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Chapter One

The Road to War

The Imperium of Mankind is vast, comprising over a million planets scattered the length and breadth of the galaxy. It is the greatest empire in human history, but for all the worlds its armies and battlefleets conquered and the countless xenos races it has cast into oblivion, the terrible truth few men are privy to is that the imperium’s millennia long battle for survival may be failing. For the galaxy is a dark and terrible place and, beset by external wars and internal divisions, Mankind’s existence hangs on a knife edge.

In ignorance the wider military might of the Imperium battles on, in part because it knows no alternative, but also because the forces at its disposal are legion. From the colossal firepower of the Titans of the Adeptus Mechanicus to the formidable Space Marines, the elite warriors of the Adeptus Astartes, there is little that can oppose its fearsome gods of war. However the effective they are though, their numbers are limited and it is ultimately upon the common man that the burden of war must fall the heaviest; those of the Hammer of the Emperor – the Imperial Guard

Consisting of billions of men and millions of fighting vehicles, the Imperial Guard is deployed to warzones and garrisons across the galaxy. At any one time its regiments may be engaged in thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of conflicts, and each and every guardsmen requires a constant supply of food and water, weapons and ammunition, and a myriad of other equipment to survive. To manage this logistical nightmare the Departmento Munitorum was created and for millennia it has overseen the supply of men and war materials to the Imperium’s largest armed force. This has always been a vast and complex task, but when the Imperial guard is mustered en masse to counter an enemy that poses a threat to the Imperium at large such as a Hive Fleet, the duties it must perform to ensure the smooth functioning of the Emperor’s armies grow to epic proportions.

The Rise of the Threat without

The Damocles Gulf Crusade was the first military conflict fought between the Imperium of Man and the rapidly expanding Tau Empire towards the end of the 41st Millenium the Lithesh Sector of the Ultima Segmentum in the galaxy's Eastern Fringes. The conflict essentially ended in a stalemate in late 745.M41, as the Imperium was forced to conclude its military offensive early to deal with the encroaching Tyranid threat while the Tau sought to begin diplomatic negotiations with the Imperium to show humanity the benefits to be had by accepting the Greater Good.

Members of the Tau Water Caste had established trade agreements with Imperial worlds on the frontier of the Tau Empire, near the Damocles Gulf region of the Ultima Segmentum in the galactic east, and exchanges of goods and technology were common. Alarmed by the threat of alien contamination, the Administratum readied a suitable response and almost a century later, the Damocles Crusade smashed into Tau space, destroying several outlying settlements and pushing deep into the Tau Empire. When the Imperial fleet reached the Tau Sept world of Dal'yth Prime, however, the Crusade ground to a bloody stalemate as the formidable numbers and high technology of the Tau and their Kroot allies thwarted every attempt to capture the world or its star system. Many months of terrible fighting ensued with nothing gained on either side. By late 745.M41 the Crusade's commanders eventually agreed to requests from the Tau Water Caste for peace talks. The negotiations were successful and the Imperial fleet withdrew from Tau space unmolested, primarily due to the impending approach of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Behemoth.

Searching for a cure

Preparations to counter this new rising power on the eastern fringe would directly affect nearly every part of the Ultima Segmentum and would expand far into the heart of the Imperium, whether it was demands for new Imperial Guard regiments from its many tithed worlds or increased production quotas placed upon forge worlds to meet supply demands. Since the end of the Damocles crusade Alexei de'Ossmann an Inquisitor Lord of the Ordo Xenos had immediately set about trawling through classified records for a as of yet untapped solution to the xenos disease.

It was during this process of evaluation and cross-referencing that the planet Pavuvu came to Alexei’s attention. A small abandoned imperial world deep in the Ultima Segmentum, early audits of the planet had shown it as pretty unremarkable save for a few things: first the ferocious weather, secondly, its close proximity to the Farsight Enclaves and lastly, an unknown energy source that can be detected on the planet but had never been located. Alexei de’Ossmann believed this to be the Magma-core syphon an ancient artefact capable to powering the Void-Rift collider ; a weapon so powerful that it is capable of obliterating entire solar systems. Alexei had known about the weapon for some time but with no way of powering it, it was locked away for safety reasons in a classified location. If he Alexei could obtain the Magma-core syphon the weapon could finally be used to destroy the enemies of the Imperium.

Armed with this information from ancient audits across millenniums by officials, Alexei quickly hastened an assessment squad to be dispatched to the region. Led by himself the mission was simple ground survey the planet from space for possible locations for the artefact and if safe to do so land men on the ground to retrieve it. If it was unable to be retrieved Alexei would report directly to the Master of the Departmento Munitorum’s office to demand military assistance in conducting his operation. Alexei de’Ossmann would use any means necessary to achieve his mission and if someone could not, or would not help they would be replaced by someone who could. Lord Inquisitor Alexei de’Ossmann was to be accompanied on his mission by a High Magos Technicus, an expert in the study of ancient artefacts. Given the urgency of the matter, Alexei wanted immediate confirmation that it is the artefact he is searching for and would be able to power the Void-rift collider.

