Devastation of Baal
|This article is about the Battle; for the Novel, see The Devastation of Baal (Novel).|
After sacrificing many worlds of the Cryptus System to fend off the earliest advances of the Tyranids, the planet Baal itself was assailed by the xenos. The Tyranid fleet from Hive Fleet Leviathan was of such mass that even after its considerable losses it blotted out the stars from the skies. Commander Dante bolstered the defenses of the Blood Angels homeworld and waited for the storm to fall. Dante nonetheless did use some proactive means of defense, launching preemptive strikes to delay, mislead, and whittle down the Tyranid armada. Hundreds of splinter fleets were defeated in this fashion.
Fortunately for the Blood Angels, they were aided by multiple Successor Chapters such as the Flesh Tearers, Blood Drinkers, Carmine Blades, and the Knights of Blood. Gathering the largest force of Sanguinius' bloodline since the Horus Heresy, nearly 30,000 Space Marines were gathered for the battle. These included 12,000 on Baal, 6,000 on Baal Secundus, 5,000 on Baal Primus, and 6,000 in space aboard warships and orbital defense stations.[3a]
Great seismic and psychic disturbances known as the Shadow in the Warp heralded the arrival of the Tyranids. The xenos first had to contend with the great Space Marine fleet defending Baal, which consisted of 21 Battle Barges, 94 Strike Cruisers, and hundreds of smaller vessels divided into four battlegroups under Blood Angels Master of the Fleet Bellerophon. However while this armada was mighty, the number of Tyranid Bio-Ships were in excess of 50,000.[3a] The sky above Baal erupted in a firestorm as the vessels of the Space Marines slammed their way into the midst of the approaching Tyranids, launching storms of nuclear-tipped warheads. The Tyranid fleet took grievous losses amounting to over 300 Hive Ships and an untold number of lesser vessels. As impressive as this naval action was, it was hopeless. One by one, Space Marine Battle Barges and Cruisers were isolated and overwhelmed, battered by organic missiles and enveloped by swarms of smaller bio-ships. The entire Angels Excelsis Chapter was wiped out, and a second Tyranid fleet of tens of thousands of more bio-ships revealed itself from behind Balor. The remnant of the Astartes fleet was helpless as this force began landings on Baal and its two moons.[3a]
The Imperials constructed a 3-layer defensive line consisting of not only Space Marines and heavy cannon batteries but also a moat of Thirst Water and large amounts of Baalite Conscripts brutally held in place by Chaplains. The first nineteen waves, each larger than the last, were driven off at great loss by the Imperial forces. However the Imperials held firm, in large part because of the Arx Angelicum's Void Shield array which protected them from heavy artillery and flyer organisms. The Tyranids countered the Thirst Water moat by filling it with their own bodies, allowing for larger Tyranid Warriors, Carnifex's, and Exocrines to cross. This allowed the first line to fall, and the Space Marines covered the retreat of the mortal conscripts back to the Arx Angelicum. However the Tyranids were still unable to penetrate the Void Shield, and the Hive Mind quickly adapted. A Lictor behind Imperial lines identified a derelict tunnel deep beneath the Fortress-Monastery which Trygons tore open. The Lictor along with a large amount of Genestealers infiltrated the depths of the Fortress, with the latter launching themselves at the hall containing the sarcophagi of Neophytes undergoing Insanguination. This enraged the Space Marines, and Dante himself led the counterattack to save their next-generation of warriors. However the Hive Mind had counted on this diversion, and in the meantime the Lictor disabled the Void Shield generator. The Imperial position reversed dramatically as the Tyranids began overrunning the Fortress.[3d] Five Chapter Masters died in the desperate battle, including three in the Dome of Angels alone.
On Baal Secundus, Gabriel Seth and his Flesh Tearers initially held the Blood Angels Aspirant training facilities while the Carmine Blades held the Astropathic Station. The Space Marines initially held their own thanks to formidable recommissioned Horus Heresy-era fortifications and weaponry, but the presence of the Swarmlord himself turned the tide in favor of the Xenos. Dante managed to slay the Swarmlord, but was badly wounded in the process. As Baal was overwhelmed, the Tyranids began the process of draining the world and her moons, absorbing even the rad-poisoned desert of Baal Secundus. With the defenses smashed, the defenders retreated to the Blood Angels' Fortress-Monastery. Despite the intervention of the Sanguinor[3c], Baal was ready to fall.
It was then that the Great Rift formed across the greater Galaxy. The Baal System was overcome by the powers of the Warp and Daemons battled the Tyranids. The Daemons were led by the vicious Bloodthirster Ka'Bandha, arch-foe of the Blood Angels and Sanguinius. Ka'Bandha declared that none would have the right to destroy the Blood Angels but him. The arrival of the Great Rift and Daemons prevented additional Tyranids from arriving, but killed every defender upon Baal Prime. With Baal itself cut off from the greater Imperium, Chapter Masters Dante and Gabriel Seth of the Flesh Tearers, fell back, harried on all sides. Only the sacrifice of the Knights of Blood, an excommunicated Successor Chapter who had nonetheless been accepted as allies by Chapter Master Dante, allowed the survivors to board their vessels and escape, as Baal Prime was overwhelmed by warp-spawned monstrosities. As Seth’s forces retreated, they caught one last glimpse of the Knights of Blood, hurling themselves into the thick of close combat with mindless ferocity, fully enveloped by the madness of the Black Rage.
However, as all seemed lost, the fleet of the Indomitus Crusade arrived, led by the reborn Roboute Guilliman himself. Guilliman and his newly arrived forces fought a great many battles, liberating Baal. Hive Fleet Leviathan was largely destroyed, though it is a mystery as to what exactly happened to it. A clue lies on the now-barren Baal Prime, where the symbol of Ka'Bandha was formed with the skulls of dead Tyranid organisms. As for Baal, most of the planet and its moons lay devastated. Guilliman oversaw a rapid rebuilding process for the Blood Angels and their homeworlds, for they were desperately needed elsewhere. In the aftermath of the battle the Blood Angels have led a renewed counteroffensive against the Tyranid forces rampaging throughout the Imperium Nihilus.
Known Contributing Chapters
- Blood Angels
- Flesh Tearers
- Knights of Blood
- Blood Drinkers
- Carmine Blades
- Angels Encarmine
- Angels Excelsis
- Angels Sanguine[3b]
- Blood Swords
- Sable Brotherhood
- Angels of Light
- Flesh Eaters
- Charnel Guard
- Golden Sons
- Angels Penitent
- Sanguine Host
- Angels Glorious
- Burning Blood
- Brothers of Jarad
- Blood Wings
- Angels Vermillion
- Legion of the Damned
- 1: Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition Rulebook, pgs. 52–53
- 2: Codex: Tyranids (8th Edition) — The Battle of Baal
- 3: The Devastation of Baal (Novel)
- 4: Codex: Deathwatch (8th Edition), pg. 26 — The Vigil of Aeons: The Scattered Leviathan
- 5: Warhammer 40,000 9th Edition Rulebook, pg. 19