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A Broken Throne - Legio II - The Lightning Bearers


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#301
bluntblade

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The Battle of Argos-Rho IV
At the height of the Great Crusade, the Lightning Bearers enjoyed unrivaled renown among the Legions. Yet while they were a welcome sight on any battlefield, this did not obscure the idiosyncrasies and even mysticism which came to characterise them. One such strange strand among the Lightning Bearers were the Volta of the Blue Shield.

Any Space Marine who has the distinction of wearing terminator plate is profoundly intimidating to the average human as the already giant body of a legionnaire gains twice its weight and size in a tank the shape of a man. The Volta go one step further in having no lenses on their helmets. For every member of the Volta is blind. This is not some gene-seed anomaly but a direct result of their training. The Volta undergo intense psychic training in the arts of foresight that eventually lead to a final trial where they are ritually blinded. This ritual is to further strengthen their powers at divination by sacrificing their mundane sight for the supernatural. While not a few have criticized this practice as smelling of bald superstition, none could deny the Volta's effectiveness in war.

This was demonstrated comprehensively in the Compliance of Argos-Rho IV.

First identified on stellar charts by the infamous Rogue Trader Intana Yonez, the Argos-Rho system was rich in resources and habitable planets. All initial scans suggested the system was quite the find, and the Administratum quickly drew up plans to have the system claimed and colonised in the name of the Emperor. Yonez, then young and new to his profession, moved to explore the system. As a consequence he was witness to the events which unfolded there, and it is his writings that inform this account.

Upon arriving in the system aboard the galleas Sidewinder, the Rogue Trader and his crew were surprised and alarmed to find that a ship had arrived before them, and destroyed. Identifying it at the Warp-runner Hunting Hound, they sent out an astropathic call to any Imperial fleets and withdrew to the Oort Cloud to wait. Cautious of whatever had dispatched the first vessel, they conducted only the most discreet auspex probes, but managed to identify the signs of Eldar weapons on the wreckage.

To the outriders’ surprise, an answer came to them a mere hour after their communication. The Wayfarer, a Lighting Bearers cruiser, translated in-system with its escorts. Commanding the vessel was the venerable Asizaga, the then commander of the Volta. Yonez began his report, only for the Lightning Bearer to cut him short and bid him prepare his galleas for battle.

The enemy vessels were unsurprisingly a handful of Eldar warships, which engaged the Imperial vessels before being beaten back. This would merely be the opening move, Asizaga predicted that a Lightning Bearer expeditionary fleet was already in transit. Pressed by Yonez about the fate of the scouting ship, he claimed that the destruction of the Hunting Hound had been "hitsuzen".

Among the Volta of the Blue Shield, the future is held to be malleable except for certain events in time. No matter what the Volta may will or do, these fixed moments will come to pass, regardless of their efforts. This concept is what the Volta call hitsuzen. Thus Asizaga, though aware of the doom befalling the Hunting Hound, believed this was one event beyond his ability to manipulate and thus irrelevant. Of greater import, he told, Yonez, was the battle to come, and as if at his cue, reality tore open and the 21st Expeditionary Fleet entered the system.

Marshal Kionen took charge of what was now a full invasion, rapidly building up a strategic picture of the system. The Sidewinder ran ahead, Yonez noting strange aetheric signatures ahead as well as an Eldar war fleet readying itself for battle. When he reported his findings, the Volta confirmed his suspicion that strange xenos devices were responsible for the mysterious readings.

These were identified as Webway portals - the mysterious passages which predates even that ancient species. Four were located on the fourth planet, dubbed 21-42 for the campaign, but while these were relatively small, the fifth and by far the largest hung in the void. The Akiran tech-priests identified this as one of the fabled “great arteries” which would permit a starship to enter the Labyrinth Dimension. Even as the Imperials drew close, more Eldar vessels slipped from its aperture into realspace. As such, it would need to be invested and then held with infantry alone, and would undoubtedly be most heavily contested by the Eldar.

Presented with a dual threat and prize, the Lightning Bearers set to the task immediately. Kionen divided his warriors and auxiliaries into task forces for the seizure of each gate, determining that his own companies would take the great void-gate. Asizaga and his sightless warriors would go with them. The Ist Legion ships brought their engines to full burn and met the Eldar in a veritable cascade of fire. The alien vessels were swift and powerful, but locked into a battle of relatively static defence they were at a profound disadvantage against the more robust ships of the Legion and its allies. With just three hours of fighting, they were consigned to the same fate as the Hunting Hound and Kionen and Asizaga led their warriors into the structure of the great gate. Rakurai, Army soldiers and Akiran taghma would take part in the fighting on Argos-Rho IV, but the void gate would be the most heavily defended, and Kionen deemed it a fight for the Astartes alone.

Fighting raged through the wraithbone halls and passageways as Eldar warriors raced to meet the attackers, coming to a head in the grand control nexus. Here Kionen and his five thousand warriors halted and dug in, and now the Eldar came against them. The Lightning Bearers fought, as Yonez described it, “like a volcanic island ringed by a savage sea”. The Volta anchored the formation, their volkite culverins setting their foes ablaze and their precognition countering the Eldar’s speed flawlessly. All the while, their sighted brethren poured gunfire into the ranks of Eldar or matched them in bladework, hissing alien chainswords against Akiran vibro-katana.

A gruelling but frenetic battle of attrition resulted, as each side fought to exhaust the other. But the Eldar could never match the Astartes for endurance, especially not Terminator-clad giants like the Volta. So as the forces on the great gate and the world below cemented their control, the aliens began to fall back and finally flee into the portals, if the Imperials did not catch them first. Finally the last warrior fell and the few remaining ships retreated within. Legion warriors and gunships probed the gates, only to report that the passages beyond had been sealed by the Eldar a few kilometres into the labyrinth. The gates were rendered inert, but the system belonged to the Imperium.

Imperial colonists quickly came to the system, and Kionen, as the theatre commander, appointed a new Imperial governor from the Rakurai command, with a mandate to keep watch over the gates. Before rejoining the Imperial Crusade, Asizaga left one final warning, concerning the fourth gate which lay beneath the planet of Argos-Rho IV. Here the Lightning Bearers had taken a far greater proportion of casualties than elsewhere; the details are sparse but Yonez’s few notes on the matter mention that Susanoo Empyon, then a mere captain, was credited with staving off disaster in the caverns. Asizaga left a cryptic warning that the catacombs were to be sealed, and no man enter unless he wished to “trespass upon Death’s realm.” Only during the Insurrection would the truth behind these grim words be unveiled.


Edited by bluntblade, 10 October 2019 - 09:25 PM.

Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

Caretaker of the Lightning Bearers and member of the Broken Throne alt-Heresy project


#302
Nomus Sardauk

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Spotted a mistake, you used Harbingers instead of Lightning Bearers in the last paragraph.

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Formerly SanguiniusReborn, proud Creator of the Scarlet Sentinels, my 18th Century British Redcoat Chapter and the Steel Legion, my Cyberpunk-inspired Lost Legion!


#303
bluntblade

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Cheers

Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

Caretaker of the Lightning Bearers and member of the Broken Throne alt-Heresy project


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bluntblade

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The Harbingers
 

Numeration: Ist Legion

Primogenitor: Icarion Anasem, the Stormborn
Cognomen (Prior): The Lightning Bearers
Observed Strategic Tendencies: Naval Engagements, Zone Mortalis and Boarding Actions, Precognitive Warfare, counter-daemon warfare
Noteworthy Domains: The Madrigal Sphere
Allegiance: Tratoris Maximus
 

The Harbingers – the Legion of the Betrayer, whose name now echoes through time and the shattered realms of mankind as a curse. Though an age of nightmares would follow in their wake, these heralds of Insurrection once trod a different path. So complete was their fall that few now care to remember that they and their master were once raised above their brothers of the Legiones Astartes. Yet they were, and only decades ago our kind spent oceans of ink extolling their virtues. The Lightning Bearers, the First Legion - and how could they have been anything else? Held in highest in esteem and courage amongst their kind, they were warriors cut from starlight, fierce and intelligent, gracefully bearing the Emperor’s own lightning over centuries of glorious conquest during the Great Crusade. To common humanity, they were angels of light, a bright star in the firmament of the Emperor’s greatest designs. To the Legions, they were the first amongst equals, paragons of all it was to be a Space Marine. Once loyal and trusted above all others, the Harbingers now stand as a mirror held up to the Imperium itself, a light of hope, now corrupted and fallen to darkness that may well prove eternal.

