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Dornian Heresy - IA: Iron Hands


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#1
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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The latest Dornian Heresy IA is finally ready, although have previously got such good feedback here on these articles in Liber Astartes that I am more than happy to get feedback on this to improve it before it gets published in the second half of the Dornian Heresy PDF. (Part one is downloadable by clicking on the classy board banner above.)

For anyone unfamiliar with the Dornian Heresy, it is set in an alternate universe where the events of the heresy, and other things for that matter, didn't quite happen the way you would be familiar with from the conventional Horus Heresy universe. Many thanks to everyone involved in the proofreading and feedback process, especially Ferrata, Sigismund Himself, Octavulg and Ace Debonair. :tu:

I hope you enjoy,
Aurelius.

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Index Astartes: Iron Hands

The Dornian Heresy

Throughout their history, the Iron Hands have striven to strengthen humanity by purging the weak, knowing that it is the only way for mankind as a race to survive. On learning of the enormity of the threat posed by the Ruinous Powers, and the insidiously corrupting effect it had upon the body and mind, Ferrus Manus decreed that only through mechanisation could Chaos be defeated. His aim was to create cold, logical intelligences, shorn of the emotions which stirred up the Warp, and housed inside bodies of unyielding metal. The Iron Hands have clung to this ideal even at the expense of being classed as traitors and renegades, but now, after ten thousand years of hiding, their preparations to ascend the human race beyond the frailties of the flesh are nearly complete.

Origins
K
nowing that only the greatest of warriors would be equal to the task of commanding His legions in the Great Crusade, the Emperor used all of His skill to create twenty primarchs - beings of unparalleled potency. Before His sons could even be born from their metal wombs, they were stolen away by the Ruinous Powers and scattered across the length and breadth of the galaxy. The one containing the primarch of the Tenth Legion of Astartes fell to earth upon the death world of Medusa, a planet plagued by constant tectonic activity and an atmosphere wreathed in choking ash. Medusa bred a hardy and unsentimental people, who banded into clans which were constantly on the move, and clashed on occasion to claim what little food was available. For them every day was a new trial, and any weakness a luxury they simply could not afford.

In the decades after arriving on Medusa, the young primarch wandered the world. On his travels he sought out the clans, accompanying them briefly to exchange knowledge or to defeat a predator, but never formally joining any of them. Given his abilities and the esteem in which he was held, he could easily have unified the clans under his leadership. Instead he remained a distant figure, subtly guiding their actions, but never taking sides in their skirmishes, or even trying to prevent them, recognising as he did the important role this played in winnowing out the weaker elements.

According to legend, he was drawn to a nightmarish area of the planet known as the Land of Shadows, a place haunted by monsters and the spirits of the dead. There, he hunted down a terrible creature known variously as the Great Silver Wyrm, or Asirnoth the Dragonshard, which had preyed upon the clans for as long as anyone could remember. After an epic battle he was finally victorious, though his hands were forever stained with the silver blood of the beast, gaining him the name of Ferrus Manus – He of the Iron Hands.

The arrival of the Emperor and His armies upon Medusa caused great fear and suspicion amongst the clans, but Ferrus Manus was unafraid. He strode out alone to face the newcomer, and challenged Him to trials of strength and skill to prove His worth. Over the coming days of evenly matched contests, a great bond of familial love and respect was forged, and Manus accepted wholeheartedly his destined role within the Great Crusade. Command of the Tenth Legion of the Adeptus Astartes was bestowed upon him, and with it the planetary governorship of Medusa. Though he had up until then resisted all such leadership roles, Manus grasped its importance, and approached this challenge in the same way he had every other in his life; with fortitude and cold logic.

He was intrigued to meet the Astartes who had been created from his genetic template, and was satisfied to recognise much of himself in their character, even renaming the legion the Iron Hands to reflect this. From them he continued his education about the wider Imperium, absorbing knowledge at a prodigious rate and demonstrating an innate genius for technical matters which astounded the legion’s techmarines. Just as he learned from the legion, he also instilled within them the Medusan philosophies of stoicism and self-reliance, and the attitude that for a society to flourish, weakness must be unsentimentally and brutally eliminated.

