Warzone: Coldforge – the Second War

Talons crossed: The Second War for Coldforge

[//Vengeful Death Eagles+]

'Coldforge sits corewards of the Myrean League, where the False Primarch made his fastments in the later stages of the War. A Forgeworld, it was a key strategic point that changed hands multiple times, and saw the footfalls of more than ten Chapters of the warring Astartes, innumerable Imperial Guard regiments and auxilia units during the long years of conflict.'

[//Astrocartographic Notes: [REDACTED]+] 


A more conventional conflict than the First War for Coldforge, the Second War saw the Pentarchy move to retake Coldforge from the Partisans. Spearheaded by the Death Eagles and supported by the Red Talons, this conflict foreshadowed the eventual step onwards to the Myrean League – and while unsuccessful in reclaiming the planet, the Death Eagles' assault did succeed in utterly wrecking the surface and setting the stage for the Third and final War.

[//Coldforge {tithegrade=} Exactis Median+]


[//Vanguard Veteran – Jade Talons+]

[//Princip. belligerents={Pentarchy}//][Death Eagles] [Red Talons]

[//Princip. belligerents={Partisan}//][Star Wardens] [Jade Talons] [Silver Stars]

The Death Eagles had suffered the loss of Chapter Master Knyaz-Martial Broso to the actions of the Jade Talons and Riven Lords early in the war. As the tactical requirement of the engagements carried out by the Death Eagles (II) involved guerrilla warfare and concealed asymmetrical attacks, it seemed fitting that this task would fall to a veteran of the 10th Company, Gaius Gnæius Titanus.

Perhaps fittingly, information about Titanus is limited; and what little is known can be gleaned only from his methods during the Second War for Coldforge, the only campaign he is recorded as spearheading. While it is dangerous to assume too much from a single point of data, few other options are available to us. The methodology in warfare demonstrated on Coldforge may reflect Titanus’ preferred battle tactics – rather than a single goal, he encouraged a series of overlapping and independent objectives with diverse strategic outcomes, all to either benefit the Pentarchy or to further hinder the Partisans.

He excelled at shadow warfare, and had used his initial years in command to strike repeatedly at the Jade Talons, Riven Lords and Star Wardens, his apparent aim to weaken the traditional power base of ‘Steel of Heliopolis’ Chapters. His actions also meant that the Death Eagles (II) were well-placed to take advantage of the ‘Diet of Fools’ Edict. 

[//ident: incerto]

Naturally, this led to suspicion of what exactly it was that the Death Eagles (II) were accomplishing during the war – by the nature of Titanus' strategic methodology, there was no direct way for their allies to gauge their contributions. How does one measure the effects of a shadow war, except at the end, where conclusions of outcomes can only really be guessed at? That, combined with the smaller size of the Death Eagles (II), even after the Diet of Fools, has led many to believe that of those involved, Titanus’ role in the war could be overlooked and maybe even be deemed irrelevant.

Perhaps that too, was just another layer involved in the calculations employed by Titanus. By cultivating a reputation as obscure and 'irrelevant', the Chapter was not perceived as a primary threat. Easily ignored by both their allies and their enemies, the Death Eagles were thus freed them to achieve whichever objectives the High Lords deemed most important, outside of the bureaucratic structure of Imperial governance.

Coldforge, it seems was one such target. Glittering in the void, the planet was widely seen as merely another planet – strategically important, but hardly key – but to the eyes of Titanus, it was to prove a vital chink in the Myrean Shieldworlds.


Notably absent from the Forgeworld's defence were the Storm Tyrants. Their obsessively inward-looking focus robbed the planet – and the Partisans – of their counter-siege specialism.


An exhausted world

The battle for Coldforge was no lightning strike – instead, Titanus stoked the conflict over many months, beginning with secret messages passed to those Forge-magi smouldering with resentment for the Partisan occupation. 

[//The Star Wardens were not kind masters.+]

Coldforge's policy of neutrality had sought to exploit the belligerents, but the result was forced requisition from both sides – particularly with note to the Mark VI plate that had become the planet's primary export by this point. The occupying Star Wardens and Silver Stars drove the Forgefanes they had claimed hard, with hundreds of the power armour suits being constructed monthly.

Supply lines were straitened by continual demands from the Myrean League and harassment from Orthodox forces. The results in terms of quality were obvious, with later models making do with minimal wiring, external heat-vents and other compromises. The last to roll off the lines were pressed into action almost immediately, lacking all but the most primitive autosenses, and some even lenses in their helms.

