Hive Fleet Selachii: Ravenous

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After the silence, there was a chorus of sensation. There were images, thoughts and feelings. Then there was knowledge. Understanding of self; of its purpose; and of the Hive Fleet. It was given rank: Hive Tyrant. It was given role: Commander. It was given a directive: Consume. The Tyrant was allowed to roam within the synapse of the Fleet. Allowed to learn all there was to learn about the organisms that made up the whole. But soon after, it was contained. The Tyrant understood that he was no longer just mind. It was now body as well. Encased in its shell of bone, sinew, and muscle, the mind could be safe, it could leave the Fleet. It could consume.

The Hive Tyrant knew that a part of The Fleet was its to command. A small part. So small that before it would have seemed meaningless. But now it had eyes. With these it saw that its minions were many, and it was pleased. Great bio-ships it was given with which to cross the empty. Knowledge of where bio-matter could be consumed was given. The Tyrant directed its minions. These knew only what it allowed them to know. They knew nothing of the Fleet. Knew nothing of the directive. They knew only the Hive Tyrant’s will and the instinct to obey.

Soon the Tyrant had its own fleet. It commanded that it move to where it knew bio-matter would be found. Slowly but surely, the fleet drifted through the empty. Not long after, the Tyrant’s bio-ships were far from the Hive Fleet. It could always hear the call of the Hive, always commune with its thoughts and its will. But it was fainter, soon the chorus became a murmur. Now the Tyrant’s chorus was strongest. Its images, thoughts and feelings flooded the minds of its minions. It was supreme, unchallenged, and ready to consume.

Guardians of Ulthwé: Forestalling Doom

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Craftworld Ulthwé drifts defiantly along the outskirts of what was once the heart of the mighty Eldar Empire. Consumed by the birth of Sai’lanthresh, the eldar core worlds were dragged into the warp through a rift known to humans as the Eye of Terror. Ever since escaping the doom of their race, the eldar of Ulthwé have lived within sight of this great wound in realspace.

As he had done thousands of times before, Farseer Aramel gazed through the infinite void at the great lesion. Even for the most powerful eldar seers, looking directly into the raw warp can prove dangerous. At this great distance, however, the swirling mass of unreality had no power but to remind Aramel of how far his people had fallen. Perhaps this is why the Seer Council of Ulthwé had decided to remain so close to the epicenter of the Fall. Even one glance at the vast warp-rift, is enough to convince the eldar mind of the need to avoid repeating past mistakes.

Aramel considered how the people of his craftworld stood apart from other eldar. They were not clannish as their brethren of Saim-Hann, they were not obsessed with rebuilding the Old Empire, as were the xenophobic eldar of Biel-Tan. Neither were they fanatically devoted to Asurmen’s path as are the Alaitoci, nor consumed by death as their unfortunate brethren of Craftworld Iyanden. Many of these far-flung brethren look upon Ulthwé with distaste and suspicion. They cannot imagine how Aramel’s people can find success in battle, again and again, whilst wearing no war mask. Surely they must be consumed by Khaine’s rage and hunger, or be utterly damned.

But the truth is that the eldar of Ulthwé do not look solely to the bloody handed god when battle is joined. Rather, they choose to tread along a lighter path. Isha, goddess of life, subjected herself to eternal imprisonment, that her children may survive the Fall. From her example, the eldar that join the ranks of Ulthwé’s Black Guardians realize that, in defeating the great enemy, no sacrifice is too great. They understand the value of all living beings, and dispense death only when need demands it, to tip the scales in the war against the dark powers. Over the millennia since the Fall, the manipulations of Ulthwé’s seers, enforced by the Black Guardian host, have saved untold billions.

The dome of Crystal Seers where Aramel now stood was soothingly quiet, though he was far from alone. Farseers Erethentil and Ithiniael were nearby, wrapped in their own thoughts. The dome was filled with psychoreactive flora and fauna, that behaved in concert with the moods of passing eldar. None of the Farseers had been summoned by the Council, as such, but each of them had seen through the skein and found that they must be here, in this place, at this moment.

When the time came, the three seers slowly walked towards the inner-most dome. As they did, they passed hundreds of crystal statues. To the unknowing observer, these would appear as immaculate crystal statues of Ulthwé Farseers. In truth, they are the mortal remains of farseers that have long since joined the Craftworld’s crystal spirit matrix. Though not truly dead, they had joined the spirits of Ulthwé’s fallen, with all of their memories and sense of self intact. It is the fate of all farseers that do not perish in combat. One that only Eldrad Ulthran has managed to evade.

