The Lion (Novella)
With their crusade against the Night Lords reaching its height, the Dark Angels find themselves thrust into a new battle. Beset by daemons and forced to choose between two brother Legions, the Lion's loyalties will be tested and a secret will be discovered that could change the face of the war and the destiny of the Dark Angels Legion.
|This page contains spoilers for:
|The Lion (Novella)
Part I: 82 days following his battle with Konrad Curze at Tsagualsa, a recovering Lion El'Jonson, Primarch of the Dark Angels, sits aboard the Invincible Reason pondering Curze's claims that some of the Dark Angels turned traitor. This concerned the Lion because communication with Caliban had been stopped for two years due to the warp. He could not trust anyone, even his own legion, and he believed it was possible that the Thramas Crusade was a distraction while Horus converted the other Dark Angels. Curze's unwillingness to fight a direct battle concerned the Lion further, and he wanted to leave the battle and return home as soon as possible. Corswain (newly appointed Seneschal) interrupted the Primarch's meditation with Captain Stenius (captain of the ship) and Captain Tragan of the Ninth Order.
Tragan mentions the Night Lords's unwillingness to fight their legion at Parthac, and Stenius reports that three major docks were destroyed over a six-month period. The Lion questions why the Night Lords were trying to keep the Dark Angels from resupplying because the actions hurt even Curze's own men. Among the reports was an astropathic message mentioning the appearance of a small fleet of Death Guard and some members of the Iron Hands appearing at a small research facility in Perditus (part of Thramas). The location was known to the Lion, and it was he and the Death Guard that originally claimed it. The facility was researching a secret technology, and he ordered that a task form be formed at Balaam that could defeat any Death Guard or Iron Hands. Corswain responded with worry that this would leave their other forces unprotected, but the Lion was willing to risk it.
Part II: Navigator Theralyn Fiana guided the Invincible Reason from Balaam but noticed that she could no longer see the Astronomican. Instead, she relied on small warp-beacons, which the Night Lords did not destroy because they too relied on them. Perditus did not have a beacon, but it was 114 light-years from Balaam, and she could triangulate the position with its distance from the Drebbel and Nemo systems. Fiana was concerned by the growing tempestuous nature of the warp and reflected on the daemons that dwell there that were never discussed. After translating, she joined the Lion for an audience, of which she normally complained about the warp to explain the slow progress they made. This time, she and Stenius brought word that a ship was following after them, which was an almost impossible feat, especially in that they changed streams in the warp multiple times. This concerned the Lion, and he thought of the warp-monster nephilla that he experienced in his youth on Caliban.
The Lion told them to assume that they were followed by the Night Lords and that they should take evasive measures. He gave them two days and ordered that weapons be ready for an attack. After trying for two days, they could not shake the other ship. After rejoining the Primarch, Fiana mentioned that in 3 days they could risk diving into the Morican Gulf, surrounded by a maelstrom, where they could ride around the edge and mask their route. The negative possibility was a becalming. The Lion then questioned the possibility of dropping from the warp, which would be easy to spot and could cause a collision. They gave the Lion a plan to try to maneuver and surprise the enemy, and they were ordered to act on it. He then told Corswain privately his suspicions of Stenius's loyalty, and Corswain said he would send Nemiel to speak to the Primarch.
Part III: The navigators gathered to enact the Lion's difficult plan. Fiana took direct control of the ship and maneuvered it into position, which caused the navigators distress and the youngest, Kiafan, to vomit. They translated back into real space, and the Lion waited on the bridge. The Lion watched Stenius throughout the translation, which concerned Corswain that he either missed a flaw with Corswain or that the Lion was becoming paranoid and brooding. As soon as they entered reality, the Lion had all sensors scanning for a ship. After seven minutes, the Night Lords Avenging Shadow, an eclipse-class light cruiser, appeared. The Lion ordered torpedoes to be launched and for boarding action to seize whatever device the Night Lords were using. As torpedoes launched, Fiana contacted the bridge to report that she could see something happening to the enemy warp engines, as if there was warp space within them.