[//Hunt/Kill Protocols Enabled: As the war on Coldforge progressed and the materiel output of the system's forges was almost exclusively turned over to the production of mkVI Astartes battleplate, forces on both sides would often have to resort to raiding supply caches to maintain adequate stocks of other wargear and ammunition. In such situations even the most skilled of veterans might find themselves pursued by the faceless sentinels turned loose by the Adeptus Mechanicus in an effort to prevent the exploitation of their chattels. +]

To the Adeptus Mechanicus, this was an affront to the Machine-God's intentions – but the Star Warden occupiers and overseers had little sympathy with their doctrine. The three-hundred strong garrison was universally made up of members of the Gilded Arm cult, sycophantically loyal to their 'Returned Primarch', and they brooked little argument against the wishes of Volnoscere for more arms and armour to be shipped to the Myrean League.

[//Dread Chaplain Ramiel – known as the Watcher Set Over Those Who Rise – was a prominent figure on Coldforge, well-known to the occupied populace as a harsh and unforgiving taskmaster. +]

This unrest had existed since the beginning of occuption at the end of the First War for Coldforge, and it proved fertile ground for Titanus' gradually ratcheting up of tensions. Members of the Vigilants and the Inquisition, acting as agents provocateur, were gradually seeded into those areas deemed likely to support a rebellion.

Titanus also made requests of Master Enoch for support in an offensive on Coldforge from the long-suffering Extinction Fleets. Lacking the Chapter Master's strategic vision, he refused, leaving Titanus instead to court other third parties, such as the Ecclesiarch and the Ur-Wodan Confederacy.

[//Umathron flotilla gathering at Iduho IV within the Saphrax sub-sector; preparing to warp travel, and muster at the Cmit Black system for the large scale Orthodoxy invasion of the Partisan planet. +]

Unfortunately for Titanus' plans, it appears that this broader request was intercepted by Partisan Intelligence – likely the Marines Mendicant. As a result, gathering forces began to be noted, and once it was brought to Volnoscere's attention, the False Primarch himself ordered reinforcements to be sent to Coldforge. More than a thousand Silver Stars under Kapihe Riverhead were apparently despatched to Coldforge; which marks the importance the False Primarch placed on it.

Perhaps recognising that his preparations would come to naught if left too long, Titanus petitioned the Red Talons – perhaps in frustration, perhaps in desperation – for support of his own.

While the precise date is occluded – owing as much to Titanus' murky and unclear modus operandi as any  later redaction – is is generally agreed that as the campaign began, the Partisan garrison was made up of some 1,500 Astartes – principally Star Wardens and Silver Stars, but also some a scattering of Riven Lords, Void Barons and a large proportion of the few surviving Firebreak. Alongside them were those Coldforge tech-guard Regiments declared for the Partisans, and a substantial Partisan naval fleet.

Titanus, determined that Coldforge would be his, had mustered more than four thousand Death Eagles (II) along with substantial reserves from the Red Talons and Death Eagles (I); and could count on numerous mercenary or third-party forces. To bring this strength to bear, however, required the success of the shadow war on the surface.


The spark catches

[//Ecclesiarchy Bishop Mideve+]

'An excess of zeal' was how the scholam had described him. Ever an enthusiastic exponent of the teachings of the Ecclesiarchy, he had been explaining their merits to a heretic when, standing a little too close to the pyre, his robes had caught. His acolytes could not reach him in time to save his limbs but, while contemplating the Emperor's sacrifice before a mural of his angels in combat, a vision came to him. Unwilling to accept that he could not be implanted into the Dreadnought's he witnessed upon Coldforge, a penitent Scion-adept of Coldforge proposed an alternative. From then on, Bishop Mideve walked again, seeking to punish those who defy the emperor.
[//The Later Martyrs – Sub-beatified Notables of Pacificus – REDACTED+]

It began, as with so many of the conflicts of this mournful civil war, with a disagreement over materiel. Given the desperate modifications that would later be forced upon the Magi of Coldforge, the order to increase production of Mark VI plate still further was a step too far. The Magos in charge of Substack T-34 declared this impossible, and was struck down by the Star Warden overseer. 

'Unprovoked and uncontrolled'

Within the day, the world was in open rebellion against the Partisan occupation. The Star Wardens staunchly 'defended the Primarch's territory'  – by launching immediate and brutal attacks on more than a dozen Forgefanes. The embedded Orthodox assets informed their primed Techpriest allies, and thousands of Skitarii and their allies began moving against the Silver Stars and the other Partisans.


