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First War for Armageddon

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First War for Armageddon
Armageddon by StTheo
Attacker World Eaters Traitor Legion, Daemons, Chaos Cultists
Defender Armageddon Planetary Defence Forces, Armageddon Steel Legion, Space Wolves, Grey Knights
Attacking Commander Daemon Primarch Angron, Chaos Lord Kossolax the Foresworn, Chaos Lord Skchalick, Chaos Lord Hans Kho'ren
Defending Commander Great Wolf Logan Grimnar (Space Wolves); Brother-Captain Taremar Aurellian (Grey Knights)
Date 444.M41
Scale Planetwide
Theatre Armageddon; Segmentum Solar
Strength (attackers) Angron's Chosen (1 company), The Foresworn (1 company), Lord Skchalick's Elite (1 company), Skull Takers of Hans Kho'ren (1 company), Mutant Cohorts (Approx. 170+), Daemon Covens (Approx. 24+), Legio Vulcanum II & Legio Mortis (Traitor Titan Legions), Unknown Number Traitor Imperial Guard Regiments, Chaos Cultists (Unknown Number Covens)
Strength (defenders) Space Wolves (Entire Chapter), Grey Knights (1 Company), Armageddon Steel Legion (Unknown Number of Regiments),
Casualties (attackers) Significant casualties sustained by the Forces of Chaos
Casualties (defenders) Significant
Status Pyrrhic Imperial Victory
Outcome Though the Grey Knights had successfully banished Angron, the general populace of Armageddon had gained dangerous knowledge of the existence of Chaos and been exposed to its corruption. By order of the Inquisition all those who had fought on the planet, except for the Space Marines, were rounded up, sterilized and placed in work camps, to labour until they died out.

The First War for Armageddon, fought in 444.M41, is the least well known of the three wars fought by the Imperium in defence of the Hive World of Armageddon in the Segmentum Solar, and was a titanic clash between the Forces of Chaos and the defenders of the Imperium of Man. It represented the culmination of years of preparation by the former Primarch and Daemon Prince Angron, the favoured Champion of Khorne, to unify his World Eaters after the Battle of Skalathrax had led the XII Legion to break up into scattered warbands. Angron sought to recreate a coherent force of Chaos Space Marines capable of invading deep into the Imperium once more just as they had done during the Horus Heresy. In the end, it was Angron's own foolish belief in his victory before completing a total conquest of the world that led to the failure of the campaign and his banishment to the Warp for one hundred Terran years. The First War for Armageddon represents a textbook example of how the Forces of Chaos can slowly infiltrate an Imperial population to eventually bring about a full-scale invasion from the Warp.

The war also unleashed an internecine conflict in 444-445.M41 between the Inquisition and the Space Wolves Chapter of Space Marines, which took issue with the Inquistion's decision to quarantine and sterilise the entire surviving population of Armageddon to maintain the Imperial policy of secrecy concerning the existence of Chaos and its daemonic minions. The Space Wolves' Chapter Master, the Great Wolf Logan Grimnar, saw this action as an outright betrayal of the Imperium's highest ideals and the Space Wolves initiated a violent campaign against all Inquisition efforts to cleanse the population of Armageddon. The conflict eventually resulted in an orbital battle over the Space Wolves' homeworld of Fenris between the Space Wolves' Chapter fleet and an Inquisitorial fleet under the command of the Inquisitor Lord Ghesmei Kysnaros. Kysnaros was slain, but a compromise was eventually reached between the Inquisition and the Space Wolves that restored harmony between the Imperium's factions. But as a result of the First War for Armageddon's aftermath, the Space Wolves have never again trusted the Inquisition and move to frustrate Inquisitorial designs at every opportunity.

History

Invasion Commences

The war began within the hated region of space and the great Warp rift known as the Eye of Terror. The forces within, being devoted to the service of Chaos and the Ruinous Powers, usually fought against each other as was their fractious nature, but occasionally and inexplicably they put aside their rivalries to form an assault in the form of Chaos Undivided on their common enemy, the Imperium of Man. In this case, the unity of the powers of Chaos was triggered by the arrival of the Space Hulk Devourer of Stars around a Daemon World within the Eye of Terror that was controlled by the Daemon Prince and former Primarch Angron and his World Eaters Traitor Legion. Angron had spent much of the last 10 millennia attempting to restore some level of unity amongst the divided warbands of what had once been his XII Legion of Space Marines. The World Eaters' dedication to the Blood God Khorne during the Horus Heresy had reduced them for much of that time into a fractious force of Khornate Berserkers just as likely to kill each other as their true foes. The emergence of the Devourer of Stars into orbit around Angron's Daemon World provided just the opportunity he had been looking for to recreate some semblance of common purpose for his scattered Legion. The Space Hulk proved sufficiently large enough to carry huge numbers of Chaotic troops but only on an erratic course into realspace. This is how the Forces of Chaos unexpectedly emerged from the Warp aboard the Space Hulk in the Armageddon System in 444.M41.

