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Kydos is a small world first settled by mankind in the late 31st millennium. Though smaller than the other two planets in the system, Kydos’s super dense core means it has a gravity with 0.1 variance to terran standard and can thus maintain an atmosphere suitable for human life. Initially it was this super dense core, and the mineral wealth it promised, that due the attention of the Imperium but the geography of Kydos presented too many problems and costs, making mining vastly uneconomical. 80% of Kydos’s surface is covered by kilometre-deep oceans which prohibited mining operations without a vast outlay of resources rarely lavished on such a small planet.
The oceans that make mining operations on Kydos impossible are in truth the source of it’s wealth and indeed the very reason that the planet is inhabitable at all. A constant process of seeding and harvesting gathers in the endless wealth of plankton which is then processed into a variety of foodstuffs; the bulk of which is shipped off world to feed other planets in the sub-sector. Marine life is also harvested to provide delicacies; the rarest of items even making their way all the way to the tables of the palaces on the Sector Capital.
Land on Kydos is in short supply and, given the large space required for the landing fields to accommodate the bulk transporters, the vast seeding plants and the harvesting and processing factories, the population of the planet is crowded into densely packed cities clustered atop the islands jutting from the oceans. The abundance of food means that Kydos supports a relatively large population and the cities are somewhat smaller versions of the great urban constructs on the hive worlds of the sector. Densely packed, socially segregated and teeming with humanity from it’s best to it’s basest. Some of the cities rest not on dry land but are built up on mountains that rise up kilometres from the ocean-bed though do not breach the surface of the water. Individual cities reach as much as two kilometres below the waves before reaching the solid ground of the planet. Standing upon a vast metal base, inhabited at every level, these cities spread out above the surface of the ocean like gigantic metal fungus. The constant rain of oils, waste and corroded metals from the underside of the cities into the water makes travel beneath the cities as unpleasant as it is dangerous. Even the cities built on dry land spread out over the surface of the ocean such is pressure of the population and the need for space. Only the most select and elite of settlements fail to follow this pattern and the only hive that soars ever upwards, as opposed to sluggishly climbing up whilst sprawling outwards, is the planetary capital Tegea.
Seat of the Governor of Kydos, the prime spire of the Tegea hive reaches a full ten kilometres over the surface of the ocean. For the last thirteen centuries the family of Hyrakles Diodus have ruled over the planet, passing the governorship from father to son and each taking the same name upon ascension to the command of the planet. The depth and nature of this command has varied depending upon the strengths and intellect of the incumbent Governor. Even at best though, this will only extends to an ability to exert varying levels of control over near-independent city states each maintaining a separate standing army and each engaging in bilateral agreements with other cities based upon the requirements of the seeding and harvesting of the oceans.
STIRRINGS OF REBELLION
Just before 200.M41 the incompetence and laxity of the incumbent Governor Diodus, a particularly weak and enfeebled example of the family, had allowed the planet to slip dangerously towards civil war and conflict the likes of which had not before been seen upon Kydos. An alliance of cities, led by the second largest city Taras, a vast hive plunging a kilometre under the surface of the ocean to rest upon the tip of an under-sea mountain, claimed that the Governor and his family were leading the planet adrift from the Imperial way and sought only personal wealth and aggrandizement. The loyalist hives meanwhile accused the Taras alliance of secessionist ambitions and various other heresies. Neither side wished to start a war and impact the off-world trade, and the wealth it bought, so the situation remained one of rhetoric and occasional skirmishes between naval patrols from the two sides. Other hives remained aloof of the conflict neither supporting the rebels accusation nor, damningly, affirming their support for the Governor who, despite his many shortcomings, was the rightful commander of the planet and representative on Kydos of his Imperial majesty the Emperor of Mankind.
Seeing a chance to resolve the situation before it got out of hand, and rid themselves of an incompetent planetary Governor into the bargain, sub-sector command dispatched a new governor, former Imperial Guard General Sebius Van Heth to replace Diodus and bring Kydos back firmly into the Imperial fold. Citing Diodus’s great age and many years of service, the old governor was retired to much public ceremony and celebration. Later, to little private ceremony but still some celebration, the old man was stood up against a wall and shot.
Van Heth’s placement bought the planet three years of peace before conflict finally broke out. Cities with genuine concerns about Diodus’s competence were quickly mollified by the new Governor’s forthright approach. Some key individuals in these cities, those who had been slightly too quick and keen to call for revolution and revolt, were rounded up and removed. This of course merely cemented Van Heth’s reputation as a harsh but unquestionably loyal man; truly the epitome of an Imperial Guard General.
