and that high casualties rarely resulted in defeat for the IVth Legion. However, despite their genetically enhanced resilience to mental trauma and psycho-indoctrination, it is believed that such a continuous exposure to loss and destruction worked a slow and bitter corrosion on the Legion's psyche.
Perturabo and his Legion sought no friends or allies amongst those they served with, save perhaps the agents of the Mechanicum who aided them in the pursuit of ever more powerful and efficient means of waging war. In their fellow Legions they saw weaknesses bred by self-deceit, lack of discipline, false mysticism and vanity, and they also saw insults and slights by them, both real and imagined. Even many factions of the Mechanicum, to whom Perturabo's technological intellect was a wonder, did not trust him or his Legion fully, dangerously self-sufficient and adept as they were, and ignorant of the Omnissiah's faith. To the forces of the Excertus Imperialis -- the hosts of the Imperial Army and its auxiliaries -- the Iron Warriors' repute was a dark one indeed. More than any other Legion, the Iron Warriors were seen as not only willing to use the lives of human auxiliaries as a strategic resource, but as deliberate expenditure, as cannon fodder to deplete an enemy's fire power, in sacrificial waves by the thousand to bring out a foe from their defences, or simply to gauge an enemy's strengths by observing how fast they could annihilate them.
Such repeated incidents only served to further taint the hated epithet the "Corpse Grinders" among the common soldiers of the Great Crusade. Open mutiny, put down with predictably thorough slaughter, grew increasingly frequent in war zones where Excertus Auxillia were under the Iron Warriors' command and until, by the Warmaster Horus' edict, a standing order was effected to ensure that the bulk of such troops given to the Iron Warriors command were to be either indentured criminals or enslaved non-Compliants to ameliorate the corrosive effect on wider morale. By the last decades of the Great Crusade, rivalries as well as often mutual simmering disdain, such as the antipathy between the Iron Warriors and Raven Guard Legion brought on by friction during the Icessunder War, and an increasingly bitter rivalry between the Iron Warriors and the Imperial Fists, characterised the Iron Warriors' relationship with its fellow Legions. Indeed, even where the Iron Warriors and their Primarch fought successfully alongside their fellow Legions, such as in the critical war agains WAAAGH! Mashogg, their part was often treated with indifference or guarded disdain by the IVth Legion's contemporaries.
In this latter incident for example, although before Perturabo and the Iron Warriors' arrival in the war zone, Overdog Mashogg's vast orbital fortifications had previously repulsed attack after attack from both the Space Wolves and the White Scars Legions. Perturabo, whose plan succeeded at last in breaking the line and allowing for the Orks slaughter is recorded in the contemporary chronicles of his brother-Legions only as a nameless "comrade-in-arms." This growing schism, perhaps more obvious in hindsight than it would have appeared at the time, was further exacerbated after the appointment of Horus as the Imperial Warmaster. This major re-alignment in the deployment of the Great Crusade saw the renewal and issuing of a string of directives and disposition orders, some from Terra and others from the Warmaster. These orders continued to bleed the Iron Warriors Legion and scatter a good part of its strength across a myriad of splinter Expeditionary Fleets, thankless sieges and garrison postings in the most dangerous, forlorn and isolated corners of the ever-widening Imperium.
Meanwhile, Perturabo's own 125th Expeditionary Fleet was driven into the teeth of deadly foe after deadly foe, neither asking for, nor being sent reinforcements or additional resources, save for those it could itself generate and acquire. Perturabo, bitter but iron in his word, complied. Such events in retrospect only served to foment and amplify the resentment and discord within the IVth Legion and split it from the Imperium it served, and increasingly to derange its warriors in the face of some of the worst horrors the Great Crusade would ever face. Indeed, such may have very well been Horus' plan.
As the Great Crusade moved forward, many Iron Warrior citadels were established on liberated worlds, guaranteeing a safe line of communications and an Imperial occupational force for the planet. Small units of Iron Warriors were garrisoned in these new fortifications, sometimes in ridiculously small numbers. One often-cited example was the Iron Keep on Delgas II, where a single Tactical Squad of ten Iron Warriors was stationed, despite the world having a disgruntled population of almost 130 million people. Where other Primarchs like Leman Russ, Vulkan and Magnus the Red refused to split their forces, Perturabo obeyed his orders with increasing bitterness. The Iron Warriors were being turned into a garrison Legion, with tiny deployments all over the Imperium. The Iron Warriors' indisputable success in siege warfare led to them being "typecast" so that they became the automatic choice for any siege or garrison mission, ignoring the basic needs of all the Legion's Astartes for rest and reorganisation. Resentment against the Emperor's relentless demands began to build up throughout the IVth Legion, and particularly within Perturabo himself.
The Hollow Crown
More so than many of those who would eventually turn Traitor and side with Horus, the motivations and path of damnation pursued by the Iron Warriors remains perhaps the most unknown and uncertain, save perhaps that of the history of the Alpha Legion around who little but lies circle. Once faultlessly loyal, they did not bend but seemed to outsiders instead to suddenly and inexplicably shatter in their allegiance. Many who view the matter with enough dispassion see, rightly or wrongly, a Legion eroded by too much horror, too much attrition and death in the service of a cause to which they went unheralded and unthanked. They see a Primarch and his sons who were slowly laid low with suspicion, malcontent and a growing madness. But here remains scant evidence of wholesale corruption of the body or the insidious hand of the Ruinous Powers at work among them, let alone any actual traffic with dark forces before the cataclysm of galactic civil war engulfed the Imperium. For others the answer is more simply that there grew in the IVth Legion a savage, jealous arrogance born of nothing more than base bloodlust and malcontent which led the Iron Warriors down the path to their ruin. There have been some who have contended that the Iron Warriors' fatal flaw was instead a lack of faith at a fundamental level, that they did not truly believe in the cause of the Great Crusade or the Emperor that they served, or that they themselves were anything more than machines built to kill. It might then be viewed that ultimately they were undone by the very pragmatism and logic that had made them such ruthless and effective soldiers, but left them ill-equipped to fight an enemy as existential as doubt and mortal terror. If this is true then for Perturabo, his Primarch's mantle became nothing but a license for slaughter without a higher purpose, his conquests empty and victories hollow. It has been further contended that this was what ultimately deranged and destroyed them from within, leaving nothing but empty vessels to be filled with the uncaring savagery and the mirror of the horrors they had borne.
