“God Emperor save me from another such victory.”
– Lord Admiral Zinovy Nebogatov, lamenting the aftermath of retaking the Crux Stars in late M39. Nebogatov would be relieved of command 1 week after the final engagement.
Histroy Of The Crux Stars
Pre Great Rift
There are many important places in the galaxy.
Critical chokepoints for warp lanes. Strategic Redoubts. Hive worlds filled with trillions of the unwashed. For better or worse, pre great rift, The Crux Stars did not fit into this category.
Located on the borders of the Eastern Fringe, The Crux Stars are a dense cluster of stars and planets. While resource-rich and filled with habitable planets, navigating in this sector is trying at the best of times, there are numerous dead zones of space, both in reality and the warp, created by conflicting gravity wells of its heavenly bodies, the mysterious pylons of the Ginan system and the neighbouring Ugalj Vreća nebula. The presence of so many stars in such a small area also washes the nearby planets with seasonal radiation waves and dreaded rad blasts and firestorms, commonly manifesting in mild radiation burns and slight bleaching of hair in the population of the sector.
The Imperium has maintained a presence here since the scouring, only briefly pushed off the Crux by chaotic forces during the 10th Black Crusade. Retaking the Crux, with its maze of warp routes, shipping lanes and pirate coves cost the Imperium dearly, with former Lord Admiral Zinovy Nebogatov’s reclamation fleet suffering dire losses.
While resource-rich, the aforementioned drawbacks prohibit mass exploitation of the sector. Still, this allows its people some respite from the greater Imperium and as such its citizens of the Crux refer to themselves as “The lucky ones”. While psykers are exceedingly rare, luck and good fortune are not and the warp touched that do arise are of unusual power and ability.
The ecology of the sector is also similarly wild, with rad resistant crops, cattle and strange wildlife in abundance, coupled with frequently raising Imperial Guard regiments locally known as ‘Diggers’, fed the Imperium’s insatiable hunger for both food and troops alike.
In late M37, A string of cunning (and corrupt) sector governors and bureaucrats has led to the Crux reducing its tithes and outside oversight to the bare minimum, allowing local forces to batter down the region’s pirate and Xenos raids. For just under 4 millennia, the Crux Stars have been relatively untouched by war when compared to their contemporaries.
This, like all things, changed when the great rift cut the galaxy in twain.
Post Rift Crux and The Strait of Selat Malaka
The Rift Opens, War of the Khopesh and the Battle Of Shuyet
As with other places in the galaxy, the rift’s violent opening shattered the relative peace in the Crux. The sky was torn asunder, exploding into multicoloured light and then settling into a purple bruise sector-wide. Only on the Ginan system, with its so-called ‘cities of the dreamless’, did the sky remain blue.
Mimosa was immediately raided by a heretic Astartes force of League of Veritas Imperialis. Commanded by the foul heretic Astartes sorcerer Khonsu of Nerikare’s Immortals, they seized a season’s worth of grain stores and burned what they couldn’t take, before being driven off sector’s PDF, aided by a relief force of Sliver Scarabs Astartes lead by Lt Un-Amen that arrived in the weeks following the sector’s distress call. The two forces engaged in a game of cat and mouse, khopeshes clashed as each fleet attempted to use the winding realspace and warp routes to tilt the balance of power in their favour.
This game culminated in the decisive void battle of Shuyet. The Scrabs pushed the heretics back into the warp rift and the Astartes quickly made their leave, swearing to return in greater numbers should the need arise, declaring to all that the Crux was under their watch.
Despite this victory, the damage was done. The sector’s PDF and fleet are in tatters, its main food stores raided and communication with the wider imperium tenuous at best. As a whole the sector looked to the bruised sky and dimmed stars, waiting to see what nightmare would emerge.
The Malaka Sultanate and the machination of the Asuryani
“The universe is tripartite: the sunlight of the material plane, the darkness of the spirit plane, and the twilight of the spaces betwixt the two.” – Eldar Spiritseer
Proving their reputation of being lucky, the sector was ‘saved’ by the Rogue Trader dynasty of the Malaka Sultanate, they claimed that they had charted a course through the great rift and that the Crux sector was the lynchpin for it. The Sultanate offered a trade. They would hand over a map of the stable routes, along with enough food to feed the sector until the next harvest in exchange for a ‘fair tithe’ of all resources that followed through the newly christened ‘‘The Strait Of Sealat Malaka”
Little did the sector governor, Governor-General Corcrac, know that the Malaka Sultantate’s boons did not come from the skill of its navigators, his merchant captain’s tradecraft or “highly skilled and therefore, rather expensive” stellar cartographers but rather the Asuryani of Iyanden.
