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Warhammer 40K: History of the Black Legion – Abaddon’s Own

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Mar 29 2024
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The Black Legion can trace their roots back to The Warmaster Horus, but they do not hold him as dear as other Legions hold their Primarchs. Today we delve into the History of the Black Legion!

The Black Legion, formerly known as the Luna Wolves and the Sons of Horus, were the XVI Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch was Horus, known to them as Horus Lupercal, and to Imperial history as the instigator of the Horus Heresy, the first great Imperial civil war. Some time after their defeat in the Horus Heresy, they were renamed the ‘Black Legion’ by their new commander, Ezekyle Abaddon. Largely since disintegrated as a unified Legion, they can be found operating in countless small warbands across the galaxy, except when they are called together under Abaddon’s banner to spearhead one of his notorious Black Crusades.

Birth of the Luna Wolves

One of their earliest campaigns proved important to the development and formation of the XVIth as a legion: the First Pacification of Luna. Playing the most important role in the action, the XVIth achieved both the critical objective and notoriety during the conflict, gaining the unofficial moniker of the Emperor’s Wolves. As a result, they were tithed the bulk of the output of the captured gene-labs for a time, allowing them to rapidly build their numbers. This, in turn, necessitated more recruiting stock.

Thus, many of the original XVIth are believed to have had a separate, somewhat unusual origin; they were effectively kidnapped from the world of Cthonia by ‘recruitment squads’ sent from Terra charged with the task of rounding up thousands of individuals from the violent gangs that infested the ancient world. These ‘recruits’ were then taken to the geno-laboratories on Luna for the modification and indoctrination required to become Space Marines.

Upon the discovery of Horus, the Emperor officially renamed them the Luna Wolves in honor of their past victories and baptism of fire on Terra’s moon.

Despite this somewhat unusual beginning, the end results were reckoned to be exemplary loyal and ferociously motivated troops. By the time Horus was placed in charge of them, the Luna Wolves were ten thousand strong.


The Ullanor Crusade – Renaming of the Luna Wolves

Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Luna Wolves, the Ullanor Crusade became a feted military campaign of the Imperium and to many is seen as the high watermark of the Great Crusade itself. The Ullanor sector was the domain of the Ork Overlord Urlakk Urg, who ruled over dozens of human-founded worlds. Determined to exterminate the Orks, Horus distracted them by ordering secondary attacks on the outlying worlds by other Space Marine Legions and Imperial Army regiments. With the focus of the Orks on these invasions of their borders, the Luna Wolves dove straight for the throat, initiating a surprise orbital drop directly onto Urlakk Urg’s capital world.

Horus led his 1st Company Terminator elite into a personal teleport attack on Urg’s palace. With the majority of the Terminators dealing with the Ork defenders, Horus led ten of the best into combat with Urg and his own forty-strong retinue. The fight was a hard one, but Horus eventually slew the Ork, casting his broken body out from the battlements of his tower, demoralising his Ork followers. Of the fight between the ten Terminators and the forty Orks, there was only one survivor: First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon.

At the successful conclusion of the Ullanor Crusade a year later, the Emperor declared it the greatest victory yet for his mighty Imperium and was said to bestow much praise upon the Luna Wolves and Horus for their part in the campaign. At the subsequent Triumph of Ullanor, the Emperor himself bestowed upon Horus the title of Warmaster, making him the supreme commander of the Emperor’s forces and effectively giving him complete military control of the Great Crusade.

The Emperor also suggested, before he returned to Terra and left the rest of the Crusade to Horus, that Horus should rename his legion to cement his position as Warmaster. The suggested name was the Sons of Horus. Horus initially declined this honour and his Legion continued as the Luna Wolves.


Increasingly concerned, however, with a belief that some of the other Primarchs and their Legions did not show him and his Wolves enough honour in their roles as the Warmaster and his personal Legion, Horus, at the suggestion of Sanguinius, eventually took up the offer made to him by the Emperor to change the name and iconography of Legion XVI. Shortly after the Interex campaign the Luna Wolves became the Sons of Horus.

Post-Heresy – The Black Legion Begins

After the events of the Battle of Terra and the end of the Horus Heresy, the Traitor Legions, along with the restored but still numerically inferior Sons of Horus, then became embroiled in a series of internecine wars triggered by the Emperor’s Children legion, culminating in the destruction of the Sons of Horus’ fortress on Maleum. To the disgust of the Sons of Horus, the Warmaster’s corpse was taken by the Emperor’s Children and several clones were created by their self-styled ‘Primogenitor’, Fabius Bile.

It was at this point that the old Sons of Horus Justaerin Captain Falkus Kibre was able to track down the Vengeful Spirit and Abaddon deep inside the Eye of Terror. Abaddon revealed his intent to destroy the clone of Horus and reform the Sons of Horus into a Legion to finish the war Horus had begun. After smashing the Emperor’s Children fortress and killing the clone of Horus, Abaddon declared himself the rightful successor of the Warmaster.

Painting their armor black, Abaddon renamed his forces the Black Legion, rejecting Horus’ name and all the failure that went with it. Abaddon managed to reunify the bulk of the old Sons of Horus under his banner, crushing all who resisted. The founders and inner circle of his newly formed Black Legion became known as the Ezekarion. The newly christened Black Legion faced its first serious threat in the form of the Death Guard warlord Thagus Daravek, who was a chief rival to Abaddon in his rise to power and another potential Warmaster of Chaos.


However Daravek was eventually defeated, and Abaddon’s power grew exponentially as he gathered many allies across the Eye of Terror, most of the Daemon Primarchs included. Using Chaos rather than being enslaved by it, Abaddon has waged the Long War on the Imperium ever since, most notably during his thirteen Black Crusades.

Black Legion Gene Seed

The Black Legion consists of a large portion of former Luna Wolves Gene-seed alongside those from absorbed warbands or captured from the Imperium. Though the Luna Wolves Gene-Seed was historically considered reliably pure, the regular practice of seeking Daemonic possession has accelerated its mutation. However, such mutations in the reborn Legion are seen as a mark of favour from the Gods of Chaos and are generally displayed with pride.

Legion Recruitment

Though the Sons of Horus were once considered a large legion, the Black Legion were long considered numerically inferior to other Chaos Space Marine legions since the inter-Legionary wars. While the number of original Legionaries remaining is unknown, and it is unknown how or even if the Black Legion recruit new implantation candidates, it is known that they recruit Marines from other Legions and Renegade Chapters.

In spite of these difficulties, by M41 the Black Legion was the largest of the Traitor Legions, having ten times the numbers of the Word Bearers. This is aided by their policy of absorbing other Chaos Space Marines and their warbands into their own ranks, regardless of which God of Chaos they may follow, if any.


Learn More on the Black Legion

Author: Adam Harrison
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