When the three seers reached the Council chambers, they were greeted by a gathering of the most revered Eldar to walk their path. The legendary Farseer’s form was also there, but Eldrad’s mind was deep within the warp, hunting for answers. “We have a task for you” said Farseer Dariel. “A strike force has been readied aboard the warship Asredil. You must lead it to the Sorathian System. A maiden world lies in peril and an ancient temple of the Phoenix may come to ruin” she continued. “There is also a darker threat, though we do not yet know its purpose.” The words were a formality. Each already knew the perils of which Farseer Dariel spoke. But ritual demanded that all expeditions be sanctioned by the Council in person. Meeting on the material plane served to ground Seers, lest they risk confusing reality with a loose thread, glimpsed within the skeins of fate. Aramel, Erethentil and Ithiniael inclined their heads in understanding, and went forth to perform their task.

Il-Kaithe: Vigilance

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Amidst the void sailed a smoothly shaped planetoid, unbound to the enslavement of any star and free to roam the vastness of space. This was Craftworld Il-Kaithe, a shimmering jewel in the darkness, one of the precious few remaining world-ships of the Eldar. Undaunted by the tragedy of the Fall, or the aggressions of their foes, the inhabitants of Il-Kaithe refined the art of bonesinging to a level unsurpassed by their brothers and sisters scattered across the stars. With every song and every wonder created, they defied the Chaos Gods.

Somewhere near the heart of the Craftworld, Phoenix Lord Karandras strode into the hall of Autarchs. Before the assembled leadership of Il-Kaithe he spoke, with a voice both ancient and powerful. “On a desolate world in the Sorathian system, that bears my name, a mighty army of the souldark was once defeated. Their warriors were turned to dust and leaders routed, but their greatest works could not be undone. So it was that I built my temple upon the ruins of the yngiract crypts, that none may claim the secrets buried within. The hour soon approaches when many will come to the Sorathian worlds, each with their own designs. Some may desire the eldrich technologies of the souldark to fuel their ambitions. This may not come to pass. The Phoenix Court calls upon you to defend Karandros and ensure the Necron abominations are never unearthed by unwitting fools, or their makers.”

With that ominous warning, and without waiting for any response, Karandros turned and left the great hall, soon disappearing into paths that no other could tread. Shocked, the Farseers and Autarchs of Il-Kaithe debated over how they would address this threat. Surely the yngiract technology that the Phoenix Lord spoke of was powerful beyond their imagining and must at all costs be kept from the servants of the Dark Gods. The skein must be studied and a fleet will be assembled, to be dispatched at all speed. But who will lead it?

Imperial Guard: Orders

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The Imperium of Man is a vast, sprawling Leviathan. On countless worlds, the human civilization trudges on in time to the unyielding tempo set by the Adeptus Terra. From densely urbanized forge-worlds to comparatively sparsely populated agricultural planets, the minutia of daily life is dictated to the Imperial citizen by the seemingly omnipresent Administratum, through its legion of agents.

Very much like a Leviathan, the vast organism that is the Imperium is often slow to react. Fully six thousand years had passed since human eyes looked upon records concerning the Sorathian system, a minuscule spec of dust somewhere in the Viridian sector. Deep within the bowels of Holy Terra, the offices of the Sub-departimento Occupatio housed hundreds of thousands of scribes. Each is tasked with the duty of scouring an endless tide of Imperial records, in the futile attempt to measure just how large the Imperium is, count how many worlds fall within its domain and discern where they are located.

An especially thankless task, is to peruse ancient documents from the times of the Great Crusade and cross-reference the obscure mentions of planetary systems with current information, to determine whether these worlds are still part of the Emperor’s domain. Scribe A-3400/9 had spent months sifting through garbled text and badly damaged combat logs, until he finally stumbled upon one sentence: “World eaters pursued….Viridian sector…Garrison left on Cadia XIV…”

It took the scribe two more weeks of searching through the files pertaining to the Viridian sector, before finally finding a millennia old footnote “Guardsman platoons left in the Sorathian system…warp storms…all contact lost.” A-3400/9 compared his findings with current census data, but found nothing that hinted at an Imperial presence on any Sorathian world. The meager evidence that the scribe had found probably amounted to nought, and he felt fairly certain that there was nothing of value in that Emperor-forsaken smudge of space, but by Terra, he needed a promotion. The scribe was a mere nine levels away from becoming a petty administrator, which meant that his designation would finally be changed to a true name. Normally this would take twenty more years of hard work, but A-3400/9 was confident that, with the right phrasing, his report would halve that time. Barely containing his excitement, the scribe began to craft his masterpiece.

