The Fall of Medusa V was a multi-sided military conflict fought on the Imperial Mining World of Medusa V in the Ultima Segmentum that was devoured by a Warp Storm in 999.M41. Luckily, the military forces of the Imperium of Man were able to evacuate the entire surviving civilian population of the planet before it was consumed.
Before completing this evacuation, the world became the center of a large military conflict between eight of the Milky Way Galaxy's major powers for control of the world, each for its own reasons. This military action became known as the Fall of Medusa V in Imperial records.
The Birth of a World
The Mining World of Medusa V in the Medusa System of the Ultima Segmentum was settled in the early years of the 37th Millennium by the Imperium of Man, yet enjoyed a relatively peaceful history until the late 41st Millennium, when it was consumed by a terrible conflict that ultimately resulted in the destruction of the world.
The Warp phenomenon known as Van Grothe's Rapidity pulses on the Eastern Fringes of Imperial space. It is a purple-glowing whirlpool of destruction that extends across light years of territory and spells destruction for those desperate or careless enough to enter it without caution. However, the Rapidity is not without its uses, for though dangerous, it is also considered relatively stable by Adeptus Mechanicus Observators. It is of incalculable value to the Mechanicus Explorator fleets and Rogue Traders who regularly pass through this region. When traversed correctly, it can hurl a Warp-borne spacecraft through the eddies and tides of the Empyrean with such speed that an interstellar journey through Warpspace can be shortened by months, if not years. As a result of this effect, despite its hazardous nature, the Rapidity has earned itself the moniker of "Hell's Slingshot."
Upon the Warp anomaly's discovery in 241.M37, the Imperial Navy and the Adeptus Mechanicus were in agreement that, carefully used, the Rapidity would be of great value for Imperial commerce and defense in the Eastern Fringes. So Carral Van Grothe, the original discoverer of the Warp anomaly, was commissioned by the Imperium to locate a habitable world nearby that could serve as a way station and staging point for vessels seeking to make use of it. After an extensive search, a star system was located that held two habitable planets. An Explorator Fleet, under the protection of a Clan Company of the Iron Hands Chapter, began the process of settling the two worlds. In honour of the Iron Hands Space Marines, who began exterminating the indigenous alien populations of both planets, the system was named Medusa, a tribute to their own homeworld.
Medusa IV was the larger and more bountiful of the two habitable planets in the Medusa System and the Explorator Fleet descended in force. Masters in the art of planetary settlement, the Explorators quickly brought Medusa IV under the Emperor's rule. Great cities were erected within only months, becoming massive expanses of gleaming metal. Huge settlement craft, loaded with civilian settlers drawn from hive worlds across the Imperium in search of new beginnings brought people both willing and fearful to their new home. By comparison, Medusa V, the second habitable world of the system, was only settled in part by the Imperium. The Iron Hands obtained a foothold spanning an entire continent with their customary military efficiency, but further conquest was then halted. An urgent summons drew the elements of the Chapter in the Medusa System away to assist in the suppression of an uprising against the Imperium and the Explorator Fleet went about its business alone. With valuable mining regions already established on the continent that was under human control, further exploration and settlement of Medusa V was deemed unnecessary by the Mechanicus and postponed indefinitely.
Despite its obvious advantages -- its mineral wealth and proximity to Hell's Slingshot -- the Medusa System had one flaw. Severe Warp Storms, originating from the Rapidity, would occasionally flare up, cutting the system off from outside travel or astropathic communication sometimes for months, years or even decades at a time. On each occasion of a major Warp Storm, contact with the Imperium was restored swiftly once the storm receded and each time the message from the inhabitants of the Medusa System was always the same: all is well.
Medusa IV became a vast Imperial population centre; the plentiful supplies of food and temperate climate of the planet assisted its growth into a hive world and soon tens of billions of humans toiled in the vast hive cities erected upon its surface. By contrast, Medusa V remained barren. Only a few small cities were established, each devoted to mining precious iridium ore and drilling for the promethium that would feed the Imperial fleets berthed at the great orbital space docks erected around the planet. Hundreds of starships passed through Medusa's space docks: Imperial Navy fleets in need of rapid resupply, Explorator Fleets that emptied entire population centers from Medusa IV's hive cities for resettlement elsewhere and Rogue Traders who needed rations and fuel before daring Hell's Slingshot in an effort to launch themselves further into the unexplored galactic East. Though contact was regularly lost with the Medusa System, its value was recognised by all in the Imperium.
The Medusa Schism
Since its settlement, the Medusa System had seen dozens of minor military incidents. Frequent raids by Eldar pirates harried Imperial shipping in the region while the Tau Empire, as it grew in confidence and strength, coveted the world for its own reasons. None of these foes, or the dozen others that threatened the Imperium's hold on the two worlds, came as perilously close to breaking the Imperium's grip as the Medusa Schism that raged throughout the system two hundred and fifty years ago (ca. 750.M41), during a prolonged period of isolation from the broader Imperium caused by a Warp Storm from the Rapidity.
The Schism began when two of the largest hive cities on Medusa IV declared themselves independent of the Imperium. The Imperial planetary authorities acted swiftly, despatching three regiments of Planetary Militia to suppress the rebels and bring the cities back under control. Nobody knows how long betrayal had festered in the hearts of those fallen subjects of the Emperor of Mankind, but the rot that gnawed at the underbelly of Medusa IV was deeper and more malignant than anyone had guessed. Well-armed and utterly fanatical worshippers of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos greeted the Planetary Militia's regiments with a storm of fire. Banners declaring allegiance to the Chaos Powers were unfurled and the true cause of the unrest was at last revealed. Degenerate Chaos Cultists and the Planetary Militia waged war in the streets of the great hives for weeks, before the situation took another turn for the worse. More Medusan hive cities declared themselves for Chaos and vast armies of Chaos worshippers marched forth. Lush agricultural districts were put to the torch by the Forces of Chaos and millions died in their panic to escape.
