First War for Coldforge

The First War for Coldforge

[//The Last Duel of Void Baron Dagir Lo and Grave Warden Rael Bazrab of the Charnel Guard, among the ruins of the Shrine of Saints, during the First War for Coldforge.+]

'Tech-cloisters ablaze; cold fusion stacks disrupted; and a displaced population on the march. None but the Munitorum could account for it all – and the damnable Magi of Coldforge continue to refuse to let any of our forces into their battlespace, even as their tech-guard are hewed to pieces by those lunatic Void Barons. 
If the Magi have their reasons, they keep them close to their chest – but in the mean time, the Death Eagles are being carved to pieces by the Stars and their curs.'
[//Lord Marshal Bleund, Orthodox High Command+]



Framed by posterity as a duel of wits between 'a fell and terrible foe' and the twin incisive minds of 'The Charnel Lord', Stanislav Gorn and Tywin Dwimmerlock of the Death Eagles, the recorded history of the first war for Coldforge suggests a relatively conventional planetstrike on the part of the invaders. 

While the records does not outright state that foe were orks, it is heavily implied – the secrecy perhaps intended to help divert investigation from the truth. 

Whatever the events, the result was clear – despite a 'heroic resistance', the (unnamed) local forces were overwhelmed, and the Death Eagles garrison were forced to evacuate the planet, abandoning the system in light of the sheer weight of the enemy assault.

Rumours and myth surround this war, with members of the Braccian Star-cult drawing wild conclusions from relatively minor references. For example, Chapter Master Dwimmerlock is claimed to have slain a Chapter Master on the surface – but this is based entirely on a partial symbolist text that alludes to the 'death of a Warlord'; as part of the later reports of an ork invasion.



The greater likelihood is that Jarnail Solarion was the mastermind of the first invasion, commanding a small force of his own Chapter, the Inheritors, alongside a detachment of Silver Stars. Given the seeming lack of activity elsewhere, it is also likely that the Void Barons were present in near-Chapter strength – the 'Spear of Volnoscere', as the Chapter had become known, likely formed the bulk of the Partisan forces. A substantial number of Iron Guard were apparently also deployed – though regrettably little of substance has ever been able to be recovered of this mysterious group.

On the Pentarchy's side, Gorn's role has repeatedly been emphasised in the falsified records – but it seems more likely that he was either absent entirely during the bulk of the fighting, or delegated the command to Dwimmerlock, who commanded a substantially larger and more established force on the world. 

Thus, our best estimates suggest the following substantive forces being present:

[//Princip. belligerents={Pentarchy}//][Death Eagles] [Charnel Guard] [perh. local Skitarii forces]

[//Princip. belligerents={Partisan}//][Void Barons] [Inheritors] [Iron Guard] [Silver Stars]

[//Iron Guard deployment – a number of key partially-scrubbed images suggest that the Chapter was not alone in deploying their ship's armsmen and voidsmen to the surface. Whether this was a tactical choice or strategic necessity brought on by casulaties is unclear. +]



Information on the Partisans' early movements is partial at best. The increasingly integrated and overlapping nature of the movement's forces would have made identification difficult even at the time, much less after redaction. 

All we can say with any degree of certainty is that the Void Barons were first into the fight. Led by their Chapter Master, Kastor Drak, this would seemingly be the Barons' multi-company-scale conflict. Having fought for decades as a dispersed fleet harrying shipping and raiding Pentarchy strongholds, the 'Dragon of Siklon' had gathered his forces. 

[//Void Barons from the scratch Sixth Reserve company establish a beachhead in the Carbide Districts; preparing for the inevitable Death Eagle counter-attack.+]

To what ends is unclear. Perhaps he sought a last hurrah for a Chapter that seemed to be disintegrating about him – for all records imply that the Void Barons had suffered a dearth of recruits in their extended campaign, with the Chapter entire pulled from pillar to post in hostile territory for many years. Their reputation amongst both the Orthodoxy and Partisans alike was low, for the Chapter showed little regard for ownership when it came to resupplying. Extant vox-records imply that the Void Barons had intercepted resupply craft intended for the Jade Talons or Marines Saturnine, for example; the resultant objections seemingly being overridden by the Kapihe – the 'Primarch's' inner circle – or perhaps even Volnoscere himself.


