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Black Legion

The Black Legion, formerly known as the Luna Wolves and the Sons of Horus, were the XVI Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch was Horus, known to them as Horus Lupercal, and to Imperial history as the instigator of the Horus Heresy, the first great Imperial civil war. Originally named the Luna Wolves, the legion adopted the moniker 'Sons of Horus' after Horus' ascension to Imperial Warmaster. Some time after their defeat in the Horus Heresy, they were renamed the 'Black Legion' by their new commander, Ezekyle Abaddon, also known as Abaddon the Despoiler. Largely since disintegrated as a unified Legion, they can be found operating in countless small warbands across the galaxy, apart from when called together under Abaddon's banner to spearhead one of his notorious Black Crusades.[1]

Marine Basic Data Current Symbol
BlackLegionMarine.jpg
- Black Legion -
Legion Number: XVI
Primarch: Horus Lupercal
Homeworld Pre-Heresy: Cthonia
Homeworld Current: None. They operate from a dust nebula at the edge of the Eye of Terror [2x]
Chaos God: Chaos Undivided
Colours: Black, gold, silver
Specialty: Flexible organisation and eliminating enemy command structure
Battle Cry: We are returned! Death to the False Emperor!
Blackleglogo.gif
Pre-Heresy Symbol
Luna Wolves Legionssymbol.jpg

Contents

Homeworld

The Luna Wolves are said to have originated from a world called Cthonia; this planet allegedly existed in one of Terra's closest neighbouring star systems. Being within reach even for non-warp spacecraft, Cthonia had been colonised, built upon, tunnelled and mined out probably since the dawn of space travel. As such, all natural resources had been stripped away and used up millennia before, and the ancient mining technology had long since been rediscovered and removed by the Adepts of Mars. The planet that remained was largely redundant and abandoned, completely riddled with catacombs, crumbling industrial plants and exhausted mine-workings. It is noted as no longer extant in current Imperial records, believed to have cataclysmically lost geo-structural integrity in the centuries after the Horus Heresy. Many put this down to the fact that the planet was tunneled and mined right though to the (dead) planetary core, but there is much conjecture that Cthonia was deliberately destroyed, by person or persons unknown.[1]

Cthonia was so close to Terra that it appears that at least one Cthonian native was able to travel to Terra during the Unification Era, before becoming one of the first Luna Wolves.[5a]

History

The Black Legion was originally known as the XVI Legion and following the First Pacification of Luna, the Luna Wolves. They were the legion of Horus himself. In honour of Horus's great achievements during the Great Crusade, the Emperor of Mankind decreed that the legion should be renamed the Sons of Horus. Sometime after their defeat and exile in the Horus Heresy, the legion renamed themselves as the Black Legion in an attempt to reinvent themselves and lose their ties to the great failures of their past.[1]

The Great Crusade

Formation - The Luna Wolves

Pre-Heresy Luna Wolves Space Marine

The original Luna Wolves are believed to have had a somewhat unusual origin; they were effectively kidnapped from Cthonia by 'recruitment squads' sent from Terra charged with the task of rounding up thousands of individuals from the violent gangs that infested the ancient world. These 'recruits' were then taken to geno-laboratories on Luna for the modification and indoctrination required to become Space Marines. The early Luna Wolves, known at this point as only the XVIth Legion, were only roughly one thousand strong but nonetheless Pacified Luna, becoming known as the Emperor's Wolves during the conflict. Despite this somewhat forced beginning, the end results were reckoned to be exemplary loyal and ferociously motivated troops. By the time Horus was placed in charge of them, they were ten thousand strong.[1]. Upon the discovery of Horus, the Emperor renamed them the Luna Wolves in honor of their past victories and baptism of fire on Earth's moon.[19a]

Horus, the Primarch of the Luna Wolves, was the first of the Primarchs to be recovered by the Emperor, having been cast much closer to Terra than the others. Horus was for many years the Emperor's only discovered son, and there was a great affinity between them. The Emperor spent much time with his protege, teaching and encouraging him, and soon gave him command of the legion created from his own genetic code. With these warriors to lead, Horus accompanied the Emperor for the first thirty years of the Great Crusade, and together they forged the initial expansion of the young Imperium.[1]

Combat Disposition and Record

Unlike almost all other Legions, the Luna Wolves were led by their Primarch almost from inception. Not only that, they spent decades fighting under the direct supervision of the Emperor himself. This led to them thinking of themselves as the pre-eminent Legion, and led to a prideful and confident mentality. They strove to be the best; to conquer more than the other Legions, faster than them, and better than them. It is arguable that they succeeded in these aims, but equally arguable that their 'successful' combat records do not exactly stand up to close scrutiny.[1]

