The term is used by the heretical to refer to a mythical 20th Legion. It is nonsensical name, which proves it is a false story, since true priests of the Adeptus Ministorum would know 'alpha' is an ancient term meaning "first". But any such 20th Legion would have been the last to be discovered before the Horus Heresy. 'Alpha' is an old word meaning 'A' so the name Alpha Legion translates into 'A Legion' (heretic falsehoods are rarely original).
No such legion exists, nor has it ever existed. The remainder of this page is intentionally left blank. There is no need for you to read further, and if you feel any urges to read beyond this paragraph or if you have any suspicion that there is any text following, please consult your local Commissar or Chaplain for re-education.
Now that we've got that out of the way...
|Alpha Legion... we think.|
|Battle Cry||"Hydra Dominatus", "I am Alpharius!.", or "For the Emperor!"... probably. this and sometimes this|
|Number||XX, as far as we know...|
|Primarch||Alpharius. Or Omegon. Or both, maybe neither.|
|Specialty||Covert espionage and infiltration, information warfare, mass use of cultists...probably|
|Colours||Dark blue, sometimes, often with green ornamentation. Possibly both, unless neither.|
"Such are we that in this art of war are like unto serpents, to lie out of sight, to strike swift, to carry such poison in our mouths that men fear to tread where we may lie."
- – Anonymous, quoted by the Emperor
"I'm confused. Really, really confused."
- – Adam Gilchrist, possibly
"What is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it."
- – Salvador Dalí, or so they say
"If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself."
- – George Orwell, maybe
"Hail Hydra! Immortal Hydra! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off a limb and two more shall take its place! We serve the Master, as the world shall soon serve us! Hail Hydra!"
- – Alpha Legi-wait a minute!
The Alpha Legion (allegedly known as the Chaos Reasonable Marines) are basically what would happen if you gave the CIA from the 1950s onwards a Space Marine legion and told them to go nuts. They are the 20th and last Legion of the Adeptus Astartes from the Great Crusade, and were the last to find their Primarch, Alpharius. In part, this is because Horus was the first to find him, and kept him hidden from the Emperor and everyone else for some time. In retrospect, it probably should have been obvious that he was going to go full Chaos.
The Alpha Legion's BIG SECRET is, as you probably know, the fact that their "one" Primarch is actually two guys, the twins Alpharius and Omegon. Since the Emperor made all of the Primarchs, it's unclear how this would be a secret; surely he'd know that he made twenty-one Primarchs, not twenty. Right?
As you are about to realize, we know absolutely nothing about the Alpha Legion or their members. Sure, there are a lot of sources with information about them around, but none of this is solid and, as we know that the Alpha Legion are sneaky as fuck, and are properly getting their shit done without anyone noticing it.
As with most lore, the Alpha Legion's name comes from religion. The two Primarchs, Alpharius and Omegon, represent the line Jesus said in Revelation 22:13: "I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." But as Omegon is meant to be a secret, the legion is named after Alpharius. If Omegon was to be the face rather than the secret, the Legion could possibly have been called the Omega Legion. Or in other words the "last" legion which conforms to your "needing sense in a name" thing.
Adherents to the stories of this Legion make addle-minded claims that prove their insincerity, such as: all marines in this legion were surgically altered to look identical to their Primarch; that the Emperor himself gave this Primarch command over campaign forces above that of the Lord Commander of the Imperial Army; even power fantasies such as the existence of more than one Primarch in this Legion; and other tall tales that defy belief. Most heretical of all is the claims that these Primarchs betrayed his holiness the Emperor of Mankind willingly without being corrupted by Chaos, which conveniently excuses their absence from the Eye of Terror and thus any observable evidence of their betrayal with the other traitor Legions.
It has also been suggested that the Legion, their Primarch, and their symbol may be based on the star Alphard, in the constellation of Hydra. What's more, Alphard means "the solitary one", but it has a much dimmer star "hidden" behind it. If this was intended, considering that "Alpha Legion", "Alpharius" and the hydra motif have been around for a lot longer than Omegon has, it means that Games Workshop has been playing a very, very long game. Meta.
The Documented "Truth"
Apparently, the naming of the Alpha Legion refers to the fact that it actually has no name. In Horus Heresy III: Extermination it goes to great lengths to explain the early history of the Alpha Legion and how it contrasts to other more well-known Legions. It seems that the Primarch either kept the name to be deliberately ironic, deeply meaningful in the sense that "Alpha" can also mean "Supreme" or the early title of "Alpha" just stuck.
