[Copy/pasted from my post in the Liber Cluster thread about a month ago]
Admiral Grisson Olgevin, half-brother to Patriarch Juivaun of the Olgevin Family, was accepted into the Navy as a Captain thanks to his political connections. Despite his pampered upbringing, the young native of Colvin Majoris came into his own as a tried and true void war commander. Though concerns had been raised of his loyalties to the Olgevin Family over the Imperial Navy, it did not stop the gifted Captain from rising in rank, to First Captain, Commodore and finally Admiral. His political ties to Colvin Majoris made him a perfect candidate to bring the Adept Primaris’ command to arisen saint, as well as due to extensive petitioning for the role by the Admiral himself.
The galaxy-wide Imperium of Mankind has endured for ten thousand years, and may endure for ten thousand more. This incredible scope makes the documentation of even a singular component of this empire a daunting task bordering on the impossible. There is more that occurs that even the most knowledgeable of institutions can ever know. What happens in the dark, in isolation, outnumbers all else. The Colvin Crusade is, by all standards, a well-documented affair. But its first battle will forever remain shrouded in darkness.
Admiral Olgevin’s personal carrier is struck multiple times as it weaves around wreckage and heavy fire on its way to the surface of Colvin Majoris. How the small ship was able to survive such blows is likely due to the remarkable craftsmanship that went into its making, nearly four hundred years prior as a gift to the now deceased Admiral Paevryn by the Saneslau Mechanicus in honor of his aid in freeing a forge world from the unthinking hordes of the greenskin menace. Though the forge world had little connection to the Saneslau Mechanicum at that time, it was in no small part due to the orbital warfare that the world became subordinated to the Saneslau technocracy.
Battles in space are not quick. The vast distances between ships are incomprehensible to even the greatest of planetary commanders. The immense ammunition too cumbersome to maneuver and load with speed. Captain Vilheim once likened wars in the void like records of the solemn ballets of Orphine II, played at quarter speed. Agonizingly slow, but not without great impact. The death of Vanguard Fleet ‘Novus’ came with great speed, in that no hope for survival could be seen after the opening moments. While their doom was sealed, the final deliverance wouldn’t come for an age. Admiral Grisson Olgevin was a veteran of naval combat, having served as an officer for over a century. However, in preparing for a ground assault, his brash actions may have triggered a murderous response; his following actions prevented the surprise attack from claiming a complete kill.
The Admiral was not without warning. Communications with the contingents of the Adeptus Astartes that accompanied his fleet were often brief and far between. As such, neither the Admiral nor his officer cadre expected the mass deployment of drop pods launched from the All-Seers Strike Cruiser, the Predicated Truth
, just prior to the orders being given for the fleet to reposition itself for a planetary expedition. Perhaps these Space Marines had seen something the mortal Naval commanders had missed, or perhaps sheer chance made their actions seem so fortuitous in design. As the Imperial ships shifted position to cover the Guard transports in their descent, the nearby orbital stations that had remained so obstinately silent spoke for the first time with an all-out spread of fire.
Vanguard Fleet ‘Novus’ flagship, the Jade Shield, is sadistically left as the final target for destruction. It is said that Admiral Olgevin could be heard on the vox, screaming abuse on all channels until the ship’s final destruction silenced him forever.
The first vessel of the fleet was struck four minutes after the first shot was fired. The sheer weight of fire was enough to overload the cruiser’s shields and crack the ship in twain within seconds. The infinite expanse of space was oversaturated with weapons fire as the vanguard fleet answered. It was an exercise in futility. Within ten minutes, over half the fleet was floating wreckage. Fear and determination lent haste to the Imperial Guard carriers, who struggled to disgorge their occupants even as they were struck and sent burning down to the world below as meteoric wreckage. Many of the Navy shipsmen attempted to abandon ship for the world below as well, however their poor positioning made it a near suicidal attempt. No ship, not even the fast-acting All-Seers Chapter vessels, was able to unleash its full capacity of troops, armor and battle-brothers. The All-Seers battle-barge, Remorseless Hunter
, had only begun to unleash its Space Marines upon the world below when fire from the star forts sent it tumbling from the skies in three sections. Of an army of three million, barely a million survived to reach Colvin Majoris, and scattered groupings of Naval Armsmen. Though Admiral Olgevin’s personal carrier was among these survivors, it appears the bodyguard unit tasked with remaining onboard the small craft at all times in case of an emergency evacuation abandoned their lord to his fate. Within an hour of the first attack, those who had reached the surface of the world were the sole survivors of the fleet.
