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The flame that ignited the fuel of treachery in the Primarchs came from rebellion in the Isstvan system. The Imperial commander there renounced his oaths to the Emperor and declared independence. The Emperor decreed that if the commander of Isstvan went unpunished other worlds might follow suit, and so he ordered Horus to put down the rebellion by whatever means necessary, not knowing of the subtle changes Chaos had wrought in the Warmaster's soul.
Horus chose to end the Isstvan rebellion swiftly and without mercy, and virus bombed Isstvan III from orbit. The voracious life-eater virus consumed everything on the planet in a matter of minutes. Whole continents and cities were charred to ashes as the mass of oxygen released by the instant rotting of all organic material on the planet burned in the atmosphere, covering Isstvan III with a firestorm. Twelve billion souls died with a death scream that momentarily pulsed brighter than the Astronomican. It was a blaze of psychic light signalling to the Chaos Gods that Horus was now theirs.
On the planet's surface had been over one hundred companies of Space Marines drawn from the Emperor's Children, Death Guard and World Eaters Legions, still loyal to the Emperor. Of these, fully two-thirds miraculously survived the bombardment, thanks to warning messages they received from loyal comrades aboard the orbiting fleet of Warmaster Horus.
Whilst Horus resolved what to do with these survivors, Angron, headstrong primarch of the World Eaters, made planetfall at the head of fifty companies of Space Marines. Horus was incensed by this rash move, but Angron had forced his hand and the Warmaster despatched the remaining Sons of Horus, Emperor's Children and Death Guard units. The ground fighting began and signalled the start of the greatest civil war to ever have engulfed the Imperium.
As the traitorous forces of Horus launched their orbital barrage on the loyal Space Marines on Isstvan III Captain Garro of the Death Guard seized the frigate Eisenstein. Garro was a staunch loyalist. A Terran, he had fought countless battles alongside the Emperor during the Great Crusade. The unfolding events at Isstvan III were hard for him to fathom. His instinct had led him to warn the loyal warriors on the planet's surface and with seventy fellow loyalists, he determined to flee the Isstvan system and make for Earth.
Garro's lightly armed cruiser was no match for the powerful batteries of Horus' blockading fleet and took many hits as it sped past their massive gun batteries. The crippled ship limped away from Isstvan III. It was severely damaged, all the Astropaths aboard had perished in the firefight and its lone Navigator was mortally wounded. The ship was incapable of interstellar communication and had little chance of successfully navigating its way across the Immaterium. All Garro could hope for was that the Eisenstein could escape from Isstvan and somehow find a way to get to Earth to warn the Emperor of Horus' treachery.
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