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Battle of Armatura

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The Battle of Armatura
Conflict The Shadow Crusade, part of the Horus Heresy
Date 007.M31
Location Armatura
Outcome Traitor Victory
Combatants
Worldeaterslogo.gif World Eaters
WBSymbolPreHeresy.jpg Word Bearers
Ultramarines Symbol.png Ultramarines
Commanders
Primarch Angron
Primarch Lorgar Aurelian
Centurion Kharn
Commander Argel Tal
Flag-Captain Lotara Sarrin
Princeps Venric Solostine(d)
Legatus Orfeo(d)
Strength
Significant World Eaters and Words Bearers forces
Legio Audax
The Conqueror
The Fidelitas Lex
The Blessed Lady
The Trisagion
several dozen smaller vessels
The Evocati; several thousand Ultramarines
believed 1 billion Armaturan Academy Guard and Armaturan Wardens
Legio Lysanda
significant System Defence Fleet and orbital defences
Losses/Survivors
World Eaters: significant
Word Bearers: moderate
total extermination


The Battle of Armatura was a conflict that took place during the Shadow Crusade, a campaign designed by Primarch Lorgar Aurelian to wreak much havoc upon the domain of Ultramar, and more besides. Noted in the annals of the World Eaters as a particularly gruelling conflict, it is chiefly notable for the following reasons: Both Lorgar and Angron took to the field amidst the heaviest fighting and were both almost slain, and it was during this battle that Angron discarded his axe, Gorechild, after which it would be recovered and repaired for use by the World Eaters champion, Kharn.[1]

Prelude

While the main Word Bearers offensive was directed against almost the entirety of the Ultramarines legion in the Battle of Calth, Lorgar had already broken up the remainder of his legion and ordered it to fall upon the other worlds of Ultramar in a campaign of directed planetary murder; the Shadow Crusade. He personally led a small contingent of Word Bearers, in conjunction with a large force of World Eaters under their Primarch, Angron, as part of this campaign. The primarchs assigned themselves the Fortress World of Armatura as a principal target, due to its nature as a recruitment, training, shipyard and armoury depot of the Ultramarines legion.[1a]

Battle

The Void-War

The combined fleet of the Word Bearers and World Eaters powered into the Armatura system and wasted no time in engaging the defence forces. While this armada was a sizable naval force by any standards - two Gloriana-class battleships and several dozen escorts - the system defences of Armatura were reckoned so strong that the outcome of the opening void-war was predicted to be an easy victory for the defenders. Once battle was joined, however, Lorgar's strategem became clear. Dropping out of Warp practically inside combat range came, unexpectedly, not one, but two Abyss-class kingships. These vessels (the Blessed Lady and the Trisagion) were so powerful that they dramatically altered the odds in favour of the attackers. With the Abyss-class vessels obliterating the orbital defence platforms, the initial attacking fleet elements initiated their drop-pod dispersal.[1a]

Down in the Dust

The strategy of the invading legions was simple; assault the main concentration of enemy forces, currently grouped in the planetary capital, and grind them from existence, ripping them apart from the inside-out. This battle-plan was formed perhaps more out of necessity than stratagem, as by this point in their careers, the World Eaters were regular victims to the debilitating effects of the Butcher's Nails, the aggression-stimulating implants that almost all in the legion now possessed. As a result, while specific troop movements were planned and expected to be carried out, everyone was fully aware that the World Eaters could, singly or in groups of varying size, abandon strategy and simply assault the defenders until they were dead.[1b]

The early stages of the battle saw the World Eaters drop into concentrations of Armaturan Academy Guard; their defensive strongpoints, barracks and training grounds, in an attempt to wipe out the human soldiery. Many of these soldiers were young, earmarked for recruitment into the Ultramarines; they died alongside the rest. The only real danger to the World Eaters forces at this stage was from massed concentration of fire, and the individual Ultramarines legionaries peppered amongst the Academy Guard as platoon leaders. Under concentrated assault from Astartes warriors, the Academy Guard positions broke. Many units and individuals of the World Eaters - Kharn amongst them - surrendered to the Nails and pursued them recklessly. The World Eaters' advance became confused over the next several hours, with command and control breaking down, due not only to officers becoming lost in battle-frenzy, but to the great swathes of dust and smoke thrown up by the battle that seemed to hang in the air rather than disperse, and which occluded communications. Advancing in support, the Word Bearers forces chose to refrain from getting lost in the throng, and instead took their time in cleaning out stragglers and the wounded in areas the World Eaters had already passed through, even engaging in various ritual behaviours.[1b]

The dust and confusion was then added to by the Ultramarines' planned, defensive demolition of specific buildings, designed to create chokepoints, kill-zones and also to simply crush the attacking legions under their collapse. This resulted in a large-scale funnelling effect, with the World Eaters' advance - now finally beginning to regain some cohesion - being forced into specific junctions of the capital city. These junctions quickly became murderous ground for the World Eaters to take, and casualties began to climb. As Angron - lost to the Nails - dropped off the command grid, Kharn (having regained control after his earlier own berserk period), attempted to co-ordinate an advance with Word Bearers and Legio Audax forces, before leading his men in after their missing Primarch.[1b]

