|This article, First Tyrest War, was written by Ajax 013. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
The First Tyrest War was an internal struggle between the major powers in the Tyrest Sector, resulting in a bloody crusade of purification. The war was started by the chapter master of the Steel Wardens, Garran Raan under the pretence of overthrowing the corrupt governance of the Tyrest Sector, though Raan began to war for his own ulterior motives.
The resulting war cut a swathe of destruction across the Tyrest Sector, and killed millions. The resulting decimation made it easier for the massed Tau invasion that marked the start of the Second Tyrest War two decades later.
The Andal family had never been popular rules. Rampant inbreeding hand rendered the bloodline corrupt, and most of the offspring were born insensible, or deformed, or both. They were, however, the hereditary rules of the sector, and their rule was law. Thanks to the poor direction of their predecessors, and interference in military matters, the Orks established a foot hold on the planet of Serra, and expanded from there. The Waaagh! was stopped, at great cost, but because of disagreements between the sector lords, and the cardinals and fabricator-generals of the Tyrest sector, and poor management of the Imperial Guard much of the fighting was done by by Astartes, who lost massive numbers halting the spread of the Orks. This lay a seed in many, who resented the Andal rule.
However, just as important, was the seed in the heart of Garran Raan. As a battle brother of the Steel Wardens, he battled alongside the Dragon Lords, in particular the battle brother Ajax Aurak. The two climbed the ranks, continually campaigning alongside one another. However, Ajax Aurak sped ahead, attaining captain, then attaining Chapter Master, while Raan was still a sergeant of their veteran company. It would take him decades to gain ground on his brother, and this began to sow the seed of resentment and jealousy in his heart. This was further cemented by the victories Aurak earned, stopping Waaagh! Grazgrut, as well as his victories against pirates in the Aenean Expanse. Across the Tyrest Sector, parades and celebrations were thrown in his honour, while the Steel Wardens grew mired in wars of attrition against small rebellions. Raan's jealousy of his worn brother grew into utmost rage. He needed a means to usurp his brother, to cast him down, and the growing dissatisfaction with the Andal family would be his means to an end.
The dissent turned to open rebellion with a single spark. A secessionist blockade in the Hornal system turned deadly when they fired on a trade ship attempting to bypass the blockade. Soon, loyalist escorts opened fire, resulting in a full fleet action, though the results were inconclusive. Using this as justification, Chapter Master Raan dispatched his forces on a multi pronged assault, launching an assault on over a dozen worlds simultaneously. Spearheaded by his own Steel Wardens, and their allies the Venators, they were backed up by a full titan legion, and an Imperial Guard Battlegroup, with a naval fleet at their back. The Knightly House Mecalyn joined them in the conflict during this opening salvo, acting as skirmishers, attacking poorly defended points
Most worlds fell without incidence, their PDF regiments surrendering piecemeal to their attackers. They purposely avoided well fortified worlds, instead choosing to blockade them. This conflict changed with house Mecalyn's merciless attack.
Thanks to dithering on the part of Lord Andal, the loyalist response was sluggish, at best, and wholly ineffectual.
Betrayal at LowrenEdit
Seeing this situation spiralling out of control, the Dragon Lord, Aurak, and once sworn brother of Chapter Master Raan, arranged a meeting on neutral ground, to organise parley. Arriving with a small honour guard, as defined by their agreement, Raan instead arrived with a force of three hundred marines, and announced bluntly that Aurak was a fool, and he had no need for him. Engaging his brother, he landed a score of wounds upon him, but failed to fell the dragon. Instead, he mustered his superhuman physiology, and the strength of Sanguinius, and entered into a berserk trance, raining blows on Raan. The Blood Dragon Battle Barge, Ignatius Rex, moved into position, coming to support them. Its air support and mighty guns forced the Steel Wardens back, allowing Ajax and his honour guard to retreat. With the betrayal, the Blood Dragons swore to oppose the Steel Wardens, at every turn.
Invasion of Tamin's RestEdit
The greatest threat in the face of the advance was the Knight World of Tamin's Rest, home of House ViDanna. Swearing themselves to the loyalist cause, they were in the process of beginning their lengthy rites of war. House Mecalyn took this opportunity to invade, backed up by titans from Legio Ferros. Warping into the system, they made landfall before House ViDanna even knew they were under attack. Rather than perform their usually style of skirmishing at the edge of battle, burning and pillaging, they instead charged straight at the ill-prepared homes of the Knights. Castles and manors burned, and ViDanna died in their droves, most not even in their steeds. As the first night of conflict dragged on, repeated ViDanna defences failed, as the overwhelming number of enemies simply washed away their defences.
By dawn of the second day, resistance was crushed. Mecalyn flags flew over the ruins. As far as anyone knew, house ViDanna was dead, their knights and baron dead, the children killed in their homes. The Mecalyn pillaged the knights of their enemy, using them to fatten their own ranks. The peasants who worked the land on Tamin's Rest were enslaved by the Mecalyn, who set up the world as their vassal.
Fragmentary data suggests that a handful of House ViDanna escaped the battle, fleeing offworld, but most sides agreed that the house was functionally extinct.
