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The Primarchs (Anthology)

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2drones.gif This article is about the The Primarchs (Anthology), for the Space Marine Primarchs see Primarch


The Primarchs
Primarchs.jpg
Cover illustration by Neil Roberts
Editor Christian Dunn
Publisher Black Library
Series Horus Heresy Series
Authors Nick Kyme, Graham McNeill, Rob Sanders, Gav Thorpe
Preceded by Age of Darkness
Followed by Shadows of Treachery
Released May 29, 2012
Pages 416
Editions 2012 softcover:
ISBN 978-1849702089

2012 audio book:
ISBN 9780857876386

The Primarchs is an anthology in the Horus Heresy Series, which was released on May 29, 2012.[1]

It is the seventh volume in the Horus Heresy series to make the New York Times bestseller list, and the second such anthology, after Age of Darkness.

Contents

About

Gathered within this anthology are four novellas focusing on some of the mightiest warriors and leaders that mankind has ever known – Fulgrim, Lion El'Jonson, Ferrus Manus and Alpharius Omegon – and the roles that they may have yet to play in a war which threatens to change the face of the Imperium forever.[1]

Spoiler!
This page contains spoilers for: The Primarchs (Anthology)


The Reflection Crack'd

by Graham McNeill
performed by Jonathan Keeble

Synopsis

In the aftermath of the Drop Site Massacre, Fulgrim and his Emperor's Children Legion are ordered to Mars by the Warmaster Horus Lupercal. The increasingly capricious Fulgrim however, decides to assault a Mechanicus resource world instead, in order to further his own designs. When this change of plan is questioned by Lord Commander Eidolon, the Primarch reacts to this perceived slight against his judgement by slaying his once-favoured subordinate on the spot.

While far from upset at the death of Eidolon, the ascendant Emperor's Children champion, Lucius, takes note of the event as yet another concerning example of Fulgrim's increasingly erratic behaviour. Inspired by dark dreams, Lucius becomes suspicious of his primarch, and proceeds to study him closely. Already concerned by his random mood swings, unconvincing attempts at legion camaraderie and remembrance, and above all by the realisation that Fulgrim's sword-fighting technique is suddenly inferior to his own, Lucius finally decides that Fulgrim is not who he appears to be after witnessing him employing sorcerous powers in open combat. Following the threads planted by his dreams, he breaks a standing order aboard the legion flagship, The Pride of the Emperor, to stay out of La Fenice, the opera chamber where the Emperor's Children were awakened by the discord and potential of Chaos. Investigating the chamber, he encounters the portrait of the Primarch hung there, a portrait that has been appearing in his dreams, and gazing at the eyes of the painting, he comes to the conclusion that his Primarch is somehow trapped within and that the entity walking around as Fulgrim is an imposter.

Determined to free Fulgrim, Lucius convenes the Brotherhood of the Phoenix, the senior members of the Legion. Such an action is not without risks in the chaotic Emperor's Children, as by this time of the Legion's (de)evolution each surviving senior officer is a powerful, mercurial and above all, self-obsessed individual, and all of them carry a loathing of the upstart Lucius. However, when he makes his accusation, the swordsman learns that he is not without allies: First Captain Julius Kaesoron reveals that he already had suspicions that Fulgrim was not who he said he was, and Chief Apothecary Fabius reveals that his tests of Fulgrim's blood indicate that the Primarch is upon the verge of some strange transformation. With this knowledge, Lucius is able to convince them that Fulgrim is not himself, and tempt them into the experience of attempting to capture a Primarch. Shortly afterward, they ambush Fulgrim and, despite taking casualties, the phoenix conspirators manage to render their primarch unconscious.

Strapping him down upon a table in the Apothecarion Lucius, Fabius, Kaesoron and Marius Vairosean attempt to drive the entity possessing their master out of his body by means of excruciation. A protracted torture session takes place, with Fulgrim submitting to all the works inflicted upon him, talking all the while of his perception of reality, current events, and the path he envisages for the Legion. Eventually, Lucius comes to another shocked realisation; that he has been both misled and miscalculated the situation. Suddenly believing that the person under torture is indeed his Primarch, Lucius bows his knee as Fulgrim easily frees himself from the torture rack, contented that the game is over and that his favoured sons have learned from the experience.

Fulgrim then deigns to explain just why Lucius thought him an imposter in the first place, revealing that he had indeed been possessed by a daemonic entity for some time, an entity that had trapped his disembodied spirit in the painting in La Fenice. However, Fulgrim was able to use the experience to learn of warpcraft and the ways of daemonkind, eventually being able to use this newly gained knowledge to forcibly swap places with the daemon, trapping it in the painting in his stead. It was presumably the daemon that was sending Lucius the dreams and clues in an attempt to be freed. Fulgrim's apparent inferiority in swordsmanship was just a ploy to tease Lucius into challenging him, in an attempt to further educate the swordsman in the powers of Chaos, and his mood swings and lack of interest in Legion history and camaraderie were simply an honest evolution of his nature. Fulgrim announces that he intends to go further than anyone ever before in experience and learning, pushing the limits to their extremes, not just to gain power, but for the journey; a journey he wants his Legion to take also. The next step on the journey? To link up with Perturabo and the Iron Warriors as part of a scheme to further this goal.

