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IL IV - The Void Eagles


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#276
simison

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Once the Ash Walkers reached the Veribon system, initial events proceeded bettern than Jarnieu had envisioned. Although alerted to a potential incursion, the Ork scrap-fleet was a pitiful thing since the Veribon Orks had preferred to pursue their wars on the surface. So few were the Ork warships, that the Ash Walkers outright ignored them and began early their bombardment campaign. Reaching the fifth and outermost planet infested with greenskins, the Ash Walkers advanced toward the few orbital yards that orbited the gas giant. Scans revealed a meagre enemy presence, given the Orks' disdain for the void. While other commanders may have launched boarding torpedoes to secure the stations as outposts or simply avoid them, Admiral Jarnieu would brook no such thing as he ordered his ships to target the stations' stabilizers. While the Orks aboard activated the few, working batteries, the defense fire was too weak to puncture through the Imperial void ships. In minutes, all four stations were sinking toward the massive planet beneath them where they would eventually be crushed by its atmosphere.

 

The threat eliminated, the Ash Walkers journeyed to the fourth planet, Veribon Secundus. While the Ork submersible indeed had dived long before the Ash Walkers entered into orbit, there remained a plethora of other, suitable targets. Unlike the brief, half-hour the destruction of the Ork stations had required, the purge of Secundus would take place over the next few days. The Ash Walkers scoured Ork settlements with mixtures of promethium and explosive shells. The few Ork void-capable bombers and fighters never left atmosphere as they were ruthlessly targeted by long-range point defence systems. Mobs of Orks were tracked and systematically eliminated with barrages of lances. Any fortification proved only a temporary relief. Any greenskins who dispersed into heavy, local terrain, such as forests or swamps, were washed away with saturation bombing. 

 

It would be during this bombardment that would see an end to the local Ork fleet. Up until this point, the Kaptin Snekfire had kept his ships far from danger, looking for a potential window of opportunity to attack the Ash Walkers. Fortunately for the Imperium, this patient strategy went over poorly with his subordinates. The greenskin commander was challenged by Snagbitz, who promptly killed his superior. Taking control, the newly titled Kaptin immediately launched an assault against the 8th Great Fleet. With only five vessels moving to attack, Admiral Jarnieu decided not to end the bombardment campaign. 

 

Instead, he instructed Rear Admiral Ardery to take his flotilla to counter the oncoming Ork warships. Commanding the 45th Flotilla, Ardery reportedly resented the assignment. Not only did he consider it a distraction from the actual battle, the Ash Walkers, given their preferences, possessed few escort ships and light cruisers. Thus, while the greenskins would be unable to do overwhelming damage, their lighter ships combined with their superior speed would render them as frustrating opponents. Unwilling to endure a long fight of cat and mouse, Ardery's solution would become infamous. 

 

After placing his flotilla between the rest of the Ash Walkers and the incoming Ork warships, Ardery advanced his battle cruiser, alone and unsupported. At a signal, the rest of the flotilla opened fire on his flagship, the Fireball's Wrath. With a series of simulated explosions, the Fireball's Wrath appeared to have lost power and began to drift through the void as the rest of the flotilla now gave chase. 


Edited by simison, 28 September 2017 - 03:45 PM.

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#277
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With the Fireball's Wrath drifting closer to the Ork squadron, Snagbitz couldn't resist the opportunity. The Ork kaptin ordered his ships to attack and loot the Imperial warship before the rest of the flotilla reached it. Eight Ork ships blazed toward their quarry, all the while Ardery waited patiently. It was only when the Ork ships surrounded the Wrath did Ardery unleash his trap. Inducing an emergency power charge that strained the ship's reactor, the Fireball's Wrath came alive and opened fire on the surprised Orks. Plasma cannons battered at the smaller vessels, until they ruptured beneath the volley. Snagbitz cursed his foe as half of his fleet detonated in the void before he ordered an immediate retreat. However, Ardery still had no intention of engaging in a lengthy chase. Against the four remaining scrap-ships, including Snagfitz's heavy kroozer, the Fireball's Wrath arrested their escape with Ursus claws.   

 

While the Ork ships would soon be able to overpower the Wrath's engines, Ardery didn't need to win the tugging match. He only needed to hold the Ork ships long enough for the rest of 45th to enter into weapons range, which would occur in a matter of minutes. In a moment of foresight, Snagbitz realized this after his ships attempted to escape at full speed. With escape impossible and the Fireball destroying the remaining ships, Snagbitz ordered his mob to once again board the Imperial battlecruiser. The kaptin fully intended to choke the life out of the human who had destroyed him. The remainder of the battle shifted to the Wrath's decks as the greenskins attempted to swarm the Ash Walkers to little avail. 

 

Although not as proficient as other Void Eagles, the Ash Walkers contemptuously defeated the rabble assaulting their ship before taking the initiative to launch a counter-assault against Snagbitz's kroozer. Kaptin Snagbitz would never see his ship succumb to the Ash Walkers as he was killed shortly before the first Ash Walker squad breached the Ork warship. Within the hour, the 45th now had an additional ship in their ranks that they had no intention of keeping. Yet, as Ardery survived the Ork bridge, inspiration struck him. After confirming the Ork equipment could be manipulated by humanity, the rear admiral presented his plan to Admiral Jarnieu. Instead of risking an Imperial ship to the Ork super-submarine's missiles, servitors would be installed in the Ork warship which would replace the Imperial ship. With an outside signal, the servitors would target the submarine as it surfaced. The admiral agreed.  

 

Once Veribon Secundus was cleansed, the Ash Walkers moved onto Verbion Primus. A day after they left, Ardery's captured Ork ship assumed orbit above Secundus. Servitors scanned the surface and located the Ork submarine, which had surfaced. While the captured vessel might possess the firepower necessary to destroy the submarine from orbit, Jarnieu preferred a more assured method. Once the ship was above the submarine, Jarnieu sent a pre-planned order. The servitors pointed the ship's prow directly at the submarine and diverted all power to the engines. Thus, the kroozer began a meteoric descent into Secundus' atmosphere. 

 

Since the servitors were constantly transmitting data to the 8th Great Fleet, we know that the Ork submarine attempted to contact the falling warship. When no answer was given, the Orks hurriedly tried to dive into the deeps. The effort was too little, too late. The detonation of the kroozer would destroy the Ork submarine and cause a tsunami that would strike the nearby continents three miles inland. The rest of the campaign proceeded without difficulty and would conclude three weeks later. 


Edited by simison, 29 September 2017 - 03:53 PM.

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#278
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The Taslob Massacre

 

The 9th Great Fleet would be the last great fleet ever founded, in light of the stipulations in the recent treaty. It would be an unusual great fleet for two reasons. First would involve the infamous Nemoan oath. Before the 9th Great Fleet, this was a relatively rare oath taken. Void Eagles who swear the Nemoan Oath have forsaken all contact with land. These Void Eagles will not commit to planetfall operations, will not walk upon an earthern surface, and the most extreme of them will not consent to aerial warfare. The stars will forever more be their battlefield and their home. Unusually, a majority of the 9th Great Fleet, upon induction, would swear this oath in mass. As such, this is the only great fleet to not possess any terrestrial vehicles or units. 

 

The second distinguishing factor would be Admiral Qualie himself. Although out-ranked by others, no other Void Eagle Admiral was as similar as Yucahu than Qualie. As pragmatic and brutal as his Primarch, the 9th Great Fleet mirrored Yucahu's 1st in same manner and organization with the sole exception of the lack of ground units. To this great fleet, Qualie deemed them simply The Hawks.

 

Although the youngest Great Fleet, The Hawks would earn their place in the Great Crusade and attract the attention of darker interests. By request, the 9th Great Fleet would join forces with the 9th Expeditionary Fleet commanded by Sentinel Shuten of the Lightning Bearers. A number of scout ships and rogue traders had disappeared in the outer edges of the Halo Zone. Reliable travel was only then possible with the construction of the Scarus Beacon. In addition to investigating the disappearances of the earlier explorers, the 9th Great Fleet was also charged with finding evidence for the missing Sons of Nothingness.

 

The first few weeks of the operation passed by without incident as the two fleets searched the region. Throughout this time, Sentinel Shuten repeatedly conferred with his Void Eagles counterpart and made personal overtures throughout the operation. From personal logs, we know that Admiral Qualie was more than willing to coordinate their military resources. However, the Admiral was blasé about the attempts at friendship, but humored the Sentiel who possessed a veterancy well over a century in relation to Qualie's own service. 