Guadalcanal Sector Incident

The Farsight Enclave Patrol Group Tsunami was conducting a routine sweep around Pavuvu, an area of wilderness space on the edge of the Damocles Gulf. The Six-ship patrol, operating under standing orders to attack and seize suspected vessels of threat or to conduct harrying raids against imperial targets of opportunity. The Patrol was under the command of Kor’el’Vior’la Kais Kir’qath in a Castellan Heavy Escort. The Patrol had already been out for several months with little success and Kais Kir’qath was preparing to return to base and report upon their minimal findings when the other Castellan squadron positioned well ahead of him, reported long range sensor contact with three escort class vessels that appeared to be surveying the Guadalcanal sector of Pavuvu. Suspecting these might be the Imperial ships he was hunting, Kais Kir’qath began a cautious approach.

Patrol Group Tsunami stalked the three vessels from long range, maintaining a distance that would not reveal their presence. For a full day they maintained observation, hoping the vessels would lead them to a rendezvous point; revealing their operation and intentions, and a far greater prize. Kais Kir’qath’s patience had paid off when they spotted the vessels making for a frigate class vessel and three more escort class vessels on the edge of the system. As the ships approached it was revealed to be no ordinary frigate class vessel but instead surveyor readings from his leading showed it to be the personal ship of Alexei de’Ossmann; Firestorm Class Frigate The Righteous Endeavour . The Righteous Endeavour had been encountered by tau forces before and proved to be a worthy advisory but why would it be here? Positioning the Castellan lead ship to maintain the surveillance, the Kor’el withdrew to report back what he had found to his commanders.

Whilst Kais Kir’qath was away, the remaining ships watched the three escort ships dock with The Righteous Endeavour. Hidden from sight and out of radar distance the Castellans waited. Meanwhile Kor’el’Vior’la Kais Kir’qath’s report reached Air Caste High command who had received information from the ground that the surveying escorts ships had detected the Halocarbon Equilibrium Resonator and now must not be allowed to relay this information to the Imperial Departmento Munitorum. New orders were swiftly issued to Patrol Group Tsunami – Destroy the escort ships and capture The Righteous Endeavour; anyone left alive, was to be delivered to the sector’s fleet headquarters for interrogation.

Kais Kir’qath returned to rendezvous with his patrol and prepared to attack. With little cover the patrol would perform a pincer movement with three Castellans taking each flank and destroying the escorts to meet in the middle on either flank of The Righteous Endeavour to force its negotiation to surrender where Kais Kir’qath would then grapple alongside and board her to take her as a prize and capture the crew.

The briefing complete, the gravitic drives of the six Castellan ships roared into life, hurtling them forwards into imperial sensor range and the flanks of The Righteous Endeavour. With surprise on their side the patrol group raced into the Imperial ships. Railgun batteries and Gravitic launchers roared into the void, impacting upon the Imperial escort ships with shuddering explosions. Those on board attempted to return fire as best they could, but by that point it was already too late.

It appeared that Kais Kir’qath’s surprise attack had worked with The Righteous Endeavour firmly trapped, but before Kais Kir’qath could issue the command to begin boarding actions, logisticians onboard his ship reported a further large Imperial vehicle approaching fast on their surveyors. Suddenly, from a one-sided ambush, Patrol Group Tsunami now had a real fight on its hands. Reacting to the new situation the Kor’el rallied his heavy escorts and set a new course to retreat from the approaching Imperial vessel.

The gruff old Kor’el ordered a retreat, having calculated that he hadn’t the firepower to see the Imperial Dauntless class light cruiser off or destroy it entirely. With his five heavy escorts following close behind. Patrol group Tsunami had lost the skirmish but to live to fight another day.

Swift Retribution

For Alexei the surveying operation was a success and surviving Patrol group Tsunami’s ambush was evidence enough of the treachery taking place on Pavuvu. The three escorts sensors had picked up heavy xenos activity in the Guadalcanal Sector that included the energy source that is believed to be the Magma –core syphon and that this energy source suggested that it was modifying the planet’s atmosphere, temperature and ecology. Having been accidently stumbled upon by Patrol Group Tsunami was evidence enough that this treachery was of the Tau Empire. There was an operation occurring on Pavuvu to terraform the planet by using the Magma-core syphon and Alexei was certain that this could not be allowed to continue.

Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Lord Alexei de'Ossmann presented his report to the Departmento Munitorum’s office demanding that action needed to be taken immediately, starting with the extraction of the Magma-core syphon from the planet. To effect this the Administration considered its options. The administration favoured a bold plan – a coup d’etat. A strike force would target the artefact and using maximum force they would demonstrate to the Tau Empire that the Emperor’s will is unquestionable. Then once the operation was complete, the strike force would extract for the planet to be Exterminatus. There was one force capable of such a mission at short notice, the Adeptus Astartes.

The Space Marines would be the Emperor’s instrument of divine justice on Pavuvu. During the Damocles Gulf Crusade, the Tau had learned to fear Mankind’s finest warriors and a strike force would send an unmistakable message – the Imperium would do everything it could to prevent the growth of Xenos races. A Space Marine Chapter was quickly identified for the coup d’etat mission and a high level delegation with the relevant intelligence information was immediately dispatched to The Rock; the fortress monastery of the Dark Angels, along with a request, signed by the Master of the Administratum’s office and Alexei, beseeching the Chapter Master for his assistance.

There we have it, i plan to work on Chapter 2 in the coming week
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