Hive Fleet Kraken was the second major Tyranid Hive Fleet to invade the galaxy. It was responsible for the outbreak of the Second Tyrannic War, which began officially in 992.M41 and ended only after the Ultramarines Chapter of Space Marines successfully broke the back of the Tyranid invasion in Imperial space at the Battle of Ichar IV and the Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden successfully defended their home, at great cost, against the Tyranid horde.
The invasion began 250 standard years after the First Tyrannic War and the destruction of Hive Fleet Behemoth by the Ultramarines on their homeworld of Macragge. An armed presence had been maintained in the galactic southeast, which members of the Imperium's Adeptus Administratum began to question the need for, arguing that Behemoth had been the sum total of the Tyranid race's expansion into the Milky Way Galaxy. When worlds along the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy began to erupt in rebellion, terrorism, riots and sabotage, the same Adepts claimed the people were dissatisfied with living amid an armed camp.
The Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus became suspicious of the Adepts' dissent and their downplaying of the situation on the Eastern Fringes, and began an investigation, which established that all of the dissenting Adepts had either come from the southeastern region of the galaxy or had travelled there at some time. This was the only link between the members that could be found, and some had never even met each other. Inquisitors were also deployed from Talasa Prime to investigate the planets of the Ultima Segmentum that were most troubled.
Purges were made within the Imperium, especially on Terra, focused on suspected traitors to the Emperor within the Administratum who had had contact with the afflicted regions of the Eastern Fringe. Tens of thousands of suspected traitors were sent to prison colonies and the Imperial Guard's Penal Legions by the Inquisition.
Yet, by early 990.M41, Hive Fleet Kraken had already sunk its tendrils into the galaxy, isolating many Imperial worlds before any astropathic warnings could be sent. Hive Fleet Behemoth had fought in a single wave that had advanced across the galaxy as a single organism, but the Kraken was actually a series of smaller, separate Tyranid Hive Fleets that moved to attack many human-settled planets simultaneously. This not only increased the difficulty for the Imperium's defenders in opposing the Hive Fleet, but also increased the area of the Hive Mind's psychic Shadow in the Warp tenfold. Almost overnight, an entire Imperial sector was silenced from Terra, isolated from Astropaths' messages of warning by the potent power of the Hive Mind. Only several months after Hive Fleet Kraken's onslaught had already begun did the first few survivors' accounts of the attacks begin to reach the wider Imperium due to the terrible turbulence in the Warp. Whole planets had been wiped out by the Tyranids in only a few hours and the Imperium of Man once more faced an unimaginable threat.
The Ichar IV Rebellion
But before the true threat revealed itself, the Imperium had first faced uprisings on its Eastern Fringe that served as the prelude to the main Tyranid threat. One such rebellion occurred on a Hive World named Ichar IV. Ichar IV was vital to the operation of the Eastern Fringe as its huge manufactorums formed the centre and lynch pin of one of the few densely populated Imperial sectors in the widespread Ultima Segmentum. The entire planet had been seized from the control of the Imperium by a religious fundamentalist group named the Brotherhood. Years before, the Brotherhood had captured the hearts and minds of the population of the planet by preaching the return of the Emperor in physical form and promising better times to come. This is the sort of promise that was sought by the workers of the Icharran manufactorums because they lived lives with no power, hope of betterment or freedom. The Brotherhood quickly set up missions and chapels throughout the poor regions of the planet. The Ecclesiarchy closely monitored the Brotherhood for any signs of corruption or heresy, but none could be found. Eventually, permission was sought and granted for the construction of a Brotherhood cathedral in Lomas, the biggest city on Ichar IV. Shortly after the completion of the Brotherhood's cathedral the trouble began; the Brotherhood refused to pay its tithes to the Planetary Governor and would not allow its members to be inducted into Ichar IV's Planetary Defence Force. Brotherhood Preachers whipped the Icharran population into a frenzy, prophesying that the Emperor would return in the flesh soon. Brotherhood militias began to roam the streets, punishing anyone they deemed to be "unbelievers" rather than actual criminals.