Why they gave such a gift to the Sultanate is unknown at this time…
Plagues Of The Scourge Stars And The Pylons Of Ginan
The proximity of the Scourge Stars and the Nurgle Plagues and war hosts spewing from it should have doomed the Crux. At the behest of Typhus himself, the Bubonic Astartes sallied forth, heading north into the Tau Empire and towards the Crux itself, plagues ran before it, infecting worlds and weakening armies before the hosts struck.
However, it seemed that even Nurgles most horrific plagues could not gain a foothold in the Crux. Where treatment, immune-boosting vaccine and antiseptic failed in the south, medicares in the Crux, especially in the Ginan system found their traditional methods working soundly.
Imperial investigators had no idea why this was the case, it wasn’t until they found agents of the Plague god attempting to take down the Pylons of Ginan that they stumbled onto what maybe the source of the Crux’s good fortune. A vicious battle in the shadows erupted, with the agents of the Imperium finding themselves stretched thin. They failed in the Hive City of the Unheard Song. Nurgle forces, supported by Astartes of Vastata Cibum, almost brought down a network of pylons on Molae’va’por only to be stopped by a force of Necrontyr of the Shinichirō dynasty, who sallied forth out of the previously impenetrable Ugalj Vreća nebula, situated to the south-east of the Crux.
Over 60 million years ago, during the War Of Heaven, the Necrontyr made the pylons and it was now their mission to not only preserve them but to amplify them. Seeking to replicate the effects of the ‘stillness’ in the Pariah Nexus within the Nephilim Sub-sector. The Xenos poured energy into the long-dormant Blackstone. While the PDF attempted to repel this new threat, they were quickly demoralised by pylon’s insidious influence, leading to a total rout of local Imperial forces.
It was only the efforts of the Adeptus Astartes of the Swords of Davion that thwarted these efforts. Under the instruction of Inquisitor Scradden and command of Equerry Owain, Strike Force Reforger deployed to counter the Necron’s charging of the pylons and then tasked themselves with saving the populace.
Falling on the Necron’s guarding the pylons, the Astartes challenged all that approach them. As for the Necrontyr? It’s doubtful that Overlord as notorious as Akída Kathréftis of the brutal Shinichirō Dynasty will allow a 100 millennia old plan to unravel. Especially given that he was charged by the Silent King himself to carry it out.
The Sound Of Silence
War For The Pylons Of Ginan
“The beatings will continue until morale improves.”
– Unknown midshipman, 0146961.M02. Overheard utterings of this and other timeless statements are tallied daily by Imperial Commissars to gauge morale and general force disposition. Known as the ‘M score’ Commissars will work together to bring this number to an ‘acceptable limit’. Forces in the Ginan system are currently riding an all-time high M score, despite numerous beatings, mandatory heroic speeches, floggings and at least 3 summary executions.
While not as large or extensive as the Cadian network, the pylons of Ginan are definitely the source of the Crux’s resistance to the Great Rift.
After a long and bloody campaign Swords of Davion fended off the machinations of Shinichirō Dynasty, seizing the Pylons of Ginan. Publicly the Davonic Astartes secure the pylons and remove the Necron influence supercharging their effects.
Privately the Astartes work with Inquisitors of the Sanguine Inquiro, balancing the heightened effects with maintaining the warp route, spiriting away portions of the pylons back to Davion, seeking to establish a safer warp route to their besieged sector.
This would prove to be a mistake, while the Shinichirō Dynasty‘s initial success in overcharging the pylons allowed the Astartes to remove a portion for their own use, their haste to bring this boon back to their besieged homeworlds allowed a new small but stable warp route to from.
The route leads to the foul chaotic empire of The League Of Veritas Imperialis. It will only be a matter of time before the Heretic Astartes, led by Imperator Daivde finds this route and ignites a civil war on a scale the Crux has never seen before.
The Scrappers War
The Rock’in Raids Of Waaaaagh Snarltoof And The Fury Of The Lamenters
During the battles of the Ginan System, a Savage Ork Rock n’ Waaagh broke warp. Fresh off their battles against the Spider of Mars, Waaagh Snarltoof’s fleet careened into Crux Stars breaking out of the warp in the Rubidea system.
The orks started to do what they did best, basing themselves out of the asteroid belt near Derwin they started a massive hunt for supplies. Snarltooth’s space hulk was powerful but had an insatiable thirst for fuel and the Orks had forgotten how to stop the hulk from moving.
It was at this moment that Snarltooth’s Mek had an idea. They would simply crash the hulk into the nearest planet.
