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Nachmund Rift War

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Nachmund Rift War
RiftWarArt.jpg
The forces of Haarken Worldclaimer are unleashed
Conflict Long War
Date M42
Location Nachmund Gauntlet
Outcome Chaos gains control of much of the Nachmund Gauntlet
Combatants
Imperium Chaos Various unaligned Xenos
Commanders
Sangua-Terran War Council
Chapter Master Ba'stien Grix
Captain Badron Aqhat
Captain Julianis Mikon
Captain Miloni Takta
Captain Dogodis Eg'oi
Canoness Yozelin Tabat
Canoness Kessola Amael
High Admiral Rowlan Abery Wolston XIV
Lord Castellan Alibet Ayaneva
Lord Admiral Quirin Prisca (MIA)
Admiral Yelgaratir
Archmagos Arkimede Thron
Magos Omekron Vrekh
Magos Solomonh Voloros
Sanctus Entente
Haarken Worldclaimer
High King Kaligius
High Queen Kaligia
Fabricator-General Astamorkhus Grine-Theta
Urien Rakarth
Gragutz Ship Smasha
Zargbrog
Strength
See Order of Battle See Order of Battle See Order of Battle
Losses/Survivors
Extremely Heavy Heavy Unknown

The Nachmund Rift War is an ongoing conflict being waged by the Imperium in the Nachmund Sub-Sector.[1a]

Closely connected to the War of Beasts and War of Nightmares on Vigilus, while the Fortress World itself continues to remain largely in Imperial hands the greater Nachmund Gauntlet finds itself besieged by the Forces of Chaos.[1a]

Overview

The Siege of Dharrovar

Ever since its fall to Chaos Knight forces, the reclamation of Dharrovar had become a priority to Lord Commander Roboute Guilliman. The Wardens of the Gauntlet answered the call to arms, though their brotherhood was overstretched from the war on Vigilus. They were joined by forces of Battle Sisters, Imperial Guard, Knights, and Imperial Navy warships. But even with this imposing army, besieging Dharrovar would prove difficult.[1a]

One of the greatest threat to the invaders were the powerful and seemingly random Warp surges around the Chaos Knight World, making surrounding the world almost impossible. The world was rendered even harder to access thanks to a debris field collected in the planet’s near and distant orbits. This debris field, made up of Warp hulks or House Mandrakor ships, was now home to various renegades, xenos, and Cultists. The nearby Forge Moon of Omega-Threx also lay in the system and was ruled by the Dark Mechanicus. There was only one real route the attackers could move on Dharrovar in force. Chapter Master Ba'stien Grix of the Castellans of the Rift ordered the main assault be launched as quickly as possible, using his largest warships as the tip of the spear to smash aside any resistance while transports followed closely behind. As the Imperial fleet moved towards its target, more warships formed a cordon against any enemy forces that might pour from the debris fields, ensuring the transports reached Dharrovar unmolested.[1a]

The Imperial fleet movements were accompanied by Space Marine and Tempestus Scion surgical strikes, knocking out key enemy bases in the debris fields. Grix finally established another force of elite troops and assigned them to a flanking mission around Dharrovar, between the western debris field and the warp anomaly named Portus Diabolis. Its task was to launch secondary attacks against Dharrovar but primarily intercept supply convoys heading to the planet Omega-Threx. The Imperials faced not only Chaos Knights however. Dharrovar was also home to warbands of Chaos Space Marines, Renegade Militia, and Dark Mechanicum Daemon Engines.[1a]

After Grix launched his ground assault, his troops initially made gains and secured landing sites. But not long after this, they met fierce opposition. Dharrovar’s harsh terrain and heavy defensive preparations by House Mandrakor made progress grueling for the invaders. The cave networks utilized by the traitors were extensive, allowing the defenders to move into one and emerge from dozens of others. It became impossible to tell where one fortress ended and the next began. Every inch of ground seized by the Imperial forces was paid for in blood, and often cave-networks became active warzones once again just days or even hours after being declared secure. Soon enough, the war became a bloody stalemate. However, the stalemate would soon be broken, must to the shock of both sides. Abaddon’s trusted lieutenant Haarken Worldclaimer arrived with a Black Legion army to lift the siege. Abaddon saw value in securing Dharrovar not just for its strategic placement, but in order to smash what was now the largest single concentration of Imperial military might in the Nachmund Gauntlet.[1a]

