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Book 3 - Expansion

Void Eagles Abyssii Dark Mechanicum Insurgos Morning Stars Shepherds of Eden Martian Civil War

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#101
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Can we get this renamed Book 3: Expansion?

Anyway, it's getting a new Part 1. Here we go:
 

The Ravaging of the Nerska March


From the Depths
The first part of the Tayargund Reaches to come under attack by the Insurrectionists was the Nerska March at the sector’s southern edge. Long a frontier region - until the discovery of Gryphonne, Iona and subsequently Yamatar enabled the Imperium to expand further south - it was heavily industrialised and remained well-defended. Yet while those defences had been tested against foes ranging from Orks to human pirates in decades past, they had never had to contend with the foe that now descended upon them, the Legiones Astartes.

The first Legion ship to enter the March bore not Traitor colours, but the pearl-white and red of the Scions Hospitalier, limping into harbour at Dauma. This was the Benthic Spear, a Siluria-class cruiser which was detected drifting in the system’s asteroid belt by long-ranging patrol vessels from Kyvel, the subsector capital. They found its armoured skin cracked and gouged by weapon impacts, and the last dregs of its power put into a repeated transmission. That missive spoke of crushing defeat suffered at Untara, the loss of the Hell’s Heart and the likely death of Pionus Santor.

The first Kyvel ships to reach the Benthic Spear were a pair of Sword-class frigates, which circled it cautiously before releasing Arvus lighters to investigate the interior. But no sooner had they swept down to the one open hangar than they were met with a burst of gunfire which sent them spinning away into the void with only a single barked word of alarm to warn their comrades: “drowned.”

The Benthic Spear’s power levels had spiked at the very moment of the lighters’ destruction. Shields were lit and its guns turned to target the frigates, consigning them to destruction with methodical coldness. The rest of the Kyvel fleet moved into the belt with a hunter’s intent, but they were not the stalkers at large among the asteroids. As their cruisers, destroyers and remaining frigates advanced, sea-green ships lit their engines and set upon them. Within the confines of the belt they were disabled and boarded, the crews dispatched in merciless fashion by the Drowned.

Dauma’s own small defence fleet and its orbital defences were next, as the XVIth Legion battlecruiser at the heart of the invading fleet - now identified as the Ygeth - struck at the monitor ships, enveloping them before striking with torpedoes and lances to gut the vessels and the kill-sats around them. With that done, Dauma was left to turn naked in the void with the parting words of the Drowned: “The Emperor’s writ runs no longer upon your little world. Reflect on the facade, how it was accomplished without a single footfall of ours upon the surface, and prepare to abase yourselves before your new masters.”


Edited by bluntblade, 31 July 2019 - 10:47 PM.


#102
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The Heretek Embassies
A similar message would come to many other worlds in the wake of Dauna, but to the Forge Worlds of Therbium and Richal there came a very different overture. The full story would not become known until Hatross received the same, but a week after the Dauma attack, an Akiran system-runner slipped discreetly into the Therbium system. It carried a handful of Martian Adepts, who brought with them the seal of the Fabricator-General. Carefully avoiding the subject of Kelbor Hal’s embattled state, they issued offers and demands, first to the masters of Therbium and then to those of Richal. 
 
The priests of these worlds were admonished to do their duty to the High Priest of the Mechanicum and turn their industry to placing Icarion on the throne of Terra, as well as deploying their own armies to fight his battles. In return they would be furnished with STC templates retrieved in recent years, withheld from the wider Mechanicum. More pertinently, they would be freed from the Emperor’s restrictions upon the pursuit of knowledge and technology, at long last treated as true equals within the Imperium. 
 
Therbium’s exalted synod were unanimous in declaring for the Stormlord, and it took only a brief purge for the entire Forge World to be turned to serving the Insurrectionist war effort. Production was accelerated and the Therbian priesthood awaited the coming of their new allies, ready to turn upon their neighbours. Quietly their fleets were expanded, as Loyalist vessels which entered their space were seized and the crews likewise appropriated for conversion into servitors or adsecularis thralls.
 
War was quicker in coming to Richal, where the promises of the ambassadors met with eagerness from some of the Archmagi and revulsion from a large minority. Before the meeting could conclude properly, declarations of secession were issued, and the emissaries left the world already lit by the fires of civil war. Such open hostilities could hardly be concealed from the surrounding worlds, but as in so many other cases, the factions and causes of the dispute were a mystery to observers. The suppression of Loyalist elements on Richal was unwittingly left to run its course.
 