Events accelerated when rioting broke out during a mass demonstration outside of the great cathedral in Lomas. Arbitrators of the Adeptus Arbites moved in with Power Mauls and Suppression Shields to put down the rioters forcefully, but were fired upon from the cathedral by Brotherhood militia. The Arbitrators returned fire and killed several of the Brotherhood's militia members. This only enraged the mob further and they surged forwards several times, eventually forcing the Arbitrators to fall back, especially as another, larger mob had just arrived to support them. Rioting then spread across the planet and most of the forces of the Arbites were forced back. When the Planetary Defence Force was called in to restore order, most members of the force rebelled and joined the ranks of the Brotherhood. Eventually, news of the assassination of the Planetary Governor reached the public and vicious fighting broke out in all of the hive cities of the planet. Within hours, tanks decorated with the revolutionary banners of the Brotherhood were seen driving down roads in cities, pushing the Arbites back. With the dawn, news of the assassination of the Imperial governor and most of his ministers had spread over the entire planet, and the Brotherhood quickly seized control of several broadcasting stations, announcing the establishment of their new theocratic state in the name of the returning God-Emperor.
The Arbites still held control of the majority of the Icharran countryside and the Arbites fortress that guarded the centre of Lomas. Most of the cities had been captured by the Brotherhood, denying the Arbites vital resources. Inquisitor Agmar of the Ordo Xenos arrived twenty-seven days after the rebellion began, on the same day that the Arbites fortress in Lomas was overrun by Brotherhood forces. Most of the Judges in the fortress escaped, moving to take control of the four main power stations of the city. Inquisitor Agmar saw this as much more of an organised rebellion than a sporadic outburst of popular religious feeling. He called for the support of the Ultramarines Chapter of Astartes to help the forces of the Imperium retake the planet. While the remaining Imperial forces waited for the arrival of the Ultramarines, they bombarded the rebel cities and pushed back vicious assaults by Brotherhood militia battalions. Repeated attempts to reach the power stations of Lomas failed and, six days after Agmar arrived, the Arbites detonated several Melta Bombs, completely destroying the generators.
Now the war transformed into a long, grinding campaign of urban combat with casualties spiraling upwards daily. Every doorway could possess a booby trap and there were Brotherhood snipers in place all over the renegade-held cities. Entire Imperial Guard patrols that remained loyal to the Imperium disappeared without trace in the chaotic maelstrom. The rebellion promised to be a long one as the Brotherhood held the armouries of the Imperial Guard Regiments assigned to the planet and had the support of the majority of the Icharran population to draw on to become soldiers in its militia. Inquisitor Agmar led several small forces of Imperial Guardsmen and Arbitrators into Lomas to uncover the true nature of the Brotherhood. He was slowly piecing together the story when, in a chance raid, he slew a Neophyte of the Brotherhood and saw what manner of xenos creature was actually leading the revolt -- foul Tyranid Genestealers! Agmar sent an astropathic message confirming his fears of another Tyranid invasion to the Inquisition and awaited the arrival of the Ultramarines.
The Genestealer Infestation
Thirty-nine days after the Icharran rebellion began, the Ultramarines' Battle Barge Octavius entered orbit above Ichar IV and deployed its Drop Pods. The planetary defences were largely inactive due to the damage to the power generators of Lomas and as such the Space Marines' landing casualties were light. The Space Marines secured the Imperial Guard's armouries and the Imperial Governor's palace and fought off several poorly organised counterattacks, causing massive casualties among the Brotherhood's forces. Outside, the remaining Imperial Guard forces launched coordinated attacks to link up with the Ultramarines, using their Leman Russ main battle tanks as moving strongpoints and slowly, inevitably, the Brotherhood's lines bent back.