The arrival of Angron at Armageddon probably had nothing to with Angron's own desires, rather the location was determined by the chaotic currents of the Warp which sent his Space Hulk to Armageddon, possibly at the whim of one of the Gods of Chaos, probably Khorne, if there was any intent behind the Devourer of Stars' course at all.

Meanwhile, on Armageddon, a series of strange events culminated in an armed rebellion breaking out in half a dozen of the world's large hive cities against the Imperium's authority at the same time that massive Warp Storms cut off the world from Imperial communications and commerce. The revolts, largely initiated by Chaos Cultists taking advantage of food shortages caused by the Warp Storms to stir up trouble, were quickly put down on the eastern region of the world's southern continent of Armageddon Secundus, but amongst the more widely scattered hives of the western region of the northern continent of Armageddon Prime the rebels proved more difficult to eradicate. As Armageddon's Planetary Defence Forces (PDF) and the few regiments of the Imperial Guard's Armageddon Steel Legion present on the world seemed capable of dealing with the revolt, no additional units were sent by the Imperium to deal with the problem once the Warp Storms cleared. Armageddon was a very long way from the Eye of Terror in the galaxy's Segmentum Obscurus, and no one in the Imperium suspected any more sinister cause for the revolts than simple civil unrest.

Busy containing the rebellion, the Imperial forces were caught by surprise when the Space Hulk Devourer of Stars suddenly emerged from the Warp in the Armageddon System.

The Threat Realised

On board the Devourer of Stars was an enormous Chaos army led by the Daemon Primarch Angron, including millions of Chaos Cultists known as the Children of Sanguinary Unholiness and the Twelve -- the Cruor Praetoria, the twelve strongest daemons of Khorne whose lives and deeds most pleased their wretched Blood God. Chaos Space Marines from the World Eaters Legion and hordes of other daemonic creatures dedicated to the Blood God also poured from the Space Hulk onto the surface of Armageddon and swept across the land.

The insidious effects of Chaos were quickly felt as nearly half the Planetary Defence Force of Armageddon unexpectedly went over to the invaders, declaring their loyalty to the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. The few remaining Loyalist defenders were quickly routed from the continent of Armageddon Prime. Falling back through the equatorial jungles in the south, the survivors joined up with the Imperial PDF units that had been left on the continent of Armageddon Secundus and prepared to make a last ditch defence along the rivers of the Styx and Chaeron.

Raising the Defences

The Imperial defence was well organised. Unknown to the Forces of Chaos, the Great Company of Space Wolves Astartes led by the Chapter's Great Wolf (Chapter Master) Logan Grimnar had been assigned to this sector of the Imperium, and they moved quickly to provide aid to the beleaguered defenders as soon as they received the astropathic distress messages from Armageddon describing the Chaotic invasion of the Hive World.

The Imperial defenders gained valuable time while Angron raised bloody monuments to the Blood God from the wreckage of the dead instead of pressing his advantage. When his army emerged from the equatorial jungles that separated Armageddon Prime from Armageddon Secundus, they found the Imperial defenders ready and waiting -- and reinforced by the Space Wolves.

Huge battles erupted along the entire front. In the east, along the Chaeron River, the Imperial forces held, but towards the west on the Styx River Angron led the way himself. He smashed through the Imperial lines and led his forces towards Hive Infernus and Hive Helsreach.

Final Showdown

It was now that Logan Grimnar unleashed his secret weapon. He had called for the assistance of the Grey Knights, the psychic Space Marine Chapter that served the Ordo Malleus of the Inquisition as its Chamber Militant, as soon as he had heard of the nature of the attacking forces. Only the Grey Knights had the ability to truly defeat a daemonic entity of such malevolent power as Angron. As the very existence of Chaos was one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Imperium of Man, few amongst even the Space Marines knew of the existence of the Grey Knights, the most elite Chapter of Astartes ever formed who were tasked specifically with combat against daemons. But Grimnar had seen them in action on more than one occasion and as the lord of an Astartes Chapter he had never been forced to submit to the mind-wipe that was required of nearly all witnesses to the Grey Knights in action.