From a couple of garbled sentences, the scribe produced a three page Memorandum, detailing the high strategic value of the Viridian system and the need for the vast human population of Cadia XIV to be returned to the Imperium’s fold. The lowly scribe was not alone in his desire to seize on this opportunity and by the time his report made its way to the higher levels of the Sub-departimento Occupatio, it had become a hundreds-of-pages long document, culminating with the following finding:

It is with studied certainty that we find the issuance of a reclamation fleet not only virtuous in His holy eyes, but necessary for the survival of humanity within the entire Viridian Sector. The overwhelming evidence, unearthed by our dedicated and hard-working servants, unequivocally demonstrates the critical importance of the Sorathian System. It must be reclaimed for the glory of the Imperium.

Long live the Emperor!

After reading this last paragraph, having completely ignored the rest of the report, Commissar Nemo crumpled the page it was written on in his right fist. Disgusted, he dumped the entire document down an incineration shute, much to the horror of his subordinate. “Security reasons” Nemo said curtly. He did not need to read the report, he had seen dozens like it, all with the same grandiose air and lack of substance. In the end it did not particularly matter. The mission was always the same. Travel, fight, die or conquer. But Lieutenant Perkins did not know this, for he was freshly graduated from the academy and assumed that everything that agents of the Imperium said was true.

The officer stood to attention and exclaimed “Of course Lord Commissar! How foolish for me to even think to question your wisdom, what are our orders sir?” The Commissar sighed before paraphrasing: “In His holy name, we are to go forth at maximum speed as a vanguard of the reclamation fleet. Once we reach the Sorathian System we are to immediately lay siege to Cadia XIV until pacified.” Perkins was so excited by the prospect of leading his troops in his first campaign, that he was completely oblivious to the sarcasm in his commander’s voice. “Splendid sir! I shall go to the men and tell them the good news!” The Lieutenant screeched, saluting stupidly. “Yes, you do that,” Nemo said dryly, “dismissed.”

Once the simpleton subordinate left his ready room, Commissar Nemo took a moment to collect his thoughts. The innumerable masses of the Imperial Guard had countless assets of war at their disposal, with equally varied tactics to employ. Somehow, the Administratum only ever ordered the use of one tactic: The wave. Like an implacable ocean, entire companies of infantry and armored divisions are thrown at the enemy. When, not if, that assault is destroyed, it is immediately followed by another, and another, until nothing is left of their foe.

The high death toll is apparently of no consequence to the bureaucratic hegemony. Life, they say, is the Emperor’s currency and victory seems to always be on sale. Over the decades Commissar Nemo had noticed the patterns in orders given, small details hidden amidst requisition orders. Whereas others might be puzzled at only being given enough fuel for one trip, Nemo knew there would be no supply missions. In short, he recognized a suicide mission when he saw one, and this was it.

In the great battles against overwhelming foes the likes of Abbadon, a Necron dynasty, or Tyranid hive fleet, the armies of humanity are commanded by the Imperium’s finest generals, where every life under their command is a precious asset, spent with the precise economics of a master tactician. But this was no titanic struggle, just an ignominious backwater theatre unworthy of the Imperial Guard’s true leadership. So the Administratum happily usurped that role, greedily pursuing its own agenda. Even the Commissariat had better things to do than curb the unnecessary waste.

None of this helped Commissar Nemo in the slightest, who was bound by duty to comply. Of course, the battle-scarred veteran had absolutely no intention of following the spirit of his orders and would instead meticulously and obstinately abide by its letter. If he was clever enough, maybe some of the boys would make it back home in one piece.

Dark Angels: The Eternal Hunt

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Librarian Darwyn knelt is silent contemplation. Many of his brother-librarians had been claimed by insidious perils hidden in the warp. Too eager were they in their divinations, that they were blind to the doom of their path. Darwyn vowed that he would not suffer such a fate. Prayer was his solace and through piety, he was certain, his treacherous heart could be conquered.