With every passing month, more of the populace of Medusa IV degenerated into insanity, siding with the Dark Gods and turning their backs upon the sacred light of the Emperor. Soon, only a few major hive cities remained loyal to the Imperium. Overwhelmed and outnumbered, the Loyalists sent Astropathic pleas for help. Their urgent calls for aid went unanswered for the most part, for while the Warp Storms that isolated the system persisted, no help from the Imperium could come. Only Medusa V was able to answer the call and with admirable courage and unshakeable faith in the Emperor, an army of sorts was mustered. With no real military force of its own, the meagre Planetary Defense Forces (PDF) of Medusa V recruited thousands of willing miners and labourers before departing for Medusa IV on commandeered bulk ore freighters and supply vessels.
For two and half standard years, Medusa V's hastily raised army kept the citizens of Medusa IV still loyal to the Emperor from being totally overwhelmed, turning back one assault by the Chaos Cultists after another. Eventually, the defenders knew there could be no true victory against such odds, not even when the Warp Storm finally dissipated and the 2nd Company of the Ultramarines Chapter was at last able to come to the planet's aid. The Inquisition despatched its agents to ascertain the scale of the Medusan IV heresy and eventually, regrettably, the Inquisition determined that Exterminatus was the only viable solution.
The Cult Mechanicus and the Adeptus Administratum lobbied the Inquisition agents monitoring the Schism to suspend the sentence just long enough to allow what Loyalist citizens remained on Medusa IV to be evacuated. Tithe forecasts and resettlement schedules showed the crippling effect leaving them to die would have on industry in the sector, so the Inquisition granted a one-week stay of execution. Millions of Loyalists were loaded onto transports normally used for shipping foodstuffs to Medusa IV and a mass exodus of the Loyalist hive cities began. While the Ultramarines and the PDF regiments of Medusa V fought a heroic rearguard defence against an endless horde of insane Chaos Cultists, those innocents that could be saved were ferried off-world to Medusa V.
Even the Astartes could only prevail so long in the face of such overwhelming numbers and unreasoning hate. Finally they too were forced to withdraw, leaving the heretics and remaining civilians to their fate. A sleek Inquisitorial corvette under the command of Inquisitor Baptiste fired a single salvo of Cyclonic Torpedoes at the planet, a deadly payload of the variant known as Atmospheric Incinerator Torpedoes. The warheads ignited the oxygen-rich atmosphere of the planet in a massive thermonuclear reaction, devouring everything in a blistering conflagration that seared all signs of life from the world, turning metal into molten slag and rock to glass as the Inquisition's fiery judgment took its toll. The planet burned brightly for a whole solar month, and from the safety of their own world, the people of Medusa V looked on in awe as their neighbour was consumed in the purifying flames of the Emperor's justice. Those Loyalist citizens of Medusa IV who had escaped offered prayers of gratitude to the Emperor for their deliverance.
The new residents of Medusa V arrived from their burning planet by the millions and were welcomed by the waiting agents of the Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus. A drawn-out process of screening to root out any heretics amongst the refugees commenced and many thousands found their way to the pyre as the Inquisition acted ruthlessly to ensure the future purity of Medusa V. Colossal prefabricated cities were hastily erected by the Adeptus Mechanicus, vast structures that could house millions upon millions. Into these makeshift hive cities the refugees from Medusa IV were herded in droves, kept separate as a precaution against the spread of heresy. These "refugee cities," grim edifices of steel and stone, gradually found their place within the society of Medusa V, providing a vast new labour force to work the ore extracted from the mining world's crust. In only a few years, Medusa V found itself producing more promethium fuel, metals and supplies than it had ever been able to manage before the arrival of the refugees.
In the two centuries before the outbreak of the conflict on the world in 999.M41, Medusa V continued to thrive as the gateway through Van Grothe's Rapidity, resupplying convoy vessels and exporting millions of tons of precious strategic ores to the ever-hungry Imperial Navy and the Adeptus Mechanicus. Only in the past few years had events begun to accelerate, casting the safety of Medusa V into doubt. The Rapidity had begun to "boil over," a phenomenon that has left even the wisest of the Imperium's savants and Observators baffled. Initially, the change in the nearby Warp rift was not deemed to be of concern, but soon there was little doubt that its instability was growing at an unexpectedly rapid rate. The Rapidity began to expand through space at a terrifying speed and every outpost and waystation the Warp storm touched was lost, all signs of life completely eradicated. Adeptus Mechanicus vessels attempting to monitor the storm calculated that in only a few months it would reach Medusa V. The best minds of the Imperium agreed on a single fact: all the people of Medusa V would die.
Even as the Imperial forces in the region attempted to come to terms with the onrushing tide of destruction from the Warp and plan the evacuation of Medusa V, more sinister events were unfolding. The Tau Water Caste arrived on the world, seeking to carry on diplomatic negotiations as they sought to lay claim to the world, desiring to use it as a base from which to penetrate the secrets of the Warp. Unrest boiled on the surface of the planet, mirroring the hideous Warp Storm that was approaching it. Several of the cities that contained the descendants of the refugees from Medusa IV openly revolted against the world's Imperial authorities. Imperial Governor Lord Soloman, the world's ruler, hoped that this was an emotional reaction to the dire threat approaching his planet, but with every passing day news of the rebellion grew worse.