The truth of these events was only revealed five months later, when the system-runner came upon Hatross in the Katorz Holdfast. Here, deep within the Tayargund reaches, its occupants received a quite different reception. This was a Forge World bound up closely with the Great Crusade, and devoted as much to the ideals of Unity as it was to the Omnissian cult. Moreover, events elsewhere worked against Martian-Akiran embassy. Hatross’ governing synod had received word of the situation on Mars, where the Warmaster’s forces were advancing on Olympus Mons. Kelbor Hal, they concluded, was no longer Fabricator-General in substance or spirit, and as such his representatives were hereteks and subversives. Sentence was passed immediately, and carried out with vortex torpedoes.


#103
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The Coming of the Sorrowsworn
By that time, however, the situation in the Nerska March had deteriorated drastically. More of the Drowned came swiftly after the attack on Dauma. The 12th Tendril fell upon Carnium, which held the southernmost astropathic relay station in the March, and left the installation a smouldering ruin. While the Warp was usually stable in the region, communications were nonetheless slowed within the March, and drastically so without. For many worlds, the news of the first incursion at Dauma was followed by silence, leaving dread to curdle in the hearts of the Loyalists.

Nonetheless, the commanders of the Nerska March were well-coordinated and experienced. The isolationism which the Insurrectionists exploited against many frontier regions had no purchase when it came to the “Backbone” of fortress worlds from which the March was controlled. Instead, Icarion would have to break their defences with sheer, shocking force. Sorrowsworn Morro, having broken away from his original objective of Yamatar, was set to the task.

Where the first two assaults had been single Tendrils, now the overwhelming might of the XVIth surged out of the depths into the March and went straight for its fortress worlds. Every asset which had been allocated for the Yamatar campaign and not assigned elsewhere was retained by the Sorrowsworn, among them maniples of the Legio Mortis, heavily augmented Jeivka Phalangites and mechanised regiments of the Ghorthal Stonebreakers. Nerskine fleets found themselves confronted with Armada squadrons as well as Legion ships, each attack coming with overwhelming speed and exploiting detailed knowledge of the systems.

The first squadrons sent to investigate systems gone dark found wreckage in the void and ravaged cities on the surfaces of the planets. Garrisons and administrators had been wiped out, and often the investigators found populations whose minds were broken by the weapons and deeds of the enemy. At least, those which survived to report back provided such information - several detachments disappeared as if swallowed up. Such was the case at Tagral, the southernmost of the Backbone systems, where a battlecruiser and eight heavy destroyers vanished without so much as a single transmission after translating into the system. As scores of planets and colonies went silent, the Nerskine commanders were obliged to pull back their fleets to weather the oncoming assault.
 

With the situation already dire, Therbium’s taghmata now declared their allegiance openly, sending some troops to tip the balance on Richal but deploying most of them against other worlds in the March. Gyep, second of the Backbone worlds, fell under the relentless assault of Thallax, battle-automata and millions of tech-thralls, opening several more worlds to attack by the Mechanicum traitors or the Drowned. While the remaining fortress worlds stood firm, others were rattled and in several cases wracked by civil unrest, only put down with severe force. Those whose rulers regained control were now weakened, broken in short order or even yielding to the Insurrectionists.
 
On Kyvel and Ajnaz, the Imperial staff saw their domain hewn away from beneath their feet. Richal’s armies joined the Insurrectionist march, its rulers having consolidated control of their world. Ajnaz’s, finding themselves suddenly isolated and exposed, realised that they would be the next to feel the enemy's breath upon their necks. 

 

Poltergeist

Nothing would be known of Ajnaz’s fate for years, until a fleet of the Stone Dragons found the drifting wreck of the monitor Bastien during the Scouring. Until then, Ajnaz had simply gone quiet, swallowed up by the tide of silence and shadow. Then, with the finding of the Bastien and the data-cores which lay within, a stark tale of murder was dragged into the light of day. The killing hand belonged to Hennasohn, the one-time Legion Master of the XVIth.
 
The Neptune’s Grief, Hennasohn’s scarred old flagship, led an estimated fifth of the Drowned’s fleet strength into system, using fireships as a battering ram against the system’s minefields and clearing what remained with raking broadsides. Other vessels moved in the wake of Hennasohn’s own; Mechanicum ships bearing the mountain emblem of Richal, Rogue Traders with the four-pointed star and skull upon their flanks and other, less recognisable ships stalking at the margins. 
 
The Ajnaz fleet was carefully deployed throughout the system, but against such a powerful attacker this prudence served only to hasten their end. Hennasohn defeated them in detail, leading the bulk of his ships to eradicate each detachment as he moved into the system. Those ships not of the Drowned fleet moved to stymy the attempts of the Loyalists to bring their forces together, hemming them in and paving the way for Hennasohn’s crushing attacks or running down those who ran. 
 