Haarken initially set his Chaos Space Marine, Cultist, and Traitor Guard forces upon any Imperial outposts between him and Dharrovar. These forces soon seized the arsenal fortress of Holden from the Castellans of the Rift as well as the Inquisitorial Fortress of Agrofar. The Astropathic Relay Station of Hazrine Gap also fell to the Black Legion, with its Astropaths brutally tortured for information before being executed. Haarken next organized three vanguard forces dubbed the Bringers of Plague, Bringers of Terror, and Bringers of Doubt to wreak havoc ahead of his primary advance. Acting independently, they slaughtered, killed, enslaved, and harried any they came across. In addition to these forces, he sent out agents and fifth columnists to further undermine Imperial rule. His plan was that by the time his forces pushed down the Gauntlet, the Imperials would quickly fold. With his plan in motion, Haarken made for Dharrovar with thousands of ships and tens of millions of fighters.[1a]

By the time Haarken’s ships first entered the Dharrovar System, the siege had already raged on for months and both sides had taken tremendous casualties. At the Mandeville Point, the Chaos ships struck at the Imperial rearguard fleet sent to monitor any encroachment on the System. At the forefront of this assault were his Khornate worshipers alongside an armada of Daemonships. As the Imperial Fleet was largely supporting operations on Dharrovar, this rearguard was quickly overwhelmned, with the Imperial Navy losing the Mercury Class Battlecruiser Righteous Might as well as the Dominator Class Cruiser Defender of His Stars. At the forefront of the Chaos fleet was the World Eater Battleship Gore Drenched, which harpooned Imperial vessels and allowed its warriors to board it at close range. The Night Lords Battle Barge Horror of Garselil tortured hundreds of their slaves to death, psychically broadcasting their screams across the system to weaken Imperial morale and jam their communications. Within hours almost half of the Imperial rearguard fleet had been destroyed or crippled, and Vice Admiral Herena Egless ordered a retreat. The Nemesis Class Carrier Harrier of the Heavens advanced into the tides of the Chaos vessels as its Captain, Jakila Rovacov, sought to sacrifice herself to cover the retreat. Once the Imperial survivors were clear Rovacov detonated her vessels warp drive, taking out over a dozen enemy vessels.[1a]

With the Mandeville Point secured, hundreds more Chaos vessels arrived as Haarken had them pursue surviving Imperial Navy and Basilikon Astra warships. With the debris fields left unprotected, Worldclaimer diverted some of his forces into them, where they often came into fighting with Renegades and Cultists who refused to bow before his authority. Haarken next turned his attention to Dharrovar, and Ba’stien Grix quickly agreed with his commanders Yozelin Tabat of the Order of the Silver Lilly, Kessola Amael of the Order of the Crimson Chalice, and Admiral Yelgaratir that to stay on the world’s surface was suicide. The Imperial mission now became one of escape in order to return and fight another day. With no time to spare, they ordered much of their ground forces to retreat to the various plateaus and landing zones where they had first arrived. Not all would be so lucky however, as many more remained at the front to cover the retreat with their lives. Mostly consisting of those already fighting on the frontlines, these warriors bravely fought to the end and destroyed their own equipment when defeat inevitably came. Space Marines were amongst the last to leave, and Captains Nikkal Arishat of the Sons of the Phoenix, Miloni Takta of the Necropolis Hawks, and Julianis Mikon of the Void Tridents all vowed to stay and buy their allies time.[1a]

Meanwhile, the ruling Chaos Knight nobles of Dharrovar, Kaligius and Kaligia, were well aware of the Imperial Retreat. The monarchs led their warriors from the front, smashing into Imperial defensive lines and decimating all they came across. Kaligius himself at the head of his court annihilated several Imperial Guard companies of the 13th Histolaran Cataphracts defending Cartazol Pass, paving the way for battalions of militia to pour through the gap. Meanwhile, Kaligia and her followers smashed through forces of the Order of the Adamant Halo and Order of the Ivory Blade to reach retreating columns, decimating the fleeing Imperials. As the armies of House Mandrakor and their allies surged forward, forces from Haarken Worldclaimer’s armada began to land on the surface. At the head of this force were Black Legion Raptors, striking at exhausted Imperial troops across dozens of fronts. Haarken next made the decision to give the Imperials room to reach their vessels and spare many of the ships in orbit, allowing for more time for them to be destroyed on the ground. Part of this demonstration was to ensure the loyalty of House Mandrakor.[1a]