Invasion of ParneaEdit
So far, the Secessionists had evaded most defended worlds, instead choosing to isolate and blockade them. This changed once they reached Parnea. The capital of the Tyrest Sector, and home of the Andal family, taking it would of been a decisive win. Mustering his entire force, Raan brought about his invasion of Parnae. Smashing aside the orbital defences, he landed the bulk of his forces in front of the primary hive, and began his march. The only defences were a smattering of Imperial Guard regiments, placed ahead of the defence lines on orders from Lord Andal himself. Initially besieged by scouts, the defences look doomed, until dropships of the Blood Dragons swept in. Rebuffing the first assault, the Blood Dragons led the defenders back to the defensive line. Taking command of the defence, the Dragon Lord, Ajax Aurak, personally rallied defenders, bringing with him super-heavy tanks from the Second Parnean Praetorians.
The defenders dug in, facing the perpetual mist that engulfed Parnea. Out of the mist, lurched the forms of Titans and Knights, the first line of the the Secessionist assault. For the next two hours, they exchanged fire, failing to fell a single titan, but losing a score of tanks, and even a Baneblade during the fight. They held the line regardless, waiting for the foes to get closer. Once they hit the lines, Ajax released the full might of his plan. Artillery batteries, presighted on the space a hundred metres from their position, opened fire, a thunderous barrage laying waste to the first line of knights. The titan killers fired, knocking out a Warhound and wounding a Reaver. Low flying Marauder bombers scattered ordnance across the front of advance, forcing the titans to pause. Finally, a gun run from a squadron of Thunderhakws swooped in, their turbo lasers finally felling the lead Reaver. The second wave of titans were holted by the descent of assault marines, landing on the back of the titans and cutting their way through the hull with melta bombs, and sabotaging them from the inside. The first wave of Knights, and their accompanying guardsmen, fell upon the defence line, engaging in bitter close quarters combat. The Secessionist forces failed to gain a foothold, unable to oust the well entrenched defenders. A legend persisted up and down the line of a Knight, free of markings, clad in burnished black armour, who mercilessly slew a number of lesser Macalyn knights. The Steel Wardens failed to make a showing during the conflict.
With the Secessionist juggernaut stopped, they retreated off world, the battle of Parnea being their first major defeat.
Defeated at Parnea, the Secessionists retreated, to entrench themselves. For now, they held the advantage. That would very quickly change. Raan brought over another Space Marine chapter to his cause, with the Emperor's Swords joining to excise the corruption at the heart of the Tyrest Sector. They were followed by two orders of the Sisters of Battle, convinced that Lord Andal was not pious enough.
They pressed their numbers advantage, taking several more worlds. Their sisters managed to sway a handful of words with piety, rather than conquest. The Legio Ferros and House Macalyn laid siege to the Forge World of Arkhan. A number of shrine worlds came under threat from their expansion, prompting a response from three orders of sister of battle, who swore themselves to the defence of the loyalists. Furthermore, two Marine chapters, the Marines Militant and Knights of Retribution, swore themselves to the alliance. With the house of ViDanna slain, the House of Ortharn aligned themselves with the loyalists, more to curtail the dishonour the Macalyn brought upon the Knights. The Blood Dragons, alongside House Ortharn, responded to the besiegement of Arkhan, and by lifting it earned the alliance of the forces stationed there, key most being Legio Gladius.
The Lord Militant of the campaign drew up plans to have a second Imperial Battlegroup formed, giving them the decisive advantage in numbers.
The two sides drew up their battle lines, entrenching themselves. While the numbers had tipped in the favour of the loyalists, the Secessionists held the more advantageous position, and the superior number of materiel.
The Turning TideEdit
The Loyalists did not sit and wait for them the Secessionists to entrench, however. They immediately began their counter attack, intent on pushing the Secessionists to surrender. This opened with a fearsome offensive by the Marines Militant, and the Orders of the Weeping Idol and Purging Flame.
The Marines Militant immediately took the fight to the Order of the Shining Sword. In the process of gathering support, and converting worlds to their cause, Marines Militant prosecuted brutal campaigns against them. They picked them apart, bringing them down piecemeal, and overturning many of their works, with the Order was helpless to stop them.
Elsewhere, Mecalyn's easy victories began to dry up, as a closing net made up of the Knights of Retribution, House Ortharn, and Legio Gladius began to pin them in. Casualties mounted, forcing Mecalyn to retreat from their recent victories. Ortharn retook Tamin's Rest, erecting a memorial to the fallen house.
The First Army Group proceeded to prosecute several operations, usually lead by the Blood Dragons, and retook several important worlds. The team of the Blood Dragons, and the Imperial Guard was devastating, routing the Second Battle Group repeatedly.
The three orders of sisters proceeded to retake worlds in a different manner, purging them with flame. When they refused to comply, they put worlds to the torch, with earning them a grim reputation fearsome enough to cause whole worlds to surrender, and return to Lord Andal's rule.
During this time, legends persisted of the black knight who previously slew many of the Mecalyn knights on the fields of Parnea. Fragmentary reports, inconsistent data and eyewitness accounts have this knight fighting on nearly every battlefront. The Knight often appeared at the height of the battle, charging in to destroy Secessionist forces. In particular, the knight seemed to exercise a grudge against house Mecalyn, going out of their way to brutally destroy members of their house. This lead to dozens of circulating rumours, top of which was this Knight was the last of the destroyed House ViDanna, seeking revenge.
