Burning Frontier

Strategic situation of Arthys IV

Long hidden from the Imperium’s view, the Varrenshall Subsector has been besieged by heretic, traitor, and xeno. It is our holy duty to the Emperor to cast out such filth and restore the rule of man.“—Lord Inquisitor Threnton

Historical Background

The Arthys System was once unofficially known as the “Jewel of Arthoria.” This name was derived from a long-isolated human civilization spanning several star systems that was isolated during the “Old Night,” the turbulent era from the 25th Millennium to the 30th Millennium also known as “The Age of Strife.”

During the compliance campaign in the Corvus Cluster, the Arthoria civilization peacefully embraced the invitation to join the Imperium and, within a dozen years, became fully integrated into the newly formed Varenshall Subsector. Its population, although capable of void travel and possessing numerous STC patterns of advanced technology, was very traditional and rooted in a feudal society.

Vast cities spanned Arthys IV, Arthoria’s former capital, many notable for their towering cathedrals and gothic architecture. In later years, less impressive but no less vast were numerous post-compliance buildings constructed to serve the Adeptus Administratum.

Life on Arthys IV was peaceful, although the population had a long martial tradition that often was expressed through military parades, tournaments, and personal duels. Such activities were, for the most part, cultivated by the nobility and the royal family, whose patriarch became planetary governor.

After achieving compliance with the Imperial Truth, the former Arthoria domain became fully tithed and began contributing to the Imperial war effort.

All mining and industrial operations in the Varrenshall Subsector were placed under the sovereignty of the newly established forge world of Tsagathoa—a vassal world of Stygies VIII. When the Adepts of the Mechanicum managed to establish an infrastructure, extensive mining operations began in the entirety of the subsector.

The Arthys System was no different.

Stellar Geography

The sun of the Arthys System consists of a Class G star, traditionally referred to by the system population as Sol. After compliance in M32, it was named Sol Novum.

The system consists of five planets: four inner rocky worlds, of which only Arthys IV has a viable atomosphere; and a fifth, outerlying ringed gas giant.

Separating the first three planets from the outer two is a giant asteroid belt. A secondary belt orbits beyond Arthys V, the ringed giant, and is noteworthy for ore-rich boulders that generally range from 100- to 2,000-meters in diameter.

It is this valuable—and easily mined—ore that led the Mechanicum to establish a string of space stations in the asteroid belt and launch extensive mining operations.

That extensive infrastructure, with its obvious benefits,, prompted the Arthys governor to accept the Mechanicum’s growing influence in the system. Indeed, he struck a deal with the forge world guaranteeing the Mechanicum’s perpetual right to the ore deposits in exchange for financial, industrial, and defensive support. The agreement was struck and cooperation lasting nine thousand years came into being.

Pre-Invasion Military

Strategically located within the subsector, and blessed with significant natural resources and a healthy and zealous population, Arthys IV became a world of interest for the then-Departmento Munitorum.

Military tithes were enacted, and the departmento established a sizable garrison of heavy infantry regiments on Arthys IV. Of those, 15 regiments were called to war and shipped to the war front in the latter years of the Great Crusade

Unfortunately for these new troops, and unbeknownst to all but the most senior officers, these regiments were deployed to reinforce the Beta-Garmon fortress world to help defend it from an invasion of heretical hordes serving under the traitor primarch Horus.

Out of nearly 18,000 soldiers sent to the front line, not a single soldier ever returned to Arthys IV. This event is referred to by the planet’s historians as the “culling,” a fitting epitaph for such a calamity—the single-most-deadly military disaster in the chronicles of Arthys IV . . . at least until the green tide of Waaagh Gorefist arrived.

Waaagh! Gorefist

Some half century ago, when the subsector was cut off by turbulent Warp activity and the Mechanicum of Tsagathoa betrayed the Emperor, the population of Arthys IV assumed the “Old Night” had returned. There was terror and strife, as well as the severance of stable warp routes that led out of the subsector to the rest of the galaxy.

The coming of horrors from beyond was expected in such times, yet the enemy that appeared proved to be of quite different nature than the horrors of old times.

In 680.M41, Waaagh! Gorefist came out of nowhere, sweeping clean the system’s deep-space defense platforms and utterly crushing Mechanicum garrisons still loyal to the Imperium stationed on mining bases in the system.

Within four months, ork warships moved deeper into the system, attacked Arthys IV’s orbital defense platforms, and blockaded the world as the greenskins overwhelmed all other pockets of resistance in the system.

On Arthys IV, Planetary Governor Cornelius Glaba LXXVI ordered full mobilization and the enactment of martial law. The entire planet was turned into a fortress.

Unfortunately for Imperial defenders, Warboss Gorefist was an experienced and cunning leader. He ordered his Mekboys to divert the orbit of several asteroids and move them to the planet. Once there, the orks dropped them on key military garrisons and fortresses. Thousands died, and the Planetary Defense Force (PDF) lost most of its heavy armor and military effectiveness to the resultant devastation.

To have any hope of defending the populace from the coming invasion, Gov. Glaba consolidated his forces and ordered defensive lines established around three major cities: Magna Arthoria, the capital city, Belram, and Volgia.