The Early Crusade

The Luna Wolves advance

As Horus and the Emperor spent much of the initial Great Crusade together, the Luna Wolves were present at all of the Emperor's early victories, winning great glory for themselves. Incidents from these early campaigns that highlighted the bond between the ruler of the Imperium and their commander would become legend throughout the galaxy. At the city of Rellis, Horus was knocked senseless by a plasma blast that sent him sprawling to the floor; the Emperor stood over his downed son and slew all that came near until reinforcements arrived. Horus was able to repay this life-debt later, on the Ork world of Gorro, when the Emperor found himself being choked by a huge Ork warlord in hand-to-hand combat; Horus stepped in and struck the Ork's arm from his body.[1]

Eventually, however, the Emperor received word that another Primarch had been discovered, and left the side of Horus and the Luna Wolves to meet his newly found son. Horus was given temporary command of all the Imperial Legions during this time, an indicator of how highly he was esteemed. While Horus was pleased that one of his missing brothers had been found, the thirty years spent as the Emperor's only child had made their mark; he determined that he would always make the Emperor proudest of his and his legion's achievements.[1]

As more and more primarchs were discovered, and other business of the growing Imperium required the Emperor's direct attention, Horus found himself placed in in overall strategic command of large swathes of the Imperial Crusade forces on several occasions. His excellence in this role drew praise not only from his father, but from his brothers; Horus was apparently universally respected by the other Space Marine Legions and their Primarchs. One of the reasons for this was that Horus appeared able to use his forces in flexible ways; able to unleash his Luna Wolves if required, but also able to use them as diplomats. He developed a habit of partaking in local customs whenever bringing a new world into the Imperium, and the Luna Wolves were exposed to many such traditions as a result; the most important of these would be the practice of warrior-lodges.[1] While a form of warrior-lodge had existed in the legion since it's early days, after the compliance of a world known as Davin, it became more popular and even somewhat ritualised, something that would have serious implications in the legion's future.[3a][4a]

The Luna Wolves also acquired all the glory of being the greatest Primarch's personal guard, and they shared Horus' credo of fighting to be the best. Under his ambitious command, the Luna Wolves were always at the forefront of the latest campaign, energetically pushing the boundaries of the Imperium ever wider, driving further and further into the galaxy and striving to conquer and liberate more worlds than the other Legions, destroying all enemies of humanity in their way.[1]

"I thought the Luna Wolves were supposed to be the most aggressive of us all. That's how you like the other legions to think of you, isn't it? The most feared of mankind's warrior classes?"
"Our reputation speaks for itself, sir."

--Sigismund of the Imperial Fists in conversation with Garviel Loken of the Luna Wolves.[3e]

The Ullanor Crusade

Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Luna Wolves, the Ullanor Crusade became a feted military campaign of the Imperium and to many is seen as the high watermark of the Great Crusade itself. The Ullanor sector was the domain of the Ork Overlord Urlakk Urg, who ruled over dozens of human-founded worlds. Determined to exterminate the Orks, Horus distracted them by ordering secondary attacks on the outlying worlds by other Space Marine Legions and Imperial Army regiments. With the focus of the Orks on these invasions of their borders, the Luna Wolves dived straight for the throat, initiating a surprise orbital drop directly onto Urlakk Urg's capital world. Horus led his 1st Company Terminator elite into a personal teleport attack on Urg's palace. With the majority of the Terminators dealing with the Ork defenders, Horus led ten of the best into combat with Urg and his own forty-strong retinue. The fight was a hard one, but Horus eventually slew the Ork, casting his broken body out from the battlements of his tower, demoralising his Ork followers. Of the fight between the ten Terminators and the forty Orks, there was only one survivor: First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon.[1]

At the successful conclusion of the Ullanor Crusade a year later, the Emperor declared it the greatest victory yet for his mighty Imperium and was said to bestow much praise upon the Luna Wolves and Horus for their part in the campaign. At the subsequent Triumph of Ullanor, the Emperor himself bestowed upon Horus the title of Warmaster, making him the supreme commander of the Emperor's forces and effectively giving him complete military control of the Great Crusade. The Emperor also suggested, before he returned to Terra and left the rest of the Crusade to Horus, that Horus should rename his legion to cement his position as Warmaster.[1] The suggested name was the Sons of Horus. Horus initially declined this honour and his Legion continued as the Luna Wolves.[3b][3]