First Among Equals
As the Emperor turned His eyes to the stars beyond Terra, He raised new armies to fight the nascent crusade. He drew these in part from the forces which had aided Him in Terra’s Unification, and in part from His subjugated enemies, and standing beside the gene-breeds, war-wights, and battle emissaries were the first of the Legiones Astartes. These Legionnaires were far from the vast armies in their hundreds of thousands which would later unify the galaxy, but inheritors, bearing the legacy of the Thunder Warriors that had come before them, which together represented a fighting force singular throughout history. The Ist Legion stood sentinel over the creation of the Legiones Astartes, as the Emperor’s prototypes.

The first Space Marines were thrust into a conflict that had already raged across Terra for centuries; although the enduring secrecy around the gene-seed projects continues to shroud much of the gene-seed project, we know that it proceeded at a frantic pace as the Emperor sought to bring the fruits of his experiments to bear in the war for the planet. The Thunder Warriors were a devastating force, but only toward the end of the Unification Wars did the future soldiers of the Great Crusade emerge, the ones with the finesse and wits to face the alien hordes and triumph. They were drawn from among the Emperor’s domains, often the stock of defeated but worthy adversaries, and took their place alongside the gene-breeds and mortal warriors who served under the raptor’s head and thunderbolts. They did not begin in anything like the numbers in which they would prosecute the Crusade, and the Ist would be the ones to witness the entire process as the Legions grew into a truly monolithic force.

Men and women of history are in no place to verify the claims that the Ist Legion’s gene-seed was the purest, beyond what we can glean from the few records which survive. Their steady rise attests that theirs was indeed pure, with a low rejection rate even in the beginning. With these early successes, cadres began to be raised and grouped into units of up to twenty. With no preexisting structure and the Principia Bellicosa still being formulated, a baptism of fire was decided upon: the Astartes would learn from the very warriors they were intended to supersede. As well as education from military scholars, they trained under the eyes of veteran Thunder Warriors and the canniest mortal officers, before taking to combat alongside them. These trials were costly, but they rapidly produced warriors of a pedigree never seen before on Terra and taught them the limitations of Thunder Warrior tactics. Over two decades the Legionaries grew numerous enough to fight as a single unit, training their own recruits and fighting under the leadership of the Emperor Himself.

It was during these years that the theoretical basis for the Legiones Astartes was completed, and other Legions began to be assembled. The Ist would take a hand in this process, training the initial cadres and seconding companies to their early campaigns. Some records indicate that this was at the behest of the Emperor Himself, recognising a way to instill true kinship among His Legions. Throughout this the Ist strove to master any form of warfare in which they might be required to prosecute their foes. The disordered formations and sledgehammer attacks of the Thunder Warriors had no place in their methods; the Ist became synonymous with intricate strategies which could nonetheless pivot around a single factor. This is thought to be the first evidence of the foresight which later became their hallmark - the ability to see the point on which an entire battle might hinge, and seize the opportunity. Thus they were elevated beyond being merely the first Legion founded, and became preeminent among all the armies of Unity.

 

The first time that the power of a Space Marine Legion was unleashed in full occurred during the three-day Battle of Lakad. As their conscript forces were pushed back, the Heart Taker priesthood which controlled this city unleashed the Thur-Gea, genetically modified soldiers akin to the Thunder Warriors and steeped in the blade-cult practices of the region. Even the terrifying power of the Thunder Warriors would have struggled to overcome this similarly genhanced strength, but even as the Thur-Gea charged the Ist Legion swept onto the battlefield by gunship and cut through the Thur-Gea. The larger giants were felled by the newer, swifter breed in mere hours, their every blow all too obvious to the Legionaries and their deaths coming as if ordained. Amid the roar of bolters and the shriek of chainblades, the time of the Space Marines had begun. 

From Franc to Merica the Legion won dazzling victories in this manner, and the battle against the witch-cult of Orioc - dubbed the Silencing of the Eternal Dirge - became the capstone of their deeds on Terra. Their status was made clear with the name they chose, taken from the title of the last Thunder Warrior. The Lightning Bearers, the Ist Legion became, for no other had a claim so strong to the mantle of those who had fought for the Emperor before the Legions. Far greater deeds awaited, and the Lightning Bearers’ ascendancy continued as the Great Crusade stretched out into the void from Terra. It is said that when the entire Sol System lay in Imperial hands, it was the Lightning Bearers who first struck out for new worlds, accompanying the Master of Mankind.

The Ghost Crusade
The Silencing of the Eternal Dirge left clues as to the particular purpose the Emperor intended for the Ist Legion, had any known what to look for. The Emperor, who is said to have traversed the Galaxy even as Old Night sundered Man’s domains, knew the worst of what waited for His armies. Mutation, xenos marauders and madness would afflict thousands of worlds, but these were mere physical obstacles. Fewer - far fewer - but more problematic were those worlds where the separation of realspace and the Warp - that unknowable dimension by which we cheat distance and move across the Galaxy - had frayed. The denizens of the æther, beyond their threat to human life, posed a threat to the very foundation of the Imperium, for the entire edifice rested upon a falsehood. The Galaxy was sterile; religion was myth and nothing more. The Warp defies reason however, and the things that inhabit it no less so. For the sake of Crusade such incursions were to be purged.

Standing mandates existed under which sufficient ætheric breaches were grounds for the world’s destruction. However, these were not always successful in banishing the taint. Moreover, in some systems the resources on a world or even the system’s position among the arteria of the Warp mandated a more direct approach, cleansing the world instead of wiping it out. Thus it was that the Ghost Crusade was proclaimed, in the utmost secrecy, and entrusted to a single Legion; though it appears that such shadowed forces as the Silent Sisterhood and the psy-Titans of the Ordo Sinister were likewise called upon occasionally to assist in these campaigns. When this is considered, the urge to expand and equip the Lightning Bearers when several Legions lacked even a fraction of their power, takes on a new significance. The same might be said for the terrible relic-weapons they retained in their arsenals, and the psychic gifts which became apparent early on in the Crusade.

Only the merest fragments have been retrieved from data-cores and decoded, where the Ghost Crusade is concerned. The numbers of words scoured, the tally of the lost and the horrors overcome must remain for all time unknown. Instances are recorded here and there of Ist Legion elements partially withdrawing from a campaign or being abruptly reassigned from their existing campaign, but these attracted no serious attention, however. They were the Emperor’s favoured Legion; if He called they answered, and it was not for others to question why. They were not, it seems, alone in such duties, as fragments of lore from the Silent Sisterhood and Ordo Sinister attest. And soon any questions would be blotted out when a Rogue Trader fleet drew near to a world named Madrigal, and found the Primarch of the Ist Legion.

