Index Astartes: White Scars
The Alternate Heresy
Though a trusted friend to the Warmaster, it was Jaghatai Khan’s fate to fall to the clutches of Slaanesh. The Dark Lord of Ecstasy enticed the White Scars’ Primarch with promises of material wealth, power and, above all else, freedom from the confines of the Imperial war machine. Their betrayal was as swift as their attacks and equally devastating; bringing a tear to the eye of the sternest warrior. Though Jaghatai himself has long-since lapsed into the decadent and ecstatic repose, his Khans still terrorise the Imperium with lightning strikes; each a mockery of The Emperor they used to serve.
Many of the tribesmen’s own fables told of the dreaded Talskar tribe and their Khan, or leader, whose spirits still roamed the steppes long after their bodies had failed them. Though he was called many names, such as Aŭdac, Ciĥttera and Mephaeta, amongst his own he was Jaghatai, the great warrior. His legend began when Ong, then the Khan of the Talskar, happened upon a small child wandering lost across the plains. Knowing that any soul alone in his world should return to the earth within a day, he was astonished to find the boy had survived the passing of the moon. Believing he was a gift from the Sky Father, Ong took the youngster as his own. Teaching him the arts much valued by their society, Jaghatai became a master of the bow, the sword and the horse. His tactical wisdom and foresight earned him the respect of many of his father’s bondsmen, though others mocked him for his preaching of a united tribe of the plains.
Sensing the power and potential of his son, Ong heeded the young Jaghatai's words, approaching many tribes under banners of peace. Initially few gave them presence in their camps, deeming such friendships signs of weakness, a plea for aid. Countless times the Talskar had to prove their strength in arms to be allowed to leave alive. But, against the odds, and eased by the smooth tongue of Jaghatai, a fledging alliance grew around Ong and the Talskar. Unfortunately many still refuted this new nation and war continued to rage across the Empty Quarter. When brute force did not achieve the desired result, raiders of the Kurayed tribe ambushed the Ong and Jaghatai. Father and son fought back-to-back, the last two remaining souls of their hunting party. Skill and courage won the day and the two returned to their encampment more determined in their quest. Reinvigorated, the united tribe prospered and gained strength as more khan’s pledged themselves and their families to Ong’s banner. Soon their lives were luxurious and comfortable; a rarity which had not been seen upon the steppes before, where food could be promised and children were allowed to play. Jaghatai was held as a champion of the times, holding true to the ideals and virtues of his teachings. Even as this young nation bloomed to life, fate would play heavily against it.
Jaghatai spurred into action when he came across three Palatine horsemen attempting to ravish a young tribes-woman. The years of luxury had not dimmed the skills of the young warrior, quickly taking the heads of two and allowing the third to escape mortally wounded as a warning to his people. Jaghatai was not to know that he had damned himself, his father and his tribe that day, for one of the men he had killed had been a favoured son of the Palatine and soon an army stood on the plains craving revenge.
The Palatine was not a foolish man; he knew full well the strengths and weakness of his enemy like all great commanders. As vanguard to his army, a force of diplomats visited the tribes, offering money, horses and countless luxuries if they refused to take to battle. The campaign of subterfuge and bribery succeeded in turning the heads of Ong’s allies, leaving the Talskar alone on the battlefield. Though they had been abandoned they fought like beasts. They were almost slaughtered to a man before they fled the battlefield. The few who were able to retreat were left to do so in peace, the broken ranks of the Palatine unwilling to pursue further into the field of blood. Unfortunately for the tribesmen, amongst the survivors was Jaghatai, a son who had lost his father and a man who had seen his dream shattered by the weaknesses of others.
Jaghatai Khan as night drew close on the Fields of Zhangiu
Outraged by their treachery, Jaghatai swore that the Empty Quarter would die by his sword. Riding down upon those who had failed them, the remaining warriors of the Talskar became daemons of the Plains. Finding pleasure in the screams of pain that surrounded them, they elongated the torture of their enemies. Though it was the Palatine’s nation which had shed the blood of the Talskar, it was the tribesmen who suffered the pain of Jaghatai a thousand fold. The legends of the Jaghatai took form from these horrors and by taking their rights of conquest in armour, horses and women, the Talskar grew in strength. Not even a united force, like the one Jaghatai himself had dreamt of, could withstand their fury.