The attendant Tech-priests of the Mechanicum who operated the vast Auspex arrays in the orbital space docks above the planet detected a series of astronomical energy spikes. The first had originated on Medusa VII, a blasted and lifeless planet that had previously been dismissed as completely unremarkable by the Imperium. A second and third new energy signature were then detected on Medusa V itself, one in the uninhabited southern region of the planet and the other on the outskirts of Macavius Hive, the second largest population centre on the world. Rumours soon abounded that alien invaders were laying siege to the city, alien invaders who matched the description of the feared xenos known as the Necrons, indicating that perhaps Medusa VII had been one of their Tomb Worlds. Awakened from their long hibernation by the proximity of the Warp Storm, the Necrons had sought out the closest populated world to begin one of their genocidal "red harvests" of all the intelligent life they could find.
Three vessels, part of a Mechanicus Explorator Fleet heading further into the Eastern Fringes, were then attacked under mysterious circumstances, within surveyor range of Medusa V's Imperial Navy picket fleet. Several frigates were despatched to assist, but the Imperial warships arrived to find the vessels were nothing more than drifting hulks, all crew and passengers lost with no sign of the attackers, though the Dark Eldar were suspected, and believed to be moving deeper into the Medusa System in search of a good fight. As if matters were not bad enough, more than a hundred farming colonies on the northern edge of Medusa V's settled continent were destroyed in a spate of barbaric attacks by an Ork WAAAGH! that had been drawn to the mining world by the growing conflicts being fought on its surface. All the farming machinery was looted and not even the great reaping machines were left behind by the attackers as only smouldering ruins and scattered corpses of the farmers remained. In reaction to these attacks, the remaining farmers began to abandon their settlements for fear of similar assaults. Every day more agri-labourers abandoned their communities and the threat of famine on a global scale for the people of Medusa V became more of a reality.
Deathwatch Space Marines of the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos, tasked with eliminating the remaining splinters of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Kraken, warned that a sizeable surviving portion of that Hive Fleet had broken its course following a titanic engagement with the Imperial Navy at Lycanis. Librarian Andreas of the Deathwatch postulated that the vastly swollen Rapidity might be acting as a beacon to the Hive Mind of the Tyranids, drawing the vile creatures towards it. The best efforts of the Ordo Xenos to turn the Tyranids aside amounted to naught, and a full-scale invasion of those rapacious aliens soon added to the utter insanity that was reigning on Medusa V as the world approached its own apocalypse.
Call to Arms
With events quickly spiralling way out of his control, Governor Soloman turned to the Imperium's Sector Command, who brought the matter before the Inquisition. The Ordos immediately despatched an entire cell of Inquisitors to investigate matters on Medusa V. They arrived some weeks after the governor's request to find that Hive Euyrales, the capital city of Medusa V, had already erupted into civil war, with the Governor's personal guard and the Adeptus Arbites desperately fending off the rebels. Now openly claiming allegiance to the Chaos Gods, vast swathes of the planet's populace rose in defiance of the Imperium and rumours that the terrible Traitor Legions of the Chaos Space Marines were directing their efforts filled every loyal heart with despair. The Inquisition wasted no time in making a wider call for aid, before the planet was consumed by the war raging across its surface.
Captain Cato Sicarius of the Ultramarines Chapter was the first to answer the Inquisition's call to arms, bringing the mighty 2nd Company of the Ultramarines to the Medusa System once more. Dozens more Space Marine Chapters offered support, sending their forces racing for the planet before it was too late. An Imperial Guard Crusade, led by Lord Marshal Graf Harazahn of the Vostroyan Firstborn Regiments, was also launched towards the world, as Regiments were raised to meet the new threat or diverted from other campaigns in the Ultima Segmentum by the Segmentum Command. With every passing day the cataclysmic Warp Storm of the Rapidity grew closer to Medusa V. Governor Soloman reported to the Inquisition that the forces of disorder, Chaos and foul xenos, grew bolder and stronger, pushing back the scattered Imperial defenders as they awaited assistance. In the end, there was no doubt that the days of Medusa V were numbered. The Warp Storm would scour the planet clean of whatever life still remained on its surface when it arrived, even if the Emperor's many enemies on the world did not accomplish that task first. But the Imperium of Man would not abandon this world to the forces of darkness without a fight, for a single day's production on Medusa V was well worth the sacrifice in manpower. As Drop Pods and landing craft blazed their trails across the burning skies of Medusa V, the planet was consumed in a titanic multifaceted conflict between the Imperium, the Forces of Chaos, the Tyranids, an Ork WAAAGH!, the Necrons, the Eldar, their Dark Eldar counterparts and the Fire Warriors of the Tau Empire whose Earth Caste had secretly maintained a series of scientific installations dedicated to probing the Immaterium across the world.
Areas of the Planet
Medusa V's single inhabited continent was drawn up into designated Battle Zones by the Imperial defenders as well as three other uninhabited regions. These are brief summaries of the contents of those zones.
Battle Zone Articus
Articus was, as its name suggested, a frozen arctic wasteland in the northern region of Medusa V's inhabited continent. It contained the Articus Plateau, a large open area of glacial ice, three hive cities (Hive Alecto, Hive Amphion and Hive Zethus), as well as a volcanic plateau surrounding Hive Alecto called the Separation by the world's original cartographers because it separated Alecto from the surrounding sub-arctic tablelands.
Battle Zone Telosa
Telosa was a vast desert area of Medusa V with several important Imperial facilities located within it, including two hive cities (Hive Machavius and Hive Megaera) and the Deimos Spaceport. To the north is an area known as the Telosian Steppes, a massive area of steppeland where little will grow, and to the south, the northern half of Megaera's Cradle, the more fertile region surrounding Hive Megaera. The Deimos Spaceport is a Mars Class III Spaceport with an official population of around 2,000,000 people that was consumed by minor rioting during the conflict, as well as being considered a critical objective by all the factions contending for control of the world. The space port was one of the most tactically important places on the planet due to it being the only place large numbers of reinforcements could land and disembark to support their respective forces.
