Warzone: Pao Fung

Warzone: Pao Fung

‘Cobweb-draped and pitted with age: the Third Throne of the Marines Saturnine. Set further apart and a yard or two back from the others, squatted in the gloom. It had none of the austere, understated grandeur of the Oracle’s or the Master’s. No, this was thicker-set, hard and iron and old. This was of another order entirely.’

‘I watched the Primarch’s eyes narrow, near-imperceptibly; then flicker from Aegis to Oracle to… somewhere else.’

‘The area beyond the plinth was unlit; the better for the assemblage to see those on show. A hundred portals opened onto the colossal circular hall. All watching seemed to pause as the Primarch looked around, warily, eyes searching, nostrils flaring. The air of the hall changed, from stadium to… arena.’

‘He paused. I turned to look, too. For a moment, I thought I saw something. Movement in the shadows. It was already slinking back, like a powerful beast aware of a dominant rival. Large – over-large. Atavistic. Not intimidated; but wary.’


[//tom_k/ghostys_neon_rust et edward_r/@death_of_a_rubricist+]


Background to conflict

The Pao Fung system, long a dependency of the Red Fish, had declared their support for the False Primarch not long after the War started. The densely-jungled Civilised world was a planet that had long been unsatisfied with their position in the Imperium. Even without the involvement of the beguiling charisma of False Primarch, the opportunity to secede from the Orthodoxy proved more than enough to push the reluctant regional leaders towards Partisanship. 

The Imperial Governor, Phuba Gomnh, personally sought out the Chapter's garrison commander Lieutenant Akhmet-Kwok, bravely asking directly whether the Red Fish would resist or support the secession. The reply was to become regionally famous:

'Not merely will we not resist your will; the Red Fish pledge to provide you with support and succour in this time. The Primarch himself will sanction and support this action.' 
[//Red Fish Lt Lashynn Akhmet-Kwok, 2nd Company+]

Located on the edges of the Callais subsector, and relatively isolated, Pao Fung managed to avoid the attentions of the Pentarchy as the war expanded. As a result, while the Delphurnean League proper was embroiled in apocalyptic warfare, the distant Pao Fung system enjoyed several decades of largely-unsupervised self-government. 



This came to an abrupt and bloody end, as the planet was invaded by the Flesh Eaters, who swiftly overwhelmed the honour Guard of Red Fish and Inheritors who tried in vain to prevent the 'excision' of planetary government. 

[//Ilkin Ilgaz, the last survivor of the Red Fish Honour Guard, was last pictured fleeing into the jungle with the squad's Caputmori+]

Unbeknownst to the isolationist system, by this point the entire sector was ablaze with war. A hundred planets were engaged in a hundred wars, and the Partisan Astartes were already spread thin. Pao Fung's calls for aid seemingly fell on deaf ears. 

Readings of the Emperor's Tarot by planetary Prognosticators repeatedly foretold doom. A general malaise of despondency infected the populace of the major hives, infecting the local Planetary Defence Force and their allies even before the Flesh Eaters and the Orthodox Guard forces had even made planetfall. To the denizens of the system, it seemed that Pao Fung and its moons would stand and fall alone. 

Leaderless, rudderless and seemingly doomed, the planet's PDF forces morosely prepared to fight a bloody guerilla war through the jungles that covered much of the world's surface. 

Things were not, however, quite as they seemed. 


Signs and portents

It is unknown quite when this changed, but an almost rebellious streak of optimism begun to take root. The words of a lone Oracle, took to the stand in Hive Capital, her voice striking cleanly through the cacophonous portents of the thousand doomsayers that prophesied certain death to the milling population. 

Alongside – and sometimes over – the newly-raised statues, artworks and carvings of the False Primarch and Partisan propaganda, a new slogan began to appear. Graffiti and pamphlets spread from the stalls of the local bars to the great ferrocrete bastions studding the planet, all proclaiming the simple phrase:

“The Lamassu comes.”

To the population of Pao Fung, the words were as alien to them as any of the foul xenos of the Heliopolian Void, yet they began to take solace in them. To the everyman of Pao Fung, the Lamassu represented a Saviour, nothing more and nothing less. As this ground swelling of comfort and stoicism spread to reach the upper echelons of Pao Fung's hive spires, the readings of the Emperor's Tarot, once seemingly clear, became muddied. No longer did readings spell assured destruction. 


[//Flesh Eaters+]

As the Flesh Eater Cruiser In Carno Veritas and its Naval escort entered Pao Fung's orbit, the planet – which mere months earlier had been on the verge of civil collapse – unleashed an attack on the Orthodoxy with grim resolution. The skies were lit with the fires of Pao Fung’s defensive measures, as their orbital stations began to try to repel the Pentarchy invasion fleet. 

Like a blunt hammer, the Imperial forces struck against Pao Fung's initial defences, but found a level of resistance that they had not expected. For every Orbital Station that fell, an unoptimal amount of losses were inflicted upon the Pentarchy forces, long before they had even made planetfall. Within every ship, every station, they found the unfamiliar graffiti portending the arrival of a mystery.


Saturnine relief

As the skies above Pao Fung had their control arrested away from the PDF, a new force entered the fray. Warping into real space dangerously close to the planets atmosphere, the Marines Saturnine arrived. 

Fleet Sapara, commanded by a pair of Lugals (Astartes Captains) came to oversee the planet's defence and to prevent it from falling into the Pentarchy's hands. Commanding the counter-offensive in space was Lugal Uruinimgina, clad in esoteric Cataphracti terminator armour, who was responsible for the brutal boarding actions that characterised the war that took place in the skies of Pao Fung. 

Responsible for coordinating the defence on the ground was Lugal Meslam-Baal, whose great axe was said to be solely responsible for the mountain of severed limbs found stacked outside the Hive City Cou-Fou.



Whither the cavalry?

As planet of Pao Fung was dragged into the war, the Marines Saturnine, depleted from events prior to the War of the False Primarch, moved to support the beleaguered world. Originally intended to be relief garrison of some thirty Astartes, as the scope of the war was revealed to them, the Marines Saturnine –previously characterised by their apparent reluctance to engage in large numbers – reinforced the planet time and time again, with more and more of their number. 


At the height of the war, Infomancers and their catalogue-ghouls theorised that Partisan Astartes upon the planet outnumbered their Pentarchy rivals two to one. Such a large scale engagement by the Marines Saturnine had been previously unheard of outside of the planetary cluster of Tannbach. 

Furthermore, whilst rumour and conjecture was rife at the height of this dark period in the Imperium's history, repeated reports from both Vigilant Astartes and Loyalist Agents indicated that there was something more to the engagement. Cyclical rumours of a monstrosity leading the Partizan cause were at first believed to be mis-reports of the False Primarch. These were later disabused as the anathematic truth was revealed.

[//Marines Saturnine drive a Kill Team of Death Eagles off Pao Fung's principal moon.+]
[//tom_k/@ghostys_neon_rust et edward_r/@death_of_a_rubricist+]

'The Lamassu Comes'