 

As the days passed and more of the edge of the Halo Zone revealed, the Lightning Bearers' diviners were able to narrow the search, swiftly bringing the two fleets closer and closer to their objective. A mere eight days after entry into the Halo Zone, the Hawks and the Lightning Bearers approached an uncharted dark nebula of great size. Of greater confusion were readings of a second nebula behind the dark nebula. Scans indicated that it was the remnant of a supernova that had exploded a mere million years ago. The existence of binary stars is well recorded, but binary nebulae as a phenomena had yet to be encountered until this event. 


Edited by simison, 10 October 2017 - 05:06 PM.

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#279
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Skal, did you have a name for the 9th Great Fleet?


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#280
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Outside of the dark nebula were two wrecks of missing scout ships, the frigates The New Light and The Coming of Order. Both ships were in pieces with no life signs aboard. Of peculiar note was the nature of the damage. Neither ship were marked with traditional scars of explosives, lance weapons, or the like. Instead, it appeared that the ships had broken beneath tremendous outside pressure but only in certain areas of their ships. Scan sweeps of the dark nebula returned readings hinting at other lost ships. Both Qualie and Shuten ordered full combat readiness before cautiously advancing their ships toward the nebula. 

 

The high concentration of the stellar dust within the dark nebula would immediately undermine auspex readings. In moments, the fleets became blind, only dimly aware of each other's location. At a command from the Admiral, the Hawks and the Lighting Bearers reduced their interval distance as they closed ranks. As the ships gradually came together, a panicked vox report reached Qualie's flagship, the Aquila Rex.

 

The Prime Meridian was a frigate at the very forefront of the fleets. Captain Caftan Neoden, in the few moments he was able to, reported that his ship was under attack, claiming his ship was being crushed by an outside force. Before he could describe what was attacking his ship, contact was lost as the nearest ship recorded the Prime Meridian destroyed on their sensors. 

 

With the Prime Meridian lost, Admiral Qualie immediately ordered a wave of augur probes before contacting the Sentinel for additional information. To the shock of the Hawks, Shuten replied that the famed diviners of the Ist Legion could only see a future as dark as the nebula. Soon enough, the probes began to transmit information back to the fleet. Massive objects were directly ahead of the fleet and were rapidly approaching. To the confusion of the officers, the objects moved like no other recorded stellar object or any known type of vessel. The objects seemed to slide forward, one side moving ahead of the other. 

 

Despite the strange information, the two Lords of the Imperium had more than enough evidence of hostile intent and ordered their fleets to fire. Lance batteries blazed away into the darkness as lesser warships came about to deliver volleys of cannonade. Of the the three enemy signatures, two received most of the weight of fire directed at them. Yet, before the augur probes sped away from the battlefield, they recorded two of the enemy objects to abruptly pull back with speed that would tear any Imperium ship apart beneath its own gravitational forces. 


Edited by simison, 16 October 2017 - 01:29 PM.

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#281
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Then Captain Berard of the Raptor of Solar, on the outer edge of the 9th's left flank, demanded aid as it was attacked. With the fleets consolidated, several ships near the Raptor were able to see the vessel and confirmed that it was under the assault. However, there was a note of disbelief in every report delivered to Admiral Qualie. For it was an enormous tentacle that was wrapping itself around the cruiser. Void Eagle captains hesitated to open fire, lest they destroy one of their own. It was only after Admiral Qualie gave the order to open fire did the Hawks respond. By which point, the Raptor's fate had been sealed as the tentacle squeezed. Beneath the incredible pressure, the Raptor died as it broke into four pieces. 

 

The Hawks replied in similar violence as they unleashed their salvos against their foe. Concentrated fire blazed across the gigantic tentacle before it receded into the darkness. No respite followed as more tentacles grasped other ships. With the Lightning Bearer fleet coming around to aid their cousins, the battle intensified as the Hawks struggled to find a means to destroy their enemy. Although questions burned of how such a creature could exist in the vacuum of the void, Admiral Qualie ignored such inquiries, focusing all of his effort into preventing the complete destruction of his fleet.

 

As the battle continued, data was collected and analyzed. It was soon confirmed that only eight of the mammoth limbs existed. As cogitators began to successfully predict their movements, Admiral Qualie designated new targeting orders. All ships would concentrate their firepower in a single line against the limbs. The Hawks, aided by their Lightning Bearer cousins, proved their skill when the next tentacle attacked. Although it swung wide and fast for a void ship, the barrage it suffered was thorough and well-aimed. The massive limb was shredded into two, with the detached limb continuing to spin through the void. 

 

With the first, real victory against their opponent, the battle shifted to their favor as more of the enormous tentacles were similarly slashed apart through brute force. Unfortunately, after the fifth such victory, the main body of the attack revealed itself. Eyewitness reports that it resembled a cephalopod from ancient Terra's oceans, easily three times the largest warship than a Gloriana. With extreme aggression, the Void Beast charged, smashing through Void Eagle and Lightning Bearer ships. 

 

Despite the horrific casualties, Admiral Qualie remained unfazed and issued new priority targets. The remaining tentacles were to be ignored with all firepower being directed at the main body. Additionally, the full range of Imperial weapons were to be used without regard for collateral damage. Nuclear fire would soon blaze within the dark nebula as the fleets followed suit, the Lightning Bearers more reluctant than their Void Eagle counterparts. Ships who had the misfortune of being too close to the Void Beast when these detonations loomed were lost as the conflagration consumed them and the beast. 


Edited by simison, 21 October 2017 - 12:54 AM.

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#282
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Void Kraken, I'd bet my Bolter on it. :o
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#283
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As costly as Qualie's tactics were, their effectiveness were beyond doubt. Despite its fantastical size, the Void Beast was not invincible. During its fourth pass, luck was with the Imperium as Qualie and Shunten were able to coordinate the few nova cannons under their command to fire on a single point that had already been struck twice before. One final surprise remained as the Void Beast, shortly after struck with this lethal blow, exploded from within, destroying two more ships in its death throes.

 

In the aftermath of the battle, a full account was pursued of both losses, the nature of the Void Beast, and of their original mission. Throughout the battle, ships had attempted to nimble out of the way of danger. Even though Void Eagles and Lightning Bearers are famed for their naval expertises, a full half of both fleets had been destroyed in combat, crushed in some manner. This added up to several dozen ships of various classes permanently lost to the void, Marine losses climbing into the thousands, and mortals being reaped into the tens of thousands. 

 

Although Qualie had ensured that pieces of the Void Beast were recovered for investigation, this would end up creating more mysteries than solving ones. As hinted by its death, the Void Beast was ultimately an artificial creation, a melding of the biological and the mechanical into a seamless whole. Dating processes estimated the creation to be several billion years old. To this day, no Mechanicum tech-priest has managed to offer a convincing reason as to why such a construct had survived entire eons without losing any functionality or how such a thing could even be created in the first place. Among the detritus, a damaged data core, as we understand it, was found. The only whole piece of information found was a name: Taslob. Whether this referred to the creature or to something else is unknown, but it was the name that came to define this battle.

 

Of greater mystery was the Void Beast's ability to evade the Lightning Bearer's divination. Sentinel Shuten was greatly embarrassed by the incident though it would not be the worst casualties seen by the Lightning Bearers during the Great Crusade. Once this information was disseminated among the Imperium, a fierce debate broke out over what to do with the surviving pieces of the Void Beast. Traditional Mechanicum elements along with Icarion argued for the destruction of such technology. Pionus and a few other more daring leaders wanted to study and unlock the secrets of such technology. In the end, the Warmaster was persuaded by Icarion to order the remains destroyed.

 

Finally, the remains of the missing ships were discovered within and beyond the dark nebula. All had been destroyed by the Void Beast without mercy. The few beings who had reached the saviour pods had long since died of exposure, dehydration, or hunger. No sign of the missing Sons of Nothingness could be found, and the Hawks were recalled to repair and heal from their losses. A last meeting occurred between the Sentinel and the Admiral, but it was only much later would we learn that Shuten had been reaching out to Qualie to judge his willingness to side with the future Stormlord. Shuten's report ended on a bitter note that Qualie would not forsake his oath and marked the Admiral for death.


Edited by simison, 21 October 2017 - 01:05 AM.

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#284
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[Altogether for the Compendium.]

 

Exemplary Battles

 

Among the roll of victories accomplished by the Void Eagles, one will quickly note a harshness equal to the vacuum of space. The Void Eagles, with few exceptions, cared little for how they prosecuted the Great Crusade so long as their enemies were broken. Although the battles and campaigns of the early Great Fleets are well recorded, the latter Great Fleets, especially those founded after Yucahu's discovery, lack a more thorough comprehension, eclisped as they are by their Primarch. Yet, given how new Great Fleets would be founded, they provide helpful markers and windows into the closing era of the Great Crusade. 