Battle Zone Verdia
Verdia was a mountainous region with no hive cities but two strategically important areas, the Ecclesiarchy's Monastery of Madrigales at the top of the mountain called Omphalos Mount, which was home to the potent Astropathic Choir that was the primary interstellar communication method for the planet, and Sybilla Secundus, an enclosed compound used by Medusa V's Planetary Defense Forces. The monastery, which was actually more like a small city dedicated to the Imperial Cult, had a population of 90,000 that remained loyal to the Imperium and served as a critical location during the conflict, although it should be noted that there was a grave threat of daemonic infestation in the monastery due to the high concentration of psykers. Ordo Malleus personnel were assigned to defend the location and prevent a daemonic intrusion that could cause the fall of the entire zone to Chaos.
Battle Zone Tisiphone
Tisiphone was a mountainous region of Medusa V with one hive city (Hive Tisiphone) and a range of mountains called the Charybdis Crest. It was also the area of the planet in which the Ork Warboss Nazdreg's Space Hulk crash-landed on Medusa V, leaving a long scar on the mountainside. Tisiphone was also Medusa V's primary breadbasket region, and there were a large number of agricultural areas located there. They were raided many times by the Orks after their arrival, causing the inhabitants of the region to flee and damaging the planet's crucial agricultural productivity, setting off food shortages in the Medusan hive cities.
Battle Zone Edethor
Edethor was a region of Medusa V that had no hive cities, but contained the Planetary Defense Forces' Sybilla Tertius compound and a mountain range known as Edethor's Mouth. It was also home to about half of the Geryon Strip Mines, running throughout the region.
Battle Zone Hydra
Hydra was a large area of Medusa V characterised by a huge swathe of iridium mines known as the Geryon Strip Mines, as well as the Raffaeleo's Spine, a high mountain plateau that rose above the region's Ash Wastes and two military installations of the planetary government, Hydra's Tooth at the head of the River Lethid and Sybilla Primus. It also was home to an un-named volcano.
Battle Zone Armida
Armida contained the vast Armida Sea and the mangrove swamps that could be found along its southern coastline, as well as a giant crater known as the Eye of the Emperor, Hive Stheno and Baptiste's Wrath, a region of utter devastation created on the orders of Inquisitor Baptiste to defeat a daemonic incursion.
Battle Zone Perseus
Perseus was the largest Battle Zone on Medusa V but contained relatively little of strategic interest. A large hive city known as Hive Perseus dominated a region called the Blasted Sands and to the northwest was a large crater that had penetrated into the planet's crust called The Hole, leaving little to the imagination. The majority of the River Lethid flowed through Battle Zone Perseus and exited the region at Gorgon's Reach, an area of desert dunes reaching out into the Bone Sea. It also was home to Johanne's Island, where The Mission, a huge Promethium Refinery Conglomeration, was located. Four long artificial Ceramite platforms bridged the gap between the island and the main continent. Battle Zone Perseus possessed a population of around 120,000,000 citizens and remained loyal to the Imperium at the start of the conflict, when it was also classed by the Imperial high command on the world as a critical strategic objective that could not be allowed to fall to the enemies of the Emperor until all the evacuations of its civilians had been completed.
Battle Zone Euryales
Euryales was the central region of Medusa V's only inhabited continent and the bulwark of Imperial control over the world. It was home to the gigantic Hive Euryales dominating the centre of the region and the Vigilus Penitentiary to the west, a huge prison complex constructed to hold Medusa V's criminals. It also was home to Mount Erinyes and the southern half of Megaera's Cradle, as well as a large canyon called Guilliman's Scar, running along a north-south axis through the region. Hive Euryales was the capital hive city of the planet and possessed an estimated population of 1,300,000,000 citizens. When the conflict began, Hive Euryales was in open revolt against the Imperium and had been heavily infiltrated by Chaos Cultists. It was classified by the Imperial high command on the world as a critical objective that had to be restored to full Imperial control and held against all enemy forces at all costs until the evacuation of its remaining Loyalist citizens could be completed.
Un-named Battle Zones
This zone contains an area of wasteland known as the Dead Zone that was used by the world's Planetary Defense Forces as a weapons-testing range, and the Gholus Munitions Testing Ground, which was responsible for the creation of the Dead Zone.
This zone is heavily mountainous, containing the vast mountain range called the Ferrus Mountains, possibly after the Primarch Ferrus Manus of the Iron Hands Chapter that had aided the original Imperial settlement of Medusa V.
This zone was mainly desert land, containing the Mortise Desert and the Saline Plains.
The Bone Sea was a large expanse of water covering most of the surface of Medusa V that ran along the southern edge of the world's primary continent, and surrounded Johannes Island.
The Forces of Chaos
Ygethmor the Deceiver, the four-eyed Sorcerer Lord of the Black Legion and a Chosen of Abaddon the Despoiler, was gifted with a vision by the Ruinous Powers of the Warp, a glimpse of the future that might come into being through his own actions. He saw himself exalted upon a mountain of corpses as the undiluted power of the Warp writhed about him. He saw a planet scoured clean by the power of Chaos Undivided, transmuted into a Daemon World of the Warp with himself as its Daemon Prince and master.
