For everyone who has read to the end: thanks very much for indulging my ramblings! I hope it has been enjoyable to some level. There is one final Epilogue chapter to this morose tale, but as of yet I'm not sure which form it's going to come in, so I'll be signing off this for now. Below if the final interlude, which covers in a less personal manner the entirety of the Poriphon War - I also plan to go through and update the other interlude articles with more up-to-date info. Catch you around!
(If anyone can do me some table-fu I'd be most incredibly grateful)
INTERLUDE 5: The Poriphon War.
The Poriphon War took place from 992-993.M41 across the Poriphon sector between the Imperium and a splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Kraken, dubbed Hive Fleet Vritra. The war resulted in a pyrrhic Imperial victory, with Hive Fleet Vritra consuming three worlds in the Poriphon sector and nearly annihilating the Knights Vindicant Chapter of Space Marines before it was finally destroyed.
Following the appearance of Hive Fleet Kraken, the Knights Vindicant moved in 992.M41 to reinforce the Lamenters and Scythes of the Emperor Chapters in slowing the advance of the Hive Fleet. The Knights Vindicant were on route to Sotha when, resupplying in the frontier system of Poriphon (in the Barus sector on the distant edges of the Ultima Segmentum), a splinter of Hive Fleet Kraken within the system boundaries.
Dubbed Hive Fleet Vritra, the Tyranids had almost finished devouring the outer two planets of the six-planet system before they were detected. Chapter Master Molon led the majority of his fleet to the edges of the system, hoping to exterminate the bio-ships of the Hive Fleet from space whilst the bulk of the Tyranids forces were planetside. Launching an attack on the undefended Hive Ships in orbit over the planet of Demros, Molon planned to cut of the head of the beast before delivering the killing blow to the Tyranids below. This opportunity was, however, a trap; in a seemingly brazen ploy, the Tyranids had left the Hive Ships as high-value bait, whilst circling most of their fleet around a nearby moon. Surrounding Molon's fleet, the Knights Vindicant lost the Battle Barge Reclaimer and three Strike Cruisers (the Cataphract, the Sky Lance, and the Golden Seneschal) before they managed to withdraw to the inner reaches of the system.
The next planet in the path of Hive Fleet Vritra was the Hive World of Heral, home to the Heralic Mechanised Legions. Four regiments of the Heralic Mechanised Legion were currently stationed on Heral: the 70th and 212th Armoured Infantry, the 111th Siege Regiment, and the 203rd Tank Company. An Imperial Navy patrol had also entered the system; consisting of Lunar Class Cruiser Imperatous and the Gothic Class Cruiser Unbowed, they quickly linked up with the few ships of the local Systems Defense Force and the remaining Knights Vindicant fleet over Ymirica. Chapter Master Molon sent the 3rd Company under Captain Indrus Baeloc, with support from the the 6th and 9th Companies, to reinforce the Heralic Mechanised Legion regiments stationed on Heral in a stalling action. Meanwhile, the 5th and 7th companies were dispatched in force to Talacra Prime, the one major city on the Ocean World Talacra; whilst the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 8th and 10th companies of the Chapter fortified the undefended Agri-World Ymirica. Chapter Master Molon was challenged over these deployments by Captain Crucius of the 1st Company as well as Captain Baeloc, who argued that the Chapter should be concentrating its efforts on Heral, the more strategically valuable planet; Molon overruled his objections, stating that the planet already had four regiments of Imperial Guard stationed there, and that should the populations be evacuated of civilians Ymirica would hold more value to Hive Fleet Vritra than Heral as an Agri-World, therefore having a significantly larger amount of biomass for the fleet to absorb.
The Siege of Heral.
The outbreak of the Poriphon War had resulted in a mass hysteria on Heral before Hive Fleet Vritra had even reached the planet. Civilians rushed to the various Spaceports to get off-world and evacuate the system. The 212th Heralic Armoured Infantry struggled to maintain order at Fort Carancus, the largest Spaceport of the planet, with numerous riots breaking out in the surrounding areas. Colonel Garlon did his best to organise the masses flooding the Spaceport, but with the sheer number of people trying to force their way to the shuttles, it was a near-impossible to maintain just some semblance of order. After an incident at nearby Fort Rathan led to the deaths of two whole platoons of the 111th at the hands of frenzied rioters, Colonel Garlon made the decision for his regiment to stand down and not risk themselves trying to organise the mob; they would only protect the military assets of the fort. Whilst this led to widespread rioting in the areas around Fort Carancus, Garlon judged that the lives of the 212th would be far too valuable in the coming days.
