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Legio Mortis

In the Warhammer 40,000 setting, the Legio Mortis (also known as the Death's Heads) are one of the Titan Legions of the Adeptus Mechanicus. During the events of the Horus Heresy, the Legio Mortis sided with Horus against the Emperor.

Adeptus Titanicus (1988)

Adeptus Titanicus (1988), p32 — Titan Battle Colours

The rebel Titan Legions of the Horus Heresy maintained their old colours in most cases: the black, white and yellow of the Fire Masters; the black, yellow and blue of the Tiger Eyes; and the black, white and red of the Death's Heads. Imperial Banners, however, were universally replaced by flags showing the Eye of Horus, the mark of the rebellion.

Space Marine (1st ed, 1989)

Space Marine (1st ed, 1989), p18-19

On the white sand of the Tevlarc Plain, the Loyalist forces gathered to smother the flame of heresy. Wave after wave of Marines crashed against their foes. The result was always the same: a boiling storm of plasma fire and a mountain of bodies.

The opposing forces were equal in firepower, skill and fervour. But each was uncomprehending of the other's loyalties. A few weeks ago they would have called each other brother; now the differences between them made them mortal enemies.

The Titans of both sides strode above the battlefield, their banners held taut by a wind that carried the stench of a thousand deaths. The Warp Runners confronted the Deaths Heads, pausing in their advance only to level their weapons and fire.

The air was split by the swelling boom of auto cannon. A Traitor Titan reeled backwards from the impact, its splintered carapace showering down onto the Marines below. Its brother Titans readied their multi-launchers and prepared for revenge.

Codex Titanicus (1989)

Codex Titanicus (1989), p34

Lexicanian Trask prayed the Rebel advance was faltering. Below him the Land Raider and Predator continued to fire on the Traitor Titan while the Ultramarines milled about trying to regain formation. Two Loyalist Titans raced forward on an intercept course. Trask upped the intensity of his magnoculars. Filters cut in to prevent him being blinded by plasma flare. He made out the insignia of the approaching allies: Warp Runners.

The enemy Titan loomed like gigantic skeletal death over the wasteland of twisted girders and broken buildings. Trask felt impotent and alone as far below his brother Marines fought to stave off the enemy advance.

The battle teetered in the balance. Trask hoped the Warp Runners could stop the Deaths Head before it reached the Bromium Refinery. He knew that it would only take one unlucky hit to make the whole ammo dump go up like an out of control reactor.

"Keep firing, brothers," Trask urged over his comm-link. "That last salvo almost overloaded the void shields."

The crews did not respond verbally but the intensity of their fire increased. Behind the vehicles squads of Ultramarines formed up for a desperate last stand.

A burst of fire from the leading Warp Runner caught the Traitor high on the carapace. Armour boiled and ran. The Deaths Head staggered closer: a doomed giant making on last effort to swat its tiny assailants. Once more Trask breathed a prayer.

It was going to be close.

Codex Titanicus (1989), p45-46

Marnoc looked across the plain. The sky was bright with dropships. Assault pods drifted down like armoured spores. When they hit the ground they burst open and Ultramarines leapt forth to secure their dropsite. Marnoc raised the Fortunata's fist in welcome and was rewarded by a cheer from the battle-brothers.

Reinforcements had arrived. Marnoc believed that they were enough to turn the tide of battle and drive the Rebels from Rogsburg for the third time.

We can win, he thought, exulting as he watched hundreds of pods touch earth.

Suddenly a hail of fire tore through the Ultramarines. Those who had not got clear of the landers were mown down. Assault pods were caught at their most vulnerable, while airborne, and burst into flames. Marnoc wheeled the Titan and spotted three Death's Head Warlords.

He let out a low moan. The rebels had enough firepower to end the beachhead before it was established. He felt his mouth go dry with fear but he swiftly reached a decision. He opened the comm-link to the Moderati.

"There's only one thing to go," he told them. "We've got to protect the Marines."

The Moderati knew it was cetain death. They didn't hesitate. "Go and get them, Princeps," said Toal.

Marnoc wheeled the Fortunata easily. It no longer seemed to fight him.

Functioning as a team they raced towards the Death's Heads, weapons blazing. Marnoc concentrated fire, bringing the targetting icons to bear on a Warhound. It tried to evade but was too slow. The plasma cannon gnawed away at its void shields till they flared out. Toal put a burst from the defence laser into its reactors. It halted.

