Index Tyrannicus: Hive Fleet Titan
“There was a silence across the warp. A deep and fathomless depth that swallowed all light and though that tried to cross it. I saw this void and new its name; death. The Great Devourer had come for us all”
Astropath Eborus Kol - Assigned to 45th Golustrum Infantry (KIA M.41)
The Shadow Approaches
What is believed to be the first hints at what was to come for the Imperium were recorded late in M41, prior to the events of the Fall of Cadia and the nightmarish hell that was unleashed on the Imperium following. The Le’Okar rogue trader dynasty complained to authorities of the Sub Sector Incogni of several vessels disappearing without a trace to the galactic north of the sub sector. This was an area of space bordering on the lawless region known as The Bleak, home to countless orkish warbands and any number of other raiders, human and otherwise, and sub sector command wrote it off as simple pirate raids and promised to increase patrols of Imperial Navy in the area and the issue was dropped. It was only when the Navy patrols also began to disappear if they ranged to far out did Imperial Authorities began to take notice. A task force was put together under the command of Commander Heronimus of the Imperial Navy. Perhaps hinting that they knew the reality of the threat the Deathwatch of Watch Fortress Arbarus sent a strike force along with the fleet. When queried as to why they gave no answer, stating that they needed to give no answer as to how and why they carried out their duties. At first the expedition was a great success. They plunged into The Bleak like a blade, cutting a path towards the last know coordinates of the lost navy patrols. It wasn’t long, however, before hints at the threat that was to come became apparent. The fleet encountered a number of orkish warbands pushing out towards Imperial space and, although they outnumbered the Imperial fleet many fold, they showed no interest of engaging and continued to push on. Wondering is this was part of some greater threat brewing Heronimus sent word back to Imperial command but as they moved further and further from Imperial Space it became harder and harder to communicate. Last contact with the force was recorded in 758.M41, a rather run of the mill message stating that the fleet hadn’t encountered anything other then the orkish warbands and was requesting clearance to return. When sub sector command attempted to reply they were met with silence and it was assumed Heronimus’s fleet had simply gone beyond astropathic reach and the Imperium waited for a reply.
The reply, when it came, was a highly chilling. A desperate broken message from Librarian Astermon of the Deathwatch “Beware, the devourer comes…”. After that contact was lost and no attempts to reach the Librarian or the rest of the fleet were successful. Imperial command began to marshal what forces it could to provide a defence. Astermon’s message was a warning, but a warning as to what was unclear. Many in Imperial command hypothesized some force of Ork under the command of one called the devourer whilst other supposed some sort of traitorous force. Only the voices of the Ordo Xenos
suggested the possibility of Tyranids but Sub SEcotr Incogni was far removed from any yet known encounters with the race and so for the most part the words of warning were ignored. Even as Imperial forces marshaled contact was lost with the frontier world of Omos. Astropaths under imperial command described it as though one day the world was there, the next it wasn’t, as if swallowed by a great shadow in the warp. A few weeks later another world vanished, this one a mining world closer to the more settled region of Incogni. Again it was described as if the planet had simply disappeared. Desperate for answers as another two worlds vanished Sub-Sector command petitioned for aid and the nearby forces of the Ascarron Crusade, a combined force of Astartes from the Iron Heralds and Warborne as well as elements of other branches of the Imperial war machine, including Knight House Ishard and any number of regiments of the Imperial Guard, soon arrived in the area. Under mounting pressure from elements of the Deathwatch these forces pushed towards where contact was being lost. It would be on the world of Golustrum they would have their answer as, whilst stopping for supplies, the Imperial fleet was assaulted by the vanguard forces of a vast Tyranid Hive Fleet.
Code named Hive Fleet Titan the tyranid fleet fell upon the surprised Imperial forces with all the ferocity their race is known for. Mycetic spores rained from the skies as Imperial battleships, both Navy and Astartes, dueled with vast bioships in orbit. On the ground defenders hurridly maned great anti air batteries that spat flak into the skies, scything down a vast number of xeno organisms. But despite their fire an even greater number of the creatures made planet fall and soon the entire egri world became a vast battlefield as brave Imperial forces sold their lives dearly. Caught unprepared the Imperial forces still fought valiantly, led in large part by the mighty astartes of the Iron Heralds and Warborne. But with every death the defenders grew weaker and the tyranids stronger as they devoured the planets biomass and regurgitated it into more bio forms to assault the planets defenders. Despite all efforts of the Imperial forces the fate of Golustrum soon became apparent. Imperial command ordered a withdrawal of all defenders from the planet. A bitter taste in their mouths the defenders began a fighting retreat towards the planets space ports. What few civilians remained on the planet were first before being followed by what guardsmen could be spared whilst the astartes held on while they could. Finally at the planets last space port the Astartes of the Warborne, led by Captain Sulla, declared he would hold the forces as long as he could while the Heralds safe guarded the fleet. He declared they would detonate the spaceports massive thermic plasma reactor banks in a hope to cause a massive chain reaction that would wipe all life from the planet in an attempt to deny the Tyranids what biomass they could. The last transports fled as Golustrum’s space port was enveloped in a vast white hot explosion as Sulla was true to his word. Unfortunately the explosion didn’t do as hoped and Golustrum was consumed.
The survivors of Golustrum pulled back with the vanguard of the Hive Fleet hard behind them. They were beaten, but not broken. Captain Hectos of the Iron Heralds sent word to the remaining forces of the Ascarron Crusade; they would lure the Hive Fleet to the planet Ascarron itself where Imperial forces, having taken the fortress world from the seperatists, were even greater in number. It was there he hoped to break the Hive Fleet on the anvil of Ascarron’s fortresses. At Golustrum they had been caught unaware. On Ascarron they would not. The Deathwatch had marshaled what forces it could spare and sent them there as well. At Ascarron they would hold or sub sector Incogni would fall.