Until late M38, the naval logs of the battleship Glory of Buthan contained the following little-understood reference, which was:

'That Bastardde harreys mine shippes still more. Empererr stap his eyes and thos of his maeaster; that Cyclone might bee burnt. That his face were black and blue and tongue lolling, than those accursed colours.'

The ship had been deployed as part of an interdiction force corewards and spinwards of the Myrean League worlds, and this peculiar record, penned – unusually – in Admiral Ludovico's own hand, had long been assumed to refer to a local void phenomenon. It was the Braccian Star-cult who instead pointed to 'Cyclone' being a personal code for (or simple misunderstanding of) 'Siklon', the Void Barons' homeworld; and the peculiar capitalisation of 'Bastard' being a reference to the Chapter Master's epithet.

If this is the case, it perhaps points to the Chapter fleet – and, more tentatively, elements of the Iron Guard, too – having been involved in the Myrean waste Void-war. This goes some way to explaining the lack of orbital cover on Coldforge at this period: and perhaps why the Forgeworld was seemingly so easily invaded.

[//The securing of supply lines for Coldforge-pattern plate – tentatively identified on the Void Baron on the right – was clearly a key objective of the war, but to what extent this informed Solarion's overall strategy is unclear.+]

The Void Barons barely flinched as the emplacement erupted around them. Det-packs were a favoured tool here, for long-range artillery had yet to be landed. The Chaplain swung his helm about to address the ragged demi-squads. 
'Not for nothing are we the tip of the Quadrargenta. Not for nothing has our Caputmori ranged further, and faster, and harder than any other.'

No sanitised skull-helm of the office for the Void Barons. No, here their savage sensibilities were all too clear. The helm resembled silver-cast corpse-flesh, a vacant, rotting yawn surmounted by eerie lenses, seemingly lit with corpse-light. The effect was dismaying for the enemy, but rousing to the fierce Sons of Siklon. 

'The Primarch calls, and we obey. We fight, and the defeated lose their heads; thus it has ever been.' The Chaplain cast his corpse-eyes across the thirty or so Void Barons and auxiliaries that followed him. He saw no weakness here. 

In one hand he raised his crozius, newly-cast and bearing a skull-headed eagle. In the other he lifted aloft the luckless Skitarii officer who had opposed them. Backlit by flashes and bangs, he cried out: 'Who holds the stars?'

As the skies erupted once more with Death Eagle counter-battery fire, the gathered Void Barons lifted their weapons and cried as one,

'We do!' 


[//Tally marks were common – as, alas, were the necessarily crude bionics.+]

Whatever the case, the Void Barons' last great invasion proceeded quickly and efficiently, the head-taking invaders deploying via Drop Pod in a 'beautifully executed' assault that must have quickly eliminated the anti-orbital defences of the planet and embroiled the defenders.

The initial assault lasted fourteen hours, by which point the bulk of the Void Barons were surface-side and heavily engaged with the defending forces – presumed to be Forge-guard of the resident Skitarii. 

[//Enfilading Fire: As the Adeptus Mechanicus unleashed their heavily augmented cyborg shock-troops, the Silver Stars made the most of their hard-won experience.+]

[//Iron Guard armed with flamers became a feared foe in the close confines of the manufactory districts.+]


A divided defence

[//Lieutenant Trithian; Death Eagles deep strike team ‘Balestra’, recovered from a surveillance data shard following the battle of Halcyon Square+]

In the broader War of the False Primarch, Tywin Dwimmerlock, Master of the Death Eagles, appears  surprisingly little. Where records exist, Dwimmerlock is often in supporting or advisory role to other, more dynamic Chapter Masters. Indeed, he is often not even specifically named, such that his presence or actions must be taken from implication.