Order was finally restored to Fort Carancus with the arrival of three companies of the Knights Vindicant, led by Captain Baeloc of the 3rd Company. The local population were, for the most part, too fearful of crossing the Space Marines to disobey their orders. Those that were stupid enough to try were swiftly executed. Captain Baeloc commended Colonel Garlon for his sound reasoning in not wasting his men on fighting rioters and looters; the two instantly set to planning on how to hold Hive Fleet Vritra on the planet for as long as possible. With the arrival of the other three Heralic regiments to Fort Carancus on orders from Captain Baeloc, the Imperial forces fortified the area around Fort Carancus in three lines of defences, and erected a large shield-dome over the Fort and surrounding areas. Above them, the Imperatous and the Unbowed prepared to defend the refugee vessels and escort them out of the system; a tall order, given that the Imperials had been unable to summon reinforcements due to the interference of the Hive Mind.
When Hive Fleet Vritra landed on the world, the Knights Vindicant under Captain Baeloc and the Armoured Infantry of the 212th Heralic fought an organised retreat, conducting precision counter-attacks on the advancing Tyranid horde where they could isolate and destroy the larger synapse creatures. With the aid of Colonel Garlon's men, they slowed and confused the Tyranid horde, leading to an uneven advance on Fort Carancus. When the Tyranids reached Fort Carancus, they were disjointed, and the heavily fortified line of defenders easily repulsed the first few attacks before the bulk of the Tyranid force arrived.
Meanwhile, in space, the Imperatous and the Unbowed fought alongside the SDF ships in a prolonged rearguard action against the Tyranid bio-ships. However, they were quickly outflanked by the far more numerous bio-ships of Hive Fleet Vritra; the Imperatous was overwhelmed and destroyed, and the Unbowed suffered severe damage, necessitating a retreat. The SDF ships fell shortly after, and many of the undefended refugee ships were annihilated, escape from Heral becoming impossible.
On Ymirica, Chapter Master Molon mustered most of the Chapter. A world of vast fields of crops interspersed with large cities, Ymirica was the only world in the system of much value other than Heral. The Knights Vindicant were called on the combat a Genestealer cult in the capital city, Arban, but other than that one incident Ymirica remained largely untouched throughout 992.M41.
The Terrible Vow.
The Battle for Heral had dragged on into 993.M41 before Hive Fleet Vritra split its forces. A portion of the Tyranid fleet remained at Heral, besieging
the defenders of Fort Carancus whilst beginning the assimilation process for much of the planet. The other half of Vritra's fleet pushed further in system, heading in the direction of Ymirica. Chapter Master Molon, having deployed most of his remaining forces to Ymirica, the largest world of the sector, dug in to make his stand.
The Tyranids instead bypassed Ymirica entirely and converged on the world of Talacra. With a surface that was 89% ocean, and just one continent that consisted of a deadly jungle with one city at it's southern tip, the planet seemed a target of little obvious value to Hive Fleet Vritra. Regardless, they attacked the planet with the larger half of their fleet. Deciding that the split in the Tyranid forces was the biggest advantage that they would be afforded in destroying the splinter fleet, Chapter Master Molon seized the initiative and began to redeploy his forces whilst Hive Fleet Vritra invaded Talacra. Molon also commanded the Darian's Fire to make an effort to retrieve the beleaguered defenders of Heral, and the somewhat-repaired Unbowed volunteered to assist in the effort.
Over Talacra, the Knights Vindicant fleet punched through the Tyranid ships surrounding the planet, and deployed as many forces as they could to the planet, led by Chapter Master Molon himself. Having done so, the ships turned to engage the Tyranid splinter fleet, hoping to destroy as many of the Hive Ships as possible. Captain Thulis of the Knights Vindicant 4th Company and Master of the Fleet, led the attack from the Knights Vindicant's Battle Barge and Fortress-Monastery, the Terrible Vow. The Knights Vindicant fleet met with some early success in the battle, but ultimately lacked the numbers to make any serious impact on the Tyranid numbers. They quickly found themselves on the back foot, losing the Battle Barge Corialis to swarms of boarding attacks. Captain Thulis, having kept his 4th Company aboard the Terrible Vow for this eventuality, launched a desperate gambit.
Whilst the other ships of the Knights Vindicant fleet cut a wedge towards the centre of the Tyranid ships, Thulis directed the Terrible Vow towards the heart of the Tyranid splinter fleet. Unable to replicate the actions of the Dominus Astra during the First Tyrannic War due to a damaged warp engine, Thulis came up with a similar plan and ordered his ship to ram the largest Tyrannid vessel at the centre of the fleet. The Hive Ship quickly latched on to the Battle Barge as the few remaining ships of the Knights Vindicant fleet limped away.