Ygethmor was not unknown to the Inquisition. During the 13th Black Crusade which had concluded only a few weeks before the Medusa V campaign began, the Officio Assassinorum had sanctioned the deployment of an Officio Assassinorum Execution Force to eliminate Ygethmor amongst other notable targets among the Forces of Chaos. While scrutiny of their field records is impossible, at least 7 Assassinorum agents were known to have failed in the attempt to take the sorcerer's blasphemous life. Following the 13th Black Crusade Ygethmor was responsible for the destruction of the population of the worlds of Corrialis and Galafonte. Ordo Hereticus agents in the Galafonte System failed to learn the lesson of what Ygethmor was capable of following the Corrialis Massacres. In almost identical circumstances to what had happened on Corrialis, the population of Galafonte turned upon itself worshipping the Dark Gods of Chaos in a frenzied slaughter of all life in the heavily populated star system. The Inquisition later speculated that the extermination of both Corrialis and Galafonte were little more than "experiments" in damnation, paving the way for Ygethmor's attempt to transform himself into a Daemon Prince on Medusa V. Ygethmor commanded the powerful Repulsive-class Grand Cruiser Blade of Damnation, which boasted firepower and accuracy far above other vessels of its class. The Blade of Damnation was known to be possessed by a daemonic spirit, which was consistent with the many infernal war engines used by Ygethmor's Black Legion warband of Chaos Space Marines.
On Medusa V, Ygethmor knew what must be done if he was to realise the future the Ruinous Powers had promised him -- the planet had to die. Atop a pillar of cadavers heaped upon the ruins of the Imperial Cathedral in the planet's capital city of Hive Euryales, a sorcerous ritual of inconceivable power had to be enacted. At the very moment that the approaching Warp Storm engulfed the planet, Ygethmor would be required to call upon the unlimited power of the Warp. Yet, for this ritual to succeed, it required millions of lives to be sacrificed to the Dark Gods and the glorious victory of the Forces of Chaos over the world's Imperial defenders. To achieve his aims, Ygethmor gathered under his leadership a mighty force, a conglomeration of Chaos Space Marine warbands. Each was an army in its own right and each was led by a Chaos Lord hungry to share in the Deceiver's glory and bathe in the approval of the Ruinous Powers. Thousands of Chaos Space Marines from the infamous Traitor Legions, including the Black Legion, Emperor's Children, the Iron Warriors, the Word Bearers, the Death Guard and the Alpha Legion rallied to Ygethmor's cause, their numbers swollen by Renegade Space Marines from the Maelstrom Warp rift in the Eastern Fringes. Every warrior in Ygethmor's army fought to honour the Dark Gods and to enjoy the blessings of Chaos if they succeeded. For Ygethmor, the prize was the power of the Warp unleashed and dominion over what might become his Daemon World of Medusa V. Despite his promises to Abaddon, Ygethmor fought for more than the glory of the Warmaster and Chaos; every victory brought him one step closer to daemonhood.
In the dark reaches of the night, the frightened citizens of Medusa V whispered stories of a murderous ghost that stalked the underhives of their world's great hive cities. Each Medusan hive had its own legends, its own tales of sudden and unexpected slaughter. Though the details differed, they all described the same beast; a killing machine that appeared from out of nowhere, ripped its victims into bloody tatters and then disappeared into thin air. It became known as Death Leaper; for those who had seen it kill and survived to tell the tale described it as a violent elemental force that pounced from the shadows. But it was no myth. If the underhivers had known the truth about the alien presence among them, they would have realised that the true nightmare was only about to begin.
The Tyranid splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Kraken that cast its shadow unexpectedly over Medusa V had evolved in the crucible of constant warfare. Its component species had adapted for fighting in dense urban environments and none more so than the vanguard Tyranid organisms that were first seeded upon the beleaguered world of Medusa V. Death Leaper was one of these breeds; not a single entity but a strain of Tyranid Lictors called the Death Leaper genus by the Inquisition that had evolved chameleonic abilities so advanced these killers had become all but invisible. Given the kill patterns, there was at least one Death Leaper Lictor per hive city on Medusa V. These creatures had alerted their parent bio-ships to the rich amounts of biomass present on Medusa V and the splinter fleet had arrived in the Medusa System like a hive of locusts to scour it clean.
The Inquisition understood that there was more at risk on Medusa V than just the fate of a single world. From the testimony of Brother-Sergeant Erasmus of the Ultramarines, the Death Leaper genus was an evolutionary adaptation of the Tyranids that could, if absorbed by their bio-ships and replicated, make all Tyranid vanguard organisms virtually undetectable. Each Leaper therefore had to be hunted down and destroyed by Imperial forces at all costs. If the Tyranid splinter fleet was able to harness the evolutionary adaptations of the Death Leaper Lictors, the citizens of the Imperium would never be free of an even more potent Tyranid threat. The Tyranids were determined to strip Medusa V bare of all life and reabsorb the Death Leaper genus in the process.
In this dark time, the Medusa System, once an oasis of stability for humanity, became a treacherous place, a fact many spacefarers discovered to their cost as a force of reavers unleashed a vicious campaign of piracy in the system's vicinity. System augurs detected the presence of something so large that it could only be an Ork Space Hulk moving through the Warp and pict-capture from reconnaissance flights finally revealed the truth after it emerged into realspace. Adorned with dog-tooth patterning and a distinctive Ork glyph, the Hulk was identified as the Scylla belonging to the Ork Warlord Nazdreg Ug Urdgrub. After his unlikely alliance with Ghazghkull Thraka during the Third War for Armageddon was broken and their combined forces were defeated in the Pisicina System, Nazdreg had been presumed dead by the Imperium. Unfortunately, the infamous Ork Warlord returned to plague the Imperium once more. Though alerted to this threat, system defence ships were unable to halt the advance of Nazdreg's Space Hulk, eventually losing it in the chaos of the orbital battles surrounding Medusa V.
It should speak volumes for the anarchy engulfing the planet at that time that the impact of an object the size of a Space Hulk north of Hive City Tisiphone along the Charybdis Crest did not register among the world's authorities, but any hopes that the Orks had died in the crash were soon dashed. Within days, scores of farming communities were razed as Nazdreg led his warriors on a new WAAAGH! against the Imperium. Attempts by the Planetary Defence Forces to quash the Greenskins failed and Nazdreg's assaults grew in size as more of his warriors rampaged from the crashed Space Hulk. Soon, the Madboyz began acting more strangely than usual, ranting that Medusa V--and everything on it--was soon to be destroyed. Only when the Weirdboyz confirmed that something nasty was indeed coming through the Warp did Nazdreg decide that it was time to take his warriors someplace else in search of an even bigger fight.