More than 20 Veteran Space Marines in Terminator Armour from the Ultramarines' elite 1st Company teleported into the great Brotherhood cathedral in Lomas and destroyed the cathedral's defenders after Agmar sent a message to the Octavius via spy satellite. More guards appeared from side doors and a storm of lasbeams and autoshells ripped out, massacring many of the Brotherhood guards, but not before several of the Terminators were dragged down. The Terminators' single Heavy Flamer proved to be invaluable, its flames incinerating the unprotected assaulting forces. Yet some of the Brotherhood Neophytes were striking out with inhuman speed and terrible claws, indicating their xenos heritage.
The Terminators then spread out and searched for the myriad of secret passages that they presumed existed beneath the Brotherhood cathedral. They soon found one under the altar, and the altar was quickly removed. As they moved down into the crypt, they heard the clattering of claws on stone. As the creatures jumped into the lights of the Ultramarines, they were identified as Genestealers. This showed the Inquisitor's belief that there was a Genestealer coven at the heart of the Brotherhood's revolution to be correct. The battle began and raged for a long time. Hundreds of Genestealers died, piling up one on top of each other. Eventually, the horde's numbers were spent in their attack. Several Ultramarine Terminators had been killed as their armour was torn open by the inhumanly sharp claws of the Genestealers. The remainder of the Astartes moved further into the crypt without encountering more of the creatures. Deep beneath the city of Lomas they found a huge cavern where the huge and bloated great grandfather of the brood, the powerful Genestealer Patriarch, sat. As the Terminators approached, another horde of Genestealers intent on protecting the alien master attacked the Terminators from out of nowhere. Storm Bolters rang out, resulting in pure carnage. The company Librarian fought his way to the dais but the Patriarch used its psychic powers to attack the Space Marine psyker. A surge from the Astartes' psychic hood broke the spell and the Librarian forced his body out of the real world for an instant and then he reappeared, teleported onto the dais. The creature lashed out and blood and sparks flew from the Librarian, but the Patriarch easily parried the return blow.
The Librarian called on his Battle-Brothers for assistance and the dais was swept with Bolter fire. Some shells pierced the Power Armour of the Librarian but the Patriarch was also wounded. The Librarian used this opportunity to strike with his Force Axe, the Librarian's own psychic power behind the blow allowing the weapon to tear through the tough hide of the Patriarch. The Patriarch was dead, suddenly leaving the brood and the entire revolution leaderless. The revolution felt the death of its leader and lost its impetus and cohesion. The remaining Terminators slew the rest of the Genestealers and the battles above slowly stopped as the revolutionaries could only retrench themselves and no longer act in a fully coordinated manner without the Patriarch's subtle psychic guidance over the cult. Small groups of Brotherhood Acolytes and Neophytes held their positions in bunkers and towers but were soon destroyed by the tanks and heavy fighting vehicles of the Imperial Guard.
Ichar IV was back under the control of the Imperium and all remnants of the Genestealer Cult - the Genestealers, their hybrids, infected humans, cult members and traitors - was ruthlessly wiped out. Inquisitor Agmar, leading the Ultramarines, methodically purged the planet, which eventually returned to normal. There were still questions that remained unanswered. One was the fate of the human leader of the Brotherhood, as his body was never found. The second was that the planet's Astropaths had reported a shift in the Warp, distant still, but the oldest of the Astropaths had sensed the psychic call of the Genestealer Patriarch radiating out into space and felt the change in the Warp. He had sensed something vast and shadowy, a monstrous entity which had turned its attention towards Ichar IV -- Hive Fleet Kraken.
