Legion XI: The Dragon Legion

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Dragon Legion.png
Numeration XI
Primogenitor Guan-Yu, aka Yunchang,
The Son of the Dragon,
The Dragon,
(prior) The Dragon Emperor
Cognomen (Prior) None officially, informal
designation “Chosen Sons”
was never recognized.
Observed Strategic Tendencies Planetary Pacification
Specialization , High-Intensity
and Attritional Warfare,
Shock Assaults.
Noteworthy Domains The Huaxia System (Primary
Home World), six other tributary
worlds held by right of
conquest.
Allegiance Fedelitas Constantus
Colours White / Crimson
“We the Dragon Legion, forged in war, tempered by battle;
Whatever your weapons, we will endure them and return stronger. If you resist, we will crush your petty empire
and walk on your cold corpses to victory”
-Attributed to Dragon Legion Commander
Poileus III Compliance Action


All of the Legiones Astartes carry with them the legacy of their gene-sires, but in only one legion has that inheritance been the source of so much controversy. Once the XIth Legion was considered preeminent among the newborn legions, honored and fated by the wider Imperium for their great bravery and endurance, chosen by the Emperor himself to be his instrument of war. But discovery of their gene-sire led to the revelation of a dark curse, long kept secret, one that continues to mire the Legion in controversy to this day. Though some in the Imperium still look upon them as heroes, others shy from them, and whisper that they are abominations, monsters that are unfit to serve in this new Imperium.

History

Early History, The Chosen Sons

Early Imperial records show that the XIth Legion was founded early in the Unification Wars and was amongst the first legions to be brought up to full combat strength. The unusually high success rate of implantation's allowed the Legion to expand quickly, at a rate that other legions would only achieve once the pacification of Luna gave access to superior gene sequencing techniques. This combined with the fact that recruitment was exclusively from the city enclaves of the Mangi , who had but recently thrown off the yoke of the tyrannical Yndonesic Bloc to join the newly forming Empire, meant that there was no shortage of initiates and the legion quickly grew to eclipse all others in size.

Some Imperial Chroniclers have tried to claim that it was the size of the legions forces, that caused the Emperor to select the Legion above others for high profile assignments, but others claim this is an attempt to discredit the early Legion’s glory in light of later revelations. Nonetheless it is a matter of record that during the last years of the Unification Wars and the first thirty years of the Great Crusade, the Emperor personally commanded the X1th Legion on no less than nine recorded occasions, more than twice that of any other Legion. This was a matter of great pride amongst the Legion and they came to embrace the nickname that others had given to them: “The Chosen Sons".

Fated Reunion, The Dragon Throne

As the Great Crusade entered its second decade, the XIth Legion continued to enjoy much renown and glory, but dark rumors of began to circulate regarding the Legion, older veterans were now rarely seen by outsiders without their armour and helms, and many wore heavy clothing and dark veils even when amongst their own brothers and chapter serfs. Worse reports of strange creatures seen at the forefront more isolated battles began to accumulate. It is possible that these would have remained merely rumor for many decades to come but fate was set upon a different path.

The Saurian Helix
The exact nature of the Saurian Helix has been extensively documented by Imperial sources, but it is origin is unknown. It has been speculated that it was attempt by The Emperor and the early Gene-Sequencers to increase the resilience of the subjects, first in the Primarch project and then in it's direct successor, the Astartes programme. If that was the intention then it was certainly successful in both cases, in subtly different ways, though the side effects on the Astartes of the lineage were likely unanticipated.

In Guan-Yu's case, he was aware of his gift from the moment of his fiery birth. The inferno caused by his the landing of his pod upon the surface of Huaxia, did not harm him, instead his body reacted to the damage by forming hard scales akin in appearance to a lizard's skin, though of far hardier composition, protecting him from any injury. Over the many wars he fought to both claim and keep the Dragon Throne, he found that the scales would form on his flesh in response to any blow or force, deflecting the damage before fading over the succeeding hours to return to its more human form.

Mechanicum Adepts who have studied the Primarch, often at his invitation, have described this as a kind of reactive armour, though far more effective than anything so far devised for any known armoured vehicle. As for the visual appearance of his "gift", which his detractors found so abhorrent, some believe that Guan-Yu actively embraced it, the normally calculating Primarch charging heedless into the worst maelstrom's of battle, seeking injury perhaps, so the draconic nature of the changes could better inspire his followers and invoke terror in his foes.

For the Astartes that were created from The Dragon’s genetic legacy the Variation takes a different form. A stable mutation in the Larraman's Organ, results in rapid healing, far in excess of even a "normal" Space Marine, and few injuries that do not slay them outright cannot be recovered from with time. There are documented accounts of entire limbs regrowing, returning the Astartes to combat effectiveness without the need for artificial augmetics. The side effects, the hardening of skin to form scales and ridges of bone, varies in severity between individuals and seems to become more extreme as an Astartes ages, with some veterans showing symptoms in response to even minor injuries.

