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Title: Notita Astartum: The Iron Warriors

Mithras - September 18, 2010 03:55 AM (GMT)
Version 1.0. Comments, etc. always welcome.

Primarch: Peturabo
Homeworld: Olympia (Location Classified; Uninhabitable)

Despite their importance during the Great Crusade, and during the Horus Heresy that followed, the Iron Warriors are one of those Astartes Legions with the least coverage in the various incarnations of canon materials over the past few decades.

During the Scattering, Peturabo was transported to the planet Olympia, a world which, by all descriptions, seems to have been geographically very similar to Ancient Greece and its environs writ large. Large mountain ranges, contentious city-states, and broad, shallow seas. Not long after his arrival, Peturabo was adopted by the most powerful political leader on the planet - Dammekos, Tyrant of Lochos. Although source materials say that the Tyrant doted on the young boy, they also say that Peturabo remained cold to his adopted father, refusing throughout his young life to trust any of the Olympians fully. Highly intelligent even by the standards of the Primarchs, it may be that Peturabo grasped at his true uniqueness among the people of Olympia at a young age.

When the Emperor arrived at Olympia, Peturabo immediately acknowledged him as his true father, engineered the downfall of Dammekos, and united the city-states of Olympia in the Emperor’s name, all within what appears to have been a short period of time. Perhaps out of some genuine emotional attachment to his childhood guardian, or perhaps because of the possible need to utilize his connections with Olympia in local politics, Peturabo spared the life of Dammekos and allowed him to live on in seclusion. This was not, as it turns out, the wisest decision ever made by the Primarch of Legio IV, because Dammekos spent the remainder of his life marshalling military forces and spreading dissent on Olympia. He did not succeed in ousting Peturabo before dying of old age, but the undercurrent of revolution remained, just bubbling under the surface, in the minds of the oligarchs whom Peturabo had subordinated in his unification of the planet.

As a Primarch, Peturabo is recorded as being cold, calculating, and utterly brilliant. His campaigns were universally well planned, logistically flawless, and tactically enviable. These were supported with a unique knowledge of battlefield engineering and fortification, supported by well-disciplined use of massed artillery and armor formations. So gifted was he that some sources intimate Peturabo’s role in training or outright creation of societies and organizations within the Adeptus Mechanicus itself.

The Iron Warriors shared these skills for siegecraft and martial cunning. There were excellent tankers and engineers throughout the Legiones Astartes, but the best of the best could arguably be said to have served with the Iron Warriors of Peturabo, rivaled in skill perhaps only by Rogal Dorn and his Imperial Fists, a sibling rivalry and mutual acrimony that continued long after the Heresy had concluded. The stoic nature of the Iron Warriors and their grim attitude toward protracted siege warfare is best summed up in the ancient motto of Legio IV, still repeated by its heretical descendents. “Iron Within, Iron Without.”

The problem for the Iron Warriors was that, even as a Space Marine Legion, there were only so many Astartes with their unique gifts. As a result, in the tradition of armies over countless centuries of warfare, the skilled battlefield engineers, sappers, and artillerists of the Iron Warriors were detached and detached again, used to the point of exhaustion on campaigns stretching over one thousand, thousand worlds, without themselves being given much of the credit for the final victory. Even more difficult for the Iron Warriors was their frequent use as garrison troops. In one incident, we are told of a planet with a population of millions garrisoned by less than a dozen Iron Warriors. Such ceaseless deployment and relegation to an “unfashionable but necessary” branch of the military apparatus would take its toll on even the greatest of warriors. Even the Adeptus Astartes.

During their last campaign on behalf of the Emperor, against the Hrud Xenos, the Iron Warriors learned that their homeworld of Olympia had erupted into open rebellion. Their response was swift, decisive, and brutal. With characteristic callousness, the Iron Warriors set about their duty of suppressing the revolt. By the time they were done, five million Olympians were dead, the rest pressed into slavery. Only at this point does it appear that the Iron Warriors faltered in their stoic service. They appear to have convinced themselves, from Peturabo down, that the act of suppressing the rebellion was an unforgiveable crime – and that joining Horus in open rebellion was the only logical course of action. With the (shameful!) lack of an appropriate novel regarding the Iron Legion at the present time, we can only speculate as to what motivated this belief. The Emperor, for his part, does not seem to have considered the actions of the Legio IV on Olympia to be tantamount to treason (assuming he was aware of them), because we are next acquainted with the Legion when they are ordered to be part of the “reinforcement” force for Ferrus Manus at Istvaan V. With their brothers in the Night Legion and the Alpha Legion, the Iron Warriors opened fired on the Astartes they were supposed to be supporting, earning themselves eternal ignominy. Virtually every version of the Istvaan V story, in both the Old and New Chronology, repeats a similar theme: the breaking wave of Astartes loyalists as they are cut to ribbons on the ramparts of the Iron Warriors fortifications supposedly built to support them.

There may very well have been loyalists among the Iron Warriors - in the Old Chronology virtually every Traitor Legion had at least a handful of dissenters. However, we don't know anything about them at present, lacking any official commentary on the matter.

