|This article is about the Primarch of the Dark Angels; for the Novella by Gav Thorpe, see The Lion (Novella).|
Lion El'Jonson, also known as The Lion and The First, is the Primarch of the Dark Angels. He was scattered along with the other Primarchs to the far corners of the galaxy. He finally came to rest on the world Caliban, a beautiful but blighted world tainted by Chaos due to its proximity to the Eye of Terror. Lion El'Jonson was renowned for a level of strategic brilliance and martial prowess that was rivaled perhaps only by Horus, but was distrusted by his brother Primarchs for his secretive and taciturn nature.. The Chaos emissary to Lorgar called him the Duelist.
Jonson's capsule landed in a remote area of Caliban, far from any human habitation. There are no records of how he survived or what he encountered in the jungle during his early years and any normal man would have died within minutes of being exposed to the planet. He lived for a decade in the jungle, alone and with no one to aid him. At the end of this decade he encountered his first humans. Jonson was found by a group of warrior knights of The Order during one of their quests across the planet. The young Primarch was already larger than a normal man, wounded by a Bolt Weapon fired from one of the knights and covered in the blood of one of the Great Beasts. In a near-feral state, Luther was able to slowly convince the Primarch to come with him.[28a] While the knights prepared to kill Jonson, one of their number, a man named Luther, sensed something not immediately apparent about this seemingly wild man and prevented his fellow knights from attacking. Luther and the band brought Jonson back to their Fortress Monastery and named him 'Lion El'Jonson' which means The Lion, the Son of the Forest after the location and circumstances they found him in[Needs Citation].
Lion El'Jonson quickly grew up under the care of Luther[20a] and adapted to the customs of the planet's inhabitants, learning to speak at an extremely rapid speed, though he never would speak of his first ten years of life. Luther and Jonson formed a strong friendship which complimented each other's abilities and skills. It was now that Jonson's primary skills were discovered. He was a brilliant strategist and unstoppable once he decided on a course of action. Together, the two warriors rose through the ranks of the Order and spread the name of the Order through the quests they undertook together[Needs Citation].
Crusade against the Great Beasts
When the Order's ranks had swelled with new recruits, Jonson and Luther petitioned for a crusade against the terrible Beasts which lived within the forest. Luther used his oratory skills to convince many of the Grand Masters of other monasteries to join the Order in this quest and within a single decade the planet was free from the Great Beasts, the armies having been led by Jonson. In recognition of his achievements, Jonson was given the title Supreme Grand Master of the Order, which created jealousy within Luther[Needs Citation]. After defeating the Beasts, Lion El'Jonson demanded fealty from all the other Knightly orders of Caliban. The only ones to oppose were the corrupted Knights of Lupus, who were hunted down and destroyed.[28b]
Eventually a unit of the Emperor's forward scouts arrived at Caliban. Jonson was immediately given command of the First Legion when the Emperor realized he had found a lost son. Luther and the other members of the Order who passed the Astartes' trials were formed into First Legion soldiers, either as fully fledged Astartes if they were young enough, or through genetic manipulation to increase their abilities if they were too old for the process. The new direction of Caliban did not sit well with many older knights of The Order, and they attempted to assassinate both Jonson and the Emperor but were foiled by the psychic Zahariel. With his powerbase secured and the new Astartes ready, Jonson publicly re-named the First Legion the Dark Angels after an old Caliban myth. Luther, too old to be a Space Marine, was the first to be genetically modified and became Jonson's second in command, as he had been during the crusade. Jonson then left with the Emperor and the newly re-named Dark Angels[Needs Citation]. Befitting his status as the first Primarch, Lion El'Jonson received the first Gloriana Class Battleship Invincible Reason.
