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#1901
bluntblade

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That second sentence really ought to be two, I think

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#1902
simison

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As a reminder, I am still waiting on Sig and Blunt to pick the 'minor' DoR ambushes that will feature as red boxes in the Untara and Kataii campaigns. Once selected, I can begin writing on them and accelerate our progress through Beta Phase. 

 

If neither wishes to pick, then inform me and I'll handle it.


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#1903
simison

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Both Blunt and Sig have picked their minor battles. Blunt is writing about the Lions versus the Berserkers, while Sig has picked the Fire Keepers vs. Warriors of Peace. 

 

Although I'm not sure he has given me permission to write the box myself, I would like to get the ball rolling while he's finishing Untara. 

 

There was a previous conversation in regards to this battle. Mainly, it only works because the Warriors of Peace have to concentrate their entire force at hitting Niklaas' command center for a chance to kill him. What remains is to establish where the battle took place, the foe the Fire Keepers were fighting, and other details.

 

Given how soon we want Niklaas and the Fire Keepers to return to the Sol System to take their place in the Martian campaign, I'm thinking they should be in either Segmentum Obscurus or Tempestus, preferrably close to the borders to Solar. This may sound unusually close to the Imperial core, but (as established elsewhere) this could be part of a second or third wave where Expeditionary Fleets are now clearing lesser-known routes or outright unknown territory. 

 

For a foe, I recommend a xenos who is psychic that would prove especially vulnerable to the Soulless of the Warriors of Peace. The Aeldari could represent a classic foe if we don't want to go through the effort of making a xenos up. 

 

Since I've been going on the Primarch Tarot theory on Discord, I'd figure I'd look up to see how the General (the Hermit) relates to Niklaas (the Sun). Here's what it says: "The Hermit's withdrawal is not easy for the Sun to deal with, and if the Sun appears too prideful the Hermit can turn quite critical." Now, our Primarchs have more dimensions than just the Tarot system. So, here's what I'm seeing between these two. 

 

Given their inherent distrust of psykers, there's a natural alliance there, especially given how extreme their solutions are. Yet, there is quite the potential when it comes to the clash of personalities. It depends on how personable Niklaas is and how much criticism he is willing to put up with. 


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#1904
Demus Ragnok

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The proximity to Sol goes without saying given the other fluff we have established.

I like Eldar as an enemy.

Niklaas has a tendency toward the negative side of the Tarot traits. So there is that.
Of Fire.

Fire gives light removing dark and shadow.

Fire gives purity driving out corruption.

Fire gives strength consuming weakness.

#1905
simison

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Given the fact that we want Niklaas to be planetside for this battle (and we already have plenty of void ambushes), I'm thinking that Niklaas is in the process of clearing out an Exodite world. Have the system half-hidden in a nebula which is why it's been ignored until now. Have it be an unusually large Exodite presence compared to it's more traditional sparse settlements, and then throw in Biel-Tan as reinforcements to justify sending the Warriors of Peace as reinforcements. 

 

For location, I'm imaging it's in the galactic arm, just south of Necromunda. 

 

Demus, do you want to name the system/planet?


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#1906
Demus Ragnok

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You can name it I’ve searched for months for a name I like and have come up with nothing.

Also the rest I like.

Edited by Demus Ragnok, 18 March 2018 - 09:22 PM.

Of Fire.

Fire gives light removing dark and shadow.

Fire gives purity driving out corruption.

Fire gives strength consuming weakness.

#1907
simison

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The Raid of Mena-goth

 

Niklaas, Lord of the Tenth Legion, had always been a controversial figure among his brothers. His harsh treatment of his Librarians and his unending distrust in the powers of Warp had affected even his relationship with the Emperor. Yet, for all his critics said of him, Niklaas had proven himself as a level-handed warlord, an unsurpassed master of siegecraft and second only to Daer'dd in the forge. Responsible for many of the Imperium's finest redoubts, Niklaas possessed unparalleled knowledge of the Imperium's defenses, rendering him an invaluable asset in the incoming civil war. 

 

Records show that Icarion made several subtle overtures to the Witch Breaker, but it would come to naught. Whether this was due to Niklaas' loyalty to the Imperium or to his distrust of Icarion as a psyker, it remains unknown. As such, Niklaas and the Fire Keepers would be marked for destruction on the Day of Revelation.


Edited by simison, 20 March 2018 - 12:17 AM.

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#1908
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I'm a bit iffy with the phrasing of that one sentence. How about records suggest that Icarion attempted to reach out multiple times.

I'd also throw in a caveat to the mistrust, that he was respected as an otherwise level headed and doggedly loyal general, an unsurpassed siegemaster and architect, and course only Daer'dd rivals him in forgecraft.

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#1909
simison

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Tweaked. How's that?

 

Demus, can I have one of Nik's titles? 


Edited by simison, 20 March 2018 - 12:17 AM.

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#1910
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Looks good to me.
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#1911
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The task of eliminating Niklaas and the Fire Keepers fell to the Jade General and the Warriors of Peace. At first glance, the two Primarchs seemed to be natural allies. Both possessed an inherent distrust of the Warp and advocated for extreme solutions in order to contain the threat. Where Niklaas severely limited his librarians, the Jade General sought to unlock the secrets of the Pariah gene and cultivate it among humanity. Both prided themselves on their methodical approach of war. However, it never came to pass. Simple differences in personality led to bickering between the two brothers even as they acknowledged and respected each other's talents. Avoiding the love between Alexandros and Icarion and the hatred between Hectarion and Raktra, the relationship between Niklaas and the Jade General meandered between extremes.

 

When the Jade General received his mission, it was with his characteristic stoicism that he accepted. Given the size difference between the Xth Legion and his own XVIIth, he quickly deduced his only hope of victory was a precision strike against Niklaas and his command staff. Annihilation of the Fire Keepers would have to be dealt with at a later date. 

 

The timing of events was in the Jade General's favour. The Fire Keepers were engaged in a purgation campaign on the border of Segmenta Solar and Tempestus. Although well within the Imperium's borders, it was only recently that a new system had been discovered, hidden in the Sanguenay nebula. Rogue traders attempted to survey the system and soon met hostility on several planets. A more primitive branch of the Eldar had laid claim to the system and were willing to defend their home to the death. 


Edited by simison, 22 March 2018 - 01:09 PM.

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#1912
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Although a lengthy campaign, these Eldar could not hold against the might of a Legion were it not for reinforcements. The armies of the Craftworld designated as 'Biel-Tan' by its xenos population attacked a few days after the Fire Keepers had successfully cleansed the first planet. Lightning raids inflicted casualties and slowed the Fire Keepers' progress as they clashed on the second occupied planet. It was on Icarion's recommendation that the Warmaster deployed the Warriors of Peace to aid their fiery kin, the Soulless a potent weapon against the Eldar's witchcraft. 


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#1913
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The Warmaster agreed, unintentionally dooming the Fire Keepers to suffer during the Day of Revelation. It would be on Mena-goth II the two Legions would clash. When the Jade General's personal fleet, the 3,484th Expeditionary Fleet, arrived in the system, communications were established to ascertain the situation. Unaware that he was providing precious intelligence to a foe, Niklaas acceded. The bulk of the Fire Keepers were sprawled across the planet, while a core reserve force defended their primary fortress and landing zone. Even so divided, this placed well over 30,000 Legionaries mere minutes away from their liege lord, in addition to auxiliary forces and titan support. 

