Master of the First (Audio Drama)
Master of the First is an audio drama in the Horus Heresy series. It was written by Gav Thorpe and performed by Gareth Armstrong, Tim Bentinck, Jane Collingwood and Jonathan Keeble. It was first released on the 24th of October, 2014. It was released in a box set with The Long Night (Audio Drama). A prose version was released as part of "The Horus Heresy Quick Reads Subscription" week on 24 February 2016, which was renamed the "Legions Divided Quick Read Collection". The story was also included in the anthology Eye of Terra.
The Dark Angels and the Night Lords fought one another to a bloody stalemate during the Thramas Crusade, leaving the First Legion scattered and under-strength. Back on Caliban, those Dark Angels loyal to Luther begin to grow impatient for a return to past glories, allowing the corruption at the world's heart to spread.
After Luther had completed his subsequent effective complete takeover of Caliban, Astelan was contacted by one of his company commanders, Captain Melian, with concerns about the direction things were heading in on the planet, particularly that the new Legionaries swore to defend Caliban instead of swearing allegiance to the Emperor. Astelan expressed ambivalence about Luther's changes, pointing out that that as a force ordered to remain on one world, without naval elements and apparently forgotten about, the Calibanite Dark Angels were effectively irrelevant to the progress of the Great Crusade and so may as well take as much pride as possible in just being Caliban's planetary defense force. Astelan also noted, in reviewing logs provided by Melian, that Luther ordered Zahariel El'Zurias to join Cypher on a secret mission.
However, on learning that Captain Melian spoke for a group of officers and veterans, including Chapter Masters Neriedes and Temure, who were preparing to take militant action against Luther in order for their concerns to be recognised, Astelan agreed to aid them in planning a more legal and bloodless move against the planetary commander. With the aide of Marchesa-Colonel Bethalin Tylain, commander of the Imperial planetary defense forces, he provided his plan to the conspirators. They suggested commandeering a secondary communications spire at Redevakh and sending messages to Terra and the Lion requesting restoration of the original Legion protocols and command structure until the Lion could assay the situation personally. Until the Lion returned, they would simply detain Luther.
The conspirators agreed with the plan, though not without them slightly warily noting that, under old Legion protocols, Astelan would become the legion commander. Astelan assuaged their concerns by stating that a committee would be formed to decide who the new legion commander would be. Regardless, the plan was carried out; the bulk of the conspirators would head to the spire on a "live ammunition training exercise," while most of the ringleaders - including Astelan - would confront and arrest Luther. Luther when the conspirators burst into his chamber and held him under arrest. Astelan used a hololith projector to show the forces attacking the communication spire.
Astelan then contacted Tylaine, the commander of the Army forces garrisoning the tower, and ordered her to proceed with their previously agreed plan; the Army forces and a company of Dark Angels under the command of Astelan's subordinate, Captain Galedan, suddenly attacked the conspirator's column. Realisation dawning, Luther joined Astelan in turning upon the ringleaders, and, with him, defeated them all. Most of the conspirators surrendered rather than fight other Space Marines, and the little rebellion was quickly over before it could truly begin. In fact, there were so many prisoners that there wasn't enough space for them all in the dungeons of Aldurukh; Astelan counselled that Luther simply carve out new ones.
Luther also questioned why Astelan had allowed the conspiracy to get so far along, rather than just reveal it to him immediately, suspecting that Astelan may have truly wished it to work and only switched sides to curry favour; after all, according to Luther, Astelan's dislike of Caliban and Calibanite ways was "well known". Astelan stated that he considered the Lion a taint, that in his opinion everything had gone wrong in the First Legion since discovering him, and that he would rather serve a more worthy lord, especially one whom he suspected also wished to rid the legion of the Lion. Astelan dared Luther to say that he intended otherwise, and Luther remained silent.
Luther's first act afterwards was to agree to promote Astelan's lieutenant, Galedan, to Chapter Master. Galedan confessed to his former commander that he was pleased that their previous comrade, the conspirator, Melian, had survived, intimating that he would be useful to them when Astelan inevitably attempted to depose Luther as Master of the First Legion. Astelan protested that he had no such plans...for the moment.
- 1: Master of the First (Audio Drama)