Guan-Yu was the first of the Primarchs to be rediscovered by the Imperium, and though Imperial propaganda trumpeted the discovery of one of the Emperors lost sons, in truth it was a difficult reunion. The careful calculating Primarch shared Emperor's vision of united humanity, but had been raised to rule and would not lightly subject himself to the will of another. Only after a long private talks with his father did he agree to join The Great Crusade and take command of the XIth Legion that was now revealed to have been created in his image. Indeed it is rumored that the Lord of the Dragon Throne was never truly convinced of the merits of his father's secular Imperium and that he merely weighed the benefits that Imperial Technology could bring to his domain and found in favor, for now.

If the Emperor held any doubts about his new-found son, he did not show them, quickly granting him command of a significant proportion of the Great Crusade strength and tasking him with the pacification of systems in the galactic east of Segmentum Solar. Perhaps he hoped that the impeccable reputation of the XIth would serve to better integrate the cold Primarch, if so then it was a vain hope, for his first actions in command of the Legion had served to drive the wedge of suspicion between the formally vaunted Legion and the rest of the Imperium.

Secrets Revealed, Tarnished Glory

It is said that the truth of what had been named by Legion Apothecaries the “Saurian Helix" was revealed to Guan-Yu during his first briefing by Legion high command. It has been later speculated that this was a mistake by the Terran commanders of the Legion and that with greater experience of Imperium their Primarch would not have taken the drastic decision to go public. Other's have argued that it was not in The Dragon's character to hide his nature and he expected no less of his new Legion. Regardless of the reason, the order was given, and the Legion could not gainsay their new master and so the truth of the secret that the legion had hid for long years was revealed, and the judging light of the Imperium fell upon them.

To the horror of many in the Imperium, it was revealed that the much vaunted endurance and enhanced healing of the XIth legion came with a terrible cost. When Astartes of the Legion healed from extreme or repeated injuries the healed tissue displayed draconic or lizard like features. Skin hardened to scale and ridges would form upon heads and forearms, monstrous features permanently replacing the normally noble flesh of the Legionnaires. The tightly controlled information initially released by the Legion emphasized the many benefits of the mutation, but to the Legions detractors, the sight of the afflicted Legionnaires, with their inhuman, almost Xenos, features was enough to condemn them.

Many voices, some of them the most powerful forces in the Imperium, including even some from their brother legions, now called upon the Emperor to pass judgement upon the Legion and it’s Gene-sire, who shared their “gift” in his own unique way. However, for reasons know only to himself, the Emperor kept own counsel on the matter, refusing to have it discussed on any official level. If the Sigillite or any of the other minor lords of the Imperium knew the reason for this, they kept their own council and the Legion’s accusers were forced to brood upon their suspicions in silence, although many individuals and groups would refuse to serve alongside the newly christen Dragon Legion for many long years.

Legion Organisation

In many ways the Dragon Legion still follows the organisation and practices laid down at the founding of the of the XIth Legion, but the effects of their genetic legacy and the influence of their gene-sire have molded the legion over time. Amongst the most significant changes is the extremely devolved and ad-hoc nature of recruitment and division that the Legion has adopted from it’s new home-world. Based on the feudal society of Huaxia, standard practice is for recruitment to be devolved down to individual Astartes vassals (normally at sergeant or lieutenant level) who are given rulership over a personal fief and is responsible for the recruitment and supply from that territory. The Astartes will maintain his own household guard of space marines, and is oath-bound to provide those men and additional recruits to his liege lord. This system of vassalage runs in a chain all the way up, through the upper legion command, to the Primarch. Imperial scholars have suggested that this system should be inherently unstable, but the strength of Guan-Yu's personality cult is such that the factionalism that should emerge from such a system has yet to develop.

Upper legion command is organised under the "Eight Banners", these eight great warlords owe their fealty directly to the Primarch, and are his most trusted advisers and commanders. Each of these commanders holds dominion over great swathes of territory and commands the loyalty of many thousands of Astartes vassals.

One other notable divergence from other of the Legiones Astartes, is an almost complete lack of mechanical augmentation amongst members of the legion, and the related absence of Dreadnoughts. Due to the nature of the Saurian Helix, mechanical augmentation to replace limbs or organs, or internment in a Dreadnought sarcophagus is unnecessary, as any injury that an Astartes survives can be recovered from given time. In addition it is speculated that extensive augmentation or internment on legion members may be impossible as the Helix would respond to such an attempt as an injury, but this had yet to be confirmed by imperial scientists. As a result of this possible weakness the Legion was a strong supporter of the Tactical Dreadnought Armour project, and fields large numbers of both the new Terminator and old style Cataphractii suits.

Glaive.png
Item: Legion Power Weapon, Pattern: Unknown, Origin: Legion Foundry

Unique Formations

Jiangshi Packs

Guǐ.jpg
Enhanced Pic Capt from the Uytla 9 Compliance
As the curse of the Saurian Helix takes its course, either through time or extreme injury, some members of the legion begin to lose touch their humanity. In affected individuals, speech begins to slur, and the Astartes become morose, ill-tempered and isolated from their brothers. It is currently unknown whether this is actually a side effect of the Saurian Helix itself or merely a result of the metal trauma of such extreme change. These individuals often leave their squads forming together with other similarly effected Astartes to form hunting packs known as Jiangshi. These groups of devolved Astartes discard their power armour and ranged weapons to seek death on the battlefield to release them from their curse. They will charge headlong into the most extreme of danger to rend the enemy with chainblade, tooth and claw.

