The Iron Empire
A novel and Codex of the Fourth Legion
"Warsmith, behind you!”
Trahaearn Jarn was already aware of the Word Bearer approaching him from his rear even before Levente shouted it: by the time the words finished reaching his ears the Warsmith had twisted his massive form around to bring his Power Maul through the charging Astartes' helmet. Blood and flesh erupted from where a head once lay upon the man's shoulders, the body hitting the damp floor of the primitive temple twenty paces from where it had been before.
Before Jarn stood a dozen more of the Word Bearer's ilk, one of whom was wearing the regalia and markings of a Dark Apostle. Levente stood behind him along with Urkamus and the other members of the team Jarn brought with him to this location, the six of them standing guard by the door and driving back what Word Bearers may seek to reinforce their kin inside.
Hundreds of other Iron Warriors stood in battle against Cultists and Heretic Astartes alike under the orders of their Warsmith, none holding any loyalty to their Warp-infested kin who laid siege to this once peaceful world. They had come to this planet with a purpose, only to find a Warband already present and posing a threat to their objective: for that reason Jarn had led his forces personally in haste against their fellow traitors to the Imperium.
"Godless cur, you dare trespass upon land dedicated to our lords?” the Dark Apostle hissed in a voice unnerving to the ear, the taint of the Warp even going so far as to distort his vocal chords.
The Apostle held out his corrupted crozius threateningly, but Jarn paid it no mind just as he did not react to the eleven other Word Bearers slowly skulking around the medieval building they all had gathered in. His eyes instead fell to the black-clad bodies on the floor, the corpses of two Fallen Angels from Caliban maimed savagely amidst dozens of Cultists and a handful of Word Bearers. Wounds on the surviving sons of Lorgar indicated that the warriors of Caliban had carved into them before falling, the markings of Power Swords ripping through ceramite easy for Jarn to decipher even in the fading light of the day.
This temple had been the home of those Fallen, and here they were about to be sacrificed by their assailants like they were no better than lambs. Though a stoic by nature, the gruesome sight still elicited emotion in the veteran Astartes' face as his lips slowly twisted into a scowl.
"I know of no gods, only malcontents whose thirst and hunger are impossible to slake.”
Far from a fool, the Word Bearer Apostle recognized that the Space Marine before him was no loyal dog of the Imperium, for none would dare to wear the armor of Perturabo himself: while uncertain if it was the Logos itself or a mere imitation, the armor appeared just as the Word Bearer had seen recorded in tales of the Horus Heresy. While altered to fit an atypically tall and broad Astartes instead of a Primarch, the Logos was still massive and an imposing sight that held even the zealous followers of Chaos at bay...for now at least.
"Even your primogenitor has given himself to those you slander with your vile tongue. Will you bow now to the enlightenment of the Great Ones, or shall I offer you as a sacrifice in their name?”
While perhaps futile, converting such an individual would no doubt bring favor from the Dark Lords. It was worth the attempt, if only to confirm that this would end in conflict before committing to it.
Jarn lifted his arms to have them outstretched like he was the one about to give a sermon, "To never bow again, to never break again, I forged my Iron Legion with my own two hands. If nine Iron Warriors could not fell me when they were commanded to, you shall be no different.”
Come the end of his declaration Jarn opened fire with the cannons mounted upon each wrist, a hail of gunfire cutting down four of the Word Bearers instantly right as their leader yelled for them to attack. Two more perished before they could reach the Warsmith, his projectiles leaving gaping holes where their abdomens once were, and another died instantly as his maul cleaved the upper half of their body off in an explosion of gore.
With less than half their starting number left to fight Jarn ignored the Power Axes colliding with his body to instead use his height advantage to lift his arms above the flailing blows of the Word Bearers and open fire on their Apostle. To the Apostle's credit he avoided some of the flurry of shots by lunging aside with unnatural reactions, but those which landed true tore chunks out of his Power Armor and knocked him to the floor for the time being.
The four striking Jarn soon realized why it was he was comfortable ignoring them, and their eyes widened beneath their helms as their weapons left no lasting impact: they were trying to break through the armor of a Primarch with tools that did not always succeed at piercing through the armor of a typical Astartes. The tools they had used to slay countless Loyalists as well as the Fallen of this world were no better than a lasgun's bayonet.
