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War of the Spider

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War of the Spider
ShrivenvsCustodes.jpg
The Custodes battle the Shriven upon Bairsten
Conflict Psychic Awakening
Date M42
Location Cadian Gate
Outcome Militarily indecisive, Fabius Bile achieves his objectives
Combatants
Agents of Bile Death Guard Imperium
Commanders
Apothecary Fabius Bile
Lord Argento Corian (KIA)
Lord Typhus Shield-Captain Tyvar
Strength
See Order of Battle See Order of Battle See Order of Battle
Losses/Survivors
Nearly all killed Unknown Only 25% survive battle

The War of the Spider was a battle between the forces of Fabius Bile, Typhus the Traveller and the Imperium, during the Psychic Awakening.[1]

History

Beginnings

The war began when Fabius Bile crossed paths with Argento Corian of the now-renegade Brazen Drakes within the Cadian Gate. Bile had just stolen the relic known as the Ark Cornucontagious from the Death Guard in the Scourge Stars. The campaign had cost Bile all but a handful of followers, and now with Typhus hot on his heels was in need of fresh allies. With the Brazen Drakes (now known as the Shriven) still pursued by the Imperium, Corian saw it in both sides best interest to form an alliance. Bile's first act was to heavily modify Corian and his warriors. Unknown to Corian, Bile introduced subtle augmentations into his system that made him a servant of the Spider whether he wished it or not.[3a][3b]

Ambush on Limaxis

The first major engagement of the war was the ambush on Limaxis. Warp aurguries by Corian's slave-Sorcerers suggested that Typhus' flagship, the Terminus Est, was but days from exiting the Warp above the world of Dessah at the head of a great fleet of plague ships. Bile and Corian organized a pre-emptive strike at the world of Limaxis with half their assets including all of the Shriven's newly commissioned Terata. Meanwhile, Typhus pursued Bile via a caged daemonic liquid honed to the Primogenitor's presence.[3b]

As the Terminus Est arrived over Limaxis, detecting the presence of the ship Bile had escaped on, the Wretch. The Wretch hung in the void with only faint signs of life. Hesitant of a trap, Typhus chose not to board the vessel but instead targeted the Wretch with salvos of Lance fire which sent it crashing into the planet's atmosphere. As the Ark was an artifact blessed by Nurgle himself, Typhus knew it could not be destroyed so easily. It seemed as though someone survived aboard the Wretch, however. The ship fired emergency atmospheric thrusters that turned its plunge into a graceless glide and saw it splash down a few miles south of a toppled hive spire. The impact was enough to tear the Wretch in two and leave its innards strewn across a dozen miles of swampland. Typhus did not care; he ordered his ships to settle in orbit, then led a substantial invasion force down to the surface to claim his prize.[3b]

Typhus landed a force of Plague Marines and Daemon Engines onto the site of the Wretch. Led by Typhus’ trusted lieutenants, the warbands waded through the mire and took up positions upon islands of comparatively solid ground around the crash site. Typhus and his entourage of Blightlord Terminators entered the wreck, following flickering energy signatures to where they believed Bile must have concealed the Ark. Instead, Typhus and his forces encounterd a rabble of half-dead slave clones and an enormous bomb. The explosion sent rolling waves through the swamp water and the wreckage crashed down amidst the Death Guard. Meanwhile in orbit, 4 Shriven warships emerged Bile's pilfered and retrofitted Dark Eldar cloaking shield and ambushed Typhus' Plague Fleet. 1 Death Guard ship was quickly destroyed while 3 others were heavily damaged. The last three untouched Plague ships broke orbit and withdrew in the hopes of launching a counterattack later. Corian next launched a landing on Limaxis with his Terata. Hurling themselves at the beleaguered Death Guard, Bile shadowed his puppet warlord. Using the Wretch as cover, Typhus' warriors dug in and kept firing. Their faith was rewarded as swarms of insects filled the air, signaling Typhus had unleashed the Destroyer Hive. The screen of insects shielded the movements of Typhus' forces, allowing them to kill more than two dozen Terata and stall the Shriven's momentum.[3b]

Typhus was able to reestablish contact with his Plague Fleet, learning that they had reformed their lines and had driven the Shriven fleet back. Typhus refused the request to smash the smaller Shriven fleet, instead having his ships form a blockade to hold the enemy at bay. Meanwhile, two other damaged craft settled low in Limaxis' atmosphere and unleashed a carefully targeted bombardment. the outermost Shriven support elements suddenly found themselves in the midst of a devastating firestorm. Herded inwards by the encircling fire patterns, Bile and his forces found themselves caught between ruinous detonations to their rear and the thundering guns of the Death Guard to the fore. Worse still, the Death Guard landed waves of Poxwalkers to press the enemy on land. The Limaxis ambush had never been intended to be a fight to the death however, and Bile and Corian made their way to three Shriven Thunderhawks and an Emperor's Children Stormbird. Bile, Corian, and the last surviving Terata fought their way back to their ships and escaped.[3b]