That planet happened to be Deathworld Derwin.
When local Imperial Guard are asked about dwarf planet Derwin, most describe it as a tropical hell world where nothing good can or will happen. It is a planet of insane humidity and heat, producing vicious megafauna and ugly fighting conditions. It also features an atmosphere that aggressively corrodes anything it touches.
Such a place is hell for Adeptus Mechanicus, yet they maintain sole rights over the world. This is because of the vast “Graveyard of the Fictus Aftokratoría” to the north. The site of a vast great crusade battlefield, where large elements of the XIIth Legionary fleet clashed with a doomed human empire that spurred the Emperor, it contains a treasure trove of pre-heresy, unwarp touched, refined battlefleet grade adamantium mined from the Jai system.
“Landing” on Derwin, Snarltoof set himself on raiding the graveyard and Mechanicus treasures. The mighty crash of the hulk unearthed also unearthed the bones of a mighty Gorkanaught. With the psyker weirdboy twins Chaz’rk and Dav’rk receiving visions from Gork himself or Mork, depending on what time of day you asked them, that Snarltoof would find greatness if he aided his Meks in repairing the Gorkanaught.
To do this Snarltoof needed scrap. A lot of scrap. More scrap than he had, so much so that he had to get his entire Warband to use *all* of their fingers and toes to count how many ‘scraps’ he would need. This still wasn’t enough. Grasping at straws, it was his soothsayer, weirdboy Dav’rk Bowie suggested that they use the hands and feet of dead imperials to help them count. After a solid 3 weeks of hunting down humies, this worked.
Despite the massive levels of bloodshed, this un-orky act of math enraged the Ork beyond belief, leading him to throttle Chaz’rk until Dav’rk said that there was a ton of scrap ‘over der’. ‘Over der’ was the outskirts of the Crux Stars, namely the Adeptus Mechanicus outpost of deathworld Derwin and the ship graveyard in orbit.
The Waaaagh swept the local forces aside, the Mechanicus outpost desperately called for aid and the Astartes of the Lamenters 7th Company answered. Led by noble Captain Lucien, this force of Astartes, fresh of crossing the Rubicon enmass resisted the waaaagh with fury and bolter fire.
Astartes and Orks fought bloody battles over the moon, with Snarltooth losing a leg in the process. Enraged he lead his savage orks into a ‘great hunt’ and while he stuck out alone, hunting and taming the dreaded Bona Fortuna Aprum. Taking the beast as his mount and naming it “TEARER”, he proceeded to kill many of the Lamenters in a bloody rampage.
Refusing to bow down to the Orks superior numbers, the Lamenters clashed with the orks amongst the Mechanicus trade posts. Captain Lucien embroiled himself in the fighting but he found himself slipping into the Black Rage. Attempting to hide his affliction he withdrew from the fight he entrusted the young Lexicarnum Zadkiel to save Derwin. Zadkiel had found his stride during the conflict and focused on protecting the people rather than material, a move that infuriated sector command. Nevertheless, the 7th performed well but with dire losses against the Waaggh, saving most of the sector but allowing Snarltoof to gain a critical amount of scrap for his project….
Death In Paradise
The Faith Wars
“To Slay is to pray.”
– St Elma, Leader of The Apostles of Her Burning Tears And The Infinite Contained Lake Of His Forgiveness.
“I think often about how the false Emperor once told us that the gods are not real. Truly those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
– Imperator Davide, leader of Sons of Horus and The League Of Imperium Veritas.
Finding a new stable warp route pre-rift was good, but not necessarily something that would be news on a segmentum-wide scale.
This has changed in the Post rift Imperium and thanks to an oversight by the notoriously hot-blooded chapter of Astartes known as the Swords of Davion during their battles to hold the Ginan system, this is exactly what developed between the southern systems of the Crux stars and Imperial Nihilus.
The Jai system was the jewel of the two possible targets for predatory forces on the other side of the rift. Its three habitable worlds are a self-contained set of a population rich, resource-rich and most rare of all in the Imperium, a legitimate paradise world.
The system’s capital Ōtautahi is the largest of the three planets. Ōtautahi’s warrior culture harkens back to the Age of Strife, famously resisting The Great Crusade for 3 months until a diplomatic solution was found at the cost of massive amounts of bloodshed on both sides. The hive world supplies ample amounts of workers and prospers off the bounty of Wellesley IX’s mining network.