Amongst the Grey Knights units deployed for action on Armageddon was Squad Castian, which joined an ad hoc "Ragged Brotherhood" of Grey Knights under the command of Taremar Aurellian, the Brother-Captain of the 3rd Brotherhood. When the call came, the Grey Knights teleported directly into the midst of the advancing Chaos horde, surrounding the gigantic Daemon Primarch. Taking heavy losses from Angron's battle prowess, the Grey Knights inflicted their own punishment, and eventually Squad Castian engaged in melee with the Daemon Primarch. After Angron mangled the squad, the only Grey Knight left standing was the Pyrokine (master of psychic flame) Hyperion. Trying to protect a still-surviving squad mate, in a tremendous display of faith, power, and effort, Hyperion used his psyker abilities to shatter the Primarch's daemonic sword, the hideous Khornate relic known as the Black Blade -- while he collapsed into unconsiousness from the sheer effort. Captain Aurellian then confronted the bladeless Daemon Prince of Khorne and managed to banish him back to the Warp, though at the cost of his own life.

Hyperion was one of only 13 Grey Knights to survive the battle, out of 109 Astartes of the 3rd Brotherhood who had been deployed for the campaign. Found alive but in terrible shape by Space Wolves on the hellish field after the battle, Hyperion soon acquired the honorific "Bladebreaker" for his feat. He had to be put in temporary stasis in order to survive, and underwent surgery that replaced half his face and skull with augmetics, and he eventually reported back to duty more than 4 months later.

The Grey Knights had defeated the Daemon Prince, hurling his spirit back into the Warp from where he could not return for over one hundred Terran years. At the same time as the Grey Knights were teleporting directly into the centre of the daemonic force to launch their attack on the Daemon Primarch, the Space Wolves launched their own massive counter-offensive all along the Imperial lines. The Forces of Chaos were routed after they watched their leader defeated and only the World Eaters managed to retreat back to the Space Hulk and escape into the safety of the Warp. The Imperial victory was complete and overwhelming.

Imperial Victory

With their leader dead, the Chaos hordes fell into disorder. The remnants of the force repulsed at the River Chaeron retreated completely as they were counter-attacked by the Astartes of the Space Wolves. Pursued across the Ash Wastes by the combined forces of the Space Marines and the mechanised units of the Armageddon Steel Legion, thousands of Chaos Cultists, mutants and Traitors were slaughtered without mercy. Bereft of their daemonic allies, those invaders who did not fall as they crossed the polluted wastes were overtaken at Minos Bridge. No quarter was offered and their bodies were cast into the River Minos and their corpses set alight, turning it into a funeral pyre visible for hundreds of miles in all directions. The remains of the invaders drifted west, to fall within the putrid depths of the Plague Marshes, which remains a region of palpable evil and corruption on Armageddon to this day. The Imperium had prevailed, though virtually all of Armageddon Prime’s industrial infrastructure had been destroyed and the death toll was beyond measure. Though Angron's forces were vanquished, his monolith still stood, a beacon of inviolable evil in the heart of the equatorial jungle and its malign influence is as strong today as ever it was.

"Months of Shame"

Origins of Conflict

The first indication that there were going to be problems with the Inquisition's post-war plans was revealed months before the end of the war, in the first meeting of Logan Grimnar with the newly arrived Inquisitorial task force. Although he knew that the Inquisition would have to suppress the truth of the war after it was over, Grimnar made clear that he did not wish it to carry out the usual suppression campaign. As there was already mistrust and suspicion of the Space Wolves within the Imperial hierarchy over past disputes and the Space Wolves' habit of disregarding Imperial authority, Grimnar's demand seemed either naive or an excuse for a fight, while his manner was condescending towards the Inquisitors. However, in truth Grimnar was genuinely sympathetic to the human element on Armageddon, and questioned the wisdom of saving a planet if its inhabitants and defenders would then have to be "processed" by the Inquisition for the sin of knowing about the existence of Chaos or the secret Imperial organisations arrayed against it. Grimnar had specifically structured the planet's defence and use of the Grey Knights in order to minimise the chances of the remaining civilian population accidentally finding out the truth behind the war and the nature of the daemonic. This strategy to protect the civilians guaranteed "catastrophic casualties" amongst the defenders, both Astartes and mortal humans alike.