Iron and Stone
Similarity encourages understanding, or at least some would claim so. In the case of Perturabo and Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Imperial Fists Legion, this sentiment not only falls but shatters under the weight of reality. For rarely could there be said to be two being on the surface who more resembled each other, yet were separated by a greater chasm. Both reserved to the point of taciturn, both unyielding, both sublime artisans of war who prized indomitability and endurance, there was much that would suggest that they should see the world with one set of eyes, that perhaps they should be closer than any others. That bitterest loathing could arise between two such closely matched kin seems incredible, but it was a reality, some say from the first moment of their meeting.
The exact roots and cause of their enmity cannot be known to any save Rogal Dorn and Perturabo, but if one looks closely there appears a pattern both of behaviour and incidents which may offer a clue. Often it seems as though the pair's similarities were the cause of discord rather than understanding. Both were stubborn and more so when challenged, both spoke rarely, and brooded much behind their stone and iron masks. So it was that the silence of one would aggravate the other, the blunt honesty of one roused the other to anger, and the intractability of both ensured that once a dispute was begun neither would yield.
That there were differences between the two cannot be denied, and often these differences may have been the cause of disputes even if they were not the underlying cause. While both Rogal Dorn and Perturabo often favoured siege craft in war, they often differed in its execution. While both were pragmatic, Perturabo often displayed a brutal directness in waging war, applying overwhelming force or sustaining horrific casualties. While Dorn would never baulk or paying such a price for victory, he rarely accepted large numbers of casualties except through necessity. Dorn was an undoubted idealist above all else, Perturabo a pragmatist first and foremost. On such cracked foundations the decades of the Great Crusade heaped pleasures, honours, disparities and mischance, and from the result history reaped an enmity which would take both Primarchs and their Legions to the brink of destruction.
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 its Legionaries. Foremost of these had been the rebellion of Olympia, the seat of the Legion's domain in the Meratara Cluster and foundling home world of their Primarch Perturabo. With the death of the long-lived Tyrant of Lochos and 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 on Olympia, and the discontent grew, due to generations of the planet's finest youth having been tithed for the Legion, never to return. The shocking start of the rebellion struck at the heart of the Legion and its master, and almost could not have come at a worse time; for 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 proved 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 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.
As Horus’ rebellion ground on, the Iron Warriors took the time to humble their great enemies, the Imperial Fists, upon the isolated world of Hydra Cordatus that the Sons of Dorn had recently brought into Imperial Compliance. The Iron Warriors made planetfall in the wake of a saturation bombardment that reduced the valley where the planet's lone formidable fortress, known as the Cadmean Citadel, was situated and the agri-settlements filling its fertile deltas to ash. Magma bombs and mass drivers boiled away the rivers and reduced fecund earth to arid dust. The Cadmean Citadel was left untouched, and the small garrison of Imperial Fists Legionaries that Rogal Dorn had left behind still found it difficult to believe that such a precise bombardment was possible. But the Iron Warriors had purposely done this in order to show the Imperial Fists that they were superior to them in every way. The technological cunning of the ancient fortress builders, married to the artfully wrought geography and the courage of the defenders, proceeded to keep the Iron Warriors at bay for almost three months. Every day the Loyalist warriors stayed alive, it kept the enemy from redeploying and bringing their strength to bear elsewhere against the forces of the Imperium. Yet, when the Iron Warriors finally overcame the citadel’s ancient defences and broke open its walls they ran amok. They slaughtered the remaining Imperial Fists Legionaries, the heroic men and women of Hyrdra Cordatus that had chosen to stand with them, and the refugees from the devastated fields below the fortress. Fifty-two Imperial Fists and thirteen thousand men, women and children were crammed within the citadel’s walls. When the final assault came, the Lord of Iron himself spearheaded the audacious attack upon the citadel's defenders, and slaughtered over thirty Imperial Fists Astartes in a span of only a few minutes. The rest of the Cadmean Citadel's defenders were slaughtered to a man and the surviving mortal refugees were enslaved by the Iron Warriors before they moved on to their next objective. Hydra Cordatus was reduced to a barren desert world by the Traitor Legion's assault.
Following their victory on Hydra Cordatus, word reached the Lord of Iron that Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor's Children Legion, wished to rendezvous with him to discuss something of great import. Though the Phoenecian had yet to reveal the true purpose of his visit, he had promised Perturabo that it was "wondrous." Perturabo knew that his brother had a flair for the melodramatic, which only seemed to have gotten worse since the IIIrd Legion threw their lot in with the Warmaster. The Lord of Iron counted none of his fellow Primarchs as close, but the Phoenician’s adherence to perfection in all things had once provided common ground between the two superhuman warriors and allowed them to talk as trusted comrades-in-arms if not beloved brothers. What the Emperor’s Children had sought with constant movement towards the attainment of perfection, the Iron Warriors earned with rigid discipline and methodical planning; two divergent paths to the same ultimate goal.
Perturabo believed Fulgrim's visit had something to do with Mars. The Warmaster needed the Martian theatre fully secured before they moved against Terra, and he believed that Fulgrim was there to seek the Iron Warriors' aid in breaking open the forge-cities of the Mechanicum. If he was right, Perturabo wanted his Legion to have a plan in place to achieve that objective. Until the Iron Warriors received further orders, Perturabo would humour his brother and listen to what Fulgrim had to say. While making plans for the upcoming campaign, Perturabo received word that the Emperor's Children had arrived, unannounced, on the surface of Hydra Cordatus. Over three hundred drop-craft had landed beyond the mouth of the valley where the Iron Warriors had made their encampment.