 

Red Box: At the Edge of the Maelstrom
Compared to many worlds that became host to a Primarch, Madrigal’s prior existence is well-documented in the annals of the Mechanicum, being a colony founded by Mars as the Age of Strife set in. While the Red World and Terra warred with each other and then themselves, Madrigal endured the onset of Old Night. Drawing in cultures which struggled to hold together, it became a powerful stellar polity. Even a large and growing psyker population was a source of prosperity rather than a cause for alarm, though the Warp anomaly known as the Maelstrom loomed close to the world. By the time contact was established with Mars and the Mechanicum sent its Explorators, Madrigal was strong enough to be accepted as a partner to those magi who made their way to the edge of the Maelstrom. The world itself remained verdant even as its moon Akira grew into a shipyard to rival Saturn in its golden era.

But this happy equilibrium was not to last. The surviving archives attest to growing tensions within and without the Mechanicus sect, of clandestine meetings and increasingly esoteric research as a cabal sought to combine forbidden science and psyker arts prohibited by the rulers of Madrigal. Finally, the conspiracies took nightmare form, coalescing into an individual: the Thunder King. Machine-lord and blasphemous sorcerer, he unleashed a war which consumed the fertile surface of Madrigal in atomic fire and Warp-spawned horror. Though the Thunder King was eventually defeated, entombed beneath the world’s crust, Madrigal was irrevocably changed. The survivors were confined to the fortress-cities they had built upon the world’s mountains, and the extent of the strife had drawn a tendril of the Maelstrom perilously close. Every two centuries, the world would pass through it and endure what became known as the “Time of Storms.”

The people of Madrigal and the surviving magos of Akira conferred, and realised that their orbit would carry them through the Warp-tendril. Necessity forced them to cooperate, and they threw themselves into the construction of what came to be known as the Macro-Geller Field. While not as secure as the ubiquitous, ship-sized field, these protective devices shielded Madrigal and Akira from the worst of the Warp’s onslaught. Those spectres that did slip through to menace the world and moon were destroyed by the warriors of Madrigal and the war machines of Akira.. When the threat abated, the rulers of Madrigal and Akira vowed that they would never again permit the power of the Warp to be abused in such a fashion.

The people of Madrigal honed their martial skills, developing lethal vibro-blades and power armour with which to brave the terrors in the rad-clouds. Their increasing prowess was complimented by their psyker-talents, which had become a uniform gift of precognition, merely latent for most but astonishingly potent in the hands of those who set themselves to mastering it. One day, on the cusp of a new century, one of these masters was struck by a vision. His name was Ikaru Anasem, and he foresaw the arrival of a child who would restore the fortunes of Madrigal.

 

Stormborn
Many responded with skepticism to Ikaru’s pronouncement, but the Magister stuck to his belief and when the infant’s pod came streaking down through Madrigal’s atmosphere it landed not on the surface, but in a suspensor web constructed by the technologists of Anasem. Taken in by Ikaru and his immediate family, Icarion was raised as both a warrior and scholar. His curiosity was boundless, whether in the arts of war, science or history. While he had not yet attained the mastery of foresight which allowed him to gaze years into the future, his “immediate” precognition was superlative, and he soon proved himself on several expeditions to the surface. Yet he resisted the injunctions of his adoptive father to take part in politics, instead preferring to explore and test his own limits.

It was perhaps inevitable then that he drew envy from his contemporaries. By far the most important of these was the scion of the Clan Tokawa, Hirato. Until Icarion grew into adolescence, Hirato was reckoned the most promising young warrior on the planet, and he studied with the young Primarch. It seems that Hirato came to resent the ease with which Icarion mastered so many skills, and the crippling of his father during an expedition - one which ultimately saw him killed by radiation exposure - soured it further as the responsibilities of ruling his Clan weighed on him, while Icarion was free to earn renown. Over the years, bitterness became violent ambition as another passage through the Time of Storms loomed.

Struggle between Clans was no stranger to Madrigal, though hostilities were traditionally put on hold when the baleful tendril loomed in the skies. Fourteen years after Icarion’s arrival, Tokawa and Anasem had become embroiled in a war against the Clan Kadora. Hirato and Icarion fought together in the battle that brought the renegades to heel with only weeks to spare before the Time of Storms, which would have allowed them to entrench. In the aftermath, Hirato received the leaders of Anasem in his sky-city, only to bare his teeth. It was an observed phenomenon that when the Time of Storms drew near, the seers of Madrigal often had their second sight occluded by the tides of the Immaterium, and Hirato exploited this against his unsuspecting guests. After the feast’s conclusion, Hirato’s soldiers descended upon the Anasem quarters with cruel efficiency, murdering all they found. Icarion fought his way free with a few of his kin, only for their craft to be torn from the sky, vanishing into the clouds.

No one imagined that any could have survived the crash, and with Clan Anasem devastated, Hirato met with no meaningful opposition when he declared himself Shogun over the planet. With ruthlessness and cunning, he tightened his hold, pillaging ever more ruinous weapons from the surface and even building hermetically sealed strongholds in a few places, garrisoned by loyal soldiers and manned by slaves taken from among his new subjects. Most cruelly, he began to banish his opponents to the wastes to be hunted by his warriors. While his rival was most assuredly dead, he seems to have grown obsessed with augmentation and surpassing Icarion’s power. Five years later, he was barely human, a tyrant of metal and ceramite, and even the Magos of Akira quailed at him. Ship-building was renewed in the void around Madrigal, ready to spread his tyranny to the stars.

Then expeditions to the ruined cities began to vanish. The butchered carcasses of animals appeared, seemingly killed for food. Redoubts were broken open, weapons and supplies taken, slaves vanished and soldiers slain, and the icon of the Clan Tokawa desecrated wherever it was depicted. Soldiers dispatched to uncover the cause found either nothing or death, but a picture emerged nonetheless. Something was stalking the wastes and ruins, able to endure the rad-scoured environs and overcome any foe it encountered, intelligent enough to outwit and overcome anyone sent after it, and utterly implacable once roused to anger. In other words, a Primarch.

When Icarion emerged he did not do so alone. He had carefully assembled an army from liberated slaves and rescued outcasts, equipping them and housing them in the catacombs beneath the Tiger Claw Mountains. The carefree warrior of his youth faded rapidly as he learned of the crimes being visited upon his people, and as he plotted Hirato’s downfall the solemn warlord of Imperial history coalesced. Over half a decade his army amassed weapons and trained, waiting to exact retribution. Then they struck. From a seething mass of storm clouds they emerged, clad in plain grey armour and Icarion bearing two exquisite archeotech blades, a spear and sword. They moved as one, and quickly seized the city built atop the mountains. The news triggered unrest across Madrigal, as people saw a potential saviour in this vengeful warrior.

Hirato meanwhile was frenzied in his reaction, calling his army together to slay Icarion once and for all. Icarion must have foreseen this, immediately attacking one of the outlying Tokawa bases. Hirato took the bait, racing there before his forces could fully assemble, and the fortress burned. Amid the carnage the two met, the gene-forged warrior and the machine-bulked despot now equal in stature. Their duel raged across the landing plates, lesser warriors scattering from their path, savaging one another until Icarion finally plunged his spear through Hirato’s throat. He had taken grievous wounds, his armour gouged and scorched, but the victory was his. Now, as people came forth to see this liberator who had felled their ruler, Icarion knelt and took up the mantle Ikaru had intended for him. To his last breath, he would be the guardian of Madrigal.

Icarion was tireless in his work from this day. His first move was to reform the Astral Colleges, aiming to ensure that they exerted greater authority over their students. Destructive pride and ambition were to be discouraged, self-control stressed from the lowliest novice to the highest circle of magisters. Men of courage and wit were drawn from across the Clans to govern the world, and Madrigal began to move past the recent strife. Progress accelerated at a constant rate, making it difficult to say with any certainty when Icarion first became aware of the father coming to claim him. Scholars have passionately argued for almost any timeframe, some claiming that his first inkling precipitated the end of his exile, others suggesting that he only knew a few days before the Imperial fleet translated into the system. Regardless, when the Emperor arrived, He found His son waiting.