The Great Crusade
T
he legion’s Expeditions of conquest spread out from Medusa to bring the scattered human colonies under the Emperor’s dominion, and in the main headed into the wild, uncharted expanses of Segmentum Pacificus in the galactic west. For the Iron Hands, especially those born and raised on Medusa, they found that very few planets could match their ethos of self-reliance. Their approach to these worlds was straightforwardly single-minded; any resistance was met with merciless and overwhelming force. Just as they fought clan against clan on Medusa to compete for scarce food and resources, they had no qualms about inflicting horrendous casualties to bring worlds into the light of the Imperium. In the face of these tactics planetary leaders would frequently find their pleas to surrender ignored, only to be tasked with weeding out the weaker elements from their populations themselves before the Iron Hands would call a halt to hostilities. Though many deemed the Iron Hands’ methods to be thuggish and barbaric, it was simply their way of ensuring that humanity was strong enough to face the myriad dangers the galaxy held.

In the forges deep beneath Mount Narodnya, Ferrus Manus laboured long into the night to hone the blade. Where other men would have long-since professed it as a masterpiece, Manus saw the scope to improve and refine it still further into a thing unsurpassed by human endeavour. When Fulgrim of the Emperor’s Children had swaggered into the forge and boasted of his skills, he had instantly hated such preening arrogance, but as the weeks had passed he had actually come to respect and even admire his brother. In his own way, Fulgrim’s quest for perfection was like his own drive to eliminate weakness in all its forms. Their competition had driven them both to the limits of their powers, which could only be a good thing.

The subject of his labours had long ago ceased to be a mere power sword. It had transcended. He supposed it must simply be inspiration, but looking back now at the schematics he still could not fathom from where many of the ideas had sprung. It was as though - without even any conscious thought - his silver hands had time and again fashioned the ideal solution. At long last the sword was complete. No armour forged, no protective field, could stand against such a weapon. Let his brother look upon this Fireblade and weep, for it was what he had been searching for – It was perfection.

Ferrus Manus set the Iron Hands the formidable challenge of bringing every human world within a wide arc of the galaxy into Imperial Compliance, an undertaking they carried out with resolute stoicism. Though it took more than a century of blood, sacrifice and pain, at long last they reached the Halo Stars at the very edge of the galaxy. On a world so distant from Terra that the Astronomicon was but a guttering candle in the night, the Iron Hands reached the furthest extent of their conquests. The planet, appropriately named Terminus by fleet astrocartographers, was a place of dust and sand long-since scoured of life - even its star was old and nearly exhausted. Yet it was a milestone, and the place where the legion’s fate would change forever.

Scans of the planet revealed that deep beneath the surface lay a network of vast caverns clearly not of natural origin. Upon gaining entry they found all manner of seemingly potent, though dormant, machineries of xenos origin and after only the briefest of examinations, Ferrus Manus bade his legion leave him and return to orbit. Though much vexed by this turn of events, the Iron Hands respected their primarch’s wishes. When Manus emerged, he was a man transformed, and much saddened by what he had found.

Ferrus Manus explained that he had been able to decipher some of the databanks, which told the history of an advanced race from a time before life on Terra had even emerged from the oceans. Their empire had spanned the galaxy and their power seemed unassailable, little realising the malevolent threat of Chaos that lived at the heart of the Warp. The Empyrean, they eventually came to learn, was populated not just by the mindless warp-predators which attacked unprotected ships, but by entities of godlike power and unspeakable evil. They had at first welcomed the rise of psychic powers amongst their race, realising too late that their use weakened the walls protecting reality from this universe of horror, allowing madness and daemonic possession to run rife.

This caused a tide of suspicion, bloodshed and hysteria to sweep the galaxy, which only acted to strengthen the creatures which lived in that shadow-realm, as such powerful emotions were a feast for them. Even their most powerful warriors were not immune to corruption or possession, and they turned their weapons upon any who would not follow them into damnation. As the war raged, the Ancients tried to use their advanced technology to create wholly synthetic bodies for themselves that would be immune to the temptations of the flesh, and the warping powers of Chaos. In scores of hidden bases across the galaxy, of which the caverns of Terminus were but one, they raced desperately to free themselves from the trap of flesh before their entire race was extinguished. They failed. The countless millions of silent metal shells which they found in the depths of the catacombs below were to have been hosts to the race, but instead stood silent and dead as statues.

The words of their primarch moved the assembled Iron Hands deeply, not least because it voiced for them feeling they had been unable to properly express since the earliest days of the Great Crusade. Despite their pragmatic and rational nature, the legion had seen much which could not be explained, and this gave reason to the irrational. In particular, the proximity of Medusa to the Eye of Terror meant that their Expeditionary forces had faced whole worlds in thrall of psykers, where madness and mutation were rife, and daemonic creatures of nightmare had been all-too real.