The IVth Legion quickly gathered in formation to honour the IIIrd Legion with a vanguard to receive them. Battalions of Thorakitai Imperial Army troops stood ranked in their tens of thousands. Before them stood two hundred Grand Battalions of Iron Warriors, fifty thousand warriors in amberdust-burnished warplate. Such a display of might and magnificence had not been seen since the slaughter unleashed upon the black sands of Istvaan V. Yet Perturabo and his senior officers looked on in awe at the gaudy cavalcade of noise, colour and spectacle that emerged from the IIIrd Legion's drop site into the valley. Fulgrim and his Emperor’s Children were now completely unrecognisable from the honourable warriors that had once formed the IIIrd Legion. Perturabo knew something fundamental had changed within the Emperor’s Children, but could not imagine what purpose the disfigurements and degradations its warriors now sported could possibly serve.
Fulgrim met with his brother Primarch in the private inner sanctum of his command bunker with an enticing offer that Perturabo could not refuse; the means to make it so that the Lord of Iron's every desire could be made real and would never disappoint, never fail to live up to his fondest expectations, and never, ever be eclipsed. Fulgrim came with an offer to unite their mutual forces in battle on a glorious quest. One that might tip the balance of the Warmaster’s rebellion. Though Perturabo was suspicious of his brother's intentions, perhaps this joint venture would grant understanding through common cause. Fulgrim revealed his purpose; they were to venture to the Warp Storm that had plagued Perturabo's dreams all of his life. Within it was hidden an ancient and forbidden xenos weapon known as the Angel Exterminatus. It had been hidden in the grave of its doom, a weapon of such power that the stars themselves turned upon it rather than allow it to escape its prison.
Into the Eye of Terror
"A name to lodge in the hearts of all who hear it."
- — Primarch Perturabo, after permanently coining the name for the Eye of Terror on the stellar astropathic charts.
For as long as he remembered, no matter how many thousands of light years separated him from this particular Warp Storm, Perturabo was always aware of the Eye of Terror's presence and could perceive an echo of it on every world where he had looked to the heavens. He did not know whether this Warp sight had been engineered into his perceptive apparatus deliberately, like Sanguinius’s wings or Corax’s eyes, or was simply a quirk of his genetic code, but it had been a blessing and a curse since his earliest memories. The anomaly haunted his dreams, threaded his nightmares and coloured his every thought since he had learned something of its nature. He had once asked the Iron Hands Primarch Ferrus Manus whether his silver eyes allowed similar insight, but his brother had just shaken his head and given him a look of faint scorn, as though he had just admitted to some secret weakness or vice. He had never mentioned it again.
When the joint fleet of the IIIrd and IVth Legions arrived at the outskirts of the stellar maelstrom, for once in his life, Perturabo looked upon it and knew that others could see it too. They did not see it quite as he saw it, but they could at least acknowledge its existence. He saw beyond its dark light to the engulfed worlds within: phantom images that ghosted in and out of perception and fleeting moments of solidity in a realm where such things were anathema. He saw planets where all reason and Euclidian certainty had been abandoned, where the physical laws that underpinned the galaxy were playthings of lunatic forces beyond mortal comprehension. And now he was to venture into its depths, following the guidance of an alien seer.
Before entering the Warp Rift, Perturabo called up the astrogation charts of this region of space, reading the flickering labels of the charts' keys for those few stellar objects in this region worthy of a name. At the heart of the hologram, a vertical black label bisected the fiery orange heart of the Warp Storm. Imposed upon the bar was the name Cygnus X-1. Perturabo knew the Warp Storm was not the first spatial anomaly to bear that name, and whichever lowly scribe had scribed it again was a fool. Something this powerful and terrible deserved a name to strike fear into the hearts of all who saw it, a name that would resonate down the millennia until the end of time, when the stars went out and the only light in the universe was the nightmare glow of the maelstrom’s ever-devouring borders. Perturabo’s fingers danced over the slate from which the charts had been brought forth, and the name in the vertical black bar changed. It would change throughout the Traitor Legions' fleets, spreading to any data engine that called up maps of the galactic northwest. It was a name to lodge in the hearts of all who heard it and would eventually be adopted by the forces of the Imperium as well -- The Eye of Terror.
Unknown to both the Iron Warriors and the Emperor's Children, they were being pursued by a ragtag group of Loyalist Astartes who were survivors of the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V and were determined to stop the Traitors at all costs. These Loyalist Space Marines were gathered from survivors that had fought their way out of the killing ground of the Urgall Depression on Istvaan V. They had managed to escape the Istvaan System aboard an Iron Hands Strike Cruiser known as the Sisypheum. Iron Hands Astartes and their mortal serfs formed the bulk of the warship's crew, but surviving warriors of the Salamanders and a single Raven Guard Astartes were also counted among their number. In the wake of the slaughter, escape from the Istvaan System had been a nerve shredding series of mad dashes under fire and silent runs through the Traitors' orbital blockade, culminating in a final sprint to the gravipause, the minimum safe distance between a star’s mass and a vessel’s ability to survive a Warp Jump. The Sisypheum had escaped the trap, but not without great cost.
The months that followed saw the Sisypheum embark on a series of hit-and-run attacks on Traitor forces on the northern frontiers of the galaxy, wreaking harm like a lone predator swimming in a dark ocean. Traitor forces seeking flanking routes through the Segmentum Obscurus were their prey; scout craft, cartographae ships, slow-moving supply hulks heavily laden with mortal troops, ammunition and weapons. Disruption and harassment were the Sisypheum's main objective until contact had been established with disparate groups of Loyalist forces that had also escaped the massacre, and a stratagem of sorts agreed upon. With the Xth Legion too scattered to function in a traditional battlefield role, its surviving commanders found their own way to fight back: as the thorns in the flanks of the leviathan that distract it from the swordthrust to the vitals.