The Inquisition was not moved, nor did it deviate from its position that it was by law and the Emperor's decree the ultimate arbiter of what was right for the Imperium and Mankind. The truth of Chaos and the existence of the daemonic had to be contained and prevented from spreading into the wider galaxy where it would cause only more suffering. It was far better to sacrifice millions than have to exterminate billions, as had happened in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy. In practical terms, it made sense to the Inquisition to contain the situation on the planet itself, as this would affect a relatively small number of Imperial citizens compared to the damage control that would have to take place if any escaped the planet to spread Chaotic corruption elsewhere. The Armageddon Containment was the result of a majority vote by a conclave of the Inquisitors on duty at the planet, and would entail several directives, including the sterilisation (to prevent Chaotic mutations from being passed on) and quarantine of the entire surviving civilian population of Armageddon in Adeptus Arbites work-camps scattered across the galaxy. This was decided even though that population was generally considered untainted, and had no knowledge of the truths behind the war. A similar fate, or even outright liquidation, awaited the human defenders of the Armageddon Steel Legion and the Armageddon Planetary Defence Forces, who had valiantly faced the Chaotic hordes that had invaded the Hive World. The use of Exterminatus against the world in order to keep the secret of Chaos' existence was not an option: the industrial capacity of the planet was too important to the Imperium and the defence of the Segmentum Solar to be destroyed.

Inquisitor Lord Ghesmei Kysnaros, as the ranking Inquisitor present, had overall command of the Armageddon containment mission from his flagship, the commandeered Imperial Navy Battlecruiser Corel's Hope. His attitude to the Armageddon purge was typical of the Inquisition's pragmatic and calculating position: better to sterilise or kill millions on suspicions of Chaotic taint, than to have to eventually kill billions in order to prevent the possibility of taint from spreading. As the war was winding down, over the objections of Grimnar (which were broadcast to all Imperial forces), he ordered the start of the first phase of the containment: Inquisitorial Storm Troopers began to evacuate the remaining hive cities and to herd the population into camps for "vaccinations" -- in reality, sterilisation by injection. The civilians were told that the evacuation was a "temporary security measure." The planet's human defenders, including at least one million Imperial Guardsmen who arrived for mop-up operations after Angron had been banished, were ordered into barracks pending their own "processing."

The Space Wolves on the surface engaged in only minor disruptions -- as they were clearly overmatched on the ground by the more than 100,000 Inquisitorial Storm Troopers and other Inquisition forces. However, they had the advantage in space, with 16 starships present to the Inquisition's 12. Additionally the Space Wolves' ships were generally bigger, better armoured, and better armed. Grimnar's plan was to help the human defenders and civilians of Armageddon escape the Inquisition by making sure their transports safely jumped into the Warp at the first opportunity. Twenty such transports were already waiting for their human cargoes above the planet.

Soon, the first such transport, the Trident of Ilmatha, loaded mostly with defenders but also with civilians, was en route to the Armageddon System's Warp jump-point, escorted by the Space Wolves frigate Runefyre. The ship never made the Warp jump, as its Warp-Drive was disabled by the Grey Knights Frigate Karabela which then proceeded to scuttle the ship; there were no survivors among the Trident's 400,000 passengers. These were the first shots and the first casualties of the internecine war that followed. For their part, the Space Wolves did not retaliate against the firing vessel. Grimnar wanted to see whether the Inquisition would actually go ahead with its plans -- one of the many miscalculations that occured on both sides.

Following this episode, Grimnar ordered all the remaining loaded transports to make orbit at the same time, each protected by Space Wolves vessels who put themselves in the Inquisition ships' line of fire with orders not to fire back under any circumstance. Using this strategy, at least some of the transports would safely make it to the system's Warp jump-points. Kysnaros, who had tried to reason with Grimnar in an exchange that descended into insults and terrible threats, countered by ordering his fleet to fire at the interfering Space Wolves Escorts, as well as targeting the troop transports. However, as Inquisitorial ships opened fire and before Kysnaros' order could be completed, Space Wolves reinforcements lead by the Battle Barge Gylfarheim translated into the system, presenting the Inquisition with overwhelming naval superiority. A triumphant Grimnar then bade Kysnaros to call off the attack and the chase, which the Inquisitor Lord had no option but to do. The majority of the troop transports carrying Armageddon's survivors had survived the brief engagement. Escorted by Space Wolves vessels, they then safely translated into the Warp.