Death on Bairsten

The Shriven had, in their minds, outfought Typhus, but Corian had begun to realize that with each passing day he found himself unable to disobey Bile. Meanwhile, the Shriven's auguries had revealed that an Imperial retribution force was now only a short handful of warp jumps away from their position in the Belis Corona System and was even now in orbit above Bairsten Prime. Corian announced his attention to attack the Imperials, while Bile went along with the scheme due to his own agenda on Bairsten Prime.[3c]

When Adeptus Custodes Shield-Captain Tyvar and his Torchbearers strike force emerged in Belis Corona to find the Imperial dockyards over Bairsten Prime to be in ruins. An unknown catastrophe had befallen the world and lingering messages warned any who approach to avoid the planet in the Omnissiah's name. Tyvar was in no mood to heed such warnings however, not when the world still had huge deposits of Duralium to use. The Shield-Captain led his forces to the surface in order to use the Duralium to fuel the repair of his own ships by his Tech-Adepts. Such was the situation for the Imperials when the Chaos forces emerged in the Belis Corona System.[3c]

Presented with the sudden threat of an advancing Black Legion-affiliated fleet, Tyvars ships were still under repair and thus could do little more than fend off the enemy with battery fire. Corian had no interest in the Imperial ships however, instead focusing on his quarry on the planet below. Flights of Chaos gunships and landers made planetfall, escorted by flocks of Heldrakes. The leading Shriven dropships were met by ferocious fire from Servitor-manned anti-aircraft batteries which Tyvar had reactivated. Meanwhile, the Shield-Captain set up squads of Custodians to defend each of the three service ports of the complex, which in turn connected to the main duralium refinery via mag-rails. However it quickly became apparent that the Shrivens sheer numbers were too much for even the warriors of the Adeptus Custodes, and they fell back. Corian and his Terata were right on their heels and halfway along the causeway a band of Vertus Praetors struck, destroying a Shriven Predator tank. Corian responded with a furious blast of sorcery which hurled three of the Custodians from the causeway. Again, the surviving Imperial forces were forced back.[3c]

Once more, Bile hung back while Corian and his warriors cautiously advanced. At the railhead to the refinery tower the Imperial forces struck again, this time unleashing the Null-Maidens of the Sisters of Silence. In the face of their Warp-nulling abilities the Chaos attack may have faltered then and there, however Bile unleashed altered warriors aboard Bikes against their outnumbered foe. At the same time, the surviving Heldrakes swept back in. This again forced the Imperials to fall back in good order. This time however Corian halted; he had successfully claimed a beachhead upon the rocky plateau that housed the refinery proper. He divided his forces into several warbands, each supported by Obliterators and Daemon Engines, each led in by squads in Chaos Rhinos who could watch for further traps. Auspex sweeps showed the majority of the foe gathered around the macro-silos at the refinery's heart, and so the Shriven pushed that way through the tangles of rusted machinery. Bile however split his small force off from the main advance, something Corian welcomed as he saw The Spider as a hindrance. Bile was equally pleased, for he intended to harvest fine specimens for his great work.[3c]

Again, the Imperial forces struck at the Shriven. Now, though, the Chaos Space Marines met them with disciplined fire and vicious counter-assaults that saw even the Custodes driven back. Corian led his way into the refinery's central processing yard amidst blizzards of psychic fire. There the Shriven met the main strength of the Imperials. The force consisted of not only Custodes and Sisters of Silence but also Venerable Land Raiders and Contemptor Dreadnoughts. A wiser army may have withdrawn in the face of this, but the Shriven had been so modified by Bile that they could not resist their bloodlust. They threw themselves as the Custodes. Meanwhile, Bile moved on the spaceport and only encountered a single Custodian Warden and an undermanned Sisters of Silence squad. After swiftly overwhelming the small numbers of defenders, Bile revealed he had no intent to kill his prey. Instead he had them captured and injected into them a paralyzing agent.[3c]

As each was rendered motionless, Bile's creatures dragged them off into the Spaceport. Only now, with suitable subjects harvested, did Bile lend any aid to Corian. He arrived in time to see the Shriven on the brink of defeat and Corian suspended in mid-air amid a storm of witchfire. Shield-Captain Tyvare was driven to his knees, but was suddenly saved by the shot of a sniper rifle. It soon became apparent that the Custodes had deployed other hidden assets, for a Vindicare Assassin had finally made its move and put a round through Corian's skull. The battle ended in that moment, and only the martial might of the Shriven allowed them to fight their way back to their escape craft.[3c]