As the Empty Quarter fell under the terror of the Talskar, the Imperium finally made contact with Chogoris. The Emperor Himself is said to have walked upon the soil of the planet, with the Palatine quickly offering his allegiance. Sensing one of His sons, The Emperor wandered the lands in search for one of humanity’s greatest heroes. The first meeting between the Master of Mankind and Jaghatai was far from pleasant, The Emperor found His son perched upon a throne in a ger of luxury, the years of war funding a tent of pleasure and excess. Surrounded by intricate armour, feasts of food and women, Jaghatai was not a warrior-hero but a dreaded warlord drowning in his own ecstasy. The Emperor was outraged with how low one of His own had fallen, the bitter irony that though the Talskar’s lightning emblem echoed His own, the two leaders could be no more different. This ghoul had destroyed were he could have conquered; terrorised those he could have ruled, but The Emperor was forced to embrace this child of His. So simple were the urges of Jaghatai that The Emperor had little trouble convincing His son to join the Great Crusade; promises of the treasures of the Golden Palace and the glory he could find amongst the stars. With his eyes wide with greed, Jaghatai eagerly pledged himself to The Emperor, becoming the Great Khan of the Fifth Legion of Astartes; baptising them the White Scars after tribal markings of the Talskar.
The White Scars and their Primarch were reborn, the silver tongue that Jaghatai had used to first unite the tribes of his homeland now eased the desires of his men, chastising their mindless actions. After barely a year they had become a respected ally and Jaghatai a trusted friend of Horus. Indeed, the Legion became popular amongst expeditions of the Great Crusade, their swift strikes timed beautifully to crush the enemy. When The Emperor decreed that Jaghatai would lead his own grand campaign, twelve of his brothers Legions sent representatives to congratulate him, three of them personally attending the great feast. Though sad to be leaving the comfort of those he held dear, Jaghatai’s face was alight with pride as his father bestowed the greatest honour upon him – allowing the Fifth Legion to bare the lightning emblem of The Emperor which had been refused when the legion had been renamed.
Many new worlds fell to the war machine of the White Scars, so swift were their actions that the Imperium failed in documenting many. The battle honours for the legion did little to represent the number of victories that the Scars claimed. From the Hive World of Kerait to the jungles of Olkhun, it seemed wherever the Fifth Legion took to battle, glory and triumph stood with them. Jaghatai personally headed many of the battles himself, his personal banner standing tall at the rear of his modified jet bike, his huge shoulders thrusting his power lance deep before assaulting the enemy with his sword. Not only did his men see the honour of the Khan, but those who he defeated would gratefully serve him and the Imperium.
For a second time when his life looked fruitful and promising, Jaghatai was struck down. The isolation from his brothers who he had begun to trust, love and depend upon troubled the Primarch deeply. He had felt loneliness like this only once before, during the battle against the Palatine. Without council from those who he respected, such as Horus and Mortarion, he took the responsibility of every death, either brother or ally as his own personal failures. He even lamented the deaths of his enemies, when words had failed and force was necessary. Constantly confined to his war room, he spent sleepless nights stalking tactical maps, viewing and reviewing the wide-reaching arms of his expedition. He became distant from the warfront, instead swamped by petitions for his presence, local governors seeking aid in petty disputes or to honour them by accepting invitations for social gatherings. For a man born under the night stars with blood on his hands, the imprisonment of the diplomatic world was a grinding axe worse than death. Alone, with no-one to turn to for conversation without sly meanings, he attempted to find tranquillity in this sea of chaos that was becoming his life, learning to appreciate the many great artefacts which had come to adorn his chambers. Tributes, bribes, gifts, each item was tainted by hidden meanings, underhand favours and silent wants – though he found an old feeling of comfort and security within such items.
These years were not kind to the wild Primarch, he became less the warlord and more the bureaucrat, separated from the rush of battle and the emptiness of the plains. His only connections to the frontline were the few times he was able to abandon his quarters to spectate selected battles; his khans showing him his heroic legion. Though once Jaghatai had receded to his chamber, his men continued to plundered armouries, reliquaries and treasuries seeking the perfect gift for their Lord. Those who brought him the most precious items were heavily favoured, and soon Jaghatai was surrounded by sycophants instead of leaders, minions not heroes. As he listened to their tales of valour, honour and bravery, warzones were scavenged by blade and blood in the most brutal of ways to satisfy his wants. The tide of victories earned by Jaghatai’s expedition slowed to a trickle, the poor tactical acumen of the new khans causing horrific losses on the Fifth Legion.