That was Jarn's intention when crafting the suit of armor whose schematics were passed down to him by his mentor Forrix: to survive whatever was thrown his way, no matter the odds. To make certain that this life he had fought his own brother Astartes to the death to keep was not wasted on some unworthy foe's blade.
Jarn's maul swung against the Word Bearers surrounding him one after another, his goal being to drive them back and prevent them from targeting structural weaknesses in his armor since every suit possessed them: he just had to beat them down enough so that exploiting them was impossible. While one fell trying to lunge for the neck of his suit, another tried leaping upon his back only for Jarn to catch not the Astartes but the Power Sword that had been embedded in their side by the Fallen.
With his grip on the blade, Jarn ripped it through their body in mid-air and bisected the agile foe cleanly before stabbing it down into another. To conserve his momentum Jarn twisted and threw his maul at the rising form of the Apostle, caving their helmet and face in swiftly as he used his now bare hand to grab the last of his enemies by the face.
The Astartes in his palm had bulging muscles and two axes, being what appeared to be a barbarian dedicated to Khorne if the bloodied etchings on his armor were any indication...but that did not save him from the might of the Logos Secundus. It amplified Jarn's strength and allowed him to crush their helmet and skull as if he was crushing a rotten apple, their cursed blood splattering on its metal.
Levente, a Neophyte born of Jarn's own preserved Gene Seed, witnessed it all given that what few reinforcements came to this area had been cut down by Urkamus already. The Neophyte's eyes were wide with awe as Jarn dropped the corpse to the floor, only for Levente to look down and bow his head in respect as Jarn looked his way.
"Levente, let this be a lesson to you: the whims of the Ruinous Powers are dangerous, and never to be trusted. This fool no doubt believed the Blood God would lead him to victory, when in reality it matters not whose blood is shed so long as it is.”
Jarn knew Levente well already, as young as he was, and knew that the young man had potential to be a Champion of their Legion: of the Neophytes they possessed none had been able to match Levente in close combat, and his might and stubborn nature were his strengths. It would be important for him to not be lured to the likes of Khorne, and what better way than to crush a Khornate follower through raw
strength provided by something the Iron Warriors valued more than Chaos: technology.
The Neophyte saluted his superior, taking his words to heart before returning to join the squad he had been assigned to in the meantime by Jarn, "Iron Within, Iron Without!”
In Levente was half of the Primarch Jarn had known, for he could be tempestuous and ill-tempered but those were not always bad qualities: it allowed Levente to act quickly and one day would allow him to be an effective shock trooper who could break any line in a siege...or so Jarn hoped of him. He was fond of the boy, and hoped to raise him to his full potential some day.
That being said, they were now joined by another: a figure in dull grey armor emerged from the shadows as if he had always been there, ready to spring into action had his Warsmith needed it.
Greeting the new arrival with a nod, Jarn gave orders to his other soldiers so as to allow them some privacy, "I do not wish to be disturbed. Urkamus, secure the perimeter.”
The veteran sergeant nodded, his voice gruff as he motioned for Levente to follow him, "As you wish. Come, Neophyte.”
Once they were gone Jarn spoke freely to his agent, for while he took pride in possessing fine warriors and siege commanders even he needed someone to provide him intel.
"It is good to see you again Asier, though I wish it was under better circumstances. It would appear we were too late to act on your information.”
The quiet soldier observed the Fallen briefly before returning his gaze to Jarn, being tall enough to just about look him in the eye unlike most others in their Legion, "It was unavoidable. Their deaths bought us valuable time and information.”
"I will entrust the recovery of the artifacts to you whilst the others extract what resources we can from this world before its corruption runs too deep.”
"And you?” Asier asked bluntly as he handed Jarn his mace, having retrieved it before appearing as if from nowhere.
Weapon now in hand, Jarn turned his back to Asier and made his way to the open gate of the temple without delay.
"Lives are not a commodity I value lightly. Had we arrived sooner we may have yet reunited these men with their brethren aboard our fleet. Slaying those who felled them will have to suffice lest we allow their sacrifice to be in vain.”
Knowing that the blood of many a Word Bearer was about to be shed, but also that Jarn was in next to no danger, his right hand man simply nodded and allowed him to go unattended. It was that part of Jarn which saw Asier swear his loyalty to him so long ago after all.
