Lore: The Astartes Shattered Legions & Survivors

By Rob Baer | March 20th, 2016 | Categories: Horus Heresy, Lore, Warhammer 40k

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At Isstvan V three legions of Space Marines were betrayed and decimated. Come see the story of who survived to tell the tale of the Shattered Legions.

Source: Our Friends at Lexicanum

The Shattered Legions is a collective term for the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders Space Marine Legions who suffered heavy losses in the Isstvan V Dropsite Massacre at the outbreak of the Horus Heresy and were effectively destroyed as fighting Legions, but continued to fight against the traitor Legions as scattered warbands numbering anywhere between hundreds or just a handful of marines for the duration of the war.


The Shattered Legions have their origins in the Isstvan V Dropsite Massacre, a large-scale ambush carried out by the traitor Warmaster Horus and those Legions loyal to him on the desert planet Isstvan V. The Death Guard, World Eaters, Emperor’s Children and Sons of Horus Legions, their betrayal of the Imperiumrevealed by the virus-bombing of the loyalist elements of their own Legions on Isstvan III, bunkered down in a large fortress on Isstvan V to await the arrival of a huge reprisal force organised and sent by the Emperor’s praetorian Rogal Dorn. The Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard Legions formed the first wave of this force and touched down on Isstvan V under the leadership of Iron Hands’ primarch Ferrus Manus. Outraged by the betrayal of their brother Legions they launched a severe attack, the Iron Hands in particular driving deep into the Emperor’s Children’s ranks to avenge an earlier betrayal in the Callinedes system.


When the second wave of four more Legions arrived on the battlefield the Salamanders and Raven Guard fell back towards the dropsite to recover from the fierce fighting, while the enraged Iron Hands fought on as their primarch engaged in a ferocious single combat with Emperor’s Children primarch Fulgrim, almost managing to kill him until Fulgrim gave in to the whisperings of a greater daemon of Slaanesh housed in the pommel gem of a sword he had taken from an alien temple and became possessed, giving him the required strength to recover and strike down Ferrus Manus. The four Legions comprising the second wave entrenched at the dropsite, and in the most infamous betrayal of the Imperium’s history opened fire on the retreating Salamanders and Raven Guard. The Word Bearers, Night Lords, Iron Warriors and Alpha Legion had all secretly already sided with Horus, and slaughtered the vastly outnumbered loyalist Legions in a huge and well-planned betrayal.[Needs Citation]

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Escaping Isstvan

Despite catastrophic numbers of casualties, a small number of survivors managed to fight their way back to landed Stormbirds and Thunderhawks. Of those that did so almost all were wounded, many badly so, and of the ships that managed to take off from the dropsite many were shot down by traitor anti-aircraft guns. Those that escaped the planet then had to run the gauntlet of the traitor fleet, which prowled the Isstvan system for some time after the initial battle hunting for escaping craft. Nevertheless, a comparatively tiny number of loyalist marines did manage to escape the system through luck, skill and sheer indomitable will. Furthermore, relatively small task forces of Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard that nevertheless numbered into the hundreds were not present at the massacre, and the Iron Hands in particular were not wholly destroyed as Ferrus Manus had been so eager to take the fight to the traitors that he did not wait for the entire Legion to assemble before spearheading the attack. Of particular note are the Iron Hands forces of Captain Shadrak Meduson, who was not present at the battle and went on to become one of the boldest and most feared loyalist commanders, at one point coming close to killing three enemy primarchs at once[4], and the 111th Clan Company led by Captain Durun Atticus who arrived at Isstvan aboard the Veritas Ferrum after the main battle was over and went on to carry out significant military action against the traitors[2]. Furthermore, a significant number of the Raven Guard Legion were rescued from Isstvan along with their primarch Corvus Corax by captain Branne Nev, who left his post leading the garrison on the Legion homeworld Deliverance prompted by the prophetic dreams of Imperial Army praefector Marcus Valerius and arrived with a rescue fleet in time to save the surviving Raven Guard from a last stand against the oncoming World Eaters.

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Actions undertaken by Shattered Legion forces

The military actions undertaken by the Shattered Legion survivors against the traitor forces are too many to number, and most have been forgotten by history, the brave loyalists who who carried them out slain on forgotten worlds during failed missions and last stands. Nevertheless, through sheer daring and strategic skill, some elements of the Shattered Legions managed to strike significant blows against the traitor Legions, conducting sabotage and hit-and-run attacks, disrupting supply lines and bolstering the defenses of loyalist worlds. Horus had planned to remove the Raven Guard, Salamanders and Iron Hands completely as factors in his plans to conquer the Imperium, but through the heroism of the Shattered Legion survivors he was forced to rue their escape from Isstvan.

Some notable actions undertaken by Shattered Legion forces during the war are listed below.

  • The Deliverance Uprising, where the Raven Guard successfully put down an Alpha Legion-engineered uprising on their homeworld.
  • The Battle of Perditus, where Iron Hands 98th clan-company led by Cassalir Lorramech fought a Death Guard task force led by Calas Typhon to prevent them from claiming a powerful alien sentience that was later requisitioned by the Dark Angels.
  • The theft of the Kryptos, when Raven Guard commando Nykona Sharrowkyn and Iron Father Sabik Wayland infiltrated a Dark Mechanicum fortress and stole a strategically valuable artefact from the traitors.
  • The Raid on Traoris
  • An assassination attempt on Fulgrim, when Nykona Sharrowkyn made what should have been a fatal headshot on the Emperor’s Children primarch.
  • The Battle of Iydris, where the forces of the Sisypheum interrupted the ascension of Fulgrim to daemonhood, Ignatius Numen slew Marius Vairosean and Nykona Sharrowkyn temporarily killedLucius.
  • The Defense of Dwell, where Iron Hands 10th Captain Shadrak Meduson combined his company with local Imperial Army forces, a ‘half-broken cadre of Salamanders’ and a White Scars kill-team led by Hibou Khan to defend the planet against the Sons of Horus. Though the Sons of Horus won the battle and Bion Henricos was slain defending the mausoleum precinct, Horus Aximand was badly wounded when Hibou Khan sliced off his face and during the battle’s aftermath a surprise gunship attack almost claimed the lives of Horus, Fulgrim and Mortarion simultaneously. The traitor primarchs were saved by Fulgrim’s defensive sorcery, but Mortarion was severely wounded with most of his flesh burned off. 
  • The Battle of Bodt, Iron Hands-led forces under Autek Mor destroy the World Eaters training world of Bodt.
  • The Xana Incursion
  • The Battle of Nyrcon
  • The Malagant Conflict
  • The Battle of Arissak
  • The escape of Vulkan, when the Salamanders primarch escaped imprisonment aboard the Night Lords’ flagship after prolonged torture at the hands of Konrad Curze.

Known Shattered Legion survivors

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About the Author: Rob Baer

Virginia Restless, Miniature Painter & Single Father to 3 Cats. I blame LEGOs. There was something about those little-colored blocks that started it all... Twitter @catdaddymbg
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