The items which gained the lion’s share of the Khan’s pride were the twin pair of gauntlets named Mamonas and Avauras, who had been bestowed to him by the High Priest of Ikesentii. The jewel incrusted gages were of little use in combat, their protection compromised by the golden weaving and the delicately placed stones, but by then the Great Khan had little need for weapons of war, instead his vanity took dominance. It is said that he became bound to them, unwilling leave their presence, even as going as far as to declare that ‘only a son of The Emperor was equal to their beauty and magnificence’.
The voice was in his head, yet Jaghatai knew the voice belonged to Mamonas. He couldn’t remember a time when the two spirits hadn’t guided his way – a blessed gift from the Sky Father.
“Caged. No freedom, no power, nothing. Just a pawn to their whims. We can offer you all of it. Rule without question, wealth beyond the damned Imperial treasury. We can give you an escape from this coffin – you can live again. All you have to do is listen and obey.”
Jaghatai listened and Jaghatai obeyed.
The warp has neither night nor day, just a constant stretch of time without respite. When Jaghatai emerged from his quarters, his crew and men had lost all morale, believing themselves abandoned in the warp and their commander distraught from his brothers’ treachery. Though his eyes looked sore from lack of sleep, they glistened with an energy which only emphasised the grin which spread across his face. Unknown to all bar Jaghatai himself, he had found a saviour from the troubles that racked his mind. Walking amongst his blood-brothers, he called them all by name and judged their skill with a sword, their worth as a comrade and their eagerness to follow his lead. With his renewed vigour he personally fixed the warp engines, labouring for many hours alone in the dark confines, with only his gauntlets for company.
When the fleet finally broke into real space, Jaghatai had organised a patchwork force of all the Brotherhoods, stating that if the White Scars were to fail, then all shall be represented in the rebirth of the Legion. As this detachment secured the fortress-monastery upon Chogoris and prepared the citizens for war against a fallen Imperium, the Khan left them with chilling orders, “Isolate yourself from the outside, be the viper in the pit, hidden but ready to strike. Bar me or The Emperor Himself, trust no-one.”
As the forces of The Emperor threw themselves at the outer walls of the Golden Palace, the arrival of the White Scars Legion was meant to be a beacon of hope; reinforcements to aid the war against the traitorous Dorn. Unfortunately, all communications with the legion were lost in static, with only the crazed mumblings and screams of the damned breaking the interference. The Khan had lost none of his tactical mastery over the years, leading his host of Thunderhawks directly for the Lion’s Gate space port. The anti-air defences, in addition to the heavy shields, were left activated, the commanding officer realising the aggressive formation of the White Scars’ vessels. Only the direct command of the Warmaster himself finally deactivating the systems; one of Horus’s greatest errors. The details of the slaughter which followed were overshadowed by later actions across the globe, but the ground of Terra shook under the bikes of White Scars dedicated to Slaanesh.
“Lower those batteries captain, or do I have to come down there myself?”
“...Warmaster...Scars are...attack formation....no call signs...sounds of screams...sir?.”
The weak voice of the captain struggled to break through the interference which had plagued Imperial communications for the past few hours; only the visual sightings of the White Scars’ Thunderhawks had announced their arrival. Horus had to rely on a series of short-distance messages to relay his commands across the battlefield; his temper shortening with each minute he was left in the dark.
“I don’t care if they start shooting at you - lower those defences!”
Horus stalked his command bunker, his armoured boots ringing heavy in the air with every step. It had been two long hours since any reports from the space port, the radios filled with cold static and the Arch-enemy’s damned screaming and murmurings.
At first, Horus refused to believe the reports which reached his command post but once Jaghatai had accepted the bounty of the Golden Palace; a prize which was rightly his after the promises of his father, and begun massacring the citizens of Terra, the Warmaster was forced to accept even one of his closest friends could betray him in these darkest of days. Painting a single tear drop in the corner of the Eye of Horus which emblazed his chest, he stood amongst his Sons as they accepted the charge of the White Scars. When the Fifth Legion finally broke and fled to their space port, the Siege of Terra had taken a drastic turn – The Emperor had been revealed from hiding and was preparing to board the Phalanx.
The onslaught of the Scars was swift, their bikes allowing them to easily catch the massive train of civilians. Over a period of six days and nights, the population of Urgench was besieged by the murderous hordes of Jaghatai.