 

Although the easiest solution would be an orbital bombardment on the Legion's command center, it was rendered impossible by three factors. First, Niklaas' personal Gloriana, Treads Upon the Night, maintained a stable orbit directly above the location, removing the best potential bombardment vector. Second, after several lightning raids by the xenos, the command center was defended by an active void shield network, rendering the window for bombardment a sliver. Third, there was no guarantee that Niklaas himself wouldn't be protected by the shield generators of his personal armour. 

 

In a moment of irony, the Jade General deduced his only viable tactic was a precision strike, much akin to the tactics seen among the Eldar. Estimating a window of 37 minutes, the Jade General would have to inflict as much damage as possible before retreating. For even if he could successfully annihilate the base defenders to a man, the Fire Keeper's much larger fleet would destroy the 3,484th and strand the Warriors of Peace planetside, dooming them to an eventual death of attrition. 


Edited by simison, 28 March 2018 - 02:09 PM.

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#1914
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Since it was imperative that the Warriors of Peace be able to retreat back into orbit, drop pods would not see use in the upcoming battle. Instead, as the 3,484th took its place beside the Fire Keepers fleet, the Jade General would have to rely on two waves of landing craft packed to the brim with marines for combat operations. Once the Warriors of Peace had been cleared to begin landing operations, the Primarch himself would travel to the surface with his elite guard to personally meet with Niklaas. Unknown to the Fire Keepers, every reserve XVIIth fighter, bomber, and gunship were prepped for combat as the first wave of Warriors of Peace disembarked unto the planet. 

 

The first wave had completely disembarked as the Jade General entered into his brother's headquarters. The second wave descended as the emptied first of landing craft slowed their speed toward the void. It is said that Niklaas called out in greeting to his brother. The Jade General answered by activating his weapons. The Emperor's loyal son survived the first blow of the ambush through supernatural reflex, his arm catching the Jade General's lightning kick. In that moment, the Warriors of Peace struck. 

 

As the Jade General attempted a killing blow, his sons slew the Loyalists around them. Fire Keepers, especially those closest to the landing pads, died in the hundred as the Warriors of Peace secured their retreat points. The first wave of aircraft hurtled back toward the surface and strafed defenses, while the second wave deployed its legionaries to the newly-secured landing zones. By far, the most visible carnage was the destruction of the titans of Legio Tonarum. XVIIth bombers and gunships focused fire on these massive machines of war. Unprepared for a blade in the back, the entire base rocked beneath catastrophic explosions as unshielded titans died beneath concentrated fire, which in turn ripped colossal breaches in the Fire Keepers' defenses. 


Edited by simison, 30 March 2018 - 03:56 PM.

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#1915
simison

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In orbit above the planet, much the same played out as the Warriors of Peace warships opened fire on the unsuspecting Fire Keeper ships and unleashed fighter and bomber wings to cripple the Loyalists. Despite the widespread destruction, this was no mindless release of aggression. With initial security established, the Warriors of Peace targeted series of specific objectives to ensure a proper withdrawal. The 3,484th concentrated their attacks on the Fire Keeper warships between them and the Mandeville Point. On the surface, security details defended the landing pads, while assault teams targeted the fortress' shield generatorums and communication arrays. 

In orbit above the planet, much the same played out as the Warriors of Peace warships opened fire on the unexpecting Fire Keeper ships.


Edited by simison, 30 March 2018 - 06:31 PM.

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#1916
Demus Ragnok

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So far so good.
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Of Fire.

Fire gives light removing dark and shadow.

Fire gives purity driving out corruption.

Fire gives strength consuming weakness.

#1917
simison

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In a moment, the battle shifted as symbolised by the duel between the Jade General and Niklaas. For thirteen minutes they fought, the Jade General struggling to find the killing blow. Although a master martial artist and armed with surprise, he could not overcome his larger brother. It mattered not that Niklaas bled from a different wounds or several of his bones were broken. Incensed with rage over this betrayal, Niklaas was a volcano, fiery and unyielding in his defense. At exactly thirteen minutes and seventeen seconds, the Jade General acknowledged his failure to kill the Steel Prince.


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#1918
bluntblade

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So, if we want to do Imperial Armour-style planet profiles, do we want to include Madrigal in that? Obviously we'll have Untara and Kataii.

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#1919
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Ordering a withdrawal, the Jade General sacrificed his personal guard, the Menshen, to escape. While Niklaas vented his rage on the remaining legionaries, the entire Warriors of Peace assault force retreated to the landing pads. As quickly as they had deployed, the landing craft swiftly returned to the surface to bring the Warriors of Peace to the fleet. Although the Fire Keepers rallied and opened fire on these landing zones, too few reinforcements from the field prevented them from enacting a killing blow against the ad hoc Traitor defences. In eleven minutes and fifty-one seconds, the last living Warrior had boarded the final transport in a perfectly-executed withdrawal worthy of the Scions Hospitalier. 

 

Although the ground situation had consistently remained in the XVIIth's favour, it was the orbital situation that demanded their retreat. As the last transport broke through the atmosphere, the 3,484th bled ships as the Fire Keepers' 77th rallied against them. Even with the initial advantage, the 77th was easily twice the size of the 3,484th and took advantage of their numbers to strike back. Such was the intensity of the 77th's counter-attack that the Jade General ordered his fleet to begin retreating to the Mandeville Point before the last transport, a sokar-pattern stormbird known as the Hawk's Fire, safely docked with its ship. 

 

Weaving through the battlefield, the Hawk's Fire would not survive as it was swarmed by Fire Keeper fighters only a hundred kilometres from its ship. Its death would mark the conclusion of the most intense fighting as the 3,484th Expeditionary Fleet. Aware that the xenos may take advantage of the in-fighting, Niklaas was forced to order his fleet to avoid pursuit. Although the 77th would lob lance and torpedo salvos at the fleeing Warriors of Peace, they succeeded in only destroying one more ship, the Viper's Wrath


Edited by simison, 04 April 2018 - 02:56 PM.

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#1920
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The Battle of Kartyga
You wanted a draft, here it is. I could do with suggestions for the blanks:

+++++

Kartyg was the purest ambush of the Day of Revelation, fought as it was between Legions who cordially detested one another. Even as allies in the Great Crusade, Crimson Lions and the Berserkers of Uran could not be trusted to fight together, and it is likely that Raktra Akarro demanded the chance to slay Hectarion as the price of his entry into the war. Knowing that the IIIrd Legion was widely dispersed, he likewise divided his Hordes to seek out the Clans of the Lion - although the Lions' impressive numbers meant that some Clans would be assaulted by detachments of the Drowned and the Warbringers.

The Berserkers' mightiest Hordes, some 80,000 warriors, laid their trap on a world close to the war front where the IIIrd Legion was currently campaigning. Kartyg was a mining world in the Eastern reaches of Segmentum Obscuras, recently brought to compliance and only lightly garrisoned. Its governor deferred instantly to the authority of a Primarch, especially one with Raktra’s monstrous reputation. With that, it was the work of a few short hours to butcher the garrison and enslave the population. Then the VIIth Legion sent out a falsified distress signal through Kartyg’s terrified and bewildered astropaths, dug in, and waited.

