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Helsreach Crusade

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Helsreach Crusade
HelsreachArt.jpg
Grimaldus and the Black Templars battle in Helsreach
Conflict Third War for Armageddon
Date 998.M41
Location Hive Helsreach, Armageddon
Outcome Imperial pyrrhic victory
Combatants
Imperium Orks
Commanders
Reclusiarch Merek Grimaldus
Colonel Sarren
Commander Korten Barasath (KIA)
Princeps Majoris Zarha Mancion (KIA)
Unknown
Strength
100 Black Templars
70 Salamanders
Multiple Imperial Guard Regiments
Imperial 5082nd Naval Wing
97 Battle Sisters (Order of the Argent Shroud)
19 Titans of the Legio Invigilata
Millions of orks
Over 100 Gargants
Casualties
Heavy Heavy

The Helsreach Crusade was the designation given by the Black Templars Chapter to the campaign to defend the hive city of Helsreach during the Third War for Armageddon.[1d]

Overview

Hive Helsreach[1q]

This crusade was undertaken by Reclusiarch Merek Grimaldus under the instruction of High Marshal Helbrecht.[1c] Grimaldus led one hundred Space Marines in the defence of Hive Helsreach against the orks.[1d]

The Black Templars that participated in the crusade were particularly morbid and suppressed, denied the chance to fight alongside their brothers in the orbital war aboard the Eternal Crusader, the Templars' flagship.[1d] Even Grimdalus himself was reluctant to accept the command, convinced that he would die on Armageddon[1a][1c][1d]

Skirmishes

The first actual military action of the crusade came when an ork vessel, a captured Space Marine Strike Cruiser formerly known as the Purest Intent, broke through the Imperial blockade of Armageddon. The ship was shot down and its wreck landed near Helsreach. Grimaldus fielded his Templars, who sallied forth from Helsreach's walls to hunt down and eliminate any orks that survived the crash. After a series of brief engagements, the Templars withdrew as more Ork Roks began to land near Helsreach.[1f]

Planetfall

Soon afterwards, Battlefleet Armageddon was forced to withdraw from their efforts to delay the ork fleet from reaching the planet. With their retreat, the orks began landing en masse across the entire world.[1f][1g] The first horde to attack Helsreach was met with the combined firepower of the city's defences and the Guardsmen manning the outer wall under the command of Grimaldus and Colonel Sarren while in the sky, Greenskin fighters were swept clean by Imperial Navy aircraft under Wing Commander Korten Barasath. Imperial firefighter teams put out blazes across Helsreach caused by the fighting and Guard teams ventured out to destroy pockets of Xenos that had landed.[1g]

Despite this, due to sheer number of vessels the Orks were able to land significant forces. Grimaldus organized his defenders for an even larger attack and gave them a rousing speech. The Orks made a made charge thereafter and were met by the guns of the wall, reaping a terrible toll on the Greenskins. However, the Orks kept coming and managed to reach the walls in an attempt to scale them, engaging in combat with Grimaldus' Space Marines and the Guardsmen. By the night the Orks had temporarily given up the attack leaving behind mountains of dead.[1g]

Despite being repulsed, the Orks continued to consolidate their positions in their landing zones and began to land heavy vehicles, including Gargants.[1h] Meanwhile, Grimaldus dispatched Master of the Forge Jurisian to a vault outside the city in an attempt to activate an ancient Ordinatus engine known as Oberon.[1g] The issue neared caused a schism with the Mechanicum forces on Armageddon as Princeps Zarha Mancion of the Legio Invigilata demanded only Tech-Priests be allowed near such a relic. In the end, Grimaldus agreed to wait for Mechanicus personnel to try and activate the Ordinatus[1h], although he had Jurisian continue to awaken it despite his assurances.[1l]

The Wall Breached

Several days later, millions of orks had massed before the city, including over 100 Gargants, artillery and air support.[1h] They launched fresh attacks on the walls on a scale far greater than before. The Imperials responded with fresh air attacks under Barasath and the Titans of the Legio Invigilata including the Imperator Class Stormherald. Titans battled Gargants as due to its difficult the Machine Spirit, the Stormherald fell into a temporary disruption and was boarded by Orks. In the end, Grimaldus' Black Templars had to clear the Titan of Greenskins.[1g]

