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IL XIII - Eagle Warriors

Brotherhood of the Lost

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#101
bluntblade

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Here we are:

 

  The Golgothan Wastes had long been known as a perilous place, with Imperial forces shunning the light of its dying stars for decades. Finally, as the Imperium encompassed the space around the Wastes, the first advances had been planned. The 18th Expeditionary Fleet, commanded by Susanoo Empyon of the Lightning Bearers, was first to enter the theatre, with their objective the beleaguered Forge World of Sarum. There they found an alien host laying siege to the system, which they met in battle and destroyed.
 
  However, the lifting of the siege proved a false dawn. The Akiran magi who treated with the Redjak cult of Sarum identified blasphemous practices among them, and with the verdict of heretek, reunion turned to savage warfare. Still bloodied from the prior battle, Sentinel Empyon was obliged to lead his forces into an arduous campaign which dug the Redjak out from their fortresses within the crust of the planet. After two months, the Omnissiah’s justice was served, but now the 18th Fleet was in no position to continue. Their campaign plan had called for swift resupply by Sarum, and now every part of Empyon’s armada from the Rakurai to the Titans of the Legio Telesto and the Lightning Bearers themselves had taken punishing losses at the hands of the deviant tech-priests. Thousands of vehicles lay damaged or destroyed, and millions of Imperial dead covered the leaden face of Sarum.
 
  Faced with this grim tally, and lacking any immediate means of resupply beyond scavenging and salvage, Empyon notified the War Council that a second fleet would be needed to complete the task. The 18th could hold Sarum as it was restored to productivity, but do no more than that. With this message he sent a number of recommendations, offering his opinion that a Primarch’s leadership would be needed to ensure a conquest as swift as the Council desired. Furthermore, he advocated that the conquest be entrusted to the Eagle Warriors.
 
  The XIIIth Legion was well-placed to finish was the Lightning Bearers had begun. Socraes Travier had at this time the bulk of his Legion at his side, with extensive auxiliary elements. All were fresh from resupplying at Nox. Travier studied the dispatches from Empyon’s abortive campaign, refining his fleet’s disposition and plans accordingly. Thus he began to orchestrate a war whose hallmarks would be mobility and incendiary violence - the kind of war by which the Eagle Warriors had earned their name.


#102
Beren

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Though the Quarith War remains one of the best known triumphs of the Great Crusade, not all Legions participated in it equally. Most who only participated to a limited degree, if at all, found their strength occupied by pressing matters elsewhere. In the case of the Eagle Warriors, it was in hindsight something of an active choice that Socraes decided to restrict his Legion’s participation. Instead of fighting the war for the glory of the Imperium, Travier had a very specific set of objectives in mind. This was to lead to the XIIIth’s most significant battle over the course of the campaign.

The Primarch found himself fascinated by the scientific achievements accomplished by the abhorrent practices of the once-human Quarith. By this point, Travier had been inured to such atrocities by his devotion to yet darker practices. Instead of seeing something to be destroyed, he saw something to be exploited and sought to do so to the full extent of his capabilities.

Though the engagements of the Eagle Warriors were for the most part only in the form of minor skirmishes, these have been recorded across most battlefronts of the war and in the presence of all widespread Quarith genome types. Several of the more exotic and uncommon variants, such as Phase-Renders on Naskar or Dream-Stalkers at Bask, are also believed to have been targeted by such retrieval missions.

The true objectives of these attacks was of course concealed from Travier’s fellow Imperial Generals. When questioned as to why he did not muster his Legion’s strength in full to contribute to the main battles of the war, struggles in which the fates of entire worlds were decided, he replied that his Legion was enacting a policy of surgical strikes and ‘containment’ in order to eliminate advanced Quarith prototype-hybrids and similar threats to the wider war effort. Given the disproportionately high casualties suffered by the XIIIth on several of these missions, he was seldom questioned further.

As the last redoubts of the once-humans were gradually worn down and destroyed over the course of gruelling Imperial campaigns, Socraes’ opportunities for further specimen collection began to diminish. Time was running out, and there was one prize that exceeded all other held by the Quarith. Studies of their genetically violated thralls undoubtedly equipped the XIIIth’s Apothecarion with a wealth of forbidden knowledge. This however was nothing to the secrets that could be gained from the instruments and minds responsible for the existence of these creatures in the first place.

Mithaas was a world heavily fortified by the Quarith. The fact that it was otherwise lacking in strategic value in terms of its positioning or resources had seen it so far passed over in favour of more pressing targets. A significant force was in the process of being assembled, including four maniples of the Legio Excoriator and 15 sizeable frontline regiments of the Imperialis Auxilia, when the Eagle Warriors struck without warning.

Breaching orbital defenses with ease, the XIIIth Legion fleet was soon deploying wave after wave of assault troops to the planets surface. Giving the Quarith forces no time to regroup, the attack was relentless and unceasing. The damage inflicted was a convenient side effect to the fact that it kept the bulk of the abhuman armies away from Travier’s primary goal.

As violence and and bloodshed was meted out elsewhere, a hail of burning stars was blazing towards the vast encrustations that housed a portion of the beings and works responsible for this bloody crusade. Caestus Assault Rams, Dreadclaw and Kharybdis drop pods raced through streams of weapons fire that defied classification before slamming into and through the hive’s outer shell.

The first wave disgorged the Kaskuta, savage and psychologically unstable shock troops utterly suited for this sort of close quarters butchery. Behind them came the terminator elite of the Jaguar Toa, marching in the vanguards wake through wrecked rooms painted with foul ichor and littered with the corpses of the facility’s defenders. At first they acted simply as a mobile bulwark behind which the Apothecarion could begin their work in relative safety even though the battle still raged. As the Kaskuta exhausted their numbers, perhaps by design, in slaying yet more bizarre and lethal examples of Quarith genecrafting the Jagua Toa pushed forwards to form a second front line. Where their disturbed brethren had fought heedless of the damage done to themselves, the foe, or their surroundings; the terminators moved with a reserve rare for the Eagle Warriors. It is quite simple to deduct that they wished to mitigate any damage done to their specimens or the equipment surrounding them. Once the initial resistance had been removed, it seems that a stance of containment rather than obliteration was adopted. It is at this point records of battle within the facility cease.

Though running engagements with uncoordinated Quarith organisms persisted on Mithaas, Socraes informed the War Council that further reinforcements were quite unnecessary. The armies originally assembled to storm the planet were gladly redirected elsewhere, where they would proceed to contribute in reducing the timescale of several drawn out sieges. The conquest of Mithaas is recorded as having taken five months to complete, after which the Quarith headquarters were obliterated from orbit “in order to prevent the proliferation of technologies deemed forbidden by word of the Emperor and by the Crimson Accords of Mars.”

Such an action was lauded my many as an outstanding example of Socraes' fidelity. In truth, it only takes a little research to determine that there was a near constant flow of heavily armoured shuttles between the Jade Talon and the Quarith's base of operations. A little more digging, and certain parallels between the genetic abominations produced by the Quarith and those fielded by the Eagle Warriors begin to emerge.

Edited by Beren, 16 July 2019 - 08:47 PM.






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