In the 40th Millennium, the Lions of the Emperor Chapter ceased to exist. What follows are the reasons why this chapter and the entire population of an Imperial World disappeared from Imperial History.
In the Eastern Fringe, the Lions of the Emperor were born. The Lions were a successor chapter of the Ultramarines but had been atoning for the destruction of their old world by a Tyranid Hive Fleet. Now the Lions had become a crusading army; their final task to be the pacification of Kroot and Demiurg in a distant eastern sector. At the end of this crusade the Lions were to be gifted a new home world; Calidan.
Calidan was once a dusty planet, with vast grassy plains surrounded by tall mountains making up the general landscape. It’s towns and cities were clustered around the rivers, a legacy of the old times when human settlers first made their mark on the planet. During the Dark Age of Mankind the settlers became isolated from their race and, thinking they were now alone in the universe, started looking to races outside for help. The Kroot answered that call and for many centuries the two races co-existed, trading with other planets and races and building a world together. Calidan prospered until the Arrival of Imperial Forces in the 40th Millennium.
Disgusted by the apparent peaceful co-existence of Alien and Human, Colonel Hergustas Vaunch of the 116th Imperial Crusade Fleet order the immediate pacification of the indigenous life forms of the planet before them. The Lions of the Emperor and the Tallarn XXIV were tasked with this duty and launched a full orbital offensive at the major settlements. There would be no warning for the people of Caliban other than the sight of thousands of Drop-ships descending through the atmosphere and mass drivers lighting up the scant military defences in wreathes of fire. Severely outmatched, in less than two days, all of Calidan’s major population centres had been taken by the Imperium. The survivors of the Calidan Militia fled to the prairie lands that lay for miles around each of the settlements.
Colonel Vaunch felt that the situation on the ground had been suitably contained and decided to move the major part of the crusade fleet on to other planets of the sector. He left behind two companies of Lions and the Tallarn Regiment in order to wipe out the remainder of the Calidan Militia who were still causing some problems on the ground.
As the Crusade Fleet left orbit the remaining Lions and Tallarns were swept up in a guerilla war that would last a further decade. The Calidan Militia and their Kroot allies had fled to the vast grasslands that swept across the planet. Rising some 3 meters off the ground the grasses of the prairie lands provided perfect concealment for the guerilla fighters. Well supplied by an unknown source, the guerillas exacted a heavy toll on the Imperial troops who were wholly unprepared for the level of resistance. Guerillas had managed to even assault some of the new Imperial cities that sat like rockrete islands in the tall grass.
Fearing the loss of control, Chapter Master Leonine requested greater troop numbers from the crusade fleet. He adjusted his tactics using bombardments and other more brutal tactics. Fire would barely touch the grasses which, though blackened by flames, refused to die. As the war in the prairies continued, new Imperial settlers arrived to take over the production of foodstuffs and ore that were in abundance in on the planet. The cities grew but the guerilla fighters continued to harass the Imperial Forces. The planet and it’s population of natives and new citizens were in a perpetual stalemate. No side could quite gain the upper hand. The guerillas fought from mountain hideouts and the Imperial forces controlled the major production centres.
It was in the final year of the conflict that Chapter Master Leonine of the Lions discovered the source of the guerilla fighters seemingly endless supplies. As Leonine finished yet another foray into the grasses surrounding the new Imperial city of Galasis, he found a small symbol lying amongst the dead guerillas that lay strewn amongst the grass. It could only have been about an two inches square but Leonine recognised the symbol instantly – a Hydra.
As Leonine was about to radio for help, he and his brother marines found themselves surrounded and outnumbered by Alpha Legion Marines who emerged from the grasses like ghosts. The world around the marines went dark and the Lions readied themselves for the final onslaught but instead, as the unnatural darkness consumed them, the Lions found themselves somehow transported into the heart of one of the Guerillas mountain strongholds.
Leonine found himself staring right at a marine who somehow looked familiar. As the recognition slowly crept into his mind, the Alpha Legionnaire finally spoke;
“I am Alpharius. I am here to tell you why your old world had to burn and why this new world will never be yours. More importantly, I will tell you all why you may never return to the Imperium again if you wish to save the Emperor”.