The resource-rich mining world of Wellesley XI has been stripped mined and tunnelled for millennia. This greed has left it a planet of massive tectonic instability. Despite this pillaging, it remains laced with Adamantium, a metal often used in conjunction with plasteel and ceramite to produce items that require incredible tensile strength, such as in the structure of power armour, Terminator Armour or the construction of Imperial Titans.
The paradise world of Eden IV is one of the jewels in the Crux Star’s crown. A resort world of Imperial nobility and retired generals, it is, for the privileged few, one of the very few outright ‘nice’ places in the Imperium. Valued beyond measure by sector aristocrats, any invading force can expect it to be fought for tooth and nail.
This trio of planets provides and force invading the Crux Stars with a ready-made jumping point into the heart of the warp lanes connecting Sanctus and Nihilus and yet This route went unnoticed by Imperial forces for months. This quickly changed when a mass landing of heretic astartes bearing the colours of the Fallen and Sons of Hours landed en masse on the system’s three planets. This event triggered bedlam.
The forces of chaos, while notionally aligned had similar but competing agendas. The Fallen warband, Order of the Shrouded Sword was commanded by the proud Valkyrion, who stylised himself as ‘The Twice Scorned’ after escaping capture by the Dark Angels, seeking to expose the lies of the chapter and the true fate of Caliban and the Lion.
The Sons of Horus on the other hand were led by “Imperator” Davide. The ever-lucky Davide had stumbled his way into obtaining an empire on the Nihilus side of the rift. The so-called League Of Imperium Veritas has given his small warband a bevy of resources, which true to Davide’s style, has cemented his belief that Horus was actually right and Abaddon dishonours his “great and very important” memory. As such the ‘true sons’ immediately started to build giant statues of Horus on the landing fields in the Jai system, rather than the sane idea of fortifications or logistic supply hubs, after all the Imperium, unlike Horus and therefore Davide, was a slow to react wallowing and wounded beast. Surely there would be no rapid reaction or response by such a flawed empire.
Within hours of the Chaos forces landing on Jai system worlds, the invasion triggered an immediate response.
An Imperial holy mission to the other side of the warp rift led by Saint Elma, consisting of Astartes from the Black Templars and Adepta Sororitas troops saw the atrocities being committed by the forces of chaos as a holy sign to bring the firey light of the Imperial creed to the masses. They were joined by the Macrossian Imperial Knights of House Macrossian led by Knight Commander Huntress. This force would be the initial Imperial counter push against the forces of chaos in the sector.
However, it was not the Imperials of the Sanctus side of the rift were not the only power reacting to the events in the Jai system. The Tau Gan’da’mu expeditionary fleet from Bor’kan saw a perfect opportunity to entrench their ideals in a vulnerable and shocked population and thus they rode to the defence of the people of the Jai system, making a truly uneasy alliance with the firebrand Imperials of the Army Of Faith. Additionally, a truly ancient rivalry stirred.
Two shadows of ancient empires, both an imperfect mirror of each’s undeath, sought to manipulate the outcome of the fighting. The Yl’Dritch Storm, led by Autarch Yranar, Farseer Ashenel and Seer Council Of The Ring sought to balance the conflict and draw in more Imperial forces into the Crux in order to achieve long-term stability on the stable warp route. The Necrons of Death Cult of Ithacus also wanted the balance the conflict, but in such a way that would depress the embers of faith in the system, preventing a firestorm of warp energy from igniting the chances of either side sweeping forth.
The stage was set for the cataclysmic war of faith of followed.
Caught unawares, the Fallen and Sons of Horus were almost driven from the sectors. The Imperials counter attack by the combined strikes of Gan’da’mu T’au and Macrossian Knights was tactically faultless and backed by a solid concentration of force and faith from the Army of Faith, the forces of chaos were in disarray. Only spoiling attacks from the Eldar and Necrons prevented the Imperials from causing a total rout of chaotic forces.
Faced with the prospect of a truly brutal defeat, Davide and Valkyrion’s forces openly clashed on Ōtautahi, each vying for dominance. It was the Sons Of Horus that emerged the victor, and as such, they dictated the new strategy. They would fall back to tactics that made them the envy of the Great Crusade, they would carry out a series of pinpoint, tip-of-the-spear strikes against the Imperial leadership, forcing the Imperials to castle up their leadership and allowing their armies to maneuver uncontested.
The strategy worked and opened up the war’s second and far more bloody phase. With chaos forces resurgent, the Imperials found themselves on the backfoot. Naturally, as things go in the Crux Stars, this change of dynamic drew in more interested parties. Sensing opportunity and ill-gotten gains, the Thousand Sons Warband Legion of Dust led by Lord Sanakht entered the battle, publically to ‘assist’ their fellow traitorous brethren but secretly to obtain long-lost legionary relics. The Black Templars of Chaplain Akket’s Crusade also arrived to shore up Imperial defences.