It was clear to the Iron Hands that history was even now repeating itself, and that humanity was sleepwalking towards the same fate as the Ancients before them. Unless they acted, mankind would be corrupted, trapped and consumed by the Dark Gods of the Warp. On that day, Ferrus Manus set his Iron Hands the task of examining the technology contained within the scattered tomb-worlds and developing it to the point where it could be used to ascend mankind beyond the frailties of flesh.

Ferrus Manus walked ahead of his brethren, drinking in the majesty and power of the dormant machines. They were old – old beyond imagining – and yet something within him was certain that they could be made to live again... “To live” struck him an odd phrase to apply to a machine, but here, inside the hidden caverns of Terminus, it felt somehow fitting. As he walked, his armoured feet kicked up eddies of the fine brown dust which coated every surface. All except the thing he had at first taken to be a large mirror. Upon closer inspection he noticed that the silvery surface was fluid, like a pool of mercury held vertically against the wall. Something about the way it moved fascinated him, and without knowing quite why, Ferrus Manus reached out his silver hand to touch the shimmering mirror...

The Hard Road
T
he undertaking before the Iron Hands was an epic one, made all the more difficult as it had to be carried out alone, and in complete secrecy. They could not risk telling even the Emperor of their plans, concerned either that He might oppose them, or, given the interconnected nature of psychic powers and the Warp, that the Chaos Gods might learn of it. As long as they continued to bring fresh worlds into the Imperium, the legion’s private mission to investigate the tomb-worlds went without notice. While his legion did this, Manus returned to Medusa, and in a rare seismically calm area located at the centre of the Land of Shadows, constructed a vast chamber to house his great work. A steady stream of data and arcane machinery flowed into Medusa from across the galaxy, but it soon became apparent that not all of the equipment they required was to be found on dead worlds. The most important artefact of all was located on a planet that was far from deserted. It was buried beneath the surface of Mars.

Given the jealous way with which the Adeptus Mechanicus guarded their secrets, the idea that they would allow the Iron Hands to excavate and remove anything from Mars was simply out of the question. Despite the Terran system being the most heavily defended in the Imperium, and Mars being protected by Titan Legions and other potent engines of destruction, plans were drawn up to take the Artefact by subterfuge. These desperate ploys were abandoned when it became clear through the Ancient’s machines that the Ruinous Powers were already moving to tear the Imperium apart in civil war. With time so desperately short, Manus formulated an audacious scheme to use these events to his advantage.

Knowing that Rogal Dorn, the chosen pawn of the Ruinous Powers, would attempt to play upon any perceived character flaw, Manus deftly used this to his advantage. He contacted Dorn and spoke of his concerns for the Great Crusade, for the need for strong leadership if the Imperium was not to crumble under its own weight, and of the high-handed way the Adeptus Mechanicus so jealously guarded their technological treasures. Over the course of that fateful conversation, Manus allowed Dorn to draw him into the conspiracy to depose their father, and was sure to let just a flash of avarice tarnish his modesty when told that the Iron Hands would be the ideal rulers of Mars under the new order.

Fine words alone were not enough to secure Dorn’s trust, and the access to Mars they required. The pact had to be sealed with blood and sacrifice at Istvaan V. There they were expected to help ambush and crush three legions that Dorn had been unable to convert to his cause, including their brothers-in–arms, the Emperor’s Children. They yearned first to warn them, and later to join them in battle against the traitors, yet knew they must not. It is a testament to the legion’s resolve and trust in their primarch that not a single Iron Hand faltered in the face of their duty, even when the battle brought the two legions together. They could not be seen to hold back even in the slightest against their former friends, and Fulgrim’s legion attacked their perceived betrayers with incandescent fury. The two primarchs met, albeit briefly, and although Manus had his brother at his mercy, he faltered. In that instant of hesitation, Fulgrim pressed his attack, grievously wounding Manus and severing his left hand before they were again separated by the tides of battle.

Ferrus Manus, or rather the thing which now wore his face, selected his next victim. The Emperor’s Children as a legion may not have fallen to Chaos, but the Dragonshard Manus could see it had taken root within the heart of the arrogant duellist captain before him. Though not as pronounced as that which had claimed Rogal Dorn, it would have consumed him within a short span had they not come here to die on Istvaan V. Before the man could even open his mouth to issue a challenge, the Dragonshard leapt forward and gripped his sword by the naked blade. Lucius’ eyes widened first in surprise, and then shock, as the powerfield strained uselessly against the impenetrable silver metal. Inefficient and incomprehensible though it was, such acts of intimidation were vital in maintaining the illusion of humanity. Similarly, it took not even a moment of pleasure at the man’s demise.

