Contributors: Algrim Whitefang, Ilmarinen, Magos Explorator, Malika
LEGIO XX “ALPHA LEGION”
Battlecry/Motto: “For the Emperor!”
Dates: ca.-100 HE-Present Chronology
Status: EXCOMMVINICATE TRAITORIS
XX Legio was the last of the Legionaria Adeptus Astartum to be formed, created no more than roughly one century before the beginning of the Horus Heresy. Whilst the old chronology suggested that the Alpha Legion might have been active earlier than this date, Alpharius says in Legion that he has only been part of the “family” of Primarchs for a scant few “decades,” which can only reasonably interpreted as no more than just over a century.
Legio XX was always the most secretive of the Emperor’s Space Marine Legions, and continued to maintain that veil of secrecy even after the events of the Horus Heresy. We know little about their founding, and we have yet even to properly identify their homeworld, though it is tempting to speculate that Alpharius, who recognized the Emperor as his father, may have considered his homeworld to be Holy Terra itself. He never says as much, but according to source material repeatedly denied any origin on the worlds controlled by his followers prior to contact with the Great Crusade.
The old chronology tells us that Alpharius was first discovered not by the Emperor, but by Horus, and that Alpharius was sent to Terra to meet the Emperor. At least one old chronology source also suggests to the reader that Alpharius may have been “corrupted” from the very beginning by Horus, implying that Horus had already begun his descent into heresy before he’d even met the Emperor. However, this does not sit well within the new chronology as we currently understand it. In the first place, Alpharius suggests that he has been part of the Imperial fold for decades, which would automatically eliminate the possibility of being forced to travel to Holy Terra in order to meet the Emperor – who leaves the Expeditionary Fleet only at the completion of the Ullanor Crusade. Further, Legion makes it quite explicit that Alpharius’ loyalty to the Emperor, or at least his interpretation thereof, never faltered, and that his decision to side with the rebels was a matter entirely outside Horus’ influence.
In addition to the mysterious circumstances involving the discovery of Alpharius, we know next to nothing of the discovery of Omegon – his identical twin brother, whose existence was first revealed in Legion. So far as we know, none of the other primarchs had a twin, nor did any of the other Legions possess two Primarchs. In terms of canon, it seems that only the Emperor and the Alpha Legion itself knew of this situation. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the fact was known beyond these individuals.
Although the Alpha Legion actively campaigned for the Emperor, the details of their activities during the last decades of the Great Crusade are unknown. Their last known campaign on behalf of the Emperor, on Nurth, was conducted with ruthless efficiency, and apparently resulted in the destruction of the Nurth, and the Nurthene cultists who inhabited that world. The official explanation for the destruction of this world has not yet been explained in the new chronology, but we know from Legion that the destruction of the planet was not due to an act by Alpharius/Omegon or their Astartes.
Very little was known of Legio XX by their battle brothers in the other Legions. Members of the Legion apparently pursued facial alteration and physical modifications in order to seem identical, and each referred to himself as “Alpharius” in the presence of outsiders. Only the most skilled psykers or seasoned profilers are said to have been able to determine the individual identities of each member of the Legion. The Legion certainly maintained a strong alliance with a network of operatives in every level of the Imperium, and beyond, and because of their unusually humanistic approach toward relationships with these operatives, often managed to have a greater relationship with their human allies than the members of the other Legions. It is implied by the current source material that the Alpha Legion’s maintenance of such a network of supporters was at least tacitly suspected by members of the Imperial hierarchy, but it is doubtful that anyone would have been permitted to learn anything meaningful without being inducted or killed.
Certainly, the Alpha Legion was highly trusted by the Emperor himself. It is strongly implied that the Primarch(s) of the Alpha Legion were the most brilliant tacticians of the Emperor’s sons, loyal without question, and –apparently- the only Legion to have at least a basic understanding of “Chaos” without themselves becoming corrupted by it (at least prior to the Heresy.) Their reasons for devolution into revolt are unclear. A controversial section in Legion describes them being presented with a vision of the future, in which they are shown the results of a victory by Horus or the Emperor. They apparently choose to align themselves with Horus in order to further the Emperor’s agenda within the Traitor Legions; how and when they intended to accomplish this goal remains unclear, as the reasons are not explicitly spelled out at the end of Legion. The debate continues, and in the absence of another Alpha Legion novel at present, there are no definitive answers. All we know for certain is that the Legio XX chose to align itself with Horus, knowing full well about his corruption by Chaos.
Curiously, current source material is greatly contradictory regarding the role of the Alpha Legion during the Horus Heresy. First, we have strong suggestions that the Legion largely avoided the corrupted taint of Chaos, and it is fairly certain that they played no role in the final battles on Terra.