At Cavor Sarta, an Iron Hand known as Sabak Wayland and the lone Raven Guard survivor Nykona Sharrowkyn had captured an Unlingual Cipher Host -- one of the so-called "Kryptos" -- a hybrid abomination creature of the Dark Mechanicum that had previously made the Traitors' code network a cryptographic impossibility to break. With the Kryptos, Loyalist commanders were able to finally access the Traitors' coded communications. And with this knowledge, the Sisypheum's Captain, the Iron Hand Ulrach Branthan, had ordered the Sisypheum to make the circuitous journey to Hydra Cordatus and the meeting of the Traitor Primarchs that had been indicated by the cracked communications. After learning of Fulgrim's intentions to enter the Eye of Terror and recover the Angel Exterminatus, the crew of the Sisypheum made their way towards the Warp Rift, aided by a mysterious Eldar guide with the intention of thwarting the Traitors' plan to acquire the unknown xenos weapon.
The destination of the joint fleet of Iron Warriors and Emperor's Children vessels was the lost Eldar world of Iydris, a world said to have been favoured by the goddess Lileath. Iydris was one of the legendary Crone Worlds, which once formed the heart of the lost Eldar empire before they were consumed by the creation of the vast Warp Rift that was the Eye of Terror following the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh. The lost world was located at the heart of the Eye of Terror, somehow remaining in a fixed position keeping it from destruction in the gravitational hellstorm of a supermassive black hole that lay at the centre of the eternal Warp Storm. It was from this epicentre that the galaxy vomited unnatural matter into the void, a dark doorway to an unknowable destination and an unimaginably powerful singularity whose gravity was so strong that it consumed light, matter, space and time in its destructive core.
Their ultimate goal was within the Primarchs' grasp; the Sepulchre of Isha's Doom, which sat at the centre of the citadel of Amon ny-shak Kaelis. The citadel stood astride the entrance to the prison tomb of the Angel Exterminatus. Before launching a full planetary assault, the Iron Warriors launched a preliminary orbital bombardment around the citadel, a standard practise when preparing to assault a potentially hostile environment. A cone of fire gouged the surface of Iydris, burning, pounding and flattening in the blink of an eye structures that had stood inviolate for tens of thousands of Terran years. A barren ring of pulverised earth encircled the citadel of Amon ny-shak Kaelis, leaving its walls, towers and temples an isolated island cut off from the rest of the planet’s structures by a billowing firestorm of planet-cracking force. In the wake of this orbital bombardment flocks of Thunderhawks, Stormbirds, Warhawks and heavy planetary landers launched from crammed embarkation decks. Bulk tenders descended to low orbit and disgorged thousands of troop carriers, armour lifters and supply barques. Titanic, gravity-cushioned mass-landers moved with majestic slowness as two Titans of the Legio Mortis took to the field, and this was but the first wave of the invasion. Another eight would follow before the martial power of two entire Space Marine Legions and their auxiliary Imperial Army forces had made planetfall.
Amon ny-shak Kaelis
The Traitors' assault began five solar hours later, despite the full circuit of fortifications still being incomplete. The landing zone was almost surrounded, but the encircling walls had yet to meet one another. Layered rings of minefields and acres of razorwire spread from the outer faces of the walls, making the approach next to impossible for anyone without detailed maps and temporary dormancy codes. Leaving Warsmith Toramino and five thousand Iron Warriors to oversee the completion of the siege works and establish battery positions for the guns of the IVth Legion's Stor-bezashk, Perturabo climbed to the cupola of his converted Shadowsword super-heavy tank, the Tormentor. The Iron Warriors had come in force and the Emperor's Children no less so. Like Perturabo, Fulgrim rode at the head of his army, a warrior god in impossibly bright armour. His brother might have ceded control of this mission to him, but Fulgrim was making sure he was still its figurehead.
For all intents and purposes, the route into the citadel of Amon ny-shak Kaelis was undefended and their route unopposed. Ever mistrustful of the lack of defences, Perturabo had his Iron Warriors dug in, assuming a perfect formation outside the walls in a layered barbican that protected the Traitor Legions' line of retreat. Fulgrim’s host broke apart into individual warbands, ranging in size from around a hundred warriors to groups of nearly a thousand. Each of these autonomous groups appeared to be led by a captain, though such was the bizarre ornamentation and embellishment on each warrior’s armour, it was often impossible to discern specific rankings. Leaving the fortified bridgehead behind, Perturabo led his Iron Warriors and the Emperor’s Children contingent into the heart of Amon ny-shak Kaelis. The Sepulchre of Isha’s Doom was a monumental palace, sprawling and richly ornamented with bulbous mourn-towers and sweeping, ivory-roofed domes. As the column of Traitors pressed onwards towards the sepulchre, they were being silently and unknowingly observed by the Loyalist Astartes of the Sisypheum. Despite being outnumbered a thousand to one, the small force of Loyalist Legionaries devised a means to find another way into the massive sepulchre.
As the two Primarchs neared their ultimate goal, Fulgrim kept pressing his stern brother with curt impatience to not linger. Perturabo took the time to study Fulgrim and his assembled host. His brother was sheened in sweat, but it was not perspiration that beaded his brow, Fulgrim was sweating light. Though it was faint, it was visible to Perturabo's gene-enhanced sight that saw beyond what even Astartes eyes were capable of detecting. He wondered if Fulgrim was aware of the radiance bleeding from him and decided he must be. His brother’s armour strained against his body and his features were drawn and tired, as though only by an effort of will was he still standing. His captains looked no better, like hounds straining at the leash. A number of Fulgrim's Lord Commanders' flesh was also suffused with a light similar to that enveloping Fulgrim, a deathly radiance that had no place within a living being. Perturabo did not trust Fulgrim one bit, knowing that inevitably he would be betrayed by his brother. The Lord of Iron pressed on, intent on bringing their quest to completion. As they neared their final destination at the heart of the sepulchre, the power at the heart of Iydris spasmed in hateful recognition of the followers of Slaanesh, known to the Eldar as She Who Thirsts, and awoke its guardians from their slumber.
