The Emperor protects.
Servants of Slaughter
The Rust Legion is a large, fleet-based renegade warband dedicated to the service of Khorne. It is a young warband, but one that is rapidly growing in strength. The fleet is headed by a Repulsive-class Grand Cruiser called the Torrent of Bone
; it is also composed of a handful of cruisers and numerous escort craft. We could not determine an exact count from the vox footage and battle data we’ve collected, but their numbers probably lie somewhere between 23 and 34 vessels, with escorts and raiders forming the majority of their numbers.
The Rust Legion’s ground forces are a mixture of Chaos Space Marines, renegade guardsmen, and mutants. The renegade Space Marines are relatively few. The Legion can claim to possess “only” 1200 Astartes, but unusually for a Khornate warband, not all of these Space Marines are Berserkers, although many are. Havocs and Chosen veterans have also been sighted among the ranks of the Rust Legion. The number of renegade guardsmen in the warband, however, is estimated to be at least 90,000, and they possess multiple armor pieces, not just the Rhinos and Predators of the Space Marines, but also the myriad tanks of the Imperial Guard, up to and including Macharius super-heavy tanks. Countless mutants have also been sighted, but they have been used mostly as cannon fodder and as slaves aboard their vessels.
Numerous leader figures have been sighted, not just command retinues of renegade guard officers, but also Space Marine Champions of Khorne. There is one leader that stands above all of them, however, a “lord of lords” if you will. It is a Khornate Chaos Lord named Zukth Aelear.
Origin and Philosophy
The first known sighting of Zukth Aelear was during the Siege of Vraks, where he served under Lord Zhufor “the Impaler” in the World Eaters warband known as the Skulltakers. At the end of the siege, he fled along with Zhufor and his allies through Warp Rifts conjured by the Sanctified warband. It appears that the two parted ways after that, although whether or not the parting was amicable is unknown – presumably not.
In 837.M41, just seven years after the Siege of Vraks, the feudal world of Dorada Secundus was attacked by the Rust Legion, led by Zukth Aelear. This marks the first known sighting of the Rust Legion. It was smaller than it is today, comprising only seven vessels and not being nearly as numerous in terms of ground forces, but it still captured Castle Dadun, the seat of the Imperial Governor’s power. They pillaged the castle for slaves and converted it into their stronghold from which they would attempt to conquer the planet. The arrival of Imperial reinforcements, spearheaded by the Knights of Tizovka chapter, marked the beginning of a bloody three-year siege. The end of the siege saw the reclamation of Castle Dadun and the retreat of the Rust Legion.
Since then, the Rust Legion has grown in strength and number, attracting dispossessed renegades, mutants, and heretics from across the galaxy. Each of their attacks have been of the same character as Dorada Secundus – a Dreadclaw assault on a heavily-defended position followed by renegade transport landings and the fortification of the captured position along with further attacks across the planet.
The following is a transcript of a vox recording of Zukth Aelear giving a speech to his troops. It was left behind in Castle Dadun after the traitors retreated. We don’t know how it was left behind – perhaps due to simple carelessness – but the vox recorder itself was purified by [CLEARANCE INSUFFICIENT] and transcribed here by Autosavant Aphis:
Few among you are veterans of the Siege of Vraks, but those who are will know the truth of which I speak. Many years ago, I took part in that bloody siege. I partook in the slaughter of millions of the false Emperor’s lapdogs, bore witness to countless scenes of devastation at the hands of Titan legions, and faced the mightiest warriors of the Imperium – day after day after day! No matter how much Nurgle and his decrepit followers sought to co-opt it for their purposes, I knew that the siege was a mighty orchestra of destruction and carnage, dedicated to the might of Khorne!
When we left the forsaken planet of Vraks Prime when defeat was inevitable, I began to look back upon my time on Vraks. My vision of mighty Khorne changed. Vraks was not hell, as so many spineless cowards and Imperial lapdogs insist, but a heaven! Vraks was a great arena in which Khorne’s warriors built themselves into mighty champions through the shedding of Imperial blood and the claiming of Imperial skulls!