The Kraken Comes
The horror stories that attended Hive Fleet Kraken's coming to Imperial space were numerous. Among the many tragedies of this time were the following:
In the Miral System, Imperial Guard Regiments and the Space Marines of the Scythes of the Emperor Chapter held out against the Tyranids of Hive Fleet Kraken who had overrun the lush jungles and plantations of Miral Prime. The Imperial forces retreated to a huge mesa called the Giant's Coffin where they defended against the vicious hordes of xenos that infested the dense jungles below. The flora of Miral itself had become mutated since the first Mycetic Spores of Hive Fleet Kraken had fallen on the world and eventually only constant defoliation with Flamers prevented the Tyranid spore-infected creepers from engulfing the Giant's Coffin.
A Rogue Trader brought rumours of the feral world of Larnarno to the Imperium's heart, a planet that had come to be ruled by the Celebrants of Nihilism, a heretical doomsday cult whose adherents had taken care to match their prophecies with the dire events of the times. When elements of Hive Fleet Kraken arrived at Larnarno, nearly 75% of the planet's population had calmly marched towards the Tyranid bio-ships to be consumed by their new "gods." The Rogue Trader also brought a tale from the giant asteroid-monastery of Salem, which told how the monks had chosen to poison both themselves and their carefully terraformed ecosystem rather than allow all to be consumed by the Great Devourer.
Another dedicated Imperial merchant captain helped evacuate millions of Imperial citizens from the mining worlds of the Devlan System before it was consumed. Devlan's extensive system of Novastorm space stations held the Hive Fleet at bay long enough for a fleet of giant ore freighters to escape into the Warp. A company of Space Marines of the Lamenters Chapter held off the attacks of the Tyranid Warriors until the last starship had been loaded, though the Space Marines in the end sacrificed their own lives so that many more might live.
Even those who fled successfully found little respite from the horror. One of the giant ore freighters fleeing Devlan arrived at the world of Adr's Hope ominously dark and silent. Those investigating the ship's automated landing discovered that within lay a blood-drenched abattoir where thousands of refugees--men, women and children--had been mercilessly butchered by a Tyranid organism that had breached the starship's quarantine even as it fled. Only three weeks later Adr's Hope itself was a blood-soaked ruin of a world--the Great Devourer had claimed even more victims.
Seen on a galactic scale, Hive Fleet Kraken was attacking across a front that covered thousands of light years. Some worlds were bypassed, isolated by the Hive Fleet's Shadow in the Warp or attacked unexpectedly, making a cohesive Imperial defence almost impossible to mount. The Imperium was forced to concentrate its forces on the most strategically important Forge Worlds and Hive Worlds, while it evacuated or simply abandoned to their horrific fate many others. Still, there were some bright moments for the Imperium. Several Space Marine Chapters dedicated their forces to saving worlds the wider armies of the Imperial Guard had abandoned. Some, such as the Lamenters and the Scythes of the Emperor, found their once proud Chapters reduced to a few scattered remains as the price of their valour, while the Knights of Eternity Chapter is presumed to have been completely obliterated. Others carried the battle to the Tyranids as only the Space Marines can, striking at isolated tendrils of the Kraken, boarding Hive Ships and blowing them apart from the inside. Yet, no matter the efforts of the Imperium, the Tyranids were too numerous and drove ever deeper into the galaxy, towards the Imperium of Man heart.
The Battle of Ichar IV
Fortunately for humanity, Hive Fleet Kraken did not remain divided into separate tendrils indefinitely and eventually began to coalesce into a single, massive swarm on Ichar IV, the Hive World whose large Genestealer infestation had been the initial harbinger of the Kraken's arrival in the Milky Way Galaxy. As the Tyranids approached the planet, thousands of Genestealers suddenly burst from the underhives in support of the invading xenos, giving the lie to claims that the infestation had been entirely purged years earlier. Defence perimeters were completely overrun, Imperial Guardsmen slain by the thousands. In the terrible confusion, an ever larger number of Tyranid organisms made planetfall -- not only the Termagants and Gargoyles that had composed the vanguard of the prior assaults, but the truly monstrous Carnifexes and Tyrannofexes as well. Worse still, gigantic Hierodule and Hierophant Bio-Titans stalked across the surface of the beleagured world. The Tyranids had unleashed on Ichar IV every terrible organic weapon in their arsenal.
