Today Loremasters we speak of one of the dread warlords of the Traitor Legions – Honsou of the Iron Warriors.
Honsou’s gene-seed originated from “Honourable” Soulaka, an Iron Warriors Apothecary who was murdered during the Horus Heresy by Fabius Bile, who was then responsible for melding Soulaka’s gene-seed with that of an Imperial Fist, likely Captain Felix Cassander. After an accident in Bile’s laboratory, the container holding Soulaka’s gene-seed was partially defaced, leaving only the words “Hon Sou”.
Created a Chaos Space Marine sometime in M41, Honsou was looked down upon by the other Iron Warriors, due to the taint of his gene-seed with that of the hated Imperial Fists. He was often referred to as “Half-Breed.” Unlike many of this fellow Chaos Marines, who were veterans of the Long War, Honsou was a younger Marine, but despite his youth and his tainted heritage, he rose through the ranks of his Grand Company through bravery, tactical skill, and audacity.
He took part in the besieging of the Adeptus Mechanicus fortress of Hydra Cordatus, as one of the three champions of Barban Falk, known simply as “The Warsmith”. His chief rivals were Captains Forrix and Kroeger. Although Honsou held a roughly equal place in the Warsmith’s retinue, he was denied the formal rank of Captain, and sought to win the rank at the end of the Siege.
The fortress, which was in fact designed and built by Falk during the Horus Heresy, housed a large supply of stable gene-seed belonging to the Imperial Fists. During the building of the Second Parallel, Honsou distinguished himself by leading the counterattack against a sortie by the Jouran Dragoons garrisoning Hydra Cordatus, where he killed the Imperial Castellan, Colonel Vauban, despite losing his right arm to Vauban’s power sword. In the aftermath, The Warsmith berated Forrix for failing to breach the fortress wall with a mine, and Kroeger for failing to protect the Iron Warriors’ heavy siege guns during the counterattack, but praised Honsou for his success.
The siege was successful, elevating The Warsmith to Daemonhood, and before he disappeared into the warp, he named Honsou his successor Forrix and Kroeger had both been killed, and The Warsmith had already judged them unfit to succeed him. Honsou, despite his half-breed heritage, had the ambition and the ruthlessness to lead the Grand Company.
Though he claimed that the gene-seed was sent to the Despoiler, Honsou kept some for himself. Using the captured gene-seed, Honsou constructed an unusual manufacturing system, the Daemonculaba, which allowed him to create new Iron Warrior space marines. However, the Daemonculaba was far from perfect, and many of the candidates were flushed out. Many did not survive, and those that did were horribly mutated beasts called the Unfleshed, and were cast out from Honsou’s fortress.
Honsou then led his warriors into a civil war with two rival Warsmiths, Lord Toramino and Lord Berossus, as he refused to uphold his predecessor’s promise to share the stolen gene-seed amongst the Iron Warrior commanders. During the war, the exiled Ultramarines captain, Uriel Ventris led a group of renegade space marines to infiltrate Honsou’s fortress in a misson to destroy the Daemonculabu. They were captured and brought before Honsou who thought they were mercenaries acting on behalf of Toramino; he also took an interest in Pasanius‘ living metal bionic arm (who was also exiled along with Ventris and bound by a Death Oath). Afterwards they were sent to be tortured by the Savage Morticians, and Pasanius’ arm was cut off for Honsou to wear. He later became enraged with the Savage Morticians, as Ventris escaped along with a few survivors.
Lord Berossus made one final push to which he managed to successfully storm Khalan Ghol and duel Honsou. However, Honsou defeated Berossus with the support of his Daemonhost bodyguard Onyx. After Berossus’ death, his men defected over to Honsou’s side after he swayed them to join him in fighting against Toramino. During this battle, Venris had infiltrated Honsou’s fortress once again, but this time leading a band of the Unfleshed. Ventris destroyed the Daemonculabu and set free the Heart of Blood, a powerful Daemon captured by the Iron Warriors which had acted as a psychic barrier against enemy sorcerers. When the daemon was set free, the psychic defences fell down, allowing Toramino’s forces to attack the fortress with psychic attacks. Honsou returned into his fortress and cornered Ventris and Pasanius before they made their escape. Before Honsou’s retinue had a chance to kill the Ultramarines, the Unfleshed arrived to attack and kill Iron Warriors. Ventris also shot down Honsou in the head who was fleeing from the battle.
After the Ultramarines left, Honsou was found to have survived. He then discovered the Heart of Blood collapsed on the floor after exhaustion from winning its earlier battle with its rival daemon, the Omphalos Daemonium. Honsou went on to direct the Heart of Blood against his rival Toramino’s army. Given the extent of the daemon’s power, this would have undoubtedly won the war for Honsou. Despite the loss of the Daemonculaba and many of his men, Honsou consolidated his power, and began rebuilding his army. His last known action on Medrengard was to invite the remaining renegades who survived, including Cadaras Grendel and Ardaric Vaanes, into his army, and it was also revealed that within his new retinue was the Newborn, a clone of Uriel Ventris, earlier created by the Daemonculabu before it had been destroyed.
Invasion of Ultramar
Using Morianna, the damned seer of the Despoiler, Honsou was able to free the Daemon Prince M’kar, an ancient enemy of the Ultramarines who had been imprisoned on the Indomitable space fort by Chapter MasterMarneus Augustus Calgar. With his army ready, Honsou unleashed his plan for revenge against Uriel Ventris: the complete destruction of Ultramar. Striking first at Tarentus, Honsou had M’kar unleash his daemon army on the planet’s domed city, destroying all it’s inhabitants. It was only after this that Honsou realized that M’kar had forced himself into a position of sharing with Honsou command of the army (which the daemon dubbed the Bloodborn), a situation neither could tolerate for long.
Honsou later took Grendel, Vaanes, and the Newborn to Calth, Ventris’s homeworld, with instructions from M’kar to destroy the Tomb of Ventanus, a famed Ultramarines captain who defended the planet from the Word Bearers during the Horus Heresy, as M’kar himself was unable to go near Calth. Before being accepted into the Ultramarines, a young Ventris had discovered the tomb in his youth, it’s location was something the Newborn knew. Vaanes was captured in the initial battle for Guilliman’s Gate, but Honsou, Grendel, and the Newborn were able to find the tomb. As they prepared to destroy the tomb, Honsou investigated Ventanus’s sarcophagus, finding the Shard of Erebus, a combat knife buried with the captain. Honsou surmised that due to M’kar’s fear of Calth and Venatus’s wargear, the knife was capable of harming the Daemon Prince. When Ventris arrived with his squads and a group of Raven Guard, Grendel and the Blade dancers were killed initially. Honsou then charged the Newborn with killing Ventris, but Ventris was able to defeat his clone. A battle erupted, during which Honsou mortally wounded Vaanes, but the Iron Warriors were in turn defeated by what appeared to be the ghost of Remus Ventanus and the Legion of the Damned. With his Iron Warriors dead, Honsou activated the trigger for the bombs intended to destroy the tomb, burying Ventris and his allies. Although Ventris, Pausanius, and most of the Astartes present survived the explosion, Honsou’s body was never found. Additionally, the drilling machine that had carried the Iron Warriors to the tomb also disappeared.
Honsou had indeed escaped the cavern, and hid in the warrens of Calth’s surface cities, until he could steal an orbit-capable shuttle. Despite a dogged pursuit by Inquisitor Namira Suzaku, Honsou eluded her and her retinue and escaped the planet. He is currently at large.
Though the Bloodborn had been destroyed, he had built that army from virtually nothing, and there is no reason to believe he could not do so again.
~Iron Within, Iron Without