The Chronicles of Terra: Seeds of Chaos
All that was required was the consumption of the foe's bodily tissues. In the broken places where they fought, alone and far from aid, this trait brought the IX th Legion priceless information and made even the most raw recruits battle ready. Yet the macabre reputation they had gained hung about them like a shroud, lessening their achievements.
They had been created to fight monsters, alone and in the darkest places, but in doing so they risked becoming creatures even more foul than those they fought. The wars of Unification swept out into the Sol System like a storm, unstoppable and wild, and so too went the IX th Legion. Despite being among the largest in number of the early Legions, its ranks bolstered by widespread recruiting during the war for Old Earth, the IX th found no place in the hosts arrayed to assault the Jovian moons or the resource-rich inner worlds during the early days of the Great Crusade.
Instead, its flag was planted among the artificial moons of baleful Neptune , whose labyrinthine tunnels and dark halls were the lair of xenos raiders and the last genetically debased human colonists of that far-flung outpost. There was little here to be gained but time, precious time for the Emperor to claim the orbital shipyards of Saturn and the allegiance of Mars , for which He needed the raiders and mutants of the outer worlds held in place.
To that end, He sent the IX th Legion forth to die. Twelve thousand warriors of the IX th Legion, all veterans of the wars on Terra, disappeared on the moons of Neptune. While the Emperor and His grand armies brought Saturn, Mars and the inner worlds to heel, no word of the IX th Legion reached them, either of their success or annihilation. By the time these conquests were completed and the Emperor returned to the cold darkness of the outer system, few expected to find anything other than frozen corpses.
Yet when they reached Neptune, it was to find the IX th Legion alive and well; indeed, despite the loss of many of their original complement, the size of the force was almost the same, bolstered by recruits taken from among the dregs of Neptune's barely human population. Where others might have floundered and fallen, the IX th Legion had only grown stronger, rising from the ashes of defeat like a bloody phoenix. In those bloody days, the Legion was an ever-changing beast, its ranks largely formed of line infantry equipped almost exclusively for the brutal madness of close-quarters assault.
This was a role at which the IX th Legion excelled, always favouring a sudden and overwhelming charge to a long drawn-out battle of attrition. They well understood the role of their macabre legend in war, most often choosing to stage their attacks at dusk or dawn, and taking to decorating the storm-grey of their early Mark II Power Armour with a variety of charnel images and taking to the field unhelmed, that the sight of their angelic visages streaked with blood might unsettle the enemy.
Some companies even began to incorporate the secret bloody rituals of the Legion into their doctrines of battle, tearing apart the enemy on the field of battle or indulging in bloody feasts to break their morale and set panic in their ranks. Again and again the IX th Legion would be cast into the crucible of destruction, only to emerge each time as hale as they had been before. Each time they took from the enemy what was required to fight on and grasped victory where others had seen only defeat and despair, though it left them changed. On the silent black battlefields of the Kuiper Belt and the endless wastes of Rust, the IX th Legion was sent to fight and survive where others could not, to fight the unseen holding actions of the Great Crusade's first faltering steps.
Malcador the Sigillite himself was to take note of their exploits and dub them the "Revenant Legion," a title that many came to use for the indomitable warriors of the IX th Legion, as much a sign of the superstitious awe in which they were held by many as it was a commendation of their bravery. Indeed, the Sigillite is but one of a number of senior officials within the early Imperium's Divisio Militaris who seemed ill at ease with this incarnation of the Legiones Astartes , lacking as they did the prestige or open popularity of some of their brethren, such as the much vaunted XIII th Legion or Horus ' own XVI th Legion.
A dangerous and unsightly weapon, to be unsheathed only in dire need and then quickly hidden away again, the IX th Legion found themselves often in the company of those Legions less favoured by the bright lords of the newly-forged Imperium. With the savage War Hounds and oft-forgotten IV th Legion in whom Horus had found his own disposable weapons, they found a bitter kinship, though it was rare to see these Legions gathered together. Yet it was the work of these ingloriously practical and gore-spattered warriors that set the foundations of the Imperium in place, though there are scant songs sung in praise of the deeds the Emperor commanded them to perform in the pursuit of the golden empire which He sought to build.
Time and time again the pride of the IX th Legion was to fall on the field of battle, yet the records of their valour make common mention of the same handful of warriors and champions.
Some Remembrancers and historians have taken this to indicate a long history of redoubtable heroes, even going so far as to compile these records into a number of epic stanzas, forming the separate entries into a single legend. Yet, the true reason for the longevity of certain names within the order of battle for the IX th Legion is far less heroic.