But his own personal struggles were trivial compared to the task with which Librarian Darwyn was entrusted. News had come from the Dark Angels’ vast information network. Whispers that the 7th Company was moving. The hated Death Guard seemed intent on carving a bloody path through the Sorathian System. The reason did not matter, their numbers did not matter. All that mattered was hunting the fallen, and Brother Librarian Darwyn would see it done.

Chaos Space Marines: The Putrid Road

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In the Eye of Terror, worlds that were once the crowning jewels of the Eldar Empire are now contorted wastelands, warped by the ruinous powers and overrun by their minions. In the depths of one such world, strode Aeger Sempiterna, Chaos Lord and Captain of the Death Guard 7th company. The damp caverns that Aeger ventured through were infested with flies and rot-worms. The floor was so covered in ichor and vile fluids, that one could not even see the rock beneath. Even the air that the Lord breathed was a noxious gas that only one conditioned to the gifts of Grandfather Nurgle could survive.

The Chaos lord drew closer to the shrine where he would meet Sorcerer Detritus. Already he could hear the frenzied chanting of the acolytes, and the agonizing screams of those blessed by Nurgle’s gifts. Most succumbed, to become plague zombies. But some survived and evolved into a greater, purified form of life, worthy to serve the Grandfather. The shrine was small and secluded, with only an effigy of the great god Nurgle at its center. Detritus stood in silent contemplation, offering thanks to his patron for the gifts of decay bestowed upon him.

When Aeger entered, the Sorcerer turned to greet him. Welcome, my lord, praise be to our Grandfather he said. “Indeed” replied Aeger, “I have come seeking knowledge on how best to serve Him, to walk the path of ascension.” Detritus nodded. Their exchange was a formality, a ritual undergone thousands of times over the millennia, as each would be Daemon Prince took his first steps towards total damnation. “The path is treacherous. The unworthy shall be cast down and become the lowliest of creatures. The faithful servants of Chaos shall rise, and take on the true mantle of the gods. Have you the will to go forth?” The Sorcerer asked. “I do” replied Lord Sempiterna and thus was the bargain struck.

“All of the gods shall be watching,” warned the Sorcerer. “You may remain true to our lord Nurgle, or court favor from the other dark deities of the pantheon. In the end, only the highest regard from one or more of the true gods will allow ascension.” Aeger inclined his head to show understanding, then asked “where does my path begin?” “In the Sorathian system. A distant echo of the war for liberation from the corpse-Emperor’s tyranny. There you will find a Maiden world of the Eldar. Our Grandfather wishes to bestow upon his beloved a gift, and will reward greatly any who purify its world spirit with his blessings.”

“Then I shall go to this place at once” declared Aeger. “Patience,” cautioned Detritus, “the way of Nurgle is neither rash nor hurried. With measured steps must the warp be prepared for your ascension. Like a well-tended garden, the seeds must be sown at the proper time and the fruits harvested only when ripe. There are many worlds in this system and all of them in need of Grandfather Nurgle’s blessings. More I cannot say, for only these words has our lord revealed to me. I will accompany you, and aid you in your quest” the Sorcerer explained. “Very well, let us go and do our lord’s bidding” said Aeger. The Chaos Lord turned and left the way he came, this time followed by Sorcerer Detritus. Along the way, Aeger Sempiterna pondered on the question of which Sorathian world was more deserving of Nurgle’s gifts.

Tau Empire: Stepping Stones

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On the outer edge of the Sorathian system, the Tau fleet surrounded a rocky and arid planet. Earth caste shuttles moved back and forth incessantly, ferrying construction materials, equipment and Tau colonists. Only a month had elapsed since Commander Shas’el Darkstar and Etheral Aun’ro had decided that this world would be the ideal staging ground for the Empire’s expansion in this system. In that time, several settlements had been constructed on the planet’s surface.

Fire Caste garrisons had also been built and teams of Fir Warriors stationed for planetary defense. Soon the world will be secure enough for Commander Darkstar to move the majority of his fleet onwards. All that remains if for him to decide what planet to liberate next. For the Greater Good!

Currently the known inhabited planets are as follows:

Tau scout teams initially reported that this world is a verdant paradise. However, reports were mysteriously cut short. Air Caste analytics find this is consistent with prior contact with Eldar Exodite worlds and advise caution.