The Steel Wardens, Emperor's Swords and Venators remained free out of most of the battle. This was up until the cataclysmic battle of Arstene. A loyalist world blockaded by the Secessionists, the loyalists got close enough to to relieve the world, launching the full force of their armies at them. The secessionists met them too, in a head on engagement between six space marine chapters. What should of been a glorious secessionists victory quickly collapsed into a rout. The blockading flagship, the Emperor's Sword's battle barge, moved into position to attack, when a traitor within the ship activated a teleporter homer, allowing a strike force of terminators from the three opposing chapters to board it from the inside. Sabotaging the ship, while brutally cutting down many Swords, they rendered the blockading fleet leaderless, allowing them to be picked apart. A brutal void war erupted, with boarding and counter-boarding operations waging. In the end, it was a decisive, though costly victory for the loyalists.
During this time, A Dark Eldar Kabal had been preying on undefended worlds, and targetting shipping. Neither side had the manpower to stop them, and those assaults might have brought either side to their knees. Only the intervention of Altana ships protected these worlds, where they would engage their villainous cousins just long enough to force them back, then retreat themselves. The Altana themselves launched hit and run strikes on the Secessionists, but rarely involved themselves in battles of consequence. On several occasions, the Altana arrived to save beleaguered Loyalists from Secessionist attacks.
Loyalists on the AdvanceEdit
With the Secessionist lines broken the Loyalists advanced, bringing world after world back to the Emperor's light. However, a joint force of Blood Dragons, Marines Militant, Sisters of Battle and Imperial Guard stalled, after encountering a large force of Steel Wardens, leading an even larger force of Guardsmen and Knights. For the first time, Blood Dragons fought head to head against those they once considered their sworn brothers, and the conflict was nothing short of cataclysmic. Despite both being on the field, neither Warden Master or the Dragon Lord met in combat. The two would fail to find an advantage, forcing the Dragons into trench warfare, hoping to grind their enemy down. The tide was turned when a trio of strike cruisers approached the Loyalist fleet. They hailed the Dragon Lord, asking for an audience.
The new Astartes presented themselves as the Scourers. While mysterious, they were not unknown to the dragon. A fleet based chapter, they were known for their savage, fiery assaults. They were determined to bring the Secessionists to heel, and vowed to break the deadlock. While not trusting of their reasons, Ajax trusted their loyalties, and released them onto the field. Their first move was to strike the Steel Warden's Guardsmen allies, launching a drop pod assault into the heart of their position. Considered foolhardy at first, they backed them up by launching Land Raider Redeemers across no-mans land. Flushing their Guard's position with fire, then disgorging Marines straight into the fray, purging the remaining defenders with fire, chainsword and bolter fire. With their right and left flank routing, the Steel Wardens were forced to leave the field, establishing a rear guard of Guardsmen to allow them safe passage off world.
Battle of AntronachEdit
A vital world for the Secessionists, providing materiel, fuel and ammunition, it was the top most priority for the Loyalists. Prosecuting a large scale campaign, a joint force of Blood Dragons, Scourers, Marines Militant, Guardsmen, Titans and Knights assaulted the world, prompting a large scale response from the Steel Wardens, with their own Knights, Titans, Guard support, and units from Emperor's Swords and the Venators. The opening salvo was a brutal planetary assault, with Scourers establishing a foothold, at great cost. Taking the vital city of Argevolenn in the first landing, they proceeded to spread out, securing vital landing strips, allowing them to land further support. The defence was lead by the famed Steel Warden strategist, Captain Rathk. Predicting the enemy's next targets, he established strong points that deflected their first attack. Quickly, he managed to hem the enemy into their beachheads, preventing them from advancing further. Threatening them with total destruction. They were suddenly offset by the arrival of the Knights of Retribution, a surprise to all forces involved. Landing almost a continent away, they managed to out flank and destroy a major detachment of knights, and advanced on the Venator's position, pushing them out of their defensive emplacements with cold, methodical fury.
With Rathk's plan offset by this sudden attack, Blood Dragons Lord-Captain Denario pressed the advantage, launching a blistering air assault on Rathk's position. With Blood Dragons descending from the sky, Rathk refused to give up his position, believing his Wardens could still hold it. His command bunker was penetrated by assault marines from the Thunderlords company, their charge lead by Denario himself. Storming his bunker, Denario put an end to Rathk, slewing him while he tried to desperately order a counter attack. With their commanding officer dead, and the defence in tatters, the Steel Wardens made plans to once again retreat. Thousands of guardsmen were left behind to allow them to get as much heavy materiel off planet. As soon as the Wardens were in orbit, they launched an orbital barrage at major installations, denying them to the enemy.
The Secessionists were dealt a horrendous blow on that day, losing not only a world of strategic importance, but one of the best officers they possessed. However, Rathk drew up a final plan before he died, a mission that would scar the Tyrest Sector for generations.
The Marines Militants began receiving disturbing reports of Steel Warden incursions close to their home world, prompting them to withdraw the majority of their forces to their home planet. Investigations ultimately proved nothing, at least immediately, but it still put the Marines Militant on edge. In fact, the Steel Wardens were merely passing through their home systems, instead heading to the nearby Ork empire of Serra.
