“I’ve heard it said that, in an Imperium of a million worlds, what matters the loss of one? Well, it matters to me. Dozaria will not fall.”—Captain Rafael Belloch, 3rd Company, Knights of Altair Space Marine Chapter
“Sickness, disease, plague and pox, suffering and the slow, living rot. Such wondrous gifts does Nurgle seek to bestow upon the unworthy human cattle of the Imperium. We are merely the vectors by which his virulent beneficence may be spread to the undeserving masses.”—Urgloth Rotheart, Plague Champion of the Death Guard
++ Status of Dozaria Campaign ++
Historical Briefing: Initial Traitor Attack
6 181 738.M41 – 6 278 738.M41
+ Classified data, Security Clearance Theta-One-Omega +
Steady Chaos Gains
For Imperial forces, the long-term outlook of the war looked grim. Although Imperial resistance was stiffening, the enemy army was being constantly reinforced, and, despite the distribution of respirators and anti-viral supplements, the Kassig Plague continued to thin the ranks of the PDF.
At the highest level of command, Supreme Commander of the PDF, General Hagan Kirkeby, and Captain Zorael of the 4th Company of the Blood Angels, agreed that Dozaria’s only chance was to trade space for time—and hope that calls for Imperial assistance would lead to a speedy Imperial response.
Yet, Imperil forces could not fall back constantly; certain key industrial and military sites had to be held at all costs. The result was a costly loss in men and material.
After the fall of the Loraca Basin military base, for example, the 3rd PDF Corps was forced to retreat across the Laguna River. To buy time for 50,000 men to cross the two-kilometer-wide river, the 99th PDF Regiment was forced to make a final stand, holding off an entire company of Death Guard and a newly arrived Festering Death, a traitor Titan Legion that had sold its soul to the Chaos god known as Nurgle.
In two days of fighting, the 10,000 men of the regiment were wiped out, but in doing so, remnants of the 5th, 19th, 22nd, and 23rd regiments managed to reach safety—and continue the fight.
Meanwhile, near the south pole, Chaos forces advanced northward across frozen ice floes and snow-covered tundra, seemingly unaffected by temperatures that made it impossible for PDF troops to effectively defend. Although the land was nearly worthless strategically, the Chaos advance was largely bloodless and brought Death Guard and heretical warbands closer to more populated, more temperate regions.
As more population centers fell to the invaders, rumors spread of horrible atrocities being committed. One warband of Death Guard, called the Bilious Ones, seized the city of Mygor, to the northeast of Alicante, rounded up the population, and impaled more than 30,000 on stakes.
As horrifying, the traitor Astartes smeared infected blood on the wounds of the impaled, leaving these victims to succumb to the plague and, unable to die from their wounds, these maddened, mindless souls reportedly still flail and thrash on their stakes to this day.
Another warband, known as the First to Fall, marched north from the southern polar regions and assaulted the port city of Ulthar. The municipal water supply was seized and poisoned, and nearly 80,000 residents subsequently succumbed to the Kassig Plague, turning into mindless zombies that were herded in front of the Death Guard to serve as cannon fodder as they advanced farther north.
These atrocities and more were broadcast on video frequencies across the planet in an attempt to demoralize Imperial resistance. Decrees forbade listening to such videocasts, but human nature being as it is, some citizens did out of curiosity. As they shared what they saw with others, they did the traitors’ work, spreading dismay and panic that led to increasingly draconian security measures being directed at the populace.
To limit the damage of such rumors, individual vox receivers were confiscated from the populace, and summary execution was ordered for anyone caught repeating the traitor propaganda.
By 6 278 738.M41, traitor forces controlled nearly one-quarter of the planet’s surface, and signs of ecological collapse were frighteningly obvious.
Among the victims of the biological pathogens spreading across the land were native wildlife and, later, vegetation. Dozarian antelope, Grot herds, and all manner of smaller animals, birds, insects, and marine life fell by the billions, adding to the biological rot of untold dead civilians and providing a fertile breeding ground for Rot Flies and other Warp-tainted vermin.
At the same time, the world’s flora began to wither and die. In the Loraca Basin, once-verdant agricultural land became a barren wasteland, and entire forests lost their leaves as sap bled from the trunks of individual trees.
“The entire food cycle is beginning to fail,” biologis Quegox c-99 warned Imperial authorities at this time. “Insects are feeding on diseased plants and flesh and dying. Without healthy insects, vegetation cannot propagate. Without vegetation, animals and livestock die.”
Growing clouds of Rot Flies and other infected vermin also attacked the ecosystem. Both flora and fauna were infected with a host of diseases and Warp-tainted fungi, all spread by vermin that quickly outraced the fighting Nurgle-worshipping troops and were carried by the wind deep into Imperial-held territory.
II twas only through the most stringent and ruthless rationing of uncontaminated food that any Imperial defense was possible. But, given the majority of food was distributed to combat-ready troops, starvation and finally rioting broke out among the civilian population. To maintain order, mass executions were necessary and soon were responsible for as many civilian deaths per day as starvation or disease.
++ End Historical Report + +
The next chapter documenting events in the Dozaria Campaign has yet to be finished by scholars. But we can hope that historians will catch up to the “present” (mid-740.M41) in the near future.—TheGM
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K narrative campaign documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.