The Knights of Altair have a glorious history of service to the Imperium since its founding in the latter part of the 37th Millennium. What follows is but a partial account of some of their most notable campaigns over the millennia:
DEFENSE OF HELIOS (LATE M37)—Little is known of this tumultuous period in Imperial history. It is believed the Knights—at this time possibly known as the White Templars—was a newly founded and undermanned Space Marine Chapter that spent decades defending the forge world of Helios and other words orbiting Altair, a star whose location currently is unrecorded in Imperial star charts.
SKIN-WEAVERS OF MATARAS IV (UNKNOWN)— The next mention in Imperial records is in the early 38th Millennium during an Imperial campaign against the Hadrus Skin-Weavers, a parasitic xenoform that overwhelmed the Imperial world of Mataras IV in the Jericho Reach, a region of space close to the Eastern Fringe of the Milky Way Galaxy in the Ultima Segmentum. No exact date is identified, nor is it clear why a world was still under Imperial control in the Jericho Reach, an area that was formally abandoned by the Imperium centuries earlier.
FALL OF HARKENLORD (113.M38)—The forge world of Harkenlord falls to an Enslaver outbreak in the Jericho Reach. The Knights of Altair answer the call for assistance by a large Deathwatch conginent that seeks to eliminate the xeno threat before it spreads to neighboring worlds.
The Astartes forces assault the planetary capital by drop pod and thunderhawk, quickly brushing aside ineffective resistance by the planetary defense forces (PDF) and advancing on the Governor’s palace complex.
The 2nd Company of Knights, under the command of Captain Julius Metelius, launches a combined-arms attack on the palace defenses, using air power to suppress the governor’s palace guard while Land Raiders and Lemon Russ tanks use their cannon to break down the palace walls. Once inside, quick-moving Space Marines break through to the throne room and give the Emperor’s Peace to the mentally enslaved governor and his 1,000-man court.
The Deathwatch attack proves a debacle. Seeking to bypass the palace wall defenses, 80 battle-brothers and two dreadnoughts enter the catacombs under the city, where they are drawn into a cat-and-mouse fight with xeno-controlled citizens who reveal awesome psychic powers. Only 11 warriors return to the surface.
Incensed, the Deathwatch commander orders an orbital bombardment of the capital city to completely eliminate the Enslaver threat—and the Knights are given only a few minutes’ warning to withdraw. The narrow escape of the Knights from an attack by their own supposed allies, as well as the wanton death of millions of innocent civilians, leads to a heated exchange between the Astartes commanders. The resulting animosity between the Knights and Deathwatch remains a sore point between these Astartes organizations over the millennia.
THE ANGEVIN CRUSADE (322.M39)—The Knights join with the Black Templars, Tigers Argent, Sons of Medusa, and Charnel Guard to conquer the Calix Sector for the Imperium.
BATTLE OF TOMAKAN (555.M39)—A long-lost Imperial colony is found on the fourth planet of Tomakan, but the human population has embraced heretical practices that include the worship of “gods” that bear a strong resemblance to the Ruinous Powers.
Given the technological and industrial resources of the world, a major Crusade—consisting of six companies of Knights and 100,000 Imperial Guard—invade to annihilate the populace. After a six-month-long campaign, more than 50 million are killed in battle or executed. Alas, more than 50,000 Imperial Guard, who participated in the closing phases of the battle and were witness to a desperate, last-ditch summoning of daemons, also are executed to prevent any taint of Chaos from spreading to the rest of the Imperial forces.
THE FALL OF SEGA RYAN IV (902.M40) – Torga IV is a rich Imperial world that falls to Waaagh! Korak. In 902.M40, without warning, a dozen Ork Roks appear from deep space and slam into the verdant agricultural world, and ork warbands quickly spread across the planet and overwhelm the planet’s defensive forces.
At the time, Imperial forces are stretched seriously thin across a number of Imperial campaigns, and only the 3rd Company of the Knights of Altair respond to calls for help by the planetary governor. The Knights, under the command of Captain Torus Varnus, fight a courageous rearguard action in an attempt to allow as many civilians as possible to evacuate the planet before it falls. Varnus and two Battle-Brothers hold the main city gate of the capital city for three days against thousands of orks before falling in honored battle.
The world soon falls to the orks. Over the next decade, Imperial officials consider a campaign to reconquer the planet, but high-orbit reconnaissance determine that the impact of the Roks has permanently damaged the planet’s biosphere, the world’s vibrant forests and productive farmland withering from a lack of solar radiation blocked by thick dust clouds created by the Rok landings. Today, the planet is a cold desert world, and its value to the Imperium is deemed no longer sufficient to warrant military action.
THE LOST COMPANY (387.M41)—The Knights’ 4th Company, under the command of Captain Marcus Adalardo, is called upon to suppress a rebellion on Mundi Prime, a long-troubled world near the edge of Imperial space. The instigator of the rebellion proves to be a young cult leader of the Ruinous Powers by the name of Voloh Gudag, who escapes from the planet after detonating nuclear devices in all the planet’s major hive cities.
The explosions kill nearly half of the 4th Company’s continent, and Captain Adalardo swears vengence against the cult leader and chases him halfway across the sector. On a dozen planets, Gudag spreads chaos, rebellion, and death as the Knights gave chase, yet the cult leader always manages to elude his pursuers—and constantly taunts Adalardo before making his escape.