Brutal fighting rang out across the system. Valkyrion, falling deeper and deeper into clutches of chaos faced down Akket’s Emperor’s Champion in single combat, felling him and committing himself to openly Khornate worship, distressing more conservative members of his Warband.
Lord Sanakht made a massive impact on the second phase of the war. The ancient Astartes was a blue bolt, moving at unbelievable speeds thanks to his psychic mastery. Coined the Fastest Astartes alive, his leadership of the Thousand Sons of almost peerless. They achieved their objectives of resurrecting a fellblade, long lost on the mining world of Wellsley IX. This massive success was only tempted by Sanakht’s overconfidence. He narrowly escaped with his life during some infighting between the Thousand Sons and Sons of Horus, with the brutal Praetor Kaytuk gladly sacrificing winning the battle over catching Sanakht by pulling him out of the air and proceeding to introduce him personally to his mace, marking the first but not the last time that shards of Sanakht’s psychoactive armour where sprayed across the Jai system.
St Elma’s army of faith made quiet progress during the fighting, spreading its firey faith amongst the population and shielding them with their bodies at great cost to the small crusade she had assembled.
While these battles were taking place, forces on both sides faced constant attacks by progressively more insane and bloodied Necrons led by Oltyx, The Flayer King. The Necrons cut a bloody swath through the chaos and Imperial forces alike. Fear and confusion reigned on both sides and Oltyx’s silent crusade against the Eldar continued.
The paradise world of Eden IV suffered heavily. It was quickly turned into a Chaos stronghold, with the Fallen preaching their creed of ‘truth’ to the populace while the Sons of Horus created Horus City, a place of (re)education on the greatness of the true Emperor, Horus and his successor Davide. The Thousand Sons littered the planet with massive psychic rituals, seeking forbidden law. These acts turned the once green planet into a bloody red orb.
Wellesley IX emerged as a direct opposite to Eden. It became an Imperial bulwark against the darkness. Harvesting the adamantine to shore up long dormant defences from the Horus Hersey. This was coupled with a similar reinforcement of Imperial resolve on the planet by preachers from the Army of Faith and Black Templars.
So despite a valiant resurgence by the forces of Chaos, the Imperials won the day by the narrowest of margins. The Fallen, Sons of Horus and Thousand Sons saw the incoming prospect of their defeat and the worrying rumour that a massive force from Indomintus Fleet Primus’s vanguard, Battle Group Kallides immense arrival would trigger a counter-attack to Davide’s empire in the Hellina systems and following that, the other pocket chaos empires.
They summarised that this could not come to pass. Out of desperation, they would force a major engagement on Ōtautahi. Should they win, the metaphorical sword of their assault on the Crux stars would be turned aside, rather than shattered in the Jai system.
A massive chaos fleet entered low orbit on Ōtautahi. A rain of sea green and black drop pods plunged into the atmosphere. The majority of the Fallen and Sons of Horus forces would strike at St Elma and Chaplain Akket’s places of worship in the capital city. A small force of the Sons of Horus would also engage the undefended artillery fortress batteries that were ranged in to support the defence of the holy sites in the city.
In orbit, the Thousand Sons held back, for it was them and only them that foresee the actions of the Eldar of Iyanden, who after achieving their goals of bringing the fleet from Battlegroup Kallides, sought to press their advantage further by enabling the fleet to attack Nhilus directly rather than being bogged down by Chaos counter punch towards the other undefended Crux system in Nipaluna.
The battle was vicious.
The Thousand Sons clashed with Iyanden Aspect warriors led by Autarch Yranar on the Strike Cruiser Impossibile Celeritas. The Eldar fought a corridor to corridor battle with the Legion of Dust, seeking to silence the Cruiser’s formidable guns. While they fought valiantly they would prove to be unsuccessful, paving the way for Sanakht to join the fight on the surface proper.
The Sons of Horus attacking the Imperial fortress were less successful. Expecting little to no resistance, they instead were met by Eldar titans and undead warmachines. While they inflicted grievous damage to the fortress they would be almost killed to a man by the vengeful dead.
The main battle in the capital proved to be a brutal city fight. The Tau of Gan’da’mu laid down withering covering fire for the Army of Faith and the Black Templar Crusade to advance towards the Chaos lines. After hours of brutal fighting, a cunning ploy by Valkyiron and Davide opened up the gap in the Tau-Imperial alliance. Sensing that their own shakey alliance was somehow more solid than the Xenos and firebrand Imperials, the chaos forces struck hard at the epicentre of the two forces.