 

Compliance of the Zatoc Hegemony

 

The second Great Fleet to be created after Yucahu's discovery, the 7th Great Fleet, the Liberators, would be unknowingly founded less than a century before the Great Crusade's end. The Primarch Yucahu raised Vice Admiral Maloran of the 4th Great Fleet to take command of the new Great Fleet. Maloran's time in service with the 4th Great Fleet undoubtedly shaped his command philosophy, which in turn would shape the character of the 7th Great Fleet. Perhaps the most stark example of the Liberators' method of war is the compliance of the Zatoc Hegemony. 

 

The Zatoc Hegemony was a collection of human planetary governments on the border of Segmentums Tempestus and Pacificus united by a common culture. Zatoc culture featured an unusual obsession with stability that centered on an elaborate blend of superstition and astronomy. As such, the Zatoc Hegemony maintained several large-scale fleets who possessed a dual responsibility of defending the Hegemony and providing an unending observation of the universe. Log files recovered post-compliance revealed that the Hegemony maintained complete records of every type of astrological event. 

 

Given their significant void combat assets and the failure to secure a diplomatic solution, the Liberators were charged with ensuring compliance. Arriving at the borders of the Hegemony, Admiral Maloran repeated an earlier offer: the Zatocs would be allowed to maintain their fleets and their on-going observations if they simply adopted the Imperial Truth and removed any trappings of superstition and religion. The Zatoc Hegemony once again refused. Admiral Maloran promptly ordered the Liberators to attack. 

 

Although they were many and in various classes, Zatoc warships suffered from several weaknesses. To begin with, the Zatoc warships did not possess the means for Warp travel, severely limiting their ability to react to the Liberators fleet. Of the four systems of the Hegemony, each possessed a fleet of well over a thousand warships, but it would take weeks for each fleet to move from one system to another. Furthermore, even the largest Zatoc battleship was equal to no more than an Imperial light cruiser. This disadvantage was aggravated by Zatoc ship designs. Despite every ship capable of defense, Zatoc warships contained structural weaknesses due to abundant sensor bays and possessed no shielding technology. 

 

Thus, when the Liberators moved to engage the fleet defending the Olec system, it mattered not that they were outnumbered 2-to-1. Admiral Maloran simply positioned the Liberators within the maximum range of his lance batteries and fired. By targeting the ship's center, a single lance shot destroyed an entire Zatoc warship. So surprised was the Olec Fleet that they didn't move from position until a third volley; by which point a dozen Zatoc ships were burning in the void. 

 

Closing the distance did not improve the odds for the Olec fleet. Finally entering range of their own weapons only opened them to the first batteries of plasma and macro cannons. In the first volley alone, eighteen Olec vessels were crippled. Less than five minute after the Olec Fleet had properly engaged, the first Olec ship routed. The one-sided battle rapidly devolved into a massacre as the Liberators scoured the Olec Fleet from the system. 

 

With one severely-damaged frigate as the lone casaulty, Admiral Maloran was pleased with the results. However, when Maloran demanded a surrender from the kings of the Olec system, they refused. With a quick victory no longer feasible, the Liberators considered various options to break the Olecs' spirit. It was estimated that the Liberators had forty-one days before the remaining Zatoc systems would send a response. Negotiation could not succeed with the Olecs possessing hope of relief from their confederates. Orbital bombardment was of limited utility since they could only target the few major cities. Simulations consistently predicted that after the initial bombardment, the Olec people would simply hide within their own jungles. The last tactical option was planetary invasion. Unfortunately, as a Void Eagles Great Fleet, the Liberators did not possess the necessary number of ground units to eliminate the Olec resistance.  

 

It was at this point that Maloran called upon his prior training with the 4th Great Fleet. Among the Liberators' chemical arsenal was a water-borne virus known as the 'Red Plague'. Although Imperial citizens were inoculated against it, a medical examination of a captured Zatoc revealed they were highly susceptible to its touch. Maloran instructed his apothecarion to begin manufacturing doses of the Red Plague, along with its cure. The Red Plague was modified into a more debilitating form yet would take longer to kill its host. After a week of industry, Maloran deployed the weaponized disease, targeting the largest cities. Given the heavy moisture of the environment, the Red Plague spread quickly with symptoms appearing within twenty-four hours of deployment.  

 

It was after the first plague-associated death that Maloran initiated communication to the six kings of Olec. In clinical terms, Maloran described his actions before ending with an offer. Any Zatoc who accepted compliance would be recognized as an Imperial citizen and promptly provided with the antidote. Several of the kings raged at Maloran for his tactics, but two kings surrendered. Landing zones were established before the first Liberators arrived on Olec. These early detachments played host to entire squads of apothecaries who guarded caches of antidotes. Thousands of natives would crowd these landing zones, desperate for salvation, but the Liberators ensured that the landing zones remained uncompromised. In addition to policing the new Imperial citizens, the Liberators would see combat as armies commanded by the defiant kings would attempt to storm the landing zones in force to acquire the antidotes. However, each landing zone was surrounded by open terrain for a minimum of three hundred metres. All Olec assaults were repulsed by the bolters of the ground forces as they were bombarded by close air support. In a single day, the 19th Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Valdivia, repulsed four such assaults at landing zone "Montaña", killing well over one hundred thousand native soldiers. With so many corpses, it had been necessary to create grand pyres to prevent other diseases from rampaging. 

 

These fruitless attacks lasted a week before the native armies succumbed to the same Red Plague that had stricken their homes. More kings accepted compliance and were dutifully rewarded. Only a fragment of the Olec army continued to resist the Liberators, limited to guerrilla warfare. Unable to kill the Liberators directly, these rebels targeted their own people for accepting compliance in a vain hope to draw the Liberators into jungle ambushes. Instead, the Liberators were content to let the Red Plague run its course. 

 

Twenty-nine days after the destruction of the Olec Fleet, the final traces of resistance died away as the last of the rebels succumbed to the Red Plague. As Admiral Maloran formalized Imperial control, he sent scout ships to ascertain the status of the three remaining Zatoc fleets. Long range scans revealed that all three were en route to the Olec system. Armed with their locations, Maloran assigned a small garrison force to ensure compliance before the 7th Great Fleet moved to intercept. Due to the Liberators' superior speed, the Void Eagles were able to ambush each fleet before they could arrive in-system to pool into a single, large-scale armada.

 

With the last of the Zatoc's ships burning in the void, Maloran was able to act without any interference. In each of the remaining systems, the Liberators merely repeated their strategy at Olec. Resistance varied as some systems were more willing to surrender after the total loss of their fleets, while others seemed to only harden before overwhelming force. Regardless, once the Red Plague was deployed, victory was inevitable. In the span of four months, the Liberators had achieved compliance over the entire Zatoc civilisation. 

 

Purgation of Sub-Sector Betulaceae

 

The 8th Great Fleet would be the last Great Fleet to be founded during the Emperor's supreme command of the Crusade. Established a few short years before the turn of the millennium, the Ash Walkers, as they would come to be known, prosecuted the Great Crusade primarily during the Warmaster's tenure. Jarnieu would win the honour of being the 8th's first admiral. The majority of the Void Eagles who formed the Ash Walkers had previously been assigned to either the 5th, Sons of Nothingness, or the 6th, Blood-beaks, Great Fleets. As such, the Ash Walkers would already had a foundation that favoured tactics of an indiscriminatory nature. 

 

This eventually manifested itself through heavy employment of saturation bombing. The Ash Walkers developed a combat philosophy that dictated the annihilation of enemy ground forces and civilisations through concentrated and overwhelming ordnance. Nor were these tendencies curbed when enacting compliance against lost human colonies. The Ash Walkers claimed that compliance was only possible through overwhelming destruction. It would be on these fields of ash that new life and loyalty could be cultured toward the Imperium.

 

It was a sentiment not shared by the new Warmaster. Although hesitant in his first years of command, one of Alexandros' first decisions that would reveal his growing willingness to redirect units to targets that better suited his martial philosophies would be ordering the Ash Walkers to engage in a xenos purgation campaign in the Veribon system instead of a planned compliance against a recalcitrant human colony. While the Ash Walkers cared little for the change in campaign, the Warmaster's critics would only begin a new wave of criticisms on this use of authority.