[//Riverhead, almost alone of the cryptic Kapihe group, was sighted on numerous occasions – and most frequently on Coldforge+]

Four days later, the war had engulfed the two main continents, and been ruinously destructive. Commanded by the notoriously belligerent Silver Star CAp Riverhead, Forgefane T-22, T-44 and J-04 had been reduced to glass by atomic strike. It is unclear whether Riverhead considered this expedient, or orders had been twisted to further stoke the war – but one of the few remaining scraps of evidence points to the work of the Vigilants here.

It was at this point that the Death Eagles' fleet warped in-system, and their Umathron allies revealed themselves. A fierce naval battle – notable for consuming many of the Silver Stars' remaining bulk transports in-dock – ensued, with fighting quickly turning to boarding actions. Titanus was determined that the Stars would not escape; and that their strength would be turned against them.

[//Possessing a rank equivalent to the imperial guard rank of Captain, Commodore Dracon Sol of the Jostar Void-Wardens 66th was the chief junior officer in the Partisan defence of Station 77-Zeta. The 66th remained stationed on Coldforge as their ship, the Queen of Steel, was being repaired. It was requested that the 66th be stationed on Coldforge to fight in the defence of the planet.+]



The conflict escalated over the course of the next two months, with the battle quickly turning into bitter urban warfare. The Orthodox invasion could not reasonably be halted, but equally Titanus proved unwilling to bombard – perhaps owing to continuing fleet fighting in orbit, or perhaps because he wished to preserve his allies on the surface.

The Death Eagles therefore began one of the few genuinely successful massed drop-pod assaults of the remaining war. Fierce fighting unfolded as the dropped into already desperately contentious areas; and it seems unlikely that there were no friendly fire casualties amongst the rebels and their supposed rescuers.

[//Soul Drinker; posit. Vigilant?+]
"Take heed traitors, for these shall be the last meaningful words you hear. Your returned Primarch is false. Everything you believe is a lie. Your faith has been tested and found wanting. Your foolishness has led only to your destruction and in the name of Dorn and the Emperor of Mankind we shall crush you utterly. Look now to the sky and you will see the warrior's of the Soul Drinkers, your death descending. There will be no surrender. There shall be no mercy. Cold and Fast, we bring your end."

The initial stages of conflict were fierce, but after the initial assault was blunted, it seems the Partisan were largely preserved under Riverhead's orders to fall back and entrench – Partisan Astartes, that is, for it appears the Silver Stars' seeming First Captain had little compunction with throwing his allies into the conflict. Pragmatism? Disregard for non-Astartes lives? Punishment for their comrades' dereliction and betrayal? None now live who can say. 

The Second War for Coldforge is one of the few sources for the Silver Stars' way of war, and as such has been siezed on by various Inquisitors to support or denounce particular theories. During the War on Null, the Stars had enacted an offensive strategy of gradually building waves – initial recon forces expanding into armoured assault, and a third wave of heavy infantry to engage in detail. This was repeated, with more fast-moving support being brought in, then more armour, and so forth until any resistance had been abraded to insignificance. It was a strategy that had little place in the Imperium of the time, for it relied upon huge numbers of Astartes – quantities in concentrations not seen since the War of the Beast.

[//Silver Stars Tactical Company and Armoured Support. Riverhead can be made out in the background; in typically belligerent pose+]


As Null 'proved' how the Silver Stars fought in attack, Coldforge revealed how the Stars fought in defence – and that showed a similarly liquid sense of preservation, with the main force sliding away, leaving pockets of interdicting Marines. Nor were these abandoned, for as the attackers were drawn out and pressure built in different areas, the Silver Stars redirected and retrenched, sending armour to drive back advancing enemy forces and infantry to eliminate them in detail. 

[//Death Eagles of the newly-raised 2nd Chapter, 7th Company, are caught flat-footed by silver cavalry tanks reclaiming Forgefane J14, taken by the Orthodoxy just hours earlier.+]

Whether this truly reflected the Stars' preferred way of war, or merely an operational quirk, is unclear – but it is worth noting that the Death Eagles were every bit as effective in responding to it, refusing to remain still and redeploying using their numerous transports.

As a result, the war entered a period of slow-burn, which saw roads, hab-blocks and manufactora demolished almost indiscriminately by both sides in search of tactical advantage.