Thousands of crystalline statues threw off their previous immobility. They moved stiffly, like sleepers awoken from an aeons-long slumber, and the gems at the heart of their bulbous heads bled vibrant colour into glassy bodies that suddenly seemed significantly less fragile. This army of wraiths were the Eldar dead of Iydris. Soon both the Traitor forces outside the citadel as well as those inside were attacked from all sides by the revenant army. Like automata, but with a hideously organic feel to their movements, the Eldar constructs emerged in their thousands with every passing second. As Perturabo was busy fighting for his life, Fulgrim slipped away in the midst of the fighting. Realising where he had gone, the Lord of Iron stepped into the green glow emanating from the centre of the massive chamber. Perturabo understood that this was no elemental energy or mechanically generated motive force, but the distilled essence of all those who had died there.
Perturabo descended downwards on an unending spiral towards a point of light that grew no brighter no matter how far he descended. The journey downwards was never-ending, or so it seemed until it ended. Fulgrim stood at the origin of a slender bridge that arched out to the centre of a spherical chamber of incredible, sanity-defying proportions. The footings of the bridge were anchored on the equator, and a score of other bridges reached out to where a seething ball of numinous jade light blazed like a miniature sun. Iydris, it transpired, was a hollow world, its core this colossal void with the impossibly bright sun at its heart. Perturabo confronted his brother, realising that there was never an Angel Exterminatus. Fulgrim confirmed for Perturabo that there was no such weapon yet, for he was to be the Angel Exterminatus. Perturabo responded that his brother always did have an appetite for rampant narcissism, but this was the grandest delusion yet. Unamused at Fulgrim's explanation, Perturabo took a step towards his brother, Forgebreaker in his hand, intent on killing him. Fulgrim spoke a single word, its nightmare syllables tore at Perturabo's brain, causing him to stumble and drop to one knee. Fulgrim revealed the reason for his brother being drained of energy.
When Fulgrim had arrived on Hydra Cordatus he had presented the Lord of Iron with a gift; a folded cloak of softest ermine, trimmed with foxbat fur and embroidered with an endlessly repeating pattern of spirals in the golden proportion. A flattened skull of chromed steel acted as the fastener. Set in the skull’s forehead was a gemstone the size of a fist, black and veined with hair-fine threads of gold. As they had made their way towards the heart of the Eye of Terror, the large gemstone at the centre of the skull-carved cloak pin had changed from black to a solid gold colour and pulsed with its own internal heartbeat. This was the maugetar stone, known as the harvester, which had slowly been draining Perturabo's strength and life force. With the Lord of Iron's sacrifice, Fulgrim would finally be able to achieve apotheosis. The two Primarchs ascended upwards within the shaft of light, emerging into the chaos that was happening within the heart of the sepulchre.
Apotheosis of Fulgrim
The Primarch of the Emperor's Children hurled his brother aside, and Perturabo fell in a languid arc to land with a crunch of metal and crystal at the edge of the shaft. Blood trailed the air in a streaming red arc from Perturabo’s chest. The Lord of Iron lay unmoving, his body broken and lifeless. The attention of every Astartes within the chamber was irrevocably drawn towards the Primarch, for they recognised that an event of great moment was in the offing. The Phoenician was no longer the same being as had descended into the planet. He floated in the air above the shaft, which no longer poured its green torrent up to the restless darkness above, but simply radiated a fading glow of dying light. Fulgrim’s armour was shimmering with vitality, as though the light of a thousand suns were contained within him and strained to break free. The Primarch’s dark, doll-like eyes were twin black holes, doorways to heights of experience and sensation the likes of which could only be dreamed by madmen and those willing to go to any lengths to taste them.
Just as Fulgrim was about to achieve his ultimate desire, Perturabo had regained enough of his former strength and rose to his feet, the maugetar stone in his hand. Perturabo walked towards Fulgrim, keeping the hand holding the maugetar stone extended over the shaft in the center of the chamber. Perturabo looked his brother in the eye for some hint of remorse, a sign that he regretted that things had come to this, something to show he felt even a moment of shame at plotting to murder his brother. He saw nothing, and his heart broke to know that the Fulgrim he had known long ago was gone, never to return. He had not thought it possible that anyone could plunge so far as to be beyond redemption. Perturabo knew that Fulgrim no longer wanted to be an angel, he wanted to be a god. He informed the Phoenician that Mankind had outgrown such beings a long time ago. Disgusted by Fulgrim's desires, Perturabo hurled the maugetar stone into the deep shaft.
Suddenly, a barrage of Bolter fire erupted and a handful of Emperor's Children Astartes were pitched from their feet. Black-armoured Space Marines bearing a mailed fist upon their shoulder guards charged towards the Traitors. It was the Astartes of the Xth Legion -- the Iron Hands. Soon the battle was joined, as Loyalist fought Traitor within the expansive chamber. The noose of battle was closing on the two Primarchs at its centre -- Perturabo locked on his knees, and Fulgrim hovering in the air as though bound to his brother by ties not even the call of war could break. The Iron Hands were mired in battle with the Emperor’s Children and Iron Warriors, zipping streams of fire blasting back and forth between them. During the battle, one of the Loyalist Astartes, the Raven Guard named Sharrowkyn, had acquired the fallen maugetar stone. He instinctively knew that if this stone was desired by Fulgrim, then it had to be destroyed. Taking a Bolter from a fallen Emperor's Children Astartes, he aimed the muzzle at the strange gold and black stone and pulled the trigger.