In order to do so, the Orks' Space Hulk needed to be repaired. The Orks stripped the human settlements they had destroyed of every scrap of machinery and metal they could find. After each battle, the Orks dragged the still-smoking machinery back to the Hulk for the Meks to bolt onto its side. The Orks came to Medusa V and even though they did not plan to hang around for its destruction, they had no intent of leaving before they had enjoyed their fill of fighting. Every Ork victory brought more scrap metal and technology for Nazdreg's Space Hulk Scylla, so the Ork boyz could rebuild their ship and carry their WAAAGH! to new worlds.
The Necrons were a dormant presence in the Medusa System for sixty million years. The seemingly lifeless world of Medusa VII, unknown to the Imperium, was a Necron Tomb World. There, deep below the surface, the slumbering form of a Necron Lord long dwelt in suspended unlife. Known to the Eldar as "The Herald of the Storm" in times now forgotten, this Necron Lord was one of the original architects of the Star Gods' Great Work and foremost amongst the Necron servants of the C'tan. When the Warp Storm threatened the Medusa System, the time of arising had come once more and the Necrons' robotic Tomb Spyders awakened the malice of the Necrontyr to feast upon the souls of the living once more. On Medusa V, Tech-priest Auspex arrays detected the initial energy surges that were the harbinger of the Necron invasion. In the wastelands beyond the towering spires of Macavius Hive storm clouds gathered, crackling with eldritch energy that defied all sensor interrogations. Beneath the wings of this storm, phalanx upon phalanx of Necron warriors marched at the direction of their Lord, overwhelming the outlying defences of the Hive at ease. Captain Sicarius of the Ultramarines, newly arrived on-planet, ordered several units of his company to Hive Macavius, alongside the Vostroyan 27th Imperial Guard Regiment. By the time the Hive itself was embraced by the storm and all communications became impossible, its defenders had rallied against the threat before them.
The Necrons were only too aware of the incoming Warp Storm and so they devised a strategy to turn it to their advantage. The Imperial defenders of Hive Macavius remained unaware that the true thrust of the Necron advance on Medusa V lay not before their walls, but in the chill wastes of the Telosian desert. It was there that a legion of robotic Canoptek Scarabs and Canoptek Spyders laboured unceasingly to build monolithic structures that could hold the Warp at bay, fueled by the harvested essence of those who had fallen before the assault on Hive Macavius. If these monoliths could be fabricated in large enough numbers they would generate a Null Shield that would shelter the entire planet of Medusa V from the fury of the Warp once it was activated. If the Necrons succeeded in their plans, they would be free to harvest the souls of the human population of Medusa V at their leisure while the Warp Storm harmlessly scoured the rest of the Medusa System around them. Each Necron victory ensured that the Tomb Spiders could complete the Null Shield, allowing the Storm Lord and his warriors to harvest the souls of the people of Medusa V for the C'tan at will.
The Space Marines
Intelligence gained by the Imperium's Officio Assassinorum revealed that the Chaos Sorcerer Ygethmor the Deceiver of the Black Legion had turned his baleful eye towards Medusa V. As the storms wracking the Warp drew ever closer to Medusa V and madness, heresy and Chaos-spawned corruption engulfed the world below, great heroes were needed to stand against the dark will of the Ruinous Powers. The horrors unleashed by Ygethmor during the terrible battles of Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade were well-remembered and if the Deceiver's plan for Medusa V had come to fruition, the Imperium would doubtless have suffered for it.
Legendary Space Marine Chapters such as the Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Imperial Fists, Howling Griffons, Black Templars and the Space Wolves answered Medusa V's desperate plea for aid with entire companies and several other Chapters despatched what units they could spare from other duties. Before long, a sizable force of Astartes was assembled on Medusa V and Captain Cato Sicarius of the Ultramarines, hero of the Medusa Schism, returned to take command of this combined force. Together they crusaded for the sake of honour and in defiance of the Dark Gods. Sicarius' first act was to deploy the disparate elements of the new crusade throughout the Medusa System to intercept and destroy the Forces of Chaos and thwart Ygethmor's plans wherever they could. Sicarius knew that only the death of the evil sorcerer of Chaos would end the threat to Medusa V and he swore a mighty oath to the Emperor to hunt the Deceiver down and slay him in personal combat. Ultimately, the Space Marines fought for their honour and the honour of the Imperium on Medusa V. Every victory they won and every Imperial life they saved helped to thwart Ygethmor's dark ritual.
If Medusa V had been a normal Imperial world that faced mortal danger, the enigmatic Eldar would no more have cared about its fate than that of a hive of insects. But, as with many strategically-placed habitable worlds across the galaxy, Medusa V harboured a portal into the Webway through which the mysterious Eldar traveled through the galaxy. No one save the Guardians of the Black Library knew the true extent of the Eldar's labyrinthine dimension. It connected every one of their Craftworlds and a thousand other locations, riddling the galaxy like the great circulatory system of their long-lost interstellar empire. In its prime it enabled the Eldar to traverse great distances through the Warp in complete safety. But theirs is a fallen empire and the Webway is now splintered and broken. The jagged spur of the Webway jutting onto Medusa V is permanently open, and just as the Eldar can spill out without warning, the Forces of Chaos can also spill in.
