Solomon Demeter was a Captain of the 2nd Company of the Emperor's Children Space Marine Legion during the Great Crusade and opening days of the Horus Heresy in the late 30th and early 31st Millennia. Unlike most Astartes of the Emperor's Children, he displayed the qualities of individualism, an exacting and perfectionist nature and recklessness that set him apart from his peers, making him stand out amongst the senior officers of the IIIrd Legion.
During the opening days of the Horus Heresy, he remained loyal to the Emperor and the tenants of the Imperial Truth, and so was fated to be sent to the surface of Istvaan III, in what would become known in Imperial history as the Istvaan III Atrocity, to die alongside the other Loyalist elements of the Space Marine Legions under the direct command of Warmaster Horus.
Though he survived the initial bombardment and was gravely wounded, he, along with other Loyalist survivors, fought a protracted campaign of attrition against the Traitor forces of the Warmaster. In a dark twist of fate, Demeter was betrayed by one of his own Battle-Brothers, dying at the hands of the treacherous Captain Lucius.
Solomon Demeter was the epitome of what an Astartes should be; noble, resolute and fearless. He pursued all matters with total dedication and focus, and like his fellow Leigonaries, the skills of war were chief amongst his concerns and he refused to accept anything less than perfection in the pursuit of his own skill. As was typical of the Primarch Fulgrim's progeny, he presented a physical image of perfection; patrician features with dark hair shorn close to his scalp and tanned skin, courtesy of fighting under the light of a score of suns during the numerous campaigns he participated in over the long years of prosecuting the Emperor's Great Crusade. Demeter was very self-assured in his own martial prowess, and was often seen at the height of a battle with his helmet removed to better experience the sensations of combat.
Only a consummate warrior such as Captain Demeter would go into a firefight without all the protection he could muster. A self-reliant warrior, Demeter heavily customised his personal weapons until they met his satisfaction. He hand-finished every surface and internal mechanism of his Bolter, which gave it a slightly higher rate of fire than the standard issue Astartes Bolter. He had also modified his Chainsword so that the grip and blade were slightly longer than the standard so that it could be wielded with a two-handed grip. Demeter had extensively customised the hilt and pommel of his sword to resemble an Imperial Aquila. It was not unusual for him to honour his wargear multiple times before a battle, which bordered on the obsessive compulsive.
Cleansing of Laeren
Shortly after the beginning of their participation in the Great Crusade on their own terms, the Emperor's Children's 28th Expeditionary Fleet encountered a hitherto-unknown serpentine alien race who called themselves the Laer. The Emperor's Children, in concert with Lord Commander Fayle's Imperial Army regiments of the Archite Palatines, attacked the Laer in space, on the surface of their world, beneath their oceans and over the hulls of their orbital platforms. The Battle on Atoll 19 would later be described as a minor, opening skirmish in the Cleansing of Laeran; a footnote to the fighting that was yet to come, but to the warriors in the speartip of Solomon Demeter's 2nd Company, it felt considerably more intense than a skirmish. During the fighting, he disdained the wearing of a helmet to prevent the Laer from deciphering his orders over the IIIrd Legion's Vox-network, and because he knew that if he was hit in the head by one of the Laer weapons, he was as good as dead, helmet or not.
Knowing he could not expect any immediate help or aerial support, Demeter understood he was going to have to accomplish his objectives the hard way. Though it railed against his sense of order and perfection to undertake the assault without the proper support in place, Demeter could not deny the exhilaration he felt as he improvised his tactics as he went along. Some commanders said that it was an inevitable fact that they would fight without the forces they wanted, but such a belief was anathema to most of the Emperor's Children.
During this campaign, Demeter learned that a commander should not fuss too much over making the "right" choice. All he needed to worry about was making a "good" choice, see it through and accept the consequences. This type of lateral thinking went against the grain of the standard tactics employed by the Emperor's Children, and garnered the disapproval of some of Demeter's fellow captains as well as his subordinates. But his abilities to think on the fly were instrumental in carrying the day, for the sheer lethality of the combat zone made it a necessity.
Despite lacking optimum troop-strength, Captain Demeter was able to organise a speartip advance, deploying his Astartes in a lightning assault up the centre of the enemy's lines. Demeter watched with pride as the Emperor's Children fought with a flawless martial discipline unmatched by any other Legion. They fought with the cold, clinical application of perfect force.