First Son
Reunion was treated with all the pomp and ceremony such an occasion deserved, both on Madrigal and the worlds of the existing Imperium. Indeed, they may have been more enthusiastic on Terra, for now it was known that at least some of the Emperor’s creations had survived. The attention of an entire interstellar empire was now fixed upon Icarion, as people wondered just what a Primarch was capable of. They were not to be disappointed.

Primarch and Legion accepted one another eagerly. Examining the records, speaking with his sons and fairly devouring the Principia Bellicosa and other texts, Icarion found little in the Legion’s structure that he wished to alter. Their ethos he adapted subtly, weaving the teachings of the Astral College into the fabric of the Ist. This became the way in which Aspirants from both Terra and Madrigal learned to wield their powers. Resources flowed into his realm, and Akira became capable of supplying many of the Legion’s demands by itself. This can be seen in their distinctive armour variants and the preponderance of vibro-blades among the Lightning Bearers. While idiosyncratic designs would become present in every Legion, the Lightning Bearers would be the first to set themselves apart in this manner.

But the real test came with Icarion’s first forays into the Great Crusade at his father’s side, and he did not disappoint. A consummate general and warrior whose skill and grace defied any effort to describe them, Icarion led his sons to victory on a hundred worlds before the first of his brothers was discovered. From the first battle he fought beside the Master of Mankind, he demonstrated the potent force multiplier that a Primarch was for his Legion. Around them Icarion built a great host, both from the domains of Madrigal and Akira and other worlds in the growing Imperium. The warrior culture of Madrigal permeated the Lightning Bearers - indeed, such aspects as the fascination with storms made for an uncanny fit with the existing Legion - and in every kind of warfare they excelled. They went about the building of the Imperium much as they had the Madrigal Sphere; stern and unyielding in war but magnanimous in victory, eager to bring the Emperor's dream to fruition.

 

From the discovery of Alexandros onwards, Icarion was the standard by which all the Primarchs were judged. Quite aside from his potent foresight, few could match his intelligence, charisma or ability to read the hearts of men and women. Other Primarchs might boast a larger Legion, a deeper grasp of certain schools of warfare and lore or perhaps inspired greater love from their kinsmen or the common people, but few indeed rivalled Icarion in the Imperial consciousness. Though in time all were located, none could rival Icarion in his closeness to the Emperor. 

 

The Lightning Bearers fought in many of the Crusade's greatest campaigns, and often at the side of the Emperor Himself as in the Vremalkyr Incursions and the Chahlem Offensive. In a roll of honour which stretched to tens of thousands of battles, defeat was a vanishingly rare blemish. Their commanders were hailed as among the finest in all the armies of Mankind, and several brother Primarchs served under Icarion's overall command at one time or another. Nothing, it seemed, could threaten their ascendancy, but a change lay ahead which not even Icarion had foreseen.

 

The Slight and the Shadowed Path

Even when Icarion, Alexandros and Gwalchavad followed their sire through the Koloss Syntheticide, the First Son fought beside the Emperor more often than either of his brothers as they wrested worlds from the Abominable Intelligence and its armies. He was the First Primarch, master of the First Legion, and his primacy seemed unquestionable. Even as he had led the majority of his warriors in the Koloss campaign, a sizeable force of Lightning Bearers had fought with honour in the Qarith Crusade. When the Emperor announced His withdrawal from the Crusade on Qarith Prime, the shock was tempered by an expectation that Icarion would lead in His place. Perhaps the Emperor had been preparing Icarion for this moment ever since He found him. It was only to be expected.

Then the Emperor appointed His Warmaster. The Second Son, Alexandros. Shock and confusion followed, though Icarion fervently supported his brother. He and Alexandros had always been close, alike in their idealism and psychic gifts even if their demeanours contrasted sharply. Indeed it was said that Alexandros was one of the few brothers who could coax out Icarion’s old cheerfulness. And with Icarion’s support, Alexandros had acceptance in his role, however grudging it might have been from some quarters.

Yet there was the suggestion of brittleness in the years that followed, and a kernel of doubt grew in Icarion’s psyche. Alexandros’ efforts to ensure that the Council of Terra and the Primarchs did not grow estranged meant that he himself could seem distant from the Crusade he was meant to be leading, and discontent reverberated among several of the Primarchs. A rebellion against the Imperium, led by a Rogue Trader who had previously served under Icarion, likely strained him further. After this, it seems Icarion received a missive from Socraes Travier.

Exactly what passed between the two is the subject of conjecture and no more, but it seems that Travier interfered in some way with his brother’s foresight, planting the conviction that the Emperor intended to destroy Madrigal and the Lightning Bearers with it. If that is indeed the truth, then it is the cruellest irony in Icarion’s tale, for Travier used not his pride or ambition, but instead exploited his very best qualities to bring about his descent. For from this point Icarion’s future would darken irrevocably, until finally his past nobility became little more than a faint, mocking glimmer, all but blotted out by the evil that consumed the Stormlord’s soul.


Edited by bluntblade, 14 October 2019 - 09:40 PM.

Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

Caretaker of the Lightning Bearers and member of the Broken Throne alt-Heresy project


#305
bluntblade

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Unit and Formation Structure
As the first Legion to successfully pass its Alpha phase, the Lightning Bearers would become the test bed for many of the early tactics and arms developed for the Legiones Astartes. After a lengthy trial period, the ways of war as demonstrated by these transhumans warriors were mastered, standardised, and recorded. Much of this information was codified within the pages of the Principia Belicosa, becoming the standard for rest of the Legions. As the original pioneers, the Lightning Bearers adhered closely to the tenets of the Principia and often assigned veteran officers to their brother Legions, to impart their wisdom and experience as each steadily passed through the phases from initial recruitment to full deployment.

As the new commander of the First Legion, Icarion chose to exert a light touch upon the Legion’s structure to honour the work had done before him. Among the few changes Icarion enacted, the Legion’s Chapters became maniples. As such, maniples formed the largest units within the Lightning Bearers, comprised of five companies each. By far, the largest impact felt by the Ist Legion would be the adoption of the Astral College of Madrigal and the Celestial Orders. From the reunion onward, the warriors of the Legion would be enrolled into the Astral Colleges early on in their training. This would only last a few years for most, but those skilled enough to become Librarians would spend far longer being instructed within those halls.

As warriors throughout the Legions awoke their own psychic potential, the system within the Ist Legion would become the template for the Librarius throughout the Legiones Astartes. This was not without some resistance, as some Primarchs seem to have felt Icarion’s approach was overly cautious, but such potent psykers as Alexandros and Andezo Sambedi readily accepted its strictures, and it served to allay concern about the role of psykers among the Space Marines. The Colleges diverged into Celestial Orders as the disciplines pursued by Librarians diversified, although precognition remained by far the most prominent within the Lightning Bearers. This was exemplified by the Orders of the Red Path and Blue Shield which, while often at odds, each instructed initiates to one of the Legion’s most vaunted elites.

These were but the most prominent of a dozen orders, including the Kitsune of the Golden Blossom, the Aki of the White Hill, the Tengue of the Jade Diamond, and the Sha of the Black Star. An outlying school was the Praxis, formed in spite of Icarion’s disapproval by Terran Librarians who had turned their skills to the discipline of the “pyrae”. Their effectiveness in combat did little to overcome the disapproval of their comrades; there was lasting stigma on Madrigal against using the Warp for raw destruction, and while Icarion studied it, he was loath to wield it in battle.

While the branches of the Librarius might differ, the philosophy of the Astral Colleges bound them together as did the brotherhood inherent to a Space Marine Legion. They complimented one another, as illustrated by the twin elites of the Volta and Oni. The former, clad in Terminator armour, became masters of ranged combat, while the latter used teleport “shunt” packs to become lethal close-combatants. Beyond them, the Terran and Madrigalan portions of the Legion gained a shared philosophy, which would later lend itself to Icarion’s efforts to subvert his sons, and shackle their loyalty to a darker cause.