By the time that the last of the system’s four battleships died, ripped open by a squadron of cruisers, Hennasohn had turned his attention to the world itself, and the sinkholes into which its primary cities had been built. His first move was to blind them, and drop-pods and assault rams plunged into the atmosphere, following in the wake of vessels broken in Ajnaz’s orbit. Watch-stations, defence lasers and holdfasts were overrun with vicious speed, paving the way for the Stormbirds, Thunderhawks and assault landers which carried the bulk of Hennasohn’s force.
 
The Drowned plied a reaver’s trade on Ajnaz, raining down ordnance from on high as much to sow terror as inflict material damage. Some cities, lightly defended, were ripped from the very crust with cyclonic torpedoes. Fire Raptors dropped into the sinkholes, saturating landing platforms as the dropships set down their murderous cargo, while on the surface breaching drills were sent tunnelling down to attack from the defenders’ rear.
 
Within a few hours, only the world’s capital city held. In the upper levels the invasion had resulted in raw slaughter, the militia unable to stand for any more than a few minutes against the Drowned. Civilians caught in the way of the invaders were killed out of hand, cut and shot apart or crushed under armoured boots. But further down, the hardened regular soldiers of the Ajnaz Bronzewrought regiments brought up tanks and heavy Sentinel walkers in their hundreds. This was a force which even an Adeptus Astartes Chapter would not overcome without steep losses, and as the Drowned made their first attacks they found another enemy. 
 
A few ragged companies of Crimson Lions, retreating from their ambush by an Eagle Warriors force, had limped into harbour at Ajnaz. Finding themselves cornered again by Insurrectionists, they fought now with the zeal of men who wished nothing more than to sell their lives at the highest price they could take. They positioned themselves carefully, where they could best support the mortal soldiers, but when the chance came to cross blades with the Drowned they fought as savagely as their namesake, bloodying the Drowned with swords and axes. 
 
The Bitter Blades
Hennasohn was undaunted, however, and met this armoured might with a force which far exceeded it. On the heels of the Drowned came slab-sided heavy landers, which set down with a roar of engines. Then a new cacophony echoed through the stricken city, a wrathful challenge and a dirge for the doomed soldiers who stood against the invaders. It was the ancient challenge of a Knight House, and on came scores of the towering machines clad in bronze and copper. House Devoram, more commonly known as the Sin-Eaters, strode out into the city, come to conquer in the name of their grim masters.
 
Where the defenders had expected a gruelling battle against the Drowned’s dogged advance, they met a wall of iron which towered over them. A score of Styrix, Magaera and Valiant armours formed the core of the Sin-Eaters’ advance. They strode imperiously through the boulevards and parades, contemptuously shrugging off Loyalist ordnance and killing with every shot or blow. Around them fought more common patterns and the lesser Knights Armiger, each still more than a match for a Sentinel and indeed many of the tanks arrayed against them. Within an hour, the contest of machines was done. The Loyalist engines were left as burned-out husks or debris, torn apart by claws, fists and chainswords.
 
The surviving soldiers of Ajnaz scattered into narrower thoroughfares, some to regroup and dig in along the route to the Imperial Commander’s palace, some simply to hide. Their choices made little difference to the Drowned. In squads and companies they spread out, deploying with Sin-Eater Armigers where possible in what was now closer to a hunt than a battle. On the primary thoroughfares, Hennasohn and his senior captains led their companies through the midst of gutted war machines towards the palace and found the remaining Crimson Lions. In the confines among the wreckage the battle became a hundred smaller fights, the Crimson Lions using their combat shields to raise small phalanxes and press the Drowned into corners where they could be brought down more easily. For a time, the warriors of the IIIrd Legion held the parades.
 
But then Hennasohn took a hand. "Poltergeist" he was named for his telekine powers, and he fought with a retinue of similarly gifted warriors. He came into the midst of the Crimson Lions surrounded by a blizzard of metal shards, a storm that split ceramite in a hundred places and shredded the flesh beneath. Beside them were Terminators, who used their fists and claws to tear through the obstacles before them, and did much the same to any Loyalist caught in their path. The Crimson Lions, already battered by hours of fighting, were overborne and undone, though each resisted with blood-drenched vigour and fury to the very last.
 
As the highways were cleared, the Sin-Eaters rejoined the advance, and with their mighty guns they obliterated the Ajnaz formations surrounding the Imperial Commander’s stronghold. Hennasohn entered the palace once the Magaera Blood Tithe had prised open its doors. There he unleashed the psyker powers for which he was so darkly renowned, and when he emerged from the palace all that remained of his victims was burned blood. That smell, it is said, was still quite apparent when the Stone Dragons entered the palace decades later.
 