All Legions after the First were put through a series of tests and trials by the Emperor before general release into the Great Crusade. Quite literally (and un-ironically) an "Alpha Test" where the Legion would only consist of 1,000-2,000 Astartes to see how they would perform their intended function, which was pre-determined by the Emperor before their creation.
The XXth Legion (XX = double cross. Look up Twenty Committee for speculations) however was never publicly released or announced by the Imperium, though the initial tests proved positive, it never progressed past this initial stage and remained an "Alpha" Legion. Leading some to question whether the XXth Legion were actually intended for a much darker purpose and were intentionally kept concealed by the Emperor.
For the first 40 years of the Great Crusade, the few warriors of the XXth were a "Ghost Legion" who would act in obscure warzones isolated from the other Legions yet would sometimes act under the heraldry of a different legion, or no legion at all. They performed dubious tasks such as assassination, kidnapping, artifact retrieval, escorts, and other clandestine support roles. It may not be coincidental that these tasks were assigned to the Legion whose number could be represented as a double cross, which also figures prominently in their iconography. These roles would later be taken by the Custodians, Officio Assassinorum and Sororitas Inconcessus, causing the XXth to fall into myth and stagnation. It was only with the discovery of the Primarch Alpharius (which still might not even be his true name) which allowed the Ghost Legion to resurface nearly 160 years later and become a true Legion in its own right, seemingly springing up from nowhere with a full (and rapidly expanding) force of 10,000 Astartes and a battle-ready fleet.
There are extremely persistent and consistent rumors that the most blessed Blood Ravens chapter of the holy Adeptus Astartes led by Chapter Master Gabriel Angelos and assisted by the Librarian Isador Akios, the PDF and Imperial Guard led by Inquisitor Mordecai Toth, and the Eldar of Craftworld Biel-tan led by Farseer Macha, fought the mythical Alpha Legion led by Chaos Lord Bale and Chaos Sorcerer Sindri Myr and an Orkish Waaagh! led by the Warboss Orkamungus on the planet Tartarus (what a lovely name for a planet). Attempting to accuse the Blood Ravens of Heresy for spreading lies about fictional legions has universally ended in failure. The same applies to the Legion's alleged involvement in the events surrounding the Exterminatus of Typhon and Azariah Kyras' (almost) ascension to Daemonhood. We're not even going to mention the Metal Boxes incident in the Kaurava System... Also any relation between the Alpha legion and Tzeentch dogma is purely coincidental. But everyone agrees they are space terrorists, and probably al-Qaeda with a grimdark-startrek-feel.
Here are some of the things that we know about them:
- Do not talk about the Alpha Legion
- Do NOT talk about the Alpha Legion.
- The Alpha legion never existed.
- The Alpha legion is the only real Warhammer 40,000 force, the rest are operatives dressed up.
- Alpharius was not killed. Rawbutt Jellyman was the one who died, and Alpharius disguised himself as him. Which means that he now leads the Imperium.
- +++Records Expunged+++
In all seriousness, we really, honestly DON'T have any clue what the fuck is up with the Alpha Legion because Games Workshop gives them so little fluff compared to the rest of the Traitor Legions (possibly on purpose given that part of their schtick is how mysterious they are), and even those few things we know might be misinformation.
With the release of Forge World's 3rd Horus Heresy book, Extermination, as well as several Black Library short stories and novellas, there are a few confirmed events that the Alpha Legion took part in, for a given definition of "confirmed". They consistently show that when the Alpha Legion is involved, even if they're ostensibly "allies", whether you're a loyalist, traitor, a secret society of aliens ostensibly trying to destroy Chaos (by arranging the destruction of the only being and species Chaos fears and can be destroyed by), or Alpharius himself, they're going to find a way to screw with you.
Finally, if we take Dawn of War to be canon (and Games Workshop certainly does) then we can infer that the Alpha Legion is probably just as splintered and broken up as the eight outright-traitor legions, with some of the sub-groups running off to embrace Chaos outright. Honestly this is not all that surprising if you take into consideration GeeDub's stance on character motivation and adaptability.
Hell, even when they have recently became their own class in the Black Crusade supplement Tome of Fate,, the information provided is still somewhat vague and just stuff we already know. What it did reveal though, was that groups of Alpha Legionnaires are seldom seen together. Many are independent operatives working on extended reconnaissance missions sent by some higher up, insurgents waging a one-man guerrilla war, or trying to achieve a personal objective known only to them. Some are even seen amongst "the Severed"; a group of Chaos Marines forcibly exiled from their Legions.