Before long, the Orks began to gain ground despite the overwhelming firepower of the Imperials. The walls were finally breached, and Imperial forces fell back to preprepared positions to engage in ambushes, secondary lines of defenses, and urban warfare.[1i] But by the 18th day of the siege, the Imperial defenders were forced to cede control of Hel's Highway, the arterial roadway that bisected Helsreach. This allowed the alien hordes to rampage through vast portions of the city.[1k]

The Southern Sneak Attack

By the 36th day, over half of Helsreach was in orkish hands. To make matters worse, another ork horde had landed in the Dead Lands in Armageddon's southern polar regions and unleashed hundreds of submersibles in a series of sneak attacks against Armageddon's southernmost hives.[1k]

Although Tempestus Hive fell to the ambush, Helsreach received advance warning from the Lucifus Platform, an oil rig in the southern ocean that lay in the path taken by the submersible fleet. Faced with a war on two fronts, Colonel Sarren authorised arming the workers of the Helsreach docks with weapons as an ad hoc militia. Reclusiarch Grimaldus also committed his surviving Black Templars to defending the docks, leaving the defence of the rest of the city to the Astra Militarum and the Legio Invigilata.[1k]

The fighting around the docks was extremely fierce but, as all seemed lost, reinforcements finally arrived. 70 Space Marines of the Salamanders Sixth Company led by Sergeant V'reth were deployed by drop pod from the Strike Cruiser Serpentine. They were dispatched at the word of Salamanders Chapter Master Tu'Shan, who was battling elsewhere on Armageddon but heard of the plight of Helsreach.[1m][1n]

Godbreaker

Although the orks were repelled from the docks, Helsreach's industrial capacity was crippled. The Imperial defenders under orders from Commissar Yarrick were forced to abandon any kind of organised retreat and instead disperse through the city and defend selected centres of population. Things got even worse for the Imperial defenders when the Orks unleashed the Mega-Gargant Godbreaker, which dwarfed even the Imperator Stormherald. After decimating Hive Stygia, the Godbreaker moved towards Helsreach.[1o]

The only chance to counter the Godbreaker lay with the Stormherald. Its Princeps Mancion was in a disheveled state, and could only guarantee a single shot of its Plasma Annihilator. However the Moderati of the Stormherald fired prematurely, causing the shot to go wide. Its fate sealed, the Stormherald was destroyed by the Mega-Gargant.[1o][1p]

Last Stand

Meanwhile, the 35 surviving Black Templars under Grimaldus were preparing to make their last stand at the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant. They were met by small amounts of Sisters of Battle from the Order of the Argent Shroud as well as Imperial Guard survivors. Despite these reinforcements, they faced little hope against the encroaching Greenskins.[1p]

Taking up positions at the Temples vast cemetery, the Imperial defenders again unleashed devastation upon the Orks as they advanced forward. Again the Imperials were slowly forced back during overwhelming numbers, with even the Emperor's Champion Bayard falling amidst the fighting. The surviving Imperials were forced to the gates of the Cathedral, defended by the Sisters of Battle. It was then that the Godbreaker began to arrive.[1p]

The only chance the Imperials had to fell the Mega-Gargant was the Ordinatus Armageddon, which had largely been reactivated and mostly repaired by Jurisian. Two Warhound Titans were sacrificed by the Legio Invigilata to keep the Mega-Gargant in place, which allowed the Ordinatus Armageddon to get its Nova Cannon into position and fire. The Godbreaker fell in a single shot, though the Imperials still faced certain doom due to the massive army assailing them.[1p]

Soon enough, the Orks breached the gates of the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant. The remaining Astartes, Sisters, and Guardsmen were massacred by the Orks as the Temple collapsed under the stress of battle, burying all inside alive.[1p][1q]

Aftermath

Grimaldus later emerged from the rubble, the only surviving Black Templar of his Crusade. However, their sacrifice proved vital in keeping the Orks at bay, and Armageddon's volcanic Season of Fire forced the Greenskins to cease the offensive, allowing the Imperium to consolidate its remaining positions within the Hive City. Though technically an Imperial victory, they had taken grievous losses in the battle.[1q]

Imperial Order of Battle

Sources