The Purges

With several witness-bearing transports now safely out of the system, the Inquisition initiated the appropriate contingency. In addition to the transports and their escorting Space Wolves vessels, every person, installation, or world that came into contact with Armageddon escapees, even in the most temporary and fleeting manner, was now liable to be "cleansed" by the Inquisition. Kysnaros apparently had an extraordinary cross-Sector mandate and freedom of action, as his armada ranged far and wide, raining death on anyone or anything whose misfortune was to have crossed paths with Armageddon survivors. Exterminatus was carried out on several worlds, including the planet Tybult, virus-bombed by the specially rearmed Corel's Hope. The planet's fate was sealed when an Armageddon transport briefly stopped at the world's orbiting space docks for supplies. A number of Grey Knights vessels, some veterans of Armageddon and others who had joined Kysnaros' growing armada during the Containment, were also involved. Among them was the Battle Barge Fire of Dawn, the flagship of the 8th Brotherhood of Grey Knights commanded by Grand Master Joros, which also carried out Exterminatus missions during the campaign.

Lord Joros was leading the Grey Knights force attached to Kysnaros' armada. This was another ad hoc Brotherhood-strength contingent, steadily increasing in numbers, that joined the containment campaign after the Armageddon war, along with the few Grey Knights who survived it. Joros became Kysnaros' principal advisor in the interactions with the Space Wolves, as the former had no experience in dealing with Astartes. Joros advised in favour of appealing to the Space Wolves' instincts as they respected strength and boldness above all. As such, Joros explained that the Inquisition should meet Space Wolves Astartes, at all times, from a position of strength. Overwhelming force and steadfastness of purpose were proposed as the cornerstones of the strategy to be followed, which Kysnaros readily accepted.

For their part the Space Wolves, following Grimnar's commands, were engaged in an increasingly successful cat-and-mouse game with the Inquisitorial containment forces. Notwithstanding their losses to the containment fleet, they managed to spirit away several Armageddon transports, safely dispersing their human cargoes in a variety of far-flung star systems.

Grey Knights Dissent

Within the Inquisitorial containment armada itself, dissent was building over both the scope and scale of the purges, and the violent actions against the Space Wolves -- which in every case went unanswered by them. Some Inquisitors were against the purges from the start, and had voted so in the Armageddon Conclave; the continuing campaign added to their frustration. Increasingly vocal amongst the dissenters was the Fenrisian Inquisitor Annika Jarlsdottyr of the Ordo Malleus. The attached Grey Knights were also frustrated over the course of events, and the fact that they were being used outside of their mission parameters. It was they who provided the campaign with its unofficial moniker as the "Months of Shame." In the dissenters' eyes, the situation was made worse by the fact that Logan Grimnar, even if misguided, seemed to hold the high moral ground, as the Space Wolves never fired back during hostilities.

At least some of the dissent was fuelled by the mystery surrounding Kysnaros, and by his aloofness. He was a secretive and inscrutable figure, even to other members of the Inquisition. No reliable information was known of his past prior to his involvement in the First War for Armageddon and the containment campaign that followed. The mystery was enhanced by another unusual fact: Kysnaros was an Unaligned Inquisitor Lord, working outside of the existing Ordos of the Inquisition, and leaving no evidence trail available to them. Unlike other Inquisitor Lords, he had no retinue or servants, and seemed to keep his own counsel. His stature and authority were diminished in the eyes of his detractors by his apparent youthfulness, as extensive rejuvenat treatments made him look like a young man in his 20's. Yet the mandate entrusted him by his unknown masters seemed to be absolute.

Death of Joros

Five months after the containment campaign begun, its cost was rising and its effectiveness diminishing, with no end in sight. As the campaign stretched into months, Grand Master Joros proposed that the Inquisition capture Grimnar. In his opinion, this would result in the Chapter's capitulation, and Kysnaros readily authorised a plan. As part of the plan, Kysnaros asked for a parlay with Grimnar, to which the latter agreed. The opponents decided to meet (with weapons and shields down) in Haikaran, a neutral star system.

Kysnaros' mistrust of the Space Wolves was a match for Grimnar's mistrust of the Inquisition. The Inquisitor Lord knew that in similar previous situations the Space Wolves had misled and waylaid Imperial servants: he was not going to allow the Space Wolves to surprise him, and he called the containment fleet to Haikaran. As soon as the Space Wolves parlay flotilla, consisting of Grimnar's flagship, the Strike Cruiser Scramaseax, and four Escorts, translated into Haikaran realspace, the already assembled and waiting Inquisition force opened fire. The four Space Wolves Escort vessels were destroyed with all hands, while the Scramaseax was heavily damaged. Kysnaros then "invited" Grimnar to meet with him and discuss his surrender, the end of the conflict, and the reintegration of the Space Wolves into the Imperial hierarchy.