 

Command Hierarchy
Heraldry became integral to rank among the Lightning Bearers, starting with the helmet crests which identified sergeants and lieutenants. From centurions upwards the marks of rank became more esoteric, with the storm-cloaks of the Clan warriors serving as a badge of office for battalion captains. Maniple commanders, dubbed Marshals, represented the peak of a Lightning Bearer’s progression, and bore the datemato crest upon their helmets. In an unusual custom, they were appointed not on the authority of their superiors, but in a vote taken by the captains and centurions.

A Marshal held considerably more direct power than many of his counterparts, tempered by the elective nature of his appointment. In other Legions a senior commander might retain a command company whilst relinquishing direct responsibility for any other specific part of his command. Others such as the Scions Hospitalier maintained looser links between its companies, and their senior captains were notionally indistinct from the rest. A Sentinel, however, retained his own battalion command as well as responsibility for the entire maniple. This served both to magnify his authority and provide a strong central element in each battalion.

In what was already a deferential Legion, this was seen overwhelmingly as a boon, maintaining close links between a Marshal and his men, and giving him a means of exerting his influence over the Maniple he led. However, there were those in other Legions who found things to criticise. To some, the practice hindered flexibility in the Lightning Bearers’ tactical approach, causing them to compensate with their foresight. This proved popular with some Legions, who willingly followed the example of the Ist. Others suggested that it created a conservative command echelon, often unwilling to experiment and grant responsibility to men outside their own close circles. Tellingly the Scions Hospitalier only adopted a stripped-down version of this system, and the changes they made were in the name of flexibility. Still, none of the Legion’s critics could argue with the dazzling military record the Lightning Bearers possessed.

 

The three officers most trusted by the Primarch were granted the additional office of Sentinel, and each took up a distinct duty. The Sentinel of Gates, always selected from the Librarius, presided over the Astral Colleges. His task was to oversee the training and selection of future Kisai within the legion; those warriors of the various orders whose psychic powers flared brighter than their peers. In many ways, the very soul of the Legion was this Sentinel's charge. Considered a lorekeeper and peacemaker within the Legion, he sat as leader of the council of Order Masters, guarding the records and secrets of his Legion. Simultaneously he would enforce the balance between the various Celestial orders within the College vying for power.

 
The Sentinel of Locks commanded the fighting strength of the Legion, including the mortal soldiers who served it directly, and yielded only to the Primarch and Emperor in this regard. Historically, this role was always granted to the Legion's First Marshal. A general with few peers in the arts of war, the Sentinel of Locks oversaw the deployment and arming of the Legion's warriors. He stood first among equals within the ranks of the Brotherhood Commanders and even his fellow Sentinels deferred to his office on matters of combat and strategy.
 
Finally, the Sentinel of Keys held responsibility for those auxiliary forces allied with the Legion, whilst not being directly under oath to it. Perhaps the most important role of the Sentinel of Keys lay in the realm of political oversight of the Madrigal Sphere. However, he was also responsible for diplomatic relations with other Imperial forces and, while this was seldom acknowledged, intelligence gathering for the Legion.
 

As well as these duties, the Sentinels and other senior officers formed Icarion’s inner council, offering advice to their master and acting in his stead politically as the Lightning Bearers were dispersed across the many fronts of the Crusade. They were recognised as men of great power throughout the Emperor’s armies, empowered to speak with the voice of the Warmaster and enact judgement in his name. With the onset of the Insurrection they became his generals and military governors, second only to the Primarchs who followed him into rebellion.

 

War Disposition
Early access to their Primarch’s mature gene-code ensured that the Lightning Bearers’ steady growth only continued throughout the Great Crusade, bolstered by the tithes of recruits from Madrigal and the domains Icarion established around it. Their Terran recruiting rights were retained for over a century after the reunion, and when the XVIth Legion’s development faltered at the Alpha stage, many of its aspirants went to the Ist instead. In subsequent decades, the wider Madrigal Sphere began to add its sons to the Legion's ranks. As a result, the renamed Harbingers numbered over 250,000 warriors on the Day of Revelation divided into approximately 1,000 maniples. This strength was further augmented by the Rakurai, Army regiments raised from Madrigal’s empire who were a match for the Solar Auxilia, and the formidable Taghmata Akira. Similarly, the Legio Telesto and the Knight Houses Rakham and Suturvora swore loyalty both to Akira and the Ist Legion.

Automata, Skitarii and Titans were only a part of Akira’s gifts to the Lightning Bearers. Akira gave them a great array of weapons, adding to an arsenal already stocked with the best that Mars could provide, and the archeotech weapons entrusted to the Ist after Unity on Terra. In particular the Lightning Bearers bore more volkite weapons than any other Legion, both as personal arms and mounted on their vehicles. Akira gave its name to a pattern of Fire Raptor equipped with culverins and chieroviles, and played a key role in the development of the Sicaran Ulstor Assault Tank.

At the time of the Qarith Triumph, the Legion’s fleet counted as many ships built over Akira as from the shipyards of the Sol system. Some 6,000 ships bore the four-pointed star and thunderbolt. These did not rival the Void Eagles for the number of vessels they commanded, nor was their culture marinaded in void-sailing like the IVth Legion and its mortal servants. By any other measure, though, it was majestic, the ships many and equipped to Icarion’s exacting standards.

Many of these formidable assets were discreetly redirected in the weeks before Icarion began his rebellion, particularly to stronghold systems loyal to Icarion above all. In these locales they prepared for new campaigns, ready to strike against the Emperor’s bastions and carve out a domain for the Stormborn. Several battalions were resupplying in the Madrigal system when the Halcyon Wardens arrived, and it seems that some of these were earmarked to accompany Pyrrhicles to Terra. Instead, they were unleashed to destroy the Halcyon Wardens before they could carry their warning of treachery to the Warmaster.


Edited by bluntblade, 12 November 2019 - 09:34 PM.

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#306
bluntblade

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Exemplary Battles
Until the appointment of Alexandros as Warmaster, there was a common saying that the Lightning Bearers were the First Legion in all things, and their pristine record would often be pointed to by those discontented with the Warmaster. While the Insurrection would reveal the Halcyon Wardens as a sorely underestimated force, it is true that in terms of raw conquest and the sheer scale of their triumphs, the Lightning Bearers were unmatched. No other Legion shared so many battlefields with the Emperor, and Icarion led them to glory on hundreds of worlds. Many of their most famous victories have been examined in such detail that we could never hope to compete with; the Sordra Cleansing and the War for Agorium in particular have been the subject of multiple, formidable works. Instead we shall turn our attention to three disparate battles which shed particular light upon the nature of this Legion.


Edited by bluntblade, 05 November 2019 - 08:29 PM.

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#307
bluntblade

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I think that's all the book fluff ported over now.

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#308
bluntblade

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Ist Legion Oni Spectre

Satzora Dakuma

372nd Company, 37th Maniple

The Sack of Katorz, the Cutter of Delusions

gallery_4536_13869_13005.png

  While he was a veteran of decades' fighting, Dakuma's squad was relatively new, one of a number of such units raised in the lead-up to the Day of Revelation. Fifty such warriors were assigned to the Thirty-Seventh Maniple. apparently signalling Marshal Hizade Matusaga's growing favour in the eyes of Icarion after he aided the purge of Lightning Bearers deemed unreliable for the rebellion. Stationed aboard the Grand Cruiser Cutter of Delusions, Dakuma and his brothers would be held in reserve for the second wave against Katorz Aleph. The Oni were at the forefront, notably destroying several elite Skitarii units to secure reactors and air-filtration facilities. Matusaga's Maniple would then play a leading role in the subjugation of the habitation districts, in which a bloody portent can be seen of the dark legend they were to carve. In Dakuma's case, that legend has no known end.