The core of the Tyranid fleet rushed to engage the Terrible Vow, and the 4th Company fought valiantly against numerous boarding forces, trying to keep the ship from being overrun against insurmountable odds. Captain Thulis led the defence of the munitions decks personally whilst the Tyranid fleet descended on the Terrible Vow. It is unknown how many, or indeed if any, of the 4th company still survived when Captain Thulis detonated the munitions stockpiles, blowing the Battle Barge apart along with the vast majority of the Tyranid fleet over Talacra, and sending the remaining ships into disarray long enough for what little remained of the Knights Vindicant fleet to withdraw.
The Battle for Talacra.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of the Knights Vindicant landed at Talacra Prime, the one city of the planet on the southern tip of Talacra's sole landmass. The Knights Vindicant set up a command post at the Spaceport of the city, an artificial island connected by bridge to the rest of the city on the mainland. With the 5th and 7th companies already combating the vanguard of the Tyranid forces to the north, Chapter Master Molon left a skeleton force to hold the Spaceport whilst he advanced with the majority of his 1st, 2nd, 8th and 10th Companies into the hellish jungle of Talacra.
The Knights Vindicant had to battle as much against their hostile environment as they did against the Tyranids. Deadly creatures and plants stymied their efforts to relieve the 5th and 7th companies, who were quickly being overwhelmed as they fell back from Hive Fleet Vritra's advance, trying to link up with the bulk of the chapter. Numerous smaller engagements and skirmishes were fought, the Knights Vindicant destroying many smaller groups of Tyranids that had landed ahead of the main bulk of the Hive Fleet Vritra invasion, before the two forces eventually joined up at the Anrapar Ridge; albeit with severe losses in the 5th and 7th companies. The ridge offered formidable natural defences and a clear view of the valley below. It was here Chapter Master Molon decided to make his stand. The Knights Vindicant dug in on the ridge and looked to the north.
They did not have to wait long. Hive Fleet Vritra's advance could be seen above the tree line, giant capillary towers forcing their way skywards as the swarm pushed south towards the Knights Vindicant. Whirlwinds blew great holes in the mass of creatures that approached, whilst Land Raiders and Predators concentrated their fire on the trio of giant Heirophants that spearheaded the Tyranid assault. In the skies overhead, Thunderhawks conducted bombing runs whilst Stormtalons and Land Speeders engaged Harridans, Harpies and Gargoyles. As the horde closed, the battle turned into a great melee, assault squads and dreadnoughts trying desperately to halt the tide of Tyranids before they reached the fire teams and artillery.
The Battle of Anrapar Ridge ended in defeat for the Knights Vindicant. The numbers were simply too many, and Chapter Master Molon ordered a retreat to Talacra Prime, only moments before being caught in the path of a rampaging Carnifex. His death turned the retreat into a rout, as the Knights Vindicant struggled to disentangle themselves from the creatures assailing them. Less than three hundred Marines regrouped at Talacra Prime, under the leadership of Captain Javas Varantis of the 2nd Company.
Varantis, with what forces he had left at his disposal, fortified the city of Talacra Prime, booby-trapping large areas of the city in order to funnel the Tyranid horde down one central approach towards the Spaceport. It was there that Varantis made his stand, placing his forces on and around the one bridge to the port, and pressing all of the civilian vessels available into service as automated bomb carriers. What was left of the 1st Company, led by Veteran Sergeant Fenix Gestalt, volunteered to hold the bridge itself, whilst the bedraggled remnants of Captain Marravon's 10th Scout Company quietly occupied key points in the mainland city to harry the Tyranids as they approached.
Days later, the Hive Fleet Vritra host reached the city. Great explosions could be heard as the alien creatures reached the various booby traps lying in the city, and the 10th Company utilised ambushes and snipers in the tight confines of the city to kill as many of the creatures leading the horde as they could. When the Tyranids reached the bridge to the Spaceport, they were met with massed volleys of fire from the defenders surrounding the southern side of the bridge. Those that did get close enough to make it to the other side of the bridge faced Gestalt and his Terminators, tearing the Tyranids apart with fist and claw. Flying creatures were met by the remaining air force of the Knights Vindictus, and the makeshift flying bombs Varantis made of the remaining civilian vessels dropped onto the largest creatures in the horde. The bridge held for two full weeks, the defenders fighting day and night, tooth and nail before, at last, they were relieved.