Hectarion arrived with 60,000 of his Legionaries and a collection of Army fleets which had happened to be in the region, believing that a xenos force of unknown nature and alarming strength was loose behind Imperial lines. He found a world apparently stripped bare, its fortresses gutted. The Lions’ advance forces made planetfall, seeking survivors or lingering enemies in the cities. As they delved into the subterranean levels, further companies penetrated the mines, and in these depths they found the enemy. The Berserkers had set mortal troops, feral and death worlders utterly in thrall to the Ashen King, in the upper levels of the mines and the under-cities. The face of the enemy apparently revealed as human but non-Imperial, the Lions attacked in greater strength, accompanied this time by the Army regiments.

Now the Berserkers showed their bloodstained hand, companies storming up from the deepest reaches with Titans and Knight walkers lumbering in their wake. Equipped to engage a mortal horde, the Lions and Army had their lines torn asunder, their tanks blasted and shredded by the Berserkers’ war machines. Even as the true face of the enemy became clear, the VIIth Legion fleet emerged from the shadow of the system’s second, uninhabited world and from high above the solar plain. With naked malice, they fell upon the Loyalist fleet..

The Lions’ fleet did not suffer as greatly as those of the Iron Bears and the Scions Hospitalier, as they were arrayed for battle, but on the surface their forces were ripped apart, trampled under the pitiless feet of the Legio Yharma. The Lions mounted a desperate series of evacuation attempts with their gunship wings, but such was intensity of the VIIth Legion attack that only a fraction of these craft returned to the void, bringing Lions to relative safety. Hundreds of craft fell prey to fire from the surface or Insurrectionist fighters and interceptors, spiralling to earth in flames. Even the thickly armoured bulk landers of the Tricendian Auxilia came apart, shattered by Titan cannons before they could flee.

As Raktra’s flagship approached, Hectarion held the IIIrd Legion fleet together, tactical sense warring with his duty to his sons and outrage at his brother’s crime. It took the intervention of his lieutenants, Vericos and Hastein Iron-Arm, to dissuade him from confronting Raktra directly. They had received astropathic missives from nearby worlds, and realised that the Berserkers’ actions were part of a greater whole. The Lions would serve no one by standing and dying in this backwater. They had to escape with what strength they could, and learn of the war’s true extent.

The Lupa Sanguis led the Lions’ surviving vessels in their breakout from the system, but even with Hectarion swayed, their escape was hardly certain. Only the unexpected number of Army ships, which outnumbered those of the IIIrd, had delayed the destruction of the fleet, the Auxilia fleetmasters advancing courageously into the teeth of the enemy to buy time for the Emperor’s son. At the system’s edge the Hooded Guillotine, the Berserkers’ menacing flagship, caught up to its sister ship.

Here Hectarion would likely have met his end but for the bravery of Rix Thegnir Hralssen, who commanded the strike cruiser Draugren. Peeling off from the formation, Hralssen had his ship intercept the Hooded Guillotine at ramming speed, firing all the while as it shot towards the leviathan. Its assault craft hastily scrambled, the ]Draugren ploughed through a cluster of the Gloriana’s spinal towers, inflicting grave damage on itself to knock its target off course. Stunned momentarily by the daring ploy, Raktra's favoured companies were beset by suicidal boarding attacks by those gunships and assault rams which had reached the Hooded Guillotine. Wounded by Hralssen’s act and beset by attackers within, the baleful ship left its lessers to pursue Hectarion. Hralssen paid for his bravery at the hands of Raktra himself when the Draugren was boarded in its turn.

Hectarion escaped with roughly two thirds of his fleet, but less than that proportion of the warriors he had brought with him. Some 37,000 lay dead on Kartyg or floated in the void above, along with hundreds of thousands of Army troops, their regiments shattered by the ravenous violence of the Berserkers. The Lions learned of Icarion's treachery soon afterwards, hastening back towards Terra and swearing grim oaths of vengeance upon the Insurrectionists.

Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

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#1921
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Name: Kataii
Compliance Designation: 13-85
Classification: Colonised World/Administrative Sub-Sector Capital
Segmentum: Segmentum Ultima


A Civilised World brought into the fold by the Iron Bears themselves, two decades prior to the Insurrection, Kataii boasted a robust infrastructure and adjacent systems rich in minerals. These ensured that as the Imperium tightened its hold on the region, Kataii was put at the centre of its administration and strategic command. Regularly used as a dormitory world and muster point for troops heading towards the front, its skylines were dominated by docklands and spaceports. Despite the large cities dotting its surface, vast swathes were left free from construction for the periodic musters held there. By the time of the war’s outbreak, Kataii’s population had been swelled by influxes of workers and a garrison which grew with the world’s importance. They would suffer for the choices of its rulers, first in the carnage of the great betrayal enacted there, and then as their workloads grew to feed the demands of the new conflict.

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#1922
simison

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In terms of cost, the Raid of Mena-goth is one of the lesser battles of the Day of Revelation. Roughly 14,000 Warriors of Peace were sacrificed, most of which were lost in void combat during the 3,484th's retreat, to slay 26,000 Fire Keepers and well over thirty god-engines of the Legio Tonarum. Yet, this battle is notable for a different reason. Although wounded, the Fire Keepers' woes would not end there. Eager to enact retribution against his brother and to determine the state of the Imperium, Niklaas ordered a complete abandonment of Mena-goth. Paralleling the Warriors of Peace a mere day before, the Fire Keepers were set upon by a resurgence of Eldar forces that would add an additional 8,000 to the butcher's tally. 

 

[Unfinished, class time.]


Edited by simison, 05 April 2018 - 02:40 PM.

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#1923
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Hey Sim, any chance you could post the Madrigal Purge as a single big post? That'll just make it easier to check it and see if there's anything worth adding, and I can add a link in the Harbingers thread.

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#1924
simison

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Part 1: The Madrigal Purge

 

“The Emperor has lied to you.

 

There is no Imperial Truth save for Imperial Dominance. Unity is Slavery, Reason is Ignorance. Your worlds have been shackled, your sons and daughters, the very marrow of your worlds have been bled dry to feed the insatiable thirst of the Imperator Exultarii. 

 

This is a Day of Revelation.

 

You are not alone. Your suffering does not go unnoticed. The grand lie that is the Imperium would see the Emperor use your worlds as stepping stones to achieve godhood in a universe he wheezes is sterile and secular.

 

As you hear me now, vast fleets ply the void of interstellar space to bring war to Emperor. Many of you will find our ships arriving at your worlds shores, do not be alarmed. There is a place for you. You shall be welcomed, we have heard your suffering and now descend upon you to answer your prayers. Even now, others are already rising.  Throwing off the shackles of hypocrisy and opening their eyes to revelation.

 

Enemies of a mad tyrant stand with me, join with me. March with me to Terra and the Imperium can be yours!

 

I am Icarion. I am Stormlord to this New Imperium. And I am coming for you.”

 

++++~Telepathic broadcast Emanating from the Malestrom Zone~+++

 

The first blow the Arch-Traitor sought was not against superficial flesh and steel but one of spirit. For though Icarion the Stormborn had made his choice to entwine his destiny with that of vile Chaos, he believed in the purity of his own cause. It was a decision driven by his ideology that he manipulated the 18th Expeditionary Fleet to come to the heart of his new, counterfeit Imperium. For at the command of this vaunted fleet was none other than Pyrrhicles the Paragon, Equerry to Warmaster Alexandros. It was Icarion's hope that he could persuade the false Astartes to join the Stormborn's cause and to open a path to bring the Warmaster to Icarion's banner. It was not to be.