IRONCLAD WARRIORS OF INDOMITABLE WILL
While many sons of Olympia who sought utopia abandoned it come their fall, there still remain those who hold true to their vision. Standing apart from their Chaos worshiping kin, the Iron Empire fights all who would deny them their vision: the Imperium, the servants of Chaos, the savage Orks, or the endless hordes of the Tyranids, they are no more than obstacles in the way of what the Iron Warriors seek.
Centuries of attrition warfare have taught the Astartes of the Iron Empire the value of life, having seen and survived commanders who spent the lives of their subordinates like bullets to achieve victory. Once belonging to one of the most numerous Legions, the companies forged into the Iron Empire possess naught but a thousand Astartes warriors capable of battle with twice that many relegated to supporting roles.
Weakness is not forgivable on the vicious battlefields of the 41st millennium, and so the Iron Warriors have adapted rather than bend to the tides of foes which besiege them: if a Basilisk is not enough to fell an enemy, then they shall use ten. If ten do not succeed, then a hundred, and then a thousand, until not a single fragment of the foe remains. If their Power Armor is not enough to repel an enemy's attack then it is to be reinforced. If the armor still is laid asunder then it is reinforced again, and again, until the blade which would cut it lays broken instead.
Tactical supremacy. Strategic forethought. Logistical mastery. All three are as integral to the Iron Empire's survival as their constant mechanical innovation inspired by their Primarch Perturabo's own. With nowhere to go should they fail in defending their world they dig their heels in and fight to the bitter end, refusing to die knowing that if they fall then so too will their enduring dream of utopia.
It is through tenacity and determination that they hold those who would threaten their fledgling empire at bay, bringing their full strength to bare at any who trespass. To fight with anything less would be to be trampled upon, and so each Astartes lays down their lives alongside their mortal servants to make taking their world too costly for what would be gained by doing so.
Iron Within, Iron Without, the Iron Empire endures as a bastion to the long forgotten principles of the 4th Legion and its once unyielding spirit.
VETERANS OF THE FOURTH
In the Great Crusade few Legions saw as little glory as the Iron Warriors, but they did still achieve victories where no other Legion would dare even do battle. It was thanks to their stalwart nature and grim determination that they could march into near certain death to achieve victory at any cost: if not for their near constant replenishment of Astartes from their world of Olympia the Iron Warriors would have rapidly had their ranks depleted by the grueling campaigns they were tasked with.
Upon Perturabo's discovery by the Emperor of Mankind he was reunited with his Legion, but this event would inflict a deep wound upon their ranks: dissatisfied with their performance and inflexible ways Perturabo would order his Astartes to undergo a decimation. One in ten of their ranks as determined by lottery was beaten to death by the other nine, and it was through this severe punishment that Perturabo established his brutal and unforgiving reign.
This tragedy would be the first of a myriad of causes that would lead to the foundation of the Iron Empire, for upon drawing the lot to be slain by his comrades the Astartes known as Trahaearn Jarn did not accept his fate and instead killed his the nine who were chosen to be his executioners. To him accepting death would be to surrender, and he was not one to yield: if he was to be sent to his death of the battlefield he would do his duty and fulfill his purpose, but to perish at the hands of his comrades for no greater purpose in his eyes was a waste.
Despite barely surviving the ordeal Jarn would remain loyal to and even respect his Primarch, perceiving the Decimation as a test which he had passed and those who perished had failed. Even so it would make him wary of needlessly throwing away the lives of his own men in battle, something which he had been growing more averse to already during the Great Crusade.
A/N: For some time now I have desired for the Iron Warriors to be able to play on the tabletop like they wage war in their stories, wielding massive amounts of heavy weaponry and laying siege with hundreds if not thousands of artillery vehicles. Unfortunately for them they have not been able to do this for several editions, and they until recently had to field Renegades and Heretics allies to even have a Basilisk...something they no longer can do in most games since Renegades and Heretics have been removed from the main game.
This project is going to be a mixture of things, but primarily will be the story of Iron Warriors who have not yielded to Chaos and so instead of possessing Daemon Engines use Basilisks and other such artillery to wage war. I intend to write this like a full codex, but with a greater emphasis on story. Later entries of course will have datasheets and the like, but before we reach the mechanics we first must delve into the lore! I have never done something quite like this before, but I hope you enjoy it regardless, and I dedicate this first update to Ladok Tibers who has helped me develop the concept and lore for this project for quite some time.
I have provided the text both in image form and as plain text so you may read it as you prefer.