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Disciples of the Flames

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Disciples of the Flames
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Founding Chapter: Salamanders, Raven Guard, Iron Hands,[1a] Iron Warriors[1g]
Founding: None; Shattered Legion/Blackshield/Renegade force[1a][1c][1g]
Chapter Master: Cassian Dracos[1d]
Homeworld: De facto Mezoa[1g]
Fortress-Monastery: None; de facto the Ebon Drake[1d]
Colours: Various, though ash-black and fire-red became unifying colors[1d][1h][3b]

The Disciples of the Flames[1d] were a Shattered Legion and Blackshield warband, consisting of Space Marines from various loyalist and traitor Legions who followed Cassian Dracos.[1a][1g] The Disciples of the Flames fought for the Imperium during the Horus Heresy, though they were treated with mistrust by other loyalists and declared Renegades by Warden Arkhad of the Blood Angels. Though the eventual fate of the Disciples of the Flames is unclear, their beliefs were later declared dangerous and suppressed by the Imperium.[1d][1g]


History

The journey to Isstvan

The origins of the Disciples of Flame lie in the mission of the Ebon Drake, originally a cruiser of the Salamanders Legion. After the Drop Site Massacre, the still-ignorant Lord Chaplain Nomus Rhy'tan, overseeing the garrison on Nocturne, dispatched the vessel to investigate what had befallen his Legion. Commanded by Chaplain-Lieutenant Xiaphas Jurr, 30 Firedrakes accompanied the small Salamanders force aboard the vessel. At Sulis, the Ebon Drake discovered no new information aside from further confirmation that the galaxy was falling into anarchy. Sulis had revolted and was held by secessionists; Jurr could not tolerate this, and waged a short campaign that left the planet's rebel government destroyed and its defences shattered. The Salamanders then withdrew, not knowing that Sulis would subsequently fall under the control of Horus' forces.[1a]

Afterwards, the Ebon Drake engaged in sporadic skirmishes during its journey. Three of its Space Marines were lost at the "Oasis of Nightmares", it was heavily damaged by an unknown xenos vessel, but in turn won a naval battle with the Iron Warriors Grand Cruiser Grim Paragon.[1a]

At Anvilus, the Ebon Drake came under fire from Tech-Priests as the planet was mired in civil war, though the exact loyalties of those involved were completely unclear to any outsiders. Seriously damaged, the Ebon Drake ventured to Baal in hopes of news and repairs. There, Jurr's force finally received some news of the developing Horus Heresy. It also linked up with some other Salamanders survivors of Isstvan V, learning that the fate of their Primarch Vulkan remained unclear.[1a] Jurr declared that he would search for their missing leader, but this plan drew opposition. The leader of Baal's Salamanders, Kar'Tor, had been broken by the horrors of the Heresy and refused to allow any of his followers to join the Ebon Drake. Blood Angels Warden Arkhad also declared that the Ebon Drake had to aid the defence of Baal instead of embarking on a suicidal venture into Traitor-held space.[1a][1c]

However, Jurr could not be deterred. He declared that anyone willing was welcome to join the Ebon Drake. Indeed, his band found several volunteers: 38 Salamanders who had escaped from Isstvan V aboard the Thunderhawk Ohidoran, 17 Raven Guard members led by Kirhane, and three Iron Hands Cataphractii. The latter were motivated by their desire to find their own Primarchs, Corvus Corax and Ferrus Manus.[1a] When the Ebon Drake subsequently left Baal, ignoring the orders of the local loyalist leadership, Warden Arkhad declared them "no less as traitors than those who now march under Horus' banner". Though shaken by this declaration, the warship's crew continued its journey to the Isstvan system.[1c]

Birth of the Disciples of the Flames

Despite all odds, the Ebon Drake successfully made its way through traitor-held regions and even the Ruinstorm. Finally, the ship emerged at the Isstvan system, ready for combat. However, Jurr's force found only the wrecks of past battles; the traitors had long departed the system without much fanfare. On Isstvan V, the Ebon Drake's crew found only unusable, destroyed equipment and corpses. For three days, the Ebon Drake searched for signs of the missing Primarchs, but discovered nothing. Jurr was driven nearly into insanity by this development, but then, in a fever-induced dream, the Chaplain-Lieutenant directed his ship's sensors to a specific location. There, they picked up a very faint signal, and after digging through rubble discovered a Dreadnought.[1c]