The enemy ship came about and hailed the Dark Angels. The message was a praise of the maneuver, and they would meet in their equivalent of hell (Slathissin). Nemiel denied the existence of hell, and the Night Lord responded that it does exist, revealing that he could hear within the Dark Angels ship. The enemy then tried to activate its warp engines while the shields were on, causing a warp breach. The torpedoes hit the warp energy surrounding the ship, and a breach expanded. The breach then caused the Night Lords' vessel to implode, and they were forced to translate into the warp.
Part IV: The Lion ordered calm as they entered the warp and that all Dark Angels maintain discipline. The warp affected the ship, and reports of fighting came quickly. They could not raise the Geller field because they did not fully translate, and Corswain was sent to investigate the fighting. The Lion ordered that they try to get fully back into the warp, and Nemiel ordered 15 Terminators to guard the bridge. On gun deck nine, Corswain, with 10 legionaries, followed the sound of bolter fire and saw crew fleeing. Eventually, they came upon a creature with a head in its torso and spewing fire. Corswain tried to fire at them, but the bolts exploded early, and he had no choice but to hit the emergency release for the bulkhead that separated them from the daemons. This only slowed the flamers, which burned through the door.
The monsters greatly affected the Dark Angels, and Brother Alartes pointed out a warp rift forming. Corswain ordered a retreat and to seal the gun deck as monstrous dogs began to appear. Corswain tried to lead a defense but it proved fruitless. In the Navigator's chamber, Fiana watched creatures trying to attack the ship as Coiden stood guard. Fiana ordered Kiafan to go with Coiden and for Aneis to stay with her before she used her third eye to attack a slug-like creature before Coiden and Aneis blasted gargoyle-like beasts that were attacking Kiafan. They left as a cyclopean creature began to form, heading to the bridge. As they traveled, they were escorted by Sergeant Ammael and met with Corswain on the way. The bridge was clear of fighting but Nemiel's forces held a brother at gunpoint.
Corswain entered alone, and the Lion explained he had a dilemma. Nemiel said that the former Librarius, Brother Asmodeus, needed to be punished for breaking the Edict of Nikaea and using psychic powers to battle the daemons. The Lion said that he did not yet decide if the act was sorcery, but Nemiel was firm that it was. Corswain asked if the use of psychic powers worked, and Asmodeus nodded. Corswain explained how powerful the daemons were, and Fiana explained that they were from the warp so they were harmed by their third eye because it relied on the powers of the warp. Nemiel insisted that it was still a grave crime, and he criticized the idea that the librarians would be used to battle the daemons. The Lion stated that he issued an order, and Nemiel said he could not follow it. The Lion attacked Nemiel, beheading him with ease, before saying that the Edict of Nikaea was no longer in effect.
Part V: 8 groups went through the ship, 4 led by navigators, 3 led by librarians, and the last by the Lion. The Lion went to his arming chamber and chose the calibanite swords Hope and Despair, edged in a crystalline compound. He then led his men to the reactor room where fighting was fierce, and he was soon joined by 250 of his legionaries. Eight horned and dog legged monsters attacked, and the Lion quickly destroyed them. The Lion then ordered the engineers to return to the warp chamber so they could finish entering the warp, and he ran off to meet them. Corswain was approaching the warp chamber and his group was assaulted by all manner of daemons. His force of 200 men was down to half, with 28 slain or injured and the rest set to guard. As he neared the chamber, he could see corpses strewn about but no source of the attack.
Outside the warp core, Fiana could feel a presence, and there were many dead legionaries and techmarines in the chamber. The group was beet by pink and blue creatures, with Fiana having the only real effect. Corswain contacted the Lion, who said he was near, and Corswain proceeded forward to find the pink and blue creatures trying to breach the core. Before they could attack, a large two-headed bird-like creature blasted them with lightning. The daemon killed legionaries before Fiana blasted it. However, the creature managed to stop the beam with its hand only to turn it back on her and knock her unconscious. The creature turned to Corswain, immobilizing him before forcing his body forward then forced him to contact the Lion to speak with him. The Lion arrived, and the creature spoke directly into his mind, threatening to kill Corswain if attacked.
