The Extinction Armada
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation [...] stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand). [...] Let him which is on the housetop not come down. ...Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes, and woe unto them that are with child. [...] For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved[Apocalyptica, Fragments]
|[+//Naval Elements from more than a dozen Sectorial Battlefleets and hundreds of opportunistic Merchantile and Rogue Trader vessels swelled the Armada en route to Heliopolis.+]|
Inquisitor Enoch's appointment to Mastery of the Extinction Armada was a propaganda coup for the High Lords: a symbol of humanity sent at the head of a colossal warfleet staffed by the united warriors of humanity. The ascendant Frateris Templar elite would rub shoulders with the decaying but puissant Solar Auxilia and the Praetorian Tech-guard of the Skitarii; with more besides.
The cream of humanity's soldiery thus presented a united front for the Orthodoxy – that is, the forces of the High Lords of Terra – with the Ecclesiarchy, Inquisition and Adeptus Mechanicus marching in lockstep with the Imperial Guard and Navy. A greater symbol of defiance at the rulership of post-humans could scarcely be imagined – and particularly in the face of a purported Primarch.
The sheer scale of the Armada was largely unmatched by the time it translated into Sector Heliopolis; and a sign of how uncommonly united the Imperium found itself at the time. Able to draw Naval and Guard forces from Segmentum Terra and Pacificus as it travelled, the seed fleet of the Armada gathered at Terra was swollen to immense proportions as it entered fleet docks across the corewards reaches of Heliopolis.
The Extinction Armada as a concept was unified and powerful, but largely mythical. In truth, such a concentration of force would have been massively wasteful; and Master Enoch's advisors and coterie were – for all their master's personal failings – both hugely competent and invested with a great deal of trust and independence by the Master.
As a result, the Armada itself was largely a web of semi-autonomous battlefleets, each highly capable and massively staffed. While some demonstrated – through accident or design – a higher than average proportion of Mechanicus, Inquisitorial or Ecclesiarchical support, all the fleets contained elements of each.
The Armada translated in-sector over the course of a year, in seven successive main waves, punctuated by a smaller drizzling of support craft and STC munitorum fleet docking-stations. The first waves established footholds in the three main subsectors of Heliopolis; Cambyses, Moreau and Abraxas; using the Cambyses Primary, Moreaumunda and Morgant systems respectively as their anchors.
The remaining four waves moved in to occupy and relieve the roaming fleets, displacing the advance elements, which gathered at the stable warp-points near Hever, Croesus and Qos Terminal in preparation for deployment into Sector Morqub. These systems were to prove crucial throughout war, as the Partisans pushed to simultaneously choke the flow of Orthodox reinforcements and drive into Sector Heliopolis itself.
Needless to say, the sudden presence of such a threatening power did little to calm the populace of the Heliopolian Sector and beyond, and much to disrupt long-standing treatises. In particular, the incumbent Grand Admirals of both Battlefleets Heliopolis and Morqub were less than forthcoming in their welcomes; seeing the presence of the Extinction Armadas as indirect critique of their abilities. The Heliopolian fleet's anchor, Cambyses Primary, was suddenly greatly overburdened by the Armada, with local shipping being forced to the back of the queue for supplies and essential repairs.
Not all locals were hostile. The local Forgeworlds, particular the Principals Helipolian and Neo Jove, were mostly welcoming. The arrival of Legio Validus with the First fleet was seen as a particular blessing. Similarly, a number of local systems organised parades and began raising regiments – though this was as often due to fear of war spreading as it was spontaneous.
Perhaps the most opposed to the presence of the Extinction Fleets were the local Astartes Chapters. Enoch's declarations and demands to the Sector's governments minced no words in making it clear that he was here to bring a number of Astartes Chapters from Morqub to heel. Even though the underlying statements lacked detail, and kept the possible presence of a uniting factor highly secret, the Lords of the Iron Guard, Storm Tyrants and Star Wardens could not help but hear the steel beneath Enoch's words. The Chapters were not markedly close, but had a history of mutual campaigning that saw communications re-established, and preparations made for a future war.
Loyalty to mankind over all was a key theme of Enoch's directives for the force; with priests and discipline officers forming a massive complement of the Extinction Armada. Indoctrination was established and enforced throughout the individual fleets in order to minimise the risk of desertion – or worse, defection.
Enoch's peculiar distaste for the Astartes – the 'swollen monsters of an extinct time' – meant that their presence was little seen across the fleet, though the complement of other Inquisitors in the region meant that individual Vigilants and emissaries of the Pentarchy of Blood were far from unknown to the individual Extinction Fleets.
The majority of Imperial Orthodox forces were – as might be expected – those of the Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy; their respective High Lords keen to demonstrate their temporal power in order to remind the ambitious Ecclesiarchy of their role as primary guardians of the Imperium.
The regiments and subsector fleets pressed into action were as diverse as one might imagine; and for space only the more unusual branches are studied here.