Even when by themselves, many often gather a loyal cult of followers who try to help them in their goal. Alpha Legionnaires are more often than not the orchestrator behind Chaos cults and rebellions who fester within Imperial hives. They may not even pose as Marines, as Tome of Fate mentions that they have an unusual and legendary ability to disguise themselves as xenos, mutants, or even loyalists (maybe they are already loyalists, depending on who you ask). If one thinks about it, a terrifying possibility arises; that they have somehow acquired the transformative technologies of the Callidus assassins. They frequently travel in and out of the Eye of Terror, setting up decoys, assassinations, and propaganda within Imperial space.
To put it simply there are about as many different categories of Alpha Legion motives as you can think of. Here are just a few.
- Those who are actually still loyal and aid the Imperium as best it can in sneaky, inscrutable ways.
- Those who are nominally loyal and uncorrupted but still carrying out their Primarch's/Cabal's plan to make the Imperium lose.
- Those who have embraced Chaos to bring about the other version of the above plan.
- Those who have embraced Chaos in a misguided effort to bring about the original version of the above plan.
- Those who have embraced Chaos and are just doing their own thing. Sindri Myr comes to mind.
- Those who are loyal only to the distant memory and legacy of their Primarch (either one) and Legion and act in whatever way they think best preserves that legacy.
- Those who are loyal to the Emperor but deeply oppose the current state of the Imperium.
- Those who are loyal to the Emperor and think that by destroying the weakest parts of the Imperium they strengthen the Imperium as a whole. Occam the Untrue specifically believes this in Sons of the Hydra.
- Those who care only about the survival of their warband and brothers, even if they venerate Chaos/The Emperor/The Primarchs/etc. Kassar from Shroud of Night falls in this category.
- Those who do their own thing, just in general.
- Those loyal to their own conception of the Alpha Legion. Whatever the hell that entails. Which is most of them.
- Those who are motivated by their hatred for something in specific, usually Guilliman. Quetzal Carthach from The Long Games at Carcharias and Sons of the Hydra just really fucking hates Ultramarines, allegedly because he was at Eskrador when Guilliman killed “Alpharius”.
- About a million other things.
- Fuck knows.
During the Great Crusade the Ultramarines had a proverb: "Information is victory." What they meant to say is, "If you know an opponent, you can defeat them." The Alpha Legion took this doctrine and turned it up to eleven: why focus only on the intel you have? An enemy that doesn't know you (or better has nothing but carefully crafted disinformation about you) is doomed. That's pretty much what their strategy revolves around: fucking with their opponent's mind. Since then no one knows anything for certain about them. If you think you know more, start worrying: this means Alpha Legion is messing with your mind right now. That's why the Ultramarines and Alpha Legion absolutely despised each other during the Horus Heresy, as their battle doctrines antagonized each other.
Notable examples (allegedly) include:
- Making everyone believe their primarch was killed by Rowboat Gyrlyman, despite even Ultramarines have no records about it.
- Leaking their attack plans to the subsector governor, so he strips nearby planets of garrisons to reinforce his defense, and then attacking those weakened nearby planets.
- Hypno-indoctrinating natives of space marine recruiting world with a trigger switch, and then turning the unwittingly brainwashed marines on their brothers when the Alpha Legion attacked their fortress-monastery after arranging the Chapter in question to suffer a series of "accidents" that left them badly undermanned.
- Conquering hundreds of planets during Horus Heresy with a single agent planting rumors of the Warmaster's advance, and causing civil wars and rebellions of people trying to plead their allegiance to Horus only to make sure he doesn't nuke their homes upon arriving. Did I mention all these were made by a single fucking person who wasn't even a full-fledged marine?
- Plotting and executing the Night of Thousand Rebellions, that effectively severed Segmentum Pacificus away from the Imperium, leaving it at the mercy of Chaos. Yeah, you heard it right - entire segmentum, and while it is the smallest one, it's still like 15% of the Imperium.