The Lion found a Legion beset by strife, for it had suffered greatly in a series of reckless campaigns and was overcome by a malaise of pride and vainglory. Upon reunion with his Legion The Lion tested his sons mettle by dueling the captain of the company presented before him. Though not clad in Power Armour and facing a Terminator-clad captain, The Lion bested his foe and it is said both sides learned respect for the other. From that day forth The Lion renamed the Legion the Dark Angels. The Council of Masters however became anxious at the news, with some worried what their Primarch would think regarding the state of the Legion and and others remaining prideful. However The Lion granted new purpose and vision for the fractured Legion, his first act being to merge the many teachings of Caliban with the First Legion's Hexagrammaton. He combined both to create something new and more refined. Alongside his Xana allies the Lion then took a newly mustered host of 20,000 Legionaries - a third of the Legion - and embarked on a Crusade of his own. He sought out the scattered Companies of Dark Angels across the Great Crusade. Each Company encountered accepted their Primarch with dour allegiance and each had their Captain tested in battle by The Lion. The Lion demonstrated his worth by actions and skill rather than words and vague promises, allowing those that might doubt him to match their blades against his in honest combat. Within a few short years The Lion had gathered 100,000 Legionaires to his side and mustered them at the Legion's ancient stronghold at Gramarye.
At Gramarye another Legion Council was held and this time The Lion dueled the ceremonial Council Champion Pyrhus Calagat, master of the Host of Fire. In an hour long legendary duel the Primarch won the trial and accepted the titles of Grandmaster of the First Legion and the six Wings of the Hexagrammaton: the Deathwing, Ravenwing, Dreadwing, Firewing, Ironwing, and Stormwing. Before his Legion the Lion took a final oath before his sons, and they in turn swore oaths of their own to their Primarch. His oath sworn, the Lion placed new masters over each Wing and formalized the various informal Orders in the style of Caliban's Knightly Orders. By this time the new recruits from Caliban were ready and The Lion swiftly incorporated them into The Legion. The Lion's first act was to move on Karkasarn, which had since rose in rebellion against its Ultramarines garrison. The reorganized Dark Angels under The Lion fought brilliantly, sweeping aside any memories of their earlier humbling on the world and saving their Ultramarines allies from being overwhelmed.
One of the first major commands The Lion oversaw were the vicious Rangdan Xenocides, where the Dark Angels took grievous losses and were for the first time eclipsed by the Ultramarines, Iron Hands, and Sons of Horus in numbers and prominence. During the later stages of the war a member of the XXth Legion identifying itself as Alpharius but admitting their primarch had not yet been discovered came before the Lion. This "Alpharius" offered aid to the Primarch against the Rangdan in hopes that the Dark Angels would maintain their prominence and thus one day The Lion would be made Warmaster. The Lion at this time did not even know of the title Warmaster, but still secretly believed that such a title may one day be likely bestowed by one of the Primarch's by the Emperor. "Alpharius" stated that the XXth Legion preferred The Lion for Warmaster over someone like Roboute Guilliman, as he was not so different from them on their views of secrecy and war. It is not ultimately known if The Lion accepted Alpharius' help or not.
Lion El'Jonson gained notoriety for his leadership and combat capability in the Great Crusade, but was too secretive and stoic to be considered for the honour of Warmaster. Indeed, the Lion himself admitted he had difficulty understanding the emotions of others. Horus was instead appointed Warmaster by the Emperor, and the reaction among the other Primarchs was mixed. Some supported the appointment out of affection for Horus, and others opposed it. The Lion and Leman Russ were, ironically, alike in their attitude, cynically accepting the appointment as the final sign of Horus' status as their father's favorite son.
During the campaign against the Sarosh, Luther was able to foil a detonation of a nuclear weapon aboard the Lion's flagship. However due to his own deep-buried jealously he had initially hesitated, something the Lion somehow discovered. As a result the two had a falling out, and Luther along with a force of mainly Caliban-native legionaries were sent back to their homeworld. This was ostensibly to accelerate the recruitment of new Legionnaires, but Luther felt they had been exiled, particularly after his scolding in the Zaramund Campaign.
Fifty years later, and following great success in recruiting, training, and equipping new Dark Angels, Luther and his lieutenants were faced by a widespread rebellion on Caliban. Following investigations on the part of the Librarian Zahariel, it was revealed that Caliban was plagued by a resurgence of monsters; and that the insurgency raised against them included former Knights of the Order who felt that the Lion had betrayed them[Needs Citation].
At the center of the entire affair was a mysterious cabal of Terran sorcerers somehow linked to the emergence of warp-monsters and twisted undead corpses. Having learned of Horus' rebellion against the Emperor, Luther declared the independence of Caliban and his opposition to Terra and the Lion alike[Needs Citation].