This far from meant that they were safe. Given the situation in orbit, Colvin Majoris was clearly a hostile environment. Fortuitously, the dropsite zones, though scattered, were far from the nearest area of civilization, and the enemy did not appear to be expecting a full-scale invasion. The surviving forces milled about in confusion, decentralized, for some time until a commanding authority finally asserted itself. Admiral Olgevin had been in supreme command of the fleet and its forces; however, General Krystoph was in charge of the Imperial Guard regiments. With the absence and likely death in orbit of both these esteemed individuals, command fell on two Colonels. Colonels Crighton and Lizaeth led the 39th Pallian Gunsights and the 112th Veneti Armor Companies respectively, and were equally the highest-ranking officers of seniority of the survivors, alongside Colonel Gristen, of the 22nd Alaman Killers. Colonel Gristen disputed against the other Colonels for over-all command, and was killed for his troubles.
Colonels Lizaeth and Crighton accepted dual command of the surviving forces, though this did create some enmity with the deceased Colonel Gristen’s regiment. Both the Pallian and Alaman regiments were of large size, over a hundred thousand each. Though the Veneti Armor Companies were of notable size at the time of their arrival in-system, the difficulty of transporting tanks, super-heavies, scout craft and other armor with speed was simply too much, and was only at a fraction of its strength. However, priority was granted to the regiment’s super-heavy tanks, and the lighter scout craft were more easily transported, which led to a majority of the regiment’s losses being medium-class armor such as the Leman Russ. The Colonels’ dominance was not disputed by Captain Nervais of the Gem of Osirion
, the only Captain of the fleet to abandon ship, who busied himself ordering around the surviving Naval armsmen. His death four days later by Navy-standard autogun shot wounds went uninvestigated.
Colonels Lizaeth and Crighton, in the outer lying habs of a Colvin Hive-sect. Though heroic in profile and stoic in appearance, it is likely that by this point they were nearly overcome with exhaustion, having suffered horrendous losses and the abandonment, albeit temporarily, of the All-Seers Space Marines. Colonel Crighton fell in battle three hours later, when the true face of the enemy was revealed.
With command established, the Imperial forces began consolidating their position, nestled deep in the mountainous ranges of Colvin Majoris’ eastern supercontinent. It was then that the truth that surrounded them finally began to sink in. The mountains were cold and stark, but they were also rock. The frozen sheets of ice the soldiers of the Imperium had been briefed upon were simply nonexistent. Those who had paid particular attention to the briefing noticed that the Colvin sun was of a different hue. Mechanicus tech-priests watched the rising sun with greater trepidation, for they knew it rose 18 degrees further north than it should be. Whatever concerns this may have caused to rise, they were washed away with the arrival of a much more pressing matter. Enemy forces had located the Imperial dropsite, and now low-flying assault craft were beginning attack runs. For hours, these atmospheric fighters reaped a terrible toll upon the survivors, destroying anti-air gun emplacements before they were fully set up. It was the arrival of the All-Seers that provided the survivors succor, as their own attack craft and man-portable surface-to-air weapons drove the small planes off.