Rathk's plan, was ingenious as it was devious. The Steel Wardens launched probing attacks on the the Ork empire, trying to rouse them for a fight. They'd quickly drop onto an Ork world, spread devastation, then leave before retribution could reach them. As this built into a Waaagh! they constantly lead them closer and closer to Loyalist territory, constantly attacking them with hit and run attacks, before eventually it built into a full-scale Waaagh! Once that was done, the Steel Wardens left, their jobs done.
Marines Militant now had a Waaagh! bearing down on them, and the entire chapter was forced into the defence of their home world. Attempting to hold the outermost systems, the Marines Militant killed the Orks in the thousands, but they simply could not hold back the green tide. Worlds they were sworn to protect fell, and slowly the Argon Depths fell to the Orks. The Marines Militant vowed to hold their home world of Tiburon, regardless of the consequences. Ork Roks and landers came down in their hundreds, and for every ship shot down, another made it through. Soon, the Orks overran the defensive positions around the cities of Tiburon, and burned them to the ground. The Marines Militants held positions for hours, against tens of thousands of Orks, but for every greenskin killed, another three took his place. Eventually, the Marines were forced into their Fortress Monastery, to hold out. Despite the promise of Blood Dragon reinforcements, it was an unwinnable battle. Mighty Ork warmachines broke through the walls of the Monastery, allowing them to spill into it's hallowed halls. Eventually, the survivors were forced into the inner sanctum, dying to protect their most holy relics, smashing them rather than allowing the Greenskins to defile them. Eventually, even these defenders fell. The Fortress Monastery went dark.
A single frigate escape the planet, containing the Captain of the First Company, Arterion. Badly wounded, his ship made it to Blood Dragons lines. By that time, Arterion had succumbed to his wounds. The only cargo was a vox recording of the battle, and the Marines Militant's Chapter Banner. Arterion's body was returned to Plainsfier, to be buried alongside their own heroes, and the Blood Dragons made provisions for the banner to be delivered to Terra, with information of what befall these heroes of the Imperium. Once it reached holy Terra, the Bell of Lost Souls was wrung a thousand times, once for each fallen brother of the Marines militant, and the banner hung inside the Imperial Palace, alongside the banners of other fallen chapters.
However, the survivors of the Greenskin assault were not as fortunate. Nearly 200 Marines were captured, either dragged down by a multitude of Greenskins, or wounded, only to be captured later. Stripped of their armour and weapons, they were pressed into the slave works of the Empire of Serra.
However, the battle of Tiburon was not the end of the Waaagh! They continued, pressing further, attacking two more worlds. The Order of the Martyred Maiden came to their defence, holding out long enough to allow them to evacuate safely. However, this would only continue so long, and their own Shrine World of Gloriana came under threat from the Green Tide. Swelled with refugees, they refused to vacate the world, and held it under all threats. The local PDF unit, and a force of three thousand Battle Sisters stood resolute against the Green tide, holding it long enough to the majority of evacuation ships to leave the planet. Their task done, the Sisters retreated to the cathedrals they called home, digging in for a final defence. In a bloody repeat of history, a mgihty tide of Orks fell upon them, with colossal warmachines following them. The Sisters refused to relent, holding each position, and as soon as it failed, they fell back to the next line in an orderly fashion. Small teams of Sisters attacked the mighty Stompas as they breached their fortifications, either falling upon it from above with melta bombs, or attacking it from below with melta guns in close ranged assault, their sacrifices bringing down the fell machines and slowing the Orkish advance. However, the Orks finally came upon the walls of the cathedral-complex itself, and the Sisters barricade themselves in, alongside any Imperial citizens that could not escape the world. Holding out for days, the walls were eventually breached, turning the battle into a close quarters frenzy. Although it took hours, soon crude Orkish banners flew from the spires of the Cathedral. Blood Dragon scouts arrived in system to hear the last broadcast by the Canoness of the order, reciting the Litanies of Faith as bolter fire echoed around her. The vox transmission went dead, as did the last few remaining signals. Facing superior numbers, the Blood Dragons were forced to withdraw.
With the fall of the Imperial Basilica, small groups of Sisters escaped the battle to wage a guerilla war to try and slow the Waaagh! down. These small groups proved to be a significant thorn in the sides of the Orks, sabotaging factories and space ports, then disappearing into the catacombs beneath the planet. The damaged they managed to inflict was great enough for Warboss Headbiter to personally deal with the Sisters. Using all his cunning, he held up captured members of the Eccelsiarchy and leaders of the Order, and began to execute them unless the Sisters gave themselves up. One by one, the rebel cells surrendered, until only the most hard line were left. They were eventually routed out and killed, ending their insurgency. Alongside the insurgents who surrendered, several hundred sisters were captured during the battle, and taken back in chains, alongside the tens of thousands of slaves taken on Gloriana.
The Blood Dragons finally deployed in force at the dead world of Oriana, once the twin of Gloriana before it fell out of orbit. Luring the full force of the Waaagh! in, they waited until the last possible moment, as thousands of Ork warships fell upon the surface. As the Ork's reached the Dragon's positions, they found nothing. The Marines had abandoned the world as quickly as they took to it. In orbit, the space marine fleet pulled out from behind Oriana's moon, and fired a barrage of two stage cyclonic torpedoes, that burrowed deep into the planet and detonated far below the dead surface. The resulting explosion shattered the planet's surface, killing tens of millions of Ork warriors on the surface, including the Warboss Headbiter. The orbiting fleet wasn't spared, with debris from the exploding planet destroying many of the vessels. With the Warboss dead, and most of their ships destroyed, the Waaagh! came to an end, as the remaining Bosses squabbled amongst themselves for power.
