Space Marine Chapters fighting in the Eye of Terror

At the height of the titanic conflict that was Abaddon the Despoiler's Thirteenth Black Crusade, Humanity's very finest warriors answered the call to arms to defend the Cadian Gate. Halfway through the conflict, Scrivener Hoare filed this report, taking a closer look at some of the chapters taking part in the defence of Cadia.

Ultramarines Honour Company

The Ultramarines have maintained the Honour Company at the Cadian Gate for many millennia, rotating officers and squads from Ultramar, as well as warriors from the Ultramarines' many successor chapters to guard the Cadian Gate.

The current commander of the Honour Guard is Captain Echion of the Patriarchs of Ulixis Chapter, a veteran leader of many centuries of service fighting the servants ot the Ruinous Powers. It is unusual, though far from unheard of. for an officer not of the Ultramarines Chapter to lead the company, though with the Chapter's resources stretched by Tyranid incursions on the Eastern Rim such a situation is set to become more common.

The Honour Company distinguished itself early in the war, the first action being a bold, space-borne counter-assault against Abaddon's fleet as the Planet Killer closed on the agri-world of Lortox on the outskirts of the Agripinaa sector. The action bought the world's Planetary Defence Force time to evacuate a significant proportion of the population before the world was destroyed by the Despoiler's horrific weapon of planetary destruction.

In the aftermath of the Lortox Evacuations, the Honour Company redeployed to Cadia and the surrounding systems, launching a series of operations to hinder Abaddon's forces as they assaulted the fortress world. These attacks included a series of highly successful boarding actions against the lumbering space hulks being used to transport vast hordes of the Lost and the Damned to reinforce the Despoiler's siege of Cadia. In total, three hulks were disabled on the outskirts of the Cadian system, stranding an estimated 600.000 traitors, mutants and cultists to freeze in the cold depths of interstellar space. A fourth hulk, codified the Herald of Grief. was destroyed as an Honour Company boarding force succeeded in activating a seismic detonator deep within its core, causing the hulk to splinter into a hundred fragments and killing every one of the estimated 200,000 enemy on board.

Iron Knights

The Iron Knights had been engaged upon a self-imposed penitent crusade for a number of decades when the Despoiler's Thirteenth Black Crusade smashed into the defenders of the Cadian Gate, and they were amongst the first of the chapters in the region to respond.

The Chapter's first company soon became mired in the defence of Amistel Majoris, bolstering the flagging defences of the Howling Griffons Chapter as they fought a gruelling trench war against the unremitting assaults of the Plague Marines of the Death Guard Traitor Legion. The warzone soon became a plague-ridden quagmire, the decomposing bodies of the Plague God's victims forming putrid, sucking swamps through which the defenders were forced to wade in order to bring battle to their foes.

A sickly patina of filth soon marred the Iron Knights' gleaming blue-grey armour, and the company's Chaplains were forced to perform daily rites of purification in order to keep the virulent plague at bay. Recent sermons by these Chaplains have linked the Chapter's continuing presence in the warzone with their eventual redemption, vowing that the world will only fall at the cost of the entire Chapter.

By the third week of the Black Crusade, Amistel Majoris was considered sufficiently secure that a portion of its Space Marine defenders could be spared to reinforce the Cadian system, which, in the days following the destruction of Saint Josmane's Hope was in desperate need of reinforcement.

Dark Angels

The Dark Angels and several of their successor chapters, collectively known as the Unforgiven, were one of the most active loyalist forces opposing the Thirteenth Black Crusade, though they operated entirely outside of the Imperium's command structure.

In the initial phases of the conflict, the Dark Angels and a number of their successors were able to deploy at strengths approaching chapter-level, and where this was not immediately possible, absent companies were recalled with all haste. The Unforgiven were therefore able to deploy in large numbers, all operating under the supreme command of Chapter Master Azrael of the Dark Angels.

The Unforgiven were involved in the fighting in a number of sectors, most notably the Caliban sub-sector, but also in limited numbers within the Agripinaa sector. Their actions seemed at times random, but centred on confronting the forces of Chaos who were intent upon capturing the area around the ruins of the Caliban system. Abaddon's servants launched repeated attacks in this area, and it took Imperial Strategos some time to discern that these assaults were aimed not at capturing a strategically important region, for the Caliban sub-sector contains little of any actual value, but was instead a calculated and deliberate attempt to tie up the Dark Angels and their kin in a pointless conflict, when their resources would undoubtedly have been better employed elsewhere.

The battles that raged throughout the Caliban sub-sector were vicious in their intensity, with the famously stubborn and resolute chapters of the Unforgiven refusing to surrender a single yard, even though the ground they fought and died for was utterly worthless to all but honour.