Chapter Master Ehud Ofarim had still been inside the battle-barge when it had broken apart, but had survived the plummet and was extricated from the wreckage by his men. Doubling as the Chief Librarian of his Chapter, a dichotomy of function rarely seen among the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, it was his remarkable foresight and quick-thinking that had led to his Chapter’s early deployment. Of the four full companies that had accompanied the vanguard fleet, just over three hundred Space Marines had made it to the surface, though no one company suffered more losses than the others. Their arrival was greatly welcomed by the survivors, who in spite of being stranded upon a hostile world now felt that with the Angels of Death alongside them they were sure to survive. Despite Technarch Virixeum’s objections, the Colonels in chief offered to relinquish command of the Imperial forces to Chapter Master Ofarim, however the offer was declined. The Marine commander would command his All-Seers in conjunction with the Imperial Guard and would advise the Colonels as his gifts would allow, but would not himself bother to command lesser, mortal forces.
Mercenary likely recruited from Durant, showing the unorthodox armor and weaponry commonly encountered among the Colvin forces. Information gleaned from tortured prisoners of war revealed that the red cloth worn over the head is a gesture of allegiance to Saint Verdinant. Pictured here is a dyed red cloth; however, the Saint’s Chosen wear armor and cloth stained red from the blood of the martyrs. Though subtle, close examination of the mercenary’s armor reveals a symbol that is seen more and more often the closer the Imperial forces are to the Cathedral. Even closer, the symbols become more pronounced and varied. After multiple problematic attempts at scavenging gear, a proclamation is made that the any attempts to utilize marked enemy gear will lead to a summary execution to be carried out by the nearest Commissar. Despite the poor state of supplies and diminished number of commissariat officers, this ruling is readily obeyed.
The Imperial forces’ strategy was simple and direct. The Saint of Colvin had shown his true colors as an enemy of the Emperor. The survivors, supported by the Space Marines, would charge straight for the Cathedral of St. Verdinant, 2500 km to the southwest, where the saint would be, in the words Colonel Lizaeth, “de-canonized through the barrel of a Baneblade’s cannon.” This would prove easier said than done, being as they are outnumbered nearly ten times over by local planetary defense forces, mercenary and other offworld forces. However, no collection of the Imperial Guard’s lesser single-world cousins could compare to those regiments who have fought dozens of campaigns across as many worlds and environments, and the ad-hoc mercenaries lacked the necessary discipline. The Imperial forces divided into a three-pronged thrust, charging at double-speed across the cold, desolate rocky ground. These groupings maintained close contact and distance, allowing them to attack targets in concert on multiple fronts.
The elite Guard regiments overwhelmed the local forces where they were met, in isolated hab-communities and ambushes, but resistance increased with speed the closer they got to their target. The enemy was fervent and zealous, maddened even. An enemy charge would continue undiminished until the last soldier fell. Places with civilian populations were worse, as for every enemy that fell, a civilian would appear to take up a fallen weapon and attack the Imperial forces. The regiments came across four hive-sects, heavily populated religious centers, where progress could not be resumed until the entire conglomerated structure had been purged clean of life.
The Tactical Squads of the All-Seers 6th Company had earned themselves great honor and glory over the past two thousand years, their ability to quickly counter-attack enemy actions almost before they had begun bordering on the preternatural. On the world of Colvin Majoris, this company was tasked by Chapter Master Ofarim with stalking ahead of the Imperial forces. Following their path allowed the survivors to pick their way through enemy forces with incredible speed, often seeming to come upon the foe precisely where they were unexpected. At least, where the enemy survived the guns of the Sixth.
At the Verdauvian Bloc, a mere 500 km from the Cathedral, a different kind of enemy showed itself, changing the scope of the war immediately. The All-Seers 6th Company encountered this enemy first, and it was the shattered remains of 6th Company’s squads that the bulk of the Imperial army revealed its presence to the rest. The Tactical squads were scattered across an entire sector of this overly-expansive slum region, focused around an immense square where the Space Marine dead were found stacked upon each other like refuse left on the side of the street to be taken by a cleansing vehicle. Just as the horror of the situation spreads across the Guard regiments, they struck. Giants, heavily armored, appear from the darkness, shepherding hordes of mortals dwarfed by their great size. Booming recitations echoed from the vox-grills set in their helms, the obscene language without any connection to Gothic, setting the Guardsmen teeth on edge, like an impossibly distant vibration that can be felt deep in the bones. The shock of seeing Chaos Marines rooted the Guard where they stood. None of the forces sent to Colvin had encountered a breed of renegade Astartes before. Indeed, none had ever even been privy to the closely guarded truth that such beasts existed.