At the time, however, one fact was obvious to the Loyalists: Kyvel was now alone before the oncoming kraken. 

Edited by bluntblade, 31 July 2019 - 10:46 PM.


#104
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"Can we get this renamed Book 3: Expansion?"

 

Are we sure this isn't going to end up becoming multiple books?


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#105
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Quite sure. Subjugation and Attrition are already separate.

#106
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At the Gates of Tayargund
Kyvel boasted a powerful and varied fleet, six hundred and fifty ships ranging from lumbering monitor ships to five battleships of the Legatus and Goliath classes and the Marcher Lord, the system's gargantuan fleet-control vessel. Its moon Coreis had been destroyed in the Manglar Horde’s siege of 863. M30, but the largest remnants had been fashioned into new fortifications, twenty looming sentinels of metal and stone. The debris fields which surrounded the world had likewise been turned to its defence, with its orbital installations were arranged to exploit this. They would funnel any aggressor into overlapping fields of fire before they reached the gravity well.

It was a force that even a Legiones Astartes fleet would only defeat at high cost in conventional open battle. Morro had no intention of trusting to mere force, and so the Drowned descended on the Kyvel system from a multitude of vectors. They came in one after the other, some announcing themselves by raking minefields with las-fire or fireships while others moved stealthily, employing esoteric devices to mask their passage. So the Loyalists held only part of the picture, fixed on the main body of vessels and blind to the rest. All was as Morro intended.

The Sorrowsworn was helped by the shrouded composition of his fleet. There were famed and infamous vessels under his banner, but many more which were unknown to Loyalist savants; relic vessels whose capabilities were a mystery to the defenders. As his vanguard translated into the system, these remained out of sight. The Queen of the Damned stormed imperiously toward the centre of the system, surrounded by the most notorious of her subjects in a five-pronged formation 600 strong. Loyalist commanders noted the Call of the Depths, the Nova Levante and the Neptune’s Grief. Their shields blazed under the defenders’ barrage, Morro’s ships holding fire and diverting all power to the forward voids.

 

Such a brazen display of force could not help but hold the eye, especially when the Insurrectionist vessels spread out and turned broadside to answer the defenders. On Kyvel’s night-facing side, the darkness was banished by the furious exchange, a web of fire across the sky. Immediately Loyalist ships began to crumple and die, for the Drowned had more capital-class vessels and outgunned the Kyvel fleet, but the attackers too were taking damage and losses. Undoubtedly the Loyalist commanders were scrutinising their tactical hololiths, asking what they were not seeing - such a wasteful brawl could not be a Primarch's strategy.

The answer came from two angles at once, as Insurrectionist Army vessels and Mechanicum warships in the lead and brass of Therbium drew within auspex range, dropping from above the solar plane. Sighting the new danger, the Loyalist commanders passed orders down the line, and those formations not yet engaged began to reorient and reconfigure, presenting cannon-studded flanks to their newly revealed enemies. The Coreis Forts acquired their own targeting solutions as the Therbian vessels made for them, artillery duels erupting as Mechanicum macro-weapons tested the superstructures’ defences.

The Army ships, 400 vessels belonging to various divisions but all sailing under the flag of the Victory-class Resplendent, meanwhile flanked the Kyvel fleet. The Therbian attack on the Coreis Forts served to shield them from counterattack. Recognising this, the Kyvel fleet began to reconfigure and contract, pulling back towards the debris fields and leaving their crippled fellows to fight on until they were overwhelmed.

The strain of the fighting was appalling, the losses already spiralling into the hundreds of ships and millions of lives in just a few hours, but for the defenders some faint glimmer of hope persisted. Servitors and savants ran the projections and reported that the Drowned and their allies could still be checked and stalemated. The system's fleet and static defences were not yet overwhelmingly outgunned. If they could hold the Drowned through the hours needed to draw back into the shadow of Kyvel’s orbital defences, then the Sorrowsworn’s attack could be blunted.

But the defenders had been deceived, failing to guess the true intent of the Copper Prince. Supplied with an answer to their question, they had not stopped to ask themselves if anything else lurked beyond their sight. Morro now exploited that oversight. Above and below, the drives of warships were lit and the Loyalists’ hololiths began to paint a new, horrifying picture. A score of small fleets had appeared out of the dark, all in the colours of the XVIth Legion. Like the beast Morro had taken for their sigil, the Drowned hid their full extent in the depths and only now were the tendrils revealed.


Edited by bluntblade, 31 July 2019 - 09:54 PM.


#107
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"as the [Ygeth] - struck at"


Project Leader of the Brotherhood of the Lost

 
The Second Son: Narrative of the BOTL Vth Legion Primarch

 

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#108
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Ta

#109
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How's the tone, do you think?

