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Sabbat Worlds Crusade

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Sabbat Worlds Crusade
Departmento Cartographicae Chart Sabbat Worlds
Attacker Forces of Chaos
Defender Imperial Crusade Forces
System Sabbat Worlds System
Sector Various
Segmentum Segmentum Pacificus
"It seems the High Lords of Terra approve of the work we've done together. We've been given our Crusade...The Sabbat Worlds!"
Warmaster Slaydo, after the Khulen Campaign

The Sabbat Worlds Crusade was an Imperial Crusade fought over the course of more than 23 standard years between 755.M41 and 778.M41 to retake the Sabbat Worlds Sector located at the rimward edge of the Segmentum Pacificus from the heretical Forces of Chaos. This Crusade was one of the largest and most significant Imperial military operations undertaken in recent history and ultimately ended in the reconquest of the sector by the armed forces of the Imperium of Man.

Origins

The Sabbat Worlds

Saint Sabbat

Saint Sabbat of Hagia, Imperial conqueror of the Sabbat Worlds Sector

Situated along a rimward portion of the Segmentum Pacificus, the region now known as the Sabbat Worlds Sector was first annexed for Imperial colonisation in the 35th Millennium. This often volatile region of space is composed of over 100 inhabited star systems, subdivided into a number of discrete territories or Sub-sectors, most notably the Newfound Trailing, the Khan Group, the Cabal Systems, the Carcaradon Cluster and the Erinyes Group. It is rumoured that the Blood Pact, a highly organised Chaos warrior-cult devoted to the Blood God Khorne, originally came from a star system in this sector. First annexed for Imperial colonisation in the 35th Millennium, the name Sabbat refers to the area's original redeemer, Saint Sabbat, a young girl who received a vision from the Emperor of Mankind to bring the region into the Imperium during a Crusade that lasted for 105 standard years and began in 500.M35.

By the 37th Millennium Mankind was well-established throughout the region, with an estimated population of roughly five trillion and a thriving local economic infrastructure. However, due to its exposure to the eternal threats of the outer dark along the galactic rim, control of the Sabbat Worlds was ever disputed with the Forces of Chaos and various xenos. Throughout the 38th Millennium, the region suffered a series of brutal wars and conflicts with the barbaric Chaos-worshipping human tribes of the so-called Sanguinary Worlds, located further rimwards of the spinward extent of the Sabbat Worlds, and the area soon became known as a "troublesome province" to the Administratum. However, during the first centuries of the 41st Millennium, the situation altered drastically. A charismatic, brutal warlord known as an "Archon" rallied the tribes of the Sanguinary Worlds to war, and a series of assaults began from galactic trailward into the region. The assault was thought at first to be a return to the minor Chaotic conflicts of the 38th Millennium in the region, but in the years following 600.M41, it became impossible to ignore the true threat presented by Chaos Undivided. The Ruinous Powers had decided to take the whole region away from the Imperium and launched a series of devastating attacks into the sector, conquering and destroying everything in their path. The ultimate goal of the Forces of Chaos in the sector was to drive out the Imperium and reestablish their mastery over the worlds they had been driven from by Saint Sabbat and her original Imperial Crusade in the 35th Millennium.

These Sabbat Incursions were just one of a half-dozen major Chaotic invasions suffered by the Imperial star systems of the Segmentum Pacificus during this period. The Imperial defence of the Sabbat Worlds proved valiant but ultimately unequal to the task, though it should be noted that the Imperium was simultaneously fighting eight other significant campaigns throughout Imperial-controlled space during this period. To consolidate their lines of defence, the Segmentum Pacificus High Command had to make bitter decisions, sacrificing certain portions of Imperial space in order to enhance the Imperium's best chance to resist the Chaotic onslaught. Severely underestimating the Archon's forces, the High Command tried to do what they thought best for the Sabbat Worlds. But ultimately, the meager Imperial defence was not enough and the sector was conquered wholesale by the servants of the Ruinous Powers, returning the Sabbat Worlds to their heretical roots.

The Sabbat Worlds were swiftly reconquered and occupied by the Archon's forces, although many Imperial worlds in the region continued to resist as isolated outposts of the Emperor's light in a vast sea of apostasy and heresy. Some managed to hold out for decades, whilst others managed to do so for more than a Terran century. Unfortunately, by 740.M41, the Sabbat Worlds could no longer be considered to be under Imperial governance, as this "troublesome province" was reclassified by the Administratum as an "unstable/hazardous" region of space. In 741.M41, the Civitas Imperialis was officially suspended in the region by the Administratum and the sector's Lord Governor was moved to a neighbouring sector for his own safety. The Sabbat Worlds were from this point forward regarded as entirely lost to the Imperium, having become dominions of Chaos.

Impending War

Warmaster Slaydo

The Warmaster Slaydo

Following the disastrous loss of the Sabbat Worlds in 741, there were many suggestions to send a military expedition to liberate the besieged sector. This idea was especially championed by the exiled Lord Governor, but those within the high echelon of the military had little or no enthusiasm for such an investiture of time, expense and materials. All, except for Lord Militant Slaydo. The very capable Imperial commander was already noted and experienced, owing his fame to the string of several stunning victories during the successful Khulen Wars (752-754.M41). A tactical genius, Slaydo capitalised on his popularity within the rank and file of the Imperial Guard and petitioned the High Lords of Terra for the honour of leading the crusade to liberate the Sabbat Worlds.

As a Lord Militant, Slaydo actively sought to lead the Crusade, petitioning the High Lords directly during the Khulan campaign. He had supported the action as early as 732, as he felt a strong passion for the liberation of the hard-won territories that had been so poorly discarded. Many of his senior commanders and aides related that Slaydo believed this to be an Imperial crime. In 755, the High Lords declared him Warmaster, and charged him with the sacred duty of carrying out this monumental undertaking. Slaydo's subsequent elevation to this esteemed position was the envy of his fellow Lords Militant, which were quickly tempered by the realisation of the task that had been set before Slaydo. The Warmaster's only overriding fear was that at his advanced age (150 years old), he would not live to see the eventual victorious completion of such a massive campaign.

Consolidation of Imperial Forces (755.M41)

Warmaster Slaydo and his senior staff commanders spent nearly the entire year planning at Khulan for the opening phase of advance into the Sabbat Worlds. The vast Imperial armada began to assemble and stage at Khulan, Khulan Outreach, San Sargo, Kazin II, Arvinx Cardinal and the Bethan Halo. The Warmaster compiled an impressive Imperial force comprised of almost a billion Imperial Guardsmen, along with massive retinues of armour and artillery, 6 Chapters of Adeptus Astartes, and Titan Legions from the Collegia Titanica provided by the Adeptus Mechanicus. The Warmaster studied and rejected over 30 attack plans until he found a scheme that would favour the Imperial military strength the most. All options were weighed and considered until this final scheme was decided upon. Codenamed 'Redrake', Warmaster Slaydo sent the signal to advance on the 266th day of 755.

Operation Redrake (755-756.M41)

Battleship Gothic cover

Warmaster Slaydo launches Operation Redrake.

Slaydo believed that in order to launch a successful Imperial Crusade into the Sabbat Worlds his massive mobilisation of Imperial forces would have to take the fight to several fronts from the outset of hostilities in order for the Crusade to prosper. The best solution for initial advancement required a mobile fleet to accomplish fourfold objectives: first, to secure a foothold in the Sabbat Worlds that could be developed; second, to catch the Archenemy unaware; thirdly, to diffuse any enemy response away from a concentrated counterattack on his fleet; fourthly, to provide a quick and, in his words, 'showy' victory to maintain allied morale.

Already, his enemies had shown signs of preparation on their part. Operation Redrake, named for the Redrake snake, a multi-headed predator that could attack several targets at once with deadly effect, would involve simultaneous invasions of the Newfound Trailing Group, Onscard and Long Halent, and a fourth Imperial fleet division striking all the way to the core of the system at Indrid. These multiple assaults, the Warmaster hoped, would partition the Chaos forces and confuse their response and any immediate attempt on their part to develop and implement a counter-strategy. Slaydo selected the Lords Militant Hummel and Delayni to lead the attack on Onscard, Generals Dravere and Akkensor for Long Halent, Lord Militant Cybon for Indrid and Slaydo himself would lead the assault on Formal Prime. Despite the massive size of his Imperial expeditionary fleet, the attacks were conducted as lightning strikes as they engaged directly from retranslation from Warp Space. Long Halent fell immediately, due to the modest numbers of hostile force which the Imperials easily overwhelmed. Less than three weeks later, Onscard was also taken. There were some bitter pockets of resistance in the outlying cities, but these were extinguished by the start of 756.M41.

The assault on Formal Prime, however, proved to be the first substantive opposition for the new Warmaster and provided the Imperial forces their first taste of how bloody the Crusade would become. The complexity of the terrain and the fanaticism of the opposition would prove to be a hindrance in the Warmaster's stated objective of securing the planet within six weeks. The initial assault went well, but then progress began to founder as the zealous followers of Chaos made the Imperials pay dearly for their overconfidence, as the attrition rate for the Imperial Guardsman climbed to untenable levels. Nearly 200 soldiers died for every metre of ground taken. With casualties mounting and the assault grinding down into its eleventh week, Slaydo knew his reputation was at stake, as was the overall morale of the Crusade. The impasse was finally broken by the deployment of a force of White Scars Space Marines whose highly mobile assault tactics purged the Hive World of the remaining Heretics.

Lord Militant Cybon also faced staunch opposition as rapid reinforcements were brought in from Melsar and Taliscant. Fighting a war on two fronts, Cybon executed a brilliant feint withdrawal that drew in the forces of the Archenemy onto his ranged batteries at Colquis, utilising orbital bombardment at the expense of ground troops. But despite these setbacks, Operation Redrake had succeeded in achieving its goals. Now the way was open for the next phase of the Crusade; Slaydo dubbed these follow-up assaults as Operation 'Newfound'.