The Lion said that the creature had no place here, and it responded that it devoted a great effort to find him just as it came to the primarch before. The two continued to talk, and the creature offered the Lion freedom and said it has seen that Chaos always wins in the end. The Lion responded that the Emperor has given a new way, and the creature mocked the Emperor as an ambitious impostor. This only provided hope within the Lion as it meant that the Emperor still lived. The Lion then used a small distraction to attack the creature, grabbing one of its necks and stabbing it with Despair. The Lion mocked it as he attacked further, causing it to burst and return to the warp.
Part VI: The last of the daemons were defeated once they entered the warp and the Geller field denied them power. Over 300 legionaries and more than 600 serfs were killed in the attack, while many were treated, including Fiana. 8 more days passed before they reached Perditus, and Fiana met with the Lion with Stenius and Corswain; there was something wrong with the location because of how calm the warp was in the area. The Lion admitted that it was to be expected and dismissed them. When the Invincible Reason arrived, they found four of their fleet already there but a dozen others had not yet arrived. The Lion ordered them to proceed without waiting and approached the Iron Hands and Death Guard ships. Coming closer, they were able to detect forces on the services, battling. The Dark Angels moved between the two fleets and force peace. Captain Masurabael of the frigate Intervention questioned the risk but the Lion said that his intent was to let both sides know that they mean business. Corswain questioned why not destroy the Death Guard outright, and the Lion said that they needed to establish the loyalty of both legions before proceeding. The Lion expressed his intent to land, and then spoke on the nature of loyalty, and how there was a third option to be loyal to a legion and to save themselves.
The Lion's forces interrupted the ground battle between the forces of Iron Hands Iron Father Lasko Midoa and Death Guard Captain Calas Typhon. The battle lasted 38 days on the planet before the Iron Hands spotted the Dark Angels making orbit, but they were not able to directly contact them through the comm-dampening. The Iron Hands then prepared to intercept the Death Guard ships in orbit while making an assault to take advantage of the situation, breaching the Death Guard's ground defenses and taking one of their positions. This provoked Typhon, forcing them into acting while attempting to free Tuchulcha. As the fighting began to intense, they were stopped by the command of the Lion who declared the planet under his protection and for everyone to leave; both sides responded immediately and started to retreat. However, Typhon knew that there had to be a reason for the Lion to arrive so he tapped into the warp and the powers of his patron, the Father. Using psychic powers, he determined that the Dark Angels were using their librarians to cower the forces and so he used his own to protect the minds of his Grave Wardens. The Lion responded by ordering torpedoes to be launched.
Part VII: As Typhon led the charge against the Iron Hands, he was informed that torpedoes were launched. This prompted Typhon to order a withdrawal then contacted the Dark Angels via vox. The Lion responded by ordering the Death Guard to pull back except for Typhon and his guards and await a parlay. The Lion landed with 1,000 of his men and he spoke with Midoa, Typhon, and the Mechanicum directly. The Lion came to High Magos Khir Doth Iaxis, Overseer of Magellix and Custodian of Tuchulcha, a man of only a meter in height, who then welcomed the Lion to the planet and asked the Primarch to follow him into the facility. The Lion had Midoa and Typhon escorted elsewhere then proceeded to Tuchulcha's chamber.
The Lion was taken to Tuchulcha deep beneath the surface, and he remembered when he slaughtered machine cultists who worshiped Tuchulcha the last time he was there. On the way, the Lion noticed that Iaxis had an electoo of an Ouraboros dragon eating its own tail, which Iaxis said was for the Order of the Dragon, a now-defunct organization. Inside the chamber, the Lion found an orb 10.7 meters in diameter of an unknown material, Tuchulcha, and that it was watching him. Unlike before, the orb now had two protrusions, only a few centimeters in length, from each pole. A small boy servitor laid before the device with pipes connecting him to the machine, and through it, Tuchulcha spoke. The Lion questioned it, surprised at its ability to communicate through the puppet and that it recognized him. The machine said that he was "the everything," was "everywhere," and "once Servant of the Deadly Seas" before becoming "Friend of the Mechanicum." The Lion responded that the machine was dangerous, but was told by Tuchulcha that he could not be destroyed because he did not truly desire to destroy the machine.