#110
simison

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Pretty similar to your other work. Why? 


Project Leader of the Brotherhood of the Lost

 
The Second Son: Narrative of the BOTL Vth Legion Primarch

 

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#111
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Just hoping I got the bleakness.

#112
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I believe so.


Project Leader of the Brotherhood of the Lost

 
The Second Son: Narrative of the BOTL Vth Legion Primarch

 

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#113
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Kraken Unleashed
The few Loyalist escapees from the battle would carry with the names of ships hitherto unknown, but which would soon inspire terror across the Emperor’s realm. Chasmata Inmitus, Asenath, Osseus Herald; all were first identified at Kyvel. Their profiles spoke to origins outside the Imperium, some even hinting at the industry of xenos or the shadowed works of Old Night. Already taxed by the demands of the ongoing battle, Loyalist scryers and systems could only make vague estimates based on size and apparent tonnage. In several cases, they could not even do that, for the enemy vessels were shrouded by technological means.

What they could not even begin to predict was the effect of their weapons. Missiles slid through shields and struck, often producing not explosions but sudden and catastrophic power drainage. Others struck and unleashed psychotropic compounds that reduced mortals to flailing despair or mania. Ships began to drift helplessly, easy prey for the dreadclaws and assault rams loosed from the new arrivals. Kyvel’s fleet was being disassembled, cut apart with cruel patience by the Sorrowsworn as the Queen of the Damned drove deep into their midst, barely seeming to notice the lesser ships it consigned to oblivion as it sought the Marcher Lord at the heart of the defending formation.

Morro’s ship was not the first to engage the Loyalist giant; the Chasmata Inmitus and Osseus Herald were already trading fire with it, but even their obscure and fearful weapons did little more than blaze against its shields. Then the Queen of the Damned swept in, tilting as she went to strike at the underbelly of the Marcher Lord. Her target saw the threat and attempted to veer away from the hunter, but Morro was too canny a hunter to be denied.

Quicker than any ship its size should have moved, the Queen of the Damned fired its starboard jets and shot past its prey, a single great broadside rending the Marcher Lord’s shields and gouging the armour of its belly. With pitiless efficiency, the Drowned flagship flew on, firing still while the Chasmata Inmitus and Osseus Herald closed in on the wounded behemoth. With dreadclaws and boarding torpedoes, they delivered the first wave of Drowned Men into its guts and the passages began to run slick with blood.

The vessel’s Solar Auxilia and heavily armoured and augmented Kyvel Falcatai began to deploy, but already the ratings in the lower decks were trying desperately to fend off the Astartes. The Falcatai, while their bionics and armour vastly augmented their strength, lacked anything of the speed which a Space Marine possessed. The faster-moving Solar Auxilia reached the interlopers more quickly, but faced with the attackers’ fury they were soon forced to fall back, ceding entire districts to the Drowned’s blood-steeped progress. Breacher squads broke through gun nests and barricades with grinding brute force, and where the passages opened up, tactical and despoiler squads ran riot, unimpeded in the slaughter.

Further in, resistance was much sterner, anchored by the redoubtable Falcatai, and Insurrectionists began to take appreciable casualties. Outmatched though they may be by the Astartes, the augmented troops were dug into strong positions and their armour enabled them to carry weapons that could breach power armour. Bolter fire flew between both sides, power claws and chainblades mangled armour and the flesh beneath. The Insurrectionist attack stalled, and perhaps for a brief time, the defenders knew hope.

Yet hope was, true to Morro’s grim worldview, an illusion born of a stayed execution. Outside the shell of the Marcher Lord, the Queen of the Damned had come about and closed in again. The Drowned’s attack on the core districts had abated only because they were changing tack. Suddenly they resumed their attack, now striking at hangars and opening them to the second wave which came in Stormbirds and Thunderhawks. Sorrowsworn Morro came to finish the fight, and the most terrible of his children came with him.

Where the defenders had been able to impede line companies of Space Marines, they had no answer for a Primarch and the Legion’s elite. Morro, surrounded by his Demersal Guard, cut a bloody path through menial, auxiliary and Falcatai alike. No armour withstood his lashing whips and sword, and his passage was marked by the trail of dead and dying. Further in he was met by Falcatai in mechanised walkers the size of Dreadnoughts, but these fared no better against the son of an Emperor.

The defenders of the Marcher Lord were now outmatched on every conceivable level. Terminators prised open bulkheads and waded contemptuously through gunfire. Packs of hulking Forlorn were sent charging into the Kyvel ranks, splattering corridors from ceiling to floor with the remnants of their victims. In the wake of these giants came veteran squads to wipe out any who remained, and Charonic Seekers hunting high-priority targets who may have taken cover.