 

The Pieces Assembled

 

The time between Icarion's choice of insurrection and the day he revealed his claim would be measured in years. Patient was the Stormborn as he carefully watered the seeds of rebellion throughout the Legiones Astartes. Nomus Sardauk would be the last of the Primarchs to fall for the temptation Icarion offered. His rebellion now enjoying the support of ten Legions, Icarion made a choice. Although it might have been possible to rally yet more strength to his banner, the time required and the unsure nature of success led Icarion to deem his forces sufficient. Dispatches were stealthily sent to his new lieutenants. The hour drew near to finally overthrow the Emperor. 

 

From records recovered from Icarion's false Imperium, it is now known that Icarion hoped to end the war in at little time as a few months. The Day of Revelation would be the opening gambit in Icarion's treachery. The Legions and Primarchs who would not swear to his banner would have to be eliminated, crippled or occupied. To this end, Icarion planned for a series of ambushes that would strike at the Loyalists simultaneously with the Legions loyal to the Stormborn. With Icarion lacking the authority necessary for the redeployments, he approached the Warmaster.  

 

At the time, the Warmaster was preparing to return to Terra to once again debate with the Council of Terra. As the Great Crusade began what many assumed to be its final phase, the Paternova of the Navis Nobilite and the Fabricator-General of Mars had begun lobbying to change the protocol for selecting Imperial governors for newly compliant territories. Long a powerful privilege reserved solely for the War Council and the commanders of the Expeditionary Fleets, it was argued that this right was no longer a wartime concern but an administrative duty to be completed. Although Malcador had yet to act upon the proposal, a wave of frustration had spread throughout the upper echelons of the War Council as many saw this as nothing less than the bureacrats trying to wield more power over the Great Crusade's loyal soldiers. The Warmaster sought to put an end to this measure and to reassure his commanders. 

 

As usual, Alexandros would rely on Icarion to manage the warfront as he wrestled with the Terran politicians and eagerly met with his brother before taking his leave. From the private records of the Warmaster, in addition to the usual struggles of managing the Great Crusade, Alexandros confessed Icarion about nightmares. Known by some as the Seer, Alexandros possessed a talent for foreseeing the future but only in the short term. Within a private meeting between the two brothers, Alexandros explained that he had been receiving portents of destruction and some nameless doom that had eluded his efforts to identify. 

 

Icarion preyed on Alexandros' suspicions and took the opportunity to propose a massive redeployment of the Great Crusade. For the first time in many years, Legions and Primarchs would come together in various warzones, ostensibly to better react to the incoming threat. Trusting Icarion, the Warmaster gave the order according to Icarion's designs. It was a decision that haunted the Warmaster and the Imperium.

 

As audacious as the Day of Revelation proved to be, it was intended to merely be a first step of three. Once the Day of Revelation had come and gone, Icarion would then march on Terra itself from Madrigal. With the Loyalist Legions in disarray, his fellow Traitors would reunite with him as they pushed into the Sol system. Together, the Traitors would lay siege to Terra and confront the Emperor with Alexos Travier swearing he would be able to provide a means of matching the Emperor's might. There they would defeat the Emperor and prevent whatever conspiracy Icarion had imagined would take place.

 

Most importantly, Icarion had planned for this march to occur in the company of the 18th Expeditionary Fleet, specifically Lord Protector Pyrrhicles. Key to this lightning victory would be the Warmaster himself. So long as Alexandros joined his brother's conspiracy, no Loyalist Primarch or Legion would be able to halt the Traitors. Terra, guarded by the Halcyon Wardens, would be deprived of its most potent defence force and would have to rely on the Custodians alone as their defenders. While undoubtedly more powerful than a Legionary, the Custodians numbered a scant 10,000 compared to the hundreds of thousands who served in the Legiones Astartes. With such few numbers, the Custodians would've been hard-pressed to defend the Imperial Palace, let alone the rest of Terra. If the Halcyon Wardens turned coat, war would have broken out within the walls of the Imperial Palace, threatening to undo any defence before it had begun.

 

Yet, if the Warmaster refused Icarion, all of this would come to nought. The Sol system would be defended by the Warmaster's own Legion, and there would be no guarantee the Traitors could seize Terra before the Loyalists rallied against them. Some historiographers and military analysts are befuddled as to why Icarion, once known as the Great Crusade's greatest general, would leave such an important factor to chance. It must be remembered that just as Alexandros was too trusting of Icarion, likewise Icarion proved to be trusting of Alexandros. It is a remarkable fact that two of the Imperium's greatest leaders and diviners would be so blinded by their affection for one another. For no two Primarchs enjoyed as close as a friendship as Icarion and Alexandros did, being two of the eldest of the Primarchs. Recovered data cores reveal that other Traitor leaders and strategists had brought their concerns before the Stormborn of Alexandros' undeclared fidelity to their treachery. In all cases, Icarion would rationalise away their concerns. It seemed that Icarion could simply not bear the thought of his most beloved brother turning against him.

 

It would be for this reason that among Icarion's plans the Halcyon Wardens' 18th Expeditionary Fleet would be traveling in the space near Madrigal upon the Day of Revelation. Pyrrhicles, Equerry to Alexandros, was an important component to Icarion's efforts to bring Alexandros to his side. By extension, the 18th Expeditionary Fleet would hold the key to either Icarion's perfect victory or lengthy defeat.

 

The Trap Laid

 

Whether by fickle fate or by planned design, the 18th Expeditionary Fleet carried an unusual complement of Legionaries before its fateful voyage to Madrigal. Pyrrhicles the Paragon rarely assumed command of such detachments. As the Equerry of the Warmaster, Pyrrhicles often served as his master's voice throughout the Imperium when the Warmaster could not attend and trust others to carry the burden. This had become a full-time duty as the Warmaster sought to not only expand the Imperium's borders, but to ease the transition of newly compliant systems into the Imperium's fold. Given Pyrrhicles unusual nature, for he was not a true Astartes but a man who had undergone extensive gene-therapy, Alexandros especially favoured Pyrrhicles in handling matters with mortals. 

 

It would be Pyrrhicles' other duty that would place him with the 18th Expeditionary Fleet on that day. Despite whatever physical disadvantages Pyrrhicles in not being a true Astartes, he more than compensated with a will of adamantium and a devotion to his lord that bordered zealotry. It would be these qualities that would allow him to eventually earn the rank of Lord Protector within the Vth Legion. This rank was the head of the Order of the Shield, an organization of Halcyon Wardens who honoured the Warmaster's dedication to shield warfare and to live the ideals he had set forth. Regardless of preferred weapon, every Order member carried a personal shield and had vowed to defend the average citizen. Ranks were physically displayed by the size and strength of their shield, from the humble combat shield to the mighty storm shield. 

 

Starting in 931.M30 at the behest of Alexandros, it had become tradition for the Order of the Shield to gather every twenty-five years for an operation in an event known as the Aegis Reforged. During the campaign, veterans were expected to share their knowledge with each other and to instruct newer members of the Order; all the while, the Order members would renew bonds of brotherhood in the furnace of combat. Although encouraged, the chaos of war prevented the entire Order from assembling with a tendency for the upper echelons of the Order being over-represented. 