They had found Cassian Dracos, former Lord Commander of the Salamanders who had lain buried for a year after the Dropsite Massacre. Dracos awoke, and informed Jurr that Vulkan was no longer on the planet, but still lived.[1c] The Dreadnought rekindled hope not just among the Salamanders of the Ebon Drake, as even the Raven Guard and Iron Hands believed that where one Primarch had survived the massacre, two more could also have. The loyalists quickly brought Dracos onto the Ebon Drake, discovering that his Dreadnought suit was repairing itself - a miracle which further strengthened the crew's belief in him.[1c] In a matter of days, Dracos grew increasingly influential, as the ship's Space Marines and normal humans (regardless of origin) began to ask him for words of wisdom and prophecy. Even the machinery of the ship seemingly sought his company and revered him. Before long, the Ebon Drake's inhabitants had adopted a new heraldy and they gradually adopted a name for their diverse band: "Disciples of the Flames".[1d]

Mezoan Campaign

When the Ebon Drake departed Isstvan, Dracos had assumed full command. He declared that the ship would not return to Nocturne, as Nomus Rhy'tan had initially intended when the mission had started. Instead, the Disciples of the Flames would set course for the Forge World of Mezoa; few voiced any objection. Upon arriving there, they found it besieged by a traitor force consisting of 9,000 Iron Warriors and Alpha Legion Astartes, supported by thousands more Traitor Army and Dark Mechanicus troops.[1d]

Under Dracos, the Disciples of the Flames joined the local Loyalist armada and battled the superior traitor fleet for several hours, though the Ebon Drake eventually had to retreat. Before it did so, however, the ship sent a large force of Space Marines including Dracos and Jurr to Mezoa's surface so that they could join the ground war.[1d] Dracos met the leadership of the Forge World, and they declared him "a living avatar of the Machine God". In the following campaign, loyalists and traitors clashed in brutal combat. The Disciples of the Flames greatly aided the defenders, but it was clear that campaign was not developing in favour of the loyalists.[1e]

As the conflict ground on, however, the Alpha Legion contingent used its Iron Warriors allies in increasingly callous ways. Finally, Alpha Legion commander Autilon Skorr used the remaining Iron Warriors, belonging to the 114th Grand Battalion led by Nârik Dreygur, in a murderous frontal attack of Mezoa's main forge spire. As the Iron Warriors found themselves isolated and bogged down, they called upon Skorr to sent the second wave to reinforce them. Instead, the Alpha Legion launched an operation against the central chambers of the Mezoan forge-fane, targeting the Forge World's high command and killing one of its great Norn-regents. They had used their allies in a suicidal divisionary attack. The death of one Norn-regent threw the Mechanicum loyalists into disarray, but the Iron Warriors remained close to destruction at the hands of Imperial Army loyalists and the Disciples of the Flames. At this point, Dracos re-emerged, leading his followers not against the Alpha Legion but the 114th Grand Battalion. Everywhere he passed, battle automata regained their senses and joined his force.[1f]

Finally, Dracos arrived at the remaining Iron Warriors holdouts, but he did not attack. Instead, he called for the Grand Company's commander to show himself. Nârik Dreygur agreed to meet the Dreadnought, and the two exchanged a few private worlds. What they talked about remains unknown, but afterwards Dreygur proceeded to address his surviving troops, declaring that the Alpha Legion (with whom the 114th Grand Battalion had a long history of slights) had betrayed them once again.[1f] Most of the Iron Warriors then joined the Disciples of the Flames,[1g] and the few who remained true to Perturabo - mostly new recruits who had been assigned to the 114th Grand Battalion as watchdogs - were probably killed by their own brethren.[1f] With these reinforcements, and Dracos rallying the other loyalist defenders, the battle turned. The Alpha Legion ground contingents were isolated and cut down, and in space loyalist ships also launched counter-attacks. Within hours, the ground invasion was defeated and the remaining traitors had to flee the planet.[1g]

Later Horus Heresy and legacy

The Disciples of the Flames continued their operations, and used Mezoa as a base from where they began to launch bloody raids into the surrounding, traitor-controlled systems. Dracos' cult of personality spread, though disquiet about his influence and powers also grew in certain sections of the loyalists. Nârik Dreygur went on to become Dracos' trusted advisor.[1g]