In short order, the bulwarks were shattered, and Morro and his retinue had taken the bridge. The rest of the Loyalist fleet heard the commands from the Marcher Lord give way to screams, gunfire, and finally the mocking voice of the Primarch. Morro offered no praise for those who had resisted them. He merely promised that they would serve as his slaves or give him the satisfaction of their deaths. At this, all cohesion was undone. Most of the ships cut their flags, their captains’ resolve stolen by the loss of the flagship. A few fled, fewer still successfully, and the rest died in dozens of small, desperate fights. The Coreis Forts, already battered and in several cases breached by the Therbian taghmata, either surrendered or made the same bitter sacrifices.

The Backbone Worlds belonged to the Insurrectionists, and the heartlands of Tayargund were open to their advance.

Edited by bluntblade, 08 September 2019 - 04:07 PM.


#114
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The Boot Upon the Throat
Morro and his sons turned slaver’s eyes upon their new conquests. Millions were seized as stock for the Legion and untold numbers to serve as cannon-fodder, menial thralls or servitors. Manufactoria were rebuilt and placed under the control of callous overseers, under whose lash the workers laboured unceasingly to feed Icarion’s war machine. For this was the sole purpose to which the worlds of the growing shadow empire would be put, to arm his hosts for the war to come.
 
This process began immediately on every taken world. Salvaged or captured Loyalist ships were pressed into service to reinforce and expand Insurrectionist fleets. Drowned Men now occupied the command spires of the Backbone Worlds, governors who cared only that their quotas were met. Emissaries of Richal and Therbium were given control over several planets - though in some cases this simply formalised their prior annexation of worlds - including the anchorage facilities above Gyep, Kyvel and Chiones. 
 
The heavily fortified Commena Cluster and Katorz Holdfast girded themselves for what was to come, but more lightly defended regions had no hope against the Insurrectionists, and there were many ready to kill and enslave in the Stormlord’s name. The skull and four-pointed star appeared as their herald: borne upon the flanks of Rogue Trader ships which intercepted merchant vessels bound for the agri-world of Krajin and seeded them with a pathogen that would render that planet’s entire stock of plants dead within weeks; on the banners of the Knight House Urunqa as they broke the gates of Margrave’s Lament and enslaved all they found within; on the armour of Solar Auxilia reinforcements at Durban who were welcomed by its rulers, only to seize its orbital defences and turn their firepower on the world below.
 
Across these outlying worlds, squadrons and regiments turned upon their supposed allies, while other systems went dark and were only heard from again when the usurper’s banner was raised there. But now, the eyes of Loyalist commanders were drawn to the north. Another force had entered the Tayargund Reaches, and again it bore the skull and star. Yet they inspired greater fear than any who had gone before them and rightly so, for these were the first warriors to take up that accursed icon, the sons of the Stormlord. The Harbingers had come for Tayargund. 

Edited by bluntblade, 31 July 2019 - 10:47 PM.


#115
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The Wars of Expansion


“Hail, king that shall be.”

Shakespire


The False Empire
As the Loyalist Legions reeled from the Day of Revelation, Icarion set a vast scheme of conquest in motion. Had all gone his way at this stage, Mars would have been entirely in his grasp and the Halcyon Wardens, having declared for him, would have seized or blockaded Terra itself. Mercifully, the courage and ingenuity of his victims had denied him complete victory in the opening moves, but he had not achieved his prestige without resourcefulness and careful planning. So Icarion moved to exploit the anarchy he had caused. He would carve out a domain from the body of the Imperium, and from this he would raise armies to topple the Emperor from the throne of Terra. Already the Madrigal Sphere had provided great numbers of mortal soldiers, loyal to him above all, and beyond this core the poison had spread far.

With Icarion’s declaration, thousands of planetary governors and military commanders turned their cloaks and fell upon their former comrades. The disarray was already far-reaching, much of it by the Insurrectionists’ design. Food shipments meant for dozens of systems never arrived, leading swiftly to famine and rioting. Foundry worlds were denied raw materials, stolen away to build the Stormlord’s counterfeit empire. Many planets were coerced into counter-compliance, choosing treason over death. Most Forge Worlds within Icarion’s borders threw their lot in with him, having been carefully plied with promises and bribes.

The Warmaster Alexandros responded swiftly, but with his Legions in disarray and Mars in open revolt, his options were limited for the most part to rescuing assets from the enemy’s advance and establishing bulwarks. The Shepherds of Eden stationed in the Badab system had been driven off in bloody fashion by the Harbingers, leaving the heart of Icarion’s realm secure. Hundreds of worlds, whose rulers had long been prepared to play their role, tore down the Imperial Aquila and raised the four-pointed star in its place.