The Star Wardens, heavily outnumbered and facing rebellion and sabotage from within their garrison-points, were forced to fire much of their emplaced defences, and instead moved to a mobile method of war – one that saw the advantages and reason behind the changes they had demanded of the truculent Magi of Coldforge:

[//Field-modified Star Warden Coldforge-pattern (Mars IIIB, produced under license) Rhino.]


This open-backed variant was – according to a surviving fragment – termed an 'Impulsor' sub-pattern; one supposedly inherited from the Jade Talons. It had been manufactured under duress at the will of the Star Wardens, and its machine-spirit was notoriously spiteful.

He could hear the man now, panting and gibbering like a cultist as Gyrwein bore down upon him with terrible fury. He wanted so badly to keep his pace and crash through this peon’s form, but he could not countenance a single careless scratch to come upon his fallen Blood Brother’s weapon. A revered Harrower with whom Gyrwein had fought dearly through countless foetid war zones and xenocides. An honoured Brother of his Cadre, entrusted with the rare and righteous privilege to bear a precious graviton carbine.

As the soldier emerged into the light at the tunnel’s end Gyrwein was close enough to strike. Throwing his momentum down onto the metal causeway the tunnel had led them to, he slid into the back of the doomed man’s legs and enveloped his head with one giant armoured glove, jerking the man backward off his balance. Flipping the poor wretch like a rag doll as he fell, Gyrwein then slammed him face down into the metal floor with a sickening smack.

Carefully relieving his prey of the precious cargo strapped to its back, Gyrwein laid the prized artefact down with tender care. Cleansing, reparative rites had to be spoken over the weapon at once, and the limply writhing worm now pinned under his knee would serve as fitting sacrifice.

Taking up his combat knife, he jammed the tip of the huge blade downward through the man’s right shoulder joint, splitting it with a grim crunch. Ignoring the mortal’s petrified screams, he then yanked on his arm. The limb sloughed away from the body with ease, and with a callous absentmindedness Gyrwein rolled the man aside, over the causeway’s edge and into the putrid water below. Kneeling in penance on both his knees he then raised the spasming appendage aloft, gripped within his great golden hand, and began a whisper of prayers in the strange tongue of his sacred Order. Moving the arm over and back above the artefact as he prayed, the marine flicked his other hand through the dripping gore it produced, spattering the carbine with it like some sanguine balm and imploring the forgiveness of its machine spirit.

“How touching Gyrwein.”

The phantom voice boomed across the water, jolting Gyrwein from the trance state that had begun to creep at the edges of his consciousness. Rising, his bolter in hand, above him his eyes met with those of a comrade.

“Brother Antietam, why ar…?

“I’m here to bear witness, Brother. Witness to the cost of a fool’s errand.”

From below, the beam of a meltagun tore through the causeway and into Gyrwein’s right leg in a bright crackle of static, steam and burnt air. His leg gone, the beam snaked on upward through his torso before he could even cry out. A second later, the weapon’s voracious appetite blasted up through Gyrwein’s fearsome visage, obliterating him.

“Thank you Brother Efrahn, a fine correction.” Antietam intoned as his accomplice rose from the water beneath Gyrwein’s molten remains.

“And yet, still so much more we must correct.”

[//infocyte compromised IDENT:REDACTED+]
[//malcode warefile+]

[//Isolated Silver Stars – notably in Coldforge-pattern Plate – redeploy through a commercial district. The Stars seemed well-accustomed to operations in detail. +]


Escalation: Red and Jade


Having deployed originally as support for the Red Talons by the High Lords of Terra, the 3rd Arkhan Sun-Hounds were used to run down leads and scout for news while the chapter rebuilt their strength from earlier clashes. Tempestor Arrenious had seen many depredations and travesties. But here, in the cold dark early morning, in a distant corner of Forgeworld Coldforge, she knew the truth of it. 
In the shadow of the Emperor, she had finally run down an errant Firebreaks astropath, Belil – responsible for the death of so many good soldiers. Looking on, she commanded her squad to ready the promethium and burn the traitor. She had seen the Silver Stars and the Firebreaks and the other angels of death. But here, she knew her task was needed, and regardless of the end of the war here, the eyes of the God-Emperor would light the way.
The conflict smouldered in this state for some two months sidereal, with tit-for-tat advances and retreats across a broad and inter-mingled front. The Magi of Coldforge continued to empty their warehouse and reserves in favour of one side or the other, but it appeared that – for all the will of the 'Primarch' – the Orthodoxy were claiming the upper hand. 