Whether this accurately reflects his pre-war capabilities and character is uncertain. It may indeed be that there was little history to eradicate, or that Dwimmerlock's feats and humours were more easily and completed obliterated following the end of the war. Certainly of the Chapters that made up the Pentarchy, the Death Eagles – both I and II – appeared to considerably more communicative than the others.

In any case, investigators should perhaps be unsurprised by the lack of material on the Chapter Master during this conflict, given the Death Eagles' already muddled history and modus operandi – and from what evidence does exist, it seems the Chapter was at pains to further occlude events.

It is following this period that the bulk of the reports of the unattested 'Death Eagles III' originate – a group bearing a combination of the Death Eagle I and Death Eagles II heraldry. Whether these are later records that the Braccian Star Cult confused, an intentional ruse de guerre on the part of Dwimmerlock, or perhaps an otherwise unattested third party – perhaps part of the Annulus Vow Chapters – has never been determined.

[//Supposed Death Eagles III – though note the presence of Akslepios of the Death Eagles I+]

Despite the lack of evidence, Dwimmerlock nevertheless remains the most likely marshal of the overall campaign, as he held rank over all but Gorn, whose attention – as noted above – had been much diffused. 

Frustratingly little information can be gleaned of Dwimmerlock's grand strategy. The following scraps give a glimpse into the war, but care must be taken not to draw too much from such scanty information.


[//Lukas Torr, Sixth of his Name, Sanctified Veteran of the Death Eagles Chapter. Pic-captured during the Coldforge Campaign. Note the reinforced Mark VIII power armour and the twin bolt pistols he wields as his primary armament – all ancestral equipment originally used by the first bearer of that name at the Chapter's Founding, and passed on to each of the following five incumbents during the Sanctification process. Torr VI was confirmed killed in action in combat with the Silver Stars, his remains unrecovered.+]



The first war does not appear to have lasted for any great length of time, and a number of the forces are unaccounted for. This is most likely owing to the nature of the battles, with hundreds – perhaps thousands – of isolated groups engaging one another in the difficult built-up terrain of isolated Forgefanes. 

Not for the Partisan commanders the luxury of abstract fronts: rather they seem to have relied on the personal initiative of Lieutenant ranks and below to conquer the world in detail. Likewise the Orthodox forces were splintered and divided – some narratives suggest that Dwimmerlock's wide-ranging warfare was little more than gathering as many Death Eagles as possible before the inevitable evacuation and defeat.

Certainly many fanes and substacks went into lockdown during the war on Coldforge and attacked everyone coming close to them regardless of faction. Their overseers and Magi has apparently decided that the presence of any armed force would imperil the function and structural integrity of their domains and therefore adopted the old Terran Saying: 'Shoot first, ask Questions later'.

[//isotopic-pictcapture of two Coldforge Skitarii close to substack T34. It clearly shows the iridated mechanical parts of the units, whilst the heavy protective garment blot out the rest of the pictcapture.+]

34-9aleph twitched as his biological muscles strained against his own bionics. It only took his loop-analysers a few milliseconds to resolve the conflict, but they couldn't erase the annoyance felt by his residual brain about the Twitch malfunction. 
The mal-script plaguing his routines was a sub-variant of a known Scrap-Strain and so his phage/cleansing-routines were able to mitigate the most of it's nonsensical commands. But still, any loss of processing-capacity was potentially fatal in an active warzone. Command was distributing updated routines to fully eradicate the Strain. 
But the Noosphere was horribly patchy down in the catacombs of Coldforge. The outfall of radiologic warfare and constant power-surges in the grid didn't help either. T34-9 clenched his jaw. Out of frustration or another manifestation of the Twitch? He couldn't be certain. Perhaps not even the Magiframe would know. In any case, it didn't matter. All that remained was his duty.  
+Protect the fane. Deny any entrance. Lethal force only.+


That the Silver Stars were present was clear simply by the amount of obfuscation applied to the war. As a result, we know little of their leadership – though given that theatre command had almost certainly been granted to Solarion, there is little likelihood that the 'Primarch' or his principle aides, the Vox Volnoscere and Riverhead were present. 

