I hope you enyoy it,
Always the most secretive of Astartes, the Alpha Legion's name has long passed into apocrypha within the Imperium, with most, outside their Astartes brothers and the High Lords of Terra, believing they were destroyed by the vengeful Ultramarines after the Dornian Heresy. It is an idea they are keen to foster, the better to exercise their finely honed covert abilities. From the shadows, the Alpha Legion uses infiltration, deception and assassination to sow discord and anarchy within enemy territory, and root out insidious Chaos cults operating within the Imperium.
Overjoyed at the news that his final son had been found, the Emperor and decreed that they, and as many of the primarchs as could be gathered, meet on Terra in honour of this momentous event. It was a celebration of special magnificence, and each brother spoke of the wonders they had seen and victories they had claimed in their father’s name. On that day, Alpharius heard many different examples of how an Astartes could fight, but was left with the certainty that none of them was his own. Upon taking command of the Twentieth Legion he instilled within each marine his own unique philosophy; that they would defeat their enemies not by the application of sheer brute force, but by cunning, subterfuge and deception. Alpharius also selected a name for them which boldly proclaimed his intentions, and resolved that they prove themselves worthy of calling themselves the Alpha Legion.
Due to their chosen style of warfare, far fewer marines needed to be attached to each expeditionary fleet compared to those of other Astartes legions. This meant that the Alpha Legion was able to lend aid to a great number of expeditions operating across the East of Segmentum Solar and the western borders of Ultima Segmentum. Rather than commanding the expeditions, as was usual where Astartes were involved, they instead acted as a covert vanguard which operated far in advance of the main force. By the time the Imperial Army arrived, they found worlds in disarray, their defences circumvented, and powerless to resist the coming invasion.
So successful were these tactics that their expeditions soon came into contact with those of the Ultramarines, moving westward from their powerbase on the eastern fringe of the galaxy. Philosophical differences between the two legions caused significant ill-feeling, with the Alpha Legion regarding the Ultramarines as unimaginative and hidebound by the prescriptive rules laid down by their primarch. In turn, Ultramarine commanders such as Lord Kharta and Captain Orar publically condemned the Alpha Legion’s tactics as dishonourable, counter-productive and unworthy of the Astartes. They claimed the Alpha Legion had a callous disregard for the civilian casualties their actions caused, and that this stirred up resentments against the Imperium long after they had moved on. Alpharius’ tally of victories was, in short, dismissed as due to the valiant actions of the Imperial Army shoring up a weak and inexperienced legion. These verbal clashes came to a head during a meeting between the primarchs of the two legions, which reputedly resulted in Roboute Guilliman ordering the Alpha Legion “out of Ultramarine space”, and saying they should leave the Great Crusade to the real Astartes.
This acrimonious exchange aside, the Great Crusade was a time of great optimism for the Imperium as worlds long-isolated from Terra were reunited, and the darkness of superstition was banished by the rationality of the Imperial Truth. The Emperor had chosen to do this, in part, to suppress any investigation of the Warp’s true, esoteric nature, believing that to allow the existence of Chaos to become public knowledge would be enough to lead some to their worship. Even His primarch sons were not trusted with this information, although some had gleaned a measure of understanding for themselves. Being particularly astute at determining the hidden hand behind events, Alpharius, was one of these few.
This was brought into sharp focus when the Chaos-worshipping inhabitants of a world they were fighting to bring into the Imperium used Warp-magicks to destroy the planet rather than face defeat. Through painstaking and meticulous investigation of this new threat, they came to realise the destructive intent of the Ruinous Powers extended far beyond individual planets; they sought to bring down the entire galaxy in blood and fire.
The key to this was an insidious plan by a cabal of xenos breeds to see Warmaster Horus succumb to daemonic possession, thereby plunging the Imperium into a catastrophic civil war. Despite subjecting the xenos conspirators to their most terrible and persuasive of interrogations, they were unable to extract where or even when this possession would take place. They did, however, ascertain that the death of a Word Bearer Chaplain by the name of Erebus was vital to the alien’s plans. Perhaps it is a sign of their paranoia and love of secrets, but rather than simply inform the Warmaster of the threat against his life, they decided instead to shadow Chaplain Erebus and ensure his safety.
