The Lion El’Jonson Heresy – Part I

In this article, I write a bit of alternate history for the Warhammer 40k timeline, where I ask the question – what would happen if it had been the Lion El’Jonson, Primarch of the Dark Angels Legion that had lead the betrayal of the Emperor instead of Horus Lupercal, Warmaster? This piece of alternate history presumes prior knowledge of Warhammer 40k lore and the Horus Heresy novel series, and was inspired by Bolter and Chainsword’s awesome Dornian Heresy

 Loyalist Legions

Legion Number

Legion Name




Emperor’s Children




Space Wolves

Leman Russ



Imperial Fists

Rogal Dorn



Night Lords

Konrad Curze



World Eaters





Roboute Guilliman



Thousand Sons

Magnus the Red



Sons of Horus

Horus Lupercal



Word Bearers



Traitor Legions

Legion Number

Legion Name




Dark Angels

Lion El’Jonson



Iron Warriors




White Scars

Jaghatai Khan

Mundus Planus


Blood Angels




Iron Hands

Ferrus Manus



Death Guard








Raven Guard

Corvus Corax



Alpha Legion



That’s pretty much the line-up that we’ll be seeing in The Lion El’Jonson Heresy. If you ever wanted to know what loyalist Thousand Sons, Night Lords, Word Bearers, Sons of Horus, World Eaters and Emperor’s Children would look like, then this is what you’ll find out in this piece. The same can be said for those of you who wanted to know what traitor Dark Angels, White Scars, Blood Angels, Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard Legions would have looked like. I’m not going to tell you which Legion the Chaos Gods will claim, because remember – we will have one Tzeentch Legion, one Khorne Legion, one Nurgle Legion and one Slaneesh Legion, but if you want to find out that you’ll have to keep reading. The artwork used in this is not my own, and you’re probably aware of this from the use of the Fallen Angels cover art above, which I used as I couldn’t find any traitor Dark Angels. If anybody is willing to contribute artwork towards this project then let me know. Unfortunately, I can’t offer payment, but the finished document will become more impressive with artwork attached, as I’m sure most of you haven’t come here to just read one big block of text.


  1. The Seeds are Sown.
  2. The Ullanor Triumph.
  3. The Council of Nikea.
  4. The Warmaster’s Salvation.
  5. The Disaster of New Ganymede. 

The Lion El’Jonson Heresy

“Traitor. Betrayer. There are many words to describe Lion El’Jonson, Primarch of the Dark Angels Legion, but most of them fall into those categories. Were it not for the Lion, there would be no Heresy. Were it not for the Lion, the Universe wouldn’t be where it was today. Yes, it was the Primarch of the Dark Angels that got us all in this mess, and nobody’s going to get us out of it any time soon.” ~Nikolai Machivon, author of The Roots of Betrayal. 

The Seeds are Sown

Many historians argue the true beginning of the Lion El’Jonson Heresy. Some say that it was on Ullanor, when the Lion allowed himself to become jealous of not being the Emperor’s appropriate choice of Warmaster, but others disagree – they believe that the Heresy was initiated from an early age, when the Lion – instead of the noble, proud figure that he should have been raised up to have been, was taken in by a different organization than the Knightly Order of Caliban, but instead by a different organization, the infamous House Laniyster, and brought up with their beliefs and their views. The Lion lead the cleansing of Caliban at a young age, and before the Emperor came to his planet, he had subjected the entire world to his rule, and exterminated the Order from history, ensuring that the House Laniyster became the ruling figures on Caliban in his absence, when he set out to join the Emperor and his armies in his Crusade. His pride was swelled when he was given the first legion, which he promptly named the Dark Angels, and he believed that because his legion was the first legion – therefore he held a rank above any other Primarch, even Horus – who was said to be the Emperor’s favourite son, and even before he had become Warmaster, Horus and the Lion did never see eye to eye.

As the Great Crusade were to go on, the Lion became more arrogant and prideful with the first legion at his command, and as a result, won few friends amongst his brothers, aside from Sanguinius, the Blood Angels Primarch, and the only reason that friendship was forged was because Sanguinius saved the Lion from certain death at the hands of two rival Ork Warlords, who had managed to put aside their differences long enough in order to fight a common enemy – the Dark Angels Primarch, the Lion of Caliban.

The Great Crusade was to last a full two hundred years. By the time it neared its end, all of the twenty Primarchs were found, and two declared excommunicate and exiled from the records of history. Many Primarchs had also developed rivalries between their legions, with two notable rivalries being that between the Imperial Fists and the Iron Warriors, the Thousand Sons and the Space Wolves, The Imperial Fists and the Iron Warriors constantly battled for supremacy in siege warfare, and Perturabo and Dorn had been at odds after a damning scenario on the world of Gorgox Prime, where Dorn managed to break the walls of the main bastion first, even though Perturabo would insist that Dorn had deliberately put himself where the enemy defence was the weakest, leaving Perturabo facing an overwhelming number of opposition.

During the Heresy, the loyalist Imperial Fists fight traitor Iron Warriors in the battle of the Phall System.

Magnus the Red and Leman Russ also shared their differences in opinion, as whilst both Primarchs employed certain usage of the warp, they each shared their different views. Leman Russ reasoned that due to their practice in warp magic, the Thousand Sons would eventually unleash something they could not control and succumb to its wrath. The Space Wolves toed the line where the Thousand Sons didn’t, the Space Wolf Primarch decreed, and there were many occasions that both legions almost came to blows during the Great Crusade, and if they had kept tearing at each other’s throats, then one legion could have been used as a weapon by Chaos against the other. But this was thankfully not the case, and it was one major incident at the Council of Nikea and the trial of Magnus the Red, where both sides put aside their differences long enough to combat an unnatural threat, and a new bond was formed between both legions, one that over the years – would change from two forces being the most hated of foes to the staunchest allies.

The Ullanor Triumph

Before the Council of Nikea were to take place though, the Emperor announced his retirement from the Great Crusade at the conquest of Ullanor, where Horus Lupercal was declared Warmaster in place of the Emperor. As a result of this, the Dark Angels Primarch Lion El’Jonson became increasingly more bitter and twisted following the events, where he had personally attended – and even voiced his outrage amongst the ranks of his legion, who shared his beliefs – as they, like him, aside from a few Terrans who had been a member of the Dark Angels Legion before they found their Primarch – believed that the Lion should have been the worthy choice as Warmaster, and not Horus Lupercal.  Looking for something that could prove that the Dark Angels were the better choice of warriors to lead the Imperium than the Sons of Horus, Lion El’Jonson tread darker and darker paths, even in secret – visiting what would later become known as the Eye of Terror, and conversing with embassies from the Dark Gods of Chaos.

A collection of Primarchs, including Horus Lupercal and Fulgrim, meeting at the Ullanor Triumph.

But the Lion had never been the main choice of the Chaos Gods to lead the rebellion against the Emperor – he hadn’t even been their second choice. It was at the Council of Nikea where their first choice – Magnus the Red, became denied to them, all due to a particular incident that changed the course of history after one mistake made by the forces of the Ruinous Powers.

The Council of Nikea

In whole or in part, there was a total of eight Space Marine Legions gathered on Nikea for the Council. Representatives from the Space Wolves, Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Emperor’s Children, Death Guard, Night Lords, Salamanders and the Thousand Sons made their speeches on Nikea, but it was a secret event that would prove the undoing of all that the Ruinous Powers had strived for. Kasper Hawser, a Skjald of the Third Great Company of the Space Wolves, was uncovered as a Hidden One, a scout of the Thousand Sons Legion brought about by sorcery to investigate the Space Wolves, was uncovered for what he really was during a meeting between Leman Russ and Constantin Valdor. Due to the nature of the Hidden Ones, Hawser didn’t even know that he was one until he was told by the Space Wolves Primarch and the Chief Custodian. It was during this time, that the Thousand Sons learned that their spy had been compromised and threatened to have him eliminated, with Amon Tauromachian of the Thousand Sons, the Master of the Hidden Ones and equerry to Magnus the Red made an attack on Kasper, and tried to kill him. However, this was prevented by the Space Wolves. But this was where the game changed – instead of being driven off by the wrath of Bjorn, one of the Astartes of the Space Wolves legion, he was taken captive, and was learned to be a mere toy of Chaos when the real Amon was found in the ranks of the Thousand Sons legion, and interrogated by Malcador, Leman Russ and even his own Primarch. Amon admitted to having no knowledge of the events that conspired. That both legions were being exploited by an unknown foe quickly became the conclusion – and Leman Russ decided to withdraw his stance on verdict against Librarians, claiming that he and Magnus had settled their differences and he understood that not every Librarian should be persecuted for crimes that the Thousand Sons were innocent of.

Pre-Heresy Space Wolves march to war.

This changed the Emperor’s verdict on the Council of Nikea, and as a result – history changed before could take place. As a result of this, the Space Wolves and the Thousand Sons became closer than they had been before the Council, but several other Legions did not share their views on the outcome. The Death Guard, who were anti-pskyers and had been one of the staunchest supports of Leman Russ were furious at his betrayal, Mortarion in particular, and vowed never to fight alongside the Space Wolves Legion again. This created a rift between the two legions which would never be healed.