The Lion and the Wolf
Few tales have been recorded regarding the Lion and the conduct of his Legion during the Great Crusade. One of them is that which is now known as the saga of "The Lion and the Wolf".
Sometime during The Great Crusade, the Dark Angels and the Space Wolves assaulted the planet Dulan whose ruled the independent Faash empire. In addition to disrespecting the Emperor, the leader of the rebels had also insulted Leman Russ personally by naming him "The Emperor's Lapdog". In response, Leman Russ swore that he would cut the rebel leader's head from his shoulders and demanded that he be allowed to make an immediate attack on the rebel's headquarters. This impatient request was refused because The Lion had spent days gathering intelligence on the headquarters' defenses and had planned a detailed assault of his own. The Dark Angel attack went forward with few casualties and Russ could only watch from the grounds as Lion El'Jonson killed the rebel leader high on the walls of the fortress. After the battle, Russ stormed into the halls of the headquarters to find El'Jonson and vent his frustrations. During the confrontation Leman Russ struck Lion El'Jonson a blow to his head and the two proceeded to wrestle for a day and night without victory for either combatant. When the two finally broke apart, Russ began to laugh - humored by the circumstances the two were fighting over. The Lion was not amused however and in what was considered a cowardly act, struck Russ unconscious as he was laughing.
The Space Wolves' Primarch was carried from the chamber by his men, and when he had regained consciousness the Dark Angels had already escaped the planet to embark on another campaign. Russ swore he would avenge the slight to his honor, and to this day the two chapters fight honor duels in remembrance of this event. Some say these duels have brought mutual respect and a closer bond between the chapters.[Needs Citation] On other occasions, however, the rivalry between the two chapters has boiled into open hostility, fueled by mistrust and suspicion.
Jonson was campaigning in the Shield Worlds against the Gordian League[4a] when he received news of Horus's betrayal. The Lion knew that if Horus was to triumph in his rebellion he would eventually have to confront the Emperor at Terra, for as long as the Emperor remained safe in the confines of the Imperial Palace, Horus could never truly triumph and become the new master of mankind. The Lion decided to act in order to prevent Horus from being able to successfully assault the Imperial Palace. He led a small force to the forge world Diamat in order to secure several highly powerful siege weapons that Horus would need in order to assault Terra. Faced with superior odds, the Lion nonetheless succeeded in securing the siege weapons, and thus "performed a master stroke": rather than confronting Horus directly, he had seemingly defeated the Warmaster with only a handful of troops.[4b] Nonetheless the Lion was deceived by Perturabo into giving the Iron Warriors the siege weapons, unknowingly that the Lord of Iron had already turned his back to the Emperor.
Following his victory, the Lion met with Perturabo, who, along with other Legions, was on his way to join Ferrus Manus in confronting Horus at Isstvan V. Jonson, seeing the opportunity to become the new Warmaster following Horus' seemingly inevitable defeat, traded the siege weapons to Perturabo in exchange for his support in his bid to become the new Warmaster. Tragically, Perturabo was in fact an ally of Horus, as revealed by his actions at Isstvan V.[4b] Immediately following the siege of Diamat and Perturabo acquiring the siege engines from Jonson, the Primarch of the Dark Angels returned to the Shield Worlds where the majority of his legion were operating with the intention of heading to Terra immediately (prior to the massacre at Isstvan V).
As part of Horus' campaign to divert many of the remaining loyalist legions from Terra, the Night Lords were dispatched to the Eastern Fringes, where in the Thramas Crusade they rampaged across many loyalist worlds. During the genocide, Konrad Curze would invite the Lion to a meeting on the planet Tsagualsa. There, the Night Haunter would reveal a prophecy to the Lion, concerning the future of the Dark Angels. Eventually, the talks would degrade to a fight and the Lion would leave with a slashed throat and Curze with a sword in his back. The Lion would then go on to obtain a warp engine of unforeseen power known as Tuchulcha, that would allow him to coordinate entire fleets in a warp jump. During their trip, the Dark Angels ships encountered Daemons and Lion El'Jonson reinstituted Librarians to fight them in direct violation of the Council of Nikea. This caused a dispute within the legion that saw The Lion eventually kill Nemiel. Lion El'Jonson encounters Kairos Fateweaver at the height of the battle, who attempts to convert him to Chaos but can find nothing in his heart to sway it with, for he was absolutely loyal to the Emperor and viewed loyalty as its own reward. The Lion dismisses the Lord of Change by impaling him through the heart and quipping if the Greater Daemon saw that coming.