Though the line of Emperor's Children bent backwards under the onslaught of the Laer, it did not break. Demeter moved to the centre of the line and took his place in the thick of the fighting, killing with methodical precision until he ran out of ammunition and switched back to his Chainsword. He fought two-handed, cleaving his blade through alien flesh, and bellowing at his warriors to stand firm as a seething tide of Laer surrounded them.
With the capture of Atoll 19, the opening stage of the campaign against the world of Laeran had been won, though the ferocity of the fighting and the brittle knife-edge upon which it had been won would never be known except by those whose word would one day be reviled. Atoll 19 would be the first of many bridgeheads established before the Emperor's Children were finished with Laeran.
The war for Laeran was fought across many varied battlefields, the warriors of the Emperor's Children fighting on floating atolls and through the ruins of ancient structures. Underwater cites were discovered within days of the campaign's opening and detachments of Astartes took the fight to the abyssal darkness of undersea trenches, smashing into structures that had never known the touch of sunlight, in specially modified boarding torpedoes fired from Imperial Cruisers hovering above the sea.
Solomon Demeter led his 2nd Company against the first of these cities, subjugating it within six hours, his plan of attack garnering praise from his Primarch. During the final assault of the campaign upon the central Laer temple, Demeter miraculously survived when his Thunderhawk gunship was shot down and it plummeted into the ocean. As a result, he was not present when the Primarch entered the great temple of the Laer (secretly a fane dedicated to the worship of Slaanesh) where Fulgrim found a daemon-possessed sword later known to history as the Chaotic artefact called the Blade of the Laer.
Brotherhood of the Phoenix
Solomon Demeter was a member of the Brotherhood of the Phoenix, a confraternity of warriors composed of only Astartes of rank within the IIIrd Legion. They were a more exclusive Warrior Lodge than those within many of the other Legions. During the period of the IIIrd Legion's reconstitution after the rediscovery of Fulgrim when the Emperor's Children had fought alongside the Luna Wolves, the Legion had formed great bonds of friendship with the warriors of Horus, and in the times between the fighting, a few loose tongues had spoken of the existence of the XVI Legion's warrior lodge. The Luna Wolves' lodge was, in theory, open to any warrior who desired to be a member, an informal place of lively debate where rank held no sway and a man could speak his mind freely without fear of reprisals.
Eventually Solomon Demeter and Marius Vairosian had been permitted to attend one such meeting, a pleasant evening of honourable camaraderie under the titular leadership of a warrior named Serghar Targost. Solomon had enjoyed the evening, despite the cloak and dagger theatrics of their masked arrival. As a senior officer of the Emperor's Children he was often an attendee at the clandestine meetings of the Brotherhood of the Phoenix. Despite his individuality and self-reliance, Demeter firmly believed in the tenets and philosophy of his Legion, working hard to learn from his superiors and fellow captains as well as setting an example for his subordinates. His superior knowledge and tactical acumen were major contributions to the tactical doctrines of the IIIrd Legion and were taught to Emperor's Children Neophytes.
During the latter part of the Great Crusade, the Iron Hands Legion's 52nd Expeditionary Fleet encountered a nomadic, fleet-based civilisation composed of both humans and xenos known as the Diasporex. The Iron Hands shared the Imperial Truth of the Emperor of Mankind, offering the human members of the Diasporex the opportunity to separate from their alien allies and to join the newly forged Imperium, but they declined the Astartes' offer.
Their offer rejected, the Iron Hands passed judgement, and in the following months the Iron Hands fleet attempted to annihilate the Diasporex, but the foe proved to be highly skilled and experienced in the realm of naval warfare, and managed to easily evade crucial battles and even to severely damage the Iron Hands' Strike Cruiser Ferrum. The Emperor's Children of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet were called in as reinforcements, and a joint Imperial strike force composed of both the Iron Hands and forces from the Emperor's Children Legion prepared to launch an all-out assault against the willful Diasporex.
During the massive naval battle that ensued, Fulgrim's personal gunship, the Firebird, came under heavy attack and soon found itself in trouble. Ferrus Manus' flagship, the Battle Barge Fist of Iron, came rushing to the rescue of his beleaguered brother. To restore his wounded pride, Fulgrim led a brief shipboarding action aboard the Diasporex's flagship where the Emperor's Children wreaked bloody havoc on the troops of the Diasporex. By this time, Captain Demeter had fully recovered from his wounds, and was able to lead the 2nd Company in a speartip assault on the capital ship, and subsequently captured the enemy ship's bridge, robbing his Primarch of ultimate victory.