Grimnar agreed, or pretended to. He and his three remaining Wolf Guard members travelled to the Fire of Dawn where all the Inquisitors under Kysnaros were present, accompanied by their retinues. Also present was the entire Grey Knights detachment, lead by Lord Joros. Kysnaros tried to explain the reasons behind his betrayal of the terms of parlay, and offered the Space Wolves peace in exchange for their surrender, or endless and inevitably ruinous conflict for the Chapter if they did not.

Grimnar however had not come to surrender or be captured -- but to find out who was responsible for violating the "sacred oath of armistice." Lord Joros admitted that he, with heavy heart, had given the order to fire on the Space Wolves' vessels. In a blinding display of speed and ability, Grimnar then beheaded him. As everyone on the Inquisition side prepared to open fire on Grimnar, Kysnaros ordered them to hold. Over Joros' headless body, he again tried to alternately appeal to, and then threaten, the Great Wolf. The latter was unmoved. He treated the Inquisitor Lord with disdain, and had correctly guessed the feelings of the Grey Knights towards the containment campaign. Then, as the Grey Knights tried to psychically block them from escaping by teleporting, the Space Wolves shot four Grey Knights Justicars, the Justicars who were focusing the Grey Knights' collective psychic power, and their death broke the binding attempt. The Space Wolves then managed to teleport to the Scramaseax. Kysnaros, outplayed and forlorn over the episode and the Space Wolves' intractability, let the badly wounded vessel and its Astartes slip away into the void.

Escalation

After the failed parlay and attempt to capture Grimnar, the conflict intensified. In the months that followed, the Space Wolves no longer kept their wrath or their guns in check, and often actively engaged pursuing Armageddon containment forces, destroying several Inquisitorial and Grey Knights vessels. Among them was the Glaive of Janus, which had been the flagship of the Grey Knights' 1st Brotherhood for 10,000 standard years. It was lost along with its entire crew and its complement of over 50 Veteran Grey Knights.

The Inquisition sought reinforcements, securing the support of the Red Hunters Space Marine Chapter, amongst others. The Red Hunters joined Kysnaros' armada with their entire Chapter fleet and strength, including the massive Battle Barge In Sacred Trust, under the command of Chapter Master Daemar. Kysnaros had sought the support of the Red Hunters, a Chapter that traditionally aligned itself with the Inquisition, as proof that the Space Wolves did not represent all the Astartes of the Imperium -- but also because he was unsure of the Grey Knights, some of whom were surreptitiously ignoring the developing campaign and were slow to join it.

Casualties on both sides mounted as the armed engagements escalated. At the same time, the containment campaign was meeting with increasingly less success, even as the number of its victims reached into the billions. It was clear that the Armageddon containment was a failure: too many survivors had been dispersed to too many unknown destinations thanks to the Space Wolves' superior cunning and strategy. yet this remained a hollow victory, as it made the Chapter indirectly responsible for the deaths of even more innocents purged by the Inquisition.

Among the Inquisition's dissenters, things were reaching a boiling point. A widespread conspiracy to assassinate Kysnaros, supported by ranking Inquisitors such as Jarlsdottyr and respected Grey Knights such as Hyperion, was taking shape amongst elements of the containment armada. It was the belief of the conspirators that only Kysnaros' death would stop the internecine conflict and prevent it from developing into a full-fledged Imperial civil war. Kysnaros, now often counseled by the more hard-line Red Hunters officers, had in the meantime installed surveillance Servo-skulls on the bridge of every starship in the Inquisitorial armada.

As the conspirators' plans were gathering steam, Kysnaros finally tacitly admitted that his strategy had failed. In early 445.M41, after 8 months of campaigning, the Armageddon containment campaign was abandoned. Kysnaros announced a new approach: all containment assets were ordered at speed to Fenris, the Space Wolves' lightly defended homeworld. In an unprecedented, last ditch gambit, Kysnaros intended to hold the planet hostage in order to force Logan Grimnar to agree to the Inquisition's demands. These demands by now had nothing to do with Armageddon, and everything to do with limiting the independence and autonomy of the Space Wolves Chapter.

Siege of Fenris

Kysnaros' armada, including a multitude of Inquisition warships, Grey Knights vessels, and the entire Red Hunters Chapter fleet, arrived at Fenris and surrounded the planet in high orbit whilst targeting The Fang, the Space Wolves' famed fortress-monastery, for a devastating orbital bombardment.