As the Imperials retreated over ground they had fought bloodily to take for months, some like the 18th Megorin Jackals took to the caves to fight a guerrilla war of their own, proving stubbornly effective in the process. They were not alone, as isolated Space Marine and Tempestus Scion squads also undertook such unconventional actions. In one mission, Scions from the 33rd Kappic Raptors caused a landslade which destroyed a 100 traitor tanks, while the 82nd Lambdan Tygers infiltrated a traitor anti-aircraft battery, captured its guns, and turned them on the enemy landers. In the end however, all of these forces were wiped out by vengeful Black Legionnaires. In the final stages of the retreat the 356th Larzen Warheads, 43rd Gephlyean Geardogs, and 299th Dactaalis Furies all made desperate last stands to slow the advancing hordes until they were annihilated. Hundreds of Battle Sisters of the Order of the Sublime Adoration and Order of the Burning Light were surrounded and annihilated. Ba’stien Grix himself found himself in such a situation, having to cut his way through Black Legion Space Marines to rejoin the Imperials while losing half his warriors in the process. As the Imperials took the skies, they came into battle with swarms of enemy fighters, gunships, and winged daemon engines.[1a]

Eventually, the Imperials only held onto their initial landing zones. Despite their best efforts, not all of these held until the evacuations were complete and at the Anak Plateau Black Legion and House Mandrakor forces were able to capture the site and shoot down several dropships as they left. Disorder soon erupted, and some ships left while only half-full as some were so overloaded they fell back to the surface. Eventually, every Imperial warrior on Dharrovar either fled, was killed, or captured and enslaved.[1a]

Storming the Gauntlet

The devastated Imperial forces left Dharrovar with barely a fifth of their original number. Some made for Vigilus while others made for Sangua Terra. Many of the vessels contained mixed compliments of Space Marines, Battle Sisters, and Guardsmen, further confusing the situation and seeing many scattered across different regions of space. However problems for the Imperials were far from over, as Haarken’s vanguard forces soon struck throughout the region.[1b]

Haarken’s vanguard consisted of elite forces hand-picked by the Chaos Lord himself. Amongst them were warbands from The Purge, Shrouded Hand, and Terror Lords as well as Black Legion units such as the Ebon Fist. These Black Legionnaires moved on the astropathic relay station of 837A, while the Iron Warriors warband known as the Scions of Medrengard destroyed the Castellans of the Rift arsenal at Forennis. The Bringers of True Light, a renegade force that had turned traitor a mere century prior, infiltrated the six space station network situated at the crux of several warp routes known as the Hexagatos and nurtured cults there. The Thousand Sons thrallband known as the Reflective Ones captured the Choralis Immaterium Surge Station, sabotaging it and letting the tides of the Warp spill forward. These actions served to isolate the Bastion World of Kherik III, which was Haarken’s true plan all along. Kherik III was soon drowned in tsunamis of warp power, and billions of Daemons poured over the surface as millions of citizens were turned into gibbering Chaos Spawns.[1b]

At Sangua Terra, the Imperials sought to organize a defensive network collectively known as the Sanctus Wall. This consisted of systems that had previously served as Indomitus Crusade supply hubs which were quickly fortified in their own right. Imperial forces mustered all along the Sanctus Wall but knew they were not enough to withstand the incoming attack. Making a painful decision, the Imperials drew a line across the Nachmund Gauntlet at the point where the Shrine World of Centor’s Landing sat. All Imperial holdings beyond that, in the half closest to Vigilus, were to weather the storm the best they could. All Imperial holdings south of the line evacuated their populace for the Sanctus Wall, with priority given to military forces. With the way paved for him, Haarken Worldclaimer left Dharrovar at the head of his fleet.[1b]

The Chaos forces wrought devastation as they surged forward, and they faced credible resistance in few places. In some places the Chaos armada “liberated” Imperial worlds from xenos or renegade invasions, and the remaining population quickly joined with the traitors. As they moved forward, they absorbed various pirate and mutant warbands as well as capturing large stores of weapons and material, growing stronger and stronger. Many other outposts however were ignored, for time was essential and Haarken bypassed locations not deemed essential. One example was the pirate-infested realm known as the Choraplex, which was bypassed entirely. Despite Haarken’s best effort, moving such a large invasion fleet forward over such a broad front took many months and without Abaddon’s might juggling the coalition of Chaos warbands proved difficult. In addition, they faced setbacks in the from of Ork Freebooter attacks under Grand-hat Admiral Gragutz Ship Smasha, Kaptin Zargbrog da Iron Ork, Eldar from Saim-Hann, Ulthwe, and Kinshara, as well as various Harlequin masques. Dark Eldar marauders struck on slave raids and even other Chaos warbands such as the Oath-Broken and Warriors of Mayhem struck at Haarken’s armada. Lastly, they faced sporadic guerrilla actions from surviving Imperial forces who used decoy vessels to lure in unsuspecting raiders.[1b]