Edited by bluntblade, 05 November 2019 - 09:38 PM.

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#309
bluntblade

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Fluff-only units which make up the First Company:

 

Atono Veterans

Part of First Marshal Susanoo Empyon's personal company, the Atono comprised the finest blademasters of the Legion and deployed in the manner of Despoiler Marines.

 

Hekirei Terminators

Equipped with Tartaros Terminator Armour, these warriors belonged to the First Company.

 

Inzuma Devastators

The final component of the First Company, the Inzuma squads were highly equipped heavy support specialists.


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#310
bluntblade

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Legion Fleet

 

  • Thunderchild (Gloriana-class Battleship) - Perhaps the most powerful of all the Gloriana class, the Thunderchild was constructed in the shipyards of Akira to be the personal flagship of Icarion.
  • Storm Unbound (Shogun-class Battleship- captained by First Sentinel Empyon, the Storm Unbound had few rivals save for the Gloriana class. During the Insurrection it was often at the forefront of the Harbingers' attacks.
  • Blade of Akira (Shogun-class Battleship) - Raiden Athrawes' flagship
  • Fury of the First Son (Goliath-class Battleship) - Despite having been present at Madrigal, the Fury of the First Son took no part in the Commena Cluster, but instead joined Susanoo Empyon's fleet in the Battle of Ysta. It suffered severe damage from the Loyalist flagship Steadfast at the height of the battle.
  • Cutter of Delusions (Grand Cruiser) - Hizade Matusaga's flagship
  • Celestial Supremacy (Battleship)
  • Dragon's Fang (Battleship)
  • Tempest's Victory (Grand Cruiser)
  • Blade of Vengeance (Battlecruiser)
  • Cruelty of Time
  • Sword of Reckoning (Battleship) - rebuilt from the wrecked Shield of Meriac, formerly of the Shepherds of Eden
  • Wayfarer (Cruiser)

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#311
Beren

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A suggestion copied over from Discord.

 

Concept: A Harbinger Volta who predicts his death, and no matter the variation cannot see a way out if it. He accepts this, but is 'saved' at the last moment by the will of Tzeentch, who reveals himself as the 'master of all fates', who can 'unmake and remake the paths of the future as he wills it'. The Volta then begins to worship Tzeentch.


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bluntblade

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OK, so the Lightning Bearers are being rebooted to their IInd Legion origins and scaled back to fit that role. They'll now take the field for the Loyalist cause, and I have a new Allies Matrix for them:

 

  1. Crimson Lions - Fellow Warriors
  2. Iron Bears - Sworn Brothers
  3. Wardens of Light - Fellow Warriors
  4. Berserkers of Uran - Distrusted Allies
  5. Warbringers - Sworn Brothers
  6. Void Eagles/Wings of Woe - Distrusted Allies
  7. Steel Legion - Fellow Warriors
  8. Grave Stalkers - By Order
  9. Eagle Warriors - Fellow Warriors
  10. Anvil Bearers - Fellow Warriors
  11. Predators - Fellow Warriors
  12. Monarchs of Denaus - Fellow Warriors
  13. Sons of Solstice - Sworn Brothers
  14. Tyrant’s Fists - Distrusted Allies
  15. Astral Griffons - Fellow Warriors
  16. Cardinal Guard - Distrusted Allies
  17. Devourers of Irithon - Fellow Warriors
  18. Thunder Talons - Sworn Brothers
  19. Dreamwalkers - Sworn Brothers
  20. Imperial Army - Fellow Warriors
  21. Mechanicum - Fellow Warriors

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#313
bluntblade

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New history mostly done:
 
  The Lightning Bearers are a stolid, proud Legion, constant in their service to the Imperium. Through the Crusade they were warriors cut from starlight, fierce and intelligent, gracefully bearing the Emperor’s own lightning over centuries of glorious conquest during the Great Crusade. To common humanity, they were angels of light, a bright star in the firmament of the Emperor’s great design. Their particular role in that design, however, was long obscured by the Emperor’s order. Now that we can place it in the history of the Imperium, it takes on a new significance: a harbinger of the ordeal which the Imperium would suffer.
 
 
First Among Equals
  While the Ist Legion stood sentinel over the creation of the the Legiones Astartes as the Emperor’s prototypes, the IInd heralded the specialism which would define some of the Astartes. Just as pertinently, their development would bring with it the first appearance of psykers among the Astartes. Few Legions would be so defined by it as the Lightning Bearers.
  For His second Legion, the Emperor recruited widely, though with a particular focus on the eastern Meditaer region. This is believed to have been advocated by General Zaron Ramdul, who had observed the prowess of the desert tribes in high-velocity engagements. He recommended to his liege that they be used as stock for one of the new Legions, and they were soon determined a good fit for the IInd.
  Despite the psychic element inherent in the Legion’s gene-seed, it proved to have few of the drawbacks which afflicted some other Legions. Their steady rise attests that theirs was indeed pure, with a low rejection rate even in the beginning. With these early successes, cadres began to be raised and grouped into the structures established with the Ist. As well as education from military scholars, they trained under the eyes of veteran Thunder Warriors before taking to combat alongside them. These trials were costly, but they rapidly produced warriors of a pedigree never seen before on Terra and taught them the limitations of Thunder Warrior tactics.
  Throughout their genesis the IInd strove to master any form of warfare in which they might be required to engage. The disordered formations and sledgehammer attacks of the Thunder Warriors had no place in their methods; the IInd became synonymous with intricate strategies which could nonetheless pivot around a single factor. This is thought to be the first evidence of the foresight which later became their hallmark - the ability to see the point on which an entire battle might hinge, and seize the opportunity. 
  The first time that the IInd was unleashed in full occurred during the three-day Battle of Lakad. As their conscript forces were pushed back, the Heart Taker priesthood which controlled this city unleashed the Thur-Gea, genetically modified soldiers akin to the Thunder Warriors and steeped in the blade-cult practices of the region. Even the terrifying power of the Thunder Warriors would have struggled to overcome this similarly genhanced strength, but even as the Thur-Gea charged the Ist Legion swept onto the battlefield by gunship and cut through the Thur-Gea. The larger giants were felled by the newer, swifter breed in mere hours, their every blow all too obvious to the Legionaries and their deaths coming as if ordained. 
  From Franc to Merica the Legion won dazzling victories in this manner, and the battle against the witch-cult of Orioc - dubbed the Silencing of the Eternal Dirge - became the capstone of their deeds on Terra. Their status was made clear with the name they chose, taken from the title of the last Thunder Warrior. The Lightning Bearers, the IInd Legion became, mindful of those who had come before them even as they looked to the future. Still greater deeds awaited, and the Lightning Bearers’ growth continued as the Great Crusade stretched out into the void from Terra. 
 