The planet was virtually undefended as the vast majority of the Space Wolves and their Chapter fleet were dispersed on missions across the galaxy. Kysnaros, directing operations from his flagship, again asked for a parlay with any ranking Space Wolf available, to which the few Space Wolves present agreed. Kysnaros asked the Grey Knight Hyperion (who commanded respect amongst the Space Wolves as the "Bladebreaker" for his role in defeating the Daemon Primarch Angron on Armageddon) and Inquisitor Jarlsdottyr to join him as representatives of the Grey Knights and the Inquisitorial Ordos, respectively. Kysnaros knew that Hyperion was for a time part of the conspiracy bent on his assassination, while Jarlsdottyr was open about her mistrust of the Inquisitor Lord -- however Kysnaros apparently wanted the best possible delegation in the parlay with the Space Wolves. The team soon arrived at The Fang for the meeting. The Space Wolves had awoken the Venerable Dreadnought Bjorn the Fell-Handed to deal with the Inquisitorial party. The ancient warrior, who had once fought beside the Primarch Leman Russ during the Great Crusade and had served as the first Great Wolf of the Chapter after Russ' disappearance, immediately received the unbidden respect and reverence of the Inquisitorial delegation, and was thought to be a more temperate and wiser representative for the Chapter than Logan Grimnar.

Kysnaros asked for the Space Wolves' express obedience to Imperial authority and the chain of command, and a Penitent Crusade to be undertaken to expiate the Chapter's guilt for attacking the servants of the Inquisition. In exchange, the Inquisition and the Imperium at large would take no other action or censure against the Chapter. Bjorn was not impressed, countering that Kysnaros was asking a proud, storied Chapter that had served Mankind for millennia to kowtow to faceless bureaucrats, who ruled according to expedience rather than honour. Further, this was demanded whilst the Inquisition's orbital guns were locked on The Fang. He asked Kysnaros to make a more rigorous presentation of his case, but before the latter could start, and to everyone's surprise, the Space Wolves' Chapter fleet under the command of Logan Grimnar translated from the Warp near Fenris -- the fleet had travelled at extraordinary speed and at the cost of its Rune Priests' lives to arrive in time. The negotiations abruptly ended, and the Inquisition delegation made haste to Corel's Hope.

Following yet another short and fruitless exchange between the panicked Kysnaros and the snarling Grimnar over ship-to-ship Vox, an all-out close-quarters naval battle broke out above Fenris. Despite the presence of senior Imperial Navy officers from the Battlefleet Solar, Kysnaros took command of the Inquisitorial fleet from Corel's Hope's Strategium. His panicky state disappeared, and he exhibited remarkable calmness under pressure and intricate knowledge of large-scale, complex naval tactics. He ordered half of the Inquisition assets to commence conventional-only bombing of The Fang, whose defence batteries were already engaging his armada, whilst coordinating the maneuvers and targets of the other half of his ships. Upon detection of Space Wolves boarding torpedoes approaching his fleet, he ordered the Red Hunters to counter-board the Space Wolves vessels that had fired the torpedoes.

While the battle was raging, Grimnar had the Scramaseax come abreast of the Corel's Hope, where the Astartes' vessel's superior shields, armour, and broadside proved deciding factors as the Corel's Hope's Void Shields failed first. Immediately, Grimnar and his Wolf Guard teleported from the Scramaseax to the bridge of the Inquisitorial Battlecruiser.

As the Wolf Guard caused mayhem on the bridge, Grimnar sprinted towards the command throne, where Kysnaros stood. Despite resistance by Hyperion and one other Grey Knight, and the assistance of Inquisitor Jarlsdottyr, the Great Wolf quickly reached the Inquisitor Lord. Kysnaros was unarmed, yet he was a powerful psyker with telekinetic abilities. However, either he did not care to defend himself, or he did not have time to react given the Great Wolf's speed and ferocity, for Grimnar, in one swift move, unceremoniously decapitated the Inquisitor Lord.

Kysnaros' death was not enough to placate the enraged Space Wolves who continued their rampage, until shortly afterwards Bjorn the Fell-Handed teleported to the bridge of Corel's Hope and bade everyone to "stop this madness." Thanks to his timely intervention and mediation, the battle ended and a truce was sought amongst the combatants.

Uneasy Peace

Bjorn told Grimnar to immediately cease hostilities and to find a compromise with the Inquisition and the Imperium. He addressed Jarlsdottyr and Hyperion, as the ranking representatives of the Inquisition present, and stated that no Inquisition ship should ever again appear over Fenris; also that the Space Wolves who had learned of the Grey Knights should not be mind-wiped as was normal in such cases, but instead Hyperion should personally explain the Grey Knights' mission and its importance to all of the Astartes within The Fang, so that such a conflict should never again occurr due to misunderstanding and ignorance of the Inquisition's mission. The combatants reluctantly accepted the terms, and the siege of Fenris ended.

