Everything I knew about the Alpha Legion I learned from memes. I’m not joking. They’re rarely mentioned in non-Horus Heresy novels to begin with. Most knowledge about this mysterious Legion only comes from the HH series, the codices, and memes.
So, up until I read Legion by Dan Abnett, the Alpha Legion was mostly meme fodder. You know, they’re that Legion where everyone claims to be the primarch, Alpharius. Then there’s something about an identical twin named Omegon that only the Alpha Legion knows about, and the jokes that they’re both a loyalist and a traitor Legion.
I was rather stoked to have another book take a break from the actual Heresy to focus on the history behind the Alpha Legion. I’m eager to see what happens next after the Flight of the Eisenstein for sure, but I’m enjoying learning more about these secretive chapters. The fact that the Alpha Legion was casually mentioned in Plague War only increases my intrigue.
Who are these guys, and whose side are they really on? In Fulgrim, the Alpha Legion showed up with the Word Bearers, Night Lords, and the Iron Warriors and turned against the Iron Hands, Salamanders, and Ravenguard as Ferrus charged Fulgrim. That would suggest they are indeed a Traitor Legion. But are they really, though?
I am Alpharius
Legion introduces HH readers to the infamous Cabal, a shadowy organization of perpetuals that can see into the future and try to guide the galaxy to its best course of action. One of their human members, John Grammaticus, is to recruit the Alpha Legion to their side in regards to the upcoming Heresy. Why yes, they did foresee that. Now why they didn’t do other things to prevent it is beyond me. I can think of several things to stop it, like, oh, GOING TO TELL THE EMPEROR, but as I’m not a perpetual, WTF do I know, AMIRITE?
Grammaticus has infiltrated the planet Nurth where the Alpha Legion and a few factions of the Imperial Guard are trying to force the Nurthene into compliance. It is not going well, which made it rather easy for Grammaticus to slip in as an employed spy. Yes, a spy pretending to be a spy. Let’s not get too crazy here. However, Grammaticus was not prepared for a Legion to be as clandestine and sneaky sneaky as the Alpha Legion.
For starters, they all claim to be Alpharius, the primarch. All of them altered their appearances to look like the real Alpharius, which confounds things even further. Not to mention, Alpharius has an identical twin, Omegon, who often pretends to be the real Alpharius. Most of the time, the others simply say they’re Alpharius, but in a crowd, Omegon will step up as Alpharius proper.
Can’t Play a Player
If there was ever a Legion that believed that the end justifies the means, it’s the Alpha Legion. I couldn’t help but applaud the brilliance of Alpharius and how he recruited people, who he recruited, and how he used those he was never going to recruit. Up until the very end of the book, I had no idea which way Alpharius was going to lean. It became obvious that the only non-Legionnaires they trusted were those whom wore their brand, and yet, I was left guessing most of the time. Even when I knew Alpharius trusted the two Imperial Guardsmen he branded, I didn’t know if the Guardsmen would continue to be loyal.
I’m still not sure which I found most amusing: when Alpharius used their branded to play the Cabal or when he completely turned against the commanders of the Imperial Guard stationed on Nurth, the Lucifer Blacks. The Blacks were complete tyrants and deserved what happened to them, especially since they never got the memo that you shouldn’t sass the sons of the Emperor, yo.
But still, going back to the end justifies the means, I’m not happy that they left so many Guardsmen who were innocent in the Blacks’ treachery to die. I had gotten a little attached to the Uxors, especially Honen. But the Legion got what they wanted, they made their decision with the upcoming Heresy, and it was time to go. Perhaps they couldn’t leave any witnesses to their utter destruction of the Blacks’ ships.
Whatever their reason, if I’ve learned anything from this book, it’s that Alpha Legion does nothing without a good reason. From the words of Alpharius (the real Alpharius) himself:
‘I stand for the Emperior,’ he replied. ‘In all things, I am loyal to Him, and I cannot break that bond. He has many great ambitions, and the noblest of intentions, but I know that above all else, He is determined to stand firm against the rise of Chaos. He has always known the truth of it. The overthrow of the Primordial Annihilator is His greatest wish. So what I do, autarch [of the Cabal], from this moment on, I will do for the Emperor.’
And there you have it.
Seven books down, 47 to go. I’m going to take a small break before diving into Battle of the Abyss. I’ve had to digest a lot in just one week.
About Horus Hearsay
Horus Hearsay is dedicated to Keri’s journey through the Horus Heresy saga. The chronicling of the Horus Heresy began over ten years ago, with currently 54 books in total, not counting The Primarchs series or the various short stories. Horus Hearsay will only cover the main novels.