The enemy returned fire. Pain seared Marnoc as he concentrated on maintaining his own shields. He bounded forward while the Moderati blasted away. Then they were on top of the Rebels. From below him he heard Hazan shouting abuse at their foes as the powerfist tore and ripped.

Titan Legions (1994)

Titan Legions (1994), p9 — Legio Ignatum (Fire Wasps)

After the siege of the Emperor's palace was broken the Legio Ignatum went on to fight in most of the major campaigns to cleanse worlds of the taint of heretics. The Legion fought in the mighty conflicts on Paramar V and in the Tallarn system as it strove to drive the Traitor Titan Legions back.

In these long and bloody campaigns the Princeps of the Fire Wasps came to know and hate with an abiding passion the Legio Mortis, old rivals which had now turned to dark heresy and foul worship of the gods of Chaos. It was the Legio Mortis who breached the walls of the Emperor's palace, it was the Deaths Heads Scouts who terrorised and systematically destroyed the populations of a dozen hives on Paramar and Tallarn. The flames of hatred still burn hot and bright in the hearts of the Legio Ignatum - one day a reckoning will be made.

Titan Legions (1994), p12 — Legio Mortis (Deaths Heads - Traitor Legion)

The very name of Legio Mortis has long since become a foul taint to the defenders of humanity, uttered only with fear and loathing. Their infamy stretches back 10,000 years to the time of the Horus Heresy when the daemon-possessed Warmaster Horus sent the new-born Imperium tumbling into bloody civil war.

Legio Mortis had fought for the Warmaster in a hundred campaigns during the great crusade, their loyalty had long since been pledged to him rather than the distant Emperor. When Horus began the heresy by virus-bombing the defenceless world of Isstvan III the Deaths Heads made the landings to scour the corpse-packed hives for the pitifully few survivors. Some say that mutated strains of the virus brought their final corruption, some say the madness inspired by the billions of putrefying corpses turned their faces to Chaos.

What can say where the truth lies? Certainly when the Legio Mortis landed on Earth to besiege the Emperor's palace they were warped and mutated almost beyond recognition. The adamantium skins of their Titans were pocked and bubbled with foul effluvia, great tentacles of twisted flesh and metal lashed, spiked tails whipped back and forth. Their Titans' heads had been transformed into drooling daemonic visages filled with malice and their engines roared like angry beasts.

Horus granted the Deaths Heads the honour of breaking through the outer walls of the palace and with wreckers, power rams, warp missiles and their own fiendish bravery they did so despite suffering the loss of over thirty Titans in one night.

But despite their efforts the siege failed and Horus was defeated. The remnants of the Legio Mortis fled from Earth and were hunted and pursued, system by system, to the Eye of Terror. There, where warp and real space overlap, time has flowed strangely for the Deaths Heads. They remain trapped in servitude to the gods of Chaos, fighting a war that ended 10,000 years ago, building their strength and testing the Imperium's defences for the time when they shall return and wreak terrible vengeance on all living things for the defeat of their beloved Warmaster.

Titan Legions (1994), p20 — Titan Battle Groups

Scout Titans such as Warhounds have not been organised into battle groups since the excesses committed by Senior Princeps Esau Turnet's Deaths Head Scouts, part of the Traitor Legio Mortis, during the Horus Heresy. Instead Scout Titans operate in pairs and these teams are attached to battle groups or other large formations as required.

Codex: Chaos (1996)

Codex: Chaos (1996), p8-9 — The Horus Heresy

The forces of Chaos were not quite so easily beaten. They whispered to the Primarchs from the warp, disturbing their dreams with promises of power, appealing to their pride, their martial prowess, and their courage. No single Primarch was wholly resistant to these unspoken temptations. The character of each was sorely tested, and fully half of them failed that test. So subtle was their temptation that they never even suspected how their own loyalties were changing.

For example, Mortarion Primarch of the Death Guard Legion fully believed that he was the herald of a new age of justice. Angron of the World Eaters genuinely thought that he alone could save humanity from destruction. Horus too, the greatest Primarch of all, was convinced of the virtue of the martial ideals for which he fought.