There is one other possible motivation for Peturabo’s revolt, but it is a controversial one. At some point between the revolt on Olympia and the assault on Terra, Horus presented Peturabo with “Forgebreaker,” a war hammer of considerable pedigree apparently forged by Ferrus Manus in a contest with Fulgrim, who later stole the weapon from him. The hammer may have been the sign of a pact between the two, or it may have been something more sinister, as it has been suggested that Forgebreaker had been possessed by a Chaos Daemon, in the same way that Fulgrim’s personal weapon found itself inhabited by such a being. This is problematic because the current source materials don’t seem to agree upon the time and place of the weapon’s delivery to Peturabo; it is further problematic because, until very recently, GW authors had always maintained that following Chaos was ultimately a matter of choice. Would the mere words of a possessed power weapon have been enough to convince someone as logical and calculating as Peturabo that betrayal of the Emperor was the only logical course of action.
The last significant Heresy-era campaigns waged by the Iron Warriors took place on Terra, where the siege guns of the Iron Warriors are directly credited with bringing down the Imperial ramparts, and later, in a war of attrition with Rogal Dorn and the Imperial Fists – a campaign that nearly cost Dorn his life.

Power Armor Variants
In each of the canon portrayals of Heresy-era Iron Warriors, we see a slightly different type of power armor. This is perhaps not surprising given their skill in siege warfare and the technical aspects thereof, which might necessitate or obligate the use of several different armor styles and unique armor improvements over time. The types of armor depicted include Mk.II “Crusade”, Mk.IV “Maximus”, Mk.V “Heresy”, and Mk.VI “Corvus.” The absence of Mk.III “Iron” armor is curious, given the specific role of this armor and its intended use; on the other hand, soldiers in the Great War discovered that “trench armor” was often more bulky than it was useful in the close confines of trench warfare, and perhaps the Iron Warriors learned the same lesson.

The official livery of Legio IV as it appears in Heresy era sources is a metallic Gunmetal Grey with Gold (or Bronze) trim and red optics. The Iron Warriors frequently made use of yellow/black “construction” or “hazard” striping on their weapons (and occasionally armor) as a nod to their frequent deployment in siege works. The symbol of the Iron Warriors, rendered in polished steel, was an iron mask. The same symbol can be seen throughout the iconography of many Loyalist and Traitor forces of the Post-Heresy era.

The Iron Warriors, as might be expected of a Legion full of stoic, practical Astartes seem to have had very little use for personal ornamentation or decoration, let alone trophies. Heresy-era depictions, however, do exist with members of Fourth Legion hung with skulls gathered from the battlefields of their conquests. They appear to have been in the minority, however.
Post-Heresy, it is said that the Iron Warriors increasingly favored cybernetics rather than the disgrace of mutation. However, during the era we are concerned with in the Notitia, cybernetics among the Iron Warriors were probably pretty rare, and nowhere near as common, or well accepted, as they were with the Iron Hands.

Vehicle Livery
Bizarrely, although the Iron Warriors used a large number of siege engines and tanks during their campaigns, there are actually very few Heresy-era depictions of Iron Warriors vehicles the official sources! The best sources, sometimes mislabled, depict vehicles in the same metallic gunmetal grey with black and gold trim. The black/yellow construction striping is also found in use with these vehicles, as well. Since the Iron Warriors did not change their colors or iconography to a significant degree Post-Heresy, some inspiration might be drawn from their depiction in Post-Heresy sources, minus the notorious “spiky bits.”

It is worth mentioning that many of Chaos Codices produced by GW make mention of the elaborate, almost loving attention bent toward the war machines used by the Iron Warriors. In contrast to the vehicles of their counterparts, the vehicles of the Iron Warriors are said to have been lovingly maintained, their hulls gleaming and oiled, even after the fall of Horus. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to cake them with mud and dirty, given the environment favored by the campaigns to which the Iron Warriors often applied themselves, but extensive battle damage would probably not be something tolerated by an Iron Warrior and his tank crew.

malika - September 18, 2010 02:14 PM (GMT)
Interesting! A small notice. The weapon known as Forgebreaker was made by Fulgrim for Ferrus Manus, not the other way around. Ferrus Manus crafted the sword Fireblade for his brother Fulgrim.

Mithras - September 19, 2010 09:12 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (malika @ Sep 18 2010, 02:14 PM)
Interesting! A small notice. The weapon known as Forgebreaker was made by Fulgrim for Ferrus Manus, not the other way around. Ferrus Manus crafted the sword Fireblade for his brother Fulgrim.

My thanks for the notes, Malika. I will alter appropriately in the next revision.