Despite all this, Ichar IV was not yet lost to humanity. Forewarned of Tyranid interest in the world by the previous Genestealer infestation, the Imperium was able to mount a more solid counter-defence in the Ichar System than in the other areas of the Eastern Fringes under assault by Hive Fleet Kraken. Chapter Master Marneus Calgar, the Lord of Ultramar and hero of the First Tyrannic War, led the Ultramarines into battle against their old foe on Ichar IV just as he had against Hive Fleet Behemoth on Macragge 200 standard years earlier. The Ultramarines inflicted crushing losses on the Tyranid armada in space above the planet and in the claustrophobic corridors of the towering Icharran hive cities. Space Marine Veterans of the First Tyrannic War made planetfall and scoured Ichar IV's hives in a series of close-quarter battles that lasted for close to a full Terran year. By employing the same tactics that had proved successful in defeating Hive Fleet Behemoth in Ultramar two centuries earlier, Marneus Calgar rallied the Imperial defenders of Ichar IV and cast the Tyranids from that planet forevermore. But as always, victory against the Tyranids had come at a terrible price -- Ichar IV was reduced to a smoking charnel house of death and destruction, a world and its people sacrificed so that the Imperium of Man might endure yet another storm.
The Battle of Iyanden Craftworld
The first warning the Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden had of the danger posed by the Tyranids of Hive Fleet Kraken was brought in 992.M41 by the Craftworld’s far-roaming Rangers, those Eldar whose instincts drive them to a life of exploration and danger, and who secretly monitored the planets and alien races near their Craftworld. The news that the Rangers brought was terrible indeed: a Tyranid Hive Fleet of immense proportions was heading towards Iyanden Craftworld. Already over a dozen Imperial planets had been consumed by the Tyranids' advance and, although the human Imperium was mounting furious counter-attacks where possible, it would be months until a major Imperial taskforce could be fully mobilised to deal with the threat. By the time the Imperial frontier was stabilised, the Eldar of Iyanden knew that their precious Craftworld would have been overrun.
Farseer Kelmon, political leader and spiritual head of the Craftworld, called together the Eldar of Iyanden and warned them of the impending Tyranid assault. Each Eldar Craftworld has a great hall, known as the Place of Answering, which is capable of holding every member of the Craftworld's population. At times of emergency, the Eldar met there, so that all may know of the peril that faced their Craftworld, and so that any Eldar might voice an opinion on the course of action that should be taken. Only once all views had been debated, and a consensus reached, would the Craftworld’s Farseer decide on the course of action to be taken.
The debate by the people of Iyanden on the action to take against Hive Fleet Kraken's approach was heated and prolonged. The more conservative elements of the Craftworld argued for a policy of isolation, shielding the Craftworld behind a powerful psychic shield in an attempt to avoid all contact with the Tyranids. The more aggressive elements wanted to attack the Tyranids immediately, dispatching the fleet to destroy the Tyranids before they reached the Craftworld. Both courses of action were problematic, however, because they took no account of the sheer size of the Tyranid Hive Fleet. It took a powerful speech from the Ranger Irilith, who had seen the Hive Fleet at first hand and understood the terrible threat that it represented, to sway the assembled Eldar. For over an hour she drove home to all present that it would take the combined efforts of every Eldar on Iyanden to have any chance of turning back the Tyranids. Even then they might not succeed in defeating the alien menace. A hush fell on the Hall as Irilith finished her speech. No more needed to be said, for all the Eldar present now realised the sheer enormity of the task ahead. Farseer Kelmon rose and ordered that the Eldar prepare the defences of lyanden Craftworld. All elements of the fleet would be recalled, and every single Eldar must take on the Warrior Aspect of Warlock, Guardian or Aspect Warrior, for the first time in Eldar history since the Fall.