The 4th Company disappears in the latter half of 387.M41, after its Battle Barge, The Emperor Defiant, is seen chasing Gudag’s ship into the dreaded Jericho Reach, a Warp-cursed region of the galaxy that was lost to the Imperium in the 36th Millennium. After two centuries, the 4th Company is formally declared lost and the company is re-commissioned—to some objection—at the chapter’s fortress-monastery by inducting four squads of battle-brothers transferred from other companies.
THE KASSIG PLAGUE (530.M41)—Voloh Gudag causes havoc by spreading a Chaos-tainted virus to dozens of worlds in the Calix Sector. First recorded on the world of Kassig, the “Kassig Plague” leaves victims little more than diseased, mindless, and hyper-violent creatures that stumble across streets or fields and attack anything that moves. The Knights spend nearly two years cleansing the sector of millions of victims that citizens come to call “zombies.”
YEARS OF REBELLION (575-590.M41) – The Knights are one of six Space Marine Chapters that struggle to suppress a wave of revolts that sweep over nearly 100 worlds in the Corvus Cluster.
There is no insidious design behind these uprisings. One world would rise in protest to the savage corruption of its planetary government, and its example would inspire rebellion by the citizenry of neighboring worlds. Thus treason spread across three subsectors.
It is a long and dreary campaign for the Knights, who take little pleasure in the brutal suppression of lightly armed and untrained rebels. They are well aware of the misrule that sparks the revolts. What’s more, the chapter is frustrated by the elusiveness of final victory. As soon as one revolt is suppressed, the Knights must move on to the next rebellious world, only to be called back to a previous world where the populace has risen up in revolt yet again.
The rebellions only end when an envoy of the High Lords of Terra arrives in the sector to dismiss thousands of Imperial officials and enact new policies that offer the rebellious citizenry the hope of better living conditions. Conditions do improve for the populace on all these worlds, although the Adeptus Arbites engage in a very covert but effective investigation of citizens identified as rebel leaders. Over a five-year period, more than 10 million suspected rebels are quietly arrested and executed to ensure law and order in the future.
THE THALION CAMPAIGN (630-648.M41)—After conquering half a dozen systems, Waagh! Krakor loses its momentum after conquering Thalion, an industrialized Imperial world that resists the ork invasion for 10 years before falling. Massive ork casualties force a pause in the ork advance, and Imperial forces take advantage of the lull in battle.
First, an Imperial assassin eliminates Krakor, throwing leadership of the new ork empire in doubt. Then the Knights launch a series of covert raids against various warlords, leaving behind no survivors but ample evidence to implicate each warlord’s rivals. By the end of the campaign, the strongest ork leaders are convinced of the treachery of the others and their armies—tens of millions of orks strong—are warring among themselves on half a dozen planets, ending any immediate threat of a new ork waagh!
SLAUGHTER ON THE IMPERIAL BASTION (695.M41)—The Knights’ 4th Company enters the Diogenes System to find the Explorator Station Imperial Bastion under attack by the eldar of Craftworld Biel-Tan. After a brief void battle drives away two eldar cruisers, the Knights board the space station and slaughter several hundred xenos trapped on board.
THE PROMETHEUM WAR (701-704.M41)—The prometheum-rich Sartaka System is scoured of xenos and claimed by the Imperium. The Knights are at the forefront of many battles, deploying in full Chapter strength at the climactic Battle of Sartaka Prime.
VICTORY AT YANGON (714.M41)—The Knights defeat the warband of the Chaos Warlock Voloh Gudag and stymie his plans to overthrow the government of the forge world of Yangon. Gudag escapes after killing three Knights by witchfire.
BATTLE OF HYBERIA II (726.M41)—Both the Imperium and Tau Empire claim the Hyberia System. When a small Tau colony is established on Hyberia II, the Knights, Aurora Chapter, and 50,000 Imperial Guard invade to drive the xenos out. The initial assault goes against the Imperium, but a masterful counterattack led by High Marshal Ioculus ultimately drives the Tau off the planet and out of the system. It is during this action that Brother-Sargeant Valerus fails his squad, leading to his ultimate shame and the tale known as “The Lament of Brother-Sargeant Valerus.” No official declaration of war is ever recorded between the two empires, and an uneasy peace soon settles over the region.
THE HADEX PIRATES (731-734.M41)—Cultists of the Ruinous Powers leave the death worlds near the Hadex Anomoly and build a number of hidden space stations within the Corvus Cluster. From these, they send out raiders to prey on Imperial shipping lanes.
Consisting of vile mutants, witches, and other abominations, these raiders—who call themselves the Hadex Pirates—cause significant disruption before the Knights’ 3rd Company is sent to eradicate the menace.
Discovering one pirate station hidden in the atmosphere of a gas giant in the Azura System, assault craft carrying 50 Knights launch an attack. The Knights fight their way through the station, slaughtering a half dozen psykers that attempt to use their witchcraft against the Astartes but seizing several cultists, who are subsequently interrogated and forced to reveal the locations of the other hidden stations.
In the end, six pirate stations and 20 pirate ships are captured or destroyed, and 10,000 heretics put to death during the six-month campaign. Only one Battle-Brother is lost in the 18 military actions recorded.
The two black-and-white drawings, “WH40K: Tactical Space Marines” and “WK40K: Rhino Deployment” are courtesy of Stugmeister of the DeviantArt website: http://stugmeister.deviantart.com. The nebula used to represent the Jericho Reach is from NASA.