As the Heresy continued, more Space Marines groups would make their way to Mezoa. Most ended up joining the Disciples of the Flames. Mezoa was never conquered by the traitors, and remained a major thorn in the side of Horus' forces, possibly even contributing to the delay of the Siege of Terra.[1g] At one point, the Disciples led the liberation of Goth.[4] As the Heresy went on, the Disciples' operations became increasingly unpredictable to their allies and disentangled from the Loyalist efforts.[3b] In 010.M31, the Ebon Drake made its way to the Beta-Garmon Star Cluster where they intervened on the Loyalists' side in the Battle of Nyrcon, though without informing them of their intentions.[3a] Heedless of the orders of the Loyalist chief commander Lyrmund Thall, Dracos led his troops and a horde of rogue Mechanicum war machines as well as some Salamanders from Thall's contingent on a mass attack deep into Nyrcon City. There, the Disciples were beset by Alpha Legion ambushes and badly decimated. What remained of the group broke through the Alpha Legion and was led by Dracos into the mag-rail tunnels beneath the city, their motives still unknown to the other Loyalists.[3c]

The eventual fate of the Disciples of the Flames is not entirely clear. They still fought in the late Horus Heresy.[1d] The Ebon Drake was eventually wrecked, and its remains were recovered by Imperials during the Great Scouring.[1b] Dracos' Dreadnought suit was also recovered by the Salamanders, and eventually became known as the Iron Dragon.[2] Considering the beliefs of the Disciples of the Flames dangerous, the Imperium mostly tried to suppress knowledge about the warband's existence and teachings during the Scouring, but Mezoa would continue to honor its saviors.[1d] All surviving documents penned by Disciples of the Flames were confiscated by the Inquisition, and the Salamanders removed all records of the Ebon Drake and its crew from their own archives.[1d][1h]

Beliefs

The hydra coils about the star of Garmon, threatening to envelop it. The serpent seeks to quench the flame, lest it be consumed by it. Those who seek the flame must break the serpent's grip and carry it forth to burn out the venom.

— 128th Prophecy of Cassian Dracos, as transcribed by Xiaphas Jurr[3a]

As time went on, Xiaphas Jurr began to transcribe the words of Cassian Dracos, previously recorded by individual crew members as well as the vox systems of the Ebon Drake, into a single tome. This work would later be called "The Prophecies of the Flames". Jurr himself eventually assumed the mantle of "Prophet of Fire", and his work became the creed of the Disciples of the Flames.[1d] It is known that the ideas of Dracos mirrored in some way the "schismatic" beliefs harboured by the Techpriests of Mezoa even before the Heresy. Their variant of the Machine Cult, called the "Flame Eternal", had developed due to the Forge World's long isolation, constant experience of warfare, and contacts with House Hermetika (which held "quixotic" beliefs).[1e] In addition, the Disciples of the Flames were influenced by the personal views of Jurr who re-adopted the obscure divinatory rituals of his homeworld of Proximal, resulting in many Disciples starting to use charms and repainting their armour with devotional scenes.[1h]

It is known that Dracos emitted some kind of aura that influenced both humans and machines, leading many who saw him to regard him as a holy figure.[1d] Later scholars speculated that Dracos had somehow been affected by the Warp, more specifically the Ruinstorm, and that his charisma was not natural.[1e] Some of Dracos' followers, especially those of Vulkan's lineage, were noted for their great fanaticism and called themselves "Adherents of the Creed"; these Adherents even formed separate units within the Disciples. Interestingly, some of the Adherents occasionally displayed small-scale prophetic abilities similar to those of Dracos.[3d]

In the Battle of Nyrcon, the Disciples' inclusion of former Traitors in their ranks as well as their devotional murals, scripture and totems alarmed other Loyalists, including many other Salamanders.[3c] After the Horus Heresy, the Imperium declared the teachings of Dracos and Jurr to be "seditious and of extreme moral danger", and sealed away any copies of the "The Prophecies of the Flames".[1d]

Warband Elements

Fleet

Known Vehicles

Notable Formations & Units

  • Promethean Apostles[3d]
  • Sons of Dracos[3d]
  • Ebon Advocates[3d]

Notable members

Sources