Algrim Whitefang - December 6, 2012 06:00 PM (GMT)
After reading Graham McNeill's outstanding novel Angel Exterminatus, I wanted to add some more pertinent info for the Iron Warriors:

Specialist Ranks and Formations

*The Trident - The Trident was composed of three exalted Warsmiths of the IV Legion known as the Triarchs who attended Perturabo as his personal advisors. The Trident existed outside the rest of the IV Legion's regular command structure. Together the Trident functioned as the soul of the Iron Warriors, supporting their Primarch and steering the Legion's temperament and decisions. Only those Warsmiths who possessed the necessary qualities of strength and charisma were ever allowed to serve at their Primarch's side. The Lord of Iron expected nothing less than the most extreme discipline and loyalty from his Triarchs, but most of all he expected an unbending obedience to the orders he gave. Each blade of the Trident was as solid and unbending as the hand that wielded it.

*Triarch - An honourary rank reserved only for each of the three exalted Warsmiths who composed the IV Legion's advisory Trident.

*Dodekatheon - Named after the twelve ruling tyrants of the Iron Warriors' homeworld of Olympia, the Dodekatheon was the mason's order of the Iron Warriors Legion which had been gathering aboard Iron Warriors starships before their Primarch Perturabo had even been reunited with his gene-sons. It was a meeting place of builders and warriors, where new structural designs were unveiled, past battles refought and new theorems of war given voice. Every warrior of the IV Legion was welcome within its embrace, but in practice only those of rank had the opportunity to attend any of its lodge meetings. The Dodekatheon served the role of a Warrior Lodge found in some of the other Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras, and would also serve as the conduit through which the IV Legion was ultimately corrupted by Chaos and entered the service of the rebellious Warmaster Horus.

*Honourable - An honourary rank held by the esteemed member of the Iron Warriors that conducted the meetings of the Dodekatheon.

*Warsmith - Warsmith was an honourary rank held by the senior Astartes Captains who commanded the IV Legion's Grand Battalions. It was granted for exceptional skill and valour in carrying out the Legion's assaults and gave its bearer command over several of the IV Legion's companies, which were combined into the larger unit known as a Grand Battalion. After the end of the Horus Heresy, the title would later be the name given to the Chaos Lord who commanded each of the Iron Warriors' myriad warbands of Chaos Space Marines.

*Iron Circle - Formed in the wake of the attack aboard his flagship, the Iron Blood, during the Battle of Phall, the Iron Circle was a self-sustaining unit of implacable killers, devoted servants and incorruptible praetorians all in one. The Iron Circle was composed of six Colossus-class battle robots who served as the Primarch Perturabo's Shield Breakers and personal Honour Guard during the Horus Heresy. Each automaton bore the heraldry of a Legion warrior, and their cold machine hearts were loyal in the way it was only possible for an unthinking machine to be.

*Stor-bezashk - The Stor-bezshk were the siege masters of the Iron Warriors Legion, a host of ordnance and heavy artillery specialists which commanded firepower like no other. They were also explosives experts and were responsible for crafting the necessary earth-breaching charges in the construction of massive siege-works once the most functional and desirable location had been identified.

*Pneumachina - The Tech-priests of the Mechanicum that attended the Iron Warriors Legion were known as the Pneumachina and crafted hybrid machines fashioned from the wreckage of damaged vehicles and strange machinery torn from the citadels of conquered foes. The Pneumachina constantly worked with feverish intensity in their sealed forges, crafting ever-more lethal machines, some blatant in their purpose, but others less obvious. They also performed most of the laborious functions required for the construction of citadels on newly conquered worlds as well as general repair and maintenance functions for the IV Legion as a whole.

*Selucid Thorakite - The Selucid Thorakite was composed of Imperial Army regiments raised from natural-born Olympian soldiers who had joined with the Iron Warriors in the genocide of their homeworld in the days just before the IV Legion went over to the cause of Horus. The Thorakitai were grim-faced men and women who wore faded khaki, scaled breastplates and combat helms fashioned in the image of the helms used as part of the Astartes' suits of Mark IV Power Armour.

Algrim Whitefang - December 6, 2012 06:25 PM (GMT)
Some more notes of interest in regards to Perturabo and his formidable weapon Forgebreaker:

Forgebreaker was a massive hammer 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. This weapon was a gift from the Warmaster himself and was no hammer for smithing, no tool of the forge and no symbol of unity. Forgebreaker was a killing weapon, an instrument of death and nothing more.

Following the slaughter of the populace of Olympia had come the realisation that nothing Perturabo ever did from that moment on could ever atone for the worldwide genocide committed by the IV Legion. Perturabo believed that the Emperor would never forgive him so grievous a sin, but Horus had not only forgiven it, he had lauded his 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. Fools claimed that when the Horus had gifted Forgebreaker to the Lord of Iron, it had sealed the pact between the Warmaster and the Iron Warriors, but only Perturabo knew it was forgiveness that bound the Iron Warriors to Horus Lupercal.

Physical Description of Perturabo:
The Lord of Iron possessed eyes of the coldest blue, like ice-burned steel, which glittered in the half-light of the day. His scalp was shaven bare, pierced and threaded with dreadlocks of tightly wound cabling. Perturabo wore a mantle of interlocking steel leaves draped from his broad shoulders like the hide of some great silver-scaled dragon, and the primarch’s raised gorget threw a ruddy light across his chiseled features.

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