LIONS OF THE EMPEROR, LET THEM QUAKE AT YOUR ROAR!
Technology has always been a risky substance – able to aid humanity through the most menial and extraordinary jobs imaginable, while at the same time just as liable to throw the mighty race into disarray. This is what happened in the Dark Age of Technology, when humanity had branched itself far across the universe, ever curious, ever building...ever destroying. For a time, it appeared that humanity would rule the universe utterly, but it was not to be so. The Warp, that malevolent entity, shook itself and the humans were thrown into chaos. People were closed off from their brother man, left to rot on the worlds they had populated.
One of these worlds was a land of deserts and tropical jungles – a world known as Destopia, or Lion-Kingdom in the human tongue. For a time, the humans stranded upon it struggled to retain their civilised community, but they grew tired of waiting and eventually began to adapt to their new environment. Further centuries passed, and the people again changed, this time into tribal communities, each with their own customs and symbols based on the industry guilds of their ancestors.
However, the land was no grand Utopia for the human population. Their own terraforming of the land had made it hostile for farming and a great threat had arisen in the shape of the “Emergency Food Supply” – the Great Lions. These creatures were genetically engineered to be superlions and were designed as food for the human population – although with their depleted technological resources this was impossible. When humanity lost it’s magnificent machines, these food supplies transformed into truly monstrous beasts, standing over seven foot at the shoulder, eight foot long and, unlike ancient Terran lions, fiercely active at all times of day.
At some point in the 31st Millennia, scholars say around 993.M32 when the tribes of Destopia had completely forgotten their heritage, the lion population skyrocketed. For every one human on Destopia, it was likely there were five Great Lions. Whole tribes were being annihilated by Great Lion hunts and it seemed that unless someone could stand up to the monsters, humanity would be unable to survive on Destopia for much longer. As is only natural, fate intervened. At around 995.M32, the child known as Bellerophon was born to the Atalanta Tribe, renowned for their hunting prowess and the tribe who had lost the most people to the Great Lions due to their many ambushes of the creatures. The legend tells how Bellerophon’s own father was already a mighty warrior-hunter who was one of the few who had slain a Great Lion and when Bellerophon was born, his father wiped the blood of a Great Lion across his forehead, a rare happening which the Destopians believed granted the child the strength, the courage and the power of a Great Lion.
As hoped, Bellerophon grew up strong like his father, quickly learning how to use weaponry and ambushes to win both battles and hunts for wild buffalo in the plains. After only thirteen years on the planet, Bellerophon was recognised as the finest warrior in the tribe. It was then that destiny took hold. One day, a mighty roar was heard in the Atalanta’s village and a pride of seven Great Lions entered. As usual, the children were hurried inside their wooden homes while hunters tried to contain the Great Lions. Bellerophon’s father was among them and was the first to fall when the Great Lion Pride Leader attacked him. Bellerophon, spying from his house, watched as his father was ripped to shreds by the Great Lion. His heart burning, Bellerophon ran out of his house to his dead father’s side. He retrieved his father’s spear and began to slice the Great Lion with lightning-fast attacks. It is said that a hundred pierces in the Lions skin were made from Bellerophon’s spear, each as deadly as the next. The Pride Leader struck back too, but he could not thwart the furious hunter. Eventually, after what may have been an entire day of combat, the people emerged from their homes to see Bellerophon standing on the carcass of the Great Lion Pride Leader, the rest of the pride skulking obediently at his feet, acknowledging him as their master and leader.
Bellerophon’s triumph soon reached the ears of the other tribes in his region and within weeks, the boy had become known as the Leonabourne, or Lion-Born – a hero from Destopian mythology who would save humanity from all threats. At fourteen, Bellerophon created a band of soldiers he named the Lion Guard. This was a force made of the greatest hunters from across Destopia with the finest made weaponry and protection. A small band was placed in every village on the planet to protect from Great Lion attacks, so that by the time Bellerophon was fifteen years old, he and the Lion Guard had liberated the planet from Great Lion threats and become hailed as the Ruler of Destopia.
WOLF FROM SNOW, LION FROM DESERT
At this time, it happened that the Great Wolf of the Space Wolves, Harak Ironhelm, was searching thunderously for the ever elusive Magnus the Red, Daemon Primarch of the Thousand Sons. Harak searched many planets surrounding the Eye of Terror, becoming increasingly frustrated with every failure. Finally, he landed on Destopia and was confronted by the teenage Bellerophon.