As the Dragonshard considered the irony that the death had been caused by the warhammer forged by the man’s own primarch, it was transfixed with unutterable agony. It looked down to see a blade erupting from its chest, and the stench of its own seared flesh filled the air. As the sword was ripped from its back, the Dragonshard toppled over into the trampled mud, and from the corner of its eye saw the unmistakable sight of Fulgrim - the Phoenician – bearing down once again. Reflexively, he raised his hand to ward off the blow, but the blade was of no ordinary construction. It was the Fireblade, forged by the original owner of this body, and then given away in a useless display of friendship. Though he had not even known it, the weapon incorporated the peerless technology of his master. With a sickening crunch, Fireblade sheared clean through the metal of the Dragonshard’s left wrist, and in the moment before it was swept to safety by a phalanx of Manus’ personal guard, the thing at last felt the bitter sting of emotion. It at last felt fear.

With the three loyalist legions effectively destroyed and their place inside Dorn’s rebellion cemented with blood of their brothers, the Iron Hands set course for the Terran system. During the journey, Manus crafted a masterpiece of the bionic art in adamantium to replace the hand he had lost. It was a reminder not just of the price they had all paid at Istvaan, but also of the dire cost of even a moment’s sentimentality.

While the Imperial Fists and the Salamanders continued on to Terra, the Iron Hands headed for Mars. They ignored the calls for aid from their supposed Chaos allies and instead made planet-fall close to the area known as the Noctis Labyrinthus. While the region was being secured from attack, Ferrus Manus led the legion’s assembled techmarines through caves deep beneath the red planet, and to the prize they had sacrificed so much to obtain. What they found was a vast cavern that, but for the patina of aeons, was all-but identical to the one constructed back on Medusa. Although empty to the naked eye, the chamber gave an indefinable impression of being somehow crowded and oppressive, which Manus explained was a side-effect of the Martian Artefact’s extra-dimensional nature. Such was the complexity of the item that Manus ordered all manner of arcane equipment be put in place before it could be moved.

The wilds of Noctis Labyrinthus were far from the most intense clashes between the Mechanicus and their Chaos corrupted brethren, and for more than a week the Iron Hands faced little in the way of attacks. It was, however, simply a matter of time before their presence brought down the full might of the Titan Legions. Before the Iron Hands could test their mettle against this formidable foe, Ferrus Manus called every one of his battle-brothers down to the cavern. There he revealed that the equipment they had installed was designed to transport them, and the Martian Artefact, across the galaxy to Medusa in an instant.

Manus instructed the Iron Hand fleet to break orbit and return to Medusa using the more traditional method to avoid the technological devastation that would result as a side-effect of this device. By the time everything was in place the surface above was subject to a full-scale bombardment which shook the very bedrock with its fury. As Ferrus Manus approached the control panel and raised his hands for silence, even the drums of war seemed to fall silent in anticipation. This was broken by the unearthly howl of pent-up energies seeking release, and a sickening sense of movement. They had returned to Medusa, but before the legion could celebrate their success it became clear that something had gone terribly wrong.

Manus had learned much in the years of his imprisonment. So sure had the Dragonshard been in its mastery of him, that it had not even felt the need to restrict his access to its memories. What he had found had filled Manus with anger and grief, but he was resourceful, patient, and one of the Emperor’s primarchs. Now, with the loss of its silver hand at Istvaan, and the ritual to transport its alien master back to Medusa requiring so much of its concentration, Manus knew that his moment had come. If it worked, both he and his legion would be destroyed, but better that than they misguidedly continue down their current path. Exerting all of his considerable will, Manus subtly began to prematurely rouse the entity from its aeons-long hibernation.

The Void Dragon awoke both disoriented and hungry, and reflexively began to feed upon the life forces which surrounded it.

Ascension Delayed
T
hrough some unforeseen mishap the translation process from Mars to Medusa had prematurely triggered the Artefact, with dire consequences for the assembled Iron Hands. The machine had been intended to free humanity from its reliance on flesh and bone and transfer consciousness seamlessly into constructs of unyielding metal, but without the necessary equipment in place it proceeded to drain the life from all those around it. By the time Ferrus Manus was able to stop it, the majority of his legion had been reduced to powder-dry husks inside their suits of power armour, and even those who could be saved were debilitated, their flesh and muscles atrophied.