 

This would hold true for this expedition as well. Charged with securing Compliance for the system simply designated as N7-88M, the 18th hosted to a large number of the Order's highest veterans. For this august body, the venerable 18th would serve; the sole addition to the fleet would be Pyrrhicles' personal battle barge, the Dominion of Reason

 

Waiting for this modest fleet of over fifty warships would be a full third of the entire Lightning Bearers' armada, centered on Icarion's personal 17th Expeditionary Fleet. Although Icarion intended to march directly to Terra from Madrigal, he knew that if the entire Ist Legion had assembled in the system, it would alert Pyrrhicles before Icarion would have a chance to speak and persuade him of his cause. The remaining fleet and Legion elements were instead deployed to the nearby systems of the Realm of the Sphere, awaiting Icarion's signal. 

 

The Lightning Bearer vessels in-system would be placed in a state of readiness above the shipyards of Akira. Although they were to present no particular formation, Icarion took care to place his fastest ships on the flanks of the initial rendezvous, ready to pursue and intercept any Warden ships in a worst case scenario. Meanwhile, the heaviest warships would center themselves around the Thunderchild, Icarion's personal Gloriana-class battleship. Icarion and many of his officers hoped that these precautions would ultimately proved to be unnecessary. Of Icarion's vaunted foresight, it would only be revealed long after events had played out that the famed diviner could not clearly see the future. It is unknown if his personal feelings had clouded his sight, the turmoil of the near future was muddying possibilities or if some other force was influencing him. For once in his life, Icarion was unsure of what the future held for him.

 

Upon the Day of Revelation, events proceeded as Icarion had hoped. Arrangements had been made for units of Drowned and Berserkers of Uran to strike at local systems, Legions who's rebellion would have surprised few while diverting potential suspicion from the Lightning Bearers. The 18th Expeditionary Fleet was in mid-transit when astropathic requests of help reached them. Although eager to strike back, Pyrrhicles ordered the fleet to divert to Madrigal, to alert the Lightning Bearers if necessary and to join forces against this multi-faceted rebellion. When they translated into the system, a Lightning Bearer vessel received them. 

 

Ostensibly serving as an honour guard, the Lightning Bearers led the 18th Expedtionary Fleet to Akira. Within hours, the Halcyon Wardens were soon surrounded on all sides except for the rear. It was at this moment that Icarion reached out to Pyrrhicles, welcoming the venerable Warden and receiving Pyrrhicles' warning in turn. Icarion then warned the entire Halcyon Warden fleet of a supposed greater betrayal, one that accused the Emperor of evil. Although the Stormborn made his most sincere plea for the Halcyon Wardens to join him and to protect Alexandros from the Emperor's treachery, Pyrrhicles, living up to his title 'Paragon', ultimately held true to his oaths and loyalties. 

 

With but a few words, Pyrrhicles had shattered Icarion's hopes and plans for a quick victory. No longer would the war end in a matter of months but would last years, though few would foresee just how long it would last. Despite this setback, Icarion would reject Pyrrhicles' own offer to surrender his rebellion. Not only would he refuse to change his course, Icarion would mark this day with an announcement. No longer would the Ist Legion bear the Emperor's lightning. They would henceforth be known as the Harbingers. Pure white armour would become storm grey. Icarion himself would claim a new title: the Stormlord.

 

The Trap Laid

 

Whether by fickle fate or by planned design, the 18th Expeditionary Fleet carried an unusual complement of Legionaries before its fateful voyage to Madrigal. Pyrrhicles the Paragon rarely assumed command of such detachments. As the Equerry of the Warmaster, Pyrrhicles often served as his master's voice throughout the Imperium when the Warmaster could not attend and trust others to carry the burden. This had become a full-time duty as the Warmaster sought to not only expand the Imperium's borders, but to ease the transition of newly compliant systems into the Imperium's fold. Given Pyrrhicles unusual nature, for he was not a true Astartes but a man who had undergone extensive gene-therapy, Alexandros especially favoured Pyrrhicles in handling matters with mortals. 

 

It would be Pyrrhicles' other duty that would place him with the 18th Expeditionary Fleet on that day. Despite whatever physical disadvantages Pyrrhicles in not being a true Astartes, he more than compensated with a will of adamantium and a devotion to his lord that bordered zealotry. It would be these qualities that would allow him to eventually earn the rank of Lord Protector within the Vth Legion. This rank was the head of the Order of the Shield, an organization of Halcyon Wardens who honoured the Warmaster's dedication to shield warfare and to live the ideals he had set forth. Regardless of preferred weapon, every Order member carried a personal shield and had vowed to defend the average citizen. Ranks were physically displayed by the size and strength of their shield, from the humble combat shield to the mighty storm shield. 

 

Starting in 931.M30 at the behest of Alexandros, it had become tradition for the Order of the Shield to gather every twenty-five years for an operation in an event known as the Aegis Reforged. During the campaign, veterans were expected to share their knowledge with each other and to instruct newer members of the Order; all the while, the Order members would renew bonds of brotherhood in the furnace of combat. Although encouraged, the chaos of war prevented the entire Order from assembling with a tendency for the upper echelons of the Order being over-represented. 

 

This would hold true for this expedition as well. Charged with securing Compliance for the system simply designated as N7-88M, the 18th hosted to a large number of the Order's highest veterans. For this august body, the venerable 18th would serve; the sole addition to the fleet would be Pyrrhicles' personal battle barge, the Dominion of Reason

 

Waiting for this modest fleet of over fifty warships would be a full third of the entire Lightning Bearers' armada, centered on Icarion's personal 17th Expeditionary Fleet. Although Icarion intended to march directly to Terra from Madrigal, he knew that if the entire Ist Legion had assembled in the system, it would alert Pyrrhicles before Icarion would have a chance to speak and persuade him of his cause. The remaining fleet and Legion elements were instead deployed to the nearby systems of the Realm of the Sphere, awaiting Icarion's signal. 

 

The Lightning Bearer vessels in-system would be placed in a state of readiness above the shipyards of Akira. Although they were to present no particular formation, Icarion took care to place his fastest ships on the flanks of the initial rendezvous, ready to pursue and intercept any Warden ships in a worst case scenario. Meanwhile, the heaviest warships would center themselves around the Thunderchild, Icarion's personal Gloriana-class battleship. Icarion and many of his officers hoped that these precautions would ultimately proved to be unnecessary. Of Icarion's vaunted foresight, it would only be revealed long after events had played out that the famed diviner could not clearly see the future. It is unknown if his personal feelings had clouded his sight, the turmoil of the near future was muddying possibilities or if some other force was influencing him. For once in his life, Icarion was unsure of what the future held for him.

 

Upon the Day of Revelation, events proceeded as Icarion had hoped. Arrangements had been made for units of Drowned and Berserkers of Uran to strike at local systems, Legions who's rebellion would have surprised few while diverting potential suspicion from the Lightning Bearers. The 18th Expeditionary Fleet was in mid-transit when astropathic requests of help reached them. Although eager to strike back, Pyrrhicles ordered the fleet to divert to Madrigal, to alert the Lightning Bearers if necessary and to join forces against this multi-faceted rebellion. When they translated into the system, a Lightning Bearer vessel received them. 