For Khorne is a loving god! He reveals unto the blind the truth that man’s greatest potential is brought forth through violence! He commands us to battle so that we may gird our own might, for the measure of a warrior is in the blood he has shed and the skulls he has claimed! That is the truth of Vraks: violence is catharsis! Violence lends us strength! We must shed the blood and claim the skulls of our foes to cleanse ourselves of impurities and make ourselves mightier!
[Roar of applause]
That is the purpose of my life. That is why we are here! We are here to make ourselves mightier through the slaying of our foes! The weak among us will perish, their blood fueling Khorne’s might as much as any enemy, while the strong will become stronger through the deaths of their foes! We will drive the Imperial rabble from Dadun’s Reach with the chainsword and the knife and the boltgun and the autocannon and the mighty rage of Khorne, for he cares not from whom the blood flows, only that it does!
So in the name of Khorne, go forth! KILL! KILL! KILL!
[Roar of applause; some sounds of combat]
Given this vox recording and the Rust Legion’s preferred targets, it appears that Zukth Aelear is trying to relive the Siege of Vraks as many times as possible. Given that the siege lasted for nearly twenty years and saw millions of Imperial servants dead, it would be wise to strike quickly and end them before a protracted siege becomes possible.
As is befitting a warband primarily composed of renegade guardsmen, the Rust Legion is in possession of a large amount of tanks and artillery pieces. Leman Russ tanks, especially of the Exterminator variant, and Malcador tanks are common sights on the battlefield. Chimera transports carry Armored Fist squads to critical locations so that they can be captured and fortified. Somewhat unusually for a Khornate warband, the Rust Legion also makes use of artillery such as Basilisks and Medusas.
All of this is to say nothing about the Astartes elements. In the Rust Legion, they function as shock troops, similar to the role of Space Marine chapters loyal to the Imperium. Khorne Berserkers are common, though not ubiquitous; Havocs, known as “Khorne’s Teeth” within the Rust Legion, often support the renegade guard at range with their autocannons, while squads of Chosen seek out and destroy individual targets. On some occasions, the Rust Legion has summoned Daemon Engines of Khorne such as Blood Slaughterers, but not always.
Rust Legion armies are typically led by a command retinue of Guard renegades, but sometimes a champion of Khorne will be appointed over an army in order to bolster morale and cut down fleeing cowards. Zukth himself, as befitting a devotee of Khorne, often joins the fray. As of now, two assassination attempts by the Officio Assassinorum on Zukth’s life have failed, and he remains at large.
Attempts to determine a definite organization of the Rust Legion have been only marginally successful. From what we can determine, the renegade guardsmen have retained their regimental organizations, but the prerequisites for command of a regiment appear to be based primarily on martial skill, as is befitting of devotees of Khorne, at the expense of command ability; men at the highest echelons of leadership are also the mightiest warriors.
More complex is the relationship between renegade commanders and the Chaos Space Marines. It appears that the fallen Astartes lord over the renegade guard – all of them, from Zukth Aelear himself to the lowliest and greenest Chaos Space Marine. This creates an environment where internal divisions are commonplace since any Chaos Space Marine thinking himself strong enough can take command of a renegade regiment and attempt to overthrow Aelear or slay another Chaos Lord.
The Rust Legion gather outcasts and renegades from throughout the galaxy to fill their numbers, but it would appear that the renegade regiments have kept their name and structure even in the face of attrition; while new renegades come in all shapes and sizes, the regiments themselves remain static. This means that such regiments as the 41st Aetna Grenadiers, the 443rd Bogdun Hillmen, and the 23rd Yusanna Armored Regiment remain so, even as their ranks all begin to resemble one another such that they become irrelevant.
Apart from the aforementioned Zukth Aelear, several other leader figures have been sighted. These men have been identified so far:
HALGOR THE ALMIGHTY
Halgor the Almighty is a Chaos Lord of the Rust Legion and calls himself the “Herald of Zukth Aelear”. It is said that over a hundred thousand foes have perished by his hand. In the Bloody Year of M41, he destroyed the entire Knights of Baal chapter by himself and exterminated the Order Militant of His Righteous Gaze, making their sacrifices in vain. At the battle of Phraaspa in 977.M41, he decimated the ranks of the Imperial Fists and mortally wounded their Chapter Master Vladimir Pugh. It is said that he destroyed an entire Titan Legion at the battle of Dadun’s Reach. All of these claims are false.