Worst of all, the Martian Artefact had been so badly damaged that many decades of work, and the full resources of all of the hidden bases, would be required before another attempt at re-activation could be attempted. Their intention had been to start the process of transforming mankind within weeks, ending the threat of Chaos and Dorn’s Heresy at a stroke. Instead, the terribly weakened Iron Hands were viewed by both sides as pariahs; the Imperium classed them as traitors for their actions at Istvaan, and the Chaos Legions cursed them for ignoring their calls for aid during the Siege of Terra. As much as it revolted them, they needed to hide. By the time the Iron Hands’ fleet had arrived back from Mars, the individual great companies, as well as their attendant clans, were ready to relocate to the Ancient’s bases across the galaxy.

What they found on arrival was that the tomb complexes had also been destroyed by the same cataclysm which had afflicted them on Medusa. At precisely the time the Martian Artefact had been triggered, the machineries had activated and built to catastrophic overload. With only the detailed scans taken by the survey teams, and the technological genius of Ferrus Manus, the newly integrated clan companies set to the task of rebuilding not just their depleted numbers, but the machines of the Ancients.

For thousands of years the Iron Hands remained hidden from prying eyes, venturing out only to raid for vital supplies, and even then making certain they did not leave any witnesses or hint of their involvement. To the wider galaxy it was assumed that the Iron Hands had simply been casualties of the Dornian Heresy, their passing unmourned by both sides of the war. However, with each machine they rebuild, more and more advances in technology were revealed. Bionics, powerful Gauss weaponry, space travel without passing through the Warp and phased teleportation were all developed and put to use in improving the legion’s capabilities.

While Astartes had been designed to be long lived, unlike their primarch they were not ageless. Though able to alleviate the weight of centuries by mechanising their bodies, had it not been for Iron Father Blantar’s breakthrough of transferring the brain and personality into crystal matrix form then their only option would have been entombment within the support systems of a Dreadnought. The Blantar Process proved once and for all that it was indeed possible to eliminate the weaknesses of the flesh, but so complex and difficult was it that not every Iron Hand, let alone every member of the human race, could be converted in this way.

The Martian Artefact had taken a terrible toll upon the Iron Hands, not least upon Ferrus Manus himself. Although it took many millennia, he eventually recovered sufficiently to face a fellow primarch, and in the process gained a measure of vengeance for the injury done to him on Istvaan. Ferrus Manus was able to phase into the heart of the Emperor’s Children’s flagship and confront Fulgrim alone in his own state room. He defeated his brother in single combat and stripped him down to his component atoms with Gauss blasts, before reclaiming the silver hand taken as a trophy by Fulgrim on Istvaan. With his silver hand restored and his body whole once more, Ferrus Manus returned re-energised to the task ahead.

It was with something approaching reverence that the Dragonshard approached the primarch’s gaudily ornamented trophy case. After spending so long separated, being less than whole, the anticipation was palpable. There, amongst dozens of other relics of importance to Fulgrim, lay its severed left hand cradled upon a cushion of purple velvet. The pane of glass shattered easily, and it plucked the hand hungrily from where it lay. As though pulling on a glove, its bionic left hand slipped easily inside the fluid silver, and merged seamlessly with the metal at its wrist.

A sense of wholeness, of completeness, washed over the Dragonshard. It even drove away the sullied nature of its victory over Fulgrim. It was certain that before the Phoenician had been completely flayed away to his component atoms, that he had been phased away, although to where, or in what state he would be, it was impossible to tell. It had thought the echo which haunted him had long-since been driven to insanity by his containment, but it seemed that he had merely been waiting for the moment to strike. Let Manus savour that small victory, because with this body whole once more, the troublesome ghost would soon be exorcised.

With the legion resurgent, the Iron Hands were at last able to carry out raids to procure the more difficult items required to reactivate the Martian Artefact. This has involved the legion attacking targets openly, along with the attendant risks of retribution. The largest assault was their campaign to capture the Blackstone Fortresses, in which the entire legion combined to attack strategic locations in the Gothic sector to cripple the Imperium’s ability to stop them from attacking their true targets. The Blackstone Fortresses were orbiting bastions, thought to be of Xenos origin, that the Imperium had crudely fortified with little concept of their true potential. Manus, however, through close study of the archives of the Ancient’s machines, had learned their secrets, and how to turn them against their defenders.

During the opening stages of the campaign they were able to claim three of the Blackstone Fortresses before the arrival of massed Imperial reinforcements. This made matters significantly more difficult, with the Astartes of the Death Guard destroying the fourth at Anvil 206, and the fifth spirited away from Fulvaris by the Eldar. However, the Iron Hands were able to take advantage of the bitter in-fighting between the Eldar and the Death Guard to claim the final Blackstone Fortress at Schindlegeist.