Setting

Characters

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Synopsis

The campaign on One-Five-Four Four is not going well for the Imperial forces, and especially not for Ferrus Manus, primarch of the Iron Hands Legiones Astartes, who is troubled not only by the existence of the weaknesses within, but by the hinderances without as well; the terrain and fluid savagery of the Eldar enemies are taking a toll on his battle-group and placing him behind schedule. Even the latest victory, a battle commanded by his determined First Captain, Gabriel Santar, does not satisfy him, and neither does the proving correct of the Iron Hands' creed; the flesh is weak, at least out in the desert and at least where the attached regiments of the Imperial Army are concerned. Not only is Manus concerned with being behind schedule, and losing face in front of his brothers Mortarion and Vulkan, but the possibility that Eldar witchcraft could be causing his Astartes to under-perform fills him with ire.

Confessing his unease to Santar, Manus reveals that he has had strange dreams of late. What he does not reveal is that the sooner he gets the campaign finished and off the world, the better he'll feel. Deciding to abandon the Army if they cannot keep up, Ferrus Manus leads his forces deeper into the desert. Bion Henricos, acting as a liason between the legion and the soldiery, communicates this intention to their colonel, feeling a surprising twinge of remorse as he does so.

Unbeknownst to Ferrus Manus, two Eldar discuss his fate; one decides to intervene, to make sure that Manus walks along the more positive of the two possible paths leading to his future. The other warns against it, telling him that "stone cannot bend, it can only break."

The Iron Hands arrive at a suspicious valley; Ferrus Manus feels that it is important somehow, but is loathe to investigate it without a scout unit, something his current legion force is lacking. Henricos suggests waiting for the Army units to catch up and using their scouts - thus reinvigorating them by making them feel valued - but is shot down by his superior officers. Unwilling to wait any longer and not interested in using weaker units, Manus orders the Iron Hands to descend into the valley. Not long after the bulk of them reach the valley floor, a mysterious darkness engulfs them, followed by wind, storm and ambush. Eldar warriors engage the disorientated Iron Hands at close quarters, deploying a weapon which over-rode their controls of their bionics, robbing those with bionic eyes of sight, and turning the weapons held in bionic hands against each other...or their owners. The Iron Hands assault force is saved by the actions of Bion Henricos' rearguard, who're able to pick off the Eldar witches causing the sorcerous attacks. The Eldar retreat, leaving the Iron Hands to recover from the virtues of their own creed being turned against them...and notice that Ferrus Manus is missing...

Manus finds himself in a cavern system, assaulted by various visions and other sensory perceptions of death; that of his legion, his colleagues and even his own. He also comes across metaphorical representations of his brothers, and is momentarily puzzled by the feelings of betrayal looking at the statue of Fulgrim engenders. Combined with all this, he feels pursued by a malignant, serpentine entity. Irritated by such witchery, he presses onwards in exploring the caverns.

Gabriel Santar details fifty Terminators to assist him in the search, and assigns legion command to Shadrak Meduson, who is to continue their mission. Meduson and the straggling Army units eventually locate the enemy node complex they've been seeking to destroy, while Santar's team discover signs that Ferrus Manus actually vanished. Realising that he has been taken and they cannot do anything to get him back, Santar and his fifty troops decide to link up with the main force. The main assault is stymied by an energy shield of some sort that keeps out firepower, with Eldar defenders managing to hold back the Space Marines themselves for some time. Santar arrives, and comes up with a plan.

In the cavernous depths, Ferrus Manus is finally attacked by the serpentine monster that has been trailing him, the giant silver wyrm proving a vicious and poisonous foe. Nearly slaying him several times, Ferrus Manus is distracted by deja vu and a vague feeling of prophecy concerning the words "Angel Exterminatus", which appear in his mind as if from nowhere. Inspired by a memory of his brother Vulkan, he eventually wounds the serpent enough so that it retreats. Elsewhere, the two Eldar responsible for Ferrus Manus' predicament lament their allowing of an aspect of the Primordial Annihilator to sneak into their domain when they kidnapped the primarch.

On the surface, Santar's planned combined-arms assault goes well at first, with the Iron Hands penetrating the shield...until the return of the witchery that afflicts their bionics forces them to retreat. Once again, Henricos suggests an unusual plan; detaching his only bionic - his symbolic iron hand - he volunteers to lead the Imperial Army forces into the breached shield, and eliminate the Eldar threat. Initially hostile to this plan, which goes against their credo, the Iron Hands senior officers eventually relent.

Ferrus Manus continues onward, eventually reaching a bizarre, decrepit throne room, complete with rotting corpse on a throne. Coiled around it is the serpent, a great wyrm that Manus has come to believe is the spirit of Asirnoth, the dread wyrm of Medusa Manus thought he had slain long before. Wrestling with it and calling it out, he is shocked when the serpent begins to shapeshift into a familiar form, and with a familiar voice tells him that it is not Asirnoth. Recovering from this latest trick, Ferrus Manus angrily slays the half-primarch, half-scaled serpent beast, before tearing the corpse-king from the throne and opening the doorway concealed behind it. Confronting his Eldar kidnappers, he brushes aside their claims to be warning him against a likely future, attacking them and demanding his release. In desperation, the Eldar grant his request.

Bion Henricos' force of non-augmented humans takes horrendous casualties, and he himself is wounded, but they strike a solid blow against the Eldar. Before they can be wiped out, Ferrus Manus suddenly appears in the midst of the battle, turning the tide. The arrival of Santar and reinforcements secures the day. In a show of respect, the surviving humans are inducted as the first members of the Iron Hands valued mortal auxiliary; the Chainveil. Adopted Sons of Medusa, their purppose is to stand as a living reminder that not all flesh is weak.

Ferrus Manus refuses to answer questions of his experience, claiming that nothing happened that matters. He leads his forces into the jungle, in response to a request from help from Vulkan. In another place entirely, the two Eldar rue their failure, but take solace in the fact that even if the Gorgon falls, there is another who will suit their purpose...

Setting

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