For the three month duration of Waaagh! Headbiter, the Secessionists had mustered for a counter-attack, believing the Loyalists too distracted. This resulted in the Venators running into both the Knights of Retribution, and the Scourers, and suffering heavy casualties. With the counter-attack foiled, the Loyalists moved into the final phases of the campaign.
With both the Secessionists and Loyalists battered, the Loyalists began to move to deal a killing blow. Their plans were halted however, by the arrival of an Inquisitorial investigation. Despite receiving warnings a year earlier, the Inquisition only took notice after they attacked Parnea itself, and the wheels of Imperial Bureaucracy turns slowly. In charge of the investigation was Inquisitor Jaelana Havernell, of Ordo Hereticus, aided by Inquisitor Kliment Saazbaum, or Ordo Astartes. The Loyalist leaders were asked to see them, with all but the Grand Master of the Knights of Retribution in attendance. The Loyalists were commanded to pause hostilities, and move to a defensive posture, allowing the Secessionists ample time to prepare.
While disgruntled with this turn of events, Dragon Lord Aurak ordered his forces to stand down, and obey the Inquisitorial edict. For several weeks, the Inquisitors interviewed the officers, demanding answers on why they entered this war. Havernell was particularly hard line and combative, seeking to persecute the leaders for beginning and unwarranted civil war. Despite this, Saazbaum overruled her, as it quickly became apparent this fell into his purview. They were certainly not heretical, and they fought in the Emperor's name. Both Havernell and Saazbaum allowed them to return to the war, on the basis that both of them take a seat on the war council.
Finally returning to the war, the war council began to build the killing strokes, to end the Secessionist threat. Soon, they were ready to begin the final operation to take the Secessionists down, and bring them to heel. At this point in the conflict, the Secessionists had taken significant casualties, with the Legio Ferros and House Mecalyn reduced significantly in number, the Second Army Group being undermanned, both Sister of Battle orders pushed to rear line service because of casualties, and their fleets depleted of ships, fuel and ammunition. The Venators and Emperor's Swords had lost vital materiel, and had taken significant casualties. The Fourth and Fifth companies of the Steel Wardens had been utterly destroyed, and their best strategist slain, but despite this they remained strong.
The Secessionists, knowing the direness of their situation, mustered a significant force in the Delphi system, planning to turn the Forge World of Delphi III into a death trap. Home of Legio Ferros, they believed they held the definitive advantage. However, the Loyalist spy network got news of the trap, and began to turn it into a counter-trap. Purposefully leaking the information that the Dragon Lord was personally leading a small force of Blood Dragons, Raan decided to meet his rival on the surface of Delphi III. Sure enough, a small force of Blood Dragon ships warped into the system, and cast aside the meagre defences to make a landing. It was then that Raan sprung his trap, with his entire force jumping in. The full force of the Titans, Knights, Astartes, Sisters and Guardmen he commanded fell upon the Blood Dragons, with Raan personally leading the charge. Moments after springing the trap, the bulk of the Loyalist force warped in, trapping the Secessionists. Realising what happened, Raan disregarded it and charged head long into battle to slay Aurak.
In the ruins of the Fabricator-General's palace, the Steel Wardens fell upon the Dragon Lords, erupting into a violent melee. The Dragon and the Warden met, atop the western battlements, as their t6wo chapters battled one another, reinforcements dropping in all around them. The once sworn brothers charged one another, exchanging thunderous blows that would kill mortal men. However, Raan was consumed by his anger, his rage, and hubris, while Aurak remained calm and clear minded. In Raan's anger, he failed to see through a simple feint, and falling for it, he was struck down by a might blow from the the dragon's thunder claw. With their chapter master fallen, the Wardens fought to recover his body, and retreat to their position. Expecting to drag this into a war of attrition, they found that House ViDanna had fled the battle.
While they were at a lose for numbers, they still had the superior position. They planned to change the war plan, opting to grind the enemy, and keep them trapped. In orbit, their fleets were on even odds, incapalbe of finding an edge. Then the warp shifted, and delivered a fleet of Eldar. Broadcasting no signals, they swept in, and destroyed the vital flank of the Secessionists, then fled the battle, as if they'd never been there at all. Suddenly at a disadvantage, the Secessionists fled, the Loyalists heaping mounting casualties upon them as they did. Legio Ferros fled their own home, managing to recover a few Titans as they fled. Reclaiming the world for the Emperor, the inhabitants were subjected to generations of forced servitude to the Imperium as punishment.
From here on, it was a quick decline for the Secessionists. At the battle of Cantrall, the entire Scourer's chapter entered the field. Routing the vessels defending the world, they fell upon it. On the surface, the Second Army Group desperately tried to rearm themselves, but found themselves surrounded by the Scourers. Despite out numbering them 209:1, the Scourers gradually encircled the Guardmen, and rain artillery and fire upon them, killing the guardsmen in their hundreds. Trapped, and with more casualties than men, the Second Army Group surrendered. Laying down their arms, they were taken prisoner by elements of the first army group. several units escaped, but they would prove too small in number to be effective.