 

The Veribon system had been held by the brutish Orks for thousands of years and would require extreme firepower to root them out. Admiral Jarnieu, caring little for the politics of the Great Crusade, immediately developed battle plans as the 8th Great Fleet set course. While most of the Ork settlements lay unprotected on open terrain and therefore easy targets, one target would require special attention. On Veribon Secundus were three continents divided by a vast ocean. Given Orks' penchant for clan warfare, one clan had gradually developed and built a colossal submarine to house the entire waterborne Ork clan. Possessing long-range missiles and a myriad of defence systems, it could proved to be a stubborn foe if it could dive outside the range of the Ash Walkers' guns. 

 

Despite difficulties, the Ash Walkers were eager to display the power of their ordnance. The Ork submarine was deemed priority number one and would be the fleet's first target upon arriving in system. In order to catch the vessel unaware, the Ash Walkers would translate in system before advancing to a day's journey to Veribon Secundus. Once there, measures would be taken to eliminate Ork void elements to limit the greenskins detection ability on the surface. With that objective accomplished, the majority of the fleet would depart, while a few ships would power down into stealth mode. A single ship would maintain its systems and provide a target for the submarine's anti-warship weapons. As soon as the submarine surfaced, it would be destroyed. 

 

Once the Ash Walkers reached the Veribon system, initial events proceeded bettern than Jarnieu had envisioned. Although alerted to a potential incursion, the Ork scrap-fleet was a pitiful thing since the Veribon Orks had preferred to pursue their wars on the surface. So few were the Ork warships, that the Ash Walkers outright ignored them and began early their bombardment campaign. Reaching the fifth and outermost planet infested with greenskins, the Ash Walkers advanced toward the few orbital yards that orbited the gas giant. Scans revealed a meagre enemy presence, given the Orks' disdain for the void. While other commanders may have launched boarding torpedoes to secure the stations as outposts or simply avoid them, Admiral Jarnieu would brook no such thing as he ordered his ships to target the stations' stabilizers. While the Orks aboard activated the few, working batteries, the defense fire was too weak to puncture through the Imperial void ships. In minutes, all four stations were sinking toward the massive planet beneath them where they would eventually be crushed by its atmosphere.

 

The threat eliminated, the Ash Walkers journeyed to the fourth planet, Veribon Secundus. While the Ork submersible indeed had dived long before the Ash Walkers entered into orbit, there remained a plethora of other, suitable targets. Unlike the brief, half-hour the destruction of the Ork stations had required, the purge of Secundus would take place over the next few days. The Ash Walkers scoured Ork settlements with mixtures of promethium and explosive shells. The few Ork void-capable bombers and fighters never left atmosphere as they were ruthlessly targeted by long-range point defence systems. Mobs of Orks were tracked and systematically eliminated with barrages of lances. Any fortification proved only a temporary relief. Any greenskins who dispersed into heavy, local terrain, such as forests or swamps, were washed away with saturation bombing. 

 

It would be during this bombardment that would see an end to the local Ork fleet. Up until this point, the Kaptin Snekfire had kept his ships far from danger, looking for a potential window of opportunity to attack the Ash Walkers. Fortunately for the Imperium, this patient strategy went over poorly with his subordinates. The greenskin commander was challenged by Snagbitz, who promptly killed his superior. Taking control, the newly titled Kaptin immediately launched an assault against the 8th Great Fleet. With only five vessels moving to attack, Admiral Jarnieu decided not to end the bombardment campaign. 

 

Instead, he instructed Rear Admiral Ardery to take his flotilla to counter the oncoming Ork warships. Commanding the 45th Flotilla, Ardery reportedly resented the assignment. Not only did he consider it a distraction from the actual battle, the Ash Walkers, given their preferences, possessed few escort ships and light cruisers. Thus, while the greenskins would be unable to do overwhelming damage, their lighter ships combined with their superior speed would render them as frustrating opponents. Unwilling to endure a long fight of cat and mouse, Ardery's solution would become infamous. 

 

After placing his flotilla between the rest of the Ash Walkers and the incoming Ork warships, Ardery advanced his battle cruiser, alone and unsupported. At a signal, the rest of the flotilla opened fire on his flagship, the Fireball's Wrath. With a series of simulated explosions, the Fireball's Wrath appeared to have lost power and began to drift through the void as the rest of the flotilla now gave chase. 

 

With the Fireball's Wrath drifting closer to the Ork squadron, Snagbitz couldn't resist the opportunity. The Ork kaptin ordered his ships to attack and loot the Imperial warship before the rest of the flotilla reached it. Eight Ork ships blazed toward their quarry, all the while Ardery waited patiently. It was only when the Ork ships surrounded the Wrath did Ardery unleash his trap. Inducing an emergency power charge that strained the ship's reactor, the Fireball's Wrath came alive and opened fire on the surprised Orks. Plasma cannons battered at the smaller vessels, until they ruptured beneath the volley. Snagbitz cursed his foe as half of his fleet detonated in the void before he ordered an immediate retreat. However, Ardery still had no intention of engaging in a lengthy chase. Against the four remaining scrap-ships, including Snagfitz's heavy kroozer, the Fireball's Wrath arrested their escape with Ursus claws.   

 

While the Ork ships would soon be able to overpower the Wrath's engines, Ardery didn't need to win the tugging match. He only needed to hold the Ork ships long enough for the rest of 45th to enter into weapons range, which would occur in a matter of minutes. In a moment of foresight, Snagbitz realized this after his ships attempted to escape at full speed. With escape impossible and the Fireballdestroying the remaining ships, Snagbitz ordered his mob to once again board the Imperial battlecruiser. The kaptin fully intended to choke the life out of the human who had destroyed him. The remainder of the battle shifted to the Wrath's decks as the greenskins attempted to swarm the Ash Walkers to little avail. 

 

Although not as proficient as other Void Eagles, the Ash Walkers contemptuously defeated the rabble assaulting their ship before taking the initiative to launch a counter-assault against Snagbitz's kroozer. Kaptin Snagbitz would never see his ship succumb to the Ash Walkers as he was killed shortly before the first Ash Walker squad breached the Ork warship. Within the hour, the 45th now had an additional ship in their ranks that they had no intention of keeping. Yet, as Ardery survived the Ork bridge, inspiration struck him. After confirming the Ork equipment could be manipulated by humanity, the rear admiral presented his plan to Admiral Jarnieu. Instead of risking an Imperial ship to the Ork super-submarine's missiles, servitors would be installed in the Ork warship which would replace the Imperial ship. With an outside signal, the servitors would target the submarine as it surfaced. The admiral agreed.  

 

Once Veribon Secundus was cleansed, the Ash Walkers moved onto Verbion Primus. A day after they left, Ardery's captured Ork ship assumed orbit above Secundus. Servitors scanned the surface and located the Ork submarine, which had surfaced. While the captured vessel might possess the firepower necessary to destroy the submarine from orbit, Jarnieu preferred a more assured method. Once the ship was above the submarine, Jarnieu sent a pre-planned order. The servitors pointed the ship's prow directly at the submarine and diverted all power to the engines. Thus, the kroozer began a meteoric descent into Secundus' atmosphere. 

 

Since the servitors were constantly transmitting data to the 8th Great Fleet, we know that the Ork submarine attempted to contact the falling warship. When no answer was given, the Orks hurriedly tried to dive into the deeps. The effort was too little, too late. The detonation of the kroozer would destroy the Ork submarine and cause a tsunami that would strike the nearby continents three miles inland. The rest of the campaign proceeded without difficulty and would conclude three weeks later. 

 

The Taslob Massacre

 

The 9th Great Fleet would be the last great fleet ever founded, in light of the stipulations in the recent treaty. It would be an unusual great fleet for two reasons. First would involve the infamous Nemoan oath. Before the 9th Great Fleet, this was a relatively rare oath taken. Void Eagles who swear the Nemoan Oath have forsaken all contact with land. These Void Eagles will not commit to planetfall operations, will not walk upon an earthern surface, and the most extreme of them will not consent to aerial warfare. The stars will forever more be their battlefield and their home. Unusually, a majority of the 9th Great Fleet, upon induction, would swear this oath in mass. As such, this is the only great fleet to not possess any terrestrial vehicles or units. 

 

The second distinguishing factor would be Admiral Qualie himself. Although out-ranked by others, no other Void Eagle Admiral was as similar as Yucahu than Qualie. As pragmatic and brutal as his Primarch, the 9th Great Fleet mirrored Yucahu's 1st in same manner and organization with the sole exception of the lack of ground units. To this great fleet, Qualie deemed them simply The Hawks.