Bloody Path To Balhaut (756-764.M41)

World Eater - Sabbat Worlds

A World Eaters Chaos Lord serving with the Archenemy during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade

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The opposition of the Forces of Chaos within the Sabbat Worlds had, so far, proven to be more difficult and intense than the high echelon of commanders of the Crusade had originally envisioned. Tactical records showed that the Warmaster revised his estimated liberation date for Balhaut at least 37 times as the Crusade bogged down due to fierce organised resistance, throwing off the Warmaster's calculated schedule time and again. These difficulties were compounded by three factors: firstly, the bodies of enemy population dug into various world sites, armoured against attack and prepared for resistance. These populations sometimes numbered in the millions, and were often under the leadership of a sacred and charismatic Leader, sometimes a Magister (lieutenant). Secondly, there were the counter-assault forces sent by the Archon to meet the Imperial push, in the form of raider fleets and military convoys. These raider fleets were highly mobile and able to concentrate their attacks on the Imperial forward echelon. Within the last two months of 756.M41 alone, 8 significant fleet engagements occurred. Thirdly, there were smaller raiding forces - referred to as mobile opportunists - that plagued Crusade deployments by running raids and guerrilla assaults on supply lines and relay depots.

Operation Newfound (756-764.M41)

Ashek II (756-757.M41)

Woe Machine

One of the notorious "Woe Machines" encountered on Ashek II in 757.M41

The second phase of the Crusade, known as Operation Newfound, focused its priorities on the liberation of the Newfound Trailing Group. Just before the initial phase of Newfound took place, the Crusade focused on liberating the towering hives of Ashek II. The prosecution of Ashek II began early in 756.M41, but the scale of the fighting increased in 757.M41. Their task of liberating the planet was extremely difficult by the fact that they faced the notorious and brilliant Heritor Asphodel, one of the most tactically gifted Magisters serving the Archon. Asphodel showed a predilection for deploying grotesque daemonic war engines that were dubbed "Woe Machines". Some speculate that somewhere in the Magister's past, he may have had some connection to a Forge World or even to the Cult Mechanicus itself. The Imperial commanders soon became painfully aware of the futility of sending Imperial waves of infantry troops against Asphodel's woe machines. Petitioned for heavier support, Slaydo responded by providing 3 brigades of armour from the Mershan 45th and 2nd Narmenian Heavy Regiments. Significant gains were only made later when nearly a full-strength squadron of Battle Titans of the Collegia Titanica arrived to support the Imperial assault. This was the first significant deployment of Adeptus Mechanicus war engines in the Crusade. Led by the ancient Imperator-class Titan Imperious Corporalis, the mighty war machines' subsequent engagements lasted for three months. In the end, Asphodel's woe machines were destroyed and the defeated Magister fled Ashek II.

Ambold Eleven (756.M41)

Iron Snakes in action

The Iron Snakes Space Marine Chapter assaults Ambold Eleven

Initially, Ambold Eleven had been an opening phase target of the Crusade, but at the final hour had been rejected by Warmaster Slaydo. Ambold Eleven became instead a target for the second phase, Operation Newfound, and the assault began in the middle of 756. A swift and brutal fleet action commanded by Admiral Karslae commenced and the Imperial forces successfully decimated the orbital forts above the planet and destroyed enemy shipping at both high and low anchor. This allowed for Imperial troop forces under the command of General Dilen Belfry to execute an overnight drop into strategic enemy strongholds. The forces of the Archenemy were well-entrenched, driving back the Imperial Guardsmen during successive actions. Approximately 9,500 Guardsmen were killed trying to breach the sturdy concentric walls defending these citadels.

General Belfry himself was killed in a mortar attack. His subordinate, Colonel Begulin of the Sarpoy Regiments, attempted to consolidate the losses, but foolishly managed to trap the main portion of the Imperial ground forces between a deadly crossfire. Space Marines of the Iron Snakes, en route to Sverren, answered the frantic signals, voluntarily diverted and made a drop-pod assault on the targeted cities to relieve the desperate and beleaguered Imperial Guard forces. The proud warriors of Ithaka put two hives to the sword as 29,000 of the Archenemy troopers were slaughtered, with only the loss of 81 Iron Snakes. A week later, the last targeted hive fell as the Iron Snakes stormed the walls and executed the Archenemy leaders by crucifixion. Colonel Begulin was subsequently executed by the Commissariat for gross leadership errors.

Sverren (757-758.M41)

Sverren was a key world strategically central to the region known as the Holy Visage, and was in the remit of Operation Newfound. Once again, the brutal campaign to liberate this world was mired by circumstance and the tenacity of the Archenemy's forces. Commanded by Lord Militant Humel and General Bulledin, an Imperial Guard army invaded in 757.M41, routing the gathering of Chaotic troops and killing Magister Kuvelo in the initial assault. But circumstances quickly changed when the weather turned bad and Imperial ground forces were forced to dig in, bogging down the assault. The forces of the Archenemy were able to regroup and attempted to repulse the Imperial forces. General Bulledin braved the inclement weather, pushing his battalions toward the city of Rammery. Encircling the city, it soon fell after a short siege. Lord Militant Humel focused his efforts on the city of Colchis, and after a six-week aerial campaign, eventually won air superiority on Sverren. Nefr City proved to be much more difficult to subdue, as Bulledin lost 3,000 soldiers for the gain of only two kilometres of land. Offering his resignation to Warmaster Slaydo for his failure, it was refused. Slaydo sent back a despatch which read, "Do it again." Bulledin took his orders from the Warmaster to heart, and finally, on the 241st day of 758.M41, Bulledin's forces and a single Warlord-class Titan (the Victrix Impassionata), overran the walls of Nefr City. Storming the Upper Palace, the Magister's second-in-command, Pater Bucher, was killed while resisting capture.

Fornax Aleph (757-759.M41)

Chorda's folly columbussage

A mysteriously empty manufactorum complex on the world of Fornax Aleph

The campaign on the Hive World of Fornax Aleph proved to be troublesome from the very beginning, highlighting the difficulties faced by the Imperial forces when encountering a world that had been affected by Chaos in the most unnerving and inexplicable ways. Fornax Aleph had been established by long-range fleet reconnaissance to be a powerful bastion of the Forces of Chaos in 757.M41. Heavy fighting was expected as Fornax Aleph appeared to contain formidable hive cities and a possible fleet reserve. Under the command of General Jater Elbeth, a large ground force composed of 7 Imperial Guard regiments of infantry troops and 2 armoured brigades prepared for the assault on the enemy stronghold. Their forces would be further reinforced by elements of the Iron Snakes Space Marine Chapter.

The initial assault was delayed twice due to unusually potent Warp Storms, the second of which forced the Iron Snakes into a four-month holding pattern. General Elbeth's invasion fleet also suffered from the Warp Storms, which scattered his invasion fleet as they arrived at Fornax Aleph. Unfortunately for Elbeth, only one-third of his fleet arrived unmolested and of the promised Astartes support, there was no sign. The general cautiously moved his fleet to an out-system translation point to hold until their reinforcements arrived, or, in the event of an attack, translate into warp-space at the first sign of trouble.

Destructive temple columbussage

General Elbeth's Imperial Guard troopers exploring another abandoned hive on Fornex Aleph

Not wanting to waste the opportunity, on the 303rd day of 757, Elbeth ordered one of his Frigates to pass by the planet and assess the strength and disposition of the enemy forces. The Frigate reported, to the astonishment of the Elbeth's tactical staff, that they had encountered no resistance because the world's orbital fleet yards were entirely empty of activity. Furthermore, they detected no activity on the planet's surface; no electromagnetic activity, no power or industry, no motion whatsoever. According to orbital auspex scans the great hive cities of Fornax Aleph were totally empty and dead. The following day, the General took advantage of the situation and landed a spearhead force in advance of the reinforcements. There was no resistance as Elbeth's forces soon discovered that the world was entirely bereft of life. Plague was initially suspected or some other unknown mortality, but there were no signs of either bodies or burial pits.

Descent of death by columbussage

Space Marines from the Iron Snakes Chapter descend to the surface of Fornax Aleph to explore one of the many abandoned hive cities

Appraising Warmaster Slaydo of the situation, Elbeth sent extensive reports on the strange occurrence. Fornax Aleph was, for all intents and purposes, a vacant world. Its population had simply disappeared without a trace and without explanation. The reports continued back and forth between the General and the Warmaster, until on the first day of 758, when transmissions from Elbeth's liberation force ceased. Arriving eighty days later, due to severe warp-storm delays, the Iron Snakes reported to the Warmaster that there were no Imperial forces on Fornax Aleph at all. The Iron Snakes scoured the planet for any signs of the General and his men, and their battle barges searched the nearby in-system. Whatever inexplicable fate had befallen the people of Fornax Aleph had now overtaken Elbeth and his liberation force as well. The Warmaster signaled to the Astartes to withdraw their forces before a similar fate befell them too, but on the 130th day of 757, circumstances changed dramatically.

A previously undetected comet or meteor struck the planet in the polar regions causing great natural disasters. The Iron Snakes hunkered down and rode out the devastation, but the impact brought with it dire portents. Hordes of daemons came forth, pouring out of the devastated northern ice shelf and congregating around the hive cities. The world of Fornax Aleph was infested by these creatures of Chaos. Led by Brother Captain Cules, the Iron Snakes assault force (300 battle-brothers strong) were besieged by the uncounted multitude of infernal creatures. In the first month of 759, delayed portions of General Elbeth's assault force finally arrived in-system and immediately deployed in support of the Astartes on the planet's surface. But the valiant Iron Snakes had already destroyed the daemonic army, emerging victorious. A viable explanation for the disappearance of Fornax Aleph's population has never been made, though some suggest that there may have been a connection with the warp-storm activity in-system at the time. The Imperium eventually re-colonised the vacant planet, repopulating its massive, empty hives. There have been no further reports of strange disappearances or other significant activity, though there are still reports of unexplained screams of anguish in the dead of night.

Cociaminus (760-773.M41)

Armoured Assault

Kelso's forces launch an armoured assault against the forces of the Archenemy

Cociaminus was one of the more problematic worlds encountered during the Newfound Trailing. Dubbed as the 'world that refused to die', Cociaminus collectively cost more Imperial lives than the fighting on the notorious Fortress World of Morlond. It has been estimated that over 8 million Imperial Guardsmen perished fighting for the liberation of the planet. At the beginning of the campaign, the Imperial forces made an auspicious start. A series of assaults were made under the command of General Kelso and General Forgues. Also at the beginning of the campaign Lord Militant Vichres was sent to depose General Forgues whose behaviour had become increasingly erratic. It was later rumoured that he was actually replaced following a heated argument with the Warmaster. Later that year, Vichres and 47 men in his retinue were killed in an enemy armour ambush due to faulty intelligence, in what came to be referred to as the 'Sabre Bridge Incident'.