 

Ostensibly serving as an honour guard, the Lightning Bearers led the 18th Expedtionary Fleet to Akira. Within hours, the Halcyon Wardens were soon surrounded on all sides except for the rear. It was at this moment that Icarion reached out to Pyrrhicles, welcoming the venerable Warden and receiving Pyrrhicles' warning in turn. Icarion then warned the entire Halcyon Warden fleet of a supposed greater betrayal, one that accused the Emperor of evil. Although the Stormborn made his most sincere plea for the Halcyon Wardens to join him and to protect Alexandros from the Emperor's treachery, Pyrrhicles, living up to his title 'Paragon', ultimately held true to his oaths and loyalties. 

 

With but a few words, Pyrrhicles had shattered Icarion's hopes and plans for a quick victory. No longer would the war end in a matter of months but would last years, though few would foresee just how long it would last. Despite this setback, Icarion would reject Pyrrhicles' own offer to surrender his rebellion. Not only would he refuse to change his course, Icarion would mark this day with an announcement. No longer would the Ist Legion bear the Emperor's lightning. They would henceforth be known as the Harbingers. Pure white armour would become storm grey. Icarion himself would claim a new title: the Stormlord.

 

Brotherhood Broken

 

Once Icarion's pronouncement was complete, Pyrrhicles issued orders. Although well aware that Icarion and the newly-named Harbingers were enemies of the Imperium, the Lord Protector could not in good conscience open fire on their cousins. For as their Primarchs enjoyed the strongest of friendships, the Haclyon Wardens and the Harbingers had centuries of shared battlefields, oaths sworn and friendships earned. Pyrrhicles, hoping that perhaps some diplomatic solution could be salvaged, commanded the 18th to leave the system and to return to Terra without combat. There, the Warmaster and Emperor would be alerted of this treachery. However, Pyrrhicles would order all ships to have void shields activated and weapons prepared in case the Harbingers opened fire upon them. 

 

Although word would eventually reach the Warmaster and the Emperor regardless whether or not the 18th completed their duty, Icarion would not simply allow an entire Expeditionary Fleet to leave his domain and threaten his forces at a later date. Yet, the Harbingers were just as unwilling as the Halcyon Wardens to engage in war. Thus, Icarion ordered his Legion to detain the Halcyon Wardens with as little violence as possible. 

 

As the 18th fleet began its retreat, a rift emerged among the Vth Legion. Approximately one-third of the Halcyon Wardens present would not obey Pyrrhicles' command. It would be this incident that would lead to the rise of the infamous Malis. At the time he was second-in-command of the Order of the Shield. Malis and the Wardens who followed him argued that Pyrrhicles was a fool to simply disregard Icarion's warning. For two centuries, Icarion had been a trusted confidant of Alexandros and had shown more faith to the Imperium than even the Emperor had in these last two decades with his secretive retirement on Terra, so the argument went. Therefore, it was imperative to side with Icarion, both for the Imperium and their honoured Warmaster.

 

No matter how forceful Pyrrhicles' attempts were, he was unable to persuade this rogue element to maintain their fidelity to the Imperium. Already outnumbered, the scales were now exacerbated against the Loyalists. Malis and his Traitor Wardens promptly retreated toward Akira. The Harbingers eagerly welcomed them, allowing them safe passage through their fleets as they hoped more Halcyon Wardens would follow Malis' example. That hope would be only partially realized as several Warden warships would choose neither to follow Malis or to submit to Pyrrhicles' commands. They would watch and wait, unsure what to make of this new conflict. 

 

 

What followed is considered one of the odder engagements in Imperial records. With neither side authorised to open fire upon the other, an elaborate dance developed in the void. Harbinger warships would seek to block or slow the Halcyon Warden vessels, utilizing their faster escorts to waylay the 18th fleet as the heavier ships closed the noose. In turn the Wardens focused their efforts on evading the Harbinger craft as they steadily headed to Madrigal's Mandeville point, the larger warships taxing the skills of their captains. Although eager to avoid spilling unnecessary blood, the stalemate could not last forever. 

 

History does not know what happened next for certain. What can be objectively stated is that the Halcyon Warden escort, the Jutland Spear, fired two torpedoes that struck the Harbinger vessel, the Evening Star. From here, the account becomes muddled as both the Harbingers and the Halcyon Wardens claim two divergent versions. According to the Harbingers, it was the Halcyon Wardens who opened fire first, choosing to forsake friendship and brotherhood for aggression. This version would soon be taught throughout Icarion's counterfeit empire, a few false remembrancers arguing that the Insurrection was ultimately a war of righteous defense on behalf of the Traitors since it was the Halcyon Wardens who fired the first shot. 

 

This directly contradicts the testimony of the Halcyon Wardens and what is considered to be the true tale of the battle within the Imperium. While the Halcyon Wardens do not deny the Jutland Spear was the first to open fire, they report that no Warden gave the command to do so. Second-hand reports and interviews have explained that a battle broke out among the Legionaries on board as those who wished to heed Icarion fought for control of the ship. At some point during the fight, the torpedoes were activated. Unfortunately, it is not clear as to how this came about, whether it was an accident discharge or if someone on the bridge intentionally fired the torpedoes as there are a variety of unverified explanations given. 

 

Regardless of who or what caused the attack, the reaction was nigh instantaneous. The void became alive with light and metal as the Harbingers opened fire on the Halcyon Wardens. As they noted the first incoming volley, Pyrrhicles' gave the command for the 18th to defend itself. These opening shots would prove to the most bloody few minutes of the entire battle. Harbinger fighter and bomber squadrons that had been trying to slow down Halcyon Warden warships abruptly found themselves in a murderous crossfire of point defences. The Harbinger's 30th Fighter Wing of Gamma Squadron had penetrated the deepest into the 18th Fleet as they had attempted to slow some of the central warships. When the fighting began, the 30th Fighter Wing found itself under fire from a Warden cruiser and two escort ships, along with three Halcyon Warden fighter wings. The 30th survived for fifty-six seconds before being completely exterminated. 

 

Yet, only in a few areas of the battlefield did the Halcyon Wardens enjoy an advantage. Around the edges of the Halcyon Wardens' formation, the 18th Fleet suffered terribly as the Harbingers were able to capitalise on their advantage in numbers. Within a few minutes of the opening salvos, well over a third of the loyal 18th had succumbed to the Harbingers' cannons. The Imperial Herald, a light cruiser, reported lost of void shields after sustaining fire from eight Harbinger warships. Its engines crippled and disarmed of its weapon systems, it would be left to float in the void until the Harbingers returned to capture it after the battle's conclusion. 

 

Flight of the Defenders

 

For the rest of the battle, the Halcyon Wardens would have only one advantage - the orders of Icarion himself. Although the Halcyon Wardens fought with vigour and honour, victory would only be measured in the number of ships escaped to achieve some semblance of a strategic victory. Icarion knew that both the sheer advantages in numbers and in quality of warships had already secured a tactical victory for his Harbingers, their first victory of the Insurrection. With this knowledge, Icarion was confident the battle could be left in another's hand in addition to a pressing need to communicate to his fellow conspirators a new set of orders. 

 

Whether by fate or chance, Fifth Sentinel Raiden Athrawes was appointed as the Harbingers' field commander for the rest of the battle. A famed hero of the Great Crusade and a rising commander within the First Legion, Raiden personally knew Pyrrhicles, both honoured by the Emperor himself during the Koloss Synthecide. This prior relationship would not prevent Sentinel Raiden from fulfilling his Primarch's commands. 