[//Assault Sergeant Otho Donata of the Void Barons, during their rearguard action in the Polar Deserts of Coldforge. The Barons, though out of their element in the sparse dunes held their ground doggedly while hounded mercilessly by the rapid advance of the Death Eagles.+]

Of Solarion, it's likely that he made planetfall – his belligerent charisma would demand nothing less; and his supposed 'Rebirth' would have proven beneficial propaganda for the Partisan cause. If nothing else, the avaricious and inquisitive Magi of Coldforge would have loved little more than a chance to investigate and assess such a figure in person.

Owing to the practical situation on the surface, however, he must have delegated considerable power to the officers under his command, relying heavily on their initiative.

[//Captain Arminius of the 6th company+]

[+//Personal file-assessment: Bracc+]
Pict-capture assessment:

Captain Arminius of the 6th company. Named Vidar by the Void Barons, Son of the great green sea of Drakwald. Bearer of the sigil of the World Tree.

On occasion, the clans of Hyperborya would find themselves unable to supply the Chapter with sufficient numbers of recruits to fill their ranks. The reasons were myriad: but included declining birthrates, childhood mortalities or – rarely indeed – internecine warfare. In such times the Inheritors would turn to their satrapies and protectorates in search of new blood.
Darian Arminius was one of only five aspirants from the forest world of Drakwald to make it past the aspirant stage – but he excelled, eventually being named Captain of the Chapter's sixth company in the later period of the War. Arminius had spent a significant time fighting alongside the Void Barons during the war, earning him both the respect and friendship of the cynical sons of Siklon. He was even gifted a Siklon name by Eeshmail, the Chapter’s liaison to the Inheritors.
The youngest captain amongst the Inheritors coterie of commanding officers, Arminius fought bravely throughout the war of the false primarch but would sadly eventually fall – as would most of his brothers, at the Acylus Tragedy.

Addendum. Primus:

Note the officer's right arm, coloured a vivid green in honour of his now-smouldering home world.

Addendum Secundus:

Nota also Arminius’ personal heraldry, the sigil of the world tree. An icon from Drakwaldian primitive religious practices symbolizing the eternal spirit of the world, as well as recursion, rebirth, and growth. 



It was sleeting. Drizzly half-hearted snow fell and clung to the Astartes, as they stood. One of the Stars rolled a wristrope idly through his hand as they waited. 
The Procene Primus cold fusion plant was death to any unaltered human – and difficult indeed for the scratch force of Iron Guard and Silver Stars that were tasked with taking it. Fresh from a skirmish with the Death Eagles, the ranking officer was now a mere sergeant – and with but one arm remaining, at that.

Inside were the Charnel Guard. 

Volkite at the ready, the Stars began their advance through the labyrinthine Forgefane, their mission clear...



+datastrand corrupt+

[//Veterans Ostas and Durus scour the ruins of Pentas for Partisan survivors.+]

The Shrine of Saints +datastrand corrupt+


[//Veteran Charnel Guard; assault squad+]

“There is no hero so valorous that he cannot be brought down by massed bolter fire.”
[//Natuum, on hearing that the enemy were commanded by the renowned Argent Herald’s champion Anticus Pallassar.+]


The Charnel Guard were well-known for their merciless butchery of foe – and in certain cases, former friends. Here, an isolated Kill Team is pictured storming a Planetary Defence Force position in the outskirts of the main Temple-complex of Carbide. What fired the Charnel Guard to act in such a way is unclear, but it may simply be that the PDF had laid down their arms in the face of the Void Barons.


I Conquer

Dwimmerlock and his Death Eagles had faced Solarion before on Orlando, and knew not to underestimate his counterpart's skill – and also that the Inheritors were no berserkers. It seems likely that Dwimmerlock +datastrand corrupt+ +FATALERROR+


I want to know.