THE SERPENT BENEATH by Rob Sanders, from THE PRIMARCHS edited by Christian Dunn
Primarch Omegon of the Alpha Legion initiates ‘Operatus Five-Hydra’ - a mission in which a specialised team of Legionnaires and operatives led by Omegon infiltrate their own Legion, to identify and execute a spy supplying the Imperium with intelligence regarding a powerful weapon bequeathed by the Cabal to the Alpha Legion to further the cause of Warmaster Horus.
Timeline of Events
Sander’s use of the time stamps have been arranged in chronological order, as the detailed planning sessions jumps back and forth in with the Tenebrae action in real time. Ω1 indicates background context for the Tenebrae action, including Ranko’s planning sessions with the infiltration team at the request of Omegon. Ω2 is largely concerned with the Tenebrae action itself, whilst Ω3 shows the formation of the infiltration force prior to the action. It is reasonable to assume the time stamp is marked by day, followed by hour, on a non-Terran standard timeframe. It would be reasonable to assume that Omegon’s set up of the operation took the best part of a year, with the detailed planning session lasting 2 days, the action taking 3 days including the infiltration time, and Omegon’s resolution occurring three and a half months after the installation was destroyed.
On the Upsilon
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω1/-806.44//
Omegon’s conversation with Echion and subsequent requests with Ranko
Phemus IV – Tharsis Heights
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω3/-734.29//
Squad Sigma’s persecution of the White Scars
Drusilla Hive World – Hive Chorona
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω3/-633.19//
Alpha Legion saves Xalmagundi from the Sisters of Silence
San Sabrinus - De Sota City
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω2/-417.85//
‘Omegon’s’ capture of Auguramus
On the Upsilon
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω1/-216.82//
Beginning of detailed planning session
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω1/-215.65//
Detailed planning session with the infiltration team
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω1/-214.77//
Detailed planning session with the infiltration team
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω1/-214.12//
Detailed planning session with the infiltration team
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω2/002.68//
Argolid boarding torpedo enters Demiurg Trojan Asteroid
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω2/003.53/
Infiltration team on the Trojan Asteroid
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω2/004.21//
Infiltration team breaks into Tenebrae installation
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω2/004.66//
‘Omegon’s’ interrogation and execution of Echion
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω2/004.89//
Height of the conflict during the operation, Janic’s counter attack underway
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω2/005.17//
Tenebrae installation action reaches its final phase and resolution
On the Beta
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω1/138.11//
Omegon’s encounter with Alpharius
Operatus Five-Hydra: Elapsed Time Ω1/138.28//
Omegon’s personal reflection of The Third Paradox
Revelations & Questions
- Omegon was not actually present at the Operatus Five-Hydra Tenebrae action;
- ‘Omegon’ was in fact Sheed Ranko, whose stature and physical resemblance to the twin primarchs’ was more pronounced as established in Legion. Ranko’s deception was absolutely convincing to both the Legion and the reader by the ingestion of Omegon’s blood and subsequent assimilation of the twin primarchs’ memories and temporary attributes and abilities through Ranko’s Omophagea;
- The Alpha Legion infiltration unit led by Ranko was a suicide mission. Ranko was asked to make the ultimate sacrifice, and by doing so, knowingly led the infiltration team to their deaths through absolute destruction of the Tenabrae facility by altering its trajectory into the local star;
- Both Librarian Echion and Janic were simply expendable pawns, as were the infiltration team, both of whom were loyal to the Legion and were turned against each other on Omegon’s whim
‘There seems little point in introductions,’ Omegon said. ‘We all know who we are.’
Auguramus seemed vaguely amused. ‘I thought you all called yourselves “Alpharius”,’ he said, his microvox held to his throat.
‘Times change,’ Omegon replied coldly. No one made any further comment.
- This is both a definitive statement that indicates a change in the Legion’s policy regarding their use of anonymity as an offensive tactic. It is unclear whether or not this is a sign of rebellion from those within the Legion who are more sympathetic to Omegon’s goals than they are to Alpharius; or whether it is simply a directive that has come from the twin Primarchs that has become Legion policy after the events presented in Abnett’s Legion
He had tasted remembrance and come to know the secrets of his gene-sire: early days spent by the twins on their distant homeworld, scheming their way to supremacy; the paradoxical horror of the alien Acuity; the gradual realisation of what would be required of each of them in the years still to come…
Ranko had borne the burden of this offering and had done what his primarch had asked of him a thousand times before. He had taken his place. He had acted like, spoken like, all thought like his primarch.
- Another instrumental detail, which both confirms and contradicts earlier mentions of the twin primarchs origin. Common canon states that the primarchs’ homeworld was never ‘publicly revealed’;
- Whom is Ranko ‘remembering’ regarding the twin primarchs ‘scheming their way to supremacy’?
- The ‘gradual realisation’ is probably the single biggest revelation of the Legion’s motives and sets the course for the rest of the Heresy and beyond. Despite the paradoxical nature of the Acuity, the twins are actually in a good position to ideologically perpetuate the each side of the paradox presented to them to their logical conclusion, so long as the goals of the Legion are achieved. In effect, the Legion could feasibly divide and follow both courses of action outlined by the Acuity and hedge their bets on the outcome - thus creating their own agenda that serves both Warmaster Horus, The Emperor, and at the same time, neither.
