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Battle of Desperation

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Battle of Desperation
A Night Lords Dreadnought lurks in ambush
Conflict Horus Heresy
Date 997011.M31
Location Desperation, Thramas Sector
Outcome Strategic Loyalist Victory
-Night Lords fleet destroyed
-Planet subjected to Exterminatus
Tactical Traitor Victory
-Ultramarines forced off planet
Night Lords Imperium Ashen Claws
Endros Shek Chapter Master Arceas Odinathus Praetor Nerat Kirine
9 Capital Class
20 Frigates

Twelve Companies
(including 9th Terror Company, 18th Chapter)
6 Strike Cruisers
5 Gulgor Assault Barques

Ultramarines 10th Chapter
Ultramarines 22nd Chapter Destroyers
Mixed Blood Angels/Iron Hands Company
7 Taghma (Taghmata Gulgorahd)
6 Hoplon Assault Cruisers

Fleet destroyed or routed, at least half ground defence batteries destroyed, survivors stranded 2 Strike Cruisers destroyed, heavy casualties on surface Unknown

The Battle of Desperation was a battle between the Night Lords and an Imperial force led by Chapter Master Arceas Odinathus of the Ultramarines. It became a three-way battle with the unexpected arrival of the Ashen Claws and ended with both their forces and those of the Imperium retreating, leaving any surviving Night Lords stranded in the ruins of Desperation.[1]


Intelligence gathered from the Dark Angels suggested that Desperation had a garrison of twelve companies supported by a small fleet at the end of the Thramas Crusade. By 011.M31 this was the only major stronghold still maintained by the traitors in striking distance of the loyalist command post on Gulgorahd. Arceas Odinathus, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines' 10th Chapter, mustered a strike force on Yaelis to destroy it.[1]

Desperation was found to be more heavily defended than expected, with a fleet nearly the equal of Odinathus' own where the Chapter Master had intended to outnumber the enemy by fifty percent. The Imperial fleet divided into three battlegroups, two pairs of strike cruisers accompanied by small craft attempting to draw the defenders into spreading their line to allow the Grulgor Assault Barques and the two largest strike cruisers to deliver a crippling attack at short range. The Night Lords fleet, lacking cohesive command, reacted unexpectedly by making no attempt to defend the planet - some ships fled the system, while the other overwhelmed the two smaller battlegroups. Crippling and boarding the Amaranthine Vigil and Heart of Valour, the Night Lords were able to escape envelopment and take refuge behind Desperation's conjoined moons.[1]

Moving into orbit above Desperation, the Imperial fleet took heavy damage from orbital defence batteries sited within population centres to discourage orbital suppression. Destroyer elements of the Ultramarines' 22nd "Nemesis" Chapter and Ursarax cohorts of the Taghmata Gulgorahd prioritised these targets in the initial assaults. Endros Shek and his Terror Squads slaughtered the population, draping the hive towers in the skin of the population by the time the first Ultramarine craft landed. The Night Lords had prepared the hive cities with ambushes and sabotage, bringing down entire hive towers on top of the Imperial forces as the fleet in orbit launched continuous raids on isolated or slow vessels. Unable to suppress the raids in orbit while supporting their troops of the surface, the Imperial forces began to lose the initiative on both fronts.[1]

The Ashen Claw

The unexpected arrival of a fleet of unmarked vessels, later identified as elements of the Raven Guard Legion known as the Ashen Claws, which attacked the Night Lords fleet. Between two hostile forces, the Night Lords fleet was destroyed or routed. Although the Praetor of the new arrivals, Nerat Kirine, denied loyalty to either the Warmaster or the Emperor, Odinathus sought to avoid a three-way conflict as long as they did not engage with his own forces.[1]

The Ashen Claws focused their assault on the primary armourium, held by the Ultramarines' 10th Chapter. Small, fast moving assault units launched hit and run attacks with the support of Primaris Lightning Strike Fighters. The Ultramarines retreated to defensive positions, leaving the Ashen Claws in control of the armourium and allowing their landing craft to loot its stores of arms and ammunition. The store was laid to siege by the Ultramarines, isolated units from either side preyed on by Night Lords terror squads.[1]


The Destroyer Leviathan Siege Dreadnoughts of the Nemesis were able to breach the armourium's makeshift fortifications, forcing the Ashen Claws to retreat. The Night Lords seized on the opportunity to launch a hive-wide counter-attack on the Ultramarines, forcing them in turn to evacuate their troops on the ground. Unopposed by the Imperial fleet co-ordinating the evacuations, the Ashen Claw fleet departed with a sizeable store of stolen munitions. Although in control of the hive, the Night Lords had no defence left against an orbital bombardment. Any survivors able to take shelter from the bombardment were abandoned in the ruins and Desperation was declared destroyed.[1]

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