The trench works were completed barely in time. Days after the last surviving convoys reached these cities, the orks began making planetfall.

Greenskin Advance

The first target of the invasion was the city of Belram, a center of the Ecclesiarchy’s presence on the world. Yet, despite the zeal and sacrifice of its defenders, the city fell within a week. No prisoners were taken, and the majority of the city was looted and then leveled to the ground.

Soon after, the two remaining Imperial-held cities were besieged and surrounded by massive and implacable ork hordes.

Warboss Gorefist dispatched the majority of his forces to Volgia, hoping for a quick victory that would give him access to the large and valuable power plants located in the city’s Mechanicum district.

In command of the city’s defenses was the old and experienced veteran, Gen. Elbrad, who put to good use his knowledge of siege warfare—knowledge accumulated over several campaigns fought alongside the infamous Death Korps of Krieg.

Thanks to the general’s brilliant tactics, an unending series of ork assaults were met with precise and lethal tactics that bled the ork horde considerably. Every citizen, be he professional guardsmen or newly drafted civilian, was put to service.

Yet, despite this fierce resistance, human casualties rose into the thousands, and eventually the ork horde breached the city’s defenses after two months of never-ending assaults. That day the sky over Volgia darkened due to the number of Dakkajets and assaulting Stormboyz troops. Human anti-air guns were white hot from constant fire, but no amount of heroic effort could stop the onslaught.

In a final heroic effort to inflictt as much damage to the ork war effort as remotely possible, Gen. Elbrad, by means unknown, managed to convince the Mechanicum overseers to overload the city’s plasma reactors. The resultant explosion turned the entire city into one huge crater spanning several kilometers. Although the city of Volgia was gone, so,  too, disappeared a sizable portion of the orks’ specialized assault troops.

Magna Arthoria

Furious at this development, Warboss Gorefist threw the entirety of his remaining forces at Magna Arthoria. Due to the sacrifice of the other cities in delaying the ork advance, however, Gov. Glaba was able to build up the capital city’s defenses and gather as many survivors from other forces as he possibly could.

The siege line around Magna Arthoria closed shut within a week of the fall of Volgia. What followed were several months of repeated ork assaults, intermixed by periods of relentless barrage from Mek artillery that was built from the looted scraps taken from fallen cities and battle-damaged vehicles.

The capital city proved a formidable obstacle for Gorefist. He threw away countless Deff Dreads and Killa Kans as they pushed hard down narrow streets littered with the ruins of gothic architecture. Thousands of ork Boyz fell to lasgun and artillery fire. Specialist troops, such as Kommandos, Burna Boyz, and Lootas, and mobs of Nobs, fell scant meters from the human trench line.

Yet human casualties were heavy, too, and eventually the first line of defenses, surrounding the city’s suburbs, was lost. The defenders fell back and consolidated in the defenses around the city center, which came under repeated attacks from all directions simultaneously.

Faced with inevitable doom and, with no hope of receiving reinforcements, Governor Glaba ordered all able-bodied troops to retreat through the sewer system, move away from the city, and scatter into the wilderness of the nearby mountain range. The war would continue as a guerilla action.

The governor decided to stay and oversee a token defending force, in hopes of keeping the orks’ attention focused on the city center and buying those fleeing with as much time as possible to make their escape. Two hundred volunteers stayed behind, along with twice that number of wounded guardsmen who could not reasonably escape,

It was a valiant effort. This laughably small force managed to draw the attention of Gorefist himself, who personally led the final assault—an attack on the final barricades that defended the city square in front of the Grand Cathedral of St. Justus.

It was enough. Nearly 3,000 defenders—guardsmen, skitarii rangers, and drafted civilians—managed to escape to the mountains. Over the coming years, this small force would harass ork forces with numerous ambushes, nighttime raids, and sabotage missions on Mek shops, supply centers, and isolated ork patrols. This valiant effort, however, mattered little. The entire Arthys System had fallen to the orks.

Warboss Gorefist was content to withdraw the majority of his forces after assuring that the guerrilla fighters were nothing more than nuisance, and the warboss redeployed his forces to a new war front opened by his ever-expanding Waaagh!  He targeted the Varrenshall system, where the green tide even still clashes with the Dark Mechanicum heretics and their Night Lords allies.

New Hope

On 6 840.729.M41, the veil of the Warp lifted with the discovery of a stable warp route between the Vandershall Subsector and the rest of the Corvus Cluster. It would take eight years before the discoverer, Rogue Trader Maximo Florton, would return to the Imperial space to report his findings. It would months later before Imperial authorities were prepared to act.

Yet, by 6 136 739.M41, some 27 years after the fall of Arthys IV, the subsector is entering a new phase of conflict. An Imperial retribution crusade made the perilous journey to the subsector and established a base on the world of Port Halborg. At the forefront of this crusade stood an unyielding conqueror—Captain Theron Mograin of the Vorpal Swords Space Marine Chapter—who has sworn on his life to deliver the Emperor’s Light to this corner of the galaxy long forgotten by most of the Imperium.

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

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