Famous for his trust in armour, Kelso directed the main thrust of the assault, winning three hive cities (Harshen, Bolliquen and Nazeth) in a 6-month period. Employing armoured forces against the Archenemy, two significant tank battles took place, eventually winning the outer hab of Harshen. Despite these Imperial triumphs the war on Cociaminus ground down to a tediously slow pace. The world was finally taken in 762 after an extensive and punishing ground war. But the world's future was a troubled one as fleeing forces of the Archenemy retook the planet twice. After three more long and bitterly contested campaigns were fought there, Imperial domination finally occurred in 773.

Second Battle of Sverren (760-761.M41)

Operation Newfound continued to experience significant impediments. Pockmarks of resistance continued to hamper the crusade's efforts. To compound matters further, in 760, a fierce and bloody counter-strike ripped into the Imperials' midline. Led by Archon Nadzybar himself, the world of Sverren fell to the forces of the Archenemy. For only the second time in five years, the world found itself the site of major warfare. General Bulledin soon found himself in command of the Imperial Forces on Sverren, as he had experienced fighting in the land war on the contested planet two years earlier. His fierce determination was instrumental in preserving the declining morale of Imperial forces, as he refused to let the cursed world bedevil him twice. When relief convoys arrived in 761, they soon determined that the beleaguered General had been fighting a war on two fronts, resisting both Magister Sholen Skara and the hosts of Archon Nadzybar himself. The Archenemy forces were eventually driven to the tropical jungles of the Southern Continent. The forces of the Archenemy were finally broken after 16 intense months of fighting. They soon fell into disarray as the momentum of their counter-strike was spent. The Archon and Magister Skara began a lengthy retreat to their final destiny on Balhaut.

Final Advance - Balhaut (763-765.M41)

The Warmaster grew impatient, as the second phase of the crusade took longer to accomplish than he had foreseen. Balhaut had been Slaydo's prized objective since the Crusade's inception. He knew the liberation of this world would prove to be both tactically and psychologically important. Despite the constant persuasion of Lords Militant Cybon and Dravere to alter their plans in regards to Balhaut, Slaydo refused to consider any alternative plans proposed by them. He would not compromise his original tactical plans to take Balhaut, as he knew it to be a key world, and to oust the Archon and his forces from the planet would deliver a serious blow to the Archenemy forces. By ignoring Balhaut and turning rimward to annex the sparsely defended Nubila Reach and the Belt of Uristes, Slaydo believed their Crusade force would be left dangerously exposed along their coreward flank. In many regards, Slaydo's conduct in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade emulated the figure of St. Sabbat beati's original campaign in the sector.

Fabian Ruse (764-765.M41)

Still in retreat from Sverren, Archon Nadzybar began to call upon his Magisters and warlords to help formulate a large unified host against the Imperial Crusade. The Archon intended to draw the Imperial forces towards the world of Fabia, where he hoped to annihilate the Crusade in one fell swoop. Being a master of subterfuge, Slaydo recognised the Archon's attempts to draw his forces to Fabia, and ordered a series of false fleet dispositions and troop movements along various trade routes in order to suggest that he had fallen for the Archon's ruse and taken the bait. Suspecting that Archenemy spies existed within the ranks of the Crusade, he also began to disseminate disinformation into intelligence traffic and Munitorum orders, adding credibility to his deception. Gathering his forces for an assault on Fabia, the Archon manoeuvred his forces into a gross mistake. In 765, the Archenemy forces were brought to Balhaut to be rearmed and resupplied. They were caught totally by surprise as the Imperial Crusade assaulted the planet.

Operation Hell Storm - Balhaut (765.M41)

Img001

Operation Hell Storm begins as the Imperial Guard spearheads the ground assault against the forces of the Archenemy.

The assault on Balhaut would, in the future, remain a shining example of a planned military action that went according to plan and brought about the desired victory. Slaydo constructed his assault plan, code-named Hell Storm, around the following key principles: firstly, to achieve orbital superiority by fleet assault and to cause as much gross damage to enemy shipping as possible; secondly, use sustained orbital bombardment of key surface regions; thirdly, use a rapid and covered landing of primary planetary assault forces; fourthly, use a rapid and covered landing of secondary planetary assault phases in reinforcement, contingent on the outcome of earlier phases.

Slaydo organised the fleet assault into four waves. The first 'spearhead' wave was comprised of rapid attack warships under Admiral Kristor. They arrived in-system 16 hours before the initial start of hostilities, translating into real-space on the far side of the local star. His warships then utilised the radiating mass of the star to conceal his fleet formations from the Archenemy's planetary detector grids. The second wave was composed of troopships - mass conveyance vessels and heavy orbital assaulters under the command of Vice Admiral Gharnhorst. They arrived in-system 5 hours later, holding position within the sugar and hydrocarbon clouds beyond the system edge. These two waves endeavoured to get on station in readiness without detection. The warp ripples caused by the gathering Archenemy fleet in-system also served to make their own translation and mass-displacement patterns.

The third wave was the primary assault warships under the command of Admiral Shaever. They translated directly into the inner system zone at the beginning of the attack, leading the assault on the high and low anchor stations and orbital batteries. After Shaever's signal of engagement, Admiral Kristor's forces struck hard and fast against the great orbital dock facilities of Balhaut Highstation and Hallidan Threshold. Gharnhorst's third wave then began its move in-system, coming in from behind the massing warships, preparing for the surface assault. Commanded by Vice Admiral Sanloque, the fourth wave then arrived out-system, carrying the mass reinforcement divisions. By the end of hour twenty-one, after the initiation of hostilities, orbital superiority had been achieved. Planetary bombardment then commenced against the key surface targets.

By hour thirty-three, the planetary drop began in earnest, with Imperial Guard forces delivered to the surface, with an attrition rate of only 32 percent lost during the landings. North of the Oligarchy, the percentage ran as high as 58 percent. By hour fourty-four, intense ground fighting ignited in the vast hive cities of Balhaut. Balopolis was one such city that saw extraordinary levels of fighting which resulted in numerous casualties amongst the senior ranks of Guard officers. General Currel initially commanded the forces at Balopolis, finding himself in a brutal confrontation with the Kith, commanded by Magister Sholen Skara. Currel was severely injured soon after hour fourty-eight, forcing him to withdraw, and his replacement General Korsen was killed around hour fifty-three of the assault, and his replacement Marshal Bernz was killed around hour fifty-eight. With General Delanyi unable to get through to take command, Curell's command fell, by default, to the senior surviving officer amongst his staff, Commander Macaroth. When word reached Warmaster Slaydo of the dire circumstances that had befallen Curell's forces at Balopolis, he sent an immediate dispatch, promoting Macaroth to the brevet rank of Marshal.

The Warmaster elected to command the assault on the Oligarchy himself. His landing force, the second largest single Imperial army fielded after Lord Militant Cybon's, was cutting a bloody path into the heart of the enemy. Slaydo faced intense opposition from the hosts of four Magisters, including the infamous Heritor Asphodel, and the murderous cult army of the Archon himself. The Warmaster's final assault on the Oligarchy raged for ten consecutive days. The sustained orbital bombardment had reduced the terrain into so much rubble, and a series of severe storms turned the entire area into an expanse of mud lakes. Several thousand Imperial Guardsmen perished in these deplorable conditions, sucked down into the slurry of mud or slaughtered by the Archon's forces when they became mired.

White Scars Assault

White Scars assault the Oligarchy on Balhaut.

On day five, the first breakthrough for the Imperial forces came in the form of Astartes from the White Scars Space Marine Chapter. They broke through the defence line at the Hallow Wall and routed the forces of Magister Khul Kolesh. The Magister was slain during a subsequent gun battle. On day seven, squads of Astartes from the Silver Guard under Chapter Master Veegum broke through the outer line of the Emancipatory, where they faced stiff opposition from Chaos Dreadnoughts and Magister Asphodel's woe machines. This deadlock was eventually broken by a massed Imperial armour support involving multiple armoured brigades. Chapter Master Veegum then led the Silver Guard through, taking the Emancipatory in two hours and stormed the Monastery of St. Kiodrus with the aid of three Imperial Guard regiments. The Jantine Patricians and elements of the Mordian Iron Guard 11th took the precinct of the Oligarchy.

On day nine, Slaydo drove his left flank into the resolute Oligarchy Gate, which was commanded by Captain Allentis of the Silver Guard, but was devastated by the murderous woe engines. The Hyrkan 8th was the first to reach the Oligarchy Gate and breach the enemy buttress fields and blow the gateway wide open. This breakthrough was swiftly supported by the Astartes of the Silver Guard, another Imperial Guard regiment and four armoured divisions. Following an intense assault by the Hyrkan forces the Tower of the Plutarch fell later that day. Slaydo himself finally entered the inner precincts, at the head of 8 regiments and his personal bodyguard force, prepared to face Archon Nadzybar.

The Death of Slaydo - Balhaut (765.M41)

"I am done, and yet I am undone."
— attr. Warmaster Slaydo, upon his deathbed
Death of Warmaster Slaydo

Imperial portrait, The Death of Slaydo

As Warmaster Slaydo pressed his final advance on the Palace of the Oligarchy, he received word of Marshal Macaroth's success at Balopolis. The young officer had turned Balopolis from rout to unexpected Imperial victory. The Warmaster was reported as being 'struck mute with great admiration'. The price for taking the cursed planet had become all too evident to the embittered Warmaster. The weight of the Crusade weighed heavily upon Slaydo. Some officers reported later that he seemed to be 'weary and fatalistic'. Taking up his powersword, the Warmaster personally led the first attack wave against the Palace of the Oligarchy. The firefights that took place within the confines of the palace were brutal to the extreme. It was at this point that the Warmaster may have been seriously wounded, either by a blade or projectile puncture to the stomach, but it was not evident until the medicae discovered the mortal wound when the Warmaster was on his deathbed.