The entire Craftworld would be fortified, for there could be no doubt that the Tyranids would breach their outer defences and land on the immense worldship. Help must be requested from the other Eldar Craftworlds. The Avatar, the embodied spirit of the Craftworld’s War God Khaela Mensha Khaine, must be awakened to take part in the battle. And, most terrible of all, all of the Craftworld’s ancient Spirit Stones must be plucked from their resting places and implanted in cybernetic exoskeletons to battle as Ghost Warriors. As many Imperial scholars know, when an Eldar dies their spirit is released into a gem known as a Spirit Stone, which is grafted into the very structure of their Craftworld to preserve the dead Eldar’s consciousness and prevent it from migrating into the Warp where it will be devoured by the Chaos God Slaanesh. Thus, each Craftworld is actually a living, intelligent being which preserves a little of the once great Eldar civilisation. By risking the destruction of the Craftworld’s Spirit Stones, Kelmon risked the destruction of lyanden’s culture, racial memory and literally the souls of its people. It was a grave chance to take, but Kelmon knew that the Ghost Warriors could make the difference between victory and defeat in the struggle that was coming.
The first Tyranid Hive Swarms attacked Iyanden just twenty days later. By then the Craftworld had already been isolated for over a week by the Hive Mind's Shadow in the Warp which made it extremely difficult for the other Eldar Craftworlds to send help through the Webway or psychically communicate with their brethren. Apart from a few scattered units that made it through, Iyanden ultimately fought the Tyranids on its own. Nonetheless, the first Tyranid waves were dealt with easily and efficiently by the Eldar fleet. The Eldar’s spacecraft were faster, more manoeuvrable and had longer-ranged weapons than their opponents. In battle after battle, the Eldar spacecraft destroyed the lumbering, biomechanical Tyranid Hive Ships while only suffering minimal casualties themselves. For a while it looked as if the Eldar fleet might be able to hold off the Tyranids on its own, as wave after wave of Tyranids were wiped out. But Farseer Kelmon was not convinced. Already the ability of the Craftworld’s Wraithbone forges to replace destroyed Eldar spacecraft was being far outstripped by the casualties being suffered in the deep space battles that raged around the Craftworld. The Eldar fleet was being ground down in a massive battle of attrition; a battle that only the Tyranids, with their vastly superior numbers, could hope to win. As if to confirm Kelmon’s worst fears, the next Tyranid wave attack was massive, very nearly twice the size of any that had hit the Craftworld so far. The Eldar fleet suffered terrible casualties in its attempt to hold the Tyranids off, and for the first time was unable to stop them from landing on the Craftworld itself. Although the landing was wiped out before any serious damage was done to Iyanden's defences, the Eldar fleet as a large-scale fighting force had ceased to exist. Still there was hope, especially if the wave had represented the Tyranid Hive Fleet's main assault force. The Eldar's morale was raised even more as the next Tyranid wave turned out to be tiny in comparison to what had come earlier. Although the weakened Eldar fleet couldn’t keep all of the swarms away from the Craftworld, the landings that were made were easily isolated and destroyed. For a short while it seemed that the Eldar had weathered the terrible storm of Hive Fleet Kraken.