The weakened Perturabo was renewed with the sudden release of his lifeforce from the Chaotic relic. Fulgrim’s body arched in sympathetic resonance, for the maugetar stone contained more than just the strength stolen from Perturabo by Fulgrim. It contained their mingled essences, a power greater than the sum of its parts, a power to fuel an ascent so brutal that only the combined life-force of two Primarchs could achieve it. Armour burned from Fulgrim’s body, flaking away like golden dust in a hurricane, leaving his monstrously swollen body naked and his flesh blazing with furnace heat. Spectral flames of shimmering pink and purple licked around his body, a hungry fire waiting to consume him the moment his focus slipped. As the Lord of Iron finally pushed himself upright and stood fully erect, he lifted Forgebreaker onto his shoulder. Fulgrim saw his death in Perturabo's eyes and grinned, knowing that his brother had to do it. Perturabo hefted Forgebreaker like a headsman at an execution and swung the mighty hammer in a wide arc, splitting the Phoenician's body wide open. It was done.
Fulgrim's body exploded under the impact of Perturabo’s warhammer, and the cry of release was a shrieking birth scream. An explosion of pure force ripped from the Phoenician’s destroyed flesh, filling the chamber of towers with a blinding light that was too bright to look upon, too radiant to ignore. Like a newborn sun, the wondrous incandescence was the centre of all things, a rebirth in fire, new flesh crafted from the ashes of the old. Every eye in the chamber was turned to the light, though it would surely blind them or drive them to madness. Through slitted fingers and shimmering reflections, the survivors of the fighting bore witness to something magnificent and terrible, an agonising death and violent birth combined. A figure floated in the midst of the light, and it took a moment for Perturabo to recognise the impossibility of what he was seeing. It was Fulgrim, naked and pristine, his body unsullied by any of the mawkish ornamentations with which he had defaced his flesh, as perfect as the day the Emperor had first conceived him. Fulgrim’s back arched and his bones split with gunshot cracks. His flesh, once so perfect, now ran fluid and malleable, his form moulding and remoulding as though an invisible sculptor pressed and worked him like clay upon a wheel. Fulgrim’s legs, extended like the man of Vitruvius, ran and lengthened, fusing together in a writhing serpent’s tail, the skin thickening and sheening with reptilian scales and segmented plates of chitinous armour. Perturabo took a step towards this thing being born from the death of his brother, all the while despairing that this was his brother.
Perturabo had destroyed Fulgrim’s mortal shell. This was an immaterial avatar of light and energy, of soul and desire. What was being done here was an act of will, a creature birthing itself through its own desire to exist. Fulgrim’s face was a mask of agonised rapture, a pain endured for the pleasure it promised. Two obsidian horns erupted from Fulgrim’s brow, curling back over his skull, leaving his perfect face as unsullied as the most innocent child. Fulgrim ascended into Chaos, a prince of the Neverborn, a lord of the Ruinous Powers, the chosen and beloved Champion of Slaanesh. As the newborn Daemon Prince departed, the first of the Traitor Primarchs to achieve daemonic apotheosis, he left his brother with a cryptic message that they would one day meet again, and both brothers would yet renew their bonds. Lifting his hands into the air, a curtain of light rose up from the ground and Fulgrim and all of his Emperor's Children Chaos Space Marines disappeared in a flare of arcane teleportation energy.
With the disappearance of the Emperor's Children, the Crone World of Iydris began to tear itself apart. The force at the heart of the world was no more. The strength of the lifeforces of the dead Eldar that had kept it safe was failing, and soon this planet would be swallowed by the unimaginable force of the supermassive black hole that lay at the heart of the Eye of Terror. Across the chasm, the remaining Iron Hands gathered up their wounded and fell back from the spreading fissures and heaving ruptures opening in the floor. They looked upon Perturabo with hatred, but decided to make their way off-world from the doomed planet. They knew that they could not fight the Lord of Iron and live through the encounter. Perturabo let the Iron Hands depart. Then he led his warriors out of the crumbling citadel. Once aboard his flagship the Iron Blood, Perturabo watched the final death throes of the Eldar Crone World.
The Iron Blood strained to break orbit, but the force at the heart of the Eye of Terror was reasserting its grip on reality with a vengeance. Many of the smaller vessels of the Iron Warriors survivor fleet that had followed the Sisypheum had already been dragged within its embrace, swallowed by the black hole’s powerful energies. Only the capital ships had engines large enough to resist the inexorable pull, but even they were only delaying the inevitable. Perturabo's Triarchs stood patiently around their lord, awaiting his orders. The Lord of Iron informed them that he always moved forward, never backwards. They would go into the black hole. Though his senior commanders believed that it was suicide, the Lord of Iron informed them that Fulgrim had promised that the two brothers would meet again. The Iron Warriors were not meant to die within the Eye, and there was only one way onwards. His men moved to carry out his order, and the Iron Warriors fleet plunged deep into the heart of Terror.
Battle of Terra
Following the terrible events within the Eye of Terror, the Iron Warriors were let loose on the Imperium as full devotees of Chaos and Perturabo relished the opportunity to fight in a way that did not rely on massive sieges and grinding trench warfare. Because of their widespread deployment throughout the galaxy, dozens of Iron Warriors Warsmiths (Grand Battalion commanders) conquered Imperial planets and demanded tithes to support the Heresy. While one part of the IVth Legion turned Olympia and its surrounding star systems into an Empire of Iron, a large contingent of the Iron Warriors accompanied Perturabo to Terra alongside the rest of the Traitor Legions in the climactic Battle of Terra where he supervised the bombardment and siege of the Emperor's Imperial Palace by the Forces of Chaos. Perturabo took a perverse pleasure in tearing down the defences set up by Rogal Dorn and his hated Imperial Fists. It cannot be known whether Dorn’s masterfully constructed defences would have proved the undoing of the Iron Warriors, for Horus was slain by the Emperor before the matter could be fully determined.