At hour eighteen of the tenth day, Slaydo's command force encountered the Archon and his elite bodyguard on the Western Palisade. The Warmaster and the vile Archon soon joined in furiously intense single combat. Depending on sources, the fight lasted between 6 and 11 minutes, where Slaydo took two mortal wounds that he somehow managed to push past, maintaining the initiative, before delivering a lethal blow to the Archon. The Archon fell back, dying and his cult followers stormed the Pallisade to retrieve their fallen leader and carry him away to safety. Imperial Guard units valiantly defended their fallen Warmaster, putting many cultists to their deaths. Slaydo was found, close to death, lying on the marble floor of the West Atrium. He was far beyond any medical help as his grievous wounds appeared to be fatal. The Warmaster's own bodyguard stormed the Pallisade and slaughtered any Archenemy forces they came across. Archon Nadzybar's corpse was later discovered amongst a heap of massacred bodies near a fallen palanquin. Slaydo's men had indiscriminately cut down the fleeing cultists, and only afterwards established the identity of their burden.

What Price, Victory? Aftermath of Balhaut Campaign (765.M41)

Warmaster Slaydo managed to live long enough to see the victory at Balhaut completed, although the pacification efforts would continue for a considerable amount of time. His premonition about himself not living to see the successful completion of the Crusade had proved accurate, though many witnesses report that he died contently, resigned to his inevitable fate to die on Balhaut as if fully expecting it. It was noted that Slaydo's primary anxiety lie not in his foretold fate, but in that of his eventual successor. The Warmaster recognised that there would more than likely be infighting amongst the Lords Militant. He knew the Crusade could not afford to be riven with internal dispute and that it would take a strong leader to capitalise on a great victory. Slaydo's body was laid to rest with full honours on Balhaut, housed in a large mausoleum known as The Honorarium.

Magister Heritor Asphodel

The vile Magister Heritor Asphodel

As for the forces of the Archenemy, fortunately most of the Archon's brutal Magisters perished during the vicious fighting on Balhaut, though there were some lamentable exceptions. Most notably, Magisters Sholen Skara and Heritor Asphodel lived to pose future threats to the Crusade forces. Skara and a large contingent of his Kith followers managed to successfully escape the purging fires on Balhaut. Skara's fate was unknown several years after Nadzybar's death at the hands of Warmaster Slaydo. The Heritor managed to evade Imperial ground forces and succeeded in escaping his fate. His ultimate fate would be unknown for a few years until he later revealed himself on the Hive World of Verghast. Apart from the forces that had fled Balhaut, many more Archenemy forces that had been en route to reinforce the beleaguered forces of the Archon diverted or withdrew when word reached them of the disastrous defeat. The inner quadrants of the Newfound Trailing suffered terribly as many worlds in the region were either sacked or outright destroyed. Almost as many worlds were caught up in the aftermath of the enemy retreat, including Sapiencia, Verghast, Aexe Cardinal, Lamicia, Erasmaus, Unida and Cociaminus. Eventually, many of these planets were reconquered and saved from their unendurable suffering and hardships, though not before many Imperial lives had been either corrupted or lost.

Warmaster Macaroth (765.M41)

Warmaster Macaroth

Portrait of Warmaster Macaroth after his appointment

The dying Slaydo appointed the young Marshal Macaroth to be his successor as Warmaster. This appointment by the dying Warmaster brooked no argument from the Lords Militant, but Cybon, Dravere and others were incensed at Slaydo's decision, regarding the newly appointed Warmaster as too young and too junior. A period of bitter political infighting ensued, but Macaroth managed to cling to his rightful position as the newly appointed senior-commander of the Crusade. By refusing to be cowed by the more senior officers, Macaroth displayed early on that he possessed the talent to outplay his rivals politically and that he had the ideal temperament for the role. In the decade since the Balhaut campaign, Warmaster Macaroth came to be regarded as one of the foremost military commanders of his time, standing upon the shoulders of his noble predecessor and using this solid gains as a spark of inspiration. Perhaps this is what Slaydo had recognised in the young commander when deciding on a suitable successor. Macaroth would continue to display, from the very beginning of his warmastery, his brilliant military tactics, intuitive intellect, instincts, and willingness to take risks, especially with his extraordinary prosecution of the Cabal Salient campaign.

Cabal Salient (765-773.M41)

Just like his noble predecessor, the young Warmaster fixed on a primary objective that would take a considerable length of time to achieve. But, unlike Slaydo, Macaroth's objective was not merely one world but a greater portion of a planetary system - the Cabal Systems. The Warmaster's commitment of Imperial forces to such a monumental undertaking was considered too ambitious and impossible to achieve by his detractors. Macaroth took heavy criticism from his peers for not consolidating Imperial forces after their victory on Balhaut, but there is numerous evidence to support that consolidation of forces was his primary aim. The young Warmaster just chose to do so in a different way than how Slaydo might have done it. Macaroth did not wish to waste valuable time and manpower cleansing the remnants of the scattered components of the enemy, but rather strike at their centre. The Warmaster knew that by ordering a bold thrust forward they could capitalise on the weakness of enemy's hasty withdrawal, thereby taking the initiative away from the Archenemy instead of labouriously trying to tie up loose ends. This would set the Archenemy forces on their heels, effectively making it impossible for them to gather at one point and consolidate their forces. Macaroth hoped to drive right into the heart of the enemy by orchestrating a bold thrust that none of the scattered enemy forces could predict nor rally against. Intuitively, he knew that by being unpredictable he would be able to strike at the head of the enemy and effectively end their stranglehold on the system. Therefore, Macaroth ordered the Crusade to drive across two major system groups to the threshold of the Cabal Systems to achieve this bold new objective.

The Crusade began its massive spinward advance at the close of 765.M41, invading and liberating worlds across the Newfound Trailing Group, with separate actions taking place as far rimward as Nonimax and the Menazoid Clasp, and as far coreward as Nacedon. Nonimax would be one of the first planets to be assaulted under Macaroth's leadership. The prosecution of this campaign under the Warmaster's brilliant leadership enabled the deployed Guard units to achieve reconquest in only six weeks. Another success came on the world of Grimoyr, where the preliminary stages of fighting had begun a year prior to Balhaut and ground down to virtual halt. Macaroth handed the command of the theatre to the brilliant but later disgraced Lord General Noches Sturm. Commanding the Royal Volpone 50th Imperial Regiment, Lord General Sturm quickly delivered an accomplished victory within a single week.

Macaroth used mobility as his primary strategy, rapidly deploying battlefield troops of regimental strength onto each target world, and then moving them on to the next target world with all speed as soon as the target world was firmly under control of second echelon occupying forces. These hit-and-run tactics enabled the most experienced and effective battlefield veterans within the Crusade to move swiftly from one theatre to the next. Between 765 and 769, it was not an uncommon occurrence for Imperial Guard units to have seen combat on eight or more worlds. This vigorous four-year advance saw the liberation of multiple worlds: Presarius, Sapiencia, Monthax, Prince Oberrnid, Voltemand, Albrecht and Fortis Binary. The most notable of these liberations took place on the world of Presarius by the indomitable Iron Snakes Chapter, adding another victory tally already won during the Crusade. The Iron Snakes acquitted themselves well by forcing battle with a partly mechanised mutant under-class in the tectonic foundries under the main hives. Cut off twice from Imperial lines of supply by enemy action and eventually exhausting their ammunition supply, the Iron Snakes resorted to vicious hand-to-hand fighting against their foes. This battle lasted for nine days, resulting in nearly all the mutants being annihilated, with only the loss of 39 battle-brothers. Chapter Master Veegum of the Silver Guard honoured the courage and fortitude shown by the Iron Snakes by having his own Marines bow, bareheaded, to the valiant Iron Snakes upon their return.

Disaster at Parthenope (767.M41)

Dead To The Last

A pile of Imperial dead litter the battlefield.

Inevitably, other actions did not fare so well for the Imperial forces of the Crusade, most notably the disaster that befell the Emperor's servants on the fiercely contested world of Parthenope. One of Archon Nadzybar's most notorious Magisters, Qux of the Eyeless, was the architect of this crushing defeat. After the flight from Balhaut, Qux had re-consolidated his forces on Parthenope. The Imperial force sent General Onator, commanding 20 divisions, to re-secure the world. Magister Qux ordered a feint and made it appear that his forces were collapsing under the initial Imperial assault. Coaxing the Imperial troops into an advance across the Caterad Highlands, the Magister's forces then encircled and outflanked the Onator's troops. Onator was beset from all sides, and attempted to withdraw his forces. The ultimate fate that befell Onator and his remaining men has been suppressed by the Inquisition for morale reasons. Emboldened by this bloody triumph, Magister Qux sent out his warships and pursued to destruction the components of the Crusade fleet that had brought the hapless Onator and his allies to Parthenope. This was the third largest single fleet engagement of the campaign to date, resulting in a total victory for the Forces of Chaos. The outcome of this large fleet action created the vast Antioch debris field, which remains a sad memorial to the fallible human weakness of hubris.

A New Archon and the Blood Pact (771-772.M41)

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The forces of Archon Urlock Gaur launch a coordinated lightning strike against the Crusade fleet.

Macro-Battery

The Crusade fleet opens up with everything they have against an Archenemy raid

Initially, the Imperial forces had achieved several victories in 770.M41, but by 771.M41 the entire offensive into the Cabal Systems came to a halt as the Crusade encountered not only stiff resistance, but hostile counter-strikes from Chaotic forces. Inevitably, despite infighting, the Chaotic host eventually selected a new leader from amongst their malefic host -- the Archon Urlock Gaur. Unfortunately, the rise of this new Chaotic overlord coincided with the Crusade's advance into the Cabal Systems. The new Archon injected a new motivation into the Archenemy's forces. Gifted in the application of military strategy, Archon Gaur was able to centralise his tactics and properly orchestrate his forces' efforts against the encroaching Crusade forces. The new Archon proved to be a formidable opponent; robust and savage, and unimaginatively brutal in his tactics and approach to warfare. The impetus of the Archon Gaur's strength was the supremely able fighting force known as the Blood Pact, whose methodology was ultimately modeled on that of the Imperial Guard itself. As the Archon's strength had grown, his influence quickly spread to other worlds with his bodyguard force spearheading his conquering armies. From these vassal worlds their numbers were recruited and the bodyguard grew, becoming an army in its own right. This was how the Blood Pact was spawned.