By appealing to their virtue and courage, the Primarchs were tempted to lead their Space Marine Legions against the Emperor. Initially, even the Primarchs had little idea that they had fallen to Chaos, but when they rebelled their good intentions gradually fell away as Chaos saturated their souls. The Space Marine Legions that they led also turned slowly but inevitably to Chaos. The corrupting influence of Chaos soon spread to the Imperial Guard and Adeptus Mechanicus forces, including the Titan Legions and the Legio Cybernetica. From there the rot spread further into the Imperium itself. Over half of the Adeptus Mechanicus alone were ready to join an Empire dedicated to Chaos.

The leader of the rebellion was the Warmaster Horus, the greatest and most trusted Primarch of all. He had stood by the Emperor's side throughout the long years of the Great Crusade. They had fought back-to-back at the siege of Reillis when the Emperor saved Horus's life. On the battlefield of Gorro, Horus had repaid the debt by hacking the arm from a frenzied Ork as it struggled to choke the Emperor's life out of him. The Emperor had entrusted Horus with leading the crusades along the Eastern Fringe while he returned to Terra to consolidate the rule of the vast Imperium num under his control.

In the Emperor's absence Horus's plans were just coming to fruition when the Imperial commander of Isstvan III declared the whole of the Isstvan system an independent principality. The Emperor, ignorant of the change in the Warmaster, ordered Horus to pacify the system. Horus chose to do so by virus bombing Isstvan III from orbit. The voracious life-eater virus slew every living thing on Isstvan III in a matter of minutes; twelve billion souls died with a death scream which pulsed louder than the Astronomicon. Whole continents and hive cities were charred to ash as the mass of oxygen released by the instant rotting of all organic material on the planet burned in the atmosphere and covered the world in a gigantic firestorm which raged for days. Before the last fires were out Horus despatched the Titans of the Legio Mortis onto the planet's surface to root out any who had survived in protective shelters or underground bunkers.

During the bombardment a handful of Space Marines still loyal to the Emperor seized control of the Frigate Eisenstein. They had discovered the taint of Chaos spreading through Horus's command and as the Warmaster withdrew to Isstvan V to marshal his forces the loyalists fled into warp space to warn the Imperium.

Codex: Eye of Terror (2003)

Codex: Eye of Terror (2003), p16 — The Forces of Abaddon the Despoiler

Recorded Traitor Legiones Astartes

Alpha Legion
20+ unconfirmed sightings - all sectors
Black Legion
Major presence - all sectors
Death Guard
Major presence - Sabiaco Diablo
Emperor's Children
Unconfirmed actions against Eldar reported
Iron Warriors
Suspected presence - Cadian system
Night Lords
Unconfirmed reports - all sectors
Sons of Malice
Active - Scelus sector
Thousand Sons
Active - Caliban and Prospero sectors
Violators
3 confirmed actions - Cadian sector
Warp Ghosts
Unconfirmed sighting - Agripinaa system
World Eaters
Significant involvement - all sectors
Word Bearers
Active - rear echelon sectors

Known Traitor Legio Titanicus

Deaths Heads
Major presence confirmed - Cadia
Death Stalkers
Unconfirmed involvement - Cadia
Fire Masters
Limited presence - Cadian sector
Iron Skulls
Major force sighted - Vorga Torq
Legio Vulcanum I
4 unconfirmed assaults - Belisar and Kromat
Legio Vulcanum II
Suspected presence - Sabiaco Diablo

Major Traitor Guard Units

5th Columnus
Presence confirmed - Belis Corona
666th Regiment of Foot
Confirmed presence - Cadia
Discilian Apostates
Unconfirmed
Jenen Ironclads
Major presence - Kromat system
Sentrek Freemen
3 suspected sightings - Barisa system
The Traitor 9th
Significant presence  Kantrael system
Ubridius Light Infantry
Major presence  Cadian sector
Volscani Cataphracts
Active - Cadia
++Continued in File IO/57++

Estimated Mutant Hordes

The Annointed of Aq'si
6 attacks confirmed - Belisar system
The Shyis'slaa
Linked to cult uprisings - Albitern system
The Stigmatus Covenant
Significant presence - Mackan system
The Unsanctified
Unconfirmed involvement - Bar-el system
++Continued in File DE/80++