The Imperial line broke for the first time since the fall. Entire companies were lost simply from the rush and desperation to retreat. The officers of the Commissariat tried in vain to rally the men and women, and for every one of them trampled underfoot, a dozen fell with lasburns upon their backs. The guns of the Traitor Marines reaped a more deadly toll, the penetrative, high-caliber weaponry making short work of even the heavily plated armor. If it hadn’t been for the surviving All-Seers swooping around and slicing in on the enemy from behind, it is possible that even these small numbers could have overrun the Imperial Guard regiments, such was the enemy’s devastating potential. The All-Seers, caught off guard themselves, struck the enemy with a matching fury. As the Imperial Guard screamed and scrambled from the ferocious enemy, the projected roar of a couple hundred All-Seers screaming their hate from their vox-grills drowned them out. When the these mortal enemies struck, the crash of ceramite armored bodies striking each other at full charge echoed down the narrow streets for miles all around.
The All-Seers and the red-armored Chaos Marines fought a bloody battle, harsher, more direct and brutal than any the Guardsmen had ever before witnessed. The fight was short, as such frenzied melee can be, but the effect was horrendous. The introduction of this new enemy saw the Imperial forces decimated, and those in command knew well that this was likely only a token force. To encounter them now only meant that more would await them further on. They were not wrong.
Long-range pict-capture of the Chaos Marines encountered by Imperial force. There are two features of note. Namely, the symbol on the left pauldon was a common heraldry seen on most Chaos Marines and likely declares the Marine’s allegiance to a particular warband. Also of note is the fiery background. As the world has long been a frozen ball orbiting a cold-burning star, the heavy volcanic activity seen at intervals across Colvin is at odds with its original image. It is unknown if the strange environmental situation is perhaps due the increase in geological activity, or vice versa.
Extensive plains of flat, rocky ground lay between the Verdauvian Bloc and the Colvin City, and the route appeared clear. However, consultation with the All-Seers commander revealed a hidden danger. Such open ground would offer the Imperial forces no cover or respite from potential orbital strikes. If caught in the open like that, the entire expedition could be blown off the face of the planet. Though bone-weary and with the lack of supplies beginning to take its toll, the regiments would have to take a more circuitous trek through the nearby Tronkite Ridge. The Chapter Master did not mention that the enemy would likely fortify these mountains in expectation of this change of direction, for fear that the knowledge of increased resistance would only push the mortal forces over the edge, and condemn them to failure and death. Those techpriests with functioning internal seismic augurs also chose to withhold valuable information, as they pondered the strange readings given off by their machinery.
Like much of the world, it had undergone extensive changes in a short period. The mountains should have been iced over and impassable. Instead, they stood like thin, sharpened spears of hard rock, slick still from their recent thaw. The terrain was treacherous, and it forced the Imperial armor regiments to specific paths where their largest tanks could fit. In order to prevent their forces to be stretched out too far, the decision was instead made to split them in two and pursue different avenues. The terrible conditions were made worse by the near constant flow of enemy soldiers, charging from all quarters. Most fell under the disciplined fire, or were wiped out wholesale by the guns of armored vehicles or under the concentrated might of the All-Seers. Nonetheless, the steady pressure wore the regiments down, whittling away at their sanity and courage, as well as their lives. Their progress was most impeded by great gates of strange, disconcerting design. These immense structures barricaded the mountain passes at intervals, eight of them ringing around the largest spire of the range in such a way that both Imperial contingents would attack them from different paths. Though ill equipped to withstand against the super-heavies and Space Marines, they took time and manpower to overcome that was too precious to lose. Worse still, it was at these locations that Chaos Marines guarded. Blood poured down those walls. The final gate was the quickest to fall, as it was here that the Imperial forces crossed paths. However, whatever victory the exhausted soldiers might have celebrated was short-lived, as upon the gate’s fall the immense Mt. Vultrene erupted in a devastating blast of fire and smoke. Somehow, impossibly, the mountain was volcanic, and its eruption was followed by a chain of lesser peaks erupting. Within an hour, the entire mountain range was awash in flame and hidden from its yellow sun. The regiments had no choice but to escape from the rocky labyrinth, though the seas of molten fire claimed the lives of many.