Since its foundation, the IX th Legion had operated in the most extreme battlefield conditions and necessity had forced upon them a number of practises that might otherwise be seen as monstrous. One among these, fostered by the nature of their design and the conditions under which they fought, was the consumption of fallen captains by their followers in order to preserve their hard-won skills and experience.
As a mark of honour as well as practicality, it also became accepted that recruits took the names of those whose skills they absorbed, and lieutenants would assume the names of their captains. Such was the resemblance of each member of the IX th to their flawless brothers that most outsiders failed to notice this subtle brand of immortality.
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The most famous example of which being the figure thought to have served as the IX th Legion's first and only Master , other than Sanguinius himself. Known to history as Ishidur Ossuros , this warrior is commonly held to have commanded the IX th from Unity to the discovery of Baal in M30, yet a closer examination of the records shows that name died numerous times, only to be replaced by another. Over time and battles past count, this practise became an honoured tradition of the Legion, a visceral ritual that bound the survivors together despite their often disparate origins.
Yet as much as it bound those of the IX th Legion to each other, it forced them away from their brethren among the Imperial Army and other Legions. In the years before Sanguinius' return, no few of the other Primarchs expressed a distaste with the practises of the IX th Legion, though they could not dispute their success on the battlefield. Such was the legacy of mistrust and barbarism that the IX th carried with them, one pressed upon them by the brutal necessity of their calling. In the early years of the Great Crusade, as the fleets of the Emperor first pushed beyond the boundaries of what is now known as the Segmentum Solar and into Wilderness Space , His armies would encounter battlefields to shake the sanity of mortal men.
Of these fel and terrible places, termed zones mortalis in the formal language of the Dvisio Militaris, few were more loathsome than the world known to history as Kiy-buran. The first expeditions to Kiy-buran were to vanish without a trace, four full regiments of the Imperial Army 's Veradan Regulars swallowed up and gone, and a flank of the great Crusade's galaxy-wide advance left open.
In response, the Emperor unleashed His own terrors to seek out whatever beasts might lurk there. The world was a wasteland of irradiated sands inhabited by chattel tribes of degenerate mutants and ruled by a techno-barbarian warlord, Ek'Lobia. These tribes were both bodies to be spent in conflict and the primary foodstuff of Kiy-buran's inhabitants; each sustained by a vicious economy of ritual acts of bloodshed and cannibalism. It was these mutants which had been encountered by the beleaguered ranks of the Imperial Army stranded on the planet. Hordes of barely human mutants armed with little more than primitive clubs and picks had decimated their ranks, the corpses of the fallen hauled back to flickering fire-pits to be cooked by night.
For three solar months, the serried trenches of the Imperial Army repelled the mindless onslaught before the storm-grey Drop Pods of the IX th Legion fell from the sky, wreathed in black smoke. Crashing to the ground, the Revenant Legion broke through the mutant throng with contemptuous ease and relieved the embattled Veradan troopers.
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The IX th attacked the cantonments of local tribes, their superior arms and armour allowing them to seize control of the northern mountain ranges, casting out the indigenous mutants they came across with uncompromising brutality. In the opening stage of the IX th Legion's war on Kiy-Buran, they came upon little organised resistance, freely conquering territory, and for solar months the IX th Legion ravaged Kiy-Buran before news reached the warlord Ek'Lobia, who swore an oath to eradicate the invaders. Under his command was an army of mutant chattel whose numbers were beyond count and over which he held a power of such terror that they would throw themselves to their death rather than face the freakish horrors which his enslaved sorcerers might unleash.
As the IX th Legion crossed into Ek'Lobia's territories, the resistance they met from indigenous forces increased until the IX th was drawn into full scale battle. Initially, they easily quashed any bands of savages making strikes against the edges of their line, but quickly these became an unending deluge of bodies which threatened to overwhelm and encircle the remains of the three companies. The IX th girded themselves to repel the tide of mutants, whose hideous deformities made them capable of rending ceramite with their tortured flesh and whose numbers set the earth atremble at their approach.
Though the Legiones Astartes fought doggedly, killing scores of enemy for each Battle-Brother lost, the sheer numbers of the foe began to force them back. Attempting to regroup, the three companies of the IX th Legion formed a spearhead in an attempt to break through the mutants and reach the distant banner poles that signified the position of the horde's brutish commander.
As the tip of the Legion formation threatened to reach the encampment of Ek'Lobia, the horrors of Old Night were unleashed. Reality rippled and tore as the Cracked Skull's ensorcelled chattel brought forth horrors beyond description, reaping a hideous toll of casualties amongst the Astartes and mutant horde indiscriminately, turning the tide of the battle.