The Solar Auxilia of the Senatorum Imperialis
|[+//Armsman of the 555th Foederati//]|
The events of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy had seen the Solar Auxilia at their zenith, their fame known across the reeling Imperium as staunch and reliable defenders. The long years since, however, had sapped their strength and seen their traditional sponsors either withdraw their support or fall by the wayside. In truth, by the events of the War of the False Primarch, the Solar Auxilia as a whole had largely fallen out of favour of the High Lords and the Senatorum Imperialis, with most regarding them as an outdated, expensive, and unnecessary 'appendix' force.
With the Imperium having more bodies than equipment, they were steadily being replaced with cheaper, more disposable soldiery. With most Cohorts disbanded, disrepair, disrespect, and mismanagement had taken them from being known as the most elite baseline human soldiers in the Imperium to a curiosity – an old warhorse that remained capable enough, but was largely kept for rearline duties.
Nevertheless, the corps retained a measure of fame and (albeit faded) grandeur, and crucially were – perhaps mistakenly – regarded amongst the High Lords as highly loyal to the Throne. They were thus seen as an excellent force to deploy against a potentially rebellious Segmentum, and were one of the few forces to be partially briefed regarding the presence of a being claiming to be a Primarch.
The Cohors Praetorian of the Adeptus Mechanicus
Preferentially deployed to the region's Forgeworlds, the Extinction Armada's Skitarii cohorts were drawn from numerous planets that bore direct allegiance to Nero-Gollos, the Fabricator-General. Ever conservative and cautious, Nero-Gollos played a masterfully diplomatic role during the War, and the hand of the Fabricator-General was felt throughout the war.
As varied as one might imagine, the Adeptus Mechanicus' forces included two of the famed Ordinatus Majoris; world-ending weapons in their own right; along with the entirety of the Legio Validus Titan Legion. Despite these powerful and highly symbolic engines of war, the true strength of the Adeptus Mechanicus lay in the serried phalanges of its infantry and armour divisions.
Besides the Imperial Guard, the Skitarii forces made up the greatest part of the Orthodox war machine; though owing to Nero-Gollos' influence, the Adeptus Mechanicus armies gained a reputation amongst High Command for a reluctance to pursue and prosecute the War; preferring instead to dig in and consolidate.
The Frateris Templar of the Ecclesiarchy
|[//Frateris Templar Var'hest; a member of the elite Auric Order. Pictured prior to deployment on Mordant.+]|
The Frateris Templar were the militant arm of the ascendant Ecclesiarchy. With official recognition, the Cult Imperator grew influential across the Imperium as the Imperial Church, and their temporal domains and resources swelled alongside their spiritual power. Such power drew aggression and competition, both from within and without the pale of the Imperium. Alien, recidivist and independent forces resisted the growth of the Imperial Church, and the churches, monasteries, missions and abbeys of the Ecclesiarchy frequently came under attack.
In core regions, the churches could rely upon the swift support of the Imperial Navy and Guard, but in more remote parishes, the Church – like all Imperial institutions – was expected to look to its own defence. Wealthy almost beyond measure, the Ecclesiarchy's response was increasingly to raise forces of their own, rather than await support. These private armies were often better armed, better armoured and with stronger morale than the line troops of the Imperial Guard – a situation that led to the Ecclesiarchy requesting support less and less frequently; which created the virtuous – or vicious – circle of the Ecclesiarchy's private armies becoming stronger and stronger.
Within two centuries, the then-High Lord Eccelesiarch had successfully used his influence within the Senatorum Imperialis to make his 'Frateris Templar' an official body; elevating them to a position rivalling that of the ailing Solar Auxilia. The War of the False Primarch proved a perfect proving ground for this varied parade of warriors, who were amongst the most visually impressive and striking forces of all. With no uniform to speak of, the Frateris Templar varied from sword-bearing warriors clad only in devotional tattooes, to those bearing power armour and boltguns in direct hoamge to the holy Adeptus Astartes.
The Ordos Pacificus of the Inquisition
| [//Divisions from the Inquisition's Ordos Pacificus took an active part in all stages of The War of the False Primarch, both independently and as primary support for the Vigilants.+]|
While relatively few in number, the Ordo Pacificus was still a vast organisation that could draw many hundreds of thousands of warriors from across the region. Besides their fearsome individual capabilities, the Inquisitors of the Ordo Pacificus could draw upon the specialised stormtroopers (as they preferred to be known; the official term 'Tempestus Scions Pacificus' proving rather a mouthful, besides being seemingly contradictory) of the Schola Progenium.
These were trained on a number of worlds in both Heliopolis and Morqub, and stationed across a series of Watch-fortresses and barracks. Unlike the other special forces of the Extinction Armada, the men and women of the Ordo Pacificus were largely local; joining the Extinction Fleets alongside the regiments of the Imperial Guard that were pouring onto the troop transports, eager to bring battle to their rival Sector.
'All things are impermanent, all aspects of existence are unstable and non-eternal. Beings will become so weary and disgusted with the constituent things that they will seek emancipation from them more quickly. There will come a season, [...] when a second sun will appear. [...] The mountains will be consumed, a spark will be carried on the wind and go to the worlds of God. [...]Thus all things will burn, perish and exist no more except those who have seen the path.'
[+//Apocalyptic tradition of the Myrean Shield Worlds+]