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Authors: Dan Abnett

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Legion

BOOK: Legion
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T
HE
H
ORUS
H
ERESY

Dan Abnett

LEGION

Secrets and lies

v1.2 (2011.11)

The Horus Heresy

It is a time of legend.
Mighty heroes battle for the right to rule the galaxy. The vast armies of the Emperor of Earth have conquered the galaxy in a Great Crusade – the myriad alien races have been smashed by the Emperor’s elite warriors and wiped from the face of history.
The dawn of a new age of supremacy for humanity beckons.
Gleaming citadels of marble and gold celebrate the many victories of the Emperor. Triumphs are raised on a million worlds to record the epic deeds of his most powerful and deadly warriors.
First and foremost amongst these are the primarchs, superheroic beings who have led the Emperor’s armies of Space Marines in victory after victory. They are unstoppable and magnificent, the pinnacle of the Emperor’s genetic experimentation. The Space Marines are the mightiest human warriors the galaxy has ever known, each capable of besting a hundred normal men or more in combat.
Organised into vast armies of tens of thousands called Legions, the Space Marines and their primarch leaders conquer the galaxy in the name of the Emperor.
Chief amongst the primarchs is Horus, called the Glorious, the Brightest Star, favourite of the Emperor, and like a son unto him. He is the Warmaster, the commander-in-chief of the Emperor’s military might, subjugator of a thousand thousand worlds and conqueror of the galaxy. He is a warrior without peer, a diplomat supreme.
As the flames of war spread through the Imperium, mankind’s champions will all be put to the ultimate test.

CONTENTS

LEGION

The Horus Heresy

CONTENTS

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

PART ONE

ONE
TWO
THREE
FOUR
FIVE
SIX
SEVEN
EIGHT
NINE
TEN
ELEVEN
TWELVE
THIRTEEN

PART TWO

ONE
TWO
THREE
FOUR
FIVE
SIX
SEVEN
EIGHT
NINE
TEN
ELEVEN
TWELVE

EPILOGUE

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Primarchs

A
LPHARIUS
, Primarch of the Alpha Legion

The Alpha Legion

I
NGO
P
ECH
, First Captain

(M
A
)T
HIAS
H
ERZOG
, Captain, 2nd Company

S
HEED
R
ANKO
, Captain, Lernaean Terminator Squad

O
MEGON
, Lord, Effrit Stealth Squad

The 670th Imperial Expedition Fleet

J
AN
V
AN
A
UNGER
, Master of the Fleet

T
ENG
N
AMATJIRA
, Lord Commander of the Army

Imperial Army

(Geno Five-Two Chiliad)

S
RI
V
EDT
, Uxor Primus of the Geno Five-Two

H
ONEN
M
U
, Uxor

R
UKHSANA
S
AIID
, Uxor

H
URTADO
B
RONZI
, Hetman

K
AIDO
P
IUS
, Hetman

D
IMITER
S
HIBAN
, Hetman

P
ETO
S
ONEKA
, Hetman

F
RANCO
B
OONE
, Genewhip

(Zanzibari Hort)

N
ITIN
D
EV
M
AJOR
, General

K
OLMEC
, Bajolur

(Lucifer Blacks)

D
INAS
C
HAYNE
, Bajolur-Captain

E
IMAN
, Companion

B
ELLOC
, Companion

(Crescent-Sind Sixth Torrent)

W
ILDE
, Lord

(Outremars)

Khedive Ismail Sherard

(Legio Xerxes)

A
MON
J
EVETH
, Princeps

(Regnault Thorns)

G
AN
K
ARSH
, General

Non-Imperial personae

T
HE
C
ABAL

J
OHN
G
RAMMATICUS

G
AHET

S
LAU
D
HA

G’L
ATRRO

‘God has given you one face and you make yourself another.’

— attributed to the dramaturge Shakespire, fl. M2

‘Of the fabulous hydra it is said, cut off one head and two will grow in its place.’

— antique proverb

‘No one is enough of a fool to choose war instead of peace. In peace sons bury fathers, but in war fathers bury sons.’

— attributed to the chronicler Herodotus, fl. M0

‘War is simply the galaxy’s hygiene.’

— attributed to the Primarch Alpharius

M
Y
NAME
IS
Hurtado Bronzi.

There, I’ve said it. I’ve said it and I can never take it back. The secret is out.

Ah. The rest? Well, if I must, sir. My name is Hurtado Bronzi, a hetman (which is to say, a senior captain) of the Geno Five-Two Chiliad, Imperial Army, glory of Terra, beloved of the Emperor. I am an Edessa-born man, proud of my liberty, Catheric by devotion, a brother to two sisters and a brother. My ears hear only the orders of my estimable Lord Commander Namatjira, my hands know only the purpose of the Emperor and the correct business of a carbine laser, my mouth… well, my mouth knows a great deal more, and knows when not to say it.