In this way, the ambush the aliens had set for the Word Bearer was averted, and Erebus reached the Sons of Horus fleet without ever realising his life had been in danger. When Horus was struck down on the world of Davin with an ailment inexplicable by even the finest apothecaries, Chaplain Erebus proved his worth a hundredfold. He recognised the affliction for what it truly was, and aided by the psychic might of Magnus of the Thousand Sons, was able to exorcise the daemonic entity and save the Warmaster. The Alpha Legion assumed that the threat had been averted, but had woefully underestimated the cunning and subtlety of their Great Adversary.
Furthermore, the Ultramarine war-fleets were growing ever-larger, and yet their westward expansion was taking them into areas of space already pacified by the Great Crusade. The Alpha Legion suspected the signs of Guilliman attempting to usurp control. These worlds had more allegiance to Guilliman than to the Emperor, and that, if left unchecked, this creeping expansion would see the Ultramarines grow too powerful to be stopped. Alpharius transmitted this damning information directly back to Terra, and when the call went out to mobilise fully half of the Astartes legions to bring the Ultramarines to heel, the Alpha Legion was amongst the first to volunteer.
With Warmaster Horus still recovering from the events on Davin, Rogal Dorn, the Emperor’s Praetorian, took command of the mission. While he led the bulk of the Astartes forces against Guilliman at his newest Ultramar world of Istvaan V, the Alpha Legion and Word Bearers were sent to destabilise the renegade realm from within. Lorgar set course directly for Macragge, but the Alpha Legion scattered to infiltrate each world they came across. Unlike the Great Crusade, where they had the support of the Imperial Army, their aim was simply to spread anarchy and disrupt the war effort so that Ultramar Segmentum would respond as isolated planets rather than as a unified entity. Only later, once the Imperial Army had properly been mobilised, could the worlds be reclaimed back into the Imperium.
Despite their initial successes at paralysing large areas of Ultramar Segmentum, the Alpha Legion came under increasing pressure due to great numbers of Ultramarines moving in from the direction of Istvaan. The war had rendered them virtually cut off from the Imperium, but at great cost the legion’s astropaths were eventually able to penetrate the aetheric howl. With each fragment of intelligence they gathered, the situation became increasingly dire. Against all expectation, the Ultramarines had triumphed at Istvaan, destroyed many of the legions sent against them, and were now moving against them in force. Eventually the reason for the Istvaan disaster became clear; Rogal Dorn had betrayed the Emperor’s legions to Guilliman, and now sought to claim the Imperial throne for himself. Although Warmaster Horus had been saved, the Ruinous Powers had found another primarch through which to work their evil.
Dorn’s cunning had seen both the Alpha Legion and the Word Bearers mired so deeply inside enemy territory that neither would be able to get back to Terra in time. Alpharius was convinced that their best course was to continue as before, keeping Ultramar Segmentum in turmoil and preventing Guilliman from sending aid to Dorn’s traitors. He was concerned of how the Word Bearers would react to the threat against their God-Emperor, but on meeting Lorgar, found him to be of the same mind. So unshakeable was his faith in the omnipotence of the Emperor that Lorgar would not even countenance the idea their father could be defeated. He held an unshakable belief that the loyal legions, led by Warmaster Horus, would crush the upstart Dorn, and that the Word Bearers must prove equally worthy by conquering Macragge and tearing the heart from the rebellious Ultramarines.
Though a noble ambition, the flood of Ultramarine reinforcements from Istvaan meant that any frontal assault on Macragge would be drowned in its own blood. Alpharius proposed that they lure away the defenders with something they could not resist; the chance to finally face the elusive Alpha Legion in open conflict. This was done by subtly revealing the existence of a major Alpha Legion base on the planet of Eskrador, further sweetened with the promise of being able to face Alpharius himself.
The ploy proved more successful than they could have hoped, with Guilliman committing large numbers of forces to the assault. Instead of the sober, measured campaign they had anticipated, the Ultramarines were far more reckless, committing a massed drop-pod assault onto the mountainous slopes near the supposed Alpha Legion base. For another legion this might have thrown their plans into disarray, but instead they adapted, and turned this development to their advantage. The unsupported infantry that emerged from their drop-pods were punished mercilessly for their hubris, and many Ultramarines, including several high-ranking commanders, were slain before their relief columns broke through from the lowlands.
The Ultramarines tell the story of Eskrador as a glorious victory, but all they gained were the bodies of but a fraction of the Alpha Legionnaires actually present, and a base filled with intentionally misleading information. Of their most prized ‘victory’ - the supposed death of Alpharius - that too was denied them. Whoever Guilliman fought that day, it was not Alpharius, as he still commands the legion to this day. Most likely it was a ruse to lull the Ultramarines into a false sense of security that the threat of the Alpha Legion had been ended.