The first notice given of Urlock Gaur to Imperial forces was when he led a series of lightning raids along the coreward fringe of the Khan Group in the middle of 771. Within the Cabal System itself, more strenuous resistance was encountered, along with the first reports of the emerging forces of the Blood Pact. A more profound attack took place less than a month later. The Imperial forces initially believed that the forces of the enemy were being led by a particularly militant Magister, but it soon became painfully clear that they were dealing with someone who was far more dangerous and deadly. This unidentified leader had the ability to call upon vast reserves of Archenemy troops, and mobilise other, potent Magisters under his command. There was no doubt, however, by 772 that Urlock Gaur was the new Archon of the Archenemy forces. Within a drastically short period, three key dangers had manifested, haunting Macaroth's carefully laid plans: a new Archon had risen to unify the enemy, he had mounted a wounding counter-strike against the Crusade fleet's flank, and the overstretched flank was woefully exposed. Macaroth's overreaching push had left the Crusade painfully vulnerable on three sides, which the new Archon attempted to exploit to the fullest.

The Warmaster quickly redeployed a significant portion of his forces to protect his force's vulnerable flanks in a last ditch effort to reopen supply lines. Between the end of 771 and the middle part of 772, Imperial commanders conducted desperate, ad hoc operations to secure multiple target worlds in an effort to keep the Crusade alive. Only at the world of Ariadne did any of these attempts fail. As these worlds were reconquered, Macaroth attempted to renew his forward thrust into the Cabal Systems. The Archon had withdrawn into the Carcaradon Cluster to the fortress world of Morlond to mass his forces for a large scale counter attack. The Warmaster wanted to desperately break past Morlond to confront Gaur but knew that he was still obligated to defend the Cabal Salient. The Archon left his most capable Magisters in charge of his forces to continue prosecuting their attack on the Crusade's coreward flank. These vile lieutenants included the likes of Anakwanar Sek, Shebol Red-Hand and Enok Innokenti.

The Brink (773.M41)

Subdivided, hard-pressed and overstretched, the Imperial forces were now into their 18th years of the Crusade campaign. The fortress world of Morlond continued to prove to be a thorn in the Warmaster's side, stubbornly holding out against Macaroth's assault. By this time, much of the Crusade's forces were spread thin, fighting simultaneous actions across the Khan Group and the trailward half of the Cabal Systems. The coreward flank continued to be harried by Archenemy forces conducting counter-strike raids. If these raids couldn't be halted outright, the rising intensity of the raids would eventually spell disaster for the Crusade. The Warmaster's forces risked being split in half, with the Warmaster himself and a greater portion of the Imperial forces cut-off and surrounded. They would then be annihilated by the Archenemy. Aware of the inherent dangers of remaining overstretched, Macaroth eventually decided to remain as he was, and in one last effort, to continue to fight on to take Morlond and the Cabal Systems.

The Khan Group (773-775.M41)

In the third quarter of 773, two of Archon Gaur's Magisters, Innokenti and Sek, launched a two-pronged flank attack into the Khan Group that would be both murderous and catastrophic for the Crusade forces. Their goal was simple - to bisect the Crusade force and decapitate it. Though disaster and defeat loomed during this time of the most desperate warfare of the Crusade, there also came a miracle or two. But by the end of 773, these two Magisters had all but halted the Imperial thrust in the Cabal Systems, slicing across the Imperial realm and successfully bisecting the Khan Group. The Imperial losses both military and civilian were incalculable. Three worlds were savaged to near-extinction, and another three had their ecosystems permanently altered, creating nuclear winters. This is not even taking into account the number of people consumed by penalty camps and murder centres established by the encroaching Archenemy forces. During this phase of the Crusade many worlds within the zone found themselves fighting alone. Only sheer happenstance combined with successful unilateral actions eventually saved Imperial interests, rather than any sort of overall strategy. Three theatres proved pivotal in favouring the fortune of the Imperial armies, including: Khan III, Herodor and Enothis.

Enothis (773-774.M41)

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Orbiting Imperial Navy ships launch an air strike to assist the beleaguered Imperial Guard forces on the surface of Enothis

Upon the world of Enothis, Lord Militant Humel found himself facing the full intensity of Magister Sek's invading forces. Outnumbered and outmatched, Humel made a tactical withdrawal northwards across the Interior Desert. Knowing that his forces could be obliterated before they had the chance to regroup, resupply and rearm themselves, Humel made brilliant use of Imperial airpower. Taking sage advice from the Admiral in charge of Imperial airpower on the planet, they turned the ground war into an air war which helped deny the enemy approach and protect the beleaguered land forces fleeing northwards. The war finally culminated in the most elaborate air battle of the entire Sabbat Crusade to date on the 270th day of 773. Suffering large-scale losses, the Archenemy forces' advance eventually faltered. By early 774, Magister Sek had fled the planet. Humel had shown that through valor and determination the attack could be repulsed.

Khan III (773-775.M41)

On Khan III Lord General Bulledin, the most cautious and focused of all within Macaroth's senior staff, found himself pitted against the forces of Magister Shebol Red-Hand, a notorious monster who left a trail of burning worlds in his murderous wake. Fortunately for the Imperials, Red-Hand lacked organisation and discipline, a fact that the Lord General would take full advantage of when their forces clashed. Supported by two separate armoured brigades, Bulledin forced an opening in the Archenemy's lines, then sent foot companies from two Imperial Guard Regiments to flank Red-Hand's forces. Panicking, the Magister drew his forces closer to him. A heavy tank battle soon ensued, and Bulledin quickly pressed in with three battalions of troopers with Titan support. Magister Shebol fled to the highlands and soon found himself surrounded by an armoured brigade commanded by the Lord General himself. Though allegorical tales tell of how Bulledin met and slew Shebol in personal combat, many regard these tales as speculation and hearsay. What matters is that the vile Magister met his ultimate fate upon that high ground and was killed. Though the Lord General had achieved a major victory, enemy forces would continue to harangue the Imperials for the next 22 months of intense fighting.

Herodor: The Turning Point (773.M41)

Saint Sabbat Reborn

Saint Sabbat reborn, leading Imperial forces on the world of Herodor

Though the battle for Herodor was a much smaller-scale operation compared to such significant clashes as the one on the world of Enothis, its importance cannot be undervalued. Herodor is agreed by Imperial scholars and strategists to be the turning point for the fortunes of the Crusade. The planet's only claim to significance was that it was one of the 'Holy Worlds' visited by Saint Sabbat Beati during her original Crusade within the region, millennia earlier. The planet was of no great tactical significance, yet Magister Innokenti chose to lead the assault there personally, perhaps in an effort to prevent the miracle that was to occur. Commanded by Lord General Lugo, an Imperial Guard force supported by the local PDF, occupied the sacred balneary shrine and religious centre of the principle city of Civitas Beati in order to defend it from attack.

Blood Pact by davepalumbo

Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt leads the attack against the depredations of the Blood Pact.

Reliable information in regards to what occurred during the attack remains unclear with the exception of the early stages of the attack. A young raven-haired woman emerged from the Imperial citizenry claiming to be the reincarnated saint, though the validity of this was initially called into question by his detractors at the time as some claimed she was merely an actress selected to play the part by Lugo in order to boost Imperial morale. However, it now appears that the extraordinary truth of the matter is far more interesting. Whatever her mysterious origins, this unidentified girl took on the mantle of the beati, and for all intents and purposes became the beloved Saint Sabbat. Exhibiting powers and abilities beyond the normal ken of average mortals, this Living Saint inspired the Imperial forces, stirring their resolve with her holy presence. The beloved Saint Sabbat Beati had been reborn on Herodor close to the end of 773, to the eternal glory of the Emperor of Mankind. Some suggest that through some arcane means, Innokenti had foreseen this and may have attempted to prevent it from occurring.

The Imperial forces rallied around the Living Saint, engaging Innokenti's foul host at the Civitas Beati. A vicious battle ensued as the Saint and her army routed the Archenemy forces and slew the wicked Magister. This coincided with the Warmaster's victory which had finally resolved on the fortress world of Morlond. This enabled Macaroth to deploy part of his forces in support of the Khan Group's beleaguered second front. Had Innokenti not been halted by the fight on Herodor, his advance would have most likely pushed forwards and eventually have finished the job of fatally decapitating the Crusade line. The timing of the victory on Herodor could not have been more perfect.

The forces of the Archenemy faltered, their morale shattered and their spirit broken. The Magisters had ultimately failed where it really mattered as the calamitous effect of their defeats spoiled their carefully strategised manoeuvre. Soon the news of the reborn saint spread amongst the ranks of the Crusade, inspiring their impetus to drive forwards and deny the Archon's minions. Only the forces of Magister Sek managed to maintain any type of solid cohesion in the face of these Imperial victories. The newly established Second Front soon began its thrust forwards to drive through its opposition and finally protect the vulnerable flanks of the Crusade forces, with the Warmaster's stubborn assault on the fortress world of Morlond finally succeeding at the close of 773.M41. As of 775.M41, an Imperial victory within the Sabbat Sector appeared to be nearly inevitable.

The Second Front

By 778.M41, the Sabbat Worlds Crusade was now entering a defining phase in its 23rd year, having successfully advanced into the highly contested territories of the Cabal Systems and beginning to make significant headway into the Carcaradon Cluster. This hostile region was considered to be the heartland of the Forces of Chaos within the Sabbat Worlds. Overall Imperial victory was believed by the Crusade's High Command to be achievable in as little as five years. However, there where those who cautioned against the folly of hubris, fearing that a number of factors could just as easily prove disastrous for the Crusade's ultimate success. Over the course of more than two decades of fighting, the fortunes of the Imperium during the Crusade had reversed on more than one occasion. There were two factors that could hamper Imperial efforts to achieve total victory in the sector. First, the fighting within the Cabal and Carcarodon Regions was on a scale unseen. Secondly, the Khan Group was still beset by the forces of the Archenemy, many of which were attempting to affect a counter strike. In his haste, Warmaster Macaroth left many unresolved conflicts in his wake. Those commanders on the Second Front were left to handle the Archenemy forces and win, at any cost, preventing them from driving at the flank of the Crusading forces.

Lyubov War (778.M41)

Lyubov

The Imperial world of Lyubov

The world of Lyubov was considered a strategically useful location on one of the main jump routes and was also believed to be a source of fuel, munitions and other consumables for the Archenemy forces within the Khan Group. Lyubov had effectively been conquered in 750.M41, suffering under the occupation of the Archenemy for two and a half decades. Several hive cities still managed to remain under Imperial control for the majority of the time, with major wars being waged on the ground as a result. Lord Militant Cybon ordered Lyubov to be retaken in late 777.M41, giving responsibility to General Andreas Carnhide.