 

Although the youngest Great Fleet, The Hawks would earn their place in the Great Crusade and attract the attention of darker interests. By request, the 9th Great Fleet would join forces with the 9thExpeditionary Fleet commanded by Sentinel Shuten of the Lightning Bearers. A number of scout ships and rogue traders had disappeared in the outer edges of the Halo Zone. Reliable travel was only then possible with the construction of the Scarus Beacon. In addition to investigating the disappearances of the earlier explorers, the 9th Great Fleet was also charged with finding evidence for the missing Sons of Nothingness.

 

The first few weeks of the operation passed by without incident as the two fleets searched the region. Throughout this time, Sentinel Shuten repeatedly conferred with his Void Eagles counterpart and made personal overtures throughout the operation. From personal logs, we know that Admiral Qualie was more than willing to coordinate their military resources. However, the Admiral was blasé about the attempts at friendship, but humored the Sentiel who possessed a veterancy well over a century in relation to Qualie's own service. 

 

As the days passed and more of the edge of the Halo Zone revealed, the Lightning Bearers' diviners were able to narrow the search, swiftly bringing the two fleets closer and closer to their objective. A mere eight days after entry into the Halo Zone, the Hawks and the Lightning Bearers approached an uncharted dark nebula of great size. Of greater confusion were readings of a second nebula behind the dark nebula. Scans indicated that it was the remnant of a supernova that had exploded a mere million years ago. The existence of binary stars is well recorded, but binary nebulae as a phenomena had yet to be encountered until this event. 

 

Outside of the dark nebula were two wrecks of missing scout ships, the frigates The New Light and The Coming of Order. Both ships were in pieces with no life signs aboard. Of peculiar note was the nature of the damage. Neither ship were marked with traditional scars of explosives, lance weapons, or the like. Instead, it appeared that the ships had broken beneath tremendous outside pressure but only in certain areas of their ships. Scan sweeps of the dark nebula returned readings hinting at other lost ships. Both Qualie and Shuten ordered full combat readiness before cautiously advancing their ships toward the nebula. 

 

The high concentration of the stellar dust within the dark nebula would immediately undermine auspex readings. In moments, the fleets became blind, only dimly aware of each other's location. At a command from the Admiral, the Hawks and the Lighting Bearers reduced their interval distance as they closed ranks. As the ships gradually came together, a panicked vox report reached Qualie's flagship, the Aquila Rex.

 

The Prime Meridian was a frigate at the very forefront of the fleets. Captain Caftan Neoden, in the few moments he was able to, reported that his ship was under attack, claiming his ship was being crushed by an outside force. Before he could describe what was attacking his ship, contact was lost as the nearest ship recorded the Prime Meridian destroyed on their sensors. 

 

With the Prime Meridian lost, Admiral Qualie immediately ordered a wave of augur probes before contacting the Sentinel for additional information. To the shock of the Hawks, Shuten replied that the famed diviners of the Ist Legion could only see a future as dark as the nebula. Soon enough, the probes began to transmit information back to the fleet. Massive objects were directly ahead of the fleet and were rapidly approaching. To the confusion of the officers, the objects moved like no other recorded stellar object or any known type of vessel. The objects seemed to slide forward, one side moving ahead of the other. 

 

Despite the strange information, the two Lords of the Imperium had more than enough evidence of hostile intent and ordered their fleets to fire. Lance batteries blazed away into the darkness as lesser warships came about to deliver volleys of cannonade. Of the the three enemy signatures, two received most of the weight of fire directed at them. Yet, before the augur probes sped away from the battlefield, they recorded two of the enemy objects to abruptly pull back with speed that would tear any Imperium ship apart beneath its own gravitational forces. 

 

Then Captain Berard of the Raptor of Solar, on the outer edge of the 9th's left flank, demanded aid as it was attacked. With the fleets consolidated, several ships near the Raptor were able to see the vessel and confirmed that it was under the assault. However, there was a note of disbelief in every report delivered to Admiral Qualie. For it was an enormous tentacle that was wrapping itself around the cruiser. Void Eagle captains hesitated to open fire, lest they destroy one of their own. It was only after Admiral Qualie gave the order to open fire did the Hawks respond. By which point, the Raptor'sfate had been sealed as the tentacle squeezed. Beneath the incredible pressure, the Raptor died as it broke into four pieces. 

 

The Hawks replied in similar violence as they unleashed their salvos against their foe. Concentrated fire blazed across the gigantic tentacle before it receded into the darkness. No respite followed as more tentacles grasped other ships. With the Lightning Bearer fleet coming around to aid their cousins, the battle intensified as the Hawks struggled to find a means to destroy their enemy. Although questions burned of how such a creature could exist in the vacuum of the void, Admiral Qualie ignored such inquiries, focusing all of his effort into preventing the complete destruction of his fleet.

 

As the battle continued, data was collected and analyzed. It was soon confirmed that only eight of the mammoth limbs existed. As cogitators began to successfully predict their movements, Admiral Qualie designated new targeting orders. All ships would concentrate their firepower in a single line against the limbs. The Hawks, aided by their Lightning Bearer cousins, proved their skill when the next tentacle attacked. Although it swung wide and fast for a void ship, the barrage it suffered was thorough and well-aimed. The massive limb was shredded into two, with the detached limb continuing to spin through the void. 

 

With the first, real victory against their opponent, the battle shifted to their favor as more of the enormous tentacles were similarly slashed apart through brute force. Unfortunately, after the fifth such victory, the main body of the attack revealed itself. Eyewitness reports that it resembled a cephalopod from ancient Terra's oceans, easily three times the largest warship than a Gloriana. With extreme aggression, the Void Beast charged, smashing through Void Eagle and Lightning Bearer ships. 

 

Despite the horrific casualties, Admiral Qualie remained unfazed and issued new priority targets. The remaining tentacles were to be ignored with all firepower being directed at the main body. Additionally, the full range of Imperial weapons were to be used without regard for collateral damage. Nuclear fire would soon blaze within the dark nebula as the fleets followed suit, the Lightning Bearers more reluctant than their Void Eagle counterparts. Ships who had the misfortune of being too close to the Void Beast when these detonations loomed were lost as the conflagration consumed them and the beast. 

 

As costly as Qualie's tactics were, their effectiveness were beyond doubt. Despite its fantastical size, the Void Beast was not invincible. During its fourth pass, luck was with the Imperium as Qualie and Shunten were able to coordinate the few nova cannons under their command to fire on a single point that had already been struck twice before. One final surprise remained as the Void Beast, shortly after struck with this lethal blow, exploded from within, destroying two more ships in its death throes.

 

In the aftermath of the battle, a full account was pursued of both losses, the nature of the Void Beast, and of their original mission. Throughout the battle, ships had attempted to nimble out of the way of danger. Even though Void Eagles and Lightning Bearers are famed for their naval expertises, a full half of both fleets had been destroyed in combat, crushed in some manner. This added up to several dozen ships of various classes permanently lost to the void, Marine losses climbing into the thousands, and mortals being reaped into the tens of thousands. 

 

Although Qualie had ensured that pieces of the Void Beast were recovered for investigation, this would end up creating more mysteries than solving ones. As hinted by its death, the Void Beast was ultimately an artificial creation, a melding of the biological and the mechanical into a seamless whole. Dating processes estimated the creation to be several billion years old. To this day, no Mechanicum tech-priest has managed to offer a convincing reason as to why such a construct had survived entire eons without losing any functionality or how such a thing could even be created in the first place. Among the detritus, a damaged data core, as we understand it, was found. The only whole piece of information found was a name: Taslob. Whether this referred to the creature or to something else is unknown, but it was the name that came to define this battle.

 

Of greater mystery was the Void Beast's ability to evade the Lightning Bearer's divination. Sentinel Shuten was greatly embarrassed by the incident though it would not be the worst casualties seen by the Lightning Bearers during the Great Crusade. Once this information was disseminated among the Imperium, a fierce debate broke out over what to do with the surviving pieces of the Void Beast. Traditional Mechanicum elements along with Icarion argued for the destruction of such technology. Pionus and a few other more daring leaders wanted to study and unlock the secrets of such technology. In the end, the Warmaster was persuaded by Icarion to order the remains destroyed.

 

Finally, the remains of the missing ships were discovered within and beyond the dark nebula. All had been destroyed by the Void Beast without mercy. The few beings who had reached the saviour pods had long since died of exposure, dehydration, or hunger. No sign of the missing Sons of Nothingness could be found, and the Hawks were recalled to repair and heal from their losses. A last meeting occurred between the Sentinel and the Admiral, but it was only much later would we learn that Shuten had been reaching out to Qualie to judge his willingness to side with the future Stormlord. Shuten's report ended on a bitter note that Qualie would not forsake his oath and marked the Admiral for death.