Then Iyanden was hit by two huge Tyranid attacks in rapid succession. The pitiful remnants of the Eldar fleet opposed the Hive Swarms as best they could, but were ultimately swept aside by a tide of living alien spacecraft. Iyanden was all but engulfed as horde after horde of Tyranid Warriors, Genestealers, Gaunts and Carnifexes were disgorged onto the Craftworld's surface and interior. Huge battles erupted all over Iyanden, the fighting bitter and close-ranged with enemy forces often only separated by the width of a corridor of Wraithbone wall, as the Eldar desperately attempted to beat off the alien invaders. Often they succeeded, but the Fortress of Tears, the Shrine of Asuryan and, most terrible of all, the ancient Forests of Silence, repositories of the flora and fauna of the lost Eldar homeworlds on Iyanden, all fell to the Tyranid hordes. The Eldar furiously counter-attacked, the raging figure of the Avatar of Khaine leading the Craftworld’s Aspect Warriors, Guardians and Wraithguard and Wraithlord Ghost Warriors in a berserk orgy of destruction which recaptured the Forests of Silence from the Tyranids. It is said that the Eldar Warriors wept tears of rage and sorrow to see the damage inflicted on the ancient forest domes of their Craftworld. Slowly the Eldar managed to turn the tide on the Tyranids and gain the upper hand, forcing them back onto the defensive. And then another huge Tyranid wave arrived, the third in succession, and the largest yet. As swarm after swarm flickered into existence on the Eldar’s scanners, Kelmon knew that, barring a miracle, Iyanden Craftworld was doomed.
Over 50 standard years before the Tyranid assault, High Admiral Yriel, an Autarch, had led the Iyanden Fleet. Although he was considered one of the greatest Eldar naval tacticians to have ever lived, his character was flawed by the sin of pride. When Iyanden had been threatened by a Chaos space fleet raiding out of the Eye of Terror, Yriel had led the Eldar fleet on a pre-emptive attack on the Chaos fleet’s flagship, leaving the Iyanden Craftworld unprotected. He only returned just in time to stop a suicide attack by a small flotilla of Chaos raider ships, who nonetheless managed to damage the Craftworld. Expecting to be feted and honoured for his victory, Yriel was deeply angered when he was called upon to defend his course of action. Claiming that his record should speak for itself, Yriel refused to enter into the debate, leaving his old friend Farseer Kelmon no choice but to elect a new High Admiral in his place. Bitter with rage, Yriel had vowed that he would never set foot on Iyanden again. He and a small band of followers left the Craftworld to pursue the Path of the Outcast and formed an Eldar Corsair company known as the Eldritch Raiders that became the single most powerful Eldar pirate force operating in the galaxy. Yet, when he heard of Hive Fleet Kraken's assault on Iyanden, Prince Yriel did his best to ignore the terrible peril that threatened his old Craftworld. But proud though he was, righteously angry though he remained, Yriel could not leave lyanden's people to their fate in this, their darkest hour. Battling his way through the Tyranids’ psychic blockade, Yriel swept to the aid of his people and arrived just in time. Like a thunderbolt from the blue Yriel and his large Eldar raider fleet smashed into the swarm of Tyranid vessels. He was quickly joined by the few remaining craft of lyanden’s fleet, and together the combined Eldar space fleets tore the swarms of Hive Fleet Kraken apart. Two more waves of Tyranid Hive Swarms from the Kraken attacked the Craftworld, only to meet the same fate. Not a single Tyranid bio-ship reached the Craftworld, though the cost to Yriel's Eldritch Raiders was dear. Bloodied but unbowed, the Raiders prepared to sell their lives to the last in order to turn back the next wave of Tyranids. On the bridges of the Craftworld and of the circling Eldar starships, vigilant eyes watched the scanners, waiting for the first tell-tale blip that would indicate the direction of the next assault. Minutes passed, then hours, and with a growing sense of wonder the Eldar realised that no more Tyranid Swarms were coming – the assault was over. Hive Fleet Kraken had been dispersed; its coherence had been destroyed!
But on Iyanden Craftworld the war raged on. The Tyranid hordes that had been fighting a tenacious rearguard action awaiting the aid of the rest of the Hive Fleet now turned like cornered rats and hurled themselves at the Eldar. Caught by surprise, the Eldar staggered back, desperately trying to hold in the face of the suicidal Tyranid onslaught. The Fortress of the Red Moon fell to a surprise attack, and for a moment it seemed that with victory within their grasp the Eldar would yet be defeated. But, for the second time, Yriel led his Eldritch Raiders to the rescue of the Craftworld. Disembarking from their orbiting spacecraft, the Raiders joined with the battered defenders of Iyanden Craftworld and, yard by yard, step by step, forced the Tyranids back. A final wild charge led by the Tyranid Hive Tyrant was annihilated by the combined efforts of the Avatar of Khaine, Prince Yriel and the Ghost Warriors, and then in a series of vicious one-sided battles the last of the Tyranids were hunted down and destroyed. The Tyranid attack on Iyanden Craftworld was over. The Tyranids had been defeated.