Using this engine, he would ambush the Night Lords and, for a second time, fight his brother Primarch. The Night Lords would leave severely injured, with Curze in a comatose state. The Lion would direct a second ambush on the regrouping Night Lords. There, Curze would reawaken and board the Invincible Reason with several of his troops. The battle would end with Curze fleeing to the lower decks and any surviving Night Lords, including the First Captain Sevatar, being taken prisoner. Curze however is loose in the bowels of the massive ship and wreaks terror throughout it, killing every search team the Lion sends after him. After losing several squads the Lion takes up the hunt for Curze himself, stalking him throughout the Invincible Reason for the next sixteen weeks. However, he can never find the elusive Primarch.
Due to the Ruinstorm erected by the Word Bearers, the Dark Angels found themselves unable to return to Terra as the Lion had intended. Eventually they locked onto the light of the Pharos and made their way to Ultramar, linking up with the Ultramarines and Blood Angels as well as their respective Primarchs, Roboute Guilliman and Sanguinius. The three Primarch's were instrumental in the formation of Imperium Secundus, and Lion El'Jonson was made Lord Protector of this new Empire, a title similar to Warmaster. When Curze escaped the Invincible Reason and rampaged across Macragge, the Lion aided Guilliman in the unsuccessful attempt to defeat the renegade Primarch. However the entire battle had been a trap, and Curze brought down the chapel they were battling in. Lion El'Jonson and Guilliman both survived only thanks to Barabas Dantioch, who activated the Pharos and teleported them to Sotha.
The Lion, feeling responsible for Curze's rampages across Ultramar, obsessively hunted for his dark brother. In the Zepath System, Lion El'Jonson commanded the Dreadwing to wreak havoc against Word Bearers and World Eaters in the search for Curze.[20a] The Lion and Guilliman continued to clash over the policy with Imperium Secundus, particularly over how to deal with rebels on Macragge that the Dark Angels Primarch was certain Curze had a hand in. After a suicide bomber hit an Astartes convoy, Lion El'Jonson used his Legion to establish martial law on Macragge. The Lion became certain that Curze was hiding in the rebellious Illyrium region of Ultramar's capital, and advocated using weapons of mass destruction to destroy it from orbit. After facing resistance from both Sanguinius and Guilliman over the idea, the Lion instead deployed the Dreadwing to flush Curze the rebels out.[20b]
During the attack on Alma Mons, the Lion was finally able to corner Curze and the two once again came to blows. After a vicious battle, the Lion was eventually victorious. The Lion questioned why Curze turned, to which Curze answered "why not?" and to say that there was a monster in his head he could not stop. Instead of killing Curze, the Lion pulled back, saying he could not kill him but then pummeled him again. The Lion then ripped off Curze's backpack then brought him down upon his knee, breaking his spine and paralyzing him. Curze was instead brought before Sanguinius and Guilliman to stand trial.[20c]
Curze admitted to his action, but refused to accept guild because he was made to act that way, thus they were not crimes. Curze then divided Guilliman from the Lion, accusing the Lion of ordering secret orbital attacks and pitting the against each other. The Lion sought to kill Curze, but Sanguinius prevented him with words and Guilliman broke his sword. The Lion responded with anger, but Sanguinius dismissed him, ending the Triumvirate and banishing him from Imperium Secundus. The Dark Angels withdrew from the planet hours following the dismissal. Afterwards, The Lion continued to brood, questioning his exile of Luther and other decisions as he stood in the chamber of Tuchulcha. Soon, his council arrived and the Lion told them that they would return to Caliban. Before they left, the Lion had a thought and ordered Tuchulcha to teleport him and Holguin to Sanguinius's chamber. Shortly before Sanguinius was able to execute Curze back on Macragge, the the Lion appeared, asking for the Angel to stop. Troops came into the room, demanding the Lion's surrender but he responded that Curze was able to see the future, and he repeated that Curze's claim that his death would be at the hands of an assassin was sent by the Emperor. This, to the Lion, was proof that the Emperor was still alive. Sanguinius recognized that his own visions of death would also be true. Guilliman demanded what would come of Curze. The Lion knelt before his brothers and promised that he would be Curze's gaoler.[20d] Curze remained captive aboard the Invincible Reason and occasionally The Lion would visit to speak with him in an attempt to gather information from his prophetic visions, though the Night Haunter rarely proved cooperative.
