The Culling of Parhax
On the planet of Parhax, the Imperium encountered the Xenos known simply as “the Parhaxi." A fungal species outwardly appearing as a gossamer-fine layer of apparently benign silver-white filaments, easily mistaken for hair, the Parhaxi existed as localized instances of a hivemind gestalt, with particularly large focal structures nestled in the planet’s crust. Parhax’s human colonists, originally seeking the planet’s great mineral wealth, became infested with the fungal xenos and addled by their biological manipulations. They came to believe the fungal filaments to be signs of blessing by “the Embracing Mother,” raising the most outwardly plagued among them as leaders and holy men. Previous Imperial delegations to Parhax had failed, the ambassadors overtaken in body and mind by the Parhaxi. Cut off from the Imperial delegations, it fell to the Seventh Legion to bring compliance to Parhax and liberate its people from the domination of what High Command perceived to be degenerate mutants.
At first, the campaign seemed like it would be an easy one. When the legion’s vessels dropped out of the Warp in the Parhax system, they found the planet undefended. Even when the Astartes made planetfall, it seemed as if the Planet’s population had barely noticed their presence. However, as the Berserkers of Uran deployed en masse, the Parhaxi leaders declared a holy crusade against the Imperial invaders. The initial days of the Parhax campaign were easy enough. With only a limited industrial base, the Parhaxi colonists could not hope to stand against the transhuman strength and speed of the Seventh Legion Astartes. With bolter and chainsword, and flamer and Hell’s Teeth, the Berserkers tore through the Parhaxi defenders, the city streets flowing with their spilt blood.
Yet as the Berserkers gained ground, the Parhax campaign devolved into a nightmarish scenario that no one had expected. The Parhaxi Xenos revealed the true extent of their fungal nature. Monolithic fungal fruiting bodies rapidly erupted from the ground, some projecting corrosive macrospore clusters at Astartes landing craft and others choking the environment with snowflake-sized spores. Where the spores landed, the Parhaxi Xenos took root, corrupting and infesting the planet’s flora and fauna. Soon, no longer were the Berserkers of Uran fighting enthralled humans but instead, they fought hideous mutants and aberrant flesh hosts, twisted and misshapen by the Parhaxi Xenos. As for the Astartes, themselves, their environmentally-sealed power armor protected them from infestation, but the aggressive spores, capable of settling on nearly any substrate, clogged air intake filters and jammed servo-motors, making effective combat nearly impossible. With a seemingly endless tide of fungal beasts, Imperial officials ordered the Seventh Legion’s retreat back into orbit, intent on cleansing the world through orbital bombardment. Yet Primarch Raktra ignored their orders. With his legionnaires mired and hamstrung and with seemingly the planet itself rising up against them, the Ashen King saw Parhax as the greatest crucible yet in which the Seventh Legion would prove their strength to defy and overcome all.
Exhorting his Astartes to overcome the weaknesses foisted upon them by the insidious Xenos, Raktra led his legion as they plunged back into defiled landscapes of Parhax. Against the Parhaxi’s bestial flesh hosts, conventional modes of warfare were all but useless; the Astartes of the Seventh Legion only had their individual strength and mettle to rely on as they fought the twisted horrors. Yet for many of the Ashen King’s sons, they had never felt more alive. At the front of the legion’s counteroffensive, the resolute breachers of the Horde of the Arisen held firm against the increasingly grotesque fungal beasts, while the Arisen’s ferocious despoiler squads cut a swathe through the xenos tide. Where the infested humans and Parhaxi beasts presented no weakness for the Cutter’s Sight to identify, the Arisen, in statements of savage strength, made weaknesses for them. Behind the Arisen came the Blood Boiler destroyers of the Blackening Scourge. Unleashing the dreaded phosphex weapons they were known for, the destroyers torched the colossal fruiting body structures of the Parhaxi, poisoning the earth as the living flames crept along their mycelium networks.
After two weeks of brutal hand-to-hand combat, the Berserkers of Uran claimed victory over the Parhaxi, with Raktra himself slaying the revolting rot-wyrm that served as the physical nexus of the Xenos’s fungal hivemind. Parhax was left in utter ruin. The human colonists, twisted beyond recognition, were slain to a man by the Astartes, and between the toxic wilting of the fungal fruiting bodies that dotted the planet’s crust and the blighted earth left by the legion’s destroyer cadres, the planet had become uninhabitable. The Seventh Legion would be harshly criticized by Imperial High Command. In the eyes of mortal bureaucrats, what they accomplished through strength of arms on Parhax’s surface could have been accomplished through orbital bombardment; the legion’s disobedience wasted time and Astartes. Raktra paid no heed. He and his sons had eradicated an apex predator Xenos species, no, an entire planetary ecosystem. Their losses and battle scars would be proof of their strength for ages to come, and if the weaklings in the Imperium failed to comprehend that, then so be it.
Edited by FunkyMonkey, 02 May 2020 - 10:05 PM.