Sons of Horus Possessed along with Imperator Davide charged up the line, joined by the chosen of Valkyrion they cut their way into the heart of the Imperials, shattering the defender’s resolve. One by one the Imperial heroes fell to chaos blades and foul warp spawned horrors.
The Fallen, seeking to inflict one final defeat to the Imperials and to settle some old grudges, Valkyrion engaged the Emperor’s Champion in single combat, felling the Imperial champion contemptuous ease, drawing the gaze of Slannesh towards him. Not skipping a beat he levelled his sword at the Tau commander who descended into the fray.
For a moment, all seemed lost to the Imperials and their allies. Such was the scale of the impending chaos victory that threatened to undo their dominance of the conflict as a whole. The Thousand Sons joined on this sweeping advance, seeking to cement chaos victory.
It was at that moment that the Eldar counterattack joined the battle. Victorious at the Imperial Fortress, the army of the dead strode onto the battlefield, driving off and grievously wounding the entirely of the Chaos leadership, despite the best efforts of Davide and Valkyrion further cementing his deepening pact with Slannesh by reaping a gruesome toll on the army of the dead. While this didn’t totally shatter the resolve of the Chaos forces, it did prevent a total Imperial rout.
At the close of the battle, the Imperial forces claimed victory in the campaign, while the forces of chaos could at least grasp the crown of winning the final major engagement of the conflict, buying them time to make a desperate attack on the Nipaluna system, laying a brutal siege to the defensive lynchpin of the system, the Hive City of Unending Dawn. The festering wound and Chaos occupation on Eden IV will also drain resources away from the Imperials.
Still, the Imperium rightfully obtained a notable victory. St Elma’s faith would spread like fire among the Crux Stars and beyond, tempered only by the chaotic whispers of the truths of the Horus Heresy and the Emperor’s forgotten sons. The Black Templars have similarly whipped up a storm of zeal that will spill over to Nilhus at some point in the future.
The Tau, happy with their wild success have wormed their way into the hearts of key Imperial leadership. While content to allow things to develop for now, there is no doubt that they will return in larger numbers to expand their empire.
The ‘noble’ forces of Imperial Vertius had their first major defeat in the post-rift world. However, their leader Davide is nonplussed by this. Instead, he claimed that the Jai system was obviously a glorious feint for the real prize of the Hive City of Unending Dawn.
While privately he was initially troubled that he would have to now share the potential prize of the critical hive city in order to generate the forces required to take and hold it, the sting of that particular revelation was lessened by the knowledge that his nascent empire’s resources have finally paid dividends. For the first time in thousands of years, newborn Sons of Horus and fresh equipment clad in sea green walk the stars.
The Fallen of Valkyrion are no more. Despite reaping a bloody toll of champions with his heavenfall blade and courting the attentions of Khrone and later Slannesh, Valkyrion finally fell for the third time to the army of Eldar dead on Ōtautahi during the final battle. With his departure from the land of the living and his followers in tatters, his second in command Gwain rose to prominence within the Order. While his rise was challenged by staunch supporters of Valkyrion still loyal to their deceased Lord, Gwain decreed that the Order would take a new path, one that would have nothing to do with faith.
Despite leaving yet more armour shards scattered to the winds on Ōtautahi. Lord Sanakht lived, knowing that he had reaped the rewards of success. His warhost is now armed with priceless Heresy era armour. This coupled with his psychic mastery leaves him with little doubt of future success. Time will tell where he leads his legion of the dust next.
The Necrons came all so close to perfect victory. While they did not snuff out the fires of faith they certainly dimmed it and stabilised some of the warp activity in the system. The King Of The Flayed Ones will have to take some pride in that fact, no doubt helped with the constant fear that the victorious Imperials now have of the shadows in the Jai system.
Of all the forces in play in the Jai system, it was the Eldar that came closest to a flawless victory. With almost perfect precision they tipped the scales and brought the attention of the Indomitus Crusade to the Crux stars while simultaneously bringing Chaos forces to their breaking point. Their victory is only marred by the last gasp effort of chaos forces to hold back the fleet in Nipaluna. Still, they have elected to rest easy and pursue other endeavours, with Farseer Ashenel proclaiming that it was only a matter of time before their objectives were achieved in totality.
With this, the heaviest fighting in the Jai System was brought to a close. The War In Paradise was over.