Meanwhile, the Wardens of the Gauntlet were a thorn in the Worldclaimer’s side. Space Marine from dozens of Chapters including the Black Templars, Angels of Defiance, Silver Skulls, and Solar Hawks launched daring raids and ambushes. However Haarken’s armada was so enormous that these could not stop the coming attack at the southern end of the gauntlet. Refugees began arriving at the Sanctus, bringing word of terror and ruin. However the Imperial morale was partially relieved when reinforcements arrived in the form of Battle Group Lambdax of Indomitus Crusade Fleet Secundus. Seeing some of their forces freed up, Lord Admiral Quirin Prisca proposed leading as many ships into the Gauntlet as possible, heading to the Grakiloid Narrow to intercept the Chaos fleet there in an attempt to slow them down. The plan was eventually approved, and her Imperial Navy armada was soon joined by vessels from the Space Marines, Sisters of Battle, and Militarum Tempestus. Most knew they would never return.[1b]

The Sanctus Wall

Despite the arrival of reinforcements, the systems of the Sanctus Wall found themselves under-prepared for the coming attack. Supplies and arms were stockpiled, food and water rations enacted, and nearly every able-bodied citizen was conscripted into service. Many incoming refugees were given the option of a “Lasgun or a shovel” before even setting foot on their new world. From the Cardinal World of Orori, propaganda broadcasts sought to firm up morale. Yet, these did not stop riots and civil strife on worlds such as Moroch and Marhdukk. In the Jaghaal System, Space Marines were required to put down the disturbances. Many worlds south of the Sanctus Wall were stripped of resources, leaving them vulnerable. Such was the case in the Ridaeg System, which came under Ork attack from Waaagh! Guzkrog after 95% of its Imperial Guard compliment had been moved north. At GD-38-B so many weapons were taken that a Genestealer Cult uprising was initiated out of fear of losing “their” precious materials. At the asteroid mining field of Giara's Necklace, Kroot, Gnostari, Dark Eldar, and Dvorgite raiders struck when the Imperial Navy flotilla left.[1b]

Meanwhile, Abaddon was well aware that the Sanctus Wall would pose a major threat if it were completed. Even as Haarken’s fleet moved forward, Abaddon’s agents were already at work to undermine the Imperial effort to solidify the Sanctus Wall alongside cells of Alpha Legion and Word Bearers. This led to all-out war in the Leopolde System as entire Regiments turned traitor and attacked their former allies. Many more Regiments pledged themselves to Chaos in secret and waited for the right opportunity to strike. Many more traitors deliberately left weak points in the defenses for Chaos armies to later exploit, sabotaged supply and communication lines, and even conduct dark rituals. Not all of these actions went unnoticed, and Inquisition teams were able to round up many of the subversives, many on key locations such as Sangua Terra itself. These Inquisitorial units were organized into the Sanctus Entente under Derelei Melcho, Okal Nusa, and Atuwe Kikiya of the Ordo Militarum as well as Bataivah of the Ordo Hereticus. A second such alliance, known as the Septagrammaton Sanguis, included seven Inquisitors from the Ordos Hereticus Malleus, Aegis, Astartes, Maledictum, and Scriptorum.[1b]

The Fate of Bade

Chaos forces were not the only ones active in the Nachmund Gauntlet. Master Haemonculus Urien Rakarth led forces against the Imperial world of 20 billion people dubbed Bade. He chose his prey carefully, knowing it was far away to ensure neither Imperial nor Chaos forces would be able to interfere in time. In preparation for his invasion, Rakarth sent lesser Haemonculi to Bade to ensure it was kept free from outside influence and null-absorber Pain Engines were erected to jam all communications. Acting outside of standard Drukhari slave raids, Rakarth sought to conduct a grand spectacle that would see the entire world willingly flock to his banner.[1c]

Soon enough, Rakharth executed his plan. He had his agents lure a nearby Ork fleet to Bade, and soon enough they assailed the Human world. As Bade sent out desperate pleas for aid, and Rakarth’s armies watched the unfolding carnage with glee for many weeks. When salvation came however, it was not the Imperium but the Dark Eldar who came to the rescue. Rakarth had the Prophets of Flesh and allied Covens, Kabals, and Wych Cults assault the Greenskins as they besieged Bade’s capital. Thousands of Orks were butchered in hit-and-run attacks, but the Dark Eldar took substantial losses of their own. Most of the Dark Eldar casualties were allies who Rakharth had little trust for. The Dark Eldar were soon aided by the Imperials, and together the two drove back the Orks.[1c]