General Andreas Carnhide

Portrait of General Andreas Carnhide

General Carnhide was a veteran Imperial Guard commander with a prestigious and long military career that pre-dated the start of the Crusade in the Sabbat Worlds. Serving under the former Warmaster Slaydo during the Khulan War (752-754.M41), Carnhide had risen as one of the Warmaster's chosen to ascend to the command echelon at the beginning of hostilities. Prior to the Lyubov campaign, Carnhide's service during the Crusade remained unglamorous, as circumstances often found him commanding deployment garrisons or forces in transit. After the death of Slaydo in 765, like many of his contemporaries, Carnhide found himself fallen out of favour with the new Warmaster. With nothing to prove in terms of loyalty and ability, many veteran commanders such as Carnhide found themselves relegated to the onerous chores associated with Second Front Command.

General Carnhide was not selected for the job of liberating Lyubov on merit but rather circumstance. Lord Militant Cybon tasked the only senior officer he felt he could spare, as the Khan Group was overstretched and beset by three significant conflicts. Though he was given command of a sizable liberation army, they were an ad hoc formation comprised of disparate units who had not served together operationally. Many of these units had seen significant service on the front for an excessive amount of time and desperately needed to be retired and restated. Cybon more than likely used the General's taskforce as a stopgap measure, to keep Lyubov busy until such a time when the Lord Militant could eventually claim victory for himself. Cybon greatly misunderstood the threat level on Lyubov, which would eventually prove to be worse than anyone suspected.

A New Kind of Enemy

Blood Pact in Battle

The commander of the Chaotic forces on Lyubov, Araek Etagaur

The Forces of Chaos arrayed against Carnhide on Lyubov were significant. Within the occupied zones there were substantial cult armies and levies of forcibly conscripted citizens from the indigenous population that had been tainted by the touch of the warp. They occupied the 'Transcontinental Nexus', a heavy populated zone where the bulk of the planet's hives and manufactorums lay. These forces were augmented by numerous war machines, armour, aircraft, corrupted Chaos Titans, and even a considerable number of traitor Chaos Space Marines. The Chaos army was further supplemented with the deadly and ferocious clan army of the Blood Pact. These forces of the Archenemy were commanded by a being known as Araek Etogaur. Imperial scholars believe that the name 'Etogaur' is a rank of honorific meaning, meaning 'sub-' or 'demi-Gaur', perhaps denoting an equivalent rank comparable to Colonel or General. This capable and charismatic leader had forged the usually disparate force of Chaos into a unit of command, making the Archenemy occupation force into a singular, coherent structure. This is what awaited the Imperial forces on Lyubov.

Liberation of Lyubov

Lyubov Transcontinental Nexus

Lyubov 'Transcontinental Nexus'

Planning the successful liberation of Lyubov was a difficult undertaking, for the bulk of the separate fronts considered for a mass drop assault were too active and defensible. Nineteen separate plans for the initial assault were rejected by Carnhide and his planners, including the strategic points of Srady Bay, Zinc Hill and Kazenburg. Principal assault of Lyubovhive was deemed unfeasible so long as these outer hives were still active. Having obtained a substantial amount of useful intel on the Nexus Zone, most objections to these various drop point plans were made by Carnhide's infantry commanders. This was mainly due to the considerable air coverage from the Archenemy's interceptor squadrons. These hunter-killer squadrons were hard to track and kill from orbit, for they were based upon mobile land carriers that made it all but impossible to track their whereabouts. The substantial number of enemy fighters would make any drop assault a suicidal proposition, whilst the large formations of enemy stoop-bombers would swiftly annihilate any forces that managed to somehow make it to the surface intact.

Considering his options carefully, Carnhide posed the problem to his Imperial Navy officers. The General initially wanted the fleet commanders to bring their ships into a much tighter and lower orbit, from which they would be able to more accurately target these land carriers. But the Navy officers were unwilling to risk their line ships against the range of the Archenemy's huge anti-orbital batteries. Instead, they devised a daring but risk-worthy plan of their own. Flight Marshal Kared Hydun presented an audacious plan to send eight massed waves of Imperial fighters ahead of the troop drop to engage the enemy aircraft head to head for air superiority. Though normally such a bold tactic would be frowned upon by most Commanders of the Fleet, their subordinate pilot officers saw merit, relishing the notion of such a challenge. In this particular theatre, the commanders of the major vessels were willing to risk their fighters rather than their main vessels. An accord was reached by the various Commanders, and with the blessing of Carnhide, the plan was approved.

Air War Phase

Fighters dogfight

Stricken Imperial Lightning fighter of the 75th Goran Goshawk Wing over Lyubovhive

The massed waves of Imperial fighters, made up predominantly of Thunderbolts but also including some wings of Lightnings, began to attack at zero hour on day one. This phase included a large, full-scale air battle that involved almost 30,000 Imperial aircraft and some 45,000 enemy warplanes. At the height of the engagement, nearly 63,000 Imperial warplanes would be committed overall. Srady Bay, Balk Cliff Hive and the Zinc Hill regions were the principal attack zones, with the most intense air battles being fought on the first and third days of the operation over Srady Bay and on day four at Zinc Hill. In the second week of the air war a nine-hour engagement ensued over the coastal zone at Balk Cliff Hive. By the third week of the air war, the Forces of Chaos' air power had been greatly reduced to only a third of its starting strength. Lyubov was now vulnerable to a full-scale ground assault with the loss of its defenders' air support. After over two weeks of air combat, the Forces of Chaos were well-aware that the Imperium was about to launch a massive ground assault and prepared accordingly for the fight to come.

Ground Assault Phase

Lyubov Ground Assault Map

Map of the ground assault phase, to be conducted by the Adeptus Mechanicus

The land war was now ready to commence, and even though the air was clear for a full-scale orbital drop assault, the Imperial Guard was once again resistant to the Lord General. Carnhide understood their reluctance, and instead of ordering them to attack, he showed intuitive understanding that the answer to his problems lay with the forces of the Adeptus Mechanicus and their mighty war machines - the Titans. Carefully formed by Warmaster Slaydo at the inception of the Crusade, the Mechanicus had entered into cooperative pacts for the tentative use of their war machines. Though invaluable, the Mechanicus was an organisation that was prone to act autonomously, with a reluctance to be commanded by a Crusade general. The Priests of Mars continued to show their displeasure with the progress of the Crusade, enduring the hardships that it entailed longer than led to expect by the former Warmaster. They grew increasingly dissatisfied with having to provide ever-greater quantities of their war machines. Macaroth had done little to appease the Mechanicus, and their forces assigned to the Second Front resented not being a part of the primary campaign.

Titans Lead Assault

Warlord-class Battle Titans lead the ground assault on Lyubov

Carnhide possessed a reserve of over 130 Titans in his taskforce (the majority being Warhound-class Titans), and he knew that these war machines of the Mechanicus could break the Archenemy's ground defences, opening the way for the Guard forces and its armour. Spending hours in carefully orchestrated talks with the senior Adepts of the Mechanicus, Carnhide reasoned that the Warmaster sought triumph and glory, and those units that exhibited the most courage and zeal would more than likely be summoned by Macaroth to the front lines where the true glory lay. Carnhide promised the Mechanicus, if he garnered their full support, to route directly to the Warmaster reports of the ground assault on Lyubov being led by Mechanicus forces. The very next day the Mechanicus led the assault on three target zones: Srady Bay, Balk Cliff Hive and Zinc Hill. Long-range orbital bombardment and carpet-bombing preceded the Titan landings. Instead of dropping in and then advancing on the target the Titans landed and radiated from the landing zone. At Zinc Hill and Sradhive, large areas of territory were cleared in this way.

Twenty-three hours after the successful Titan operation deployment the Imperial Guard forces mobilised en masse in a full-scale drop assault composed of 2.6 million troops in the first wave. The Guard targeted the three main zones that the Titans had already cleared of the defences of Archenemy forces. A fourth drop force, composed predominately of Carnelian Light Foot, targeted Kazenburg hive, successfully wrested control of the automatic defences and swiftly brought it back into use by Imperial Occupation forces. Though it was the second largest hive on the planet, the Guard force managed to take Kazenburg the fastest and most easily, with the least collateral damage.

Zinc Hill

The subsidiary hive city of Zinc Hill puts up a formidable defence against encroaching Imperial forces

Zinc Hill was another matter entirely, as it soon proved to be the toughest of the targets to conquer. Being the most resistant to the Mechanicus' Titan assault, they still retained some air cover, using it to their advantage. Advancing under armour support, the second wave of Guard troops advanced upon the subsidiary hive. As the Imperial forces attempted to storm the western wall of the main hive a massive battle soon erupted. The archenemy deployed many bizarre engines of destruction, shredding both men and body armour with thereto unknown mechanised heavy mortars that spat high-velocity razor chaff. Fortunately, these weapons proved to not be durable as they were soon destroyed by the Guard's field batteries and their sustained heavy bombardments. It took three days of constant warfare to finally breach the western wall. Invading the outer ring of the hive, the Imperial Guard force soon encountered a concealed and dug-in enemy force and their nightmarish ditch-work of trenches and foxholes. Vicious trench warfare ensued for another two days until the Imperial Titan Vainglory Tumultus was brought in to clear the way. The ground forces sustained a high number of casualties. Chaotic street fighting soon ensued, as the Guard were continuously harangued by poorly armed Chaos cult zealots. Carnhide wisely rendered command in the field to those officers on the ground who would be able to make split-second decisions to deal with the fluctuating threat as the situation dictated.

After further investigation, it was revealed that the difficulties faced by Imperial forces were due to the fact that Araek Etogaur had made his base of operations at Zinc Hill. The Archenemy forces had acted accordingly, making this site one of ritual importance, defending it with fanatical vigour. Etogaur may have been present at the time of the Imperial invasion, and the vigorous defence put up by Archenemy forces was used to bide him time to escape and flee to Lyubovhive.