Unknown to Captain Varantis, one of the earliest refugee vessels to escape the system had alerted the Battlefleet Barus command to Hive Fleet Vritra's presence in the Poriphon system. Having received none of the outbound communications from the defenders of Poriphon due to the effects of the Shadow in the Warp, Lord Admiral Rathenburg promptly gathered as many ships and men as he could muster to rush to the aid of the Poriphon system. Before the Battlefleet departed, it was joined by Inquisitor Allarez of the Ordo Xenos, a man who had spent many years studying Tyranid attack patterns.
Over Heral, the Unbowed had drawn away a group from the Tyranid fleet with sustained Lance fire before withdrawing, creating a gap that the Darian's Fire exploited to push through to the planet. Launching it's complements of Thunderhawks to recover Captain Baeloc and his marines, they found Baeloc's force reduced to little over seventy surviving Marines, along with a few hundred men of the combined Heralic Imperial Guard and PDF regiments. The Imperial forces, on the brink of running out of supplies and being overrun, fled in the Thunderhawks and the numerous other shuttles that Colonel Garlon had commandeered at Fort Carancus. Retreating to the Darian's Fire and linking up with the Unbowed, the two ships promptly retreated away from the planet to the edges of the system to plan their next move. They were met by the remnants of the Knights Vindicant fleet from Talacra, composed of the Strike Cruiser Excisor and a few escort vessels, who had retreated from Talacra following the sacrifice of the Terrible Vow.
It was at this time that Battlefleet Barus arrived in Poriphon. The two forces regrouped on the outer edges of the system, and an assault was quickly planned by Rathenburg, Allarez, Baeloc and Garlon. Though not a large Battlefleet by any standards, the Tyranid fleet over Heral could not withstand a direct assault from Battlefleet Barus. The battle was not without it's losses; notably, the Unbowed was finally destroyed after seeing through the most of the conflict; but the Imperial Fleet carried the day, destroying the vast majority of the Tyranid fleet orbiting Heral. Inquisitor Allarez subsequently declared Exterminatus upon Heral, overruling Colonel Garlon's objections and reasoning that trying to take the dense Hives of the planet back from the Tyranids would cost a massive amount of resources that they simply did not have. Lord Admiral Rathenburg had no option but to commence a barrage that levelled the entire planet; leaving Heral as barren as Hive Fleet Vritra would have, given time.
Some surviving Tyranid elements that had scattered after the defeat at Heral made it to nearby Ymirica, where they landed on the vast farmlands of the planet. However, Captain Baeloc and his marines led a swift pursuit, chasing the remaining elements Hive Fleet Vritra to the surface of the planet with support from what was left of the 212th Heralic led by General Garlon, Inquisitor Allarez and a company of mercenaries in his employ, and from the battalions of Guardsmen and Armsmen that Battlefleet Barus had supplied. The Tyranids were spread out and had not been given the time to produce a large enough horde of aliens to be too much of a threat. However, Inquisitor Allarez and his mercenaries, along with a detachment from the 212th, were killed after being sent to investigate reports of a Lictor some distance from the main Tyranid-infested zone. The rest of the force moved to tackle the infestation; encircling, containing, and destroying the Tyranids before they became a significant threat. Whilst Colonel Garlon and the 212th remained on Ymirica to secure the planet and hunt down whatever creature had killed Allarez and his men, Captain Baeloc and his remaining Knights Vindicant turned their attention to Talacra.
Faced with the combined might of the Battlefleet, the few bio-ships still in orbit over Talacra were quickly destroyed, allowing the relief forces to deploy to the planet. Captain Varantis had less than a Company's worth of marines left under his command when Captain Baeloc arrived to relieve them. The reinforcements launched themselves into the fray, Baeloc personally leading the push to reclaim the Spaceport bridge. He found the remnants of the 1st Company amidst hundreds of Tyranid corpses, Veteran Sergeant Gestalt and a few others miraculously still alive. The Imperial Navy, orbiting Talacra, commenced an orbital bombardment of the mainland portion of Talacra Prime, utterly crushing the Tyranids along with the city before moving their bombardment north to cover the whole of the continent. The Poriphon system had, at last, been saved, although at a tremendous cost.
The Imperial forces had survived the attack of Hive Fleet Vritra, finally destroying it although at great cost. The Knights Vindicant had lost most of their command structure, most of their Chapter, and most of the fleet they had been based on; they have since claimed Talacra as their home world, though it offers nothing in the way of fresh recruits, the few feral tribes inhabiting the continent having been destroyed by Hive Fleet Vritra or by the orbital bombardment. It is likely that the Chapter will be amalgamated with another or destroyed should it not find a way to restore it's numbers and quickly, with the 13th Black Crusade and Hive Fleet Leviathan both threatening the Imperium.