Recorded Traitor Fleet Units

+Estimated Traitor Fleet Assets

Battle Fleets
est. 38
Blackstone Fortresses
2
'Wolf Pack' Squadrons
est. 19
+Battlefleets of Note
The Grand Fleet of the Despoiler
7 Battleships
13 heavy cruisers
est. 23 cruiser squadrons
est. 30 escort squadrons
The Fleet of Kosolax the Foresworn
1 Battleship
3 cruiser squadrons
8 escort squadrons
The Plague Fleet of Typhus, Herald of Nurgle
Terminus Est
2 Battleships
3 heavy cruisers
5 cruiser squadrons
est. 12 escort squadrons
+Vessels of Note
Plagueclaw
Unknown class
Darkblood
Styx class heavy cruiser
Planet Killer
Undesignated class capital vessel
Merciless Death
Despoiler class battleship
Fortress of Agony
Despoiler class battleship
++Continued in File WW/33++

Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2007)

Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2007), p14 — The Attack on Earth

With the initial attack stalled, Horus opted to bring forth his entire arsenal of weapons and warriors to overthrow the Emperor. For over a month, the gigantic cannons of the rebel army pounded the walls, foremost amongst them the siege weapons of the Legio Mortis Titan Legion, which had turned to Chaos in the earliest days of the Heresy. Eventually, after heavy bombardment, part of the curtain wall came crashing down and the Traitor Legions hurled themselves at the breach to pour into the inner palace.

Along banner-lined corridors, through mile-long galleries, the loyalists and rebels tore at each other. At the heart of the fighting stood the Primarchs. Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists and Sanguinius of the Blood Angels fought a desperate rearguard action to halt the force pouring through the breach. Angron of the World Eaters slew loyalist Space Marines by the dozen, while Mortarion of the Death Guard led his pustulent Plague Marines into the thickest fighting.

Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2012)

Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2012), p10 — The Invasion of Terra

With the initial attack stalled, Horus brought his entire arsenal of weapons and warriors to bear. For over a month, the gigantic cannons of the rebel army pounded the walls, foremost amongst them the siege weapons of the Iron Warriors and the Legio Mortis Titan Legion. Eventually, after heavy bombardment, part of the curtain wall came crashing down and the Traitor Legions hurled themselves at the breach to pour into the inner palace. At the heart of the fighting stood the Primarchs. The indomitable Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists and noble Sanguinius of the Blood Angels fought a desperate rearguard action to halt the force pouring through the breach. Angron of the World Eaters slew loyalist Space Marines by the dozen, while Mortarion of the Death Guard led his pestilent Plague Marines into the thickest fighting. To the terrified populace of Terra, it was as if their world was drowned in battle.

Codex: Imperial Knights (2014)

Codex: Imperial Knights (2014) — The Headtaker Titan Hunters

Of the bitter betrayals that led to the destruction of all but one of the knightly houses on Chrysis, House Krast holds the base treachery of Legio Mortis to be the worst. As one of Mars' own Titan Legions, the Death's Heads fought alongside the Knights of House Krast on many occasions during the early years of the Great Crusade. However, after siding with Horus during the ensuing civil war, the Death's Heads were reborn in the image of the plague god Nurgle, and led the assault that devastated Chrysis and annihilated the planet's lesser houses.

The Knights of House Krast have ever sought to avenge their fallen kinsmen, and seek out the Titans of Legio Mortis above all others in battle. Should a Knight claim a Titan kill, his deed will herald many celebrations on his return to his home world. However, such revelry will pale in comparison to that on Chrysis should a Knight of Krast fell one of the Legio Mortis. The Noble will be treated to a triumph in his honour and he will henceforth be known as a Headtaker. Each Headtaker bears a broken Death's Head symbol on his Knight suit or tabard - a battle honour reminding all of his heroic deed and celebrating the destruction of a hated foe.

Rumoured sightings of the traitor Titans of Legio Mortis amongst the Chaos forces besieging the Cadian Gate has led to House Krast redeploying to that war zone in great force.

Imperial Armour 13: War Machines of the Lost and the Damned (2014)

Imperial Armour 13: War Machines of the Lost and the Damned (2014), p12 — The Hell-Forges of the Dark Mechanicus

Being an account pursuant of known Domains of those fallen scions of the Cult Mechanicus and their manifold Heresies, Blasphemies and Crimes against our Most Beneficient Lord and Master, the God-Emperor of Mankind.

Compiled and committed by the hand of Inquisitor Verity Wroth, for the attention and consideration of the assembled Lords of the Conclave of Kratos.