Valika Junction

Angron had vanished from communications and sight at one of the prepared Ultramarine killing grounds - Valika Junction - when a building had been explosively demolished next to him, burying him in tonnes of rubble. Badly wounded and lost in a mental fugue, Angron was in trouble. Fortunately, his mind was found both by that of Lorgar (currently overseeing the void-battle) and by that of the World Eaters' own Librarium. Long scorned and effectively abandoned in terms of respect and support, even before the Council of Nikea, the World Eaters Librarians were few in number, but still skilled. Angron's fractured psyche and inherent resistance to psychic communication meant that they had to link their own minds and form a powerful gestalt consciousness to reach him, but reach him they did, sparking the weakened Primarch back into vitality and directing him in which way to dig, so that he could begin to work his way out of the deep hole and rubble pile he had been trapped in.[1c]

Meanwhile, Kharn's advance into Valika was meeting much of the same problems that Angron's had. Despite other tactical possibilities being open to them, the World Eaters simply could not bring themselves to avoid attempting open combat with the defending Ultramarines, and while the Armaturan Guard offered little trouble to Astartes troops, the Ultramarines of the Evocatus, dug in, determined and with plenty of ambushes and booby traps ready, were causing severe difficulties. Once the World Eaters had gotten past the initial choke and ambush points, they suffered under sniper and supporting gunship fire in the open killing ground. Kharn's 8th, 20th and 67th companies were being cut apart, and the promised Word Bearers support had failed to materialise. [1c]

That is, until a particular Word Bearer quite literally materialised in the air above the junction. The ground too cratered, broken up and filled with battling troops for a normal teleport-lock to work, the teleportation locus was opened thirty metres above the fighting; the Primarch Lorgar Aurelian fell out of it. Air-dislocation and the force of his landing bowled over everyone in the vicinity, allowing the Primarch to land safely. Immediately however, he was targeted by an Ultramarines Thunderhawk gunship. Deflecting the incoming fire with telekinesis, Lorgar further used his power to reach up and pull the gunship from the sky, smashing it apart. Danger averted, he began to frantically dig at the ground, casting rubble aside in marked haste.[1c]

The reason for this haste - other than brotherly concern - swiftly became apparent when the ground began to shake. Realising that they were about to face enemy Titans, Kharn hastily called in his own Titan support, the Legio Audax. The Ultramarine-allied Titans - Legio Lysanda - arrived first. Emboldened by the Titans, the Evocati defenders counter-assaulted the World Eaters, almost overwhelming them. Any who attempted to attack Lorgar, however, were instantly killed by telekinetic force. Even a Lysanda Warhound Titan perished to the Primarch of the Word Bearers, a piece of rubble as large as a Rhino APC telekinetically propelled through it's cockpit. Even with Lorgar, however, the World Eaters began to be massacred, their infantry and light tanks unable to stand up to the Evocati Titans and supporting larger armour pieces. Sensing a breakthrough, the Ultramarines quickly scrambled troops and gunships from other combat areas into Valika Junction. With still no sign or signal from the promised Word Bearer support, Kharn took to broadcasting on a wide channel that the Word Bearer Primarch was with them and in danger. As expected, a response - from Torgal of the Word Bearer's 7th Chapter - was swift in coming; reinforcements would be despatched.[1c]

Titans

Exploiting the Evocati counter-attack, a second Lysanda Warhound - Ardentor - approached the great crater Lorgar was excavating, and opened fire upon him, not once, but twice, with its Plasma Blastgun. At such a range, it was impossible to miss. Both strikes hit the Word Bearer's Primarch directly. The first, he was able to largely block with a telekinetic shield, resulting in only slight heat damage to his armour. The second, which he also managed to throw a shield up against, was far more damaging however; not even Lorgar's powers could resist such firepower in so short a time. Still, rather than being vapourised, the Primarch was charred and burnt all over his entire body, his armour ruined, his knees striking the ground, and his head bowed. Unmoving, he appeared dead. To make sure, the Princeps of Ardentor ordered their remaining functional anti-infantry bolt weapons (the Blastgun now starved of energy) unleashed. The shells found their target, blowing the Primarch onto his back, great rents blasted clear through him. Ardentor closed the gap, determined to make absolutely sure of Lorgar's death, one foot descending over his body to crush him. But the foot would not descend.[1c]

For Angron had finally clawed his way to the surface, and seeing the Titan's limb coming down to crush his brother, raised his own against it. The strength of the Emperor's gene-forged titan met that of the mechanical power of Mars...and held. Urging the barely alive Lorgar to crawl clear, Angron threw all his might into keeping the Titan's foot raised.[1d]