The Insurrectionists had already begun a program of further Legion-building, gifting fiefs to the Morning Stars and turncoats from the IVth and Vth Legions. These were lauded in propaganda, but even as they were being hailed as the saviours of Mankind from an uncaring despot, such unsavoury forces as the Berserkers of Uran and the Drowned were descending on recalcitrant worlds to punish resistance. Forces of the Traitor Mechanicum joined them, harvesting prisoners for their taghmata.

With his sons and the Fire Keepers committed in bulk to the Martian campaign, Alexandros turned to those among the Imperial Army and Mechanicum who remained loyal. As Warmaster, he had always been more beloved of the common soldier than the Legions, and this factor would prove crucial in weathering the initial onslaught. Roughly three fifths of the Army stood by him, and in several instances, Insurrectionist commanders were rudely surprised when their troops and menials refused to turn against the Emperor and His Warmaster.

However, those forces that did belong to Icarion were several steps ahead, working from a plan years in the making, and the Legions he commanded were an obstacle that even the largest armies would struggle to overcome. Now he gave the word for them to carve out his counterfeit empire, and the Angels of Death descended upon the worlds of Man which they themselves had conquered. The Wars of Expansion had begun.

The Disposition of the Insurrectionist Legions
Even if it were available to us, the full size and composition of the forces under the four-pointed star would take a lifetime to assay. In any case much is shrouded or lost to the ravages of war, and finer details such as the deployments and strategic trajectories of many Insurrectionist fleets at this time are entirely unknown. It is reckoned that half the Titan Legions and a similar number of Mechanicum Forge Worlds pledged their arms to Icarion’s cause. Whether because of orders, blind fealty to the Stormlord or the ambitions of their masters, over two-fifths of the Imperial Army took his side, followed by opportunistic or craven regiments who found themselves beset by odds they could not overcome and chose to fight for the strongest side.

Yet these armies would not be enough to drag the Emperor from His throne. Beta Garmon would devour entire battlegroups long before the Insurrectionists came within sight of Sol. The defences of that system would exact the toll of ten thousand ships before they reached the orbit of Terra. Even upon breaching the walls of the Imperial Palace itself, they would have to spend billions of lives before they reached the final barrier and laid siege to the Eternity Gate. The Loyalist Space Marines and the Emperor’s Custodian Guard would hold the Palace against any mortal invader, its defences reinforced onehundredfold by Niklaas’ genius.

Therefore, as ever in the Insurrection, the greatest attention must be focused upon the Legions Astartes which followed Icarion. At the time these comprised his own Harbingers, the Warbringers, Eagle Warriors, Drowned, Berserkers of Uran, Godslayers, Grave Stalkers, Steel Legion and Warriors of Peace. Great changes would come in time to the ranks of the Insurrectionists, but the Morning Stars and other forces which broke from their parent Legions remained small, and the advent of the Sidorae Legions was far off.

While the Day of Revelation had taken a devastating toll upon all but one of the Loyalist Legions, the Insurrectionists had sustained a butcher’s bill of their own. Surprise could not negate all the risks of confronting a Space Marine force, and events show that the Insurrectionists had underestimated their foes. The gutted carcass of the Horrorheart turned above Untara in silent testament to the courage and ingenuity with which the Loyalists had fought back, dealing out punishment in return.

As a result, the Insurrectionist Legions’ approximate strength was ___ after the Day of Revelation, against roughly ___ as many Loyalists.

Icarion reluctantly concluded from such data that he could hardly make an immediate assault on Terra, and likely could not have done so even if his Legions were all present at his side. With his original plan calling for a coup, the subsequent campaigns had been intended as the elimination of Loyalist holdouts. Thus the ambush sites for the Day of Revelation were far-flung, to pave the way for assaults on Tricendia, Yamatar and other such enclaves. However, Icarion’s forces were in position to strike at a great number of vulnerable points within the Imperium itself, and this too would dictate the Stormlord’s next moves.

The Storm Breaks
With a suddenness few could believe, regions around the eastern border of Segmentum Solar and the Maelstrom began to burn. Mere days after the declaration was made, the Harbingers struck the Karthago Sector at the head of a vast host. Far to the south, advancing from Untara, Sorrowsworn Morro led his Drowned Men in a swift and merciless attack on Dreska. From here, the tendrils of the kraken spread out, ensnaring ever more worlds and fleets. Dozens of worlds trembled at their coming, and many more fell soon under the blades of the Eagle Warriors as Socraes Travier took a hand.

In the north, the Berserkers of Uran broke from their pursuit of the Crimson Lions, falling upon seven worlds in the first thrust and putting them to the sword and torch. Close behind were the Grave Stalkers, just as eager to make bloody examples of those who resisted the usurpers. With many of the Insurrectionist forces came Titan maniples, Knights, mortal soldiers in their millions and steelshod Mechanicum armies, all ready to kill for the Stormlord. More treacherous hosts were drawing near, and already the storm was unfurling.

Yet there would be no mad rush for Terra. With Mars being dragged back into the Loyalist fold, Icarion knew the united Sol System would be nigh impossible to conquer, much less hold with so many of his foes still alive. The brother he had feared most to face in open battle was dead, but the rest were hardly to be underestimated. Worse, Alexandros, the brother who knew him best in heart and mind, whom he had counted on to be his right hand in the uprising, was masterminding the defence. So Icarion changed tack; he would instead supplant the Emperor’s throne before he usurped it, carving away great chunks of the Imperium and building his own realm, centred on Madrigal.

The actions of his generals were all geared towards this goal, as were those of his propagandists. Icarion was a masterful politician in his own right, and he saw how the Loyalists’ retreat from indefensible worlds could be spun into an act of callous abandonment. On many planets this proved fruitful, and men were turned to cursing the Emperor and his servants. On others, however, fealty to the Imperium was not so easily cast aside, especially on the worlds between Terra and Madrigal where Imperial ideals had had centuries to take root. Here, bloody reprisals were handed out and malcontents killed or enslaved to feed the Insurrectionist war effort.

There were many such planets, for after fortifying the Imperial Palace Niklaas, Primarch of the Xth Legion, had devised a great network of bastion worlds, ringing the Throneworld and reaching as far as the Tayargund Reaches at the verge of Icarion's nascent empire. Many of these strongholds had been planned, it is thought, before Icarion had begun to plot against his rebellion, and thus he had not been able to covertly prevent their construction, nor replace their garrisons with forces loyal to him. Thus they ranked among the greatest threats to his advance, and thus they would be among the first worlds to feel the wrath of the newly renamed Harbingers.

Lightning and Blade
The Conquest of the Tayargund Reaches was a sprawling yet interwoven set of actions fought throughout 031. M31. Appropriately it was orchestrated and commanded by Icarion himself, and it was the first conflict of a kind which would define many of the Insurrection’s component wars. These were defined by the scale of their objectives, as entire sectors were annexed by the Insurrectionists, the swiftness with which these ruptures occurred, and the violence with which Icarion made his gains.

At the heart of the war was the Sack of the Katorz Holdfast, led personally by Icarion, and his core commanders either supported him in that action or undertook other campaigns in aid of the Stormlord. Their prize lay south of the Maelstrom, encompassing dozens of systems which had been part of the Imperium for the better part of two centuries. Thus it was heavily industrialised and well-defended even before the presence of the Fire Keepers was taken into account, albeit with a hinterland of wilderness where it met the Maelstrom Zone.

Katorz lay at the heart of the Reaches, and its capture would afford Icarion strategic control over them as well as human resources which could be made to serve his war effort, to say nothing of the industry which he coveted. That lay not just in the Katorz system, but three Forge Worlds and their attendant colonies. War-worlds, Knight fiefdoms and agri-worlds too would be Icarion’s for the taking.

That the Tayargund Reaches were heavily guarded was, of course, quite clear to Icarion. He had set agents to work throughout the region, but even with their subversion, the majority of Imperial governors in the region had cleaved to the Emperor when Icarion’s declaration reached them. Had Alexandros indeed delivered the Sol System to his brother, perhaps despair might have done Icarion’s work for him, but the Warmaster’s own rebuttal stiffened the masters of Tayargund.

True fear had not sunk in until the battered vessels of Loyalist Legions began to appear at the edge of the Reaches. They came from a dozen different locales, some from the great ambushes and others from smaller, but no less vicious, traps. Suddenly here was proof of the rebels’ potency, in scarred ships and depleted companies. Some of these came to Katorz to offer their aid, but others sought only to repair and resupply before heading to sectors they deemed more defensible - perhaps the most alarming detail to many within the Reaches. For their part, all they could do was await the storm.

Edited by bluntblade, 01 August 2019 - 11:24 AM.


#116
simison

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Blunt, can I get an updated list of what battles are in this booK?


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#117
bluntblade

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Battles are difficult, but campaigns I can do.

- The Nerska March
- The Commena Cluster
- Ysta
- Katorz

#118
simison

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Campaigns is what I meant.


Project Leader of the Brotherhood of the Lost

 
The Second Son: Narrative of the BOTL Vth Legion Primarch

 

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#119
bluntblade

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Just as well teehee.gif







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Void Eagles, Abyssii, Dark Mechanicum, Insurgos, Morning Stars, Shepherds of Eden, Martian Civil War

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