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12th Black Crusade

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Black Crusades of Abaddon the Despoiler 1st - 2nd - 3rd - 4th - 5th - 6th - 7th - 8th - 9th - 10th - 11th - 12th - 13th

Targetdrone.gif This article is about the the 12th Black Crusade, also known as the Gothic War. For other uses of Gothic War, see Gothic War (disambiguation).
Gothic War/12th Black Crusade
The Battle of Schindlegeist
Conflict Long War
Date 143-151.M41
Location Gothic Sector
Outcome Imperial Victory
Forces of Chaos Imperium of Man
Abaddon the Despoiler
Heinrich Bale
Admiral Cornelius von Ravensburg
Admiral Spire
Marshal Jamahl Byzantane
Inquisitor Thadus Valconet Horst
Many Chaos Space Marine Fleets Battlefleet Gothic
Battlefleet Cadia
Battlefleet Agripinaa
Eldar Fleets
Defeated Unknown, Heavy

The Twelfth Black Crusade, or Gothic War, was a vast campaign launched by Abaddon the Despoiler which engulfed the Gothic Sector. It consisted of hundreds of planetary invasions and naval battles and only ended when Abaddon was forced to retreat to the immaterium with the arrival of Imperial reinforcements. It saw the destruction of several planets and four of the six Blackstone Fortresses as well as the deaths of billions of Imperial citizens.[4]

"At the time of the twelfth,
All things will be decided".

Build-up to War

Early in 139.M41, the Imperial Navy scout frigate Ascendance received a garbled plea for help from the Arx station's elderly Astropath. The attackers were unknown and when reinforcements arrived four months later, there was no sign of those responsible. The Imperial Guardsmen stationed on the planet had been wiped out and their bodies had been horribly mutilated. The Inquisition sent one of its agents, the experienced Inquisitor Horst, to Arx to investigate the matter, but there was little evidence left for him to sift uncover.[1a]

Just a little over a year after the Arx Raid, several patrols made a grisly discovery in the Athena Sector. A number of Imperial merchant starships and warships were discovered to be drifiting through the void uncontrolled. Upon being boarded, it was learned that the crews of all these ships were dead, their stinking, disease-ridden corpses strewn along the corridors, some still at their stations. A rumour had spread among the vessels of the Imperial Navy in the Segmentum that the attacks were being carried out by an ancient Chaos warship called the Plagueclaw, a vessel whose diseased followers were dedicated body and soul to Nurgle. Inquisitor Thadus Valconet Horst became convinced that the Forces of Chaos were planning to unite in a new Black Crusade against the Imperium. The watchposts around the Cadian Gate were put on high alert and Imperial Navy warships from all over the Segmentum Obscurus were ordered to defend the space around Cadia. Gradually, scattered reports of unusual activity and sightings of Chaos vessels became more commonplace.[1a]

Three years after the Arx Raid, a massive Warp storm engulfed the Gothic Sector, cutting the ships of Battlefleet Gothic off from the rest of the Imperium. Whatever the fleets of the Gothic Sector were about to face, they would do so alone.[1b]

The Invasion Begins

Amid the disruption caused by the Warp Storms, in 143.M41 Chaos forces launched a massive surprise attack on Imperial Naval bases across the Gothic Sector, ambushing Imperial warships as they sat in their docks. The Imperial Navy was poorly prepared for this turn of events, and took heavy losses and many Orbital Stations fell to Chaos forces. However, the Chaos Forces did not achieve total success. At Orar Imperial forces, already on high alert from putting down a rebellion in the area, managed to avoid the initial torpedo salvos from Chaos warships and struck back, knocking out nearly all of the Chaos attackers[1c]. Chaos forces also experienced difficulties from Ork raiders in the area, who hid their ships in dense asteroids fields and ambushed nearby fleets at will.[1d]

The initial Chaos attack also struck at important Adeptus Mechanicus installations and Forge Worlds throughout the Gothic Sector, among them six bases that held powerful Blackstone Fortress orbital defense stations. It soon became apparent that these Fortresses were the primary target as a fleet of twenty Chaos warships overran the Rebo system and captured one of the Blackstone Fortresses after its power system had mysteriously shut down. More disaster struck for the Imperium at Savaven, a Cardinal World of the Ecclesiarchy. There, Abaddon unveiled his ultimate weapon: a massive warship simply dubbed Planet Killer. The warship took orbit over Saraven and with a blast of its powerful main weapons, blew the world to pieces, taking 14 billion Imperial citizens with it. The effect on Imperial morale was devastating.[1d] Inquisitor Horst, still investigating Chaos activities in the area, realized that Chaos forces had managed to power this ship with artifacts it had stolen in the Gothic Sector years before: the Hand of Darkness and Eye of Night.[1e]

On top of all these disasters, Lord Admiral von Ravensburg, commander of all Imperial Navy ships in the Gothic Sector, had to deal with even more problems. Eldar Corsairs struck frequently at Imperial shipping from their hiding places in the Graildark Nebula. Unable to track the swift and elusive Eldar ships back to their base, Ravensburg could do little and left it up to individual battlegroup commanders to figure out what to do. In addition to the Eldar, Ravensburg was also faced with increased raiding by Ork and Human Pirates as well.[1e] Thus the Imperial Fleet was facing two enemies at once: Chaos and pirates of various races. Everywhere Imperial forces were on the defensive and losses were high as the situation in the Gothic Sector rapidly deteriorated for the Imperium of Man.[1e]