Captain Drusilla Cramonte IV, of the 296th Thravian Heavy Assault Infantry, found herself in command of the regiment when her superior’s life was taken by a sniper. Though not bred and trained for regiment command as their colonel had been, Captain Cramonte took to the role with aplomb. She led the surviving men and women of her regiment into the enemy stronghold within the Sebasti Towers that overlooked the roadways. Their remarkable skill in close-quarters combat served them well around and within the base of the towers, though heavy defensive positions thwarted attempts to rise above the first floor. This did not daunt the proud men and women of Thravis Prime, who held position long enough for powerful explosives to be set at key points. The enemy must have been expecting a foolhardy charge up the tower steps, but instead found themselves caught in a deadly trap as the explosions tore through the support pillars and beams. The first floors disappeared as the towers plummeted a dozen meters down. The towers slowly toppled sideways, slamming into each other and breaking apart, spilling the enemy from the cracks and windows. The regiment stalked through the wreckage, killing any who somehow still lived. Captain Cramonte allowed herself a brief moment of respite among the destruction, before ordering the regiment onward.
It had been the intention of Colonel Lizaeth, now sole commander of the Imperial forces, to exit the range further north, past their target, at the mountain town of Kridye, which was connected to the Colvin City by an extensive, enclosed network of roadways, with two mini-hive communities linked between. With the Imperial forces spilling out of the range across a wide region, it was difficult for the Colonel to guide them all after a singular target. Instead, the regiments instinctively hurtled themselves directly east at the pair of connecting cities. Blessedly, there were no orbital bombardments; however, the outer shells of the cities were dotted with powerful artillery guns that appeared to suffer no lack of ammunition. Though the guns themselves were heavily armored, they sat upon relatively unstable structures not intended to withstand the concentrated fire of long-range tank shells. Though the Imperial forces were unable to silence more than a small fraction of the artillery, they were successful in punching large holes into the Hives’ outer shells, into which many an enemy gun fell.
Once inside, the Imperial forces were relatively safe. Though defended, these Hives were veritable ghost towns in comparison to many of the cities and towns fought over to reach this point. As the chain of command finally reasserted itself, the northern hive was largely bypassed in favor of grouping the regiments together again for a concerted push for the Colvin City. As the regiments overcame resistance in the southern hive and entered the roadways, they were immediately confronted by enemy sabotage in progress. Here, the enemy showed greater discipline and training than before, and were likely formed from Imperial Guard regiments themselves, somehow twisted to the saint’s cause. Once more, the All-Seers provided the edge that allowed the Imperial forces to overcome this newest obstacle, though many of the roadways were destroyed before the enemy was overrun. Though now funneled through select few roadways at the manmade tunnel’s entrance, the regiments quickly fanned out to cover each of the dozens of twisting, overlapping streets. Enemy caravans departed from Colvin City with alarming regularity, aimed at slowing the Emperor’s faithful or causing further damage by sabotage. The Imperial forces suffered terrible losses when the enemy managed to collapse the tunnel, burying nearly a hundred thousand soldiers under thousands of tons of rock and steel, and halting the progress of half again as many behind the destruction. Once more, Colonel Lizaeth was twisted with doubt as she witnessed the terrible cost required to reach yet another objective, and wondered if there would be any left to spend when they finally reached their target.