Project Leader of the Brotherhood of the Lost (http://www.bolterand...od-of-the-lost/)

 

The Lost IInd Legion: The Halcyon Wardens (http://www.bolterand...enegade-legion/)
 
The Third Son: Narrative of the Lost IInd Legion Primarch (http://www.bolterand...-the-third-son/)

 

 

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simison

simison

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THE VOID EAGLES

 

 

 

Numeration: IVth Legion

Primogenitor: Yucahu Sumakutaa the Star-Born

Cognomen (Prior): The Morning Stars

Observed Strategic Tendencies: Large-Scale Astral Warfare, Aerial Superiority, Saturation Warfare, Area Denial and Scorched Earth Operations

Noteworthy Domains: Coaban, Ekwesh II, Vernes, Secondary recruitment rights on several other worlds among the Segmentum Tempestus.

Allegiance: Fidelitas Vacuæ

 

It is a common idea that many of the Traitor Legions fell from great heights on the day they met with their primarchs. The VIIth, the XIIIth, the XVIth all suffered from reunion with their sire. But none speaks of the Fourth, whose loyalty is to the Emperor, and yet fell the same. I remember the days of yore, where the Morning Stars would uphold human virtue at the tip of their swords, bearing the light of Pax Imperialis. Then I look at the Void Eagles, and the lifeless rocks they leave behind, and wonder how such men can still call themselves heralds of Mankind.
–Remembrancer historiale Arcturus Meyan, "From Unity to Insurrection: a comprehensive History of the Legiones Astartes", introduction to vol. V. 

 

Origins: The Stars at Dawn

 

Many of the Emperor’s earliest recruits for his Legions hailed from the warrior class of his conquered territories and in this, the IVth legion was no exception. However, their recruits were not drawn from the war-torn lands of Europa as many Legions were. Instead, they were drawn from the Paladin Cults of North Ind. Born and raised as warriors, many of these men had known nothing other than war for their entire lives and hammered into them from an early age were two overriding principles: honour and justice. These two things they valued more highly than life itself (in fact many noted that they had more respect for the dead than a man without or honour, or a tyrant, or worse both). So it was that when the Emperor’s armies began their inorexable advance towards the kingdoms of North Ind, the Paladin Cults surrendered to him before a single shot was fired rather than tarnish their honour with an unjust war fought out of pride.

 

It was this same sense of honour and justice which meant that, when the Emperor requested that his new allies in North Ind supply men for his armies, the warriors of the Paladin Cults took it upon themselves to supply these warriors, sending their own sons to war rather than demanding that their subjects send theirs. It was these men from whom the Emperor would hand-pick the earliest members of the IVth legion, their bodies free of the mutation that marred many of Terra’s people and made strong by a lifetime training for war.

 

Beyond it being the founding of a new Legion, there was little that was remarkable about the founding of the IVth, no great disasters like those that haunted the [redacted], XVth and XVIIth Legions nor any great successes like those of the Ist or Vth. A slightly higher number of recruits survived implantation than had originally been projected, but there was nothing remarkable about their state once they had undergone implantation and nor were there any complications with their implantation rates. Yet such a “standard” founding could not have come at a better time, for the flames of the Unification Wars were burning hotter than they had in many years. Across a dozen fronts, the Emperor’s forces were pressing forwards against his enemies. However, in doing so they had become overstretched and more troops were needed. This was particularly true of the fighting against the Pan-Pacific Empire. While its outer lands had fallen quickly before the Emperor’s forces, their advance had begun to stall in the face of vast hordes of Narthan Dume’s fanatical followers. 4,500 strong, the Emperor sent the IVth legion to break the deadlock.

 

While the defences of the Pan-Pacific Empire’s hives were all but impervious to a conventional assault, a conventional assault was not what the IVth legion had in mind. Already in their manner there were the seeds of the bravado that would later come to define the IVth legion, epitomized in one famous exchange when the commander of the IVth legion, after having observed the defences of the Pan-Pacific Imperial forces, declared that the legionaries would launch their assault at dawn. At this, one of the Imperial Army commanders present is said to been taken aback and declared that the legionaries would be marching to their deaths. At this, the commander of the IVth is said to have grinned and replied “Who said anything about marching?”

 

As the sun rose over the broken and shelled spires of the Pan-Pacific’s hives, the dawn's silence was broken by the howl of the engines of dozens of Stormbirds and Storm Eagles flying overhead as the IVth Legion launched their assault. Flying over the main defensive lines in front of the Pan-Pacific forces, the IVth Legion assault force slammed into the upper spires of the Pan-Pacific hives before their enemies were even aware that they were under attack.

 

Like a wave of adamantium, bolt rounds and muscle the IVth Legion swept through the hives' upper spires, butchering anyone they found. To their eyes, all those who inhabited the upper spires had made their living off the broken backs of the poor, lacking any of the honour or sense of justice the IVth so prized and so were deserving only of death. When they reached the palace of Narthan Dume himself, the IVth put a bolt round through the tyrant’s heart before he could so much as attempt to request mercy, hacking off his head as proof of his death.

 

With this last death, the IVth were gone as quickly as they had arrived. Their wholesale massacre of the Pan-Pacific Empire’s entire cohort of leaders had left the empire plunged into chaos and so, when the Emperor’s armies advanced once more, they found an empire with a gaping void where once there was leadership, a void that only the Emperor could fill. While there was still resistance, it was small and uncoordinated, quickly crushed by the Imperial forces.

 

 

Where many of the Emperor’s most skilled tacticians had estimated that it would take many hundreds of thousands of lives at best to subdue the Pan-Pacific empire, the IVth Legion had conquered it losing just 278 of their number. These losses would surely have been far greater had it not been for the speed and savagery of their assault which had thrown the Pan-Pacific Empire off balance and fatally hampered its ability to react with any kind of speed. This relatively bloodless victory drew much praise from all, with even Korvost Sahaal, Master of the vaunted Ist, stating that he doubted if even the First could have accomplished such a feat.

 

As a final accolade, this first battle of the IVth Legion won them their name. In his official history of the Unification Wars, Caesarius of the House Kane stated “they shot across the morning sky like shooting stars”. This phrase was adopted and contracted by the Imperial Army units who served alongside the IVth Legion who began to refer to them by the more memorable title of the Morning Stars. 

 
The Star-Born

The origins of the Fourth Primarch are, in comparison to those of his Legion, covered in much mystery. It is known that he landed on a civilised world in the galactic south-west, a planet surrounded by shipyards pre-dating Old Night; a gift its people would seem to have forgotten until the coming to the Emperor's son. History would forget the name of this world, not by redaction like the birthplace of K'awil Pakal, but out of irrelevance to the Primarch and Legion alike. Unlike most of his brother Primarchs, Yucahu would never rise to rule, keeping instead a place as general in a state remembered only as the Coalition. He illustrated himself as a brilliant commander, precise airstrikes and drop-infantry raids earning his nation victory over many of its foes. Countless battles were fought on the surface, countless new weapons were created, only new tools to perfect Yucahu's destructive craft.

As decades passed the theaters of war extended higher and higher into the atmosphere, until it reached the ancient rings. There he is recorded as devising innovative tactics to fight in the weightless confines of the stations, forming a corps of Espatiers known as the Void Marines, comparable in their disposition and equipment to pre-Imperial Saturnyne Hoplites. While other nations were still using ground-war logic, Yucahu's troops were exclusively formed to tridimensional warfare, moving with ease through the dark, derelict facilities and ambushing their foes from all directions simultaneously. As greater segments of the stations were secured, their treasures were gradually unveiled: orbital construction systems, trans-solar vehicles, and three warp-capable vessels, almost intact in their grandeur despite spending millennia unattended. It so happened that these wars were simultaneous with the dissipation of the galactic Warp storms of the Age of Strife.

These would prove instrumental to the Primarch's ascension. His prowess in the orbital wars had earned him a great reputation on the entirety of the planet, his treatises on warfare becoming the basis of modern strategy. With the main battles over, and the lesser work left to his subordinates, Yucahu was named Marshall of the Space Force. Expansionist politics and scientific wanderlust in his government quickly ordered his newly-formed fleet to conquer the stars, he alone herald of both dawn and doom. In the unknown darkness of space, the Primarch was de facto commander of the Coalition's armies, as well as all civilian personnel onboard his fleet.