Leaving the Gothic Sector, the Iron Hands brought the Blackstone Fortresses to their full potential, and combined the four into a force capable of destroying whole stars. On the orders of Manus they attacked and completely obliterated worlds which were pivotal to the future schemes of the Dark Gods. No visible seed of Chaos was detected on Pavonis in Ultramar Segmentum, a Dyson Sphere hidden beneath the plane of the galaxy, or in any of the half a dozen other systems they destroyed, indicating that the legion had prevented the corruption from spreading any further.

The Farseer studied the wraithbone runes once more, but their divinations were as opaque as ever. Despite his best efforts, the Dragon’s servants remained shrouded from view, with only the most maddening of hints revealing themselves. He searched the possible futures for the best path to take, but the fates were too tangled even for someone of his abilities to be sure. In the attempt to understand his enemy, he had studied the many possible strands of Manus’ early history, and remembered with envy the fates where mercy had seen him die before he had been drawn to one of the Dragon’s traps. The Farseer did not know what lie the Iron Hands had been told, but he was certain that they must even now be unwittingly assembling and arming vast numbers of Necron-like constructs, unaware that the mon-keigh would not be spared the great harvest when the Dragon awoke.

The three Talismans of Vaul already in their possession could be combined to destroy whole planets and even stars - what damage would they wreak if they were allowed to claim all six? Most of his peers believed that, despite their incredible destructive capability, their aim was simply to destroy them, thereby removing one of the few weapons capable of killing the Yngir. However, the more perceptive among them had realised that they would instead be used to destroy the other Yngir, leaving the Dragon to rule unopposed. Most of the other Craftworlds had claimed that such in-fighting was an outcome to be welcomed, and that any intervention only risked provoking the Death Guard into persecuting them all the more, but they were wrong. Whatever the cost, and whatever the other Craftworlds chose to do, they must retain some way to defeat the Yngir. The Em’brathar Craftworld must go to war.

In the dying days of M41, the legion is in the process of claiming the final items for their primarch, and the caverns beneath the tomb worlds are filled with countless billions of metal shells ready to house the essence of humanity. As though sensing that the end is near, both the forces of Chaos and the Imperium have sought out the Iron Hand’s hidden bases, but nothing can be allowed to interfere with their second, long-delayed attempt to activate the Martian Artefact.

Organisation
I
n the aftermath of the Medusan Cataclysm the clan companies were desperately few in number, but over the millennia they have steadily rebuilt their ranks so that each now contains many thousands of warriors. Each Iron Hand clan company is resolutely independent, isolated beneath the surface of their own world not just from humanity, but from the rest of the legion. Their insular nature is such that forces from different clan companies rarely fight alongside one another, except upon the orders of Ferrus Manus himself. The primarch still resolutely commands the scattered legion, and in recent centuries the silver which had before coated his hands has spread to cover his entire body. He moves between the clan companies in a heavily converted Battle-Barge, which contains at its heart the cavern that houses the Martian Artefact. With every visit to a clan company, Manus consults with their leaders, directs their research, collects fresh components, and designates new targets for raids.

The clan companies themselves are led by marines so ancient that most are veterans of the Great Crusade. With such great age comes immense experience and wisdom, which has been rewarded with complete mechanisation. So bulky and valuable is the Blantar equipment that fully mechanised marines must enter battle housed inside one of the legion’s suits of Terminator armour. Such is the veneration of these ancients that their presence is used to inspire and lead squads of their younger power armoured brethren on particularly critical missions.

While the commanders direct the clan companies in the ways of war, it is the Iron Fathers who lead the research into rebuilding the machineries of the Ancients and applying their secrets to strengthen the legion. Because of this, Iron Fathers hold extremely influential positions, not just within their clan companies, but amongst the wider legion, and are able to move unimpeded between Iron Hand worlds in pursuit of the next technological breakthrough.

Homeworlds
A
fter their evacuation from Medusa, the clan companies scattered to the forgotten corners of galaxy. There, hidden from prying eyes, they quietly and patiently rebuilt their bodies and worked to bring about their primarch’s master-plan. These new homeworlds were little more than lifeless lumps of rock, having been scoured of life aeons before in the war between the Ancients and the Ruinous Powers. Such barren worlds would have been the death of most settlers, but to the stoic former inhabitants of Medusa this was seen as simply another challenge.