Normally, such a feat should have brought him much admiration and personal glory, but Demeter was unaware of the changes within Fulgrim's personality following the assault on the Laer temple, as the Primarch was slowly being corrupted by the malignant influence of the daemon-possessed Laer sword he had taken from the temple. Fulgrim ignored his subordinate's achievement and spun on his heel, marching from the enemy bridge without a word, furious.
Battle of Tarsus
At some unknown point during the Great Crusade, Primarch Fulgrim met with the renowned Eldar Farseer Eldrad Ulthran of Ulthwé Craftworld on the Maiden World of Tarsus. The Farseer attempted to warn Fulgrim of Horus' corruption after being wounded by a malefic Chaos blade known as the Kinebrach Anathame at the hands of the Traitor Eugen Temba upon Davin's Nurgle-corrupted Plague Moon. Temba had been the former Planetary Governor of the Feral World of Davin who had fallen under the influence of the Plague Lord Nurgle.
The injury caused by the poisonous blade had allowed the Chaos Gods to gain a purchase on the Warmaster's soul. Fulgrim reacted with violent outrage at the Farseer's accusations due to his close kinship with his brother Horus, as his bond with Horus was second only to that he shared with Ferrus Manus, the Primarch of the Xth Legion. This outrage was further enhanced by the corrupting influence of Fulgrim's Laer daemonblade, which darkly influenced the Primarch to reject the Eldar's truth and provoked Fulgrim into launching an unprovoked and furious attack on Eldrad and his retinue alongside his Emperor's Children Captains, which included Solomon Demeter, and his personal Phoenix Guard.
In the battle that ensued, the Emperor's Children slew both the revered Eldar Wraithlord Khiraen Goldhelm and a potent Avatar of Khaine, which forced the Farseer and the other Eldar troops to sorrowfully withdraw, as they realised that Chaos had already claimed yet another of the "Mon-Keigh's" Primarchs. Yet they had succeeded in killing all of Fulgrim's elite personal Phoenix Guard before their departure. Believing the Eldar had proven themselves a treacherous xenos race that sought to divide and conquer the Imperium by spreading such lies about its leaders, Fulgrim, again under the increasing influence of the daemonblade, ordered the destruction of several other beautiful Eldar Maiden Worlds using hideous virus bombs. Despite standing with his Primarch and his peers against the Eldar forces of Craftworld Ulthwé, Demeter began to find himself marginalised within his own Legion.
Battle of Deep Orbital DS191
Weeks later, following the campaign on Tarsus, Fulgrim's fleet was ordered by the Council of Terra to rendezvous with the Warmaster's 63rd Expeditionary Fleet to report their recent conduct and acquire information in regards to Horus' grave injuries acquired on Davin's Plague Moon. Most unusual, was that the IIIrd Legion's Lord Commander Vespasian was excluded from Fulgrim's delegation to Horus, which demonstrated an ever-growing rift between the Lord Commander and his Primarch.
Following this visit to the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet, Fulgrim announced to his senior commanders that he would lead a small force to join Ferrus Manus and his Iron Hands at Callinedes IV in the Callinedes System under the pretense of clearing it of an Ork infestation. The Primarch spearheaded the assault during the pacification of Deep Orbital DS191, leading the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Companies. During the assault, Captain Demeter found his company unsupported by the 1st and 3rd Companies as the battle-plan had laid out.
Overextended and in real danger of being cut off and destroyed, the 2nd Company was only saved from certain destruction by the unplanned and timely arrival of the 10th and 13th Companies under the commands of Captains Saul Tarvitz and Lucius, two junior officers that Demeter had found himself associating more and more with as he was systematically frozen out by the IIIrd Legion's high command. A dark shroud hung over Lord Commander Vespasian after witnessing these dishonourable actions. He felt obliged to act after he observed Solomon Demeter's 2nd Company being intentionally abandoned by both Captain Kaesoron's and Vairosean's companies. It was a decision that would cost the honourable Astartes his life when he was murdered in the Primarch's chambers by Fulgrim himself, who had decided to sort out those Astartes amongst his Legion who were loyal to him and his new allegiance to Slaanesh and those amongst his warriors who remained loyal to the Emperor.
Istvaan III Atrocity
The terrible campaign that marked the start of the Horus Heresy and was known to later generations as the Istvaan III Atrocity began when the Imperial Planetary Governor of Istvaan III, Vardus Praal, had been corrupted by the Chaos God Slaanesh whose cultists had long been active on the world even before it had been conquered by the Imperium. Praal declared his independence from the Imperium, and had begun to practice forbidden Slaaneshi sorcery, so the Council of Terra charged Horus with the retaking of that world, primarily its capital, the Choral City.