- Adopting the battle cries of their enemies. Yelling "For The Emperor!" before you charge will cause any true loyalist opponent to hesitate - usually fatal*BLAM*
These stories are obvious and self-contradictory falsehoods, trash that pollutes the minds of the faithful. We apologize for any discomfort this wiki article may have caused you -- speak to your local Chaplain or Commissar if you require counseling. If you witness anyone spreading these harmful lies about a 20th Legion, immediately report the heretic to your local representative of the Inquisition or to your unit's commissar. If you happen to be the commissar and you witness yourself spreading these rumors, please report yourself to your bolt pistol.
So to sum it up, they are in the top league of Warhammer 40k universe, fighting when and where they want to achieve great goals with very limited forces, much like Eldar and Thousand Sons except with less smugness and arrogance. Also, while Eldar and TS rely on extremely complicated plans that either excel brilliantly or fail horribly, Alpha Legion plans, on the other hand, are mostly simple at their core, but extremely well planned, with multiple back-up plans, and are executed equally as stellar, so even if they are not successful (which happened multiple times, especially when they fought against equally smart or unpredictable opponents) they rarely suffer much from their defeats. It helps that their intelligence often excels at feeding completely inaccurate intel to their opponents. For example, their grand operation against the Raven Guard during the Heresy failed at the final stage with their undercover agents being compromised, and their back up plan of direct assault with their Mechanicum allies also failed, but due to extensive planning and a second fall back plan they still managed to steal the gene-codex and clear all the loose ends that could bite them in their asses later.
The Alpha Legion is basically an army of James Bond clones, like some unholy combination of the Taliban, CIA, and American MACV-SOG. No, really, that is how they fought. They were known for popping out of freaking nowhere and curbstomping the shit out of the enemy at the best possible moment (or worst, depending on whose side you were on). The Alpha Legion was also known to have a training doctrine that actually matches the idea of a super-soldier. That is, they trained all their marines in how to use all their equipment and weapons instead of picking out individuals to be trained as specialists while not bothering to educate the others on the subject beyond the basics. Every Alpha Legionnaire was a fully capable Assault Marine, Devastator, Fast Attack (like speeders and bikes, etc.), leader (hence, the hydra, because you couldn't decapitate their command structure, someone equally competent would take the leaders' places), trained in the use of Terminator armor, masters of stealth and psychology, actually used their serfs for more than spit-shining their boots, and did all of this while keeping each of their marines fully capable of matching a specialist from another Legion. This meant that the Alpha Legion was capable of having as many, or as few, specialist marines and vehicles as they wished to best complete any given mission at any time, tailored to each mission. Of course, that could all have been a trick, too... They also had specialized kill-teams used to sow chaos through the enemy during the Heresy and the Crusade. These so-called Headhunters had these awesome combo-bolters with two barrels. Omegon supposedly led the Alpha Legion's black-ops division, no one really knows who is who, though, so just consider "Alpharius" and "Omegon" to basically be titles, your head will hurt less. Yes, even they have special forces.
Another interesting bit of their tactics is heavy focus on team play. Alpha legion squads move, fight and think as one, and are trained to quickly adapt to new squads. There is no "battle brotherhood" bullshit in this - just a simple extensive training and lack of typical Chaos Space Marine hubris, jealousy and occasional backstabbing. It goes so far that Alpha Legion initiation trials are passed by squads rather than individual aspirants like in other loyalist chapters or chaos warbands, so you either get to play as a team or do not play at all (likely being killed if your squad fails the trial).
Their devotion to Chaos is not entirely concrete, either. Alpharius himself never turned to Chaos, only following Horus into the Heresy as he saw it as the best outcome. Of course some Alpha Legion members like Sindri Myr are balls-to-the-wall Chaos worshippers but they are a radical minority. Most may see Chaos as a means to an end, using it simply to advance whatever goals they have. Their devotion can depend entirely on the place and the time. Some may loathe it while others are zealous in their belief. In terms of Chaos worship the Alpha Legion is one of the more diverse, some theories even claiming that some operatives within the Legion are in fact closet loyalists seeking to protect humanity and stop Chaos.
To make it even more interesting/confusing, what is considered a Legion of Space Marines, was in reality more of a combined effort. More than any other Legion, they recruited outside the Legion for roles besides Astartes, or even agents. They were really, more accurately, a moving society. This trend only seems to have accelerated since the Heresy. No one knows how many regular human soldiers they have, but if their Cultist numbers are anything to go by, the Alpha Legion likely has whole Imperial Guard regiment-strength armies integrated within. That and the fact they don't even hang out in the Eye of Terror or have a recruiting planet and yet seem to only grow indicates that they have a normally functioning society. At this rate, they'll start looking like the Twilight's Hammer Clan from Warcraft, but it doesn't matter. The GOAL remains!...what that goal is, no one knows.