So it is that the Eldar sought to prevent the Warp from running unchecked upon Medusa V lest it bleed into the Webway and pollute their territory. Craftworld Alaitoc and several other Eldar Craftworlds were potentially in great peril if Medusa V fell to Chaos and its Farseers foretold of a plague of daemons that would riddle its Infinity Circuit should the forces of darkness triumph in their quest. Autarch Elarique Swiftblade of Alaitoc was determined to seal off the portal before the Webway disintegrated under the force of the Warp Storm. She marshaled forces from a dozen Craftworlds in the grim knowledge that she must ensure the ritual to seal the Webway proceeded undisturbed at all costs. Only those closest to her knew that her nemesis, the Black Legion's Ygethmor the Deceiver, had arrived on Medusa V, and that her enmity towards the twisted Chaos Sorcerer was so strong she might gamble the fate of her Craftworld for the chance at revenge. Ultimately, an Eldar victory on Medusa V would have ensured that the Webway gates were sealed, preserving the Eldar Craftworlds from a possible Chaos invasion.
The Dark Eldar
Shipping in the region of the Medusa System had experienced a severe increase in pirate attacks over the months before the conflict fought on the world. Although the Imperial patrol fleets posted to guard the Medusa System made strenuous efforts to prevent the rising shipping losses in transports and cargo vessels, they had very little success. The fleet commanders and ship captains did not know it, but the reason for their failure was the exceptional skills and leadership of a single individual: No'akei, Daughter of Pain.
Once the handmaiden of Asdrubael Vect, No'akei was amongst the most powerful Dark Eldar in all Commorragh and Asdrubael's personal protector. It is common knowledge in the Dark City that No'akei had fallen out of favour with her master and though no one knew exactly what had taken place between them, No'akei swiftly found herself exiled from Vect's palaces and banished from Commorragh. Far from laying her low, No'akei's exile seemed to have hardened her resolve. Dark Eldar warriors flocked to join her raiding force as she secured victory after victory. A thousand Tau were enslaved in a single day, plucked from their colony world under the cover of darkness. A dozen Imperial transports were gutted by her elite warriors, as thousands of human settlers were dragged screaming to their doom by Dark Eldar boarding parties. Wherever she tread, glory abounded and her raiding force grew daily as more Dark Eldar Kabals swore allegiance to her.
For many Dark Eldar, leadership of a dozen warships and the support of dozens of Kabals would have been satisfaction enough, but No'akei thirsted for more--her jealousy of Vect's power drove her onwards. The shame of her banishment burned like an inner fire and she hungered for the day when she could cast down the Lord of the Black Heart Kabal and seize his power over Commorragh for her own. The Archons and the Dracons that sided with her recognised a chance to earn great glory and power. If their gambit succeeded there would be enormous rewards for all. To achieve her aims, No'akei needed slaves by the millions for her triumphal return to Commorragh, enough souls to bribe those who would otherwise remain loyal to Asdrubael Vect. If she was to succeed, No'akei needed fodder to fuel the greatest coup in the history of the Dark Eldar. With malice in her heart, the Daughter of Pain lead her raiding force to the embattled surface of Medusa V, ready to slaughter or enslave all who stood in her way. Ultimately, all battles won by the Dark Eldar on Medusa V enslaved more of the populace of the planet, winning glory for No'akei and her allies and enhancing their plans to seize control of Commorragh.
The Tau Empire
From their hidden scientific research facilities on Medusa V the scientist-engineers of the Tau Earth Caste strove to unlock the secret of Warp travel. The greatest hurdle in the Tau's rapid expansion across the galaxy has been their lack of knowledge of the Warp and from their vantage point on Medusa V's Raffaeleo's Spine they were striving to reverse this inadequacy. Etheric scanner arrays, pointing at Van Grothe's Rapidity were harvesting massive amounts of data intended to unlock the mysteries of the Warp for the Tau.
Though the Imperial forces on Medusa V did not know it, the Tau had established a chain of similar scientific facilities across the entire planet, eagerly penetrating the secrets of the Warp. To protect them, Fire Caste Hunter cadres were secreted around these installations, heavily armed and highly trained warriors of the Tau Empire willing to sacrifice their lives for the information their Earth Caste counterparts were gathering as the Warp Storm neared. When the Imperium discovered the true intentions of the Tau, and their hunger for the secret of Warp travel, there was no doubt that it would turn its full might against them. To prevent this, before the Medusa V conflict the Tau had feigned diplomatic negotiations as a ruse to distract the already beleaguered humans, claiming settlement rights on the world and testing the patience of the Imperium to its limits in an effort to delay the onset of war.
Aun'T'Pel, the Ethereal assigned to oversee Tau operations on Medusa V, knew full well that this deception would go unnoticed for only so long. His forces stood ready to take the war to the Gue'la and any others who stood in the way of the glorious destiny of the Tau Empire. Every battle won by the Tau forces on Medusa V purchased the precious time necessary for the Earth Caste's scientists to complete their research of the Warp anomaly.
The Imperial Guard
With Medusa V teetering on the brink of total annihilation and war among multiple combatants engulfing the mining world's surface, the Imperial Sector Command had despatched an Imperial Guard Crusade to ensure that the planet did not fall to the powers of darkness. The honour of leading the Medusa V Crusade fell to one man, Lord Marshal Graf Harazahn of the Vostroyan Firstborn Regiments. With well over 100 Imperial Guard Regiments seconded to his direct command for the Crusade, Lord Marshal Harazahn had vowed to secure complete control of the planet and evacuate all of its remaining Loyalist citizens in the name of the Emperor, no matter the cost. Fighting alongside Harazahn's Vostroyans were scores of Imperial Guard Regiments drawn from all across the Imperium of Man. Grim and sturdy Cadians manned trenches alongside savage Kanak Headtakers. Stoic Valhallans rubbed shoulders with the tough and resourceful Catachans, while the Ventan Heavy Infantry took up positions alongside Tallarn Desert Raiders and the Kroshin Grenadiers. Though many of the regimental commanders had expressed disdain at having to serve under a Vostroyan marshal, those who had bothered to learn something of the man, or had served alongside him before, held a far more favourable opinion. They knew that if the Imperial Guard was to triumph upon Medusa V, they needed a commander with his faith and dedication.