Following the Trial of Curze, Sanguinius, Lion El'Jonson, and Guilliman all agreed to try and breach the Ruinstorm to reach Terra and aid the Emperor who they now knew still lived. In the Ruinstorm, the loyalist fleet came across a variety of horrors and word of an entity spreading destruction known as the "Pilgrim". Not even the Tuchulcha could navigate the Ruinstorm, frustrating the Lion. During the Battle of Pyrrhan, The Lion commanded Dark Angels personel as Sanguinius received a vision and he realized that he needed to go where this struggle had begun, Davin. Reluctantly, Guilliman and The Lion agreed to trust in Sanguinius but both had thought they would simply destroy the world upon arriving. While over Davin, Sanguinius shocked The Lion by boarding the Invincible Reason and taking the captive Konrad Curze with him. Sanguinius hoped to use Curze's prophetic abilities to determine what he was meant to do upon Davin. Sanguinius then commended a mass landing on the world, and the enraged Lion nearly ordered that Davin be subjected to Exterminatus regardless of Sanguinius' presence on it. At the last minute The Lion relented, and immediately was horrified by what he had nearly done. He realized that some power was attempting to force the Primarch's down the path to damnation, and followed Sanguinius down to Davin.
At Davin, Sanguinius was trapped within a portal and did battle with the Daemon Madail while Guilliman and The Lion desperately tried to reach him. a vicious battle erupted both on Davin and above it, in which Guilliman's acting flagship Samothrace was destroyed in orbit by the Daemonship Veritas Ferrum. During the battle at Davin's temple, Guilliman and The Lion managed to finally fight as brothers and together they brought down a massive Soul Grinder. Eventually, Sanguinius was able to escape and the Space Marine forces evacuated to space. Davin was destroyed by Cyclonic Torpedoes, and with its anchor gone the Daemonic fleet vanished. In the place of where Davin once was, a breach in the Ruinstorm was visible. The path led to Terra, but upon further study it became apparent that somehow Horus had foreseen this route and a large blockade was erected to block them. Guilliman and The Lion agreed to distract the blockade while Sanguinius and the Blood Angels made directly for Terra, for that was their destiny. The Lion expressed his desire to further distract the enemy by attacking worlds Horus had captured along the way to Terra, an act of vengeance he would come to relish.
At some point before or during the Siege of Terra, the Astronomican went dark for the Dark Angels fleet. Fearing that Terra had fallen to Horus, The Lion became nihilistic and instead of moving towards Terra pledged himself to burning as much of the traitor's territory as he could. Using the rationalization of attacking the traitor homeworlds in hopes of drawing reinforcements away from Terra to his troops, The Lion oversaw the destruction of Chemos and Barbarus. Without the Astronomican, the Lion relied on the Tuchulcha for guidance.
Return to Caliban
Jonson, wracked with grief, returned to Caliban to reinforce his Dark Angels and recover in general. When the ships arrived in orbit, they were hit by a savage salvo of fire from the surface. The fleet pulled back and Jonson tried to find out what was happening. He learnt from a merchant ship that Luther had poisoned the minds of the Space Marine garrison on the world and taken control. It could only be seen by Jonson as the taint of Chaos. Jonson's fury was let loose and the planet suffered. He ordered a systematic bombardment of the planet, destroying everything they could to rid the world of Chaos for all time[Needs Citation].