We know for certain that they continued to wage a backwater war in the “Eastern Fringe” of the Imperium, in theory to tie down the forces of the Ultramarines, and other scattered Legions, and to secure Horus’ flank. Their absence from planning and operations on Terra is curious, given Alpharius’ tactical genius. It would suggest that the Legion had intentionally avoided open conflict with the Emperor himself. Indeed, we are told by certain source materials that the Alpha Legion “never fully succumbed to Chaos.” They never committed themselves to the worship of any Chaos entities, avoided mutation by the Warp, and remain the only one of the Traitor Legions to maintain a homeworld outside of the Eye of Terror. Furthermore the Alpha Legion remained the most coherent and organized of the Traitor Legions – failing to fragment into warbands as most of their comrades had done. Current sources even maintain that the Alpha Legion retains its ability to access uncorrupted GeneSeed.
On the other hand, the current era of the WH40K universe depicts examples of corrupted Alpha Legion marines, a popular computer game depicts chaos-worshipping Alpha Legion marines and cultists, and the most current depiction of the Alpha Legion in Chaos service depicts clear marks of Chaos alignment, if not outright worship.
The truth is probably somewhere in between. Some have suggested that “corrupted” Alpha Legion may have arisen out of clandestine operations to destroy various cults from within, or that these individuals may in fact have come from post-Heresy recruits fro the Alpha Legion, various chaos worshipping renegades who were co-opted for their usefulness to the Legion’s secret goals.
Finally, there is the matter of the intense rivalry between Robute Guilliman of the Ultramarines and Alpharius of the Alpha Legion. Current source material says very little on the subject, and tellingly, Legion makes only a single reference to the situation. Alpharius says that “Robute despises me”, but continues, “and I ignore him.” Older sources say that Alpharius was killed in battle by Guilliman, and this is the currently accepted truth in the common era of the new chronology. However, there is great controversy regarding this state of affairs. Why would Alpharius have willingly walked into a trap? And in that vein, what would have become of Omegon? It has been suggested unofficially that Sheed Ranko, a captain in the 1st Company’s terminator squad, may have been acting in Alpharius’ place and killed by Robute Guilliman. Ranko, unusually large even among his brothers, often played the role of Primarch in place of Alpharius and Omegon.
Tactically, the operations of Legio XX were marked by a tendency toward intense secrecy, careful planning, and lightning strikes. Whilst the Legion maintained an arsenal of weapons for all possible contingencies, it was less likely to openly assault an enemy position or to take the field with heavy armor formations than it was to conduct fast hit and run attacks, flank assaults, and feint operations. The Ultramarines, who considered such operations to be “dishonorable,” are said to have developed their distaste for the Alpha Legion following a number of operations in which the Alpha Legion subverted an enemy and destroyed it from within rather than taking more traditional pathways to victory.
That is not to say that open attacks and heavy assault tactics did not have their place; merely that they were options of last resort, or carefully arranged after hours, days, even weeks of long term planning and analysis.
Tactics and secrecy would seem to suggest that XX Legion was not as large as the other Legions, but we have no direct commentary from the source material regarding the overall size of their forces.Power Armor Variants
There are only a handful of depictions of XX Legion in current source materials. With the exception of the entry in Index Astartes, itself a much older illustration, virtually all of the Alpha Legion depicted are equipped with MkV “Heresy” type power armor. The single exception to this rule, mentioned previously, depicts the subject in MkVI “Corvus” armor.
The cover of Legion is somewhat controversial. Some maintain that it depicts the subject in MkIV “Maximus” armor, whilst others argue that it depicts MkV “Heresy” armor, or a hybridization of Marks IV and V. Armor style is not discussed at length in the sole Heresy Era novel of the Alpha Legion to date.
The Alpha Legion was created by His Majesty approximately one century before the Horus Heresy. This places Alpharius/Omegon and their followers in an interesting period of power armor development. The Mk II “Crusade” and MkIII “Iron” armor were long in service, and their flaws had long since been discovered. Newer marks of armor, notably the MkIV “Maximus” pattern were then in field testing and late development trials, but not yet in widespread circulation. As such, it’s probable that Legio XX was equipped with Mk II and Mk III armors, but only the latest variants of these – which had been modified after decades, if not centuries, of regular use. The earlier models of both armor types, which restricted head movement to a considerable degree, would be highly unlikely in the service of the Alpha Legion.
Obviously, as the Heresy drew to a close, the Twentieth would have received their share of the new MkIV “Maximus” armor. However, the careful reader of what we currently have in the power armor development timeline will note that most of these Legions were not yet fully equipped with MkIV by the time of the Heresy. Given that XX Legion was the newest, and least integrated of the Legions, and given that other Legions were centuries more senior in experience and rank, it is not at all unrealistic to see that the Alpha Legion would in all likelihood receive fewer shipments of the precious “MkIV” instead receiving the new MkV armor as an interim measure. This is only conjecture, but it would certainly provide a reasonable justification for the predominance of that armor type amongst such depictions of Alpha Legion armor that we have. It is possible that, as one of Horus’ allies, Legio XX would have received subsequent shipments of newly captured MkVI “Corvus” armor, but given our current development timeline it is unlikely that this would have occurred in any amount prior to the Heresy.