Guǐ

Unique to the Dragon Legion, the Guǐ are a evolution of the Destroyer formations deployed by some of the other Legiones Astartes. Guǐ squads are comprised of members of the Legion who have failed in some way, either in their own eyes, or in the eyes of their commanders. The squads take advantage of the legendary resilience of the XIth Legion, by utilizing weapons that would be considered lethal or debilitating to an 'ordinary' Astartes. Amongst these are weapons that are not normally seen outside of the Mechanicum, such as Irrad-Cleansers and other more experimental weaponry. Assignment to these squads is a harsh and permanent punishment, as the nature of their armaments activates the very worse of the Saurian Helix's side effects and even the newest members of such squads sport lizard like forearms and hands from handling such accursed technology. Members of the squads however embrace this chance for redemption, and some have even been known to remove parts of their power armour to increase the danger, and also display the extent of their penitence for all to see.

Combat Doctrine

Whilst the XIth Legion as a whole has the same tactical flexibility as any of the Legiones Astartes, the Dragon Legion has shown a tendency, when presented with a tactical problem, to revert to the attritional tactics that have served it so well in the past. Where another legion my seek to bypass the enemy strength in someway or reduce the enemy capacity to resist, the Sons of the Dragon will engage in full frontal assaults on enemy strong points, relying on numbers, combined the Legions legendary endurance to win through. This has attracted some derision from some other legions, however it fits with the Legions ethos of endurance as virtue, and none can gainsay it's effectiveness.

Homeworld

Main Article: Huaxia

The planet Huaxia, is classified by the Imperium as a Civilized World, though one with a extremely high population. It has been speculated that with time and access Imperial technology Huaxia will develop into a Hive World, but for the time the surface remains habitable, if densely populated. It's continents are noted by Imperial Cartographers as being unusually uniform, four great monolithic land masses that rise out of Huaxia deep oceans to a great height, and are riddled with deep canyons and caverns. This has lead to speculation that the continents are some how artificial in nature, but if this is the case then it so long ago that any trace of the builders or their intent has been covered by millennia of erosion and sediment.

Other Domains

In addition to Huaxia, the legion holds tributary rights over six other local systems, which were claimed by the Legion shortly after the compliance of their home world. The most significant is the system of Jinhan, which shares significant cultural similarities with Huaxia, suggesting a common heritage. Unlike Huaxia, Jinhan retained a measure of its technology level during the Old Night (though it lack stable Warp Travel), and significant immigration to the Legion homeworld has provided many experts which have aided in the uplifting of Huaxian society.

Primarch

Main Article: Guan-Yu

Cold and calculating, the Primarch of XIth Legion commands unquestioning loyalty from his Legion. Indeed so strong is the reverence that the Legion holds their Primarch, thanks the influence of the ancient Dragon Cult of their Homeworld, that it has been suggested by some to skirt the boundary of Imperial Secularism.

Culture and Beliefs

Main Article: The Dragon Cult

The legion under Guan-Yu has been greatly influenced by the Dragon Cult native to their Homeworld, thanks to huge influx of Huaxian recruits. Originally a ancient religious cult, it was harnessed by Guan-Yu to unite the disparate factions of Huaxia, by claiming the role of the prophesied "Son of the Dragon". Officially secularized by the Imperium, it now emphasizes endurance of hardship and personal honor as personified by Guan-Yu and his father the Emperor, who has been cast as "Dragon of the Four Seas" of the old cult. With it's origins lost in the depths of the planets past, it's texts are often confusing and sometimes contradictory, indeed in the years leading up to Huaxia's first contact with the Imperium, official rhetoric was beginning to blur the distinction between Guan-Yu's role as "Son of the Dragon" and the supreme deity, the so-called "Dragon of the Four Seas", a change that was quietly reversed after the Primarch agreed to join the Imperium. It has been rumored by detractors of the Legion that some in the cult still hold to the superstitious belief of the old cult, but given the animosity that some feel toward the Legion, most have dismissed these as unfounded.

Geneseed

Despite the obvious aberration of Saurian Helix, the XIth Legion Geneseed is remarkable stable and during the early crusade was noted as having an unusually high implantation success and growth rate, second only to the XVIII Legion. Whilst this imbalance has been mostly corrected by the discovery of the other Primarchs and use of Grabiya's Theorem to accelerate geneseed growth, the Dragon Legion still retains a strong advantage in this regard.

Exemplary Battles

The Fall of Armageddon

Notable Members

Primarch
Guan-Yu The Son of the Dragon, The Dragon,(prior) The Dragon Emperor
The Eight Banners
Mengde Cao Master of the 1st Banner, Chancellor of Huaxia
Kong Qiu Master of the 2nd Banner, "The Great Sage"
Gaku Shin Master of the 3rd Banner, "The Untouched"
Xu Chu Master of the 4th Banner, "Half-Man"
Niu Jin Master of the 5th Banner, "The First"

Others
Niccolò Maffeo Rogue Trader