But the victory was a hollow one. Though the Eldar had repulsed the invaders, the cost was enormous. Their once proud Craftworld stood in ruins, and four-fifths of the inhabitants were dead or lay dying in its shattered halls. Amongst their number lay Farseer Kelmon, surrounded by the bodies of a dozen Tyranid Zoanthropes whose wretched heads bore the marks of psychic fire. Iyanden’s mighty space fleet was a pitiful shadow of its former self; the blasted remains of its majestic spacecraft and their brave crews hanging silent and weightless in space. But all this could be rebuilt, maybe not for hundreds of generations, but one day in the distant future. What was lost forever were the souls of the Eldar whose Spirit Stones had been destroyed in the battle against the Tyranids. The massive destruction wrought upon the people and the Ghost Warriors of Iyanden dealt that Craftworld -- and the entire Eldar species -- a blow from which its culture could never fully recover.
The Defeat of the Kraken
Hive Fleet Kraken was little more than splintered fragments of its former might, yet credit could not lie entirely with the Eldar defenders of Iyanden Craftworld nor the actions of the Ultramarines on Ichar IV. The Eldar and the Imperium had fought as unwitting allies -- had the Kraken not struck Iyanden, the Ultramarines' victory at Ichar IV would have been impossible and vice versa. Had either Ichar IV or Iyanden fallen, the Kraken would have proven unstoppable.
The scattered remnants of the Tyranid attack on Ichar IV fled towards the galactic core, driving within the Imperial defence perimeters that had been erected against Hive Fleet Kraken. These splinter fleets became an even greater threat to the Imperium as they fed upon unsuspecting and poorly defended worlds far from the main Tyrannic war zones in the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy. Running battles with these Kraken splinter fleets continued for many years after the Hive Fleet's passage, draining Imperial defences against later Tyranid incursions. It is doubtful if the true extent of the devastation wrought by the Kraken will ever be known to the Adepts of the Administratum.
The splinter fleets are comprised by as few as a dozen Hive Ships, but even a dozen of these living vessels are more than capable of overrunning a human world and harvesting its biomass so that it may become an even greater threat. Some Kraken splinter fleets have become so large throught this method as to be classified by the Imperium as a new, distinct Hive Fleet of its own. Indeed, Hive Fleet Magalodon grew from one of the splinters of the Kraken and continues to ravage portions of the Imperium in the present.
With no doubt, the Tyranids as a whole have learned much about the Imperium's inner defences from the actions of these splinter fleets. Every battle the Tyranids engage in, regardless of the outcome, adds to the Hive Mind's growing understanding of its new prey's behaviour and tactics. It may perhaps have been the true reason for Hive Fleet Kraken's existence -- to test Imperial defenses for the far larger Tyranid invasion of the Milky Way Galaxy that is to come. If such strategic brilliance is a hallmark of the Hive Mind, then humanity, indeed all the intelligent races of the galaxy, have much to fear in the coming days.
The Imperium barely had time to breathe following the end of the Second Tyrannic War before it learned that both Hive Fleets Behemoth and Kraken had been little more than reconnaissance forces for the true threat to the very existence of humanity -- the arrival of Hive Fleet Leviathan in 997.M41.
- Codex: Tyranids (2nd Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (3rd Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (5th Edition)
- Codex: Tyranids (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Tyranids (4th Edition)
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Editon)
- Matt Keefe, Battlefleet Gothic: Doom of the Eldar