 

Before Icarion took his leave of the field, his last orders were for the Harbingers to do everything in their power to seize and capture the enemy warships. Without the hope of a quick victory, Icarion's new empire would require as many functioning warships to make his conquest possible. Given that the Harbingers had to take greater care in preserving the ships of the 18th, this placed them at a disadvantage to the Halcyon Wardens. In particular, this would spur on-going waves of boarding parties and battles within the warships. Unlike the void battle, which favoured the superior ships and experience of the Harbinger captain and crews, the Halcyon Wardens now could demonstrate their specialty of defensive infantry combat, a specialty only enhanced by the skill of the Order of the Shield.

 

Still only minutes into the engagement, a majority of the Halcyon Warden vessels that had chosen to remain neutral would now attempt to aid their brothers. However, since they were well behind the Harbinger lines, they were swiftly overwhelmed as they sought to distract the Harbingers from the main fleet. Led by Citadel Bolaro from his ship, the War Eagle, these ships endured as best as they could before being the first V Legion ships to be captured. Although some Halcyon Wardens chose to fight to the bitter end, other Halcyon Wardens chose to surrender to the Harbingers, wishing to avoid unnecessary blood spilt. 

 

As the Harbingers continued to pierce the flanks of the 18th Fleet, Pyrrhicles quickly acknowledged the deterioration of the situation, highlighted by a torpedo attack against the Dominion of Reason. To prevent the fleet from being slowed down by its battleships and dooming the entire 18th, Pyrrhicles gave the order for all ships to make for Terra at best speed. Victory would be defined as alerting the Warmaster of this utter betrayal. 

 

Escort ships and light cruisers, released from their prior duties, sped at full speed to Madrigal's Mandeville Point. The few carriers swift enough to outpace the Harbinger fleet became beacons for fighters who's home warships were either destroyed, captured or soon to be one of the two. The heavier warships who stood no chance at escape abandoned their flight as they sought to shield their brothers from the Harbingers' advance. At the most extreme members, the Halcyon Wardens detonated their own ships in a bid to deny the enemy the resources they desired and to damage enemy warships, as was the case of the Indomitable. Yet, this was not universal. A sizable portion of the 18th would not abandon their brothers to face the Harbingers alone, regardless of their orders. 

 

As the 18th Fleet scattered and dispersed, Lord Protector Pyrrhicles ordered the Dominion of Reason to abandon its retreat as it sought to pits might against another behemoth. It's opponent was to be the Nimbus, a Victory-class battleship commanded by the Master of the Madrigal Defence Fleet, Doras Rho. Joining the Dominion's charge were several lighter ships who would not leave their commander to his fate. The light cruisers Endeavour and Star of Halto protected the Dominion's flanks, along with several escorts. The entire 71st Balovian Bomber Squadron, now homeless with the destruction of the Fortress Ovlast, rushed ahead of the impromptu flotilla to clear enemy escort ships with the remains of four different fighter wings providing cover. 

 

While several other 18th elements similarly banded together in the face of overwhelming odds, none were as large as Pyrrhicles' new flotilla. To list the Harbinger ships opposing the Dominion of Reason and her companion ships would quickly rise into the dozens. Needless to say, the counter fire against the Halcyon Wardens was overwhelming. The Endeavour succumbed first as its weapon systems were eliminated under precise fire from lance batteries. After two bombing runs, eliminating two of the Nimbus' escorts, the 71st Squadron perished as the last bomber died at the hands of three Harbinger fighters. Despite the toll taken upon the Dominion, its way was clear to its enemy and opened fire on the Nimbus

 

As the Nimbus' void shields strained, the first Halcyon Warden ship escaped the Madrigal system. The destroyer Talon's Razor had pushed its engines above their safety limits but was rewarded as it safely entered the Warp, well ahead of the pursuing Harbingers. While the Star of Halto crumbled beneath a barrage of lance batteries, two more 18th fleet escorts fled the system. With the destruction of the Dominion's last escort frigate, it stood alone as Pyrrhicles' ordered all weapons to target the Nimbus, coinciding with the retreat of the first light cruiser Courage.

 

Broadsides brought to bear, the two battleships fired at will as they passed one another. Still under orders to capture, Rho was forced to limit his firepower. Pyrrhicles' operated under so such hindrance. Although surrounded by allied ships, the Nimbus trembled beneath the waves of cannon fire; until a lucky shot pierced its adamantium flank and detonated its generatorum. It would be the Dominion of Reason's final kill before the Nimbus' catastrophic explosion ripped into the Loyalist battleship. In particular, the Dominion's engines collapsed, leaving it dead in the void and surrounded by the Harbinger fleet. 

 

The End of an Era

 

By this point of the battle, the 18th Expeditionary Fleet had been reduced to only a few vessels that fought their way to the Mandeville Point. Harbinger escorts and cruisers hammered the last survivors as they attempted to breakthrough the growing blockade. Centered on the last surviving battleship, a Dominus-class named the Flying Mountain, Citadel Eadwegor led his own ship with four others to breach through the Harbinger line before fleeing into the Warp. Although other Halcyon Warden ships attempted retreat, none would have the firepower necessary to pierce through to freedom, doomed to eventual capture.

 

The majority of the fighting shifted to the remaining boarding actions as the last of the recalcitrant Halcyon Wardens were subdued. This would see some of the bloodiest fighting as the Harbingers could only count on their numbers as an on-going advantage. The legendary divination talents of the First was often countered by the skills of the Halcyon Wardens' Librarians, especially the Vraben. Although fewer in number, their brothers valued their lives well above their own as they prevented lethal ambushes and guided the Shield members to more defensible positions. The Madrigal Purge would be one of the few battles where the Harbingers were forced to rely on more mundane tactics, adding to their casualty counts. 

 

The costliest fighting occurred typically in the final stages of ship capture. Where ever they could, the Harbingers first attempted to reach out to their former allies with diplomacy, recalling prior exploits and oaths sworn. A few times this would be enough to secure the surrender of a squad or a small number of Halcyon Wardens, unwilling to engage in direct combat with the Harbingers. Whenever this happened, the Harbingers took great care to honour these individuals in hopes of sapping further resistance. Where pleas failed, sometimes threats sufficed. Although more than willing to sacrifice their lives, often the Halcyon Wardens often found themselves defending ship ratings, crew members, and serfs as battles progressed. By threatening these weaker members of the ship, the Harbingers arranged the surrender of other Halcyon Wardens, who were unwilling to cause the death of a dozen innocents for vengeance. This had the effect of leaving the most determined Halcyon Wardens standing during the last phase of ship capture. 

 

Although reduced in number, these Halcyon Wardens were driven deeper into their ships until inevitably backed into a corner. In these few areas where the Harbingers could not immediately bring the weight of bodies to overpower their cousins or coerce them with words, only sheer attrition remained as defenders were slowly exhausted of ammunition and energy. 

 

In these scenarios, none were as deadly as the Athenoi. Armoured in terminator plate, defended with storm shields, and armed with power spears, the Athenoi were the elite of the V Legion, the favoured unit of the Warmaster himself. Where one of these warriors fought, the Harbingers paid thrice in number. 

 

One hundred of these famed warriors stood aboard the Dominion of Reason. Combined with the unwavering spirit of Pyrrhicles and the eight hundred members of the Order of the Shield, the Dominion of Reason would be the last warship of the 18th to be captured, despite being boarded before a dozen other ships. Only eight Halcyon Wardens would surrender on this ship. The rest would hold true to the Lord Protector's will. Knowing to defend the entire ship would merely hasten defeat, Pyrrhicles divided his Legionaries between two locations: the bridge and the enginarium. So long as the Halcyon Wardens controlled these two locations, the battleship remained in the hands of the Vth Legion.