Intrinsically linked to the actions of the Dark Angels were the reports of a shadowy figure calling himself the Voice of the Emperor, and operating out of Lelithar. The Voice was acting as the figurehead for an extended network of anti-Imperial cultists and insurgents, and his heretical teachings soon spread across half of the Agripinaa sector, millions being turned to his cause. The Dark Angels launched a number of strikes against this figure, but on each occasion found that the pressures of constant attacks upon the hallowed ground of the Caliban system forced the hasty redeployment of their forces. Whenever a Dark Angels force did manage to close on the suspected location of the Voice, they always found it recently vacated, heretical graffiti taunting their efforts the only evidence of his recent presence there.

The Dark Angels seem to harbour an intense hatred for this individual, and their actions in this regard have still to be accounted for by Imperial observers. That the Voice's heretical teachings and proclamations frequently made mention of the Unforgiven and the origins of the Dark Angels Legion is known, though quite why he singled them out above any of the other chapters operating in the region is not. The Voice transmitted a number of all-channel vox-casts throughout the war, each making reference to the events surrounding the Legion's earliest history, and making some quite astonishing claims about Lion El' Jonson, the Legion's Primarch. The Unforgiven themselves have been vehement in their rebuttal of these blasphemous tracts, answering them with bolter and chainsword rather than mere words and facts.

Some say the teachings of the Voice contain an element of truth, and that he is intent upon some course of action that will see the Dark Angels and the Unforgiven take their part in some yet-to-be-revealed plan. It is evident from the Unforgivens` relentless pursuit of this heretic and his followers that they have no intention of allowing this to happen.

Black Templars

Upon their arrival in the region, the Black Templars' first action was Ihe relief of Thracian Primaris, which had held at bay heavy assaults by the forces of Chaos for some weeks.

The bulk of Ihe force consisted of Brethren previously embarked upon the hunt for Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, the Ork warlord who had unleashed such devastation upon the Imperial world of Armageddon, and their participation in the action on Thracian Primaris left the pursuing crusades severely under strength.

The Templars scattered the poorly led and deployed Chaos fleet in short order, breaking through the blockade to make an uncontested planetfall at the Departamento Munitorum logistical support complex at Hive Demeter. The Brethren were welcomed as liberators by the beleaguered populace, but choose not to remain at the hive world for long, moving on to drive the forces of Chaos back towards the Eye of Terror.

With this early success against the Forces of Disorder, the Black Templars departed from Thracian Primaris, to the despair of its inhabitants. They had received reports of a build up in Ork numbers in the region, a so-called 'Green Kroosade' and determined to confront this threat at its source lest it build into a potentially unstoppable Waaagh!, capable of overwhelming the entire Scarus sector if given time to grow.

Blood Angels

Four companies of the Blood Angels answered the call to defend Cadia, arriving towards the middle of the conflict. A significant force of Blood Angels immediately fell upon the Chaos hordes assaulting Agripinaa, seeking out the leader of the attacking forces, the notorious champion of Khorne -Kossolax the Foresworn of the World Eaters.

In an epic confrontation likened to the mythic conflict between the Blood Angels' Primarch Sanguinius and a mighty Bloodthirster at the closing of the Ultimate Gate, during the height of the Horus Heresy, the Blood Angels took the fight directly to the enemy.

Kossolax, fully aware that his bodyguard was no match for the frenzied Sons of Sanguinius, called upon the slavering Daemons of Khorne for aid. The summoning rite was an act of wanton, traitorous carnage, as the warlord ordered his World Eaters to sacrifice the lives of their cultist allies in order to gain the favour of the Blood God. Uncounted thousands were slaughtered in mere hours, their blood flowing in rivers through the corridors of Agripinaa's primary hive, and cascading from ventilation grills as waterfalls of gore.

The sacrifice had the desired result, and as the first of the Blood Angels' veteran Assault squads screamed into battle, a blasphemous avatar of the Blood God ripped its way through the skein of reality to confront the Sons of Sanguinius.

The first Blood Angels to meet the Greater Daemon were torn limb from limb, the beast devouring their sundered bodies as a taunt to their brothers. The remaining Space Marines were sent into paroxysms of rage at such desecration, and threw themselves at the Daemon with no thought for their own safety.

At the height of the battle, the Sanguinary High Priest, Brother Numitor confronted the Daemon, and dealt it a blow that stunned it for a brief moment. Seizing the advantage, the brothers of the Death Company leapt upon its back, but the Daemon recovered, and severed the High Priest's arm with a crack of its long whip. The priest was holding one of the sacred Grail cups, bearing the blood of the Chapter's Primarch, and the blessed liquid was spilled across the tarnished paving.