The War Continues

With the threat of planet killer looming over their heads, Sub-Sector after Sub-Sector surrendered to Chaos forces.[1e] Things soon got worse at a Adeptus Mechanicus facility orbiting the Lukitar, where Abaddons fleet managed to capture yet another Blackstone Fortress. At Fularis II, home to yet another Blackstone, Abaddon's two Blackstones revealed their ultimate weapon: linking their energies together and delivering a combined blast so powerful it stripped the world of all life. With Fularis II devastated, Abaddon acquired a third Blackstone Fortress.[1f]

By 144.M41 the entire Gothic Sector found it under attack, Imperial ships fought desperately to hold back Chaos forces. By 147.M41 the entire Lysades Sub-Sector was under Chaos control. However in the Cyclops Cluster, Ork pirates raided Chaos shipping to the point where it allowed the Imperium to gain some ground. But while the Imperial Navy struggled against the forces of Chaos, Fleet Admiral Mourndark made great headway against Eldar Corsairs and Human Pirates at Barbarus Costa in the Attack on the Pirates' Haven. With the pirates there all but eliminated, the Imperial Navy was able to focus its full effort against Chaos once more.[1g]

Abaddon also launched an assault on the Hive World of Corilia with fifty Chaos Terminators under the command of Vastakel Khyre. Teleporting directly into Patricius Hive, the capital of Corilia, the Black Legion Terminators massacred thousands of soldiers from the Planetary Defense Force who rushed to Patricius Hives defense. By the time the PDF troops finally reached the interior of the Hive they had discovered that not only were the Terminators gone and thousands of humans had been slain in their wake, but the Imperial Governor and his immediate advisers had vanished with them. What became of the Imperial Governor of Corilia has never been discovered.[2]

The Imperium Resurgent

Although the Chaos Fleet was larger then Imperial Navy forces in the Gothic Sector, Admiral Ravensburg knew that they were divided into smaller groups. Exploiting this weakness, Ravensburg hoped to bring the full weight of Battlefleet Gothics forces onto each Chaos Fleet, gradually pushing them out of the Sector. In 151.M41, Ravensburg saw his first real chance to put his plan into action when Imperial scouts spotted a Chaos Fleet moving to the Gethsemane System. With seventeen capital ships and twenty escorts under his personal command, Ravensburg engaged the Chaos forces there.[1h] Tearing into Chaos forces, the heretic Warmaster ordered his fleet to retreat but found himself under attack to the rear by an Eldar fleet which seemed to appear out of nowhere. Caught between the jaws of these two forces, the Chaos fleet was annihilated and the Imperium scored its first great victory of the war. Fortune for the Imperium improved that same year when the Warpstorms which had plagued the Gothic Sector for nearly a decade finally abated, allowing neighboring Sectors to send assistance. Abaddon, furious at the prospect of defeat, led a vicious attack on the Tarantis System with his three Blackstone Fortresses in lead. Combining their power as he had before, Abaddon's Blackstones fired directly into the Systems star, causing it to go supernova and killing thousands of billions of Imperial citizens.[1i]

However Imperial and Eldar forces were convinced that Abaddon would lead another attack on one of the remaining Blackstone Fortresses in Imperial hands. Thanks to Eldar scouts, they discovered that the Despoiler planned to capture the Blackstone orbiting Schindlegeist. Using ancient Eldar Webway technology, the bulk of the Imperial and Eldar fleet quickly arrived at the Schindlegeist system and organized an elaborate trap against approaching Chaos forces. Abaddon fell into this ambush and the Chaos forces found themselves outnumbered and caught by complete surprise. For three days, the two mighty fleets battled across the system but for all their ferocity the Chaos Fleet could not defeat the forces arrayed against them. Abaddon decided to use his trump card and deployed his Blackstones to destroy the Schindlegeist Systems star, just as he had at Tarantis. This plan was only foiled by the heroic actions of Captain Abridal, who led his Battleship into the converging beams and though he was incinerated in the process, the Blackstones energy flow was disrupted and it would take some time before they would be able to fire. Seeing that his weakened Blackstones were now at risk, Abaddon fled with two of his Blackstones in tow. Imperial forces closed in on the third, the attack led by two Strike Cruisers from the Angels of Redemption Space Marine chapter. Angels of Redemption Space Marines managed to board the third Blackstone but found no traces of crew or resistance on-board. Even more mysteriously, the Third Blackstone along with the others in the Gothic Sector all self-destructed, with how or why still remaining a mystery.[1i]

But the departure of Abaddon did not see a swift end to the Gothic War. Imperial and Eldar forces pursued Chaos ships attempting to flee into the Eye of Terror, systematically destroying many of them. Some small bands of Chaos ships decided not to flee, making raids on isolated worlds or outposts and retreating when substantial Imperial forces arrived. These actions lasted nearly two years before the Chaos raiders were finally dealt with. With the Chaos grip on the Gothic sector broken, the Imperial Navy was able to focus its full attention once more to Human pirates in the region who had grown powerful admits the carnage, forcing the Pirates and Rebels from worlds where they had enslaved millions. Twenty years after it had begun, the Gothic War was finally over.[1j]

The Gothic War was one of the great conflicts of the 41st Millennia. Recognizing the enormous Imperial effort and bravery, the High Lords of Terra ordered the construction of colossal monuments in their honor. Standing ten times the height of a man, these Monoliths were engraved with the name of every Imperial serviceman who served in the war, from Admiral von Ravensburg to the lowly merchant ship crewman.[1k]


  • 20 years of war
  • Killed billions
  • Destroyed planets
  • 4/6 Blackstones destroyed, 2 stolen
  • Horst spent his days looking for the Blackstones