Although Eskrador had proved a great success as a diversion, before the Word Bearers could assault the weakened Macragge, news filtered in from the Imperium which broke their resolve. While putting an end to Dorn’s Heresy, the Emperor had been mortally wounded, and in their grief Lorgar’s Word Bearers fled back to Terra, the assault on Macragge forgotten. The Alpha Legion was left to battle on alone against the might of Ultramar Segmentum.
In the time since their disappearance, the Alpha Legion had honed their skills at covert warfare to razor sharpness, and had kept Ultramar Segmentum from turning its gaze upon the Imperium. Guilliman, however, had grown tired of this state of affairs and was planning, under the flag of diplomacy, to take that which had been so long denied him. Barely a month later, the High Lords received a communiqué from Guilliman, who begged forgiveness for Istvaan. He claimed to have been deceived by Dorn, and offered a strategic alliance against their true enemies – the forces of Chaos. Forewarned, the High Lords saw this for what it was; a ploy to allow the Ultramarine war-fleets to pass deep into Imperial space for an assault upon Terra.
Using their extensive knowledge of Ultramar Segmentum, the Alpha Legion was able to turn the treaty discussions on Prandium into a trap. By providing the supposedly unarmed Imperial Astartes with weapons, equipment and intelligence, they were able to ensure that Roboute Guilliman was mortally wounded, imprisoned within a stasis field and returned to Terra so that all could witness the traitor’s just fate.
That eight other legions besides the Ultramarines had also betrayed their oaths to the Emperor had not been forgotten, and with Guilliman at long last having paid the price for his crimes, the Alpha Legion’s self-imposed penance could come to an end. As the legion is at its most effective when the enemy does not even suspect their presence, they officially remained casualties of the Dornian Heresy, with only the upper echelons of the Imperium and the loyalist legions made aware of the truth. Ever since, the Alpha Legion has put its skills to use against the Ruinous Powers by monitoring planets close to the Eye of Terror for signs of cult activity, and as the vanguard of Imperial crusades to oust the Traitor Legions from the Emperor’s worlds.
Where the Ultramarines followed strict rules and a rigid, predictable organisational structure, the forces of Chaos were, by their very nature, an ever-changing chimera. This meant the skills the Alpha Legion had used to such great effect in Ultramar Segmentum often proved to be completely useless around the Eye of Terror. Similarly, their methods of infiltration proved to be far more vulnerable to detection by sorcery and the eternal, malevolent gaze of the Ruinous Powers. Having prided itself upon the ability to adapt, the Alpha Legion took to this fresh challenge with aplomb. With the aid of certain highly specialised Imperial organisations, they have found ways around even these obstacles. It is with these weapons as much as with primed boltguns and cold steel that the Alpha Legion works to excise the cancer of Chaos from the galaxy.
As successful as the Alpha Legion has been at keeping the forces of Chaos hemmed within the Eye of Terror, it has come at a cost to their operations inside Ultramar Segmentum. While it remains a prime example of the Alpha Legion’s ability to spread destruction and anarchy within an enemy's territory, their numbers are too few to do more than slow the Ultramarines’ implacable advance. In recognition of this disturbing fact, the Alpha Legion has had to become ever-more creative, and destructive in its plans.
When operating within Ultramarine territory there is no chance of support from the Imperium, and so the Alpha Legion frequently relies upon less conventional methods to bring large military forces to bear. Whether through provocation by covert military actions or the simple bribery of leaders, the ubiquitous Orks have proved to be valuable, if unwitting, allies. In particular, several Ultramarine campaigns against the Imperium have been averted by timely uprisings of the Ork Empire of Charadon. Another valuable technique the Alpha Legion has perfected is to fracture alliances and set them at each other’s throats. Be they shaky coalitions of Chaos warbands or the technologically advanced Tau and the Ultramarines, nothing sows discord like an unprovoked attack from Astartes in the livery of an ally.
Given their secretive nature, all manner of outlandish theories have been attributed to the Alpha Legion. There is even speculation that the legion has become so fragmented that its convoluted plots and schemes war as much against each other as they do the enemy. It seems certain that the truth is more prosaic, and at the same time more unbelievable than even the most ardent conspiracy theorist could imagine. The only person to know the whole truth is their primarch, and Alpharius has proven extremely good at guarding his secrets.