Angered by his continued failure to find Magnus, Harak insulted Bellerophon and his Lion Guard, calling them, rather truthfully, primitive savages and unworthy warriors compared to his Space Wolves, imbued with the blood of Leman Russ. Understandably, Bellerophon was furious and challenged the Great Wolf to a confrontation. Pleased to have something to beat to a pulp, Harak agreed, choosing a massive battle-axe from the stores of the Lion Guard while Bellerophon used his father’s spear and shield. Harak’s wolves watched eagerly as the two circled each other, but their eagerness turned to astonishment as Bellerophon not only dodged Harak’s massive blows and attacks but managed to land his own upon the Great Wolf. Many a Space Marine could not boast such a feat, much less a mere human. For over and half an hour, Bellerophon fought and defended while Harak began to use more and more of his Space Marine powers on the boy.
Bellerophon was finally cut upon the cheek by Harak’s massive blade and crushed to the ground. However, recognising an outstanding warrior when he saw one, Harak simply laughed and allowed Bellerophon to stand. Harak, grateful at having had his mind taken off Magnus for the first time in months, decided to reward Bellerophon for his prowess befitting a Space Marine by offering the Lion Guard Space Marine treatment, to which Bellerophon heartily agreed. So it was that the Wolves of the Emperor brought into the Imperium the Lion Guard Space Marine Chapter.
After several months of therapy, about three hundred Lion Guard Space Marines had been created, with Bellerophon among them, his levels of power boosted too unimaginable levels. It is still unknown as to whose geneseed was used in the Lion Guard’s creation, and the Lion Guard keep this information jealously, for it was certainly not the Space Wolves. Rumour has been circulated that it was Bellerophon’s seed, and that he is the missing Second Primarch, but such things are spoken only in the darkest corners of the Imperium. Nevertheless, Space Marines they were. The first mission of the Lion Guard was to accompany the Space Wolves in the attack of Gangava, where Harak thought he had finally discovered Magnus. Bellerophon led his warriors proudly in the attack, but it was in vain, for the forces on Gangava were naught but a diversion so that Magnus could attack Fenris, homeworld of the Space Wolves themselves.
Bellerophon especially was furious about this, having lost almost seventeen devoted Lion Guard to the Thousand Son forces. He fully intended to make the Warp Jump with Harak to Fenris to defeat the treacherous Magnus the Red, but the Daemon Primarch was smart. He sent a smaller detachment of Thousand Sons, lead by the infamous Sorcerer Zoroa, to Destopia to remove the threat of the Lion Guard to Magnus. To Bellerophon, it was no competition between Fenris and his own world. Harak himself, in his last conversation with Bellerophon, bid him good luck and gave him a sacred Wolf Glove, a piece of Runic Lore which could power through any Chaos magiks.
The Lion Guard returned to Destopia to find Zoroa wreaking havoc on the eastern quadrant. Bellerophon adopted an ambush-tactic like the Great Lions of his own planet and his Lion Guard tore apart the Thousand Sons. Bellerophon himself could be seen ripping the empty suits of armour asunder with his Wolf Gloved hands, his pet Great Lions fighting with him, until he reached Zoroa. With a furious bellow, he seized Zoroa’s staff and snapped it in two. His power broken, Zoroa fled into the Warp, taking with him the remaining Thousand Sons. Destopia was saved...for now.
THE BLACK LIONS
When Bellerophon arrived on Fenris, it was to find Magnus defeated and Harak Ironhelm dead. Bellerophon and his First Company were present alongside the Space Wolves at the funeral, and, alongside the howling of mourning wolves, the faint roar of Bellerophon’s lions resounded through the snowy land. But Bellerophon and his men were Space Marines now and had duties to perform. For fifty years, Bellerophon led his men against foes such as the Sons of Ulander, an Eldar Pirate band, against the Intricii (a green-skinned alien race thought to be an offshoot of the Orks), the renegade world of Kilos where the unwieldy rule of Tzeentch had taken hold and, finally, against Hive Fleet Navajo. None of these deadly enemies of the Emperor, however, were even close to the danger of Zoroa, still lurking in the Warp.
On the fifty-first anniversary of the Lion Guard’s formation, Bellerophon decided to split his Chapter of seven-hundred across the universe. Captain of the Second Company, or Pride Leader of the Second Pride, Maahes was sent into a rather uninhabited section of the galaxy, where he and his men were set to explore the new planets there. Here, Zoroa seized his chance and began, through Chaos powers, to corrupt Maahes. He said that Bellerophon thought Maahes useless and that was why he was sent away from the action of the Lion Guard to document meaningless worlds. Finally, he convinced Maahes to turn his back from the Emperor, along with his Pride, and destroy the rest of the Lion Guard.