[//Unnamed Red Talon, Fleet Marine+]

Titanus' tactics might have met with problems, but the underlying strategy was sound – this was a war of attrition he felt he could win, for he had received word that his Red Talons' support was inbound imminently. 

Alas for Titanus – his reinforcements were not the only inbound Talons...

[//Sah’Al-Zhar the Twice-Lived+]

In one of their few full deployments in the War of the False Primarch, the Jade Talons' fleet translated en masse and caught the Orthodoxy flat-footed. While the Jade Talons had suffered attrition during their long years of isolation, they were still a formidable force, well-able to hold their own against the arriving Red Talons, who fought furiously to relieve the Death Eagles. 

The bulk of the two Talons fleets grappled, while a squadron of Strikecraft moved to low orbit. The Death Eagles' fleet – still engaged with the remnants of the Silver Stars' fleet –  attempted to intercept, but proved incapable of catching the Thunderhawks that bore the cream of the Jade Talons into the warzone. 

[//The nascent corruption that would one day overtake the Jade Talons is unremarked-upon in any surviving reports – testament to how bitterly divided the broader conflict had made the belligerents.+]

While believed to be successors of the White Scars, the Jade Talons were their own creation, and while they made extensive use of bikes, Coldforge also offered them the opportunity to use their strength in armour – an unexpected tactic that was to prove highly effective against the largely infantry-based Death Eagles on the newly-levelled formerly urban landscape. 

[//Whirlwind artillery tank designate: The Spear of Ormuz+]

The relief force –seemingly uncalled and unlooked-for – was led by the Talons' Chapter Master, Sah'Al Zar and his most trusted lieutenants. Over the following three days, they struck repeatedly, hammering the Death Eagles and turning their moment of triumph into a reluctant and hard-fought retreat.

The strike force, while small in number, included nearly the entire elite Nemesis Cadre, and was most oddly-equipped. It had long been remarked upon that the Jade Talons' armoury was curiously egregious, and – had the war been the last upon Coldforge – the planet might have offered some explanation for the origin of the most peculiar wargear the Chapter seemed, inexplicably, to field.

[//Hunter's Lance, Jade Talon Predator+]



The arrival of the Jade Talons prompted Titanus to reconsider. With the benefit of hindsight, he had sufficient forces on-planet to continue prosecuting the attack – even without Red Talon reinforcements, the Death Eagles comfortably outnumbered the Silver Stars and their allies – but this would not have been clear to the wary Chapter Master; particularly with what could well have been the entire surviving might of the Jade Talons appearing.

As events unfolded, Titanus managed to get a message off-world to the Red Talons' fleet, who responded by enacting delaying tactics against the Silver Stars' fleet, and allowing the Jade Talons – much to their disgust – to disengage. 

An exfiltration plan was put into action, with the Death Eagles warily falling back to those ports they had secured – and taking thousands of complete or partial suits of Mark VI plate with them. The Partisans, with the exception of the zealous Star Wardens and the relatively fresh Jade Talons, entrenched and allowed the Death Eagles to retreat – perhaps realising quite how fortunate they were that the superior Pentarchy forces had decided discretion was the better part of valour...


[//After the second war, continual vigilance on the part of the Partisan occupiers became more important than ever. It is said Volnoscere, in dismay at the fate of his Quadrargenta who had fought so gallantly and for so long, deployed the most badly-broken Chapters in backline enforcement duties to spare their surviving numbers.+]

Within two weeks, the Pentarchy forces had left the system. They had lost the battle, but it was no cause for Partisan cheer. True, they had defied Titanus and left the invaders empty-handed, and the critical world of Coldforge was still in Partisan hands, but it must have been clear to Volnoscere and the Partisans that the Pentarchy had chalked up a substantial strategic victory. 

A large proportion of the Silver Stars' transport fleet was wrecked or captured, effectively stranding the  bulk of the Pseudolegion in the Shieldworlds of the Myrean League. 

The Firebreak had ceased to exist as a functional force, and the Void Barons, Riven Lords and Star Wardens were likewise in dire straits – and certainly on Coldforge, were able only to operate in small-scale counter-insurgency work against the Vigilants and Orthodox Inquisitorial forces that had perforce been abandoned on the wracked orld.

Coldforge, principal source of the Partisans armour, was in ruins, and its surviving populace rebellious and resentful. 

The second war for Coldforge was over – but the flames stoked by Gaius Gnaeus Titanus and the Death Eagles were never to be fully extinguished. Small-scale conflict and sabotage continued until the Third War began.