It was at this point I was removed from the room. Myself and the other marines of Chapter Master Leonine’s retinue were taken to holding cells. I will never know exactly what was said to Leonine during my absence but when he returned to speak to us he seemed changed emotionally; as if years of doubt and guilt had been lifted from his shoulders.
Leonine spoke to all of us at length and explained parts of the story that had been imparted on him by the Alpha Legionaire who called himself Alpharius. He spoke of how the Ultramarines had abandoned us and our world long before the Tyranid Hive Fleet reached our system. Communications from Macragge that had been intercepted by the Alpha Legion showed that while our system died, Ultramarine forces were urged by Gulliman to pull back and defend more prosperous sectors of the eastern fringe. “The Lions of the Emperor were not a primary concern”, Leonine explained, reading from a report that he held in his gauntlet. We had been abandoned and then forced on a crusade to atone for sins that were not of our making.
More evidence was supplied to us, munitorum reports, combat analysis, adminstratum shipping orders; all of it proving beyond doubt that what we had been told was true. We were all agog, we loved the Emperor but we had been betrayed by our own father Chapter. We looked to Leonine for an order and the Captain delivered the answer.
“My brothers, we must unite the Lions here at Calidan. We have fought and bled for the Emperor but we have been fighting the wrong battle. We must fight the corruption within. We must destroy the traitors who wish to bring down the Imperium”.
“Alpharius speaks of a time when the Ultramarines once sought to form a new Empire at the Emperors time of need. The Ultramarines abandoned us, their own sons, at our time of need. I have no wish to be part of their legacy. I have no wish to see them abandon other people and worlds to our fate.”
After the speech, Leonine requested the assistance of the whole of the Lions Chapter under the pretence that Calidan was at a stalemate and a final surge of troops should finish the fight. Colonel Vaunch dispatched the Lions and the remainder of the Tallarn XXIV immediately; annoyed that Calidan still remained so stubborn whilst other planets had fallen so swiftly during the crusade.
On their arrival, instead of deploying to the planet, the recently dispatched Lions and Tallarn overwhelmed the Imperial Navy crews. They offered them their lives in turn for their loyalty. Those who refused were spaced – they simply could not be trusted to tell the rest of the fleet what had happened on Calidan.
After disabling system wide communications. Leonine left Calidan with the remainder of the ground troops, the Calidan militia and those Imperial Citizens who would prove useful to the Alpha Legions plans.
The remainder of the Imperial presence on the planet was left alone, the Lions of the Emperor disappearing off into the void of the Eastern Fringe with their Alpha Legion guides in support.
As the days went by after the Lions disappearance the Imperial Citizens noticed that the grasses that surrounded the city were growing at an accelerated rate. Deaths were being reported amongst farm workers that had all the hall marks of a predatory cat of old Terran lore. Within weeks the grasses now towered above the height of many buildings. The rockrete foundations of the major cities started to crack as the roots and shoots pushed their way through the ground. Protective shielding started to fail and wildlife started to prowl the city streets at night. People started to refuse to leave their homes.
Within a year there was no trace of any Imperial Citizen on Calidan. Delayed by a warp storm, the Crusade Fleet returned many years later to find that Calidan was now overrun with predatory animals that hunted through the half mile high barbed grasses that bristled with menace. Vaunch, assuming that the Lions, Tallarns and the population of the Calidan were wiped out by the aggressive planetary life proceeded to bombard the planet from orbit.
Calidan is now a dead world. It’s surface cracked, and atmosphere poisoned. Calidan’s long grasses still stand in places but are now decayed bluish husks. The Lions of the Emperor were marked down as lost by the Administratum and their Banner was added to the Hall of the Fallen on Terra.
The Lions of the Emperor still live on though they are no longer known by that name. Pledging Alliegence to the Alpha Legion, Leonine renamed the chapter the Sons of Legion in honour of the revelations that Alpharius provided and to our continued learning of the true nature of the galaxy.
We have been reborn and are still young. But like the Lions of our home world, we will learn and hunt and defeat our prey. We are the Sons of Legion.