The Emperor's Swords morale had been shaken by the Inquisitorial edict that they were traitors, and they lost much of their fighting spirit. Their sphere of influence collapsed as they faced House Ortharn on one side, and the Knights of Retribution on the other. Ludicrously out numbered, and facing absolutele destruction, the chapter master requested parley from the Knight's Grand Master. Meeting him on neutral ground, he collapsed to his knee and offered him his sword. The Emperor's Swords surrendered unanimously. Giving up their weapons, they remained under guard by a force of Knights of Retribution.
The Secessionist forces grew smaller, and smaller. An invasion force closed in on the home of the Vidanna, to find they'd abandoned their world too. Many Secessionist worlds were retaken, without much of a fight. The Venators attempted a fevered defence of their home world, Only to lose to superior numbers. Their hit and run tactics proved useless against the titans of Legio Gladius, who destroyed whole settlements and forests to rout out the Venators. Taking the lead, the Scourers demanded the Venators surrender to them. The Venators refused, and fought like animals to protect their home. A small vanguard of Steel Warden ships allowed them to extricate some of the Venators, who fled their world.
The Orders of the Weeping Idol and the Purging Flame pressed their assault on the Order of the Cloistered Heart. Already severely depleted by attacks by the Scourers, they were forced to shelter in their Convent on their Shrine world. Already reduced by heavy casualties, not long after they surrendered. They remained under the guard of the Order of the Purging Flame, while the Order of the Weeping Idol joined the main force. Before they could attack the Order of the Shining Sword, they fled, refusing to surrender, but also refusing to fight to the death.
With the Steel Wardens surrounded, out numbered, and massively out gunned, they opted to abandon their position. A small rear guard of the wounded stayed behind to fight, long enough to allow the bulk of the Steel Wardens to escape. The cataclysmic siege ended with Titans breaching the walls of the Fortress Monastery, with the Knights and Scourers looting it to replace their own losses.
The Steel Wardens fled, entering a uncharted area of space called the Dark Stars. Here, the stars glowed with a baleful red colour, and had long been the home of pirates and brings. The other defeated Secessionists joined them in exile there, gradually becoming twisted, and corrupted by Raan, who's bitterness and hatred brought him to the attention of darker patrons.
In the aftermath of the war, rebuilding was swift, the scars disappearing quickly. Lord Andal decreed every traitor should be subject total extermination, but this was overruled by this war council, and the Inquisitors. The worlds that willingly signed with the Secessionists were subject to heavy levies, and either a choice of decimation, where 1/10th of the population would be exterminated, or multi-generation servitude, with several generations of the planet being subjected to enforced servitude. The fighting men of the Second Army Group were moved to mass penal legions, to serve at the Emperor's pleasure until they died on the battlefield.
The Emperor's Swords were visited by Inquisitor Saazbaum, who initially demanded they forfeit rights to their homeworld, to their monastery, and take a two century penitent crusade. However, he came into conflict with the Grand Master of the Knights of Retribution. Since the Emperor's Swords had began their campaign with noble intentions, and had prosecuted with an etiquette befitting a noble Astartes, then surrendered in a peaceful manner, the Swords deserved mercy. Negotiating with the Knights, Saazbaum eventually handed down this sentence: The Chapter Master would surrender himself for judgement, remaining imprisoned for a life sentence with the Knights of Retribution. The Emperor's Swords would take a century long penitent crusade, their direction and purpose decided by the emperor's tarot. Their home world, and fortress monastery, would be held in trust by the Knights of Retribution. Their penitent crusade took them towards the Ork Empire of Serra, where they promptly fell out of communications.
While Inquisitor Havernall attempted to hand judgement on the Order of the Cloistered Heart, both the Order of the Weeping Idol, and the Order of the Purging Flame overruled this, allowing Sector Cardinal Shaan Urast instead to pass judgement. He ordered the entire order to take the Oath of the Penitent, their sister orders overseeing the order. Stripped of their armour and their weapons, each one of the 800 survivors submitted to this oath. Shaving their hair, and taking up rags inscribed with writs and litanies of repentance, they took their new weapons and began their penitent crusade. Their officers and the priests who allied themselves with the Secessionists were sentenced to Arco-Flagellation, becoming cybernetic killers in hopes that it might purify their soul. Lastly, the high commanders of the order, and the cardinals who turned against the sector, were sentenced to be chained to a Penitent Engine, to live out the rest of their lives overcome by guilt and misery, which can only be excised through combat. Detachments would be spread across the victorious orders, but the bulk of the Order of the Cloistered Heart committed savage campaigns against the secessionist hold outs, returning them to Imperial rule in savage assaults.
The Scourers would claim the ruined remains of the Venator's Fortress Monastery, strip it of anything of use to themselves, then moved on. For their role in the war, they were given jurisdiction to settle a world, ending their time as a fleet-based chapter.
The loyalist fact, for the start of the war, was undoubtedly the smaller of the two. Few rallied to the side of Lord Kellen Andal, regent of the Tyrest sector. A few loyal Imperial Guard officers swore allegiance to him, but the first ally to swing the tide was the allegiance of the Blood Dragons, who opposed the usurpation of mandated Imperial rule (Funnily, an action replaced years later by the Chapter Master of the Blood Dragons in the face of a colossal Tau invasion). Through the fierce oration of the Blood Dragon's chapter master, Ajax Aurak, more would cement allegiance to Lord Andal.