- Furthermore, it appears that the twin primarchs are aware of this, and Omegon in particular has sown the seeds of a future schism within the Alpha Legion with the Tenebrae action, by lying to his own brother outright regarding the resolution of the ‘problem’
‘I ask nothing of you,’ Ranko told them honestly. Then he repeated, ‘What does your primarch ask of you?’
Setebos and the legionnaires looked at one another. The sergeant nodded.
- This running theme of Legionnaire’s giving the twin primarchs ‘everything’ seems to further indicate the Legion places its loyalty in the goals of the primarchs, over everything else including the Legion itself.
‘We do,’ Alpharius said. ‘Perhaps it’s Malcador, or the Angels of Caliban – somebody has gotten to the Tenebrae installation. We must accept that and move on. We must read the moves ahead of time, and position the fleet to the greatest advantage. Dorn will recall the White Scars, and the Khan’s loyalty is still firm. If the Warmaster is to succeed then we cannot allow the V Legion to reach Terra. Are we in agreement, brother?’
- There is a strong implication that Omegon orchestrated a fictitious leak of information and lied to Alpharius outright to further his own (as yet unknown) agenda. Alpharius simply trusted his twin to resolve the problem, knowing that the destruction of the Tenebrae installation would possibly allow the previously isolated White Scars to re-group and accepts this as foreseen consequence. This singular action has huge implications for the course of the war, as the White Scars became instrumental in Terra’s subsequent defence during the Siege of Terra;
- Why did Omegon choose Sheed Ranko over the other captains? It is established that Ranko bears a more significant bearance to the primarch’s due to his height, but it is implied that Ranko had ingested Omegon’s blood many times before; which means that Ranko would have been aware of Omegon’s conflicting thoughts regarding the future of the Legion;
Whenever he closed his eyes he found the horror of inevitablility waiting for
him – the scalding truths that the Acuity had presented to him and Alpharius.
The Third Paradox...
- What is the Third Paradox? A paradox is seemingly absurd, contradictory statement or proposition that on further investigation holds to be true. It is reasonable to assume that the first two paradoxes are the ones presented by Gahet in Legion:
- The First Paradox: If the Emperor is victorious, stagnation will take hold in the Imperium - over the course of thousands of years Chaos will gradually be allowed to fester in decay and the Primordial Annihilator achieves ascendancy and the galaxy ends.
- The Second Paradox: Should the Warmaster achieve victory, a ‘brief’ century or two of violence will end the human race and the Primordial Annihilator is denied. The races of the galaxy live on due to the destruction of the human race.
- The Third Paradox: The Alpha Legion follows a course of action that engenders the first two paradoxes, and therefore fulfil both and neither simultaneously - The Alpha Legion creates its own agenda, demonstrated further by Omegon’s theft of the corrupted Raven Guard Raptor Gene-tech and rejecting the Cabal’s agenda outright. However, in doing so, a schism forms within the Legion as the twin primarchs’ begin to differ ideologically on which course of action to follow. Ranko is aware of Omegon’s personal conflict on following a course of action that is not unified with Alpharius’. This statement seems to hold true, with this statement in Deliverance Lost:
As they had done so many times before, Alpharius and his Legion had stepped upon a narrow path, playing a part to two opposing sides to achieve a third, more desirable outcome. (Deliverance Lost)
- OR, is the The First Paradox the Acuity’s vision, The Second Paradox that it is possible that Alpha Legion can create a more desirable outcome for themselves by serving both sides at the same time, but by doing so, the Third Paradox is that the Second Paradox can only be achieved by conscientiously splitting apart - with each Primarch pursuing the same goal through different means?
“Beside it, covered by a loose shroud, was his other suit of armour.
To the casual eye, it was plain and unadorned.”
- This is especially interesting. In Legion and Deliverance Lost, we know that Alpharius’ armour looks like that of any other trooper. Omegon, like Alpharius also has access to operational plate that looks like that of a Legionnaire, and also has access to a darkened stealth suit. So what is this? What is the significance of the plain-ness of the armour?
This particular suit of armour was the same as that issued to many of his legionaries, bearing no symbols that would mark out Alpharius as anything other than an ordinary warrior of the Alpha Legion. Painted with several coats of blue over the bare ceramite, it was the third such suit Alpharius had possessed on board the Alpha, though he had others on several different vessels, each identical to this. (Deliverance Lost)
- An early chapter in Deliverance Lost confirms that Alpharius actually owns several operational plate armour. It is implied then the Omegon’s other suit may in fact be a stolen or exact replica of his brother primarch’s armour, for reasons yet unknown. The key phrase is ‘casual eye’. Legion used a device to differentiate between Legionnaires who looked the same through careful analysis through trans-human or highly trained visual appraisal. Omegon’s plain and unadorned armour implies that it looks like any of the battle plate that his twin would use, and only a trans-human inspection would reveal its significance.
‘Let him see the fallen fruit, sitting warm and inviting in the afternoon sun,’ Omegon whispered to the empty battle plate. ‘And let me be the serpent beneath. Hidden and waiting to strike.’
- To whom is Omegon referring to with ‘him’? Alpharius?