This largely barren planet may have valuable resources to fuel the Greater Good. Unfortunately its space is guarded by Eldar patrols from an unknown Craftworld. Tau encroachment has not yet led to hostilities, so perhaps there is common ground to be found.

Cadia XIV
Abandoned by the Imperium of man millennia ago, the humans that inhabit this planet have forged their own path, with only vague remnants of the Imperium’s asphyxiating culture. Perhaps their hearts are open enough to Embrace the Greater Good.
If the New Cadian Republic agrees to the terms of annexation and becomes a client state of the Tau Empire, Commander Darkstar will be able to count on the aid of their Basilisk Artillery batteries.

Devilfish scout teams report that this tropical planet is completely infested with feral orks. Monitor drones reveal that most of the disparate ork tribes have recently been united under a single Warboss. The primitive gathering designation “Waaaaghhh” seems destined to bring the entire planet under a single rule. If he can find a way, Darkstar can trick the ork hordes into fighting amongst themselves and lead the survivors away from Tarandros so that the Earth Caste can begin the assimilation process.

Dark Eldar: Possibilities

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Archon Oberon-Geren Mackareth of the Undivided Blood Kabal rested upon his throne and reveled in the spectacles of both pain and pleasure arrayed before him. Or so it would appear to an outside observer. Though he hungrily drank in the suffering of slaves displayed before him, arranged in macabre vignettes, the Archon’s mind was elsewhere. Oberon’s thoughts were consumed by his myriad plots and machinations, overlaid by a pervasive hatred for his rivals.

As a denizen of one of Commorragh’s middle tiers, Archon Oberon was a step above the muck of the eternal city, but only barely. Every Kabal that did not reside in the upper tier of the dark city aspired to carve a bloody path and rise to claim a slice of the higher levels of Commorragh. Of course, the upper levels were dominated by the great and ancient Kabals, each commanding entire tiers for themselves. By comparison, Oberon’s fiefdom was small and insignificant. But that would change.

A recent raid unearthed something that had greatly excited his haemonculi. Oberon’s chief Haemonculus, Zakarias, had been frustratingly obtuse on the subject and the Archon was at a loss as to what all the commotion was about. The raid had been on a pathetic mon-keigh backwater planet and yielded a paltry haul of slaves and trinkets. Oberon tried in vain to guess what Zakarias might have found to justify the months of suspense, not to mention the exorbitant amount of resources the ancient haemonculus had requested for his experiments.

But today, Oberon had been promised results and was impatiently awaiting the hour when he would meet Zakarias in his dungeon and finally learn what fruits his investment had yielded. Externally, the Archon displayed an air of studied nonchalance, giving the impression that nothing of any particular importance was afoot. In the dark city, secrecy was a matter of course and duplicity the key to survival. Oberon inhaled deeply from a pipe offered to him by a scantily clad female slave and enjoyed the effects of the narcotic fumes in order to pass the time.

The hour finally drawing near, Archon Oberon rose from his throne and sauntered onwards. His elite cadre of Incubi formed around him without a word, and followed their master out of the chamber, even as the Archon’s minions bowed and scraped as he passed. After several twists and turns, taking back ways and crossing secret doorways, Oberon was satisfied that any spies following him had either lost him or been killed by the creative variety of traps that lay hidden along the path that the Archon just took.

At last Oberon arrived at Zakarias’ laboratory. He was greeted by a pair of the Haemonculus’ foul smelling Wracks. Monstrosities that had once had the honor of calling themselves Eldar, yet willingly allowed themselves to be mutilated in pursuit of eldritch knowledge. As distasteful as Oberon found them, he was well aware that the relative immortality that he himself enjoyed would be impossible without the Haemonculi and their Wrack servants.

The Haemonculus’ minions led Oberon into the laboratory, past quivering victims, grotesquely mutated flesh and barbarous apparatus, until they reached a circular room with a glass tank containing blueish liquid at its center. Beside it stood Chief Haemonculus Zakarias, who currently appeared more or less humanoid, though he had grown two additional hands from his body and his features were generally unrecognizable as anything Eldar. “Greetings, my Archon, so good for you to have ventured down to my most humble workshop.” Zakarias said, in a grating voice. Oberon hid his disgust well and said “Yes, yes, spare me your pointless placation and show me your work.” Zakarias turned and pointed at the tube. Inside, the Archon could make out a strange pulsating mass of flesh, though he truly could not say any more than that. The Haemonculus did not allow his master to remain ignorant for long. “Amongst the refuse that was collected in your last raid, my Archon, were the remains of a mon-keigh mutant, the so-called ‘Space Marines.'” He explained and pointed at the contents of the tube this was developed from the distilled gene-seed that was recovered. Oberon rolled his eyes and expressed irritation “you waste my resources for this nonsense?! Better Haemonculus than you have attempted to manipulate the mon-keigh super soldier genes for centuries and all of them have failed.”

