I like writing stuff for primarchs. This was originally written as part of a longer piece but I felt it was worth plucking out and letting stand on its own. The better part of it was written before the last couple Heresy books came out, so it contradicts a few things here and there, but what the hell.
Warhammer: The Horus Heresy
The Walls of Terra
An arboretum became a landing pad.
A terrace, a gun deck.
A recieving hall, a comm-station.
A museum of stonework art, an ammunition depot.
It was the single most monumental engineering project ever to be undertaken on the surface of Terra. Backed by every industrial engine and supply line they could muster, the force of a full Legion had descended to the soil with the single-minded task of readying the entire planet for what was certain to be the deciding siege in the history of mankind.
Forests disappeared. Cities were evacuated and rebuilt, reshaped into kill-zones for distant Titans. Mountains became winding deathtraps of switchbacks and pillboxes. The Imperial Palace, already a fortress on a scale unimagined, became thickened further by the additions of buttresses, kill-rooms and gun towers. Doors were sealed forever, entire rooms filled with stone and liquid metal to render them a part of forty-foot-thick walls that could shug off an earthshaker round.
From the hall that had become his nerve center, Rogal Dorn watched as the Imperial Fists reshaped Terra for the second time, transforming the jewel of the Imperium into a grim and watchful bastion-world. He had no time to reflect upon this act, although it weighed heavily upon him, for his days and nights alike were filled with the ordering of this or that defense, demanding reports, co-ordinating this or that aspect of Terra's defense network.
It was siege warfare on a scale even Dorn had scarce experienced, and the number of details to be overseen challenged even a primarch to keep track of them all.
The Blood Angels were racing homewards with all the strength they had salvaged from the debacle in the Signus Cluster.
Battlefleet Terra watched the war exploding on the surface of Mars, and cyclonic torpedoes sat quietly in their tubes, waiting for the moment the traitors' grip on the red planet became too strong.
Malcador the Sigillite rushed to and fro, updating Dorn on a dozen projects of his own, including the survivors of Isstvan and the Officio Assassinorum.
Leman Russ reported the destruction of Prospero and the death of Magnus the Red, and for one moment the infamously unflappable Rogal Dorn allowed his patience to fail him, crushing in one hand the message tube that bore the news.
Entire galleries of art and history were being erased by his efforts on Terra, Mars had lost the better part of its own data repositories, and now his brother had ensured that the extensive libraries of Prospero were gone too. Much more of this and humanity would have scant history to remember.
If they survived the treachery of his other brother, of course.
Rogal Dorn was brooding upon this very subject late one evening as a voice called his name. The primarch of the Imperial Fists was all but alone in the hall - a place that, he had been told, had once been situated in southern Franc and had been transplanted to the highest terraces of the palace where it now sat.
It was a high-ceilinged hall with many great windows along the sides that looked out upon what was currently the starry night and the bright glow of Luna in the western skies. Fires burned in baziers along the many pillars that lit up the place's gilding and the pale walls to render it nearly bright as day.
The place had become one of Dorn's nerve centers owing to the landing pad not far from its great doors and the fact that its positioning made it easily accessed by couriers bearing reports from all over the globe. In time it would have to be vacated, for it was too fragile a place for war, and Dorn was distantly sorrowful with the knowledge that win or lose, the hall would likely not survive the coming battle.
But for now he was distracted from that thought as his newest visitor's boots rang against the floor, casting a pall over the room as those present - a few men of Dorn's Legion, along with a number of figures who waited for him to recieve their messages - waited and watched to see what transpired next. The man was tall, one of very few men indeed tall enough to look Dorn in the eye. His bearing was regal, bordering on arrogant. His great beard and tail of hair swayed gently as he moved, brushing across the surface of his ivory armor. Dorn rose to greet the man with a nod of welcoming. "Khan," he said softly.
Jaghatai had a way about him, Dorn had long ago noticed, that was almost theatrical. As he watched the Primarch of the V Legion, the thought was reminded to him by the way the Lord of Chogris walked - heel to toe as did any person, but with a slow deliberation that suggested Jaghatai had made an art out of the mundane act. More so were the words that Rogal Dorn had settled upon long ago. Where an average man walked, the Khan strode. Where a man talked, the Khan spoke. Where others put his mannerisms down to arrogance, Rogal Dorn understood that what he saw was in truth practice and polish - Jaghatai wanted others to know the effort he had poured into becoming the man they saw and followed.