Vanguard elements of the Battlegroup Kallides consisting of Grey Knights, Adepta Sororitas, Death Korps of Kreig and even Adeptus Custodes rushed to the aid of the Hive City of Unending Dawn, landing swiftly and setting about digging into weather a siege, knowing that Davide’s new alliance of Word Bearers, Sons of Horus, Death Guard and Tzeentchian daemons were barreling towards them, seeking their share of the spoils and the defensive strong point of the Hive.
And yet there was still one final note to be played.
On the planet of Ōtautahi a black armoured figure stirred, re-animated by foul magic. Hefting his broken blade the warrior strode into the mist, eyes burning with fell favour. Every member of the Fallen Order, even though leagues away from the Jai system at this point, began hearing a familiar voice, one they all knew very well. The only words this voice spoke “The Angel Rises Again”.
7 Weeks Of Hell
The Siege Of Unending Dawn
“The mining industry might make wealth and power for a few men and women, but the many would always be smashed and battered beneath its giant treads.”
~ Rogue Trader Katharine Prichard, late M39.
Prichard is an oddity amongst her kind, while impeccably adept at her trade, she frequently was a patron of the poor and gifted in the Crux Stars. This almost heretical notion put her at odds with the water and mining barrons of Unending Dawn, who Prichard secretly waged war against from M37 to 41.
The Niplauna system is one of the more unconventional regions in the Imperium. Named after its sole habitable planet, the system consists of a supermassive gas giant at its core, known as Niplauna Prime with the system’s lone habitable planet of Niplauna Secondus orbiting it. Its star, the tiny brown dwarf star named Bila, sits in tidally locked orbit with the habitable world, effectively leading the dance between it as Nimplauna Prime. The rest of the system is an almost impenetrable mess of gases, debris and failed rocky planets.
This creates an interesting planetary dynamic that under any other human regime, would have been a place of scientific wonder and experiment, however, these are not kind times and the Imperium is sadly anything but curious.
Niplauna Secondus is a planet of two halves. One, facing the gas giant is a rolling ocean tipped with a massive and truly inhospitable ice shelf that attracts massive meteor showers and impacts. Futherest way the sun, the ocean is capped by a truly massive dome of ice. The rapid cooling of almost 60c warm water at the equator to sheer ice mountains creates weather systems of brutal storms, coupled with the meteor impacts making it all but impossible to sustain regular life on the so-called ‘Winter’s Cap’. However, it is this barrage of ice and rare metals that feeds both the sea and the Imperium’s insatiable hunger for material and water.
The other half is a desert of such extreme unlivable heat that even the Adeptus Astartes would fear to tread. The ‘Summer’s Cap ‘ is the area closest to Secondus’s dwarf sun and is constantly bathed in insane heat and solar wind. Radiation and fire reek havoc in this region and once again, contribute to Niplauna Secondus’s brutal weather with airborne rolling literal radioactive firestorms turning the sand to glass in the desert.
While this all seems to create a planet that is simultaneously too hot to live on while also being far too cold, there is the aforementioned bounty of rare materials and base blocks of all human life, water and while Niplauna is such an out-of-the-way system in an out of the way sector that it claims no representation on the Crux Stars’ official coat of arms, it does have immense value and once ships do reach the mandeville point, decent access to the wider Imperium pre the great rift.
Naturally, this drew in motivated people looking for a gold mine of profit. After numerous setbacks and failed attempts, ranging from before the great crusade era til after the Crux Stars entry into the Imperium of Man post scouring, it was not until in late M33 that the Kinehart family lucked their way into riches.
While inhabitable at it’s extremes, the planet did have the narrowest band of breathable atmosphere and temperatures that did not require a survival suit at its equator. What stopped a permanent settlement from forming in this region was the constant tsunamis of water and radioactive glass ‘dagger dust’ from the winter and summer caps. This constrained and frustrated the Imperium from taking advantage of the rich resources and the bulky and slow water mining operations from taking place. This did not stop the brave and the desperate from landing on the equator and exploring into the colder regions with the hope of finding easy pickings of adamantium or other rare riches.
It wasn’t until the already wealthy Kinehart family charted a small ship in late M33 that that changed the system’s fate. By a stroke of misfortune, the Kinehart’s ship miscalculated their entry from the Mandeville point, crashing into a massive asteroid streaking towards the planet. However their luck turned and saved them from almost certain death, instead, their ship the ‘Meus Odium’ kicked off a Rube Goldberg like series of effects and knocked the asteroid off course.
Instead of hitting the planet towards the Winter’s Cap, it plunged into the equator, with the Meus Odium spinning off the asteroid like a flea jumping from dogs back into low orbit around Secondus. The planet reacted much in the same way it always had when struck by a large object. A storm of water and radioactive glass purged life from the planet, caring not about the lives of the miners that stalked its surface. The crew of Meus Odium watched on, knowing their engines were gone and their orbit doomed to crash them into the storms below them in a matter of months.