The Ghost Crusade
  The Silencing of the Eternal Dirge left clues as to the particular purpose the Emperor intended for His Second Legion, had any known what to look for. The Emperor, who is said to have traversed the Galaxy even as Old Night sundered Man’s domains, knew the worst of what waited for his armies. Mutation, xenos marauders and madness would afflict thousands of worlds, but these were mere physical obstacles. Fewer - far fewer - but more problematic were those worlds where the separation of realspace and the Warp - that unknowable dimension by which we cheat distance and move across the Galaxy - had frayed. The denizens of the æther, beyond their threat to human life, posed a threat to the very foundation of the Imperium, for the entire edifice rested upon a falsehood. The Galaxy was sterile; religion was myth and nothing more. The Warp defies reason however, and the things that inhabit it no less so. For the sake of Crusade such incursions were to be purged. 
  Standing mandates existed under which sufficient ætheric breaches were grounds for the world’s destruction. However, these were not always successful in banishing the taint. Moreover, in some systems the resources on a world or even the system’s position among the arteria of the Warp mandated a more direct approach, cleansing the world instead of wiping it out. Thus it was that the Ghost Crusade was proclaimed, in the utmost secrecy, and entrusted to a single Legion. When this is considered, the urge to expand and equip the Lightning Bearers when several Legions lacked even a fraction of their power, takes on a new significance. The same might be said for the terrible relic-weapons they retained in their arsenals, and the psychic gifts which became apparent early on in the Crusade.
  Only the merest fragments have been retrieved from data-cores and decoded, where the Ghost Crusade is concerned. The numbers of words scoured, the tally of the lost and the horrors overcome must remain for all time unknown. Instances are recorded here and there of Ist Legion elements partially withdrawing from a campaign or being abruptly reassigned from their existing campaign, but these attracted no serious attention, however. They were the Emperor’s favoured Legion; if he called they answered, and it was not for others to question why. And soon any questions would be blotted out when a Rogue Trader fleet drew near to a world named Madrigal, and found the Primarch of the Ind Legion.
 
Edge of the Maelstrom
  Compared to many worlds that became host to a Primarch, Madrigal’s prior existence is well-documented in the annals of the Mechanicum, being a colony founded by Mars as the Age of Strife set in. While the Red World and Terra warred with each other and then themselves, Madrigal endured the onset of Old Night. Drawing in cultures which struggled to hold together, it became a powerful stellar polity. Even a large and growing psyker population was a source of prosperity rather than a cause for alarm, though the Warp anomaly known as the Maelstrom loomed close to the world.. By the time contact was established with Mars and the Mechanicum sent its Explorators, Madrigal was strong enough to be accepted as a partner to those magi who made their way to the edge of the Maelstrom. The world itself remained verdant even as its moon Akira grew into a shipyard to rival Saturn in its golden era. 
  But this happy equilibrium was not to last. The surviving archives attest to growing tensions within and without the Mechanicus sect, of clandestine meetings and increasingly esoteric research as a cabal sought to combine forbidden science and psyker arts prohibited by the rulers of Madrigal. Finally, the conspiracies take nightmare form, coalescing into an individual: the Thunder King. Machine-lord and blasphemous sorcerer, he unleashed a war which consumed the fertile surface of Madrigal in atomic fire and Warp-spawned horror. Though the Thunder King was eventually defeated, entombed beneath the world’s crust, Madrigal was irrevocably changed. The survivors were confined to the fortress-cities they had built upon the world’s mountains, and the extent of the strife had drawn a tendril of the Maelstrom perilously close. Every two centuries, the world would pass through it and endure what became known as the “Time of Storms.”
  The people of Madrigal and the surviving magos of Akira conferred, and realised that their orbit would carry them through the Warp-tendril. Necessity forced them to cooperate, and they threw themselves into the construction of what came to be known as the Macro-Geller Field. While not as secure as the ubiquitous, ship-sized field, this shielded Madrigal and Akira from the worst of the Warp’s onslaught, and those spectres that menaced the world and moon were destroyed by the warriors of Madrigal. When the threat abated, the rulers of Madrigal and Akira vowed that they would never again permit the power of the Warp to be abused in such a fashion.
  The people of Madrigal honed their martial skills, developing lethal vibro-blades and power armour with which to brave the terrors in the rad-clouds. Their increasing prowess was complimented by their psyker-talents, which had become a uniform gift of precognition, merely latent for most but astonishingly potent in the hands of those who set themselves to mastering it. One day, on the cusp of a new century, one of these masters was struck by a vision. His name was Ikaru Anasem, and he foresaw the arrival of a child who would restore the fortunes of Madrigal.
 
Stormborn
  Many responded with skepticism to Ikaru’s pronouncement, but the Magister stuck to his belief and when the infant’s pod came streaking down through Madrigal’s atmosphere it landed not on the surface, but in a suspensor web constructed by the technologists of Anasem. Taken in by Ikaru and his immediate family, he was raised as both a warrior and scholar. His curiosity was boundless, whether in the arts of war, science or history. While he had not yet attained the mastery of foresight which allowed him to gaze years into the future, his “immediate” precognition was superlative, and he soon proved himself on several expeditions to the surface. Yet he resisted the injunctions of his adoptive father to take part in politics, instead preferring to explore and test his own limits.
  It was perhaps inevitable then that he drew envy from his contemporaries. By far the most important of these was the scion of the Clan Tokawa, Hirato. Until Icarion grew into adolescence, Hirato was reckoned the most promising young warrior on the planet, and he studied with the young Primarch. It seems that Hirato came to resent the ease with which Icarion mastered so many skills, and the crippling of his father during an expedition - one which ultimately saw him killed by radiation exposure - soured it further as the responsibilities of ruling his Clan weighed on him, while Icarion was free to earn renown. Over the years, bitterness became violent ambition as another passage through the Time of Storms loomed.
  Struggle between Clans was no stranger to Madrigal, though hostilities were traditionally put on hold when the baleful tendril loomed in the skies. Fourteen years after Icarion’s arrival, Tokawa and Anasem had become embroiled in a war against the Clan Kadora. Hirato and Icarion fought together in the battle that brought the renegades to heel with only weeks to spare before the Time of Storms, which would have allowed them to entrench. In the aftermath, Hirato received the leaders of Anasem in his sky-city, only to bare his teeth. It was an observed phenomenon that when the Time of Storms drew near, the seers of Madrigal often had their second sight occluded by the tides of the Immaterium, and Hirato exploited this against his unsuspecting guests. After the feast’s conclusion, Hirato’s soldiers descended upon the Anasem quarters with cruel efficiency, murdering all they found. Icarion fought his way free with a few of his kin, only for their craft to be torn from the sky, vanishing into the clouds.
  No one imagined that any could have survived the crash, and with Clan Anasem devastated, Hirato met with no meaningful opposition when he declared himself Shogun over the planet. With ruthlessness and cunning, he tightened his hold, pillaging ever more ruinous weapons from the surface and even building hermetically sealed strongholds in a few places, garrisoned by loyal soldiers and manned by slaves taken from among his subjects. Most cruelly, he began to banish his opponents to the wastes to be hunted by his warriors. While his rival was most assuredly dead, he seems to have grown obsessed with augmentation and surpassing Icarion’s power. Five years later, he was barely human, a tyrant of metal and ceramite, and even the Magos of Akira quailed at him. Ship-building was renewed in the void around Madrigal, ready to spread his tyranny to the stars.
  Then expeditions to the ruined cities began to vanish. The butchered carcasses of animals appeared, seemingly killed for food. Redoubts were broken open, weapons and supplies taken, their personnel vanished or slain, and the icon of the Clan Tokawa desecrated wherever it was depicted. Soldiers dispatched to find the cause found either nothing or death, but a picture emerged nonetheless. Something was stalking the wastes and ruins, able to endure the rad-scoured environs and overcome anything sent against it, intelligent enough to outwit and overcome anyone sent after it, and implacable once roused to anger. In other words, a Primarch.
  When Icarion emerged he did not do so alone. He had carefully assembled an army from liberated slaves and rescued outcasts, housing them in the catacombs beneath the Tiger Claw Mountains. The carefree warrior of his youth faded rapidly as he learned of the crimes being visited upon his people, and as he plotted Hirato’s downfall the solemn warlord of Imperial history coalesced. Over half a decade his army amassed weapons and trained, waiting to exact retribution. Then they struck. From a seething mass of storm clouds they emerged, clad in plain grey armour and Icarion bearing two exquisite archeotech blades, a spear and sword, and quickly seized the city built atop the mountains. The news triggered unrest across Madrigal, as people saw their saviour in the vengeful warrior. 
  Hirato meanwhile was frenzied in his reaction, calling his army together to slay Icarion once and for all. Icarion must have foreseen this, immediately attacking one of the outlying Tokawa bases. Hirato took the bait, racing there before his forces could fully assemble. Amid the carnage the two met, the gene-forged warrior and the machine-bulked despot now equal in stature. Their duel raged across the landing plates, lesser warriors scattering from their path, savaging one another until Icarion finally plunged his spear through Hirato’s throat. He had taken grievous wounds, his armour gouged and scorched, but the victory was his. Now, as people came forth to see this liberator had felled their ruler, Icarion knelt and took up the mantle Ikaru had intended for him. To his last breath, he would be the guardian of Madrigal.
  Icarion was tireless in his work from that day. His first move was to reform the Astral Colleges, aiming to ensure that they exerted greater authority over their students. Destructive pride and ambition were to be discouraged, self-control stressed from the lowliest novice to the highest circle of magisters. Men of courage and wit were drawn from across the Clans to govern the world, and Madrigal began to move past the recent strife. Progress accelerated at a constant rate, making it difficult to say with any certainty when Icarion first became aware of the father coming to claim him. Scholars have passionately argued for almost any timeframe, some claiming that his first inkling precipitated the end of his exile, others suggesting that he only knew a few days before the Imperial fleet translated into the system. Regardless, when the Emperor arrived, He found His son waiting.
 