[...]

Retlaxi

The name of this ancient fief of the Mechanicus of old was thought long consigned to history. Yet, in the manner of so many things claimed by the stain of the Warp, it resurges periodically to instil doubt and fear in the souls of the faithful. Having lain dormant for the better part of eight centuries, the name has appeared once more in at least a dozen confirmed remote prognostications, several readings of the Emperor's Tarot and at least one recorded communion with a ritually summoned and bound ætheric entity. The world was once a subject of the Traitor Collegia Titanicus 'Legio Mortis', and so it is our greatest concern that its foundries, if still they function, may be supplying arms and ammunition to this arch-traitor body.

Imperial Armour 13: War Machines of the Lost and the Damned (2014), p139 — Chaos Titans

In appearance, a Daemon Titan might be taken for a gargantuan manifestation of a Greater Daemon of the same patron Ruinous Power and indeed, Ordo Malleus savants have debated the difference to, and sometimes beyond, the point of sanity in a vain effort to quantify the unfathomable permutations of Chaos. Those dedicated to Khorne are beasts of burning brass and steaming blood, their heads wrought into snarling beast faces. The Daemon Titans of Nurgle are lumbering masses of decay and corruption, metal tarnished and surrounded by a black storm cloud of plague flies so thick they foul enemy guns and vehicles, and force themselves down the throats of enemy troops. Daemon Titans dedicated to Tzeentch are clad in impossible colours and reality itself is bent out of kilter by the sorcerous power radiating from their form. Those dedicated to Slaanesh are lithe and incongruously fast, their forms surmounted by wicked blades and surrounded by a haze of psychoactive mist. These and a thousand other blasphemous manifestations of the infernal are a relentless curse upon the Imperium of Man, a curse that only intensifies as the 41st Millennium draws to a bloody conclusion.

Imperial Armour 13: War Machines of the Lost and the Damned (2014), p139 — The Plague Titans of Legio Mortis

The very name of Legio Mortis has long since become a foul taint to the defenders of humanity, uttered only with fear and loathing. Their infamy stretches back 10,000 years to the time of the Horus Heresy, Legio Mortis having fought for the Warmaster in a hundred campaigns during the Great Crusade, their loyalty long since pledged to him rather than the distant Emperor. When Horus began the Heresy by virus bombing the rebellious world of Isstvan III, the Death's Heads made the landings to scour the corpse-packed hives for the pitifully few survivors. Some say that mutated strains of the virus brought about their final corruption whilst others claim the madness inspired by the billions of putrefying corpses turned their souls to Chaos.

Certainly when the Legio Mortis landed on Terra to besiege the Emperor's Palace, they were warped and mutated almost beyond recognition. The adamantium skins of their Titans were pocked and bubbled with foul effluvia, great tentacles of twisted flesh and metal lashed, and spiked tails whipped back and forth. Their Titans' heads had been transformed into drooling daemonic visages filled with malice, and their engines roared like angry beasts. Horus granted the Death's Heads the honour of breaking through the outer walls of the palace and with wreckers, power rams, warp-tainted missiles and their own fiendish obsession they did so, despite suffering the loss of over thirty Titans in one night. But despite their efforts, the siege failed and Horus was defeated.

The remnants of the Legio Mortis fled and were hunted and pursued, system by system, to the Eye of Terror. There, where the Warp and realspace overlap, time has flowed strangely for the Death's Heads. They remain trapped in servitude to the gods of Chaos, fighting a war that ended ten thousand years ago, building their strength and testing the Imperium's defences for the time when they shall return and wreak terrible vengeance upon the galaxy.

Codex: Imperial Knights (2015)

Codex: Imperial Knights (2015), p60 — House Krast

The treachery of the Horus Heresy took a fearsome toll on Chrysis, with the traitor Titans of Legio Mortis the chief culprits behind the utter ruination of their home world. House Krast was the only knightly house on Chrysis to survive the calamitous events. So great were their losses that only their proximity to Mars, and the great support of the Fabricator General, allowed House Krast to recover. Since that time, the Nobles of House Krast seek the forces of Chaos above all others, hoping to settle old scores and fulfil oaths sworn by every one of their ancestors. Despite this, House Krast still honours Mars, and never shirks its responsibilities to its Adeptus Mechanicus allies.