Battle of the Iron Cage
After fleeing Terra along with the other Heretic Astartes Traitor Legions following Horus' death, Perturabo took the opportunity to take vengeance on the Imperial Fists with a specially-designed trap on the world of Sebastus IV. The trap was known as the Eternal Fortress, a massive keep centred within twenty square miles of bunkers, towers, minefields, trenches, tank traps and redoubts that were intentionally shaped to look like an 8-pointed Star of Chaos. Upon hearing of the existence of this supposedly impregnable redoubt maintained by his Legion's hated rivals, Rogal Dorn publicly declared that he "would dig Perturabo out of his hole and bring him back to Terra in an iron cage."
Rogal Dorn expected an honourable battle, but this was not to be. Beginning by isolating the four companies of the Imperial Fists that arrived to do battle from their orbital support, Perturabo began to carefully divide his enemy and destroy them piecemeal. Some Imperial Fists managed to penetrate the defences and reach the centre of the Eternal Fortress, only to find there was no central keep - simply an open space watched by yet more defenses. The fortress was a decoy of no real value, surrounded by twenty miles of killing ground. By the sixth day of the siege, Imperial Fists Space Marines were fighting individually, without support, using the bodies of their own battle brothers for cover.
The siege of the Eternal Fortress, later referred to in Imperial histories simply as the Battle of the Iron Cage, lasted for a further three solar weeks. Relief came in the form of Roboute Guilliman and his Ultramarines, who drove off the Iron Warriors, but the siege left Rogal Dorn a broken man and rendered the Imperial Fists Chapter unable to fight for nineteen standard years while they rebuilt their forces. The gene-seed of over 400 Imperial Fists was captured by the Iron Warriors in the Iron Cage and later sacrificed to the nefarious purposes of the Dark Gods, an accomplishment for which Perturabo was also finally elevated to the rank of Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided by the rare acclamation of the Ruinous Powers.
Following this victory, the Iron Warriors fled to the Eye of Terror alongside their fellow Traitor Marines and secured a new Daemon World named Medrengard, crafting a terrible daemonic Fortress World where his sons ruled a miserable slave population from vast citadels of iron and stone. Today, the Iron Warriors give their greatest loyalty to Perturabo for saving them from what they believe was an unwarranted sacrifice in the name of the False Emperor of Mankind.
"You don't know the things I dream. No one does, no one ever cared enough to find out."
- — Primarch Perturabo speaking to Fulgrim
Though Perturabo had spent his entire life at the business end of a siege, digging trenches and razing cities, it was easy for his fellow Primarchs to forget he possessed a mind as advanced and gene-enhanced as any of his brothers. The Lord of Iron might not possess the Warp-lore of Magnus the Red or the warcraft of Horus, but being underestimated was one of his greatest weapons. Furthermore, he was gifted with an affinity for technology, and was able to debate the finer points of the most esoteric arts with the highest placed Adepts of the Mechanicum. Though Perturabo possessed a calculating mind well-suited to the highly technical aspects of siege warfare, he was not a simple journeyman, for he also possessed the soul of a craftsman.
Over the centuries, Perturabo had created a precisely ordered collection of genius to rival any work of Magnus or Roboute Guilliman. His inner sanctum contained a superb collection of precisely reconstructed stonework, multiple murals and painted works of art as well as hundreds of rolled parchments containing architectural wonders of his own design. Immense drawing desks bore architectural plans for grand pavilions, magnificent amphitheatres, complex industrial infrastructures, vast hives of habitation, impregnable citadels and ornate palaces to rival that of the mountain fastness of the Emperor Himself.
No architect of Terra had ever envisaged structures of such grandeur, and no fantasy of design had thought to render such magical buildings into life. That they had sprung from the hand of the Lord of Iron should have surprised no one, but the idea that a being so mired in destruction was capable of sublime creation seemed beyond comprehension. One of Perturabo's most notable examples was the design of the amphitheatre used during the Council of Nikaea. Though it was eradicated from existence not long after the conclusion of council, it still caused him great shame. It had never been intended as a place of trial and censure, but an arena for mighty games of strength and skill. The use the Emperor had made of his creation shamed Perturabo.
Perturabo's genius was not only confined to the drawing board, for he had also crafted hundreds of delicately wrought machines, trinkets and gewgaws of such fine construction that it seemed impossible one so huge had modelled them. A silver lyre in the shape of a horse's head, gilded eggs, fabulously wrought birdcages that would never again confine a living creature, and miniature war machines competed for space alongside automata of all shapes and description -- animal, mechanical, human and alien.
Perturabo had created a host of clockwork automatons in the early days of the Great Crusade. He had crafted a golden lion that was to be presented to Lion El'Jonson, the master of the Dark Angels, but which had never been finished, a bronze horse that had been designed for a great centrepiece at Nikaea and never used and a celestial timepiece that Roboute Guilliman had mounted on the tallest tower of his Temple of Correction on Macragge.
Perturabo's inner sanctum was a treasure trove of wonders, miraculous creations and the most ancient history of Old Earth preserved in a hermetically sealed environment. None beyond the warriors of his Trident, his special triumvirate of counselors, knew of its existence, and that was just the way Perturabo liked it. The Lord of Iron was also able to speak multiple xenos languages, which included a number of dialects of the Eldar tongue as well as the proto-speech of guttural barks and grunts that comprised the Ork language.
Exacting attention to detail served Perturabo well in his centuries of life. In war and at peace, he revelled in the minutiae of any given task, be it reducing an alien fortress to rubble or establishing the golden ratio within every portion of a theoretical design. Angron had berated him for wasting time on irrelevant details, while Guilliman had lauded him for his thoroughness.
Two very different characters, two very different opinions. Both were correct in their own way, but neither fully appreciated Perturabo's methodology or the bitter drive behind his exacting preferences. The need to be better, the urge to prove his worth beyond taking the metal to the stone. Perturabo was a craftsman, and to be worthy of the appellation, every piece of work that bore his name must be judged for as long as it stood. His legacy was to leave no undertaking unfinished. Every task was approached as though it might be his last.