Third Son
  Reunion was treated with all the pomp and ceremony such an occasion deserved, both on Madrigal and the worlds of the existing Imperium. Primarch and Legion accepted one another eagerly. Examining the records, speaking with his sons and fairly devouring the Principia Bellicosa and other texts, Icarion found little in the Legion’s structure that he wished to alter. Their ethos he adapted subtly, weaving the teachings of the Astral College into the fabric of the Legion. This became the way in which Aspirants from both Terra and Madrigal learned to wield their powers. Resources flowed into his realm, and Akira became capable of supplying many of the Legion’s demands by itself. This can be seen in their distinctive armour variants and the preponderance of vibro-blades among the Lightning Bearers.
    But the real test came with Icarion’s first forays into the Great Crusade at his father’s side, and he did not disappoint. A consummate general and warrior whose skill and grace defied any effort to describe them, Icarion led his sons to new heights of conquest. With that same dedication and skill, he accepted the heavy burden of the Ghost Crusade. So perfectly matched were the Primarch and his sons that the Lightning Bearers’ name remained unchanged. Around the Lightning Bearers Icarion built a great host, both from the domains of Madrigal and Akira and other worlds in the growing Imperium. The warrior culture of Madrigal permeated the Lightning Bearers - indeed, such aspects as the fascination with storms made for an uncanny fit with the existing Legion - and in every kind of warfare they excelled. They went about the building of the Imperium much as they had the Madrigal Sphere; stern and unyielding in war but magnanimous in victory, eager to bring the Emperor's dream to fruition.
  In short order, Icarion proved a worthy addition to the brotherhood of Primarchs. He was a true warrior-scholar, who called upon deep wells of knowledge and wisdom as well as his prowess in battle. In the early Crusade he cut a peculiar figure beside the Twins and Kozja Darzalas, and many looked quizzically upon the plainly aether-touched Primarch. Others recognised that he embodied a particular aspect of his father’s powers, and deduced that he was meant to play a particular role in the Emperor’s designs. 
  The Lightning Bearers fought in many of the Crusade's greatest campaigns, and often at the side of the Emperor Himself as in the Vremalkyr Incursions and the Chahlem Offensive. In a roll of honour which stretched to tens of thousands of battles, defeat was a vanishingly rare blemish. Perhaps the only marks against them were their reserved nature and the way in which, responding to the demands of their hidden war, the Legion’s course through the Great Crusade could appear haphazard and inconsistent. Yet whenever they proved unavailable for a campaign, their admission came with the Emperor’s seal, which none could dispute.

Edited by bluntblade, 08 March 2020 - 10:38 AM.

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#314
bluntblade

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The Vortice Terminators are likely to be replaced with a Heavy Support elite with the same name, packing lascannons and volkite culverins.

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#315
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Crusade has inspired an update of the Legion's fluff. More to follow:
 
The Ghost Crusade
  The Silencing of the Eternal Dirge left clues as to the particular purpose the Emperor intended for His Second Legion, had any known what to look for. The Emperor, who is said to have traversed the Galaxy even as Old Night sundered Man’s domains, knew the worst of what waited for his armies. Mutation, xenos marauders and madness would afflict thousands of worlds, but these were mere physical obstacles. Fewer - far fewer - but often more problematic were those worlds where the separation of realspace and the Warp - that unknowable dimension by which we cheat distance and move across the Galaxy - had frayed.
 
  The denizens of the æther, beyond their threat to human life, posed a threat to the very foundation of the Imperium, for the entire edifice rested upon a falsehood. The Galaxy was sterile; religion was myth and nothing more. The Warp defies reason however, and the things that inhabit it no less so. For the sake of Crusade such incursions were to be purged. While other Legions were assigned the duty of purging the most vile and inexplicable xeno-breeds of the material universe, the Lightning Bearers were tasked with a war against the horrors from beyond the veil.
 
  Standing mandates existed under which sufficient ætheric breaches were grounds for the world’s destruction. However, these were not always successful in banishing the taint. Moreover, in some systems the resources on a world or even the system’s position among the arteria of the Warp mandated a more direct approach, cleansing the world instead of wiping it out. Thus it was that the Ghost Crusade was proclaimed, in the utmost secrecy, and entrusted to a single Legion. When this is considered, the urge to expand and equip the Lightning Bearers when several Legions lacked even a fraction of their power, takes on a new significance. The same might be said for the terrible relic-weapons they retained in their arsenals, and the psychic gifts which became apparent early on in the Crusade.
 
  Only the merest fragments have been retrieved from data-cores and decoded, where the Ghost Crusade is concerned. Of some interest are apparent convergences between the paths of the Lightning Bearers and the other arms of the Imperial Host which were made to contend with the supernatural; the Black Ships of the Silent Sisterhood and the Ordo Sinister Psy-Titans. It is known that the Lightning Bearers took care to maintain cordial relations with both bodies - inasmuch as a brotherhood of psykers could be on good terms with nulls.
 
  One aspect of the Legion’s methods - their emphasis on melee combat - might also be explained by this role. While the Lightning Bearers drew on the archeotech of Madrigal, they were not singled out by the Emperor for the provision of Terran and Martian relic-weapons as were certain of their cousins. For those assigned to combat the strangest and foulest xenos, armouries of esoteric nature and dreadful power were assembled. Conversely, as the rest of us have learned in the dark years of the Anarchy, the daemon is most surely eradicated with the “weapons of eternity” - blade, fist, claw and hammer. To this end, there was not one Lightning Bearer who went into battle without a weapon of this sort.
 
  The numbers of words scoured, the tally of the lost and the horrors overcome must remain for all time unknown. Instances are recorded here and there of IInd Legion elements partially withdrawing from a campaign or being abruptly reassigned from their existing campaign, but these attracted little outcry. They were among the Emperor’s most favoured Legions; if He called they answered, and it was not for others to question why. And soon any questions would be blotted out when a Rogue Trader fleet drew near to a world named Madrigal, and found the Primarch of the IInd Legion.

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#316
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The Tempest Panoply

Forged on Hatross for Icarion, this suit of Tartaros-pattern armour was continuously reworked and improved by Goro Amakune. While resistant to blade, beam and shot, it also allowed for astonishing mobility by the standards of Terminator warplate. Just as notably, its ornate form incorporated esoteric devices which served to protect Icarion against Warp-based and daemonic attacks.


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