However the terms of the truce were only accepted out of neccessity by both sides. The losses of the Space Wolves were extensive: during the 8-month engagement their Chapter fleet was decimated, many thousands of their Chapter Serfs or Thralls had perished, and large numbers of Astartes were dead or disabled. During the siege, The Fang was damaged even more severely than during Magnus the Red's attack in the 32nd Millenium. As many as four Imperial vessels had crashed into the massive fortress-monastery itself, while the orbital bombardment had caused even more crippling damage.

The Space Wolves' losses were mirrored by the Inquisition. The Grey Knights specifically suffered serious casualties, with several of the Chapter's starships lost, as well as a Brotherhood-strength contingent of irreplaceable Astartes. The casualties came on the heels of the First War for Armageddon campaign which had already cost both sides dearly.

Even more damaging were the unspoken repercussions: the almost total breakdown of trust between the Space Wolves and Imperial authorities, especially the Inquisition; the second-guessing of their Inquisitorial masters by some Grey Knights and the obvious reluctance of others to join Kysnaros' containment campaign. However, despite the dissent within his ranks, Kysnaros was not a rogue operative. He summoned a large number of Inquisitors, and an entire Chapter of Space Marines with their fleet. He prosecuted an 8-month violent campaign against a celebrated Loyalist First Founding Chapter of Space Marines, and had exclusive call on a Brotherhood-strength force of Grey Knights, using them clearly outside of their anti-daemon mission parameters. Kysnaros' mandate was coming from the higher echelons of the Inquisition, as was made obvious during the discussion of the truce terms among the assembled Inquisitors over Fenris. The Inquisitors had no choice but to accept the truce, yet they immediately started to ponder ways of bringing the Space Wolves to heel, going as far as to consider manipulation of the Chapter's gene-seed.

The Space Wolves also had no illusions: the Inquisition was not going to leave them in peace. Even as the last Inquisition vessel was departing Fenris, Grimnar and the remnants of the Chapter were preparing for the next round of their conflict with the Imperium's secret police.

Imperial Order of Battle

Senior Commanders

Adeptus Astartes

Imperial Guard

Forces of Chaos Order of Battle

The following data is extracted from the suppressed memoirs of Lord-General Gustav Karlson II.

Compiler's Note:Imperial scholars often refer to the constituent elements of an invading host as "Cohorts." A Cohort is generally said to consist of between 1,000 and 5,000 men: the equivalent of an Imperial Guard regiment in manpower but far inferior in terms of supporting units. In addition to these conventional formations, Angron summoned countless numbers of daemons: a situation that made strategic planning near to impossible in many theatres.

Senior Commanders

World Eaters Warbands

Mutant Cohorts (Invaders)

  • Jakob’s Kin - 17 Cohorts
  • The Unsanctified - 2 Cohorts
  • The Children of Garnacea - 31 Cohorts
  • Kith of Nihil - 4 Cohorts
  • Tuskgor’s Tribe - 12 Cohorts
  • The Mentes III Migration - 10 Cohorts
  • Syrcnsk’s Reavers - 18 Cohorts
  • The Stigmatus Covenent - 11 Cohorts
  • Other groups - estimated 55-65 Cohorts

Daemonhost Covens

  • Inner Circle - est 20 Cohorts
  • Sanctum Guard - 4 Cohorts
  • Daemonhosts - (SUPPRESSED)

Traitor Titan Legions

Traitor Guard

Native units that turned traitor at the outset of the war:

  • Armageddon Command Guard - 2 Coys
  • Armageddon Hive Militia - 80 Regiments
  • Armageddon Steel Legion - 13 Regiments
  • Armageddon Ash Waste Militia - 3 Regiments

Chaos Cults

Civilian cults dedicated to the Ruinous Powers that turned Traitor at the outset of the war:

  • The Eight Ways - 2 Cohorts
  • The True Creed - 4 Cohorts
  • The Cult of Noyade - 12 Cohorts
  • Children of Quietus - 19 Cohorts
  • The Justified Ancients - 1 Cohort
  • Other groups - estimated 40-50 Cohorts

Sources

  • Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, Revised Codex), pg. 8
  • Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), pg. 13
  • Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pp. 20-22
  • White Dwarf 278 (US), "Codicium Imperialis: The First War for Armageddon," by Graham McNeill and Andy Hoare
  • White Dwarf 151 (UK), "The Chaos Wars: The First Battle for Armageddon," by Jervis Johnson
  • The Emperor's Gift (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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