During those three years Van Heth made some changes that were later to be instrumental to the Imperium’s victory over the rebels. Firstly he placed all air craft of any designation bar personal transports, though even these were restricted to quite low tonnage, under central authority. Coupled with this move all surface to orbit and orbit to surface traffic was controlled and vetted by a central command in Tegea. Six weeks after this order was imposed the rogue trader vessel Void Shark attempted to bypass this new authority and land at the minor city of Salapa to carry out some smuggling of contraband goods. A combination of orbiting defence satellites and ground based laser batteries crippled the ship before she was boarded and seized by Naval Armsmen from the frigate Purity of Wrath in orbit over Kydos at the time. The very public execution of the Void Shark’s crew laid to rest any doubts over the Governor’s tolerance to infringements of his new laws.
Van Heth’s most insightful change however was to the structure of the armies on Kydos. Until his changes were implemented each city raised and equipped their own army and these forces were more likely to turn on each other than integrate should they ever be required to defend Kydos from an external threat. Tithing for the Imperial Guard had always been a process of taking squads, platoons or companies from these armies and attempting to forge them into a working Guard regiment. The general assessment from Department Munitorum was that the Kydos regiments needed at least one engagement to whittle them down to 75% strength before the survivors would begin to mesh into an effective fighting force. Even then the regiment was likely to be very factional and best used for forlorn hope assaults on enemy strongholds. The Governor judged this distribution of armed force to be intolerable and set about consolidating the use of effective armed power under his own command. To this end all “private” or city-based armies were declared disbanded and Van Heth set about founding new regiments based much more closely on the Imperial Guard model he knew so well. With characteristic foresight many of the Van Heth’s entourage, who he had brought with him upon appointment to Kydos, were ex-Guard with a large number of senior NCO experienced in training up Guard forces elsewhere in the sector. Many cities got around this prohibition by renaming their forces as militias but the loyal cities followed the Governor’s commands and the new Kydosian regiments were founded. It would not be long after the first founding before they were sent in to fight their own people and put down the revolt brewing before Van Heth’s arrival.
WAR ON KYDOS
Almost three years to the day since Van Heth’s arrival the real shooting war started following years of political bickering and intrigue. The city of Eryx, an ally of Taras, was gutted by a huge explosion carried into the very heart of the hive by a ship from the loyal city of Himera. Later investigation shows that the explosion was in fact caused by agents from Taras to provide a casus belli. Eryx was always a minor city and could thus be sacrificed by Taras to justify a larger conflict. Acting in “retribution” for this attack, Taras naval forces shelled Himera into rubble before landing troops to destroy what was left. An estimated 6 million Imperial citizens lost their lives and the Kydosian VII regiment, based at Himera and likely the real target of the offensive, was destroyed. Lacking the ordinance to effectively counter the naval bombardment, the troops had weathered the storm and then, through significantly depleted by the attack, had risen up to battle the invading forces. Ultimately they were overwhelmed and killed to a man. The VII was never re-founded and their recovered battle banner and colours hang in the Hall of Remembrance in the Cathedral of the Emperor’s Light in Tegea Hive.
Simultaneous to the Himera assault, rebel forces staged attacks upon key cities, facilities and staging posts across the planet. The effectiveness of these attacks was blunted by the presence of the new Kydosian Regiments who all fought with the same tenacity and bravery as their doomed comrades in the VII regiment. Their bravery was costly however and the need to replace their losses meant the loyal forces would have to wait before going on the offensive and gave the rebels time to dig in and fortify their territories. The Governor’s decision to centralise control of all air and orbital assets meant that the loyal forces had a distinct advantage over the rebel forces at sea and quickly drove the enemy ships back to their homes crippled or sent them down to the crushing depths. Their bold opening strike defeated and control of the air and sea in Van Heth’s hands, the rebels hunkered down in their cities and waited for the onslaught. So vital were the seeding and harvesting factories in these cities that orbital retribution was not an option and the cities and hives would have to be cleared by the new Kydosian Regiments. It would take ten years to finally break the rebels and the Imperial forces involved in this brutal, bloody would come to refer to this period as the Long Grind.
The siege of Taras would be the ultimate act in this grim play however there were several key engagements along the way that defined the nature of the war on Kydos. Individual cities had to be subdued and brought back under Imperial control and generally this required such a commitment of time and resources that only one hive could be assaulted at any one time whilst other Imperial forces kept the rebels pinned down. The assaults would start with Imperial airpower attacking the defenders defence batteries in order to allow the infantry waves to reach the enemy. These infantry waves, usually attacking with no armour support as the nature of the battlefield made such forces virtually useless, would be ferried to the fight in landing craft that would either deposit them on the rocky beaches or onto the walls of the hives direct. There they would cut a way in using melta-torches and demolition charges. Once inside they would fight their way along the roads, balconies and tunnels of the hives clearing out buildings as they went.
These battles were a nightmare to try and control as enemy assaults and avenues of attack for the Imperial troops could be in any direction including from above or below. Tactical command was very much devolved to platoon and squad level with only the most general of instructions coming from regimental command. Needless to say, casualties were very high and assaulting regiments were usually rendered, in the dry language of the Department Munitoum, “combat ineffective”. In practical terms this meant the first regiment in had to be withdrawn and rebuilt before it could fight again having suffered greater than 50% casualties.
Though no stranger to the staggering costs that were sometimes required in order to attain victory, Van Heth was not content to merely throw endless waves on troops at the rebels and accept that many would not return. If armoured support was not an option then the troops themselves would be armoured instead. Using his reputation and considerable influence within the Department Munitorum and the Imperial Guard, Van Heth arranged for the supply of heavy carapace armour to the Kydosian regiments and ultimately arranged for the founding of manufactories to produce the armour on Kydos itself.
Regiments that managed to go in first and come out fighting would quickly gain a reputation they would fight all the harder to keep. The XIII regiment, recruited mainly from the city of Locri, gained a fearsome reputation when they were sent to capture Locri itself which had declared for the rebel forces. The regiment suffered slightly less than 20% casualties for just over 90% rebel and nearly 80% civilian losses due to their judicious use of flamer and melta weaponry.
The III regiment made a reputation in the assault on Galatia when, arriving by high tide onto the sloping walls of the hive, the troops landed right into the teeth of the enemy defensive positions. By this stage of the war the rebel forces in some cities were running low on ammunition and preferred to close with Imperial forces and engage in close combat as soon as troops had landed. Anticipating this, the men of the III regiment had all been equipped with close quarters weaponry for the assault and made short but bloody work of the rebel forces. Flushed by success they continued their assault and took the hive in a fine display of martial savagery for little loss. They would manage to repeat their performance at the minor cities of Naxos and Entella, where they were dropped in by air, before the regiment was ripped to shreds at the siege of Taras.
Following the eventual victory over the rebel forces and the dispatch of Kydosian regiments to the battlefields on numerous other planets, the Kydosian’s have been classed as heavy or assault infantry in the roster of Imperial Guard forces in the sector due to each infantryman’s personal armour and their experience of assaulting hives and other settlements on Kydos.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Finally, after 10 years of assaults, city fighting and endless patrolling and raids, only Taras itself remained in rebel hands. Standing proud but isolated in the midst of the vast southern ocean, Taras braced itself for the Imperial assault whilst the loyalist forces prepared for the final push. Kydos by this stage was a ravaged ruin. The rebel strongholds had been pounded to rubble and the loyal cities and hives had suffered at the hands of the initial rebel assault a decade past and numerous rebel raids since then, as well as a fair share of explosions and attacks from rebel sympathisers in the population. In some locations only the seeding and harvesting factories remained with just enough population, usually shipped in from loyal hives, to maintain operations. In other places even these key facilities had been destroyed; either by tactical necessity or by rebel spite. The seas around the hive of Thurii and the cities of Dascon, Caulonia and Gela were completely dead, poisoned by leaked chemicals and oil from the battles to capture them.
The seas around the city of Tyndarus were also similarly dead however the cause was of more concern. In the ninth year of the war, during the assault by the Kydosian XXXIV regiment, newly founded that year and having suffered 40% casualties before fighting their way into the city, the rebel forces released a bio-toxin weapon against their attackers. Needless to say, released in a crowded city the weapon failed to distinguish between friend and foe and rampaged indiscriminately through the city. The remainder of the XXXIV, the rebel forces and the entire population of the city were killed with a matter of hours. The virus then spread into the oceans surrounding Tyndarus before thankfully breeding itself out before the infection spread through-out the seas. Of particular concern to the inquisitorial forces who had been dispatched to review the situation on Kydos, the bio-toxin displayed distinct similarities to several variants of the Nurgle plague weapons utilised by adherents to that foul god throughout the galaxy. Investigation following the burn-out of the toxin revealed the presence of cult activity in Tyndarus.
This was the first indication of the presence of the ruinous powers on Kydos and the investigation deemed it likely to have been an effect of the rebels’ divergence from the Imperial path rather than a cause of the rebellion itself. Observers at the siege of Taras also noted un-human shapes amongst the defenders’ ranks. These sharp eyed officers were later executed to stop the information spreading and maintain moral amongst Imperial forces. Apart from these incidents the Inquisition ruled the conflict “clean” and blamed the war upon the all-to-human greed of the rebel leaders rather than the more deadly machinations of Chaos.
THE BATTLE FOR TARAS
The siege of Taras itself was a disaster. Given time to prepare themselves, the rebels had turned the hive into a vast fortress bristling with defence cannons, emplacements and armoured bulwarks jutting from the surface of the hive. Every square metre of the hive skin had been reinforced with sheet after sheet of steel and armour, much of it scavenged from the other rebel cities and the dismantled Taras fleet. The underside of the massive hive was a clear 100 metres over the surface of the seas and thus the Imperial forces were forced to assault the trunk of the city, itself more than a two kilometres in diameter. Due to the nature of the rebels’ work on Taras the Imperial air power was never able to completely subdue the defensive batteries and the assaulting regiments went in under heavy fire.
Leading the assault was the Kydosian VIII regiment, supported by the III and XXV regiments and spearheaded by a detachment of engineers who would rip open the truck of the hive to allow the infantry in. The commander of the VIII Regiment and over-all commander of the assault, Colonel Pancrates Tellias, was killed a mere two minutes after his landing vessel left the protection of its mother ship within the Imperial fleet. The rest of Regiment continued with their assault though had suffered as much as 35% losses by the time they reached the edge of the hive and passed into its shadow. There, if anything, things got worse. The engineers found that the trunk of the hive had been reinforced with a full ten meters of armour plate and they did not have the explosives necessary to drive a hole through it. Their efforts, futile as they were, were short lived in any event as the weight of fire coming from the underside of the hive cut the engineers down to a mere handful. These survivors were all seriously injured and stuck in slowly sinking landing boats. Efforts to enter the hive had effectively ended however the vessels carrying the infantry continued to pass under the edge of the hive and stack behind other boats full of troops waiting to assault a breach that would never come.
All across the underside of the hive small shutters opened in the armour plates and a constant rain of weapons fire and bombs fell upon the immobilised Imperial troops. Unquestionably the assault had failed but communicating this to the commanders in the Imperial fleet, and any efforts by them to recall the troops, was impossible. The loss of senior officers and the disruption to communications from being over five kilometres past the edge of the hive meant that the troops followed the Imperial Guard doctrines drilled into them by their instructors and continued their hopeless assault.
With no communications from the attacking forces to warn them off the next wave of troops was sent in at the appointed time and a further six regiments ran the gauntlet of defensive fire to pass under the hive and be massacred by the murderous rain from above. The press of burning boats by this time meant that some of the assault craft did not pass beneath the hive before they could see what awaited them. The situation was hastily passed back and the order to retreat was give. For the vast majority of troops this was too late to matter and handfuls of troops eventually made their way back in battered boats or clinging to wreckage and swimming away. Many of them fell to the continued fire from the hive and others never received the message to fall back at all, communication by then reduced to shouted orders trying to be heard above the roar of gunfire and flames. All of the initial attack regiments suffered greater than 90% casualties and were effectively destroyed. The second wave regiments suffered between 60 and 80% casualties depending upon their “success” in closing to the trunk of the hive. Taras hive would not be broken by infantry assault.
A second option was now utilised and in the evening of the same day as the doomed attack, the Imperial fleet withdrew beyond the horizon and turned their bows towards the hive before dropping sea anchors. Meanwhile the submersible assault vessel Glory of Himera made a stealthy approach towards the city. At 02:23 local time a nuclear tipped torpedo launched from the submersible detonated a kilometre beneath the surface of the sea where the great trunk of the Taras hive stood upon an undersea mountain. The resulting pressure wave destroyed the Glory of Himera instantly and would sink a further four dozen Imperial vessels in the fleet though their careful orientation towards the wave meant that the majority of the vessels rode out the tidal wave with little loss of life. The cities of Medma, Solus and Acragas were completely destroyed by the wave when it reached them though up to a two days after the event itself.
For Taras however the end came much sooner. Felled like a great and vastly top-heavy tree, the city plunged into the waves and sank at a terrible rate. The Imperial fleet moved towards the site and no doubt took some revenge in the necessary killing of all those of Taras who made it to the surface from their lost home. Sonar aboard the Imperial submersibles could detect the sound of the stronger compartments in the city finally being crushed by the terrible pressures of the deep oceans up to week after the city sank. The last rebels had no chance to fight for whatever mis-guided ideals they held but were simply crushed with no chance of resistance by Kydos itself. The use of a nuclear warhead meant the seas and food stuffs harvested from that area of Kydos are heavily radiated however the produce has been rated as Grade D (suitable for consumption by general population in non-critical functions) and thus can still be harvested and shipped off world.
AFTER THE REBELLION
For the Kydosian regiments a similar fate awaited. Due to their excellent training, comprehensive assault and urban combat experience and their adherence to the Imperial Guard standard model, as soon as they are no longer needed on Kydos, the regiments were shipped off world as newly founded Imperial Guard units to support the Emperor’s fighting forces elsewhere in the sector. The majority remain on Kydos however overseeing the return to normality and ensuring Imperial rule in the name of Governor-General Sebius Van Heth.
Those regiments that had been torn to shreds at Taras, and those that had suffered a similar fate at other cities and had yet to be brought back to strength, were dispatched in handfuls to warzones wherever ships could take them. Their Imperial Guard standard training means they can be dropped into any warzone and should give a good account of themselves in the name of the Emperor.