While the Imperium degenerated into confusion and weakness, they lived underground among the ruins, raiding to get what they needed to painstakingly piece the vast machines back together. With the culmination of Manus’ great plan almost at hand, the Iron Hands have had to become ever bolder in their attacks to claim the final, vital items needed to activate the Martian Artefact. This has meant that their enemies, in particular the Eldar, the Thousand Sons and Sigismund’s Black Legion, search all the more intensively for the location of the Iron Hands. Though their bases are buried far beneath the surface of otherwise dead worlds, and are shielded from even the most determined of scans, it is surely only a matter of time before the hidden weaponry which protects the worlds of the Iron Hands are used in earnest.

Gene-seed
T
he Iron Hands recruit almost exclusively from amongst the attendant clans of the Medusan diaspora, both due to the need for secrecy and because of the natural superiority of such a hardy breed. The exceptions to this are those staggeringly rare individuals who, through a quirk of genetics, cast no shadow into the Warp. Similar to the Sisters of Silence, the mere presence of these Blanks or Psychic Nulls causes pain and unease amongst psykers and disrupts the use of their unnatural powers. So valuable are these abilities to the Iron Hands that despite their lower rates of successful gene-seed implantation than those recruited from the Medusan clans, the Iron Hands have been known to raid worlds specifically to capture these anomalies.

Those recruits strong enough to bear the stresses of the implantation process gain all the benefits of the Manus gene-line. However, they recognise that even as paragons of the human form they are still vulnerable to the predations of the Warp and the innate frailties of the flesh. To this end, the first act an Iron Hand undertakes upon becoming a full battle-brother is to symbolically have his left hand removed, and replaced by a bionic fist of unyielding metal. This is symbolic both of the sacrifice and loss suffered by their primarch on Istvaan, and the first step on a path they hope will lead to complete mechanisation. Although only the oldest and most senior members of the legion ever attain this lofty ideal, they retain a palpable link to their primarch even when every last gene-seed implant has been replaced by metal and circuitry.

Combat Doctrine
A
lways a technologically adept legion, the Iron Hands have used the xenos artefacts and secrets of the dead worlds unlocked by Ferrus Manus to give them access to weapons and abilities far exceeding those of the Imperium. Their phasing technology allows the Iron Hands to appear seemingly from nowhere, catching their opponents unawares. It is also used to instantaneously redeploy forces across the battlefield without the need for transport vehicles, pressing any advantage and allowing them to vanish again like wraiths should the tide of battle turn against them.

The Iron Hands have also applied their technological prowess to their weaponry, producing war-blades capable of shearing through not just the toughest of armour, but of overloading powerfields with ease. The legion has also forsaken their former arsenal of ranged weaponry for those based on the principle of gauss flux projection. This engulfs the target in a coruscating beam of energy which rapidly strips it away layer by layer, be it the flesh of a living being or the adamantium armour of a battle-tank. Every type of Iron Hand weapon uses this principle, from the basic sidearm to the heavy weapons carried by Devastator squads, with even more powerful examples found mounted upon vehicles such as the Predator and Land Raider.

The Iron Hands are coldly logical and methodical in their approach to combat, probing for areas of weakness and suppressing the enemy with ranged fire before their specialised Assault squads phase in to strike the final blow. This is where the Nulls are most commonly to be found. Their mere presence is an anathema to daemons and psykers, and they fill even normal humans with a sense of dread which makes their onslaughts so effective.

- Testimony of Sergeant J.G. Lander, Tanakreg PDF

…knew how vital it was to destroy the Land Raider – that they were used to coordinate their forces and help them phase around the battlefield. We knew we had to stop it dead! The lieutenant sent me every melta-gunner in the platoon, and then threw everyone else against it as a diversion. I heard him urging them forward even while men were being flayed alive around him, but I don’t think there was anyone left by the time we got into range. We unleashed hell on that thing – more than enough firepower to melt it through to the planet’s core – and yet all it did was to burn off its ugly black paintwork. Just for a second it looked as though the metal beneath had liquefied – it rippled like mercury - but then it just reformed again and hardened. It wasn’t even warm…

Battle Cry
T
he Iron Hands attack in silence, but for the static and crackle of jammed vox-nets that precedes their arrival.
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Index Astartes: Scions of Dorn

#2
Shinzaren

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It's good. Very good. Extremely well written, with each piece falling to it's proper position as the IA moves forward. Excellent work. I dislike the Necrons personally though :tu: So I don't know how I feel about them being corrupted by the Void Dragon and all. Still, excellent IA. Very unique take on being renegades.

#3
Erasmus of Baal

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Now THAT is something to be posted on Halloween!

I, for one, can't find anything wrong. Excellent work.