Not a single soul made it to the gates of Merv.
Jaghatai never set foot upon Chogoris again, seemingly forgetting his childhood home, but the fate of the planet is detailed extensively in the chronicles of Abaddon’s Crusades. After stabilising what remained of the Imperium; the High Lord turned his gaze to the worlds of the Traitors. A combined force of Death Guard and Black Templar under the dead-eyes of Mortarion was given the honour of reclaiming Chogoris. The patchwork brotherhood abandoned by Jaghatai fought like wolves, alongside the endless tides of tribal horsemen and Palatine infantry. Still heeding the words of their Khan, none dared to question the rightfulness of their cause. Though their hearts were full of sorrow, the coming of the enemy meant Jaghatai, and indeed The Emperor had failed, they were the last warriors of His memory.
There would be only one result to this war; a triumphant Imperium. The tragedy of this conflict would only come to light when the few surviving White Scars were interrogated for the location of their Primarch. The defenders believed themselves the final guardians of The Emperor’s dream, the invading force, to them, were the traitors. As the truth was told, many refused to accept that their father could discard them. Others wept as it struck chords within them, their souls telling them all they needed to know. Those left by Jaghatai were those he had been unable to taint, those too noble, too pure. For their virtues, they had led their people into a massacre. A remembrancer of Abaddon’s fleet penned the words for this most harrowing of events; Chogoris, burnt to ashes, bloodied by war. Though enemies, though foe; only loyal sons of The Emperor died that day.
The first few millennia after the Great Betrayal, a daemon-centaur, claiming to be Jaghatai, led invasions into the Imperium, striking without warning and seemingly without logic. During this time, the beast commanded the legion to such horrors as the Red Highway Massacre, a feat which, even with their bitter hatred of one another, the Khornate Space Wolves respect as a martial conquest almost without comparison. As the centuries wore on, Jaghatai became increasingly distracted from his conquests, instead depending upon his Khans to fight in his name whilst he lived in ecstasy surrounded by treasures and pleasures. It has been many millennia since the Daemon Primarch of Slaanesh has personally made war upon the Imperium, with many scholars believing he no longer truly commands his Legion.
All the bloodshed in its history paled in comparison to the fate of the world. Abandoned and deceived by Jaghatai, a small force of loyal White Scars stood alongside both tribesmen and warriors of the Palatine against Abaddon’s Crusade. Not only was every inhabitant slaughtered in the foolish war, the culture and legacy of the world was obliterated. In the centuries to come, the planet would be transformed into the Mundus Planus of today. The cities of marble were replaced by endless factories, pumping smoke and pollutants into the air whilst the Empty Quarter hosts towering hives that would make the nomads turn in their graves. Once the home world of an Astartes Legion, Mundus is now a simple cog in the machine that is the Imperium, producing its worth in goods and men, unknowing of its dark past and its place amongst the stars.
Of the White Scars traitor Legion, they settled upon the daemon world Kaprax, located deep within the Eye of Terror. The vast plains of their home world were recreated to the whims of Jaghatai, the very earth given form by the desire of the Primarch. Allowing his men to roam free, doing as their urges decreed, the planet became home to excess, greed and indulgence. Those with enough blood-money and power erect pleasure gers, copying the great Pleasure Dome of Jaghatai himself, filled with exotic luxuries. From the magick-infused herbs which intoxicate even Astartes, to masters of pain receptors who turn the greatest agony into the highest of ecstasies. It is unknown how many brothers of the White Scars, like their Primarch, have not left Kaprax since its creation, spending all eternity there without ever growing bored.
Recruitment into the White Scars is a torment for even the sternest of soldiers, none enter the path willingly. The ancient rituals which once produced loyal warriors of The Emperor have become twisted like their masters into ceremonies of pain. The magicks of Chaos allow any host to be overcome by the power of Jaghatai’s seed. Stormseers, masters of the winds of Slaanesh, bind the genes of the Khan to the captive whilst Apothecaries cut the ritual scars. The transformation is not instant; it takes weeks of constant entombment to produce a Space Marine. During this time, the Stormseers never cease in their trance-like chants, delivering new souls to the Dark Lord, whilst the bodies of the new recruits are racked with pain. Many weaklings fail, their physical forms too frail for the power of Jaghatai.