This order merely furthered Horus' plan to overthrow the Emperor. Although the four Legions under his direct command -- the Sons of Horus, the World Eaters, the Death Guard and the Emperor's Children -- had already turned Traitor and pledged themselves to Chaos, there were still some Loyalist elements within each of these Legions that approximated one-third of each force; many of these warriors were Terran-born Space Marines who had been directly recruited into the Astartes Legions by the Emperor Himself before being reunited with their Primarchs during the Great Crusade. Horus, under the guise of putting down the rebellion against Imperial Compliance on the world of Istvaan III, amassed his troops in the Istvaan System. Horus had a plan by which he would destroy all of the remaining Loyalist elements of the Legions under his command.
Like many of his fellow Legionaries, Demeter had unknowingly been marked for death as an Imperial Loyalist, and was fated to launch with the first wave under the pretense of bringing Istvaan III back into the Imperial fold. Initial attacks on the Choral City had washed away any feelings of unease, the release of the Loyalists' anger and hurt in bloodshed reassuring them that things were as they should be, and that their earlier misgivings about the directions of their Legions were no cause for concern.
But then Captain Saul Tarvitz had arrived on the planet's surface with an incredible tale of betrayal and imminent attack. Many had scoffed at Tarvitz's warning, but some had immediately known the truth of it, and had fought to make their brothers realise the imminent danger. As the monstrous scale of the betrayal sank in, the Loyalist Sons of Horus, World Eaters and Emperor's Children Astartes had raced to find shelter before the deadly viral payload struck the world intended to be their tomb. Demeter was badly wounded in the firestorm that followed the initial virus bombing by the hideous Life-eater pathogen.
The first solar month of the battles that followed the failed Virus Bomb attack had passed in a blur of agony and nightmares. Demeter's life had hung in the balance until Saul Tarvitz had come to him and promised that he would make the Traitors pay for their betrayal. Seeing the fires of ambition finally lit within the young warrior had galvanised Solomon, and his recovery had been nothing short of miraculous. An Apothecary named Vaddon had found time, between treating the wounded, to bring him back from the brink of death, and as the conflict ground onwards, Demeter found his strength returning to the point where he was able to fight once more.
Taking the armour of the dead, Demeter had risen, phoenix-like, from what many had considered to be his deathbed, and had fought on with all the ferocity and courage for which he was renowned. Saul Tarvitz had immediately offered to transfer command of the Loyalist Emperor's Children to him, but he had refused, knowing that the surviving warriors of all the Legions looked to Tarvitz for leadership. To usurp that would be pointless, especially now that their heroic defiance of betrayal was almost at an end.
Ultimately, Demeter would be betrayed unto death by one of his own Battle-Brothers. Captain Lucius' pride and jealousy had eventually overwhelmed him as the young Emperor's Children officer had come to resent Tarvitz's role in the Loyalists' success against the enemy and the respect he commanded from the other Loyalist Astartes. Lucius secretly contacted Lord Commander Eidolon and promised to deliver Tarvitz and break the Loyalists' defences at the Precentor's Palace for Horus in return for being accepted back into the Legion.
Eidolon accepted the proposal. As Lucius slaughtered a group of 30 Loyalist Astartes who were defending the Loyalists' flank to open the way for the Traitors' final assault against their former brethren, he was aided, unknowingly, by Captain Demeter who thought Lucius had been under assault by Traitors. Realising he had been tricked, Demeter realised with horror the full extent of his mistake and Lucius' betrayal. Demeter felt the walls of his existence come crashing down as the enormity of what he had done sank in. He dropped to his knees, and tears of horror and anguish spilled down his cheeks.
The traitorous swordsman had taken Demeter's honour from him. He flew into a rage, attacking Lucius, wrapping his hands around his foe's neck. But Lucius reacted quickly and impaled Demeter in his stomach with his sword, and tore upwards through the senior Astartes' chest, as the swordsman thrust his blade completely through Demeter's torso. Demeter fell to the ground, his life's blood seeping into the blackened ground, mortally wounded.
As Demeter lay dying, with a clarity denied him in life he saw where Horus' terrible betrayal of the Emperor would inevitably lead, the horror and the long war that would follow. In the wake of this final bit of wisdom, Solomon Demeter died in the darkness of the Precentor's Palace on Istvaan III, an early casualty of the most terrible war in human history.
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 14-15, 37-38, 52, 58, 69, 163, 172, 187-188, 192, 210, 241-242, 293, 321, 345-346, 354