Chapter Master Ehud Ofarim leads the charge against the fell denizens of the Warp, his command squad and 2nd Company Predictor-Captain Aviv Hanoch of the Learned Blades accompanying him. With the regiments too deep in combat upon the Colvin City walls and other All-Seers forces fighting off similar incursions, when these terrible beasts crossed the a Rift that appeared seemingly without warning, it was this small, but elite contingent of All-Seers that awaited them. Though removed from the main battle, it was no less destructive in its scope, as these two inhuman forces ravaged the Outer City. Many of the brotherhood fell against the enemy, but the terrible scar in reality merely expelled more of their kind. When Ofarim was stabbed through by the hell-forged blade of some double-headed daemon, Hanoch linked with the surviving Librarians, turning themselves into living bombs that leveled the hab-blocks for a hundred meters all around. Those daemons upon the outskirts escaped unscathed, but the rift was closed. Chapter Master Ehud Ofarim miraculously survived.
After finally reaching the end of the enclosed roadways, the regiments found themselves in the sprawling Outer City, an unplanned city network that had grown over centuries, attached like a parasite to the walls that line Colvin City. Here, every misshapen block was either heavily defended or decoys for some deadly trap. The tight corridors prevented the armor regiments from traveling forward down any but the main avenue that sloped downward to the Empyrean Gate. With their once million-strong army reduced to so few, the entire Imperial force was able to assault directly down this avenue, deciding not to bog itself down fighting block by block just to reach a wall that may or may not be easier to overcome than the likely heavily defended and armored gates. As the few remaining survivors laid siege to an enemy that by now outnumbered them thirty to one, the All-Seers seemingly disappear from the frontline to take the fight outward into the Outer City proper. The soldiers of the Emperor cursed the Chapter’s name for abandoning them at such a crucial point, however their disgusted words changed quickly to screaming pleas as fell creatures whose mere appearances were enough to induce insanity sped from the side streets and thrashed through the Imperial lines. Whole regiments were slaughtered before Colonel Lizaeth even became aware of this new enemy. Every close-quarters capable regiment was ordered to the back lines to forestall the beasts from reaching the vulnerable armor regiments, in the act of which every one of them sold their lives. As considerable firepower streaked up to strike the gates, eventually the concentrated guns succeeded in tearing through enough of the immense hinges upon which the gates sat. With the downward slope pulling at them, the gates slowly bent and tore their way free to fall backwards into the Colvin City. The impact of these 900 meters tall, 40 meters thick gates upon the earth knocked every soldier of either side from their feet, the concussive blast leveling structures in a great swathe, effectively flattening a fifth of this great city.
The Imperial forces quickly took to their feet and poured into the Colvin City, the large Cathedral of St. Verdinant finally in sight. But the view would taunt them, as the enemy rose to meet them in numbers far greater than even the most negative of projections could have thought possible. Though the All-Seers returned to fight alongside their mortal allies, their numbers too were greatly reduced. Now barely numbering a hundred thousand soldiers, accompanied by a handful of All-Seer squads, the millions of mortal traitors, Chaos Marines and daemonic forces was simply too much to overcome. Their position was bleak, their goal hopeless to achieve. They had but one chance. The All-Seers were capable of perhaps one last charge through the enemy to the Cathedral, but they would certainly fail if they tried to keep pace with their allies and the mortal regiments would be slain long before reaching it regardless. There was nothing for it. The All-Seers, with Chapter Master Ehud Ofarim at its head, would make for the Cathedral with all speed, ignoring the enemy wherever possible in the name of haste. The enemy would only be broken if they succeed in taking the saint’s head.
The Saint of Colvin stalked from the flames, clutching the head of the All-Seers Chapter Master in a clawed hand, and roared his devotion to the Word from the Cathedral battlements, as millions of mortals below chanted the name of Verdinant. Their duel had lasted hours, and at its conclusion, Colonel Lizaeth bowed to pressure from her compatriots and surrendered. His beheaded body provided the centerpiece, surrounded by the bodies of seven other commanding officers who had led the disparate Imperial forces, to a ritual that would consecrate this victory in the name of the Dark Pantheon. This victory would be the first of many for the Host of the Broken Dawn in the Liber Cluster, the first faith twisted to their terrible cause, and proper reverence was due.
Edited by Cormac Airt, 17 October 2014 - 08:47 PM.