Succour for the Primarchs came in the form of a dark sister to the Ardentor; the Syrgalah, the Ember Queen of Legio Audax. Already inbound to the Junction, it's commander, Princeps Venric Solostine had been contacted by Fleet-Captain Lotara Sarrin, who had been made aware of the situation on the ground. She urged Solostine to kill Ardentor as the highest priority. Coming in behind the Lysanda engine, the Syrgalah fired her ursus claw straight and true, the giant magnetic harpoon spearing through the back and cockpit of the Ardentor, slaying her crew instantly. Winding in the chain, Ardentor was toppled backwards, and the Primarchs were saved.[1d]

With this event, the World Eaters were re-emboldened, and surged back against the demoralised Evocati. Word Bearers reinforcements arrived, including several aircraft, and soon the Junction was secured for the invading forces. Casualties however, had been high; hundred of World Eaters had been killed, and both Primarchs injured; Lorgar to near death. As Aurelian quit the field, Angron cast about for a weapon; his own axes had been lost or damaged beyond immediate use in his escape from his rubble tomb. Giving up on them, he moved off to re-enter battle. Kharn, however, while temporarily resting his men, organising resupply and Apothecary operations, found one of the Primarch's weapons; Gorechild. Calling up a Mechanicum Adept, he ordered it removed for repair.[1d]

No Surrender

Around this time, the commander of the Evocati, Legatus Orfeo of the Ultramarines, contacted Fleet-Captain Sarrin with a request for the invader's surrender. Laughing, Sarrin declined. The war in the void was essentially won; the ground war could not be in doubt. After all, if things turned bad, Sarrin believed they could just bombard the defenders from orbit, despite Angron's distaste for such a tactic. Sarrin proved slightly over-confident however; while destroying the last Ultramarine vessel, she brought her ship - the World Eaters flagship, the Conqueror - in close enough for it to be boarded by around ninety space marines. The boarding action was costly, as the Legion flagship standing defence force - the Triarii - had elected to engage in the drop assault rather than remain on board...without telling the captain. Sarrin was forced to wake the special Dreadnought contingent stowed aboard the flagship, and ask them to defend it. What made these warriors special was that they were the forgotten; old veterans who, for various reasons, had been entombed and written off; upon awakening, they had first to actually be briefed on the fact that they would be fighting Ultramarines...fellow legionaries. These thirteen Dreadnoughts, under the command of Lhorke, once Legion Master, were able to successfully defend the Conqueror, but not without struggle or damage taken. Indeed, at the actions' end, only three of them - including Lhorke - survived.[1e]

Similar costly, last move actions on the ground closed out the battle. The revitalised World Eaters once again crashed into an ambush point and suffered losses, although this time it appeared the Ultramarines would not be falling back any further. Their gunships shot down and the Word Bearers stymied, Kharn realised that his forces were being baited into running across a killing ground covered by enemy Vindicators, and after that, into an implacable Ultramarines shield wall. His orders not to engage, not to fall for it, not to advance heedlessly...were not long obeyed. Even Kharn himself gave into the bloodlust; the World Eaters charged.[1e]

Soon, almost all the main forces of both sides were engaged in an all-out bloody melee on the main plaza of the city, armour, gunship and Titan battles taking place above and alongside the ferocious close-quarters infantry combat. During this battle, the Legio Audax command Titan, Syrgalah, was bested by an enemy Reaver, her Princeps - not long after his saving of the lives of two Primarchs - killed. The surviving crew crawled from the wreckage, only to be confronted by a combat squad of Ultramarines. But before the Evocati could open fire, a dark shape dropped into their midst; Commander Argel Tal of the Word Bearers. Slaying the Ultramarines, Argel Tal got the Syrgalah survivors to safety, before returning to the main battle to fight at Kharn's side. The two sworn sword-brothers fought back-to-back in the toughest fighting, saving each other's lives at least once. Soon, they had fought their way to the enemy commander; Legatus Orfeo. Claiming the right to fight him personally, Kharn engaged the Ultramarine commander, leaving his four honour guard for Argel Tal. Orfeo and Kharn duelled for some length of time, the Ultramarine almost getting the best of the World Eater on several occasions, but never managing a finishing blow. Eventually, the duel paused, both combatants breaking apart for a moment of rest. It was then that the relative stillness of the battlefield struck them; looking around, both Kharn and Orfeo realised they were surrounded by the victorious World Eaters and the Word Bearers reinforcements, who had arrived in time to finish off the defending forces. With respect, Kharn pointed out the obvious to Orfeo; the battle was over. Orfeo, defiant, replied that he would therefore accept Kharn's surrender. This moment of strange, shared levity passed quickly amongst all who surrounded the proud Ultramarine, who then took up his guard position. Before Kharn could move to re-engage him in their duel, another form stepped forward; Angron. Overruling his equerry, the Primarch made it clear that he would be the one to finish the last of the Evocati. Disgusted, Kharn turned and walked away, Argel Tal right behind him.[1e]

With the main combat action over, the Word Bearers busied themselves in making prisoners of the surviving, wounded defenders and securing the battle theatre. The battered World Eaters returned to their vessels, ready to move onto the next world their Primarch would inevitably order murdered.[1e]

Sources