Jaghatai stopped an arm's length from his brother and lifted his chin before speaking. More so, thought Rogal, and for the first time in weeks he was tempted to smile. "It is good to look upon you once more, brother, tho' I would have asked for any circumstance but these to do so," Jaghatai said. The Khan's voice filled the hall without effort, his clipped tonation rendering consonants short and harsh, making him sound severe no matter the discussion. More so.
"Likewise, brother," Dorn replied, lifting his hand and moving to take Jaghatai's arm in the hand-to-forearm grip favored by the Khan. Jaghatai nodded once, the motion choppy, but for a brief moment Rogal sensed his brother's pleasure that he had remembered.
"My man has told me that you wish my Legion to join your own upon the walls of Terra," Jaghatai said as they released one another.
"Yes," Dorn replies, gesturing to the table beside him. The wooden surface was all but vanished beneath piles upon piles of maps and pinned descriptions of this or that line of defense. "Between the Blood Angels, the White Scars, and the Fists, we'll have enough to-"
But the Khan was shaking his head, and his face was lined as if in sorrow. "This will not be," he said, his tone leaden.
"No?" Dorn asked, lifting one brow in surprise.
"Rogal," Jaghatai said, reaching out with slow deliberation to place one hand lightly upon Dorn's shoulder. "You are one who knows the strength of my Legion. You are one who knows our stength is not in walls."
"I do know, brother," Dorn replied, keeping his own voice down despite his frustration. Day in and day out, a thousand reasons why this or that could not be done, and now even his brother protested against his will. "But I need your Legion to stand with mine-"
"Rogal, no," Jaghatai interrupted once more. "Listen now to me. You stand undisputed the master of defenses. I challenge you not there. But I say to you that when our former brother comes to Terra the strength of my Legion will serve you best outside your walls."
"Outside?" Rogal prompted.
Jaghatai Khan turned to face the map table, pointing deliberately at the starports to the east. "Horus is unsubtle. You know this well. He is overfond of the spearthrust. He will favor the fastest route to land, to disembark his troops and to siege the palace immediately."
"I agree," Dorn said with a grimace, beginning to see where the Khan was going and not liking it one bit.
"When the hammer of the traitors falls upon the palace, my Legion will not stand with yours, tho' I would wish it so in the beat of a heart," Jaghatai said. "Instead we shall secrete ourselves here, and here, and here. When the traitors have turned to face the walls we shall fall upon their backs, and you shall see their fury lessened as they realize that to bring siege upon Terra means to truly bring siege upon Terra, and not only the Palace."
"You're taking a terrible risk, Jaghatai," Dorn said softly, using his brother's given name. "Your entire Legion could be destroyed."
The Khan lifted his chin at the sound of his name, but then he nodded at Dorn's point. "This I know, Rogal. All warfare is to risk. My sons and I accept this risk in the knowing that should we succeed the force of the traitors will be much lessened. Rogal," he continued in a softer tone. "This I ask of you. Permit my sons and I to seek battle as we know it, and should we die, so die upon the plains as we wish."
Dorn was silent for long moments following his brother's request. His natural instincts told him to force the Khan into line, to show him the strength of his preparations, to prove the superiority of his own methods. However, the Khan's request had struck a chord with the master of the Imperial Fists, and the knowledge that Jaghatai had indeed made it a request rather than a demand heartened him. In a motion slow and deliberate, he nodded once. "Very well, brother," he said. "I shall endevour to keep in contact with you for as long as possible."
Jaghatai nodded once, as if Dorn's reaction were a matter of course. "This I know, my brother, and should fate so favor it I shall do the same."
"There's no such thing as fate," Dorn replied automatically, and he saw the corner of his brother's mouth turn upwards even as he knew he had been baited.
"Fight well, Rogal," Jaghatai said with a clap of steel as he slapped Dorn's shoulder and turned to begin making his way back down the length of the hall. Dorn was just returning to his seat when the Khan stopped, halfway to the doors, and spun on one heel. "Rogal," he called out.
"Yes?" Dorn said, looking sharply upwards.
"It should have been you," the Khan said, as if that explained everything. As his brother's brow furrowed, he clarified - "it should have been you the Emperor named successor."
There was murmuring in the hall and Dorn felt momentarily discombobulated. "Jaghatai, this is no time-"
"You are resolute where Horus was insistant," Jaghatai said over him. "You are patient, where he was impetuous. You seek no renown, only surety. You weigh and listen, where he dictated." The Khan of the White Scars drew himself up, lifting a hand to shoulder-height with two fingers extended. "Under Horus' direction I chafed, but to fight for you, Rogal Dorn, I am pleased."
Without waiting for reply, the Primarch of the V Legion snapped himself around, tail of hair billowing like a war banner as he strode out of the hall, leaving the nonplussed Dorn behind him.