Transformation - The Sons of Horus

Heresy-era Sons of Horus Space Marine

Increasingly concerned, however, with a belief that some of the other Primarchs and their Legions did not show him and his Wolves enough honour in their roles as the Warmaster and his personal Legion, Horus, at the suggestion of Sanguinius[3b], eventually took up the offer made to him by the Emperor to change the name and iconography of Legion XVI. Shortly after the Interex campaign the Luna Wolves became the Sons of Horus.[4x]

Not long after the change, Horus was wounded on the moon of Davin by Eugen Temba, an old subordinate who was under the influence of the Chaos Power Nurgle. Horus recovered in the Temple of the Serpent Lodge, a warrior and healing lodge on the planet. During his convalescence, he took part in the induction ceremony of the lodge. In the days that followed, some of Horus's officers detected a change in his character. It is now known that the warrior lodge was in fact a Chaos coven, which somehow managed to ensnare the Warmaster, allegedly due to scheming from Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers.[4x]

A similar warrior lodge already existed in his own Legion, started after the Luna Wolves' first visit to Davin - this was an example of the Primarch's well-tried practice to develop ties with local populations at work; feral natives were more easily recruited into the Imperial fold when the 'Warriors from the Stars' had become brothers - and it is believed it was subsequently used by the Primarch to aid in the corruption of his Marines. Warrior lodges in other legions under his command were similarly used. Horus' fealty had changed; his Legion eventually came to believe that he was actually possessed by a Daemon. Whether or not this is true, it is certain that he was now allied body and soul to the Powers of Chaos, and he had a new vision for the Imperium with himself at its head.[1]

By the beginning of the Horus Heresy, the Sons of Horus numbered between 130,000 and 170,000 Space Marines and were considered one of the larger Legions of the Legio Astartes.[19b]

The Horus Heresy

The Sons of Horus attack

The majority of the Sons of Horus, already fiercely loyal and proud of their Warmaster, had no hesitation. They quickly renounced their oaths to the Emperor and started to worship Horus and his new gods. The remaining portion of the Legion was betrayed and wiped out by their brothers on the world of Isstvan III, but not before reverting to the use of their original name, the Luna Wolves.[5a] The only known surviving Sons of Horus loyalist, Iacton Qruze, was not present on Isstvan III, but he similarly reverted to the name and even the iconography of the Luna Wolves after the events known as 'the Flight of the Eisenstein.[6]

Outside the Legion, Horus' corruption spread to every organisation with which he had dealings, including a division of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and from there to the Collegia Titanica and the Legio Cybernetica. The other Primarchs Horus knew like brothers, and was already well practiced at motivating them. Appealing to their pride, martial prowess and courage while playing upon past grudges and favours, the Warmaster gained the loyalty of fully half the Primarchs. The war that followed was the most terrible in the history of the Imperium, and came close to shattering it forever. Space Marines fought Space Marines and Titans fought Titans as Terra was invaded, and the Emperor's Palace itself was besieged and breached.[1]

In the end, though, it was Horus who was slain, and with him died the rebellion. On the 55th day of the siege, Horus, in a bid to end the campaign quickly, lowered the shields around his flagship, daring the Emperor to board it. He did so, and although he was brought low in their resultant duel, Horus was killed. It was a traumatic and devastating blow for the Sons of Horus, who immediately broke off from their assault upon the planet below. The remnants of the Imperial boarding party who had not already left were scoured from the vessel by Abaddon and his 1st Company Terminators.[1]

Horus Heresy Aftermath

Degradation - The Black Legion

The Black Legion invades.

Horus's death broke the Sons of Horus' morale, and they were the first of the Traitor Legions to retreat from Terra, an act that would earn them the hatred of all the other Traitor Legions. The Legion re-grouped on the world of Maeleum inside the Eye of Terror. There they built a fortress-tomb for the safe-keeping of the Warmaster's corpse and even in death still revered him as their commander. Nobody was appointed in his place and the Captains of the Legion would offer sacrifices and pray for guidance in his shrine.[1]

The Sons of Horus were initially the most aggressive Legion against the Imperium, as if to atone for their previous cowardice on Terra or perhaps to attempt to 're-prove' that they were still the best Legion. The Sons dedicated themselves not to one single Chaos Power, but constantly shifted their allegiance to whatever god suited them at the time. Marines willingly became possessed by the Chaos gods' daemons; with every change in loyalty, the daemons of the rejected god abandoned the hosts, leaving them lifeless husks. The once great Legion constantly dwindled in number, until they neared extinction. Eventually the desperate experimentation and research by the Legion's Sorcerer-Librarians uncovered a method of possession that did not destroy the mortal host, saving the Legion.[1]