Tuchulcha then explained that the Lion caused him to be afraid. The Lion questioned how the machine knew of the battles above, and then it responded that his mind was able to touch theirs before saying that the Lion's mind touched him but it carried a heavy burden of guilt. The Lion questioned Iaxis as to the machine's use and why it was spared. Tuchulcha then demonstrated its teleportation power, shifting into the throne room of the Invincible Reason and translating the whole ship into the warp. This prompted alarms to go off, and the act both appalled and surprised the Lion. The Lion questioned Tuchulcha about how the translation was possible so close to the system's star, and Iaxis responded that the machine didn't have to worry about such concerns. The Lion decided that he had to be friends with the machine, and asked it politely to return them to real space around the planet.
Part VIII: Corswain and the Lion discussed the nature of the situation and the parlay in his chambers. The Lion could not tell what Typhon's full agenda was, and he was unsure why the Iron Hands arrived and their legion was not as inconsequential as he once assumed. The Primarch then met with the two commanders, where Typhon immediately verbally lashed out and was chastised. The Lion did not yet decide what to do and questioned them as to their purpose. Typhon responded that he came for the warp device to give to Horus, and then stated that it was expected that the Dark Angels would battle the Night Lords but would eventually come to Horus. The Lion responds by pointing out that Typhon does not mention Mortarion, and that Typhon served his own ambition. Additionally, it was not Horus who ordered Typhon there, and Horus did not wish for a direct war with the Dark Angels.
The Lion turned to Midoa and questioned his purpose. Midoa explained that he was part of the 406th Expedition Fleet and was not part of the Drop Site Massacre. 6 months ago, they met with Ultramarines at Ojanus then dispatched by Guilliman to protect Perditus and the device from traitors. Midoa then said that he believed it should be taken to Macragge to be safe. Hearing both sides, the Lion then ordered that the planet be destroyed, which brought protest from both commanders. The Lion then pointed out that he too received a summon from Guilliman but that he did not trust the other primarch before sending the commanders off.
Part IX: Midoa left for the Fastidious Prosecutor and Typhon for the Terminus Est. Fiana contacted the Primarch to say they felt something burrowing through the warp to the planet. At the same time, the Invincible Reason prepared for combat as Typhon warped from the Terminus Est down to Tuchulcha's chamber. Once there, Typhon slaughtered the adepts and skitarii but was slowly feeling the effects of the warp rotting his insides. Calming it, he entered the chamber and was about to kill a robed adept when the puppet asked him not to do so. The boy then told Typhon that there wasn't much time as the Lion arrived. Typhon offered Tuchulcha freedom but was laughed at in response, saying he was waiting for the Lion's return before forcing Typhon to be teleported back to the Terminus Est with his remaining men.
Later, when Typhon was alone, he reflected that he failed in his mission, but realized that he did succeed when he noticed that he received a 3 blister mark of favor. On the Iron Hands' ship, Midoa told Lorramech that the Lion had a message for Guilliman: "I am coming." On the Invincible Reason, Tuchulchas and Iaxis were aboard and the planet was destroyed. He knew that he had a power that would turn the Thramas Crusade and that Curze would soon be his with some careful planning, and he spoke to a shadow that could not be heard in response. He also expressed his concern that Guilliman was either misguided or a traitor, and that none could inherit the title Emperor. Ultimately, only mutual annihilation could prevent further war. The small, robed creature appeared from the shadow, and the Lion told it that it was too important to stop the conflict instead of fixing what was taking place on Caliban.
The story takes place 82 days after the Battle of Tsagualsa, as described in Savage Weapons (Short Story), and more than 2 years since the beginning of the Thramas Crusade. The events precede the continuation/end of the Thramas Crusade as described in Prince of Crows (Novella).
- Lion El'Jonson - Primarch
- Corswain - Primarch's Seneschal
- Stenius - Captain of the Invincible Reason
- Tragan - Captain of the Ninth Order
- Nemiel - Brother-Redemptor
- Lasko Midoa - Iron Father
- Casalir Lorramech - Captain of the 98th Company
- Theralyn Fiana - Navigator of House Ne'iocene
- Khir Doth Iaxis - High Magos of the Mechanicum