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Battle of Sotha
Conflict Horus Heresy
Date ~009.M31
Location Ultima Segmentum
Outcome Loyalist tactical victory
Combatants
Night Lords Ultramarines
Commanders
Captain Krukesh the Pale(KIA)
Captain Gendor Skraivok
Captain Adallus(KIA)
Captain Lucretius Corvo
Captain Alexis Polux
Warsmith Barabas Dantioch(KIA)
Strength
20,000 legionaries of the Night Lords Legion
approx. 3,000 legionaries of the Ultramarines Legion
500 legionaries of the Dark Angels Legion
Losses/Survivors
almost total losses of Night Lords legion heavy losses of Imperial Forces


The Battle of Sotha was a minor battle of the Horus Heresy, in which the forces of the Night Lords Traitor Legion attempted to assume control of the Pharos beacon on the planet Sotha. As the Pharos beacon was key instument in maintaining the cohesion of Imperium Secundus, the battle on periphery of Ultima segmentum turned into strategically important struggle for future of Imperium Secundus.

Early Events

Planet Sotha was discovered by exploration fleets from Ultramar during Great Crusade. After its discovery it was planned to colonize it but these plans were put on hold and instead a small agri-colony was established together with survey expedition of archeologists and xenoculturists. One company of the Ultramarines legion, the 199th, was assignet permanently to Sotha as protective detail.[1a]

After the start of Horus Heresy, primarch Roboute Gulliman assigned loyalist warsmith Barabas Dantioch to direct and oversee exploration of the Pharos beacon machine in order to utilize its use to benefit Ultramar and Imperium Secundus. Later in the course of events, Imperial Fist captain Alexis Polux volunteered to help Dantioch.[1b]

Without knowledge of either Dantioch, Polux or captain Adallus, commander of the 199th company, a blind spot near local Mandeville point was designated as rendezvous point for Night Lords fleet elements during Thramas Crusade. After their fleet was scattered following their defeat by Dark Angels several vessels, including the Umber Prince, Dominus Noctem and Shadow Blow used this rendezvous point to regroup and repair battle damage. At the time of Pharos activation only Umber Prince under command of claw-master Gendor Skraivok of the 45th Company remained on station but some time later a fleet translated into Sothan System. It was a Night Lords fleet commanded by Kyroptera member, Krukesh the Pale captain of 103rd Company. Witnessing activation of Pharos beacon, Krukesh decided to invade the system in order to determine function of the beacon.[2]

The Battle

Infiltration

Night Lords' invasion of Sothan System consisted of two main phases. In first phase, wreck of strike cruiser Nycton was brought on collision course with Sotha[3a]. The drifting wreck was intercepted by Venom-class destroyer Probity commanded by sergeant Lethicus and after short investigation it was destroyed by repeated torpedo strikes from the Probity. After destruction of Nycton, sergeant Lethicus decided to inform company and system command about the interception and destruction and ordered Probity to set course for Relay Station Seven, one of the vox-relay stations seeded throughout the system. Aboard this station, there was however force of thirty-two Night Lords legionaries under Skraivok's command that boarded the station fourteen days prior to Nycton's destruction[3b]. Short but intense close-quarters fight erupted when sergeant Lethicus begun to suspect there was enemy presence aboard the vox-relay station and led fifteen warriors of his squad in counter attack against the Night Lords[3c]. He was however ambushed and Skraivok and his force, even after sustaining significant losses, captured Probity[3d].

Battle of Aegida Platform

The second phase of Sothan System invasion consisted of use of the captured destroyer Probity to neutralize Ultramarines legion forces aboard orbital station called Aegida Platform. Probity approached the station and after vox contact was established one of crew members was under torture forced to mislead Captain Adallus into allowing Probity to dock with Aegida Platform. Once boarding force, again under command of Gendor Skraivok, gained entry to Aegida Platform, presence of the Night Lords fleet was revealed. The boarding force managed to quickly overwhelm defences of Ultramarines aboard the orbital station and managed to capture captain Adallus and kill or capture half of 199th Company[3g]. Only one Neophyte Scout squad, the 55th, of 199th Company's Scout Cohort managed to escape Aegida Platform[3e] using Thunderhawk gunship and land on Sotha where they started to harrass Night Lords forces[3i].

Planetary Assault and Fight for Planetary Supremacy

While battle raged aboard Aegida Platform the remaining forces under Krukesh's command performed combat landing on Sotha without much opposition. Night Lords deployed majority of 20,000 legionaries in at least seven companies with siege tanks and support vehicles[3g]. This force quickly overrun 199th Company's planetside castellum and killed all but approximately hundred Ultramarines of the 199th[3g]. Their second target was the city of Sothopolis where individual warriors and also whole squads of Night Lords either massacred city's population or captured it and subjected it to torture. Some of the city's inhabitants were evacuated into safety of Mount Pharos by soldiers of Sothan First Auxilia[3f].

After subjecting Sothan population to torture, at least seven companies (7th, 19th, 23rd, 45th, 89th, 103rd and 104th)[3j] launched an all out attack on Mount Pharos. Pharos facility's defence was designed by warsmith Dantioch and commanded by captain Alexis Polux who had at his disposal hundred and twenty legionaries - survivors of the 199th Company and members of Polux's own Lightkeepers[3g]. Defenders used several blind caves to lure Night Lords attackers into launching assaults on these defended positions, inflicting heavy losses[3h], while the Sothan First Auxilia units and Aegida Company's Scouts conducted reconnaissance patrols and launched ambushes from more concealed positions higher on the slopes of the mountain[3i].

Due to heavy anti-aircraft fire from Mount Pharos' fortification, Emperor's Watch, and the interference of Pharos' beam an aerial or teleport assault on the Pharos facility was not possible[3j]. However after a daemon, using the body of Librarian Berenon, 45th Company's librarian, managed to strike a deal with Gendor Skraivok exchanging possession of Skraivok's body for his survival of Sothan Battle, revealed a means to gain teleport lock inside Mount Pharos, the stalemate was broken[3j]. Without revealing source of his information, Skraivok shared his knowledge of how to invade the mountain with Krukesh, who decided to launch and lead immediate teleport assault accompanied by his company's Terminator Claw. Simultaneously, Skraivok rejoined the ground assault that finally succeeded to gain access inside Mount Pharos and into facility, capturing both Dantioch and Polux in the process[3k].

Relief Force and Conclusion of Battle

Once primarch Guilliman was made aware of the situation via Pharos' communication beam, he ordered Dantioch to contact captain Lucretius Corvo, hero of Astagar and commander of 90th 'Nova' Company, who was nearby in the Beremin system with two and half Ultramarines companies and Dark Angels demi-company, to move with his squadron and companies to Sotha. Per Guilliman's orders he was to launch diversionary attacks to slow down Night Lords advance. Corvo's diversionary attacks were to provide more time to Mount Pharos' defenders and also to allow larger relief force under Guilliman's personal command to arrive to Sothan system and defeat the traitors[3g]. Corvo and his squadron left Beremin system immediately after receiving his orders and set course for Sothan System using the Pharos beam to guide his course through the Ruinstorm. At the time when Pharos was captured by Night Lords final assault, Corvo's squadron experienced sudden drop of speed and he ordered immediate activation of immaterium drive to enact emergency translation into realspace. All of his vessels were damaged by the emergency re-entry into realspace and one ship, Spear of Hermia, was destroyed after her reactor detonated. The squadron was however only nine hours of flight from Sotha[3k]. Corvo ordered his ships to launch a salvo of torpedoes and missiles that preceeded them. Thanks to having translated out of immaterium with high residual velocity, it caught the Night Lords fleet by surprise. Several Night Lords vessels were damaged and other were provoked into pursuit of Ultramarines vessels. This created window of opportunity for Corvo's flagship, the Glorius Nova, and for Dark Angels vessel, the Watcher. While Watcher engaged remaining Night Lords vessels and was destroyed in the process, Corvo led a strike force of hundred and twenty-six legionaries of his company to relieve defenders of Mount Pharos. On the surface of Sotha, Corvo's strike force linked up with Sothan First Auxilia soldiers and Scouts of 199th Company. Scouts led the strike force into caverns under Mount Pharos while soldiers of Sothan First Auxilia engaged Night Lords pursuit force and delayed them before they were destroyed [3l].

Not knowing that the relief force is only few hours from rescuing him, warsmith Dantioch located the Nightfall, flagship of the Night Lords legion after being tortured and blackmailed by threats to Polux. Krukesh knowing that his forces above the planet were engaged by Ultramarines vessels decided to use Pharos and transport himself and Skraivok aboard the Nightfall. Dantioch used this to tune the Pharos beacon into overpower that killed most of the Night Lords legionaries in Primary Location Alpha, transported blinded Krukesh and Skraivok to Nightfall and disabled majority of shipboar systems and power armour systems on planet and in orbit above it. This way, he turned the tide against the traitors and enabled Ultramarines victory costing Dantioch his life [3m].

Aftermath

The last light of Pharos beacon enabled second relief force led by primarch Guilliman to translate directly into Sothan System. This second fleet reinforced Corvo's vessels and hunted down disabled Night Lords vessels in the system. Guilliman posthumously awarded Dantioch the title Hero of Imperium, inducted the neophytes who survived the battle into legion and promoting their leader to the rank of Reconnaissance Squad Sergeant. Under Polux's guidance a partial functionality of Pharos beacon was restored and Guilliman announced construction of larger fortress to guard Mount Pharos [3n].

Sources