The Warmaster’s Salvation

Meanwhile, following up an incident on Davin, the Primarch of the Sons of Horus, Horus Lupercal, the Emperor’s favoured son, was wounded in a battle with former friend Eugen Temba, as Temba – although a mere mortal, had been gifted with a daemon-sword known as the Anathame, an xenos weapon which had been stolen from the Interex a few weeks earlier by Erebus, the First Chaplain of the Word Bearers – who was unknowingly a tool of Chaos, having been manipulated by one of his closest friends in the Dark Angels Legion, Chief-Librarian Dantioch, who – like the rest of his Legion, had slowly began to turn to Chaos during all of these events. Erebus had been, using the stolen plans of the Thousand Sons, unwittingly and unknowingly made into a Hidden One. However, unlike the events of history that would have been played out if things hadn’t had changed, the Word Bearers did not succumb to the taint of Chaos – nay, they passed the test of corruption on the world of Monarchia – where they vowed never to view the Emperor as a God again. Instead of undertaking the Pilgrimage, Lorgar sought contact with Magnus the Red, the Primarch of the Thousand Sons, who used his gift of foresight to look into the future, and was informed with a vision of Lorgar betraying everything he stood for on the World of Isstvan V. Lorgar was appalled by the vision that he was shown, and spent the next several years undergoing a process of the worlds he had conquered with his Legion – showing them the errors of their ways, and that the Emperor was not a God as they had initially believed him to be.

Sons of Horus in action before the events on Davin.

However, events on Davin still continued, and Horus was taken to the tribal huts on Davin by Abaddon, Little Horus Aximad, Gavriel Loken and Tarik Torgaddon, the Mournival, under assurance from Erebus that this would cure the Warmaster. Horus held an audience with Erebus in a dream state, where Erebus realised with horror that he was a pawn of Chaos, and killed himself, but not before informing Horus of the Dark Angels treachery and that he had been manipulated by Dantioch into trying to turn Horus traitor. Horus, appalled by Erebus’s sacrifice, knew the truth of this statement and upon recovery, withdrew from Davin and upon finding that the lodges of Davin were home to Chaos cultists, launched a cleansing of the planet with his Sons of Horus, who understood for the first time that an unknown and unprecedented threat was out there, and the galaxy had to be warned.

The Disaster of New Ganymede

Horus intended to draw the Dark Angels into a trap, by luring the Lion and his First Legion to New Ganymede, a large planet near the borders of the Ultramar. Appealing to the Lion’s ego, pretending to believe that the First still remained loyal to the Emperor, he ordered them to take the fight to the rebellious insurgents on New Ganymede. After the Lion had landed, the plan was to launch a devastating blow against his traitor legion and end the Heresy before it could even begin. The Warmaster ordered the Death Guard and the Word Bearers to take the fight to the Dark Angels. The plan had been to join them with the Sons of Horus Legion, but their fleet was trapped in the Davin system due to unnatural Warp storms, and it was only due to a freak occurrence that they managed to get the message out to the Death Guard and the Word Bearers.

Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers, in action at New Ganymede.

Unknowing to the Word Bearers and the Sons of Horus, the only reason why the Death Guard had gone along with the plan to stop the Lion was because they needed to maintain their cover until the right moment to strike, for Mortarion had been dabbling with Chaos in an effort to find some sort of proof that the Emperor was wrong about the verdict of the Council of Nikea, and had fallen for the lies whispered in their ear by the God Nurgle. The final act that convinced the Death Guard to sway their leadership from the Emperor and the Warmaster was that of the fearsome Destroyer Hive launched an invasion of the Death Guard’s fleet during a warp transit, after the geller field had failed. Rather than allow his sons to succumb to the Hive, Mortarion adopted Nurgle, one of the four Chaos Gods as his new master, and cast aside all oaths of loyalty to the Emperor of Man. Allowing the Word Bearers to strike first against the Dark Angels, the treachery of the Death Guard legion was soon revealed to the shocked Word Bearers when they betrayed Lorgar and his allies, crippling the XVII Legion and killing many of the key members of the Legion. Kor Phaeron fell to the blades of Calas Typhon in single combat, fighting back to back with his Primarch. The heroic efforts of Kor Phaeron allowed aid to reach the Word Bearers from orbit, and the legion was forced to retreat to Colchis and lick its wounds. Lorgar was badly wounded by his brother Mortarion, and was forced to be held in a stasis chamber in order to survive, rendering him inactive for the rest of the Heresy. Whilst the Word Bearers had failed to turn against the Emperor, they now could no longer take part in the fight for dominance over the galaxy, with their numbers dramatically reduced and their Primarch incarcerated.


So what did you think? That’s all that I’ve written for now, but Part 2 will follow as soon as I can get it up.


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