It wasn’t long after the survivors of Golustrum arrived that the first shadow in the warp fell on Ascarron. As guardsmen looked the heavens and offered prayers to the God Emperor the vast bio ships began to blot out the sky. Appearing as a vast brown reaching nebula that snaked from beyond to blot out the sun the horror of Hive Fleet Titan arrived. Marines of the Iron Heralds as well as what few survivors of the Warborne that had remained on Ascarron double checked their gear and anointed their bolter rounds and the Knights of House Ishard prepared their great engines of war. Then the maw of the devourer closed on the world and its defenders. Golustrum’s defences had been impressive, but Ascarron had been turned into a veritably unassailable fortress. Whilst many of its defenes had been destroyed when the Imperium had taken it many more had been returned to service as word had been sent of the Hive Fleets approach. As the first spores rained from the sky they were blasted apart by the planets guns before they even made entry. Even that didn’t dissuade the vast organism’s assault as more and more spores rained down. Despite their fire power the guns weren’t able to destroy all the invaders and several spores struck the ground, unleashing creatures onto the planets surface. Swarms of smaller gaunt organisms threw themselves at the fortress worlds walls, to be blasted apart by the defenders guns. As more and more spores rained some of the creatures reached the walls, only to be unable to gain access. Imperial command began to feel secure, perhaps at Ascarron they would hold. More and more waves of xenos
threw themselves at the walls to be gunned down and victory seemed likely. Then the first sounds of combat were heard within the city. Great tunneling creatures began to erupt from the ground, striking at the cities defence batteries. Losses were quick until astartes assault marine forces retaliated, striking at the mawlocs and trygons from the skies. Nest waves of flying creatures struck as the next wave of tunneling creatures stuck, attempting to counter the astartes, but they were cut apart by anti air. When the next wave struck they targeted the anti air batteries. And so it went, the Hive Fleet becoming recognised for its fast evolution to combat the Imperial Defenders. The battle raged on as Imperial forces slew wave after wave of the attackers, burning and destroying what bodies fell both allied and enemy to rob the Tyranids of biomass. But slowly they were being pushed back as the amount of xenos
seemed without end. Captain Hectos’s plan was desperate. He hoped to bleed as much as he could from the Hive Fleet before revealing his master stroke. As they fought to a stale mate on Ascarron Imperial Navy forces were gathering nearby. Hectos knew, on advice from the Ordo Xenos
, that the only way to defeat the Tyranids was to defeat the Hive Fleets. Sensing the moment to strike was now or never he sent word through what Librarians he could, hoping word would reach the Navy forces, then turned back to the defence at hand.
The Hammer Strikes
At first it seemed word had not reached the fleet and that Ascarron was doomed to fall. Tyranids broke through to the final inner fortess of Hive Chazol, where Hectos led his defense. Across the planet reports filtered through of Imperial positions slowly being overwhelmed. Hectos, gravely wounded through the defence, swore he would sell his life and the lives of his brothers dearly. He planted the standard of the Third Company in the central plaza of the Planetary Governors palace and swore that on this spot they would stand to their last.
And then hope arrived. A massive fleet of Imperial star ships emerged from warp space their guns firing. Caught off guard and weakened by their constant fighting on the surface the starving hive fleet rapidly fell to the guns of the Navy. The surprise didn’t last long, however. Even as defenders on the planet surged forward at the suddenly distracted xeno bioforms on the surface the Hive Fleet began to react to the new threat. Massive bioships made to swallow Imperial Navy ships in the darkness of the void.
The Fall of Cadia
In the end Imperial victory on Ascarron would actually be caused by events in a system far away. As Abaddon the Despoiler finally brought ruin to Cadia and the Cicatrix Maledictum tore itself across the Imperium the entirety of Sub Sector Incongi would be wracked by warp storms that spread from the Bleak and Ascarron would be no different. Warp lightening cracked from the skies as daemons flooded through to real space. A great host of the Blood God Khorne assaulted the planet and its defenders, as well as those in space above the planet. The vast bioships were attacked from within by legions of Bloodletters, hacking the apart. As they writhed in pain the Imperial ships, despite facing their own assaults continued to pummel the bioships with weapon fire. Several vessels, their crews fast being overwhelmed overloaded their reactors and crashed their vessels into the enemy, taking out great swarths of the fleet in the firey detonations of the ships. Other’s crashed to the planet surface hoping to find safety in the fortress worlds wards. The combined assault from the warp as well as the final sacrifice of the navy forces would prove too much to the tyranid fleet and what little resemblance of synapse control remained on the surface soon evaporated. Victory against the Tyranids had been achieved, as the remaining forces on the planet fast reverted to more animalstic behaviors. Ascarron wasn’t saved yet, however, as Imperial forces would still have to survive the next horrific years of battling the demonic invasion on their world.
The Shadow Returns
Hive Fleet Titan was defeated at Ascarron. In the years following the eventual setting of the Warp storms Imperial Forces led by the Ordo Xenos
and the Iron Heralds, now supplemented by the Primaris reinforcements, would work to scour the remaining xenos
from the worlds that had fallen under the shadow of Titan. Eventually reaching as far as Golustrum. On the once verdant world, now reduced to an ashen waste, they chose to erect a new fortress, to rival that of the now decimated Ascarron. They would be prepared, in case the tyranids ever returned.
Recent reports have come to light. Far ranging ships in the Bleak have begun to disappear and attempts to contact them have met with what seems to be a great shadow blocking the light of the Astronomicon. It is a shadow far greater then what marked the arrival of the first vanguard of Titan. One faint and broken signal has echoed across the void; “Beware. The devourer comes…”