Lyubovhive

First sight by columbussage

The tertiary hive city of Zemic

With the successful pacification of the southern portion of the 'Transcontinental Nexus', Carnhide's attention next turned to the gigantic main hive city of Lyubovhive. As the majority of all existing enemy resistance had retreated to this veritable fortress, Carnhide knew this tactical objective represented numerous strategic problems for his overall strategy. In the years of occupation the forces of the Archenemy had turned the hive into a nearly-impervious fortress with a heavily armoured outer structure while also embellishing it with innumerable gun emplacements and malevolent antipersonnel devices. The ancillary hives of Zenic and Zevin that lay to the west also proved to be a problem, as these two hives fed primary power reserves into Lyubovhive. An overlapping system of defensive trenches, dykes and armour traps lay to the south and southwest, constructed in a wide crescent many hundred of kilometres long, and partly mined. It would be a major chore just to get to the main hive.

Carnhide's senior staff offered numerous conflicting schemes regarding how to best take the formidable Lyubovhive. Instead of choosing a single plan of attack, the General once again displayed keen insight and remarkable fluidity of thinking by deciding to embark upon a simultaneous three-pronged assault that incorporated all of these various plans. Though this was seen as indecision by his peers at the time, Imperial history would later vindicate Carnhide. Dividing his forces into six separate 'armies' the General also divided his commanders to lead their respective forces and carry out the various plans that each commander had recommended.

Led by Major General Arcol, the first army would maintain a firm occupation of the areas already taken, providing a slow siege of the main hive to wait the enemy out and standing in reserve if necessary. The second army, mostly composed of motorised light infantry, was to be commanded by Colonel Hjak. His forces were also to be kept in a reserve and support position outside Sradhive, ready to deploy at a moment's notice. Carnhide himself would command the third army and commence a frontal assault on Lyubovhive, cutting a patch through the defensive system. Under the command of General Doshen, the fourth army would encircle Lyubovhive around the eastern fringe and attack from the northeast sector. Such a plan had been recommended by Doshen. The fifth and sixth armies would be composed of smaller motorised forces commanded by Colonel Paquin and Colonel Varnsetter respectively. Their primary objectives were the ancillary hives, with the fifth army severing communications with the main hive while the sixth army struck at Zevin and Zenic simultaneously.

Using his superb diplomatic skills and a bit of guile, Carnhide once again made use of the Imperial Navy and Mechanicus forces to help his overall strategy succeed. He manipulated the two separate organisations by insinuating that he would hate to see them robbed of their share of the climactic glory by the Imperial Guard forces on the ground. The Mechanicus immediately seconded their war machines and Titans to the third and fourth armies, while the Imperial Navy would conduct precision air strikes on the coastal power farms of the ancillary hives. They would then provide air cover for the fifth and sixth armies.

Colonels Paquin and Varnsetter initiated the attack by striking deep at the southern side of Zevin and Zenic. Paquin's fifth army succeeded in cutting all communications with Lyubovhive by severing the mass transit and cable links within a single day, then turned west towards Zenic. The Navy did its part by reducing the power farms to smoking craters with its deadly air power. The sixth army managed to break into the southern side of Zevin, but the advance soon ground to a halt after facing ferocious resistance.

Traitor Guardsmen

Blood Pact forces fiercely defend the tertiary hive city of Zevin against the encroaching Imperial forces

The Imperial Guard soon came face to face with significant numbers of the Blood Pact for the first time since the invasion began. On the move for the better part of three days, General Doshen's fourth army swung around to assault the northeastern margin of the main hive. They were soon met by huge numbers of enemy armour, composed principally of units of the Blood Pact, armed with captured and customised Imperial battle tanks. An enormous armour battle soon erupted on the northeastern plains.

Meanwhile, the large third army force commanded by Carnhide dug a path through the rudimentary but deadly defence system erected by the Archenemy. Fortunately, the strength of the Mechanicus' war machines served them well by destroying and clearing these lethal defences, losing two Titans in the process, but ensuring that by the end of the first day the outer walls of the hive were in sight. In spite of this success, Carnhide soon received negative reports of the sixth army being fought to a standstill by Blood Pact forces and the fourth army being pushed back and slaughtered. Pleading for support from the reserves, both commanders were refused by Carnhide. Though his decision was viewed as cold and heartless, Carnhide knew he could not spare them for he would soon need the reserves to reinforce his main assault. Though he wanted to support the efforts of his beleaguered officers, he had full confidence in both commanders to accomplish their individual objectives. In less than twenty-four hours, his confidence was rewarded.

Colonel Varnsetter managed to launch a thrust into the Blood Pact forces, driving them back about three kilometres into Zevin. Moving with all speed, Colonel Paquin moved in to support the sixth army in a counter strike, bringing the fifth army into a pincer movement on the Blood Pact's vulnerable left flank. The Navy air wings heavily supported their efforts, attacking both the Blood Pact in Zevin and key positions within the hive. It would take nine more days of fierce warfare before a conclusive Imperial victory could be claimed against the ancillary hives, with exceedingly high casualties as a result of their troubles.

General Doshen redoubled his efforts on the northeastern front, bolstered by the news that the Blood Pact was not as invincible as their reputation suggested. He then ran the heavy armour and Titans in his command into a long, tight angle of attack across the hydroelectric valleys of the East Lyub River. Battalions of light support and anti-tank units were simultaneously directed in an encircling manoeuvre around to the north. Soon a second, fierce tank battle erupted, but the General's gambit proved to be successful. The Blood Pact war machines fell back and attempted to reform into a cohesive force, but many soon found themselves easy targets for the advancing Imperial armour and were destroyed before they could reassemble. Forced to retreat towards the flanks of the main hive, the Blood Pact armour broke into two distinct elements. The first was annihilated by advancing Warhounds and tank destroyers outside the main eastern gate. The other element soon faced the encircling light support battalions which picked them off at their leisure, breaking their cohesiveness as an effective fighting force. The light support and tank destroyers continued to pick off the last of the Blood Pact's war engines as Doshen's main force advanced to assault the outer defences of Lyubovhive.

Guard Assault

Breaking past the outer defence systems, Imperial Guard regiments pour into Lyubovhive

Carnhide's third army broke past the defence systems, crossing the outer road networks near the main hive itself just as they received word that Doshen's forces began their assault. Taking heavy fire from the gun emplacements and hardpoints that studded the hive's outer perimeter, the Imperial drive started to falter under the relentless barrage. Even the Imperial Commissars balked at the prospect of advancing into the deadly barrage of cannon fire, batteries, las and flamers. But the Imperials hardened their resolve and drove forward into the heart of the enemy. General Carnhide's third army penetrated the southwestern perimeter of Lyubovhive in the early hours of the campaign's 17th day. Ferocious urban fighting ensued, as the Archenemy countered the Imperial assault with a well-orchestrated resistance meeting them at every step of the way. Carnhide was soon forced to call in support from the second army, sooner than he had anticipated.

The brutal fighting ensued unabated for the next eighty hours. News of Doshen's forces breaching the main hive perimeter in the northeast and also driving in towards the hive's core reached them forty-six hours into that period. Though the General's spirits were lifted by the good news, his hopes were soon dashed as the Blood Pact once again proved to be an implacable foe that fought with stealth and guile. For every small victory and every inch of ground taken, the Blood Pact made the Imperials pay dearly, laying traps, setting ambushes, mining tenements and employing snipers and booby traps. After eighty hours of continuous fighting, Carnhide finally relented and called a halt, allowing the frontline forces to retire and be replaced. The fighting dulled somewhat for a short period of time but at hour eighty-five, Carnhide pressed his forces onwards.

Endgame

As the Imperials made a furious thrust into the wounded hive they encountered fewer Blood Pact forces at this latter stage and more levies of cultists. A great fire soon broke out in the main hive's northern sectors, burning unchecked until one fifth of the hive was consumed. It is speculated that this fire was the result of stray munitions, but was more likely caused by enemy sabotage. Carnhide focused on his main goal of finding and destroying the focus of Lyubov resistance - Araek Etogaur. He drove his forces relentlessly forwards, knowing full well that victory was within his grasp. Late on the seventy-third day of the campaign, three fireteams from the 82nd Carnelian Light Foot finally ran the Etogaur to ground.

Driving ahead of the main advance, the fireteams encountered unexpected resistance from a squad of Blood Pact warriors. A firefight ensued, which left three of the foes dead on the causeway outside and forced the remainder of the enemy to back down into a vandalised Censorium. Checking for signs of life, the Imperial medic noticed the dead foes weren't attired like the average Blood Pact warrior. Alarmed by this unusual turn of events, the squad leader soon alerted command for support. The fireteams soon found themselves under renewed fire from the Censorium before any support could arrive. They then encountered stiff resistance from all quarters, but the Imperials valiantly fought on. By the time a squad of Kasrkin specialists arrived to support the beleaguered fire teams, the squad leader believed he had spotted the rogue Etogaur. He quickly pursued him with two other members of his squad through the lower quad and towards the west door of the Censorium. Cornered, the Etogaur drew a barbed chainsword, snarled like a cornered animal and lunged to attack. His two subordinates were swiftly cut down, and the squad leader missed the Etogaur with his first two shots. With one charge in his weapon's power pack remaining, the squad leader fired one last time into the snarling face of his foe. Akaer Etogaur was finally dead. Though it later transpired that the squad leader had missed and the headshot was claimed by one of the Kasrkin marksmen in an adjacent building, the deed was done. Sporadic fighting continued for weeks afterwards but eventually an Imperial victory was declared after the successful conclusion of the Lyubov campaign.

Aftermath

From the very beginning of the campaign, Carnhide had numerous obstacles arrayed against him. He was given a poorly supplied and equipped ad hoc force of mixed units and still managed to achieve what was thought to be an unlikely victory. Carnhide was a genius at understanding how to use the disparate parts of his command coherently and his command allowed them to function at their best. He knew how to play to the strengths of the various organisations under his command and make them an asset, bringing out the best in his troops through respect for their opinions and initiative, even as the Forces of Chaos often did the opposite.