Despite his gruff exterior and stoic demeanour, Perturabo showed a paternal affection for his gene-wrought sons, though on a far more reserved level than displayed by the Primarchs of the other Space Marine Legions. In manners of discipline, the Lord of Iron was not a warrior who dealt with his subordinates with the easy familiarity some of the other Primarchs were said to enjoy. Perturabo was also known to be an honourable warrior, who believed in the ancient martial traditions of his homeworld of Olympia.
Failure in battle was not tolerated, surrender was never countenanced and mercy was a quick death delivered to a foe that had fought with bravery. But the Primarch’s anger was a volatile thing, quick to lash out, but just as quickly checked. When the people of Olympia rebelled against the rule of the Iron Warriors, Perturabo's anger was terrible to behold. In the aftermath of his genocidal vengeance, Perturabo knew utter despair, barely able to comprehend the crimes he had committed in his rage.
It had come as a shock to find that the loyalty of a Primarch was not the fixed thing Perturabo had always assumed it to be. But like all such realisations, it was incorporated into a new worldview, and once assimilated, a series of small steps was all it took to render everything he had once stood for as little more than a fading dream. Perturabo had vowed that his oath to the Warmaster Horus to support his cause against the Emperor would be truly unbreakable, no matter the cost, no matter the nature of the fight and no matter the outcome.
Unlike many of his brothers who sided with the Warmaster, Perturabo did not hate the Legions that had remained true to the Emperor. They were tools with which their father had carved out His empire, warriors as abused as Perturabo's sons, but too stubborn or too blind to see the nature of their exploitation by the Master of Mankind. The Lord of Iron also did not like his men speaking of those that still followed the Emperor as "Loyalists," for his Legion had been as loyal as any to their cause. The Emperor's Astartes were the enemy. In Horus' rebellion, Perturabo believed that there was no such thing as Loyalist or Traitor, only victor and vanquished.
Following the massacre on Olympia, Perturabo's humours had become ever more volatile and unforgiving. It was rumoured that the Warsmith Berossus had come to horrifying injuries at the hand of his Primarch following his misfortune of having to deliver bad news to the Lord of Iron. His injuries were so horrific, he had to be interred within a life-sustaining casket within the carapace of a Dreadnought. After the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, Perturabo became a giant of terrible rages and spontaneous violence. Despite appearing at ease around his subordinates, those who knew him best saw the underlying simmering tension in the Primarch's body, like a taut cable at the very limit of its tensile strength, ready to strike at a moment's notice.
- The Logos (Artificer Armour) - Perturabo's panoply of war was a unique and highly customised suit of Artificer-crafted Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour, the heavy layered ceramite looking more at home on a tank than on a Primarch. This Artificer Armour was of his own design, and was known as the Logos. As well as providing a phenomenal level of defence against outside attack, the armour contained sophisticated command and control systems which linked Perturabo cybernetically to every facet of the forces under his disposal and a shifting array of weapons and secondary systems created by his vast intellect. The Logos incorporated the finest technology of its age, including a Teleport Homer, a Cortex Controller for controlling Automata, a Nuncio-Vox and a Cognis Signum.
- Forgebreaker - Forgebreaker was an exquisite warhammer crafted by Fulgrim for his brother Ferrus Manus beneath Mount Narodnya, the greatest forge of the Ural Mountains on Terra. Forgebreaker was the length of a mortal man, its haft fashioned from an alloy that was as unbreakable as it was unknown, patterned like marble, veined with lightning and capped by an amber pommel stone set with a slitted eye of jet. The head of the hammer was steel and gold, its rear razor-spiked, the killing face flat and murderous. Following the death of Ferrus at the hands of Fulgrim during the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V, Warmaster Horus presented this formidable weapon to Perturabo as a symbolic gesture of the Iron Warriors' newfound allegiance to the Warmaster Horus rather than the Emperor.
- Wrist-Mounted Combi-Bolter - This wrist-mounted Combi-bolter is a variation on the ubiquitous Space Marine weapon. Its magazines are loaded with heavy, custom-fabricated Bolter rounds, able to punch through Space Marine battle plate with plasmic armour-piercing warheads which used the victims' body mass as bio-thermic fuel. These unfortunate victims would ignite like human pyres with every detonation.
- Frag Grenades - A Frag Grenade is an anti-personnel grenade commonly used by the military forces of the Imperium of Man. It produces a blast of shrapnel that can shred unarmoured troops. The blast has the tactical advantage of forcing the enemy to duck into cover to avoid damage. In effect, the blast of a Frag Grenade neutralises any movement advantage held by an opposing force by pinning them to their position.
- Tormentor - Tormentor was a converted Shadowsword super-heavy tank, with additional armour plating on all sides and extended command and control functions. To accommodate the Lord of Iron's scale and his automaton bodyguards, the vehicle's superstructure and engine had been radically overhauled by the Pneumachina. Its main weapons were enhanced, and no more effective a killing machine existed in the Iron Warriors Legion’s vehicle pool.
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 22
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pg. 16
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 92-94
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions, pp. 70, 188, 226, 286, 330, 334, 342-343, 352
- Index Astartes I, "Bitter and Twisted - The Iron Warriors Space Marine Legion" pp. 32-36
- The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination, by Alan Bligh, pp. 107-118, 252-253
- White Dwarf 274 (US), "Iron Within, Iron Without"
- White Dwarf 257 (AUS), "Index Astartes – Iron Warriors"
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 126, 327, 355, 402, 410
- Fallen Angels (Novel) by Mike Lee, pg. 315
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, pp. 319-320, 370, 374
- Angel Exterminatus (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Forge World - Perturabo, Primarch of the Iron Warriors
|Loyalist Primarchs||Lion El'Jonson • Jaghatai Khan • Leman Russ • Rogal Dorn • Sanguinius • Ferrus Manus • Roboute Guilliman • Vulkan • Corvus Corax • Lost Primarchs|
|Traitor Primarchs||Fulgrim • Perturabo • Konrad Curze • Angron • Mortarion • Magnus the Red • Horus • Lorgar • Alpharius Omegon|