Zakarias contorted his face into what presumably passed for a smile and gestured for permission to speak. When this was granted, the Haemonculus explained “with respect my Archon, these are not the diluted genetic material that may have been found within any mon-keigh captured within the last ten thousand years. This gene-seed belonged to one of the original mutants created from genetic material taken from one of the fabled mon-keigh primarchs! Long have the secrets of their creation eluded us, but I believe that these pure samples are the key for unlocking the deepest mysteries of the art.”

Zakarias’ excitement was palpable, but Archon Oberon was still doubtful. “That seems all well and good, Zakarias, but what value could this these esoteric discoveries have for me?” He asked. The Haemonculus’ beady eyes veritably sparkled as he replied “the possibilities are endless, my Archon, if we could but acquire more samples for these ancient mon-keigh mutants, we could adapt their properties to your Kabalite warriors, or even yourself! your body would become more resilient, your strength far greater and your ability to regenerate from an injury vastly increased.”

“Interesting, I must think more on this” was all that Archon Oberon said. As he stalked out of the dank laboratory, his mind was afire. The possibilities were indeed endless, and many of those could very well give him the edge he needed to crush his rival Archons. However, the raid that this gene-seed had been collected from was in the Sorathian system, an isolated place with only a single entrance into the webway. He would need his minions to be sent ahead to scout the region and relay information to him. But who could be trusted enough to be silent for this mission and yet expendable enough not to be missed? Oberon smiled to himself as he realized who amongst his vassal petty Archons he would call upon. He need not tell him everything after all…

Ultramarines: Arrival

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The silence was pleasing. Captain Titus gazed through his view port as he recited the hymn of Command. Behind the reinforced glass and beyond the safety of the Gellar Field, the full horrors of the warp unfolded. Impossible shapes and colors screamed past, as Battle Barge Andronicus tore its righteous path through the Immaterium.

Any man would have recoiled in fear at the sight, his courage spent and mind rent asunder. But Captain Titus was no man. He was a Space Marine. A warrior of the Adeptus Astrates and scion of the Ultramarines, first amongst the Chapters in service to the Emperor of Mankind, may his light never fade. Titus stared into the abyss and the abyss averted its gaze, for in his eyes burned the undying power of the Golden Throne. The Captain’s words reverberated within the hallowed halls like a silent thunder:

From his light, darkness withers
I am his beacon
His are the armies of the faithful
I am his beacon
Faith is their weapon
I am his beacon
Contempt is their armor
I am his beacon
The unworthy will fall before them
I am his beacon
And they shall know no fear!

The hymn ended and the Battle Barge burst into real-space, the madness of the warp replaced by an endless sea of darkness. Captain Titus turned and made to exit his chapel. As he did so the vox blared into life, “Warp Jump Completed, Glory to the Emperor!” With surety of purpose, Titus made his way to the bridge. As he traversed the labyrinthine expanse of the battle barge, Captain Titus thought of the missive he had received from Chapter Master Marneus Augustus Calgar.

It spoke of an ancient battle fought by the Legion of old. Far did the sons of Ultramar, led by Roboute Guilliman, wisest amongst Primarchs, travel in pursuit of the traitor legions. Relentless in their fury, the Ultramarines brought ruin to the followers of Chaos upon many worlds. One such battle was fought within this very system. No more is known, for none now live that remember. By chance, fragmented records were pieced together and coordinates found.

No holy reclamation mission had ever been sent to this region. Titus’ was the task to learn of the fate of his long fallen brethren. If any precious gene-seed yet survived, the Captain was to retrieve it. With a hiss of hydraulics, the doorway to the bridge clanked open. Titus strode through the opening and made his way to the command podium. A baritone chorus greeted the Captain as he entered. “Praise the Emperor!”

Captain Titus stepped onto the podium and the display panel flickered into life. He scrutinized the star chart before him and decided where his search would begin.