It was during the 3rd month after some of the initial storms finally broke that the crew and Kinehart finally saw the crater of the asteroid that doomed them. It had made a massive depression on the equator and through chance made a perfectly sheltered space. After briefly coaxing the engines back into life, they plunged into the safe haven and began turning their ship into a settlement.
It was at this moment that Kinehart realised what was possible and also realised the contract he had with the upper members of Menus Odium’s crew. Namely their stake in whatever they found. This would give them claim to any potential settlement on the planet that the ship generated and therefore untold riches. Kinehart was not satisfied with his mere 51% share of unimaginable wealth and quickly set up a plot to gain passage on the next mining ship that came through. While the details of this plan are lost to time, he managed to swindle, lie and bribe his way on a vessel that returned him to his holdings in the Crux Stars. He then returned with a small private militia, landed at the now semi-functional settlement and killed every remaining stake member of Menus Odium.
The passing of Mellina saw the ship grow into a mining enclave and then Hive City with 4 massive starports feeding an obscene tithe of material to the Imperium, making the Kinehart family rich beyond means. The lack of a proper night on the equator gave Kinehart the city’s name, The City Of Unending Dawn.
Until the rift broke the galaxy in twain, the Kineharts abused their wealth and ruled without fear. The water exports to wider Imperium brought protection that the rest of the Crux Stars did not enjoy and the rump system quietly enjoyed wagging the tail of the politics of the sector for its own means, exploiting the Crux’s population for an expendable workforce in exchange for satisfying most of the sectors post M37 tithe.
The city also grew but was still contained by the width and depth of the crater they depend on for survival. Still, the crater was vast and the city formed into a hive, that gave save haven to mining teams that exploited its wealth of water and riches. Using the shelter of the city and its infrastructure, the hive expanded downwards when its spire hit the upper limits of the crater. It is underground that the poor and desperate cling to life in between insanely dangerous mining work parties towards the Winter’s Cap, supporting the rich that dwell above. This industry of mineral and water wealth, propped up by human suffering and callous disregard for life feeds the four great spaceports outside of the city.
Post rift this changed. Much of its wider Imperium routes that led to Nhilus and were cut off, leaving them dependent on the rest of the system for safe exports of water and mining products for the first time. Still, the planet’s resources and difficult warp route into the Crux’s new strategic warp lanes brought it relative safety compared most in the Imperium.
This changed much like the Jai system when the Pylons of Ginan were tampered with by the Swords of Davion. A stable warp lane to Nhilus formed. What saved Niplauna from the initial Chaos invasion was that difficult warp route into the Crux, making the Jai system’s 3 valuable planets a much better staging point for further resource gains.
With push back from the Jai system, the blade of the Chaos invasion was not shattered and instead has been deflected onto Niplauna. Imperator Davide, who originally saw Niplauna as a jewel for his crown that he would not share with The Fallen or The Thousand Sons has been faced with a choice of compromising this goal or seeing his empire face an nearly unstoppable invasion.
Ever the pragmatist, Davide now seeks to split the system’s bounty with two warbands consisting of Death Guard, Word Bearers. His efforts also have seen the machinations of their Tzeetchan deamon Ushriak the Pyresworn, who may or may not be the guileful arch-deceiver of the corrupted riddles.
The Imperium however has not been caught flatfooted. Aware of Davide’s plot they have rushed the vanguard of their Battlegroup Kallides to the system.
The combined vanguard force is more than formidable. The bulk of the force is made up of Adepta Sororitas and Astra Milltarum under the watchful Canoness Commander Lucina Asperitus of the Order of Wrathful Sacrament and Death Korps of Kreig under Major Rummel. Attached to this are the mighty Adeptus Custodes commanded by the ever-skillful Blade Champion of the Shadowkeepers, Darian Caligus, and a secret contingent of Grey Knights who are undoubtably opposed to the Ushriak, who is reportedly a possible match for even their supreme might. This force has dug in on the Hive City, bracing themselves for the last ditch thrust of the Chaos invasion into the Crux.
Should they prevail, the Battlegroup will push into Davide’s empire in Imperium Nihilus. If they fail, the Heretic Astartes and the daemonic allies will be able to weather the storm and force Kallides to take the long way through the Crux and most importantly to Davide, away from his small empire.
Collectively from the highest spire of Kinehart riches to the lowest slum of rad tainted poor, the city fortified, held its breath and waited for the invasion.