Burning Frontier

The Burning Frontier: Setting the stage

Warhammer 40K blog

The “Lady Bright,” a frigate-class vessel that Rogue Trader Maximo Florton used to find a safe warp route into the Burning Frontier.

Although year 738.M41 has already brought numerous calamities to the Corvus Cluster, this galactic region was only about to experience the truly devastating activity of the forces of Chaos. It started with a pinch of good news.

Wandering Rogue Trader Maximo Florton, onboard his frigate, Lady Bright, had scouted the edges of the Heart of Darkness warp storm, specifically the region known as the Burning Frontier.

Warhammer 40K blogThis infamous region of the Corvus Cluster once housed several inhabited planets, among which most notable were the forge world of Tsagathoa, the mining world of Varrenshall, and the feudal world of Arthys IV.

Some fifty years ago, a stable warp route leading from the main body of the Corvus Cluster to the Varrenshall system (which was connected itself to other systems within the frontier) was severed. Many speculated on why the Frontier had gone dark and why no stable means to reach it persisted.

A few brave captains tried to plow through the unstable currents of the warp in that region but none ever returned.

On the other hand, vanishing warp routes were a phenomena not unheard of in the Imperium, thus prayers were issued for these lost worlds of the Corvus Cluster, and Ministorum cathedrals were filled with pious citizens who wept for their brethren lost to the Emperor’s light. Soon thereafter many more disastrous events occurred, including several major invasions by Tau and orks, and Varrenshall and other planetary systems were forgotten.

A momentous journey

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Waaagh! Gorefist has swept across the feudal world of Arthys IV.

Yet not everyone gave up on these lots worlds.

Florton, being an industrious individual, sought profit in the hostile regions of the Burning Frontier. He concluded that, if he could find an alternative route to the lost systems, then all the major powers in the Cluster would elevate him to a grander status. Riches and influence would soon follow.

He was not wrong in his assumption that the severed warp route was not the only one. He, or more specifically speaking his navigator, managed to plot a course through the unstable and hazardous currents of the Immaterium to another of the lost systems—Arthys. This planet was, in turn, known to be connected with Varrenshall and four other systems, meaning that, if this route proved successful, Florton would establish a connection with the Frontier in its entirety once again.

Warhammer 40K blogIn 840.729.M41, he was finally assured that the way ahead was set, and he gave the command. Lady Bright vanished from existence, not to be seen for nearly 8 years when the warp spat Lady Bright out in exactly the same location as when it began its journey.

Florton and his crew managed to navigate not only to Arthys but also to Varrenshall and another of the lost systems, St. Jenus, as well as managed to plot warp routes from Arthys to nearly all the other systems previously thought to be lost.

The Rogue Trader immediately rushed to the Belliose system and the Imperial Navy headquarters for the Corvus Cluster. He brought terrifying news that was, on the spot, marked as classified by Inquisition agents present during the gathering of lords and military commanders to whom Florton brought his findings.

The news was grave indeed and further consequences of his explorations were clearly to follow in his wake.

Xenos and heretics

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Powerful ork forces also invaded the mining world of Varrenshall, but their invasion has been contested by the Dark Mechanicum.

Florton began his story with St. Jenus. The system, previously housing one habitable planet designated St. Jenus II—a prison world—was now found to be completely scoured of life. Not a single living person was found during a week-long investigation planetside.

On the other hand, major signs of small arms fire were visible all over the prison blocks, and the data cogitators were burned to the ground, preventing any extraction of valuable information. Yet that was by far the least disturbing news: Planet Arthys IV was in the final and irreversible stage of falling to ork invaders.

It was the Waaagh! of Bad Moons warlord Gorefist. The ork forces gathered on Arthys already had managed to infect another system with their vile presence (at least one to the Rogue Trader’s knowledge)—Varrenshall. The latter system proved to be of an even more complicated nature.

Why? The planet of Tsagathoa. Now wholly engulfed by the Heart of Darkness, this forge world was known to be a seat of power of the Dark Mechanicum.

Florton managed to extract several refugees from a habitation star base located in the asteroid belt in the Arthys system before he had to withdraw due to approaching ork warships.

The rescued refugees shared stories of how the subsector commonly referred to as the Burning Frontier had fallen under the heel of the heretical machine overlords of Tsagathoa.

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Traitor Astartes—including the infamous Night Lords—are reportedly assisting the Dark Mechanicum in its military conquest of Varrenshall.

Apparently the Archmagos has fallen into the grasp of Chaos and called himself and other former servants of the machine god the self-styled “Covenant of the Bloodied Cog.” So said the refugees, who had heard stories from those lucky few who had managed to escape from Varrenshall before forces allied to the Covenant arrived.

As to Varrenshall itself, it was a vital system for the forge world as it provided vast quantities of ore, being very abundant in valuable mineral deposits. The Covenant of the Bloodied Cog desired control over the planet but, having no significant Skitarri regiments, they could not achieve this feat alone, since Varrenshall possessed numerous PDF detachmetns.

Thus a pact was signed and horrors from the dark were summoned to the Archmagos’ presence. Then, having at his service Heretic Astartes, he set them loose on Varenshall to a terrifying success.

The system was subdued and the ore transports began to reach Tsagathoa and feed its ever-hungry daemon forges. Not long after, however, the Waaagh! struck Arthys IV and Varrenshall at the same time. While Arthys lacked any significant forces other than its own PDF garrison, Varrenshall was now defended by Heretic Astartes, and the Dark Mechanicum proved to be much more of an obstacle for the ork horde.

Imperial response

Military leaders at the Nguyen Naval Base, Belliose system, together with members of the Inquisition, have decided that the situation is grave indeed.

A plea for reinforcements was sent to Segmentum Command and, half a Terran Standard Year later, a force of Catachan jungle fighters, in the form of the 474th and 475th Catachan Regiments, were rerouted to the Corvus Cluster. These were followed soon after by the 3rd and 4th companies of the mighty Vorpal Swords Adeptus Astartes Chapter and a significant fleet of warships.

This newly arrived force was immediately dispatched to seize the probably fallen Arthys IV in order to provide a beachhead for the planned reconquering of the Burning Frontier. Thus the Corvus Cluster was about to be engulfed in yet even more bloodshed.

Click here to see more of the wonderful artwork of Dan Slider.

The Corus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.

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