The planet burned and the defences were whittled down to nothing. Jonson led his forces personally against the defenders who had taken refuge in the Order's Fortress Monastery. Jonson found Luther and saw him to be completely corrupted, nothing of his old friend had survived. Luther had been elevated to a strength equal to Jonson by the Chaos Gods and the two met in a combat the likes of which would not be seen again. They leveled the monastery around them but the planet was also taking a heavy toll. The bombardment began to crack the surface of the planet, the Dark Angels in orbit unable to see the damage they were doing[Needs Citation].
The Final Battle
The battle between Luther and Jonson was titanic, but ended with a psychic attack that mortally wounded Jonson. Luther then realised what he had done, as if a veil had been lifted from in front of his eyes. He fell to the floor, unwilling to fight any more, but it was too late for Jonson. The gods of Chaos realised they had lost again, and sent a massive warp storm to wrack the surface of the planet. It then broke apart under the strain, destroyed all but for the monastery of the Order which had been protected by vast force-fields. When the Dark Angels descended to the, now, asteroid, they searched the ruins and found Luther mumbling that Jonson had been taken by the Watchers in the Dark and would return one day and forgive him for his sins. The Dark Angels could not find any trace of their Primarch. The rest of the Dark Angels who had been converted by Luther were sucked into the warp and scattered around the galaxy, now named The Fallen[Needs Citation].
The Fate of The Lion
The final secret known only to a very select few is that, buried even deeper within the Rock than Luther, Jonson lies sleeping, waiting with the Watchers in the Dark for the time when he will be needed again, to lead the Dark Angels in a new and greater crusade. Save the Watchers in the Dark, only the Emperor knows of this secret
Lion El'Jonson's name is inspired by the English poet Lionel Johnson, the author of "The Dark Angel". Originally the name was spelt "Lyyn Elgonsen". In a 1987 White Dwarf article he is also referred to as "Lynol Jacobsen or Jonsen", the point being that very little knowledge of Dark Angels' early history has survived.
- 1: Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition), by Rick Priestley, pg. 14
- 2: Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1987), pg. 138
- 3: White Dwarf 96 (UK) (1987), pg. 53 Chapter Approved, by Rick Priestley
- 4: Fallen Angels (Novel),[Needs Citation]
- 5: Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill: [Needs Citation], pg. 506
- 6: Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pg. 91
- 7: Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), by Jervis Johnson and Andy Hoare, pg. 20
- 8: Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett, Part One, Chapter Six, pg. 129
- 9: Sons of Fenris (Novel) by Lee Lightner, Chapter Eight
- 10: Prince of Crows (Novella), [Needs Citation]
- 11: Collected Visions, pgs. 357–362
- 13: Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pg. 38
- 14: Savage Weapons (Short Story) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- 15: The Unremembered Empire (Novel),[Needs Citation]
- 16: The Primarchs (Anthology) — The Lion
- 17: Vengeful Spirit (Novel), [Needs Citation]
- 18: Descent of Angels (Novel), [Needs Citation]
- 19: Aurelian (Novella), [Needs Citation]
- 20: Angels of Caliban (Novel)
- 21: Dreadwing (Novella)
- 22: Scions of the Emperor (Anthology) — First Legion
- 23: Lion El'Jonson: Lord of the First (Novel) - Cover
- 24: Warhammer Community: The First Ever Warhammer Preview Online (posted 3/28/2020) (last accessed 3/28/2020)
- 25: Warhammer Community: The Road to Thramas – Part 5: The Lion (posted 4/5/2020) (last accessed 4/6/2020)
- 26: Warhammer Community: Horus Heresy – Book 9: Crusade Excerpt (Posted on 03/08/2020) (Last accessed on 3 August 2020)
- 27: The Horus Heresy Book Nine pg.92-99
- 28: Luther: First of the Fallen (Novel)
|I - Lion El'Jonson · II - Unknown · III - Fulgrim · IV - Perturabo · V - Jaghatai Khan · VI - Leman Russ · VII - Rogal Dorn · VIII - Konrad Curze · IX - Sanguinius · X - Ferrus Manus · XI - Unknown · XII - Angron · XIII - Roboute Guilliman · XIV - Mortarion · XV - Magnus · XVI - Horus · XVII - Lorgar · XVIII - Vulkan · XIX - Corvus Corax · XX - Alpharius Omegon|