The first to swear allegiance to Lord Andal, the Blood Dragons would be at the forefront of the campaign. IN truth, the Chapter held little love for Lord Andal themselves, but they strongly suspected the motives of the Steel Wardens, and initially opposed them in order to curb their ambitions, and force them to back down. Instead, it escalated to full scale war.
After the Secessionists showed they hand during the battle of Juella Prime, the Marines Militant threw themselves behind the loyalist forces. Entering the war early, the took severe casualties blunting the attacks by the secessionists. In particular, they had several heated conflicts with both the Emperor's Swords Chapter and the Order of the Cloistered Heart. The Marines Militant are a mostly codex adherent Chapter, with extreme views on military readiness, and discipline. The Marines Militant remained a key member of the loyalist forces, up until Waaagh! Headbiter, when the Marines Militant were consumed by the green tide that devoured three systems in the Argon Depths.
Knights of RetributionEdit
Joining shortly after the Marines Militant, the Knights of Retribution entered the war, bringing their significant armoury of plasma weapons and heavy armour. the Knights of Retribution remained somewhat aloof of many of the main campaigns, but engaged and defeated House Mecalyn multiple times. While a member of the Loyalist war council, their seat remained empty during most of the meetings.
The Knights of Retribution are a Dark Angels successor chapter, and share the tactics and force distribution of their forebearers.
A late joiner, the Scourers arrived and left just as mysteriously. They presented themselves to the war council as willing members, and launched barbarous attacks on Secessionist worlds, killing tens of thousands. The entire chapter deployed to meet the might of the Second Army Group, forcing the large military unit into surrender near the war's end.
The Scourers are a chapter of unknown founding, and favour close assault, orbital bombardment, and flame weapons.
First Army GroupEdit
A composite force of loyal regiments, most sword allegiance to Dragon Lord Ajax, rather than Sector Lord Andal. First Army Group was comprised of regiments from multiple worlds. They mostly fought under the command of Marine captains, who utilised them as the anvil, to the hammer blow of their own Astartes.
Third Army GroupEdit
Raised from numerous regiments that swore to the loyalist cause, the Third Army Group was mostly used in a defensive manner, protecting vital worlds from assault. They would partake in several frontal assaults close to the war's end.
Remaining aloof for most of the war, Legio Gladius, better known as the Sword Bearers, would be roused to war when the Legio Ferro attacked their forge world. The Blood Dragons were the first to answer their call for help, and the Fabricator-General of their forge world swore his forces, including the Sword Bearers, to their service. Legio Gladius would go on to provide titan support for the First Army Group, then later the Third.
The first knightly house to answer the call, they swore themselves to the service of Sector Lord Andal. Unfortunately, while they answered the call quickly, they were slow to rally. A suprise attack by the forces of the Steel Wardens, House Mecalyn and Legio Ferro devastated their entire house. Rendered near extinct in the opening salvo of the war, small pockets would go on to battle before being crushed, and the survivors scattered. Their Knights were pillaged to increase the numbers of House Mecalyn.
The destruction of House ViDalla shocked House Ortharn into action. They swore themselves to the loyalists, and their Baron would serve as a member of the war council. Casualties were many, but their Knights were a vital part of the loyalist forces, combating Mecalyn's own vast numbers, as well as battling against Legio Ferro.
Order of the Weeping IdolEdit
One of two Militant Orders of the Adepta Sorotitas on the important Cardinal world of Augustine Prime, they answered the call when Secessionist forces threatened a cluster of shrine worlds in their advancement. Their fervour and devotion to the Loyalists lead them to purge whole worlds of rebellion, and bring them back to the Imperium.
Order of the Purging FlameEdit
Like their sister order, they too answered the call from Augustine Prime. They initially rushed to the defence of several shrine worlds, but as the war escalated, they leapt to the defence of numerous civilised and agri-worlds. They took heavy casualties, but rebuffed their enemy, every time.
Order of the Martyred MaidenEdit
A smaller order, from the shrine world of Gloriana. They threw their lot in with the loyalists, more out of a desire to remain autonomous during the conflict. They fought several small border skirmishes, but they were considered destroyed when Waaagh! Headbiter consumed their world.
Chief instigator of the war, the Steel Wardens rebelled against the idiotic rule of Lord Andal. However, much of their rebellion was caused by the pride and jealousy of their chapter master, Raan, who had grown to loathe many of his fellow brother chapters in the Tyrest Sector. The Steel Wardens were in essence, the leaders of the campaign, with Master Raan leading the war effort. Raan would eventually be defeated, but managed to escape retribution with many of his fellow marines, retreating into the uncharted Dark Star region.
The Steel Wardens were specialists in endurance and stamina. They advanced slowly, but surely, and were rarely stopped once they started.
A chapter risen from primitive hunters, the Venators were a predatory chapter, relying on tracking skills, predation and surprise to win their battles. Their reasons for joining the rebellion remained their own, and they refused to divulge anything. They frequently launched savage hit and run strikes, and became difficult to pin down. Eventually, they were defeated soundly, and forced to abandon their recruiting world. They left for the Dark Stars with the Steel Wardens, joining them in exile.