The Traitor Legions, along with the restored but still numerically inferior Sons of Horus, then became embroiled in a series of internecine wars triggered by the Emperor's Children legion, culminating in the destruction of the Sons of Horus' fortress. To the disgust of the Sons of Horus, the Warmaster's corpse was taken by the Emperor's Children and several clones were created by their self-styled 'Primogenitor', Fabius Bile.[1]

At this point Abaddon, Captain of the 1st Company (himself rumoured to be a clone of Horus), took the position of Warmaster and leader of his legion. Under him, the Sons rejected Horus's name and painted their armour black. Abaddon led this new "Black Legion" in a lightning raid, destroying the corpse and the clones of the Warmaster. The Legion fled onboard their remaining space vessel into further exile. They have raided the Eye of Terror and the Imperium ever since.[1]

Notable Engagements

The Great Crusade

See main article - Notable Battles of the Luna Wolves

The Horus Heresy

Post Heresy

Gene-seed

The gene-seed of the Luna Wolves was always considered reliably pure. However, following their dedications to Chaos, the Space Marines of the Sons of Horus started to exhibit random mutations, and it is likely that this taint went right down to the gene-seed level. The regular practice of seeking Daemonic possession may also have accelerated the effect. However, such mutations in the reborn Legion are seen as a mark of favour from the Chaos deities and are generally displayed with pride.[1]

One unique feature of the Luna Wolves pre-heresy was the high incidence of battle-brothers bearing a strong physical resemblance to Horus. These "Sons of Horus", as they were so nicknamed, were prone to rising through the ranks faster than their brothers.[3c]

Culture

The Luna Wolves were a highly efficient military force that thrived on the personal charisma, ambition and pride of their Primarch. These traits carry on into both their organisation and their motivation, with ambition, brotherhood and pride all being notable features of their inner workings.

The Speartip

Black Legion Terminator.

The overriding belief of the Legion prior to the death of Horus and their defeat at Terra was their complete superiority above all the other Legions, and indeed any and all enemies. In continually seeking to prove themselves as the greatest Legion, they did indeed achieve most in terms of sheer numbers of worlds brought into compliance prior to the outbreak of the Heresy; the Legion in its loyalist incarnation was a flexible fighting force that performed well and adapted quickly to almost any combat situation. It was trained to respond sharply and decisively to the tactical orders of its Warmaster and consequently the chain of command within the Legion was very efficient.[1]

Each Company was commanded by a Captain, but not all Captains commanded a Company: The 1st Company was considered the elite unit in the legion and sported at least two renowned squads led by senior officers, the Justaerin Terminator Squad commanded by Captain Falkus Kibre and Catulan Reaver (Assault) Squad, commanded by Captain Kalus Ekaddon. These squads, and possibly all of 1st Company, wore black-painted armour, in contrast to the white and later pale green of the rest of the legion. Companies contained mixed squad-types, to ensure tactical flexibility. This included fielding Terminator Squads outside of the 1st Company. [3d]

The principle tactic of the legion - one illustrative of their overall attitude - was a decisive surgical assault aimed directly at the command element of the enemy. A compact but hard-hitting force of marines up to several companies strong would compose the initial (and ideally total) thrust of the effort; this battle philosophy was referred to as the Speartip. [3f] Their defeat and exile was a crushing blow to the collective ego of the Legion, and they broke down and fragmented easily without a purpose or powerful leader to act as the point of their spear. The Legion suffered significantly during the early years of exile when it was leaderless, though since Abaddon's overlordship it has regained a sense of discipline and purpose. Horus's favoured doctrine of 'tearing the throat out of the enemy' by eliminating their high command in a swift strike, remains a well-used tactic.[1]

All Black Legion leaders, from the remaining veterans of the Horus Heresy, to the more recently raised, are both cunning and ferocious. The Legion's tactics have been shaped by its lack of numerical strength compared to other Legions, and commanders are adept at using their troops to the best effect[1].