Kervelius sighed at the waste of such ornate armour. The helmet alone was a masterpiece, crafted in the form of a snarling wolf; it was a work of art. His foe was crippled, unable to move for the pain racking his body, though he seemed to be revelling in the experience. Raising his sword to the neck of the chaos puppet, Kervelius whispered a final insult. Taking the head of his enemy in a single stroke, it was his last act as a warrior of Ultramar. Deep within him a voice stirred;
‘Welcome vessel, I am the Lord of the Hunt – and you are mine.’
Each brotherhood is structured around the disposition of their Khan and his resources, making every one individual and unique. A few commonalities have survived the fall of the Legion, such as the absence of Havoc squads and the distaste towards Dreadnoughts. Whilst the first is simply antagonistic to the flowing style of warfare taught by Jaghatai, the latter strikes a fear into the hearts of the fearless. Entombment within the sarcophagus of these beasts is seen as the greatest of torments for them, the cold metal devoid to the sense of pleasure. It has been known for Khans to punish soldiers under their command by condemning them to a Dreadnought when such behemoths can be captured from loyalist forces. These poor souls quickly fall to insanity and are launched into the heat of battle, resulting in much consternation throughout the enemy’s ranks.
The preference for mobile warfare within the Legion still echoes from the tribesmen of Chogoris, with bike squads being heavily prevalent. These brothers will often group in sixes, the sacred number of Slaanesh, those who embrace it are smiled upon by their Dark Lord. Those not mounted will often take to battle aboard stripped down versions of the Rhino APC, granting them mobility only inferior to their bike-borne brethren. The White Scars are the only traitor legion able to field Land Speeders, though their numbers are limited by the Legion’s inability to produce the vehicle, instead depending on pillaging them from the battlefield. A Khan who has managed to acquire such treasure will find his wealth and power much advanced.
Though there is no true ranking of the splinter-factions bar that Jaghatai is lord of all, there are positions of great power within the Legion. The Khan of the White Scars, or the Voice of the Great Khan as he is known, speaks in the name of Jaghatai and effectively rules all. It is a foolish Khan who refuses to follow the orders of the Voice for the wrath he can bring is almost equal to that of a Primarch. The Storm Lords brotherhood has also become a dominant force within the Legion, their expertise in the magicks of Slaanesh granting them power beyond the dreams of others. They are often found accompanying other brotherhoods, though they have been accused of playing the puppet-master over their brethren.
The Lord of the Hunt is a much feared brother of the White Scars. Owing no allegiance to any force, he roams all realms in search of his prey. A few marines, drunk on the thrill of the hunt, follow the stalker on his missions, though none survive long. The Imperial records on the Lord are confused at best, whether it is a single man who has survived since the Heresy or if as one dies, another takes up the title, is mere postulation by scholars. The legend states that a Khan walked the fields at the Siege of Terra, challenging both Loyalist and Traitor champions alike, to single combat. The number which fell to his blade is unknown, but since that day, the coming of the Lord of the Hunt is a harbinger of death for his prey.
Wherever the sons of Jaghatai tread, destruction follows. Their ability to isolate the weak link in the defensive force wreaks havoc across the line. A once secure flank finds itself surrounded by the enemy, whilst a foe thinking itself under attack awakes to see no enemy but can hear the screams of men in defensive lines behind them. There have been occasions when the strength of humanity has prevailed and instead of falling apart, a strengthened community, a more united one, stands against the White Scars. Such insults are often treated harshly, and the brave fools find themselves suffering a fate worse than death – induction into the Legion.
Many have confused brothers of the White Scars as leaders, such is the decoration and wealth of the armour and weapons which adorns each marine. Blades worthy of loyalist captains are found in the hands of mere warriors. It is said that a victory over the Legion, if it can be achieved, is a lucrative one indeed, for the riches earned from pillaging the bodies of the Astartes could build a city.
Mutations have become rife in a number of the Brotherhoods, whilst others have managed to maintain some genetic integrity. The Marauders are renowned for the daemonic forms many of their marines have taken; their horror almost rivalling that of the myriad creatures of the warp. The magicks which are used to create new recruits for the Legion only further stifle the purity of Jaghatai’s legacy, the taste of Chaos flowing early into what was once a holy ritual. Even as a marine is born into the foul life of the White Scars he is obsessed with want and destroyed by pleasure - a true child of Slaanesh.
Edited by Ferrata, 02 March 2011 - 08:54 PM.