While orbiting Destopia, Bellerophon was ambushed with their own strategies by a black force who called themselves the Black Lions. Bellerophon struggled to repel the attack, but was astounded when he saw the face of Maahes appear on his viewscreen. Astonishment turned to rage and soon, Bellerophon was boarding Maahes’ ship himself with his Tactical Dreadnought Armoured First Pride whom he had renamed the Nemean Lions. With his powers augmented by the Chaos within him, Maahes was the equal of Bellerophon in almost every way. Like the Emperor against Horus, Bellerophon fought his protégé in a titanic battle - power weapon met Chaos blade. Lion roar met Warp-tainted snarl. Fierce honour clashed against fierce hatred. Then, in the final stages of the battle, Bellerophon munched Maahes’ shoulder, snapping it into shards. In retaliation, however, Maahes slashed Bellerophon’s right leg clean off. Despite the pain in his limb, Bellerophon still found it within himself to roar at the traitor. But as he faced what he thought was certain death, a new roar was heard from the doorway and Maahes was tackled with the full might of Bellerophon’s pet Great Lion, Atlas. Soon after, Bellerophon’s Nemean Lions followed and Maahes knew that he needed to escape now.
With one last snarl at the broken Bellerophon, he vanished into the Warp alongside Zoroa to plot his next move.
THE DEATH OF A LION
Another hundred years were to pass before Maahes resurfaced. Bellerophon had fought foes in many shapes and threat sizes, but nothing had ever wounded him as grievously as Maahes. For when Maahes had cut off his leg, though he had been able to get a bionic replacement, the taint of Maahes’ blade had entered Bellerophon’s system and was slowly, very slowly, killing him. Over the hundred years, Bellerophon had been beginning to feel the pain and knew he would not last much longer. It was the night before Bellerophon was going to tell his Chapter this when Maahes resurfaced with a vengeance. He was now mutated beyond recognission. He had become much more beastlike and feral, his armour now his skin. Maahes attacked Destopia itself in the dead of night with a force of over one thousand Chaos Space Marines made up of both Black Lions and Thousand Sons, alongside Zoroa the Sorcerer.
Bellerophon and the Lion Guard fought bravely against Maahes and the Black Lions, fighting them to a standstill in the Singapura City, the new capital of Destopia. At the height of the battle, Maahes and Bellerophon engaged once more in battle, this time each more wise and much stronger. Energies unlike any ever felt on Destopia ripped the planet’s ground as the two fought. Blood was spilt and wounds were dealt but both were made equally and neither warrior drew the upperhand. Then, as Bellerophon was knocked back by Maahes and saw his Lion Guard dying at the hands of the Black Lions all around him, he realised what he had to do.
Bellerophon’s last words are remembered through the centuries as the Lion Guard’s legendary roar.
LIONS OF THE EMPEROR, LET THEM QUAKE AT YOUR ROAR!
Then he pulled a Plasma Grenade and detonated it, allowing it engulf both he and Maahes. Their leader dead, and Zoroa’s main lieutenant, the Black Lions fled with Zoroa in ships, for even Zoroa’s strength was not enough to transport all his soldiers into the Warp with him. But the Lion Guard wanted vengeance for the fall of their leader, and they followed. They caught the fleeing soldiers in the space over Destopia and absolutely annihilated many of the ships. Finally, they reached Zoroa’s. The Chaos forces fought desperately, but even they were destroyed. But Zoroa did not die without his vengeance. At the moment of his death, a rip appeared momentarily in the fabric of the universe and it ate into it a quarter of Destopia. A quarter of the Lion Guard’s planet perished with Zoroa that night, untold thousands too. The Lion Guard were stunned and returned, victorious over the Chaos forces, but with so much loss on their shoulders.
Pride Leader Tarik was the first to reach Bellerophon’s resting place. There, he found a single Wolf Glove, and it sunk in finally that the Lion Born was dead.
A NEW AGE
Tarik was named the Lion Lord of the Lion Guard. Tarik led the Lion Guard for over one hundred and seventy years, before succumbing himself to Death. Destopia has remained since Zoroa’s death as only three quarters of a sphere, and it’s orbit has since been shaky, it’s gravity flexible and the people’s live barren. Hovering in the place where the planet used to be is the Fortress Monastery of the Lion Guard, the Lion’s Den. It has been the place where Tarik concocted his plans for the Siege of Nohort, his tactics for the Assault on Arcdeth and his training of Pride Leader Haidar.
The Lion Guard are still at large today, fighting in the Emperor’s name. And they still remember brave Bellerophon, the first of the Lion Guard.