Member No.: 21
Joined: 15-January 08
Version 1.0. Comments, etc. always welcome.
LEGIO IV “IRON WARRIORS”
Homeworld: Olympia (Location Classified; Uninhabitable)
Status: EXCOMMVINICATE TRAITORIS
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.
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.