His first documented conquest is that of Ekhwesh, a planet whose inhabitants had reverted to early industrial levels of civilisation, yet retained technologically advanced weaponry. Semi-sentient orbital defense grids took a surprisingly heavy toll on the initial scout squadrons, but showed extremely predictable patterns, which allowed for their destruction without a single loss on the Primarch's side. The planetary phase of the battle was far more bloody, soulless bombings both orbital and atmospheric targeted on political and military centers, to no avail: the people of Ekhwesh would not yield. Rather than accept that honorable trait and leave them be, Yucahu ordered more ruthless actions: the simultaneous crushing of all major population centers. In four hours, the planet had lost fourty million inhabitants, one quarter of its total population. Only then did Ekhwesh surrender to the "bringer of death born from the stars", or Oprit-Sumakutaa.

As the Ekhweshi survivors were taken into the Starborn Fleet, the name stuck among his drafted troops, initially as a veiled insult. Ultimately the Primarch would take it as his own, in defiance to the defeated: Yucahu Sumakutaa, whose combined meanings translate as "Lord of the fleets born from the stars". Under this new title, the Primarch would subjugate dozens of worlds for the Coalition, from xeno-enslaved Irautza to the burgeoning kingdom of Salezada, and the much valued Forges of Vernes, whose alliance with the Coalition gave Yucahu's conquests a massive boost in materiel strength, especially Warp-capable. This wave of conquests would only meet its end in 933.M30 on Coaban.

For unlike his brother Primarchs, Yucahu would first meet the Emperor on a battlefield. Coaban had gained a fearsome reputation in the local sector for its advanced weaponry, and with its recent acquisition of spacecraft, was threatening the expansion of both the Coalition and southwestern Imperium. Arriving at the Mandeville threshold, Imperial and Coaltiion forces struck a temporary alliance to bring Coaban to kneel. It was agreed that Marshall Sumakutaa's fleet, being more numerous, would engage orbital defenses while Zamindar Mashyan's Astartes made planetfall to wage war on the ground. However, both forces had underestimated the might of Coabanite weaponry. C-beams fired from satellite stations burned through ships as if they were cardboard, while the Morning Stars lost five of their own for each autodrone destroyed. For weeks on end the battle lasted, the allied forces slowly gaining ground, until the Coalition decided to break a point of its agreement: orbital bombardment was declared, shaking continents while the Primarch himself dropped to the position of Mashyan. Together, Void Marines and Astartes fought to the oligarchy's mockery of a Senate, where they unleashed a rain of bolt-shell and Vernal shotgun rounds upon the despots.

The leaders deposed, Coaban was left a burning waste, and as occupation forces from both parties awaited orders, a golden leviathan appeared in the skies: Imperator Somnium, the Emperor's own flagship. When the Emperor teleported down to the still-smoking battlefield, it is said that Yucahu instantly knelt, recognizing him as his true liege. Onboard the Emperor's ship, oaths were sworn, the Coalition officially dissolving into the Imperium, and Marshall Yucahu took the mantle of Primarch of the Fourth Legion; from this day on, they would be Morning Stars no more, but Void Eagles, in deference to the Aquila of his Lord; their livery would be brass, a lesser metal to the Emperor's gold. Coaban was given to him as a recruitment ground, and as a last gift before leaving, the Emperor granted his son with a Gloriana-class battle-barge: the Ala Lux, and an order to wage the Great Crusade. As an historator, I cannot help but wonder at whether this Coalition could have eclipsed the Dominion, had Yucahu been less humble than the Mycenor.
 

Storm Unleashed

 

While the Day of Revelation had been a mighty hammer blow struck against the very foundations of the Imperium, the Stormborn knew and had foreseen that it would not be enough to break his father’s empire which, sure enough, stood bloodied but unbowed. Therefore, with the bloody toll of the Day of Revelation not yet fully realised by the Warmaster and with confusion across the Imperium, the Stormborn gathered those brothers who had chosen to stand with him, either upon Madrigal in person or by hololith. There, he shared with them his plan for the next phase of his war to topple his father from the Throne of Terra.

 

The Stormborn had foreseen that this war would be long, drawn out and bloody. While there were many planetary and system governors who had pledged him their loyalty, the vast majority had not, instead remaining loyal to the Throne World. Those who did rebel alongside the Stormborn were often, even within the galactic core where Icarion’s influence was strongest, separated by many loyalist counterparts. Therefore, as he outlined to his brothers, the next stage in Icarion’s plan was to build upon the fragments of an empire that they now possessed, build outwards, conquering surrounding systems and solidifying the Stormborn’s grip over that region where he possessed the most support: the galactic core.

 

However, not all the Loyalist Legions were so badly bloodied upon the Day of Revelation as to be unable to resist the Stormborn’s expansion. Of all the Loyalist Legions, the Halycon Wardens had, on the face of it, suffered the least upon the Day of Revelation and still remained largely intact. However, while nearly half of the Legion answered Alexandros’ call and gathered in the Sol system to fight in the reconquest of Mars, in and of itself a bloody conflict that saw the Legions pitted against the full might of the Insurrectionist Mechanicum, tens of thousands more were spread out across the galaxy in defensive garrisons, from the 60 guarding the watch station on the moon of Bilkan to the thousands deployed to worlds that sat at the hub of major warp routes. Because of their place in these garrisons, the Vth would bleed heavily in these early years, paying as much blood as their brothers had had to upon the Day of Revelation.

 

To a lesser degree, the stalwart and unyielding Fire Keepers would suffer heavily. While they were not as widespread as those of the Halycon Wardens, no Legion could match the Fire Keepers skill for the defence and construction of fortifications and so many worlds of great importance were garrisoned by the Xth rather than the Vth. Due to their importance, these worlds would often prove beacons for the Stormborn’s forces, who fell on them without mercy and in their dedication, the Fire Keepers died where they stood rather than give way, always taking many of their foes with them when they fell yet always falling eventually.

 

However, it is likely that those who paid the heaviest price for their loyalty were the Void Eagles. They were not spread in garrisons, for the impatient sons of Yucahu had never been adept at manning walls. Instead, they would be used by the Warmaster as a rapid response force due to their expertise in void warfare and consequent fleet based nature and great mobility. Wherever the Warmaster saw a danger to the Loyalist line, he would send the Void Eagles to plug it or, at the very least, slow the Insurrectionists until the massive bulk of the Imperial Army could be flooded into the danger zone. Therefore, in these early years, the Void Eagles could always be found where the fighting was fiercest, the odds the most desperate and played a crucial role in denying the Stormborn some crucial systems and most importantly buying the Warmaster time: time to assess the situation and regroup. Time to muster the Imperial Army. Time to rebuild his Legions. Yet this time came at a cost in IVth Legion lives. Due to both the nature of Void Eagles as a Legion and the chaotic nature of this early fighting, precise estimates are impossible for quite how heavy the cost they paid was. Some have cited the gargantuan and implausible figure of 130% casualties. However, for a Legion to have renewed itself in just two years would be nearly impossible and would have put severe strain on both the Legion’s command and combat effectiveness, even with use of the methods pioneered by the Warbringers in the years before the Vizenko Prosecution. Some have cited the erratic nature of Void Eagles units strategies and behaviours as evidence for use of such techniques however it is worth noting that even during the Great Crusade, the Void Eagles had never been a predictable Legion.

 

However, for all their bravery, the loyalists could not undo what had been done. The iron fist of the Stormborn closed around the galactic core and it brought war with it, war like none had seen before. War between the Legions, raging across a thousand systems and consuming all it touched. Here I recount the story of this war’s earliest years and earliest campaigns, campaigns that raged before even the dust of the Day of Revelation had settled and continued to rage long after.

 

The Weapon and Its Master

 

Leaving the dissolved Coalition behind, Yucahu devoted himself to the Emperor's Great Crusade. As such, his first concern was the disposition of his new Legion. Although there had been an initial excitement at the prospect of being reunited with their Primarch, the Morning Stars quickly became divisive as they came to understand the true nature of their gene-sire. A number of the legionnaires declared that honour dictated their submission to their new liege lord and adopted Yucahu's brass and the moniker 'Void Eagles'. However, a significant remnant rejected both, claiming that they could not in good conscience betray the traditions that had sustained them for decades of the Great Crusade. 