 

Against this august force, Sentinel Raiden Athrawes deployed the First Legion's famed auxiliaries, the elite Rakurai, in a move of forced pragmatism. Raiden could not risk the loss of too many Legionaries, else this would threaten the new Stormlord's designs. Despite being one of the finest formations throughout the Imperial Army, the Rakurai sacrificed over 2,000 auxiliaries, even with the guidance of Harbinger seers. Although maintaining a loss ratio of one Warden for twenty Rakurai, the grueling match of attrition whittled away the final defenders of the 18th.

 

It was only at this moment, after two hours of rotating units and non-stop, successive assaults, did Sentinel Athrawes replace the Rakurai with Harbingers. While the defenders may have only lost a quarter of their number, ammunition had been exhausted, and the spectre of fatigue lingered over the survivors. Even then, the Halcyon Wardens would not die easily or quickly. Practiced tetsudo walls protected the Shield-members from ranged fire, forcing the Harbingers to engage in costly close-combat to break defensive formations and lure out individuals to be overwhelmed. One by one, the Harbingers bled their foes at great price. 

 

Alas, no matter their valour, the calculus of war would not be denied. The enginarium would fall first. It had been planned for the Halcyon Wardens to hold out as long as possible before Pyrrhicles would give the order for the massive battleship to self-destruct. Aware of this plan through his own divination, Sentinel Athrawes had taken care to only allow enough Harbingers to be aboard the warship to maintain the never-ending pressure on its defenders while delaying the future where Pyrrhicles destroyed his flagship. 

 

Reversing his previous orders, Harbingers stormed the Dominion in bulk as the assaults on the bridge were temporarily halted. Pyrrhicles soon saw the tactics unfolding and gave the long-awaited order. Unfortunately, it would not be obeyed. A dozen Wardens were further divided as three of them attempted to follow through with their commands. The Harbingers attacked in force, overwhelming the survivors with one last push, even as the self-destruct sequence neared its last step in activation. 

 

With the threat of detonation removed, Sentinel Athrawes himself boarded the flagship with the best warriors from his maniple. Pyrrhicles could only call upon twenty-one Wardens, out of the original nine hundred, to stand with him aboard the bridge. Raiden alone marched onto the bridge and challenged the Lord Protector, swearing if Pyrrhicles defeated him in single combat, Raiden would allow the Dominion of Reason to leave the Madrigal system with its survivors. Should Pyrrhicles fail, the last members of the Order of the Shield were to surrender the flagship.

 

Pyrrhicles accepted. Although he was exhausted from hours of combat and not a true Astartes as Raiden was, the Lord Protector fought with an undying zeal that forced Raiden to call upon his every skill as a Sentinel of the First Legion. While Pyrrhicles was able to pierce Raiden's abdomen, Raiden stabbed through the Lord Protector's sole heart. The Legionary whom the Emperor himself had deemed the "Virtue of his Legion" perished, a symbol of the Great Crusade forever lost.

 

A New War

 

Of the fifty-seven ships composing the 18th Expeditionary Fleet that entered the Madrigal system, only nine would escape, mostly escorts and light cruisers. Of these nine, an additional three would not survive the treacherous Warp travel to Terra. Although a dozens ships were outright destroyed in the Madrigal Purge, the majority of the 18thwarships were either captured or defected to the Harbingers, including seven battleships. Since the battle occurred in the Madrigal system, most of the damaged new additions to the Harbinger fleet were towed to the Akira shipyards within a single day. In a few months, the Akira shipyards had successfully restored these ships to full operating condition. 

 

In regard to their former defenders, the original 8,700 Halcyon Wardens were reduced to a scant few hundred survivors when the ships limped into the Sol system. Although 7,000 Legionaries might not mean much to a Legion well over 240,000, the true cost was in the composition of these casualties. Most of them were dedicated members of the Order of the Shield and irreplaceable veterans of the Great Crusade. In a new war where defense would rise to such priority for the Imperium, these losses were acutely felt. The Order of the Shield in particular suffered from the lost of centuries-worth of experience and skill at a time when they would be capable of coordinated defense and imparting their much-needed wisdom to their lessers. The death of Pyrrhicles was an especially symbolic blow to the Order who had only ever known his leadership, and a deep personal wound to the Warmaster himself who had been close friends to the Delian warrior since before the Emperor had found him.

 

Unlike many of the other ambushes to occur on the Day of Revelation, a large minority of these casualties were the result of capture and defection. Many of these new prisoners of war would be escorted into temporary holding facilities on Madrigal. Their eventual fates would be diverse as a few would successfully see the Imperium again through exchanges, while most would suffer a far darker fate. Most infamous of these Wardens would be the third who followed Malis into the Stormlord's treachery. From this initial base, they would form their own allied force to the Traitors, eschewing their former Legion name to become the Hammers of Malis. 

 

For the price of turning on their closest cousins, the Harbingers suffered a loss of 17,000 Legionaries, most of the casualties incurred at the end of the battle when the last defending Halcyon Wardens reaped the highest cost. This casualty count paled in comparison to the deaths of the Rakurai, which were well over 40,000. In terms of ships, the Madrigal Purge enforced only a light penalty of fourty-four, most of which were the lighter frigates and destroyers. The Nimbus would be the heaviest Harbinger vessel to suffer destruction, whereas most Harbinger battleships and heavy cruisers received only light damage. The Harbinger's prized fleet was well-prepared to begin the next phase of the Insurrection. 

 

Despite an overwhelming tactical victory, Icarion knew from the moment Pyrrhicles' rejection that the battle would be nothing more than a strategic disaster. Icarion had lost his best chance to persuade his beloved brother, Alexandros, to join his rebellion. The Halcyon Wardens, the second-most numerous Legion would remain loyal to the Emperor. Although Icarion would attempt several more diplomatic efforts to persuade both Alexandros and the remaining Loyalist Primarchs, it was clear that Icarion no longer hoped for a lightning victory in a war lasting a few months.

 

Instead of a rapid invasion aimed straight at Terra, Icarion ordered the Legions under his banner to regroup at the Maelstrom Zone. To break the defences of the Sol System would require time, preparation and the strength of an empire. To that end, Icarion would build a new power centered on Madrigal. The Harbingers first orders were to secure the neighboring systems for the Stormlord. With the Loyalist Legions shattered and scattered before the Day of Revelation, a temporary window existed for the Traitors to act without impunity as they sought to lay claim to territory, to resources and to raw military power. Terra's fate was not saved by the actions of the 18th, merely delayed.

 

Icarion would give one last order to conclude the Madrigal Purge before turning his full attention to galactic conquest. Every fallen Halcyon Warden's body was recovered, that could be recovered, from the Madrigalan void. Icarion then ordered the creation of a large marble tomb on Madrigal itself and honoured these fallen warriors with his sons. For though they were now enemies, Icarion held nothing but respect for these warriors, who he felt were tragically misguided serving the will of a tyrant. Upon the marble tomb, each Legionary's name was etched into the stone. Written above the tomb's entrance in golden filigree, it was written, "Here lie brave men, slain by loyalty."


Edited by simison, 07 April 2018 - 08:12 PM.

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bluntblade

bluntblade

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*here lie, and maybe "slain by their own loyalty"?

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