Because he has taught us to be scrupulously secretive. No, I will not be drawn to say his name. I said, he has taught us to be scrupulously secretive. That is his way, and we love him for it. The greatest gift he has bestowed on us is to share his secret with us.

Why? Because we were there, I suppose, at Tel Utan and Mon Lo Harbour and now the Shivering Hills. If it hadn’t been us, it would have been others.

Why are you whispering? I can hear you whispering. What don’t you want me to hear? What secrets are you plotting?

Pain? Is that it? Is that all you have to offer me? Well, yes, it does open secrets. Some secrets, some mouths. What have you planned for me? Ah, I see. Well, if you must. I won’t welcome it. What will it be? Eyes? Genitals? The gaps between my toes and fingers? First, you should know—

Nnnhhhhh!

Oh. Merciful—

Mhh. Quite the expert, your little man. Quite the expert. He’s done this before, hasn’t he? No, wait, I—Nhhhhghhh!

Beloved Terra! Ahh. Shit. Nhh. That little bastard. Let me finish, please! Let me finish what I was saying. Please? Yes?

All right, then. This won’t work. This simply won’t work. Because I’m telling you it won’t.

I will not tell you anything. It doesn’t matter what you do to me, really it doesn’t. Burn me all you like, my mouth is shut.

Because that’s all he asks of us. The only thing. I can tell you who I am, and who I was, but I can’t – I won’t – betray his confidence.

Gnnhhhhhhh!

Oh shit! Holy fire! Bastard!

Mhhhh…

What? What? Ask what you like. Burn me again, if you must.

My name is Hurtado Bronzi.

That’s all you’re getting.

PART ONE

REPTILE SUMMER

ONE

Tel Utan, Nurth, two years before the Heresy

T
HE
N
URTHENE UTTERED
some of the usual gibberish before he died. He pointed at his enemies with his dust-caked fingers and jabbered, spitting out curses on their families and dependants, and particularly miserable dooms on the heads of their children, far away. A soldier learns how to ignore insults, but there was something about the Nurthene way of cursing that made Soneka blanch.

The Nurthene lay on his back on a slope of dry, red sand, where the blast had thrown him. His pink silk robes were stiffening in places where his blood was drying rapidly in the late afternoon sun. His silver breastplate, with its engraving of stylised reeds and entwined crocodilia, winked like a mirror. His legs lay in a limp position that suggested his spine was no longer properly connected.

Soneka trudged up the dry bed of the wadi to inspect him. A terribly dark, terribly blue sky met the red horizon. The sinking sun picked out the facing edges of rocks and boulders with a bright orange sheen.

Soneka was wearing glare-shields, but took them off out of courtesy so that the Nurthene could see his eyes. He knelt down, the small gold box around his neck swinging like a pendulum.

‘Enough with your curses, all right?’ he said.

The troop stood around him on the slope, watching, their weapons ready in their hands. The desert wind brushed their embroidered, waist-length coats and made them flutter. Lon, one of Soneka’s bashaws, had already snapped the Nurthene’s falx with his liqnite, and flung the broken stump away over the rim of the wadi.

Soneka could still smell traces of the liqnite spray in the warm air.

‘It’s over,’ he told his enemy. ‘Will you speak to me?’

Looking up at him, grains of sand stuck to his face, the Nurthene murmured something. Bubbles of blood formed at the corners of his lips.

‘How many?’ Soneka asked. ‘How many more of you are there in this sink?’

‘You…’ the Nurthene began.

‘Yes?’

‘You… you are carnal with your own mother.’

At Soneka’s shoulder, Lon raised his carbine sharply.

‘Relax, I’ve heard worse,’ Soneka told him.

‘But your mother is a fine woman,’ said Lon.

‘Oh, now you lust for her too?’ asked Soneka. Some of the men laughed. Lon shook his head and lowered his carbine.

‘Last chance,’ said Peto Soneka to the dying man. ‘How many more?’

‘How many more of you?’ replied the Nurthene in a dry whisper. His accent was strong, but there was no denying that the Nurthene had mastered the Imperial language. ‘How many more? You come from the stars, in your droves, and you do nothing.’

‘Nothing?’

‘Nothing, except prove the universal presence of evil.’

‘Is that what you think of us?’ Soneka asked.

The Nurthene stared up at him. His eyes had gone glassy, like the sky at dawn. He burped, and blood welled up out of his mouth like water from a borehole.

‘He’s dead,’ observed Lon.

‘Well spotted,’ said Soneka, rising to his feet. He looked back at the men gathered on the slope behind him. Beyond them, two Nurthene armoured vehicles were burning, sweating soot and smoke up into the blue sky. From the other side of the wadi, Soneka could hear sporadic las-shots.

‘Let’s dance,’ Soneka said.

BOOK: Legion
11.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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