After the death of Horus, proper structure within the squads and companies disintegrated, and their later dispersal in various spacecraft further fragmented the Legion. Now warbands of virtually any size and composition can be found following Black Legion Champions - ranking officers from older times or newly emerged leaders who have won favour through their violent deeds. At times, such warbands rally together under the banner of a greater Champion or even Abaddon himself, for a major raid or incursion into the hated Imperium. However, loyalty to differing Chaos gods often leads to internal politics and conflict. Possession by daemons is still considered highly favourable, and many members of the Legion strive for the honour of being hosts.[1]

The Mournival

With the Primarch as the apex of the legion's order-of-battle, the next step downwards was filled by the Mournival. Although not an official institution, in practice it was this advisory council that helped the Warmaster finalise and execute his strategies. The four Mournival brothers were seen as the senior Captains of the legion.[3g]

The Lodge

Within the Legion's command structure existed the secretive warrior-lodge, where marines of all ranks and placements could mingle freely and talk openly without having to follow customary rank discipline. Membership was by invite only, and the lodge-members identified each other by the wearing of a silver medallion emblazoned with the Luna Wolf symbol. This system brought individual marines even closer together and increased their bonds of brotherhood and loyalty toward each other, likely increasing combat performance. However, it would eventually aid in the dissolution of the legion's organisation.[3h][5][4x]

Recruitment

Once considered a large legion, the Black Legion were long considered numerically inferior to other Chaos Space Marine legions since their defeats in the great inter-Legionary wars.[1] While the number of original Legionaries remaining is unknown, and it is unknown how or even if the Black Legion recruit new implantation candidates, it is known that they recruit Marines from other Legions and renegade Chapters.[8x]

In spite of these difficulties, by M41 the Black Legion was the largest of the Traitor Legions, having ten times the numbers possessed by the Word Bearers.[11] This is aided by their policy of absorbing other Chaos Space Marines and their warbands into their own ranks, regardless of which God of Chaos they may follow, if any.[20]

Fleet

At the time of the 13th Black Crusade, the fleet of the Black Legion had grown enormously, comparable to Imperial Navy Battlefleets in size. These included seven Battleships, thirteen Heavy Cruisers, twenty-three Cruiser squadrons, and thirty Escort squadrons.[14] The Black Legion fleet is also in possession of a number of superweapons, such as the Planet Killer and multiple Blackstone Fortresses. The flagship of the Black Legion's fleet and Abaddon himself remains the Battle Barge Vengeful Spirit.[8a]

Noted Elements of the Black Legion

Artifacts

Vessels

Notable Members

Heresy-Era
Post-Heresy

Known warbands

Though the Black Legion is the largest and most organized of the Traitor Legions, it still operates a number of warbands that work in isolation and pursue their own agendas until they are called upon by their master. Others like the Thrice-Cursed Traitors may try to challenge Abaddon's authority.[20]

Known warbands include:

Additional Information

See Also

Trivia and Notes

TriviaScroll.jpg
The following information is not to be regarded as officially sanctioned and/ or is not written from an in-universe point of view.
A detailed explanation of the term "Trivia" and "Varia" as used in the Lexicanum can be found here.
VariaScroll.jpg
  • Cthonia is presumably a reference to the Greek Chthonia a complex word with connotations to dead domains under the earth and the spirits of the underworld. Cthonic spirits can be both fruitful and destructive; in the positive sense they are referred to as part of the concept of rebirth - the earth that nurtures. In the negative, they are akin to the revenants of the dead come to claim more souls for hell. Compare to the dead, mined-out state of the Luna Wolves homeworld and the role it had in birthing Chaos Space Marines.
  • The Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus were considered a large Space Marine Legion and had at least 25 Companies at one point during the Great Crusade. While no maximum headcount for the legion has been given, when the Luna Wolves 10th Company was deployed in entirety during the Whisperhead action on Sixty-Three-Nineteen it numbered approximately 600 marines.[3] If 25 companies existed with the same strength, the Legion at one point could have numbered around 15,000 marines. This is worth noting as the generally perceived sizes of Legions have fluctuated over the years; for some time the 'small legions' concept presented by the Index Astartes articles was prevalent, and the initial novels in the Horus Heresy Series were written with it in mind. This was later quietly retconned during the series to fit in with the 'large legions' concept put forth by such works as Collected Visions. When the baseline number for legions was 10,000, there being 15,000 Luna Wolves would indeed make them one of the larger legions, and would fit in with numbers presented later in the series (for the number of combatants present at the Drop Site Massacre as given in Fulgrim, for example). Since the move to the legion baseline being 100,000, the Luna Wolves must be thought of as having between 100,000 and 150,000 (the number of Word Bearers, the 2nd biggest legion) marines and the amount of Legionaries in Loken's company becomes merely an illustrative number rather than a useful statistic.

Sources

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