#4
snorkle

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Awesome :tu:

Really well written IA. I like how in the alterniverse there are more factions within the Space Marines. Can't wait for the rest ^^
QUOTE
QUOTE
This seems a bad idea. It contradicts established fluff. Enough said.

Agreed. It would be like having a mortal wondering around the Warp or imperials creating alliances with machines which feel nothing but eternal hatred for all life and have little will of their own.


#5
Hrvat

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Very interesting, I like what you did with Necron possessing Manus in oposition to Fulgrim being possessed in the actual HH.


Cheers

Hrvat

#6
Aurelius Rex

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Glad it has been well received. :) It is always fun to write the sidebars / colourpieces, and in this case more than most of the other ones I have done they really gave the chance to see the other side of the story. It was particularly satisfying to examine how Manus could continue to fight back, even in the position he was put, and continued doing it for millennia, it would seem.

If you read back to the second IA published in the Dornian Heresy - the one for the Emperor's Children - you will spot hints about Fulgrim cutting off Manus' hand even there, and the description of the suspicious way that he disappeared was laid in even then. It just took a while to get round to paying these ideas off. :P

Next up... the Alpha Legion. :)

Aurelius.
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#7
Ace Debonair

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That's looking sharp, Aurelius. The whole thing seems faster-paced and more balanced.
And those new colourpieces are just cool - I particularly liked the bit about the Dragonshard finally feeling fear. I was hopping up and down in my chair, basking in the sheer awesomeness. ^_^

Next up... the Alpha Legion.

Bah! I sometimes think you're just looking for new ways not to write loyalist Night Lords. ;)
On the other hand, I can't wait to see what the Alpha Legion are like. :)

#8
Aurelius Rex

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Thanks, Ace, and thanks for the pre-posting feedback. I will return the favour with your Rift Lords. The article got punched up a lot in the last few days thanks to that. The colourpieces were a lot of fun to write. :P

It will probably get tweaked quite a bit more before it gets pdf'ed in part 2 of the Dornian Heresy publication, especially if I get further feedback here. :)
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Iron Warriors +++ Iron Hands +++ Alpha Legion +++ Dark Angels

Index Astartes: Scions of Dorn

#9
Ace Debonair

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Thanks, Ace, and thanks for the pre-posting feedback. I will return the favour with your Rift Lords. The article got punched up a lot in the last few days thanks to that. The colourpieces were a lot of fun to write. :D

I don't know whether I should be excited or terrified. ;)
I might have to settle for both. :D

It will probably get tweaked quite a bit more before it gets pdf'ed in part 2 of the Dornian Heresy publication, especially if I get further feedback here. ;)

I'll take another look at this later then, although I doubt I'll find any lurking mistakes. ;)

#10
mitchell93

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Great, I really entertaining read but a shame there is no pictures.
QUOTE (The_Betrayed_Spacewolf @ Aug 13 2010, 05:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
eldar are like well..... cartman, from south park. He hates you for being you, but if he needs your help hes your friend.

You, yes you; go read this now!

#11
Ace Debonair

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Great, I really entertaining read but a shame there is no pictures.

Hey, they've got to leave something to add for the 'Dornian Heresy part 2' edition of the Legio Imprint, right?

Also, you've got to have the article ready before you can talk anyone into drawing stuff for it. :cuss

#12
DarkLiege

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"In the dying days of M41, the legion is in the process of claiming the final items for their primarch, and the caverns beneath the tomb worlds are filled with countless billions of metal shells ready to house the essence of humanity. As though sensing that the end is near, both the forces of Chaos and the Imperium have sought out the Iron Hand’s hidden bases, but nothing can be allowed to interfere with their second, long-delayed attempt to activate the Martian Artefact."

I have a question about this quote: if what the last sentence said was true then wouldn't the Iron Hands Legion be split up when they go the war where half went to the forces of Chaos and the other half joining the Imperium? or would something else happen? I'm just a little bit curious about this quote is all since you wrote:

"Their intention had been to start the process of transforming mankind within weeks, ending the threat of Chaos and Dorn’s Heresy at a stroke. Instead, the terribly weakened Iron Hands were viewed by both sides as pariahs; the Imperium classed them as traitors for their actions at Istvaan, and the Chaos Legions cursed them for ignoring their calls for aid during the Siege of Terra."

If you wrote this, would that counter what you wrote for the above quote? Anyway, overall the IA is great loved everything in it from the discovery of the tomb world to nearly releasing the void dragon.
All war is deception. -Sun Tzu
He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. -Sun Tzu

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