Lord Admiral Ludovico Martegiani
'I lived in the knowledge that the Emperor would find me wanting until the day I died. So I fought for him every day as though it were my last.'
Lord Admiral Ludovico Martegiani was born a scion of one of the many minor branches of the ducal House of Primorye. Without a chance of a meaningful inheritance he was sent to the naval academy on Kar Duniash, there to be swiftly forgotten by his squabbling relatives.
After an unremarkable academic career he was commissioned as a junior lieutenant to the cruiser Torch of Truth. Fighting pirates, orks and renegades, he slowly rose through the ranks; the only thing separating him from his peers being his burning faith in the godliness of the Emperor.
He would have been little more than an obscure sidenote on the Imperial Navy's roll of duty, were it not for a chance meeting with Master Enoch shortly before his departure from Terra. Impressed by Martegiani's unwavering faith and openly bellicose stance towards any deviance from the rule of Terra, Enoch put him in charge of the Fifth Fleet in the Extinction Armada.
Martegiani swore to never rest until the stain of the False Primarch was removed from the galaxy, and quickly followed through on his promise. His fleet harassed the Partisan forces wherever they found them, never shrinking from any confrontation, whatever the odds. Indeed, during the initial stages of Operation Gauntlet, it was Martegiani's watchful forces that first detected and moved to oppose the advances of the colossal Partisan counter-invasion.
|[//The Fifth Fleet patrolled the Coreward extent of the Mourn Expanse, and were the principal naval support for the Death Eagles I in the north of Abraxas and the south of Cambyses.+]|
[//Sector map with principal belligerents+]
Martegiani habitually led from the front, using his flagship to break open the enemy formation. While undoubtedly successful, it was a brutal strategy that proved wasteful and occasionally pyrrhic. Matergiani rendered five primary battlecraft in turn combat-incapable through these fiery assaults, and incurred horrendous casualties in crew and materiel. Confirmed losses are Firebreath, Spirit of Valdor, Lux Triumphans, Glory of Buthan and Blade of Bladen.
Angrily dismissing his detractors with accusations of cowardice and abandonment of duty, his stubborn aggressiveness triumphed time and time again where other – arguably more sane – commanders would have lost or withdrawn.
Martegiani himself was near-miraculously unmarked by this constant grinding warfare. His seemingly supernatural ability to escape every self-inflicted death trap unscathed elevated him in the eyes of his crews to the status of a Saint – one who did the work of the Emperor and therefore was protected by Him on Terra.
Perhaps his greatest triumph was in the closing days of the war in the Myrean Shieldworlds Campaign, when the Fifth Fleet was granted the honour of scouring Myrea itself, and wiping the Storm Tyrants' homeworld clean.
He would survive the conflagration of the War of the False Primarch to the end and prosper in the wake of its devastation: his unwavering loyalty and aggressive stance saw him rise to the position of Supreme Commander of the Naval Extinction Fleets.
After this everybody assumed he would go on to rise through the byzantine ranks of the imperial Navy. Whispers spoke of him being singled out for Segmentum command; or even as a potential candidate for the Senatorum Imperialis himself.
This single-minded architect of fire and brimstone surprised everybody, however, by laying down every title and honour and taking holy vows of silence in the Spiritual Order of the Unbroken Void-seal. He spent the rest of his days silently aiding ailing spacefarers in the many orbital hospices of the Order and praying for those lost in the sea of souls.
It is said that only on his deathbed did he break his silence by uttering the quote by which he is best remembered:
'May the Emperor judge which souls pleased him more, the ones I condemned or the ones I saved.'