The fabled “Stealth Armor” of the Alpha Legion is not well described, and its materials are a matter of conjecture. We do know that it was capable of defeating advanced forms of electronic scrying and surveillance. In all likelihood, it was a standard pattern of armor equipped with non-standard modifications. Any of the recognized “Pre-Heresy” armor patterns would be fair game for conversion, and something as simple as a well done coat of black paint would probably serve the purpose of marking it out, perhaps with low visibility legionary markings.
As with most of the Legions, we know that the Alpha Legion did have access to Terminator armor. It is never actually depicted in any illustrations. It could be assumed that XX Legion also had access to Dreadnoughts, but these can’t have been particularly old, unless the Legion drew some recruits from Terran veterans who had been previously interred therein.Livery
In the old chronology, the Pre-Heresy Alpha Legion was depicted as wearing deep blue armor with medium or neon green helmet stripes and silver trim. When the same illustration was subsequently used in the Index Astartes it had been subtly altered, so that the armor of the Alpha Legion marine was more purple than deep blue; confusingly, another example of this same image, depicted on the GW website, retained the original deep blue armor. The members of XX Legion depicted in Collected Visions are universally clad in blue, ranging from deep blue to a medium-bright blue similar to that worn by the Ultramarines. Though these variations can partly be explained by lighting effects, none display any real suggestion of purple.
In Legion, meanwhile, the Alpha Legion is twice described as wearing “purple” power armor, whilst the cover of Legion depicts a member of the Legion (possibly Alpharius or Omegon) dressed in purple armor with silver trim. Meanwhile, a painted example of an Alpha Legion marine posted on the GW Website retains a distinctively purple uniform, with lime green highlights on his “Corvus” style helmet.
One often floated suggestion for all this confusion has been that the original image was altered when the most common color used to recreate it, “Midnight Blue,” was retired from production by Games Workshop. Another possibility is simple interpretation by different authors. The actual base shade color, in paint form, is definitely deep blue, but it has distinct purple undertones and shading.
Most individuals who paint Alpha Legion forces for gaming and display choose to go with a deep blue base color, shaded with a purple wash of some kind. Vallejo “Dark Prussian Blue” and “Night Blue” are both said to be virtually identical to the original “Midnight Blue” produced by GW. Purely purple power armor is typically reserved for use by the Emperor’s Children, whilst truly blue armor is usually reserved for use when painting post-Heresy colors. Ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference for the painter, but on balance, illustrations tend to argue for the former (deep blue) while textual references seem to argue for the latter (purple).
Because of the extreme difficulty of identifying individual members of the Alpha Legion, it can safely be assumed that little, in the way of rank designation, was openly worn by members of the Twentieth Legion, even on ceremonial occasions. Variations in armament certainly existed, but carrying a power weapon or chain weapon alone would not necessarily be sufficient in identifying key members of the Legion by outside forces.
Though personalization does occur, without a doubt, in the current era, the use of distinctive embellishment or trophies would have been anathema in the Heresy Era to a Legion dedicated to anonymity amongst outsiders. Some modelers choose to eschew this option, but the evidence strongly suggests otherwise – the armor depicted on the cover of Legion being the only currently accepted representation of the Alpha Legion with anything approaching decorations, awards, etc.
The official emblem of the Alpha Legion prior to the Horus Heresy was a medium lime or neon green “Alpha”, crossed by a length of chain. An often unofficially adopted emblem consisted of a twin headed Hydra, depicted in green or yellow. According to Legion, the Hydra symbol was not displayed publicly outside Legio XX itself; Collected Visions, however, directly contradicts this, and all but one of the images of the Alpha Legion in that hefty tome depicts members and vehicles of the Legion designated with the Hydra instead of their official Legionary Device. One possibility is that the Hydra was adopted after the Legion’s descent into heresy, since it had always been used, in private, as a mark and/or brand for individuals known and trusted by the Twentieth. However, no official explanation has been forthcoming.Vehicle Livery
Only a single “official” depiction of an Alpha Legion vehicle currently exists. On page 269 of Collected Visions, the Rhino “Honorius is depicted. Livery is medium blue. Insignia, displayed on the driver’s side front hatch and the left side of the vehicle is a two headed Hydra in medium/lime green. Interestingly enough, the driver is unbuttoned, and appears to be wearing a MkV style helmet. Aside from a bit of trim in grey or iron, there are no other decorations or insignia. A Legionary Vexillum (flag) is apparently flying from the top rear deck of the vehicle, but the illustration has been cropped so that the identity and decoration of the banner is purely a matter of conjecture.Notable Members of the Alpha Legion
Trajus Boniface - Alpha Legion Envoy to Horus
Mathias Herzog – Captain of the 2nd Company
Ingo Pech – Captain of the 1st Company
Sheed Ranko – Terminator Sergeant, 1st CompanyImportant Note
Those who are particularly loyal to fluff would be well advised that virtually NONE of the above information would be known in whole or part to –any individual- outside Legio XX, with the probable exception of the Emperor himself.