Joining shortly after the declaration of all out war, the Emperor's Swords resented the local hierarchy, feeling it was a corrupt, bloated institution, and that the Astartes could do a better job of it. While joining for noble reasons, they quickly joined in the blood shed, killing their fellow brothers, and slaughtering Imperial citizens for victory. Ultimately, a pincer attack by the Knights of Retribution, and House Ortharn forced them into surrender. After the war, their recruiting worlds were held in trust by the Knights of Retribution, and they were forced to take a century long penitent crusade.
Second Army GroupEdit
Originally a military unit raised to battle xenos forces in the sector, many commanders felt unhappy with Lord Andal, and were open to the suggestions of Master Raan. Swaying the Second Army Group to his cause, their tanks and infantry would become a feared sight, subjugating many worlds for their masters. They would meet their end when they came to fight the whole might of the Scourers chapter. After taking huge casualties, they were encircled, and their break out attempt only managed to get several units out. They surrendered to the Scourers, robbing the secessionists of one of their largest units. At wars end, their officers were executed, and every guardsman forced into servitude. The survivors who escaped joined the growing force of exiles in the Dark Stars.
Hailing from a forge world closely allied to the Steel Wardens, Legio Ferro, of the Iron Lords, would become the greatest threat the loyalists faced, lacking any titan support of their own for much of the opening stages. Enjoying a series of easy victories, they were stopped decisively at the battle of Parnea, and never recovered. When the war ended, the legion, their accompanying Skitarii and support vanished, with most assuming they fled to join their masters.
A Knightly House of disrepute, Mecalyn had long been accused of being brigands, thieves, brawlers and drunkards. It wasn't hard for Raan to talk them over to his side. Such an opportunity could not be missed, and the casualties, slaughter and looting they partook in made them strong. However, focused efforts to defeat them by the Knights of Retribution, Legion Gladius, and House Ortharn caused significant casualties. during the pivotal battle of Delphi III, they abandoned the field. They later fled their own Knight world, after being threatened with invasion, and became little more than travelling brigands.
Order of the Shining SwordEdit
Swearing allegiance to the Secessionists, in the face of Lord Andal's painful lack of piety, the Order of the Shining Sword became a vital component of the war effort, swaying worlds with words rather than guns. However, this would not save them from the Marines Militant, who's attacks killed nearly half their number. Forced to retreat to the rear lines, the Shining Swords refused to surrender like their sister order, and fled into exile, leading the survivors from the Second Army Group into the Dark Star region.
Order of the Cloistered HeartEdit
A small order, whose piety and fervour saw them take up arms alongside the Order of the Shining Sword. This piety and fervour collapsed in the face of repeated battles with the Scourers, who brought upon them terrible miseries, and heavy casualties. Forced to surrender a year into the war, at the war's end they were declared penitent, the remaining sisters shedding the armour and weapons, and taking up a crusade to find absolution.
Ork Empire of SerraEdit
A large Ork empire, perched precariously at the edge of the Tyrest sector. Several years earlier, the Marines Militant defeated Waaagh! Azgrad the Toofless, killing tens of millions of Orks in the process, and forcing them back to their worlds to fight amongst themselves. Most assumed them no longer an immediate threat. Raan exploited this, by goading them into a fight by sending probing assaults. When this built into a full scale Waaagh!, lead by Headbiter, a fearsome warboss, the Waaagh! overran nine worlds, including the home world of the Marines Militant, and the Order of the Martyred Maiden. The Marines Militant would fight to the last to defend their home, but eventually it went dark, and soon the Waaagh! was bloated with looted rhinos, and stolen bolters. Next the Order of the Martyred Maiden would fall, fighting desperately to protect their Shrine worlds. They too would be overrun. The Waaagh! was only stopped by the intervention of the Blood Dragons, leading them to the dead world of Oriana, where they were goaded into a mass landing, before they fled the planet and pounded it with cyclonic torpedoes.
The Empire of Serra was brutal, overtaking whole worlds in their aggressive expansion. However, the populaces were spared, to be worked as slaves by their Orkish masters, living a dreadful life of slavery under their whips and prods. Hundreds of millions of slaves lived, worked and died under this regime. The Orks even used humans in place of grots in a military role, having slaves fetch ammo, load weapons, and fight as mobs on the field. Even more worryingly, intelligence gathered after the war spotted individuals matching the description of Marines and Battle Sisters, suggesting the Orks captured and enslaved the warriors who battled them.
The Altana Craftworld was a mystery of the Tyrest Sector, plying distant systems, and rarely coming near trade lanes or major worlds. It was generally agreed that the defenders of the Tyrest sector avoid the craftworld, and the craftworld avoided them. Several times during the war, they made their presence known, their ships and warriors attacking members of the Secessionists, before vanishing back into the webway. While not allies of the Loyalists, in anyway, the Altana Craftworld saved the beleaguered Loyalists in more than one battle.
Kabal of the Sacrificed SoulEdit
There are always those who seek to profit from misery, and one of the first to do it was the Kabal of the Sacrificed Souls. A Kabal of fiendish Dark Eldar, they used the confusion of the war to enact their own aims, raiding, slaughtering and pillaging as they pleased. Both sides failed to bring them to battle, unable to pin them down. The Altana Craftworld, however, targeted their dark brethren, halting more than one of their raids.