Second Siege of Perlia
|Conflict||13th Black Crusade|
|Warmaster Varan (d)|| Commissar Ciaphas Cain|
Commodore Hubert Visiter
Necron force (size unknown)
| Perlian PDF and SDF; Perlian Volunteer Force (civilian milita);|
Inquisition security troops;
Somewhere in the 920s.M41, the planet Perlia came under attack by an Ork Waaagh! led by Warlord Gargash Korbul. The First Siege of Perlia was ultimately decided by the arrival of Commissar Ciaphas Cain, the reluctant hero of the Imperium, who led what became the "March of the Liberator" and freed Perlia from the Ork invasion.
Over seven decades later, in 999.M41, Perlia once more became a battleground, and once again Cain was involved. The 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler had just broken out, and Perlia was in the crosshairs of the forces of Chaos. Cain had retired from active service and now taught at a Schola Progenium on Perlia. Despite his advancing years, Cain was once again called to the defense of the planet.
Leading Up to the Siege
After the First Siege and in response to the encroaching threat of the Tau Empire, the Imperium decided to increase the military presence in the sectors surrounding the Damocles Gulf. Perlia was strategically located and in dire need of reconstruction following the siege, partly due to the Ork invaders, and partly due to Cain's somewhat reckless decision to destroy the dam in the Valley of Daemons and flood the Orks. As a result, several Imperial facilities were added to the planet, including the Schola Progenium where Cain taught, in the village of Salubria Parva near the planetary capital of Havensdown.[1a][1c]
Rumors had reached Perlia by that point of increased activity around the Cadian Gate and the launch of Abaddon's newest Black Crusade. While others among the faculty dismissed these rumors, believing that the Gothic War had permanently ended Abaddon's attempts to conquer the Imperium, Cain himself was not so certain.[1b] His fears were confirmed by a visit from an old friend, the rogue trader Orelius, whom Cain had met during the battle for Gravalax nearly seventy years earlier. Orelius was in the employ of another long-time friend of Cain's, Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Amberley Vail, and confirmed that there was a Chaos force heading directly for Perlia.[1d] The reason involved an incident dating back to the First Siege: In the dam in the Valley of Daemons, which Cain had destroyed to flood out the Ork invaders, was a hidden shrine of the Adeptus Mechanicus.[2a] There, the Ordo Xenos and the Mechanicus had been studying an artifact they had unearthed, an artifact known as the Shadowlight. This ancient artifact, predating Mankind itself, could awaken the powers of latent psykers and boost the powers of active ones.[2b] When Cain had discovered the shrine, he had found its defenders slain by precision gunfire, which he later discovered was bolter fire from Sisters of Battle under the direction of the insane Inquisitor Killian.[2c]
Inquisitor Vail believed that either Abaddon himself or one of his lackeys knew about the Shadowlight[1d] - possibly from any survivors of Killian's allied Chaos cults on Periremunda, Cain theorized[1e] - and had sent Orelius to Perlia in an attempt to retrieve the artifact.[1d] The Chaos force in question, which by that time had smashed through two systems that were much more heavily defended than Perlia's, was led by Varan the Undefeatable, one of Abaddon's Warmasters. Varan used charismatic oratory combined with mental dominance to sway whole populations to his cause, and now had his sights set on Perlia.[1f] Orelius stressed that it was imperative that the Shadowlight not get into the hands of Abaddon, Varan or any other enemy of the Imperium, and Cain promised (albeit reluctantly) to find a way to either get it off-planet or defend it from Varan's legions.
Once the Chaos force arrived and began to attack, three members of the Schola's faculty were appointed by the planetary governor, Lio Trevellyan, to lead the planet's defense – Colonel Rorkins, a retired stormtrooper, as commander-in-chief; Commodore Hubert Visiter, commanding the naval forces; and Cain himself, in the traditional role of the commissar, advising the command staff and boosting morale.[1g] Cain appeared on pictcasts all over Perlia calling for civilians to join the militia in the effort to defend their planet[1h].
Cain journeyed to the shrine in the Valley of Daemons and met with the senior Mechanicus project leader, a tech-priest named Felicia Tayber. She had been an enginseer captured by the Orks and liberated during the First Siege by Cain's ragtag army, which had included her brother Alaric, a sergeant in the Perlian PDF. Magos Tayber made it clear that the artifact could not be moved, and the Mechanicus and Inquisition representatives there did not believe that it could be destroyed.[1e] Cain, therefore, determined that it had to be defended.