In a grand celebration, the Governor of Bade held a victory celebration for the Dark Eldar. Rakharth took advantage of the isolated state of Bade, whose government did not know if the wider Imperium even existed. He gave the Governor an invitation to move the populace to his own homeworld, which he assured was a safe sanctuary. The Governor hastily agreed, and over months billions were transported to Commoragh. Once in the Dark City, all pretense of friendship was dropped and great horrors were enacted upon the hapless Human refugees. Meanwhile, Bade itself was overrun by a new wave of Orks.[1c]


Battle of the Narrow

Meanwhile, Lord Admiral Prisca’s force soon arrived at the Grakiliod Narrow, a location that Haarken’s fleet could not bypass. At first there was no sign of any enemy forces, allowing Prisca to organize her fleet in defensive formations. Every vessel commander was given a sealed message to only be opened at her command. The Imperials waited for days, on edge and waiting to respond at the first second of enemy contact. After more grueling days of warning, contact was first made with Haarken’s own flagship, the Herald of Damnation. The first wave of Chaos vessels were caught in mine fields or ambushes by outrider vessels, whilst null-amplifiers and vox disruptors made communication between them impossible. As more and more of the enemy fleet arrived, they found themselves adrift in complete anarchy.[1c]

However as more and more Chaos ships arrived with each minute, many Captains lost their cool and attempted a retreat. Prisca for her part kept her cool, organizing her forces in a long, thin, diamond-shaped wedge. Her largest ships formed each edge, the smaller vessels and converted carriers in the center. She then ordered a charge at full speed into the front of the slowly forming right wing of the Chaos armada. At the head was Prisca’s own flagship, the Battleship Hammer of the Emperor. She was able to punch her fleet through the gap created by the destruction of the Chaos vessel Blood of the Eight, moving in at close range with the Chaos fleet to ensure Haarken’s ships couldn’t target her. As the Imperial fleet surged forward, they destroyed or crippled the Black Legion escorts Goredog, Poxcrow, and Changefire, the Cruiser Doombringer, and the light escorts Dark Fang and Black Venom. However despite these successes, the Imperials took substantial losses of their own. Many Imperial escorts were outflanked and destroyed, while larger ships were boarded and captured by Chaos Terminators. Most notable of these were the Destroyers Strike Cruiser Glorious Hunt and the Victory Class Battleship Triumph.[1c]

Despite these losses, Prisca’s fleet maintained enough momentum to break through Worldclaimer’s formation and burst through it on the other side. As the ships broke through, they peeled off left and right, unleashing waves of attack craft as they attacked the rear of the Chaos fleet as it was changing position. The Space Marines who made up Prisca’s armada proved particularly helpful, launching daring rescues of Imperial ships that had become isolated. Worldclaimer himself reasserted order as Prisca sought to delay the Chaos fleet for as long as possible. After many hours of fighting, Haarken had reorganized his fleet in a jaw-like formation ready to close on the Imperials. With his final order, hundreds of ships bore down on the Imperial armada. They were led by the World Eaters Battle Barge Fury of Khorne, heading straight for the Castellans of the Rift Battle Barge Bulwark. The exhausted loyalist Space Marines onboard stood little chance and were overwhelmed. Despite a brave final stand, the Imperial fleet was eventually annihilated.[1c]

Current Status

Only a fraction of the Imperial fleet survived the battle to limp back to the Sanctus Wall. Prisca herself was thought dead, and her plan had achieved questionable results. So many Imperial ships had been captured that the Chaos fleet would likely be able to quickly replace their losses, but her delaying action had bought enough time for the Indomitus Crusade reinforcements to be distributed throughout the Sanctus Wall. The Imperial commanders at the Sanctus Wall, Lord Castellan Alibet Ayaneva and High Admiral Rowlan Abery Wolston XIV, were disturbed by reports of the scale of the incoming Chaos armada. Meanwhile, the Inquisition continued to battle cults and hidden agents of Chaos within the worlds of the Sanctus Wall itself.[1c]

For his part, Haarken Worldclaimer left several of his champions behind to salvage what could be saved from the site of the Battle of the Narrows. Many Imperial ships were captured, with much of their crews either enslaved or sacrificed by Dark Apostles. Haarken himself continued to organize his armada for the inevitable push on the Sanctus Wall.[1c]

Order of Battle

Imperium

At Dharrovar[1d]


Fleet of the Grakiliod Narrow[1d]

Chaos

Forces of Haarken Worldclaimer[1d]
Forces on Dharrovar

Xenos

Sources