Hopefully during the final battle at Holy Terra that will no doubt happen eventually, the Alpha Legion guns down the traitors with infiltrators amongst the Chaos Marines and then comes down on them like a tidal wave of ceramite, having secretly been building up their numbers constantly for the past ten thousand years specifically to sweep away all of the Imperium's enemies in one fell swoop galaxy-wide. One interesting possibility is even that most (or at least disturbingly many) Chaos Space Marines may secretly be Alpha Legionnaires waiting for the moment to strike. This becomes a lot more likely when one considers Alpharius may be his legion. Literally. When the Marines say "I am Alpharius", the might be speaking with complete honesty. If this scenario will unironically happen, this would perhaps be a biggest prank to ever devastate chaos. We may even see spectral image of Emperor pointing his finger at chaos gods and maniacally laughing at them.
Despite their rivalry with the Ultramarines, their closest comparison among the loyalists is actually with the Dark Angels, the first of the space marines just as they are the last. The Alpha Legion mirrors the Dark Angels' uncertain and often confusing loyalties from the other side of the fence. Both have unusual and enigmatic ties to xenos artifacts or beings. Both are heavily involved in "shadow warfare", which goes beyond simply being stealthy like the Raven Guard but also involves seeking advantages in war outside of the battlefield and inside the realm of information, production, communication and subterfuge. Both are completely cloistered in secrecy to the point that virtually none of their allies really know them. Both of their primarchs were noted to be especially ingenius in the field of military planning.
But they're a mirror, not a clone. The Dark Angels' loyalties are born of an unplanned for (we think) schism that is actually rather more complicated than "the Fallen all embraced Chaos", while the Alpha Legion's mysterious loyalties at least generally seem to be something they planned for. The Dark Angels seem to willingly embrace their ties to the Watchers while the Alpha Legion outlived the Cabal and thought very little of their eventual destruction. The Lion favoured using his intellect to arrive at the plan that would offer the most direct route to triumph with the least chance of complication while still delivering maximum results while Alpharius liked to show off and made his schemes as elaborate as possible to whip his intellectual dick out and invite everyone to gaze upon it in awe.
Daily Routines of the Alpha Legion
04:00 - The Alpha Legionnaires emerge from their - ++Information confiscated by orders of his majesty's most Holy Inquisition++
04:20 - The Alpha Legionnaires settle down to pray to ++Information confiscated by orders of his majesty's most Holy Inquisition++
05:00 - ++Information confiscated by orders of his majesty's most Holy Inquisition++ - causing much confusion among their serfs.
06:00 - Morning Firing Rites. The Alp- ++Information confiscated by orders of his majesty's most Holy Inquisition++ - the serfs are still left largely bewildered.
10:00 - Covert Sabotage. The Alpha Legion practice their covert warfare. Serfs are still confused on which is which.
14:00 - Tactical Indoctrination. The Alpha Legion are tasked on which pla- ++Information confiscated by orders of his majesty's most Holy Inquisition++
15:00 - Daily Facial Surgery. The Alpha Legion undergo daily surgery to continue to look like their Primarch.
17:00 - Eveni- ++Information confiscated by orders of his majesty's most Holy Inquisition++ -ge, that and the serfs are still confused.
18:00 - Covert Sabotage and something involving ++Information confiscated by orders of his majesty's most Holy Inquisition++ .
22:00 - Evening
Malal Meal. A feast is prepared by the serfs who are still nervous on which Alpha Legionnaire is which as they try their hardest on picking the correct one, especially when it comes to dietary requirements.
23:00 - ++Information confiscated by orders of his majesty's most Holy Inquisition++
24:00 - The Alpha Legionnaires goes back to sleep in thei- ++Information confiscated by orders of his majesty's most Holy Inquisition++
++By order of the Ordo Herecticus, this entire section has been placed under firm observation. Any changes to the above text are subject to heresy. You anons keep away++
Guilliman changes his mind?
"Vanguard Space Marines" have been previewed for the Shadowspear box, and it sounds pretty much exactly like Ultrasmurfs getting their Alpha Legion on (aside from being still definitely loyal, and probably using less sleeper agents). Perhaps the Ultrasmurfs are indeed growing beyond their infamous Codex-adherence...