The Siege Begins
The invasion begun approximately a week after Orelius's warning, with the first wave of Chaos vessels emerging from the Warp too close to the planet, blundering into the orbital minefields carefully placed according to Visiter's instructions; the explosions threw them into disarray, and Visiter's few ships reaped a heavy tally from them; only a hundred or so assault shuttles managed to make to the planet's surface, where they were quickly set upon by the PDF and the civilian militia. The second wave emerged more cautiously, and with more success[1i].
By the following morning, the Perlian defenders were holding back the invaders, but at the cost of fully committing their strength, while Varan had troops to spare. As the invaders re-focused their efforts on Havendown, Cain rushed to the city to evacuate the Governor[1j].
Cain, his cadets and Trevellyan were ambushed in the Governor's palace by members of their own PDF, turned to Chaos by Varan's arrival, in person, on the planet. The Governor and one of Cain's commissar-cadets were seriously wounded in the attack and were prepared to fend off the coming giants to save the lives of their comrades - a selfless act that inspired Cain to bestow his own crimson sash, the commissar's badge of office, to his young student.[1k] But both Trevellyan and the newly-minted commissar were captured and nursed back to health by Varan's forces, and Varan was able to turn both of them. Trevellyan appeared on the pictcasts himself, calling for the planet to surrender to the "liberating forces". Commander-in-Chief Rorkins acted swiftly, sending stormtroopers to locate Trevellyan's niece Illyria and install her as governor of Perlia, and Cain appeared on the pictcasts himself denouncing her tainted uncle as a traitor.[1l][1m]
After the capital fell, Cain and the commanders relocated their resources to the dam at the Valley of Daemons, where he had already prepared for such an eventuality with the skitarii contingent guarding the shrine. After an experiment in the capabilities of the Shadowlight opened a portal that summoned a daemon (which Cain and his ever-present loyal aide, Ferik Jurgen, subsequently dispatched), Cain and Tayber realized that Varan now knew where they were. [1n]
Making a desperate gambit, Cain contacted Varan and informed him that he was preparing to discuss terms of surrender. The Warmaster, thinking that Cain was preparing to surrender his forces, had decided to record the meeting between himself and the commissar, and was incensed when Cain demanded that Varan surrender to him. Shielded from Varan's mental persuasion by Jurgen's null abilities, Cain duelled the Chaos Warmaster in what seemed to be a recreation of his duel with Korbul eighty years earlier - once again, it was recorded for all to see, and once again, Cain was victorious, kicking "the Undefeatable" warlord from the roof of the shrine to his death. The Second Siege was effectively over.[1o]
With Varan dead, his army's commanders turned on each other in an effort for supremacy[1p]. The question of who would take Varan's place, however, soon became moot. Despite Cain's victory over Varan, his efforts to defend the Shadowlight came to naught.
A necron army, awakened from the asteroid mining station in an eccentric orbit around Perlia, had teleported onto the surface, destroyed what remained of Varan's army, and took the Shadowlight for themselves, disappearing as if into thin air with their prize. The artifact was believed to be linked to the C'tan, the necrons' mysterious deities, but the exact reason why or where they took it remains unclear. Upon her arrival, Inquisitor Amberley Vail sent a Deathwatch team to the asteroid, while she travelled to the surface to see where the Shadowlight had been held; the room had been sealed at Cain's order until the Inquisitor arrived.[1q]
- 1: Cain's Last Stand (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell:
- 1a: Chapter One, p. 14, fn. 1
- 1b: Chapter Five, p. 80
- 1c: Chapter Five, p. 80, fn. 1
- 1d: Chapter Six, pp. 106-110
- 1e: Chapter Fourteen, pp. 227-229
- 1f: Chapter Ten, pp. 171-173
- 1g: Chapter Nine, pp. 148-151
- 1h: Editorial Note after Chapter Ten
- 1i: Editorial Note after Chapter Fifteen
- 1j: Chapter Sixteen
- 1k: Chapter Seventeen, pp. 298-299
- 1l: Chapter Nineteen
- 1m: Editorial Note after Chapter Twenty
- 1n: Chapter Twenty-One, pp. 347-351
- 1o: Chapter Twenty-Four, pp. 393-396
- 1p: Editorial Note after Chapter Twenty-Four
- 1q: Chapter Twenty-Five, pp. 407-409
- 2: Duty Calls (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell