The Battle of the Strayvian Gate and the Invasion of Nivalis – The Quick Summary
As the primary Shrine World of the Prosperitas Sector, Nivalis was not undefended. In the wake of the assault in late 592, however, none could claim it had been defended enough. Crusade complacence; political upheaval in government following the arrival of Cardinal-Emissarius Grulge; any number of other factors, moving behind the scenes: all could, and would, be blamed.
Creeping Death forces contained at the Strayvian Gateway may have had strategic control of the orbit of dead Strayvia itself, but for years had been penned in by a cordon of Imperial Navy Warships from Battlegroup Hespiridus. Admiral Holz believed them to be contained as a threat, with Greppur Tain falling back to his usual unimaginative attrition war tactics in an attempt to grind down her forces in the Gateway. She had taken advantage of this perceived free hand, focusing on sending long-range strikes into Creeping Death held space to cripple his supply lines and destroy key figures among his command structure.
With her eyes turned firmly to the assault, Holz was unprepared for the sudden translation of ten unidentified warships within immediate weapons range of the cordon. Such skilled warp navigation had been thought beyond the ken of the Weeping Death forces; the Imperial fleet line did not even have a contingency response prepared. Before the defending vessels could raise their void shields, the unknown formation had already fired their first salvo. Pict captures from Naval vessels engaged in the Gateway show a formation of voidships with blackened hulls escorting an immense battleship-scale vessel of unidentified class, rapidly advancing to close-engagement range with the Naval forces.
Combined with the Creeping Death forces suddenly breaking anchor from the Strayvia’s orbit and launching a simultaneous attack on the cordon, Imperial forces were on the back foot. During the initial moments of the fighting a single Despoiler-class Battleship of the Creeping Death broke through the cordon and vanished into the warp – before several unidentified elements and additional Creeping Death void craft successfully broke the cordon and made to warp.
It is likely that the breach would have been more severe if not for the unexpected arrivals of warships from Forge Naximus Prime, Knight-House Queshi and the Demi-Legio Custodi Incudem – which were able to successfully close the gap in the cordon and, in the counter attack, not only push back the Creeping Death but actively driving them out of the orbit of Strayvia and effectively reclaiming total Imperial control of the Strayvian Gateway – the augmented forces, Knights and Titans of Naximus Prime beginning an assault on Archenemy forces on the surface of the poisoned world.
Of the thirteen vessels that broke the cordon though, Imperial forces had to watch…and wait for them to emerge from the warp.
Long before the Astropathic messages warning of the attack at the Strayvian Gate could reach Nivalis. The Archenemy fleet, displaying the same skill of warp navigation, exited the warp within the Nivalis system close to planetary orbit.
Pilgrim Vessels and System Defence Fleet vessels proved to be little challenge for the Archenemy gunners, and soon the orbit of Nivalis burned with the hulls of ruined vessels, in a swift four-hour campaign, the Enemy established orbital control of Nivalis.
With the Cardinal-Emissarius out-sector, control of Nivalis fell to Canoness Dinah – recognising the threat early, the Order of his Sanguine Tears evacuated their Fortress-Covent knowing it was vulnerable to orbital attack. Within an immense amount of materiel in hand the Soror’s made their way to the Cathedral-City of Nivalis and reinforced there beneath it’s protective void shields, within moments of securing her forces within the Cathedral-City proper, the Canoness had assumed total control of the Fidelis Militia of Nivalis. In the distant mountain hides and deep forest bases, insurgent Nivalian forces, no friend to the Archenemy or the Cardinal and his Allies, realizing something significant was approaching, retreated from conflict zones.
Nivalis tensed, and prepared for the attack they knew was coming.
The Weeping Eye dropships hit the surface first, disgorging poorly armed scum and mutant rabble before the advance of the savage servants of the dark gods that belonged to the tribes of the warp-wracked worlds of Tenebris united under the Tains. This hoard advanced from their dropsites towards the many shrines and places of worship across the planets surface. Rapid reaction forces of Sorors and Fidelis Militia swept into place swiftly, experienced veterans of the counter-insurgency efforts on the planet Ecclesiarchy forces slowed the Archenemy advance.
The black-hulled vessels in orbits disgorged a second wave of dropships, but rather than striking the main battle line these forces fell upon insurgent-held territories, rapidly wiping out what little resistance remained, and driving a flood of desperate refugees towards Imperial lines with fantastic tales of armoured killers.
Before the Astropathic choir of the world was suddenly, and unexpectedly silenced, reports were slowly trickling in of Imperial forces engaging heavily armoured barbaric warriors amongst the advancing Archenemy – and in distant parts of the Galaxy, those warnings were heeded.
The Following section is for fun/to provide flavour for those trapped on the planet.
Crusader Roan took the first blow to their power armour and backed off a few steps, the ancient relic-suit’s servos letting out an almighty groan at the effort of absorbing the blows of the archenemy weapon emplacement, ignoring the flashing warnings and the increasingly boiling temperatures within their armour they kept on going, stomping forwards…in their hand their chain blade roared, and they scythed through the oncoming hoard, their breaths short snarls.
Sorors moved up behind the Crusader, using their shield as cover, their Sororitas-pattern Power Armour allowing them to move a faster than the bulkier Ferraeus-pattern Exosuit of the Crusader, compared to their slow plod the Sorors were almost fluid in their grace.
Mounting the top of the emplacement the Crusader slammed their shield down atop one of the Archenemy heavy bolters and bisected it with a strike, snarling beneath the mask of their helmet as they surveyed the battlefield, ignoring the barks of the Soror bolters around them as the other warriors of the faith secured the position and turned the Archenemy guns on their own…
The fields before the great walls of the Cathedral-City were carpeted with the dead, the flash of colours of the Fidelis and the muted filthy colours of the Archenemy – they were turning back the tide here, but they were being made to pay for it. Somewhere distant the aural feedback on the suit picked up the dull ‘krump’ of mortars. and with a tired breath and a prayer to them on terror, the Crusader brought about their shield and covered the warriors of the Faith.
The fire thundered into their shield engulfing them and the Sorors around, the firestorm burned, but the Emperor‘s Chosen had faced worse than this…as the air became fire around them they kept hunkered down until the shells had stopped…and then they advanced.
Prometheum-soaked armour blazing, heat-registers in their interior hitting the read, the Crusader emerged from the conflagration as a blazing holy figure of the God-Emperor, their Chain-blade roaring as they slammed into the terrified ranks of the foul servants of the dark gods and sent them scattering.
Around them, the tide was breaking, the battle won, the enemy repulsed despite the cost…Roan sighed and slewed to a halt in the mud, chasing after the retreating enemy was pointless, their armour didn’t carry them fast enough…the enemy would regroup and come again…this battle had been won, but the war for the Holy Sites of Nivalis was far from over yet…
Yfirmadur Gnádís adjusted her stubber and growled orders though the vox-link to her Hópur – she did not like the newcomers, and would not speak open words with them, they were strange souls, baring the void-sick forms of those from the Deeps, her people, the Ennþá the ruler-tribe of the Twin Warbands, had many legends about those from the Deep Eye. About their cursed nature, and their natural tendency to treachery. The other newcomers she trusted less, their regalia, she knew it to have once been of the Armies of the Corpse-Emperor, it’s Eagles symbolically shattered.
The Herforingi had let traitors from the Imperium bend their knee to them in the past, but they always gave up their armour, to be reforged, as they did, and even then she did not trust the Svikari oathed to the twins, Svikari serving other Masters…an oath breaker could break their oaths twice. She did not like the situation, and neither did the rest of her Hópur.
The Svikari and the Deep Born moved amongst the Corpse-God’s Dead, taking what they liked, scavenging and looting, Gnádís did not like it, she was Ennþá she did not take orders from outsiders and strangers, only the Herforingi’s chosen. The one that commanded the loyalties of the outsiders put the fear in her, and in all her kindred warriors, silent, unmoving, they sat upon a rock cleaning their weapon and watching their warriors loot, her people called them Űtvaldi, she had seen a few in her lifetime, mercenaries in heavy plates who had done service for coin or other rewards, this one was different, more restrained, perhaps because it was travelling with its kindred.
“<I do not like it Yfirmadur, the Herforingi is not here yes, but to be taking orders from these strangers? Why should we?>” Ygriffur was one of Gnádís’ best warriors, and she rarely spoke her mind unless truly troubled, in the black tongue of their region of the eye they could normally safely converse without being understood, Deep Born and Svikari rarely spoke the same tongue as them.
“<It is not forever, only until the Herforingi unites with our number…then they will accept his command…>” though in truth she did not believe it, they had been -lucky- to break through, so the Shipmasters had said, it seemed unlikely the rest of the Warband would reach them soon, she snorted and glanceds to Ygriffur, “<I will talk with Űtvaldi it is time to keep moving, we have entertained this pointless mutilation of the dead too long, we must keep momentum..>”
She trudged up the hill to the Űtvaldi keeping control of the unbidden fear that was summoned from her as she approached, they did not look up at her, but their voice came from within their helm with a vox-growl, “<Your warriors do not trust easy…I admire that…>”
Taken aback by the Űtvaldi ‘s mastery of her tongue, Gnádís paused to find her words for a brief moment before she spoke again, “<Those who have broken their oaths once, often do it many times again…we have indulged this too long, we must maintain momentum…>”
The warrior raised their helmed head, two brutal tusks of some predator-beast framed the jowels of the helm, the Űtvaldi ‘s eye-lenses glowed with red light as they nodded their head and barked something as fluidly in a Deep Eye tongue as they had spoken her peoples language, and then again, in the low gothic the Svikari understood best…”<Do not worry, Yfirmadur, your warriors will blood themselves many times in the war to come…>” the Űtvaldi rose stiffly with the clank and groan of its armour, checking it’s dragon-gun once again, and Gnádís nodded firmly, with the conviction of one innocent of the Long War,
“<We will sack this place of the Corpse-Emperor’s power, and for this the Herforingi will lead us to sack the Tyrant’s Throne….>” and with that she turned back towards her warriors to ready them to keep moving…
The Űtvaldi watched her go before turning their gaze towards the horizon, watching the hordes of the dark gods moving by foot and armour across the landscape, and then they marched on, the Long War was never over…
Herald-Lieutenant Herrigh cradled a shotgun in one hand, tan skinned and from the equatorial regions of Butonia she stood out from the Nivalis-born majority of the Fidelis Militia under her direct command. Taller in build and stronger in body from a life of working the fields and mines of her homeworld, she liked when she was amongst the Sorors – the Order of His Sanguine Tears came from across the Imperium, there were many others of non-Nivalian origin amongst the Fidelis on Nivalis, but their numbers were spread thin, especially now, with the need for them to take up arms in Their name. One day, the Cardinal had told them, one day soon the ranks of the Fidelis Militia would be swollen with Faithful from across the Sector, but for now she was amongst a minority of off worlders…better to spread them thin as not to upset the sensibilities of Imperial Law.
Nivalians for the most part rarely left their homeworld, and while they had the influx of pilgrims bringing culture from across the Imperium they did not -understand- what life was like beyond, they had been innocent until now of quite how -savage- the Archenemy had…even after years of fighting terrorists and insurgents upon their homeworld.
Herrigh wasn’t sure if she had admired them for avoiding seeing the face of the Enemy until now, but she had never been so lucky…she had served in the Guard to escape her home, and then for several years as a Mercenary under the heel of House Di Firro – she had seen the true face of the enemy, the things she had been told to forget by the grim-faced and hooded Inquisitors. That she’d been allowed to survive seeing because they had judged her of…suitable moral strength.
She’d lost both her partners in that battle, and had barely time to grieve before the Inquisition had put her beneath the microscope…how in that state she had been deemed ‘fit’ in their eyes, she had never understood. But she had never taken another partner after that, the memories to painful to share with others – the Cardinal had offered her a place of refuge, a future…a chance to do Them on Terra’s will…she had gladly taken it up.
She froze and hunkered down against a toppled statue, the devastation wrought upon the Astropathic Temple was immense, vast chunks of stonework blown away with incredible firepower…whoever had silenced Nivalis had done so with immense tactical advantages none in the Sector could have expected…
Soror Celestian Hau was stock still, just beneath the emerald tint of the eye-lenses on her helmet, Herrigh could make out the other woman blinking rapidly…she’d seen power armour interfaces, they used eye and blink motions to work…the Soror had spotted something on her armours augurs it seemed.
The bolter in Sister Hau’s hand was lifted up a second later and readied, “Noises ahead…distinct…something feeding…something big…”
Herrigh nodded, the Fidelis she had brought with her were skilled and the best fighters she could muster, but she wasn’t sure she could vouch for their willpower when faced with a manifestation of the Enemy…she loaded a Drakebreath round into her shotgun and crept forewards after the five Soror’s her unit were assigned to…
Rounding the corner they saw it…Herrigh did not know how one classified manifestations, this one was not as big as the ones from that time…but it still made her mind rebel, her stomach turn, appealing to a primal part of her brain to make her want to flee. It had no eyes…it’s face was simply a massive yawning maw into which it was shovelling what remained of one of the Astropathic Choir.
Herrigh didn’t run, she -knew- on a deep level that it wouldn’t help…better to stand and fight then be hunted as prey…the shotgun barked once…and the air between her and the creature was ignited in a blast of fire…the Sorors advanced around her, pummelling it with bolter-fire before their specialist could engulf it in Prometheum…
She was glad for the aid…not a single one of her squad had opened fire…their warring brains at the sight of the creature overwhelming them too much…but once it was gone…it’s screaming form vanishing with the flame…the spell was broken…they seemed to recover…she hoped it hadn’t permanently damaged any of their minds in the brief moments they’d seen it…she would never escape the images of the ones she’d first seen…indelibly burned into her mind, into her dreams…
They reached the Astropathic chamber, it was awash with gore and what remained of the dead, Herrigh heard one of her troopers vomit at the sight and turned to attend to him, glancing to the Sorors as they examined the room, with a growl amplified through her vox, Hau shook her head at the sight, Herrigh spoke for her, “I thought these places were warded against those…things…”
The Soror glanced at her and then with a sigh shook her head, “Yes, but…” she pointed at the chambers doors, warped inwards, “Not if those are breached…by mortal hands…”
Herrigh nodded and looked at the damage done to the chamber and whistled, the jaded humour of one who had seen more than she should, “What could of done the kind of damage they did here, I mean…the Archenemy have ordinance but the pace…only thing that could of done the kind of blast damage out there is…”
The Celestian adjusted her weapon and nodded her head, “Bolters..”
“Archenemy Forces…noises…we hear noises…something is…they’re killing us, they’re killing us! Death given shape layered in metal! Blasphemy! They’re…” – Last Known Astropathic Message from Nivalis, 4-941.592.M41