The 70th, 111th and 203rd Regiments of the Heralic Mechanised Legion ceased to exist, having been folded into the 212th Armoured Infantry due to heavy losses across all four regiments. The Regiment is now commanded by Colonel Danz Vanric, formerly Major of the 111th; Sammander Garlon was promoted to General, and is currently commanding Heralic forces in the Cadian Gate against the 13th Black Crusade. Heral having been destroyed, the Imperium has lost a recruiting world that had spawned hundreds of Imperial Guard regiments; the 212th are the final legacy of Heral's proud past.
Some small Tyranid infestations remain on Talacra and Ymirica. Indrus Baeloc, now Chapter Master of the Knights Vindicant, uses them for training purposes; whilst the 212th, until recently stationed on Ymirica, combated any resurgent infestations there. With the 212th recently restored to above full regimental strength and redeployed to the Cadian Gate, it remains to be seen whether the Knights Vindicant can capably police two worlds with what little strength they have left.
Notable Imperial Losses.
Inquisitor Konstanze Allarez
Inquisitor Allarez was lost during the fighting on Ymirica during the conclusion of the war. Allarez had led a detachment of the 212th Heralic, led by Lieutenant Dovaris, along with a company of mercenaries in his employ, to investigates reports of what was likely the activity of an errant Lictor in a remote region. The task force was found dead to a man, amongst the ruins of their vehicles. No evidence of the Lictor was found.
Chapter Master Adrus Molon
Chapter Master Molon was killed during the Battle of the Anrapar Ridge, having found himself in the path of a Carnifex whilst trying to organise the retreat. Of the five hundred (approx.) Knights Vindicant to participate in the Battle of the Anrapar Ridge, only around two hundred successfully retreated to Talacra Prime under Captain Varantis.
1st Company Captain Lustace Crucius
Captain Crucius was killed at the Battle of the Anrapar Ridge, commanding the first company in a rearguard action.
4th Company Captain Eridan Thulis
Captain Thulis commanded the Knights Vindicant fleet in the engagement over Talacra, sacrificing himself along with the entire 4th Company and the Terrible Vow, the Battle Barge that served as the Chapter's Fortress-Monastery, in order to destroy the Hive Fleet Vritra bio-ships orbiting the planet.
5th Company Captain Hurlon Valnis
Captain Valnis was killed in an unrecorded engagement in the jungle of Talacra, trying to lead his Company to link with Chapter Master Molon at the Anrapar Ridge.
6th Company Captain Karlis Jaraxes
Captain Jaraxes was killed during the Siege of Heral, when he led a counter-attack to allow the retreating Heralic Mechanised Legion soldiers to safely retreat to Fort Carancus, following the fall of the second defence line.
7th Company Captain Volantor Xaros
Captain Xaros died at the Battle of the Anrapar Ridge, having garnered the attention of the Heirophant bio-titan leading the Hive Fleet Vritra advance.
8th Company Captain Jeor Garce
Captain Garce died at the Battle of the Anrapar Ridge. His cause of death is unknown, having occurred during the rout following Chapter Master Molon's death.
9th Company Captain Ave Thylis
Captain Thylis was killed battling the Hive Tyrant that destroyed the gates of Fort Carancus, moments before the extraction force arrived to rescue the beleaguered defenders.
10th Company Captain Nyla Marravon
Captain Marravon died as part of the 10th Company's holding action in the city of Talacra Prime. A squad he was leading was caught between two broods of Zoanthropes as they withdrew following a successful ambush of a Warrior Brood.
Heralic Mechanised Legion
70th Armoured Infantry Colonel Stanislaw Marsh
Colonel Marsh was killed during the near-catastrophic retreat to Fort Carancus following the collapse of the second defence line.
111th Siege Regiment Colonel Edison Tarbald
Colonel Tarbald died in the fighting at Fort Carancus, moment before the extraction force arrived.
203rd Tank Company Colonel Franz Heiram
Colonel Heiram's Leman Rush Executioner was destroyed along with it's crew whilst participating in the delaying actions during the early stages of the Siege of Heral.
Imperatous Captain Albus Maekar
The Imperatous was lost along with all hands, defending the fleeing refugees from Hive Fleet Vritra over Heral.
Unbowed Captain Tyrus Lamorgan
The Unbowed fought throughout practically the whole war, before being destroyed in the final significant naval engagement of the Poriphon War, when Battlefleet Barus destroyed the bio-ships over Heral.
Edited by Harlan Skorus, 15 July 2014 - 08:02 PM.