As more Imperial Guard forces arrived, Harazahn ordered them to take up defensive positions in designated strategic points around Medusa V. Harazahn and his logisticians had identified nine key defensive positions on the world, including the Hives Zethus and Amphion on the Articus Plateau, Deimos Spaceport and the Dioscuri Observatory. In each location one simple order was given to the troops -- not a single step would be taken in retreat. The Imperial Guard intended to deny Medusa V to the Emperor's myriad enemies, or every man and woman among them would die in the effort. Every victory by the Imperial Guardsmen ensured the safe evacuation of thousands of loyal Imperial citizens.
The Imperium of Man
The Imperial forces on Medusa V, both the Space Marines and the Loyalist Imperial Guard troops, proved to be the ultimate victors of the Medusa V campaign. Though the planet itself could not be saved from the ravages of the Van Grothe Warp Storm, much of the Loyalist civilian population was successfully evacuated from the doomed world. In addition to the successful civilian evacuation, many of the planet's sacred sites were defended to the bitter end, and the Chaos Sorcerer Ygethmor's plan to attain daemonhood was thwarted. Such a victory came at a terrible cost, however, with many Guardsmen and Space Marines, led by Lord Marshal Graf Harazahn, choosing to remain on the planet to deny the enemies of the Imperium anything of value until the Warp Storm claimed them all.
The forces of the Craftworlds were successful in closing the Webway portals, but their losses were heavy, including the loss of Autarch Elarique Swiftblade of Craftworld Alaitoc; however, Swiftblade's death was not in vain, as she was able to earn her revenge and personally behead the Sorcerer Ygethmor before being slain herself by his bodyguard of Black Legion Chaos Space Marine Veterans.
The Forces of Chaos
Ygethmor's plans to ascend to daemonhood were foiled; while many aspiring Chaos Champions were able to achieve battlefield glory during the campaign on Medusa V, they were unable to claim the planet for the Ruinous Powers due to the heroic resistance of the Imperial forces. Ygethmor was slain by the blade of the Eldar Autarch Elarique Swiftblade of Craftworld Alaitoc, and those Champions of the Dark Gods who had followed him were left to their fates on the dying world as the Warp consumed them.
No'akei and her followers were successful in capturing a huge number of human slaves from Medusa V to bring back to the Dark City of Commorragh within the Webway. Upon her return, No'akei entered the Hall of Blood in the Dark Tower of Asdrubael Vect in order to unseat him, only to find herself (and those loyal to her) presumably betrayed by the wily lord of the Kabal of the Black Heart and those who served him. Surrounded by Vect's forces, No'akei was forced to make a forceful retreat from Commorragh with what remnants of her forces survived Vect's ambush. The ultimate fate of the Daughter of Pain remains unknown, though if she is still alive, it can be sure that she is seeking a new means to seize control of the Dark City.
The marooned Space Hulk Scylla, which the Ork forces had attempted to repair so they could flee from Medusa V before it was destroyed, was lost. Attacks from both Imperial and Chaos forces (including a "murky pestilence" left behind by Chaos' Plague Marines) sent Nazdreg and his "Boyz" looking for another way to escape the planet. A successful raid on a nearby Imperial facility yielded a large bulk freighter. The fleeing Orks were then able to "convince" the starship's crew to trick an Imperial Battleship into "evacuating" them with the rest of the human civilians. The Battleship's subsequent fate is unknown though it can be sure that the Warlord Nazdreg will likely plague the Imperium again, somewhere at sometime.
The Tau expedition's goal, to gather information about the Warp to advance their research into the development of more effective Warp-Drives, was largely successful; however, an analysis of the gathered data, and the terrible fates of those Tau who remained behind when the Warp Storm took Medusa V, caused Earth Caste scientists to believe that further research into the nature of the Warp would be infeasible. The Fourth Sphere Expansion of the Tau Empire was thus delayed in order to further consolidate the recent Third Sphere Expansion. Many humans willingly joined the Tau Empire during the campaign simply to receive the Tau's protection from the other deadly factions rampaging across the world's surface. There were great losses for the Tau on Medusa V, personified by the heroic death of Commander Shadowsun's sibling, Shas’el Ty’res, the leader of the Fire Caste warriors on the world.
The disorganised Tyranid swarms on Medusa V were unable to make any headway in taking the planet; Imperial officials believe that the sheer diversity of opponents that they faced from multiple different species and cultures contributed to the inability of the Tyranids to make any progress. A Death Leaper Lictor, which the splinter Hive Fleet had sought to claim, was captured by Imperial forces and has since vanished; Imperial investigations hint that the Death Leaper escaped from the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos into space aboard an Imperial freighter, killed the crew, and then fled aboard a second Imperial ship which came to investigate. The Hive Fleet orbiting the planet became inanimate bio-ship hulks floating aimlessly, apparently abandoned by the Hive Mind to their fates in the Warp Storm.
Unable to construct the great pylons in order to erect a Null Shield around Medusa V, the Medusan Necron Lord, the Herald of the Storm, was left behind on the dying planet, cursed by the C'tan known as the Deceiver himself to remain for as long as the planet endured in the Warp -- after which, the Deceiver would return to administer the "true punishments". The remainder of the Necron forces were teleported away along with the Deceiver to plague the peoples of the galaxy elsewhere.
The conflict fought on Medusa V was the 2006 Games Workshop global Warhammer 40,000 tabletop campaign event called The Fall of Medusa V. Almost 60,000 players across the world participated, and 95,280 games were played, making the campaign a truly mammoth event.
- The Fall of Medusa V (2006 booklet)
- Medusa V Archive