Last Stand on Dessah

Bile and the surviving Shriven retreated to Dessah, falling back to their fortress. Yet with the Enlightener slain, the Shriven looked to Bile for leadership as two foes drew closer and closer with each passing day. Bile for his part was pleased with Corian's death and now sought to make his escape with the fruits of his harvest. During an address to the Shriven by Bile tempers flared, and Corian's Chaos Chosen accused the Spider of duping the warband. At this moment Bile revealed Argento Corian, alive but heavily changed. His remaining brain had salvaged and been implanted into a hideous stitched-together Golem. Incensed, those most loyal to Corian made for their weapons but were struck down by the golem's psychic fire. In the face of this power, the rest of the Shriven fell into line. Bile planned to augment every remaining Shriven Chaos Space Marine. He ordered all defenders concentrated within Dessah’s Primary Bastion, which was partially built into a towering mountain. He commanded that the outer defenses be demolished and laced with booby traps, ensuring his enemies would have to come at him through a lethal killing zone. When the foe attacked, the Enlightener and the Shriven were to stand firm in the fortress’ defense, drawing the foe in and pinning them before the walls. Only then would Bile unleash his master stroke. A flight of modified Heldrakes would belch neurotoxin fumes over the battle. Bile assured his followers that the toxins would leave them untouched while the Imperial and Death Guard forces were driven into a murderous frenzy which would see them destroy one another.[3d]

Bile's preparations were completed just as the first Death Guard ships arrived over Dessah. Typhus had not been idle, raids of neighboring systems had seen him gather Cultists from seven different worlds and adding legions of Poxwalkers. The surviving Shriven ships attempted to use Bile's Dark Eldar night shields to ambush the Death Guard again, but this time Typhus countered by unleashing tracker-creatures across his fleet which could hone onto the warp-scent of the Shriven. The battle quickly swung in Typhus' favor as the Battle Barge Drake Rampant launched a misjudged boarding assault on the Terminus Est. Soon enough the Shriven vessel was tumbling away while the Death Guard landers swept down upon the primary bastion of Dessah. Swarms of emerging Poxwalkers triggered Bile's many booby traps, and behind them came formations of Plague Marines and Plagueburst Crawlers. The Enlightener and his Shriven made their counterattack at the yawning rent of the fortress' walls. Yet this was all a distraction, for Typhus and his Terminator retinue launched a teleportation attack within the fortress. Bile was hastily preparing his escape, but knew that unless Typhus was slowed he would never make it in time. Regretfully, his activated his latest batch of altered warriors, the very finest of his creations from Dessah.[3d]

It was at this moment that Tyvar and his Torchbearers arrived over Dessah. Acting swiftly, the Shield-Captain landed his forces into the furious battle below while his gunships blew a hole into the Primary Bastion's upper casemates which disgorged Tyvar and two full squads of Allarus Custodians into the fortress halls. Tyvar hoped to rescue his warriors which Bile had kidnapped during the fight on Bairsten. Minutes later, Bile emerged from his laboratory and straight into the midst of a gun battle as Tyvar and his forces ran into Typhus and his own retinue. Their conflict was blocking Bile's route to freedom, forcing the Primogenitor to launch himself into the fight alongside his Surgeon-Acolytes. Bile was able to fight his way through the chaos, and as a furious Typhus pursued he realized his squad was being overwhelmed by the Custodians. Spitting a vow of vengeance upon Bile, he unleashed the Destroyer Hive to shield his escape. Meanwhile at the breach, the Enlightener and his berserk warriors had reaped a huge toll on the enemy. Yet too their numbers were dwindling, and at this moment a Vindicare assassin again shot the Enlightener through his head. Yet this time the inhuman Enlightener struck back, sending out an empyric bolt which killed the sniper. Next came a Callidus Assassin, morphing from one of the Shriven Cultists and fighting her way through a horde of Terata to impale the Enlightener with her blade. The Enlightener blasted back the Callidus, only to be attacked by a Culexus Assassin. With his psychic powers sapped, the weakened Enlightener was assailed by a vicious Eversor Assassin. However, the Enlightener had enough power left to snap the Eversors neck. The former Chaos Lord had a brief moment of triumph before the Eversor's body exploded with a force of a bomb, taking the Enlightener with him. Their mission complete, the Culexus and the wounded Callidus disappeared into the anarchy of the surrounding battle.[3b]

By this point, a few tattered handful of Shriven remained, and, now leaderless, they were lost to madness. Some fled wildly, but as a warband they were utterly spent. Meanwhile, Typhus was able to return to the Plague Fleet and ordered a retreat. Less than a quarter of Tyvar's original forces remained. After purging the revolting horrors Bile had left within, Tyvar also chose to withdraw and deliver what he had witnessed back to Imperial authorities. As for Fabius Bile, he was not seen again upon Dessah. His ship had slipped away and back to Urum.[3d]

Order of Battle

Source