Incapable of combating such a threat, the IX th Legion warriors were forced to quit the field of battle or be utterly destroyed, a choice that might have doomed other more honour-bound Legions, but not the pragmatic Revenant Legion of old. The Legionaries turned and hacked a red path through the throng with toothless Chainswords , broken blades and the cracked pieces of their own fallen comrades' armour.
The strength of almost two companies was lost in that monumental battle, and those Legionaries who escaped were forced to question how they could survive and endure without reinforcement or resupply. The staggering degree of losses suffered created the need to reorganise Legion resources among little more than remaining Legionaries, speaking to the utilitarian and consequentialist nature of the psyche of the early IX th Legion. Foremost among these assets, their Apothecarion was reformed and grown into a combat-support formation; the survival of the remaining Legionaries as well as propagating gene-seed considered paramount to their ability to continue to pursue conquest.
Reformed in the crucible of war, far from the path of the Great Crusade, those orphaned companies of the IX th Legion recommenced their campaign at a more considered pace; making squad-based shock assaults against enemy encampments before withdrawing to avoid organised reprisals.
The campaign soon stagnated into a pattern of thrust and counter-thrust, a war fought on the back foot to bleed the foe whilst hugely outnumbered. This war, which became known as the "Banquet of Kiy-Buran," continued unbroken for 12 standard years, all but forgotten by the wider Imperium. The IX th Legion, piece by piece, broke the tribes of the world in bloody close quarters actions, and refused to be drawn into a full-scale engagement. In the early years of this conflict, accepting the desperation of their predicament and bereft of resupply, the IX th Legion were forced to take practical measures to survive.
Raids against local mutant tribes on the northern continent became matters of domination, not destruction. Those creatures which could be of use were press-ganged into the service of the Legion. Testament to the hardiness of the IX th Legion's gene-seed, even these irradiated and hideously mutated beings were considered suitable candidates for the Legion, their children bred to be little more than meat-stock for their techno-barbarian overlord ascended into angelic perfection by the implantation of Sanguinius' gene-seed.
Furthermore, the Legion's Apothecaries encouraged them to join their foe in cannibalism of the war-dead for sustenance, benefitting the Legion and denying the foe in equal measure. These practices allowed the IX th to replenish its numbers and continue without contact with the wider Imperium greatly beyond the capability of any other Legion. Undertaking this strategy, the Legion steadily took ground from Ek'Lobia, diminishing both his armies and food supply in the process, while taking that material into themselves with which to rebuild the strength of the Legion.
Perhaps the Legion went too far in the name of survival, however. A diary later recovered from the equipment of a missing officer of the Veradan Regulars refers to the IX th as the "Charnel Feast," a cognomen which, when later disseminated, became popular amongst the rank and file mortal soldiery of the Great Crusade before it was quashed by the coming of Sanguinius.
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The same diary hints at a dark end for the 46th Veradan Regulars: as they became unable to continue to prosecute the war, the diary suggests they were also rendered to feed the Legion, whether through literal consumption or to allow the charnel priests, what had become of their Apothecarion, to use their flesh as part of the process of creating new warriors. Other recovered journals claim that the populace of Kiy-Buran came to see the Legionaries as the devils of their myths, stealing their children and feasting upon corpses in a manner more barbaric even than the ritual cannibalism of their masters.
It states that the native population feared that their own magicks had unleashed the "Imperium of Mankind," speaking of it in hushed tones as the force of their own undoing. In the twelfth Terran year after planetfall, the final confrontation of the campaign was all but a foregone conclusion. Ek'Lobia, suffering from years of starvation and surrounded in his fortress spaceport by a replenished force of almost 1, Legionaries and their own degenerate serfs, attempted once more to unleash his slave-sorcerers.
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The massed, unarmoured novitiates of the Legion, recruited from among the tribes of Kiy-buran, suffered the brunt of the attack, while the Legion's off-world veterans made directed strikes against the warlocks, the sheer numbers brought to bear by the IX th overcoming the warlord's feeble defences. His sorcerers dead and his fortress in ruin, Ek'Lobia attempted to flee in a primitive spacecraft, rising from the surface in a cascade of scrap and broken corpses, only to meet a squadron of Imperial cruisers bearing the heraldry of the VII th Legion in orbit, his life ended under their guns.
The Imperium had finally come to reclaim its warriors, expecting to find a world brought to Compliance and ready to accept the Emperor's law. At the head of the fleet, Rogal Dorn , but newly reunited with his own Imperial Fists , arrived in Kiy-Buran to instead discover a ruined world of the Imperium's making. Upon receiving the report of the IX th Legion he was wrathful, as he refused to accept the Compliance of Kiy-Buran as the Dream of Imperium his father had described to him.