Members of the Rust Legion have called Halgor by another epithet: “Halgor the Liar.” Pict footage and data from our cogitator archives support their assertion. Not only was there no “Bloody Year of M41”, but there was never a Knights of Baal chapter to begin with, unless such a name refers to the Blood Angels’ 4th company which likewise was not destroyed. Furthermore, the Order of His Righteous Gaze is confirmed to still exist, and not only was Vladimir Pugh not wounded and the Imperial Fists not ravaged at Phraaspa, but there was never a battle of Phraaspa to begin with. Finally, there were no Titans at the battle of Dadun’s Reach because the tide of the battle for Dorada Secundus at that point had turned in Imperial favor, no longer necessitating their use. Even the claim that he is Zukth Aelear’s herald is false; from what intelligence we have acquired, Aelear refuses to associate himself with him.
All that can be gleaned, then, is that Halgor is at least powerful, influential, and experienced enough to be called a Chaos Lord, and that he has a number of supporters who spread wild stories about his “achievements”, ostensibly to impact the morale of his foes, but perhaps, as his opponents suggest, to satisfy his own ego. All this said, Halgor is almost suicidally brave and has proven frustratingly difficult to kill. His achievements may be falsified, but perhaps a part of him wishes for them to be true, and it drives him ever forward…
A former Havoc who rose to become one of the Rust Legion’s Chosen, Tergen Adalmus has long favored the Autocannon, and we believe him to be the reason why it has become such a popular weapon within the Rust Legion. He and his Havocs, referred to as “the Teeth of Khorne” in reference to a similar unit said to exist in the World Eaters traitor legion, revel in “the visceral nature of the weapon…representative of Khorne’s infernal might!” according to a vox recording captured and purified by [CLEARANCE INSUFFICIENT].
Of note is Tergen’s own autocannon; it is no more or less powerful than those used by his companions, or for that matter those used by Imperial forces, but it is equipped with a large bayonet with dark runes etched into it, said to be able to slice through the strongest armor as though it were cloth. It also includes a corrupted signum link that Tergen can use to direct the fire of a squad he is attached to; I find it strange that he would have such a thing attached to his weapon and not to his power armor as most loyalist Devastator Sergeants do. Beyond this, we know little of Tergen Adalmus.
Colonel Qurtz is the regimental commander of the renegade 41st Aetna Grenadiers regiment. In 962.M41 his regiment succeeded in bringing the Feral World of Felsk back in line, crushing the renegade tribesmen who had turned from the light of the Emperor in favor of new, false deities and who had murdered the Imperial Governor. Qurtz and his regiment assumed garrison duties on the planet, but without understanding the natives’ culture, customs, and in some cases language, the Grenadiers struggled to maintain order.
Slowly but surely, Qurtz and his regiment turned to ever-more draconian means of keeping the natives in line. Death became the punishment for the most minor of crimes; for more serious ones, families or even whole tribes were slaughtered. When some of his men, including the regimental Commissariat, attempted to rein him in, he had them all slaughtered and their corpses hung from the Imperial Governor’s residence.
This marks the point where the 41st Aetna Grenadiers truly became renegade; Qurtz had lost his sanity, seeing traitors, heretics, and criminals everywhere among the populace, while his men slaughtered the natives for its own sake. Six regiments of the Imperial Guard, including the 53rd Catachan Infantry regiment, were deployed to destroy the Grenadiers and kill Qurtz, but in the ensuing battle, the Rust Legion arrived at Felsk and deployed to support the Grenadiers. Qurtz and his men, as well as some of the natives, were swiftly assimilated into the Rust Legion.
Since then, Colonel Qurtz has been sighted on multiple battlefields, still in command of his regiment. He has been keen on haranguing the Imperial forces he fights by way of vox-drones or even hacking into Imperial vox-casters by means we have yet to determine. He accuses the Imperium of failing to understand the circumstances he and his men were placed into and blames us for his own failings. Like most Aetna Grenadiers, he is clad in carapace armor, and he is armed with a chainsword he has apparently named Cannibal
Playing the Rust Legion
The Rust Legion can be played as a Chaos Space Marine army with Imperial Guard allies or vice versa. They can also be played using the Renegades and Heretics: Servants of Slaughter
army list from Imperial Armor 6: The Siege of Vraks, Part 2