While only a handful of full Astartes may be present in an operation, they are accompanied by a far greater number of human operatives. These include initiates who have yet to be fully implanted with gene-seed, as well as inducted Imperial Army and Adeptus Arbites veterans who are able to pass unnoticed among the populace in a way that an Astartes – even without power armour – would be unable to do. In support of these field agents are armourers and scribes, as well as techno-savants skilled in sifting through the mass of data for the intelligence they require. The criminal underworld is also an invaluable source of illicit information and muscle, although great care must be taken to ensure they never suspect the true identity of their employers.
So insidious are the Ruinous Powers that throughout the legion’s history, individuals and even entire cells have fallen to the Dark Gods. Although the knowledge possessed by a single cell is compartmentalised, and so in no way enough to bring down the legion, such defections can upset plans many decades in the making. The task of hunting down these renegades falls to the very best of the Alpha Legion, and on several notable occasions, Alpharius himself has taken charge of determining how far the rot has spread.
When operating deep inside enemy territory, the Alpha Legion uses its skills to destabilise planets without ever revealing their presence. To this end, acts of sabotage, infiltration and assassination are all tools in their arsenal, as are the fracturing of alliances and the incitement of civil unrest. Rather than just keeping enemy territory in a state of anarchy, the Alpha Legion also works with the Black Templars in support of their massed Astartes Crusades. By infiltrating in advance of the invasion, they are able to cripple the enemy’s defences, draw forces out of position and ensure that any counter-attack is fragmented and ineffective. Their actions are always meticulously planned, with attacks coming from multiple directions so that the failure of any one element does not jeopardise the mission as a whole. In this respect they are like the mythical hydra - if one head is struck off, two more seem to spring up in its place.
Because even an Alpha Legionnaire would find it difficult to mingle with a crowd, much of their work is carried out by their networks of human operatives. They gather intelligence, infiltrate enemy installations and procure everything that is needed by their masters. As skilled as these human agents are, there are some tasks that can only be carried out by an Astartes Kill-team. In their infiltrator armour and cameleoline cloaks, the legion is adept at moving through the shadows like ghosts. However, it is frequently more efficient simply to appear in the guise of other Astartes, be they Loyalist, or those of enemy legions. Many victories against Chaos attributed to the timely intervention of a squad of Word Bearers or Iron Warriors galvanising the citizenry to resist the raiders have in truth been due to the Alpha Legion.
These disguises are even more useful when operating behind enemy lines, as it allows them almost unfettered freedom of movement across a Chaos-held world. Such is the terror with which Traitor Astartes are held by the inhabitants that few would dare look one in the eye, let alone deny a squad of them access to any building or bunker they wished to enter. They also use the guise of enemy Astartes to publically carry out acts which would destabilise alliances between groups. This can be anything from firing upon crowds to trigger civil unrest on Ultramarine worlds, to desecrating shrines to Slaanesh under the guise of the Space Wolves to provoke tension between Chaos factions.
Even though they ensure their armour is meticulously reconsecrated after such acts, the greatest of care must be taken when disguising themselves as worshippers of the Ruinous Powers. Under such circumstances they use only the most generic of symbols to give the impression of the legion they are trying to mimic. As bitter experience has taught them, even the simple act of painting a Chaos symbol upon their armour tarnishes the soul, and can bring down the gaze of the Dark Gods upon the wearer.
The gene-seed of the Alpha Legion is said to be pure and uncontaminated, although the greatest of care is taken when dealing with progenoids harvested from Astartes who have spent extended periods close to the Eye of Terror. The strength of the Alpharius gene-seed has also been proposed to be the reason for the striking similarity between many Alpha Legionnaires and their primarch, even down to their height. While similar effects have been observed in the gene-lines of other legions, it has led to speculation of the use of cloned humans, recruitment from a restricted gene-pool, such as Alpharius’ secret homeworld, or the practice of surgically creating doubles to act as decoys. Of these theories, the last best fits the legion’s modus operandi, as their apothecaries can dramatically alter a marine’s appearance should the mission demand it. This may also explain how Guilliman could have been fooled into thinking that he had battled and defeated his brother on Eskrador.
One of the Alpha Legion’s defining characters is their pragmatism, and ability to take the hard decisions required to ensure the stability of the Imperium. They are well aware that in the pursuit of their goals, terrible deeds are often necessary, and that in the Long War, the end justifies the means.
Edited by Aurelius Rex, 11 January 2011 - 10:00 PM.