General Carnhide should have achieved glory and honour in light of this great Imperial victory, but alas, it was not to be. Though he would achieve his assigned objective and drive the Chaotic forces from Lyubov, ending their threat to the advancement of the Crusade's front across the Sabbat Worlds Sector, General Carnhide was accused of wavering and indecision, with his peers casting doubts on his strength of character and even his ability to command, largely as an act of political vengeance orchestrated by Cybon when it became clear that he had badly misjudged the situation on Lyubov. Lord Militant Cybon even had the gall to berate Carnhide for allowing elements under his command "to do as they will," which of course was the tactical flexibility that had allowed Carnhide to claim the victory in the first place. Carnhide was deeply wounded by this criticism. He eventually went on to publish his own account of the action at Lyubov and retired from the Crusade and Imperial military service altogether. Eighteen months later he committed suicide, dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Order of Battle of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade

Imperial Forces

Senior Commanders

  • Warmaster Slaydo (KIA, 765.M41)
  • Warmaster Macaroth
  • Lord Militant Cybon
  • Lord Militant Delayni
  • Lord Militant Hechtor Dravere (KIA at Menazoid Epsilon, 765.M41)
  • Lord Militant Humel
  • Lord Militant Vichres (KIA at Cociaminus, 762.M41)
  • Marshal Bazer
  • Marshal Bernz (KIA at Balhaut, 765.M41)
  • Marshal Blackwood
  • Marshal Fylesa
  • Marshal Hardiker
  • Marshal Kyter
  • Lord General Bulledin
  • Lord General Kelso
  • Lord General Lugo
  • Lord General Noches Sturme (Excommunicate Traitoris, Executed 774.M41)
  • Lord General Urienz
  • Lord General Barthol Van Voytz
  • General Akkensor
  • General Jater Elbeth (MIA at Fornax Aleph, 758.M41)
  • General Dilen Belfry (KIA at Ambold Eleven, 756.M41)
  • General Andreas Carnhide (Deceased, Driven to suicide in disgrace, 778.M41)
  • General Currell (Incapcitated at Balhaut, 765.M41, Relieved by General Korsen)
  • General Dravere
  • General Federich
  • General Forgues (Relieved of command by Lord Militant Vichres-Cociaminus, 760.M41)
  • General Grizmund
  • General Korsen (KIA at Balhaut, 765.M41, command resumed by Marshal Bernz)
  • General Lemmensholtz
  • General Luschiem
  • General Oliphant
  • General Onator (Presumed KIA at Parthenope, 767.M41, the final fate of Onator and his troops remain suppressed by the Inquisition for morale reasons)
  • General Saulton
  • General Scalia
  • General Urienz
  • General Barthol Van Voytz
  • Colonel Begulin (Executed by the Commissariat for incompetence during the Ambold Eleven Campaign, 756.M41)

Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes

Note: There were 6 Astartes Chapters that supported the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, but the last remains unlisted in current Imperial records.

Known Astartes Fleet Elements

Imperial Guard Regiments

  • 55th Arnaud Fast Attack (Motorised)
  • 23rd Baldackian Fusiliers (Annihilated at Parthenope, 767.M41)
  • 26th Baldackian Fusiliers (Annihilated at Parthenope, 767.M41)
  • Bale Highlanders
  • Bekulian Levy Reserves (Muster 3241)
  • 301st Cadian (Recon)
  • 82nd Carnelian Light Foot
  • 88th Carnelian Light Foot
  • 97th Carnelian Light Foot
  • 101st Carnelian Light Foot
  • 51st Chenovian
  • 51st Chenovian (Armoured Support)
  • 9th Clovis 'The Indomitables'
  • 11th Clovis Heavy Support
  • 676th Darrague (Armoured)
  • 3rd Devash
  • Elitor (Heavy Support)
  • 112th Falslav
  • 8th Fortis Binars
  • 41st Farset Lancers (Mechanised)
  • 982nd Hallowmas "The Scythes"
  • 8th Hyrkan
  • 500th Iorgan "The Golden Caps"
  • Jantine Patricians
  • 1st Karrack Las
  • 86th Kasrkin (Special Operational)
  • Ketzok 18th
  • Ketzok 21st
  • Ketzok 22nd
  • 2nd Khulon Huscarls "Silver Kindred"
  • Kirvan Light (Auxiliary)
  • Kolstec 22nd
  • Kolstec 29th
  • Kolstec 477th (Light Support)
  • 21st Heavy Krassian
  • Latarii "Gundogs" (Annihilated at Lamicia, 767.M41)
  • 6th Mako
  • Manth Grenadier
  • Mariner 18th "Panthers"
  • 2nd Mnenomite (Annihilated at Parthenope, 767.M41)
  • 11th Mordian Iron Guard
  • 45th Mershan
  • Narmenian 1st (Armoured)
  • Narmenian 2nd (Heavy)
  • Narmenian 3rd
  • Ontanople Pioneers
  • Ontanople Rifles
  • Pardus 12th
  • Pardus 8th (Armoured)
  • Pardus 34th (Armoured)
  • 19th Phantine (Airborne) "The Silent"
  • 11th Polladen
  • Pragar 6th
  • Pragar 10th
  • Pragar 13th
  • Pragar 20th
  • Pragar 46th (Light)
  • 58th Rarkonin Las Company
  • Roane Deepers
  • 56th Rygol Centurions
  • 81st Saint Khoran
  • 88th Saint Khoran
  • 77th Salizar Pike "The Shakos"
  • Samothrace 4th (Annihilated at Parthenope, 767.M41)
  • Samothrace 9th
  • Samothrace 303rd
  • 8th Sancon (Light)
  • 9th Sancon (Light)
  • 11th Sancon (Light)
  • 21st Sarpoy
  • 142nd Shehunid Raiders
  • Shenk Auxiliaries (XA7)
  • Tanith 1st "First & Only", "Gaunt's Ghosts" (Homeworld of Tanith destroyed, 765.M41)
  • 23rd Armoured Tollinbraders
  • 33rd Urdesh
  • 4th Urdesh (Light)
  • 6th Urdesh
  • 7th Urdesh Storm Troopers
  • 10th Urdesh
  • 2nd Vitrian (Mobile)
  • 10th Vitrian (Armoured Brigade)
  • 161st Vitrian (Heavy Support)
  • Volpone 50th "Bluebloods"
  • 34th Wrawbach (Heavy Infantry)
  • 52nd Wrawbach (Heavy Infantry) "Fighting Felids"

Imperial Navy

Senior Command
  • Admiral Kristor
  • Admiral Shaever
  • Vice Admiral Gharnhorst
  • Vice Admiral Sanloque
  • Vice Admiral Alber vander Trake (KIA at Addolorata, 773.M41)
  • Vice Admiral Von Haegl
  • Commodore Willer Waldesh (KIA at Addolorata, 773.M41)
  • Flight Marshal Karel Hydun
  • First Officer Bernod Falkor (KIA at Addolorata, 773.M41)
Air Support
  • 33rd Callion Air Wing
  • 39th Fighter Wing
  • 42nd Fighter Wing "Prefects"
  • 44th Fighter Wing
  • 63rd Fighter Wing "Sundogs"
  • 75th Goran Goshawk Wing
  • 5th Khulan Flight Wing
  • 101st Navy Elite Wing "Apostles"
  • Phantine XX "Double Eagle" Wing
  • 138th Fighter Wing
  • 235th Imperial Naval Attack Wing
  • 409th Fighter Wing "Raptors"
  • 666th Fighter Wing "Devil Dogs"
  • 786th Fighter Wing
  • 2212th Imperial Naval Attack Wing
  • 2265th Fighter Wing
Known Fleet Elements
  • Borealis - The Warmaster Slaydo's flagship
  • Claudia - Cruiser (MIA, 758.M41)
  • Godefroy Magnificat - Apocalypse-class Battleship (Destroyed, 760.M41)
  • Hastur - Heavy Cruiser (Destroyed, 773.M41)
  • Intangible - Battleship (Destroyed, 773.M41)
  • Light of the Throne - Cruiser
  • Lord Falchion - Cruiser (Destroyed, 757.M41)
  • No Quarter - Destroyer (Destroyed, 773.M41)
  • Saint Orientale - Battleship
  • Shako - Heavy Cruiser
  • Sire Oswald Whitmere - Destroyer (Destroyed, 773.M41)
  • Tarquin - Heavy Cruiser (Destroyed, 773.M41)
  • Ziegler - Frigate (MIA,758.M41)

Adeptus Ministorum

  • Ecclesiarch Tarquel Benedictor Osonius - Oversaw Warmaster Macaroth's election ceremony within the High Basilica at the city of Balopolis on Balhaut in 765.M41.

Forces of Chaos

Senior Command

  • Archon Nadzybar (KIA at Balhaut, 765.M41)
  • Archon Urlock Gaur
  • Araek Etogaur (KIA at Lyubov, 778.M41)
  • Magister Allikarn (KIA at 765.M41)
  • Magister Heritor Asphodel (KIA at Verghast, 769.M41)
  • Magister Nokad the Blighted (KIA at Bucephalon)
  • Magister Qull (Presumed KIA at Balhaut, 765.M41)
  • Magister Qux of the Eyeless
  • Magister Enok Innokenti (KIA at Herodor, 773.M41)
  • Magister Khul Kolesh (KIA at Balhaut, 765.M41)
  • Magister Kuvelo (KIA at Sverren, 757.M41)
  • Magister Shebol Red-Hand (KIA at Khan III, 773.M41)
  • Magister Anakwanar Sek
  • Magister Sharenidy
  • Magister Sholen Skara (Captured by the Inquisition on Sapiencia, 768.M41)
  • Magister Rusheck Vakkim (KIA at Nyzon II, 768.M41)

Chaos Forces

  • Blood Pact
  • Charismites
  • Echelons - 1st and 5th Echelons
  • Excubitors
  • G'uttkhra ('Thorns of Heaven')
  • Infardi
  • The Kith
  • Red Phalanx
  • Sons of Sek
  • Tongues of Tcharesh

Known Chaos Fleet Elements

  • Bloodmark - Cruiser
  • Destitution - Cruiser
  • Cicatrice - Cruiser
  • Revenant - Cruiser
  • Harm’s Way - Cruiser
  • Suture - Cruiser
  • Incarnadine - Battleship
  • Crown of Thorns
  • Prudence Vile - Battleship
  • Recurve Blade - Frigate
  • Unnatural Causes - Heavy Cruiser

Sources

  • Double Eagle (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • The Founding (Gaunt's Ghosts Omnibus) (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • The Saint (Gaunt's Ghosts Omnibus) (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • The Lost (Gaunt's Ghosts Omnibus) (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • Sabbat Worlds Anthology (Anthology) edited by Dan Abnett
  • Sabbat Worlds Crusade (Background Book)
  • Tactica Imperialis, pp. 25-46

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