 

Many Imperial observers watched the growing conflict with great curiosity. After all, it was only a mere six years earlier where the Shepherds of Eden broke ranks from the Berserkers of Uran, supported by powerful patrons. Many quietly wondered if a similar situation, the creation of a new Legion 'Auxilia', would come to pass. This hypothetical situation never came to pass. Unlike the more brutal Akarro, Yucahu, while refusing to change his ways to mollify his irate sons, was content to allow them to fight as they wished so long as they continued completing compliance operations in the Emperor's service. This stubborn remnant was given their own fleet and kept their old title before continuing on with the Great Crusade. 

 

Many Imperial observers watched the growing conflict with great curiosity. After all, it was only a mere six years earlier where the Shepherds of Eden broke ranks from the Berserkers of Uran, supported by powerful patrons. Many quietly wondered if a similar situation, the creation of a new Legion 'Auxilia', would come to pass. This hypothetical situation never came to pass. Unlike the more brutal Akarro, Yucahu, while refusing to change his ways to mollify his irate sons, was content to allow them to fight as they wished so long as they continued completing compliance operations in the Emperor's service. This stubborn remnant was given their own fleet and kept their old title before continuing on with the Great Crusade. The remaining Sons of Yucahu would make the transition to Void Eagles, steadily leaving their traditions and past identity behind as attrition did the rest. 

 

The history of every Legion contains a turning point, where the dominant Terran culture was confronted with - and typically supplanted by - another. This is true of the IV, more so than many of their cousins, as history sadly attests. The nature of the culture that eventually came to dominate was unusual, however, because it was not tied to a particular stellar polity. 

While the Iron Bears and Crimson Lions bear the influence of their Primarchs’ realms at almost every level, the Void Eagles drew almost nothing from the world where their father was fostered, to the extent that it is now forgotten by Imperial records. Yucahu reckoned any attachment to his homeworld to be unnecessary sentiment, and while the Legion exercised its recruitment rights there, no Astartes partook in its governance. Nor was any grand fortress-monastery established to rival the floating Stormspire of Madrigal or the Ebensagab, hewn from three mountains through Niklaas’ architectural insight. The Void Eagles moved fast, often ranging far ahead of the bow wave that was the Great Crusade, taking recruits as tribute from hundreds of worlds. Certain Clans of the Crimson Lions were similarly adventurous, but they would regularly seek out the company of their brothers, taking in new warriors at these times. In this way, the dominance of their parent culture was preserved.

Not so the Void Eagles. Except for the rare occasion that a fleet took such heavy losses as to force a pause to rearm and replenish their numbers, they made it necessary for new blood to pursue them. To this end, neophytes would undertake the latter years of their training across several worlds en route to their designated fleet. However, the lion’s share of their trials and lessons occurred aboard the ships that carried them. While Yucahu’s chosen specialisation would have forged his sons into masters of ship-to-ship combat anyway, this policy surely provided a catalyst for their expertise, and the Void Eagles boasted an unusually high number of breachers.

Those neophytes who hailed from Coaban and other permanent recruitment worlds found themselves surrounded by comrades from a multitude of planets, as well as those born in the confines of IV Legion vessels, who had never trodden soil. Imperial Gothic was the de facto language when so few shared a first language. Moreover, the often observed effect of Ascension on an Aspirant’s memory seems to have played a part in creating the “voidborn” culture. Many space marines, in stark contrast to their near-perfect recall of events following their metamorphosis, have attested to faint, incomplete memories of Ascension and life before it. Whisked away shortly after most of the implants had taken, these young warriors would have had little recollection of the worlds that had raised them. Their experience was then of fleeting planetfall, interspersed with a far greater amount of time in the void or the Warp. During the Rangdan Xenocides, many inductees were abruptly taken from their homes and accelerated growth and implantation methods used to make them into Astartes. Such practices can only have exacerbated the above phenomena.

As a consequence of all this, few affectations from parent cultures survived among the Void Eagles, and while the fleets differentiated themselves aesthetically, those differences could not easily be traced back to any one system. Idiosyncratic weapon types and variants were almost entirely absent, whereas they dominated the arsenals of the Lightning Bearers and Eagle Warriors. There was one exception - Alvator’s Fifth Fleet - yet their deviations originated with their eccentric Mechanicum allies, who consistently skirted excommunication from the Cult of Mars even before Alvator led them into a decades-long absence. In Legion and serf slang, references to the normality that the void represented were commonplace; the heat of an enginarium came to a IV legionary’s mind more readily than a warm day. Some even showed an aversion to planet-welled water or non-synthesised meat - to the bafflement of many a cousin or remembrancer.

Brotherhood came with surprising ease to the new intakes, perhaps because they lacked pronounced cultures to separate them. This “blank slate” effect may also have contributed to the Void Eagles’ remarkable degree of loyalty to the Emperor. They existed as His soldiers and nothing else but brothers to one another, with little time or inclination to speculate on their purpose beyond that. Moreover, the warrior lodges which incubated the seeds of rebellion in many Legions were simply found superfluous among the Void Eagles, who maintained their own customs to foster kinship. Thus it was that, when betrayal cast the Imperium into disarray, the Void Eagles adjusted with relative ease, fighting and living as ever they had. They were the marauders, anchored nowhere and taking what they needed from wherever they could get it. 

 

The Master's Retirement

 

At the Qarith Triumph, the Emperor would declare that his part in the Great Crusade would temporarily end. While only offering a vague answer as to why, the Emperor appointed Alexandros to lead the Great Crusade in his stead through the office of Warmaster. It was a decision that was simultaneously celebrated and reviled. Among his brothers, Yucahu took a more measured approach. In his private thoughts, Yucahu doubted that the position of Warmaster was necessary, believing the office would become a source of conflict and envy between the Primarchs, preferring that the Emperor remain in his place but more as a figurehead. Furthermore, Yucahu was surprised as many were that Alexandros was chosen over Icarion. It was an open secret that the Shield-Lord desired the battlefield of words to bolt shells and had subtly dissented with some of the Emperor's decisions. 

 

However, for all of his doubts, the Brass Lord was practical and loyal. Whatever he may have thought privately, Yucahu publicly supported the new Warmaster and continued his service to the Imperium without question. Despite minor disagreements, Yucahu became satisfied with the Warmaster's performance. Finding that the Warmaster adroitly handling the bureacracy, Yucahu was freed to devote more time to his campaigns and finish the Great Crusade's purpose. 

 

Thus, when the Stormborn began to assemble allies for the incoming Insurrection, Icarion had hoped to turn Yucahu to his cause with claims that the Warmaster and the Emperor had become too detached from the Great Crusade. No effort lasted beyond a few careful probes. For Yucahu cared little how the Warmaster executed his duties, so long as the Great Crusade continued to expand onward. Finally, no mock argument could shake the Brass Lord's ironclad fidelity to the Emperor. 

 

Unable to convert Yucahu to his cause, Icarion would then turn his attention to the Void Eagles themselves. To the everlasting shame of Yucahu, the Lord of the IVthhad not been able to cultivate the same degree of loyalty within his own Legion as he himself evinced. For his failure, the Void Eagles would suffer mightily on the Day of Revelation as those ostensibly within the Legion would turn their own ships against the Star-Born.


Project Leader of the Brotherhood of the Lost (http://www.bolterand...od-of-the-lost/)

 

The Lost IInd Legion: The Halcyon Wardens (http://www.bolterand...enegade-legion/)
 
The Third Son: Narrative of the Lost IInd Legion Primarch (http://www.bolterand...-the-third-son/)

 

 

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#286
bluntblade

bluntblade

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Algrim kindly gave us these:

Some more for you viewing pleasure..the Void Eagles!


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Void Eagles armorial with Legion iconography




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Void Eagles Legionary



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Unknown legionary, pict-captured late Insurrection. The reborn Morning Stars colours and markings identify this Astartes as one of a number of the 3rd Great Fleet, mainly composed of Terrans, who along with their admiral turned to the Stormborn's side.


Now I'm thinking the Morning Star should appear in a later Book on account of the skulls. As for the VE marine, we'll want him in Expansion but we'll have to justify that Palatine Aquila. Perhaps he was awarded it before the EW got it, or they weren't awarded it to bear exclusively.

Mortal scrivener for the Brotherhood of the Lost project:
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Tales of the Brotherhood


#287
Skalpynock

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And the cherub said, "Come and see"
And I saw, and behold a brazen sword: and he that held it flew on wings of fire; and a ship was given to him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.


From the Orange Delian Gospel, third epistle to the Vanquished.
  • Kelborn and bluntblade like this

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Legio IX: the Warbringers Proto-Legio IX: the Steel Guard

Legio IV: the Void Eagles Proto-Legio IV: the Morning Stars

 





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