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Kotov Crusade

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The Kotov Crusade was an Imperial expedition in late M41.[1a]


The Crusade was organized by Archmagos Lexell Kotov, who hoped to discover what became of the lost expedition of Vettius Telok. Kotov also hoped to discover the fabled Breath of the Gods, reversing his recent ill fortunes. The Expedition aimed to penetrate the unstable Halo Scar.[1a] Kotov was able to muster a modest force. These included his own vessel, the Ark Mechanicus Speranza and its Skitarii compliment and the Legio Sirius Titan Legion. The Imperial Navy contributed the Retribution Class Battleship Cardinal Boras and the Gothic Class Cruisers Moonchild and Wrathchild. The Basilikon Astra of Voss Prime contributed the Endurance Class Light Cruisers Honour Blade and Mortis Voss and the Endeavour Class Light Cruiser Blade of Voss. The Black Templars contributed a squad aboard the Strike Cruiser Adytum under Reclusiarch Kul Gilad. Finally, the fleet had the Cadian 71st Regiment under Colonel Van Anders aboard as well as the Rogue Trader vessel Renard under Roboute Surcouf. Kotov's 2nd was the Speranza captain and Fabricator-Locum Tarkis Blaylock.[1b]

After a difficult Warp journey and a deadly training accident between Titans on the Speranza, the Crusade's first major destination was the abandoned research station of Valette Manifold, the final known location of the Telok Expedition. Aboard the station the expedition fought through rogue Servitors and discovered the Tech-Priest Galatea. A former subordinate to Telok, Galatea had dabbled in Techno-Heresy and had since become an A.I.-style collective of the consciousness' of whoever it could absorb. Though an abomination, Galatea vowed to help Kotov find and kill Telok so the Archmagos accepted their help.[1c]

At this point, the Crusade encountered an Eldar strikeforce from Biel-Tan under Farseer Bielanna Faerelle. The Eldar Witch had foreseen disaster if Kotov's expedition were to accomplish its goals. However while Reclusiarch Kul Gilad was slain by the Xenos, thanks to hidden Chrono Weapons aboard the Serpanza the Imperial crusade was able to fend off the Eldar assault. Kul Gilad was succeeded by Brother-Sergeant Tanna.[16c]

After more difficult Warp journeys across the Halo Scar, the Crusade next reached Katen Venia, which held the remains of Telok's vessel Tomioka.[2a] Once coming across the ship, the Imperials discovered it covered in bizarre crystalline growths. The nearby crystals sprang to life and took on the shapes of the invaders. The "Crystaliths" were even capable of reach Titan-size in their scale, forcing the Legio Sirius to battle.[2b] It was at this point that disaster struck the fleet when the Mechanicum slave Abrehem Locke was able to instigate a uprising by the lowest orders of the Speranza. Alongside a Servitor Ismael de Roeven that had somehow regained a measure of sentience and memories after a head trauma, even the Servitors across the fleet went on strike. Without its working masses, the Speranza risked crashing into the planet below. Ultimately, Kotov was forced to give into the demands of Locke's strike including better working conditions and rations for the workers.[2c]

With information from the Tomioka, the Crusade, now consistently mainly of the Speranza, was able to reach the nightmarish world of Exniliho. Upon its surface they discovered Vettius Telok, now covered in a horrifying mass of crystalline growths. Telok gave Kotov a tour of his newly founded Forge World and of the Breath of the Gods, which he had apparently discovered.[3a] However it soon became apparent that Telok had since gone insane, and he declared that upon using the technology within the Noctis Labyrinth on Mars he would activate the Breath of the Gods and use it to scour Terra of all life to rule as the new Emperor. This declaration immediately provoked a violent response by Kotov's retinue of Black Templars, but the Imperials were forced to flee in the face of Telok's crystalline warriors.[3b]

Aboard the Speranza, Galatea betrayed Kotov by absorbing the Tech-Priest Linya Tychon and declaring her desire to meet with Telok.[3a] The Imperials found themselves under attack from Telok's crystalized constructs and escape seemed impossible. They found unexpected aid in the form of Bilenna Faerelle's Eldar, who now foresaw that if Telok completed his plans to activate the Breath of the Gods the entire timeline could be erased.[3b] Telok meanwhile revealed that while he originally desired the technology within the Noctis Labyrinth, he could also activate the Breath of the Gods by utilizing the entropic fields of a captive Hrud colony. With Kotov and his expedition trapped on Exniliho's surface, Telok apparently slew the Archmagos.[3d]

The Imperials and Eldar moved to put down Telok before he could complete his mad plans, but it was revealed that Galatea had in fact just been an extension of his will to manipulate the expedition into giving him the Speranza, a vessel worthy of bringing the Breath of the Gods to the Sol System.[3d] Galatea began to try and take control of the Speranzas system as the vessel was boarded by Telok and his crystal constructs. In the final battle against Telok Kotov and his survivors were able to return to the Speranza and Galatea was apparently overpowered by the essence of Linya Tychon, who was able to reassert control. Kotov, Tychon, Blyalok, Scourf, Bielenna and others engaged in a psycho-techno battle with Telok aboard the Speranza's Systems.[3e] In the end, the sentience A.I. aboard the Speranza refused Telok's control and the distraction caused by Linya's elimination of his "Galatea" personality allowed Kotov to purge Telok's data-core. With Telok's death the entire space-time continuum was saved from ruin as the Breath of the Gods was torn apart by the Speranza.[3f]

In the aftermath of the battle over Exnihilo nearly all of the Human and Eldar were slain but the Speranza and its survivors managed to limp back to Imperial space. Though the threat of the Breath of the Gods was ended, it is implied Telok's essence may have survived within the psyche of Tarkis Blaylock.[3f]