At that moment, a deathly still overcame the scene, the Blood Angels momentarily shocked beyond action at the sight of their Primarch's blood seeping into the ground. Then, the silence was broken, as Numitor staggered to his feet and bellowed the words of the Rite of Exsanguination. The assembled brethren of the Death Company were overcome with visions of the last time their Primarch's blood had been spilt by a servant of Chaos, when Sanguinius had fallen at the hands of the ultimate traitor, Warmaster Horus.

The Death Company went berserk. They hacked down the Bloodthirster in a savage, rage-fuelled frenzy, oblivious to the fact that it dragged half their number down with it, before turning their hatred upon the warband of Kossolax the Foresworn. The World Eaters were expelled from Agripinaa at great cost to the Blood Angels, though the annals of the chapter's history will celebrate the casting out of the Greater Daemon. The warlord Kossolax was not found at the hive, and the Sanguinary High Priest Numitor has vowed to hunt him down, no matter the cost.

Imperial Fists

The Imperial Fists arrived at the Cadian Gate as part of the massive Adeptus Astartes reinforcement of the region, five companies smashing into the enemy at Cadia as soon as contact was made. After an initial space engagement that saw the Chapter's battle barges and strike cruisers take a fearsome toll on the Chaos fleet, three of the companies carried out a combat drop on Cadta itself, while the other two dispersed to bolster the defences in surrounding sectors, including reinforcing the Iron Hands Chapter at their homeworld of Medusa.

The first, second and elements of the third companies were instrumental in the defence of key points on Cadia. manning the walls of a number of fortresses with the steadfast resolution for which they are famed throughout the Imperium. In these actions, the second company was noted for exceptional acts of gallantry, overcoming a horde of mutants from the notorious Stigmatus Covenant numbering almost ten thousand. At the height of the assault on the walls of Kasr Vasan, the company commander, Captain Tialo gave his life holding a breach in the fortifications, repelling a mob of mutants numbering several hundred before succumbing to the terrible wounds inflicted upon him. The captain's body refused to die however, and is being held in stasis by the Chapter's Techmarines, who hope to inter it within the mighty form of a Dreadnought so that the renowned warrior may continue to battle the forces of darkness beyond the death of his mortal body.

Relictors

The Retictors arrived at the Cadian Gate mere days before the first signs of Abaddon's imminent attack were seen. As in their involvement in the Third War for Armageddon, the Relictors refused to submit themselves to the authority of any other, incurring the wrath of Logan Grimnar on many occasions before he cursed the entire Chapter and washed his hands of them.

The Chapter was reported as having taken part in a number of actions, and its presence is suspected on the periphery of a number of others. The Chapter is known to have participated in an attack against a warband of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion on the world of Subiaco Diablo, during which an Inquisitorial task force disappeared under suspicious circumstances. They were next seen in the Cadian sector, where they clashed with a Night Lords force at Exeltra Minor, before becoming embroiled in a suppression action against Eldar raiders at Xersia.

The Chapter then appeared at Cadia itself, but refused to respond to instructions from Logan Grimnar to reinforce the fortress world, instead making straight for the warp conduit and departing lor the agri-world of Fremas. Exactly what occurred at Fremas is a matter of some doubt, but a pack of Wolf Scouts dispatched by Logan Grimnar to find out tracked the Relictors to the remote Diamedes Archive, where the Chapter appears to have repulsed a Chaos attack before turning upon the Archive's defenders.

None of the defenders are reported to have survived the assault, but Grimnar's men recovered partial vid-logs that suggest the Relictors1 objective was the sealed stasis vault at the heart of the mountaintop fastness. The contents ol this vault are known to but a handful of adepts in the Imperium. most of whom reside on Terra. They are not the type of men to allow such actions to go unpunished.

Iron Hands

Medusa, the homeworld of the Iron Hands Chapter lies close to the Eye of Terror, and was subject to constant attacks from the forces of the Despoiler from the earliest phase of the Black Crusade. Given that Medusa is the only world from which the Iron Hands recruit new brethren, they were forced to defend it above all other considerations. Though at least two Iron Hands Clan Companies are known to have fought elsewhere in the defence of the region, the greater part of the Chapter confined its actions to their homeworld, where they fought lo stem the tide of Chaos filth.

At the height of the defence of Medusa, the gargantuan tracked fortress-monasteries of the ten Clan Companies came together to face an armoured assault launched by traitors of the excommunicated Haradni 13th Heavy Armoured Regiment. The dark, polluted landscape of Medusa was host to one of the largest gatherings of armoured might since the Battle of Tallarn during the Horus Heresy, with over ten thousand traitor tanks arrayed against the Iron Hands.

The ensuing battle reportedly raged for five days and nights, as armoured echelons consisting of thousands of tanks swept across the barren plains towards the mobile fortresses of the Iron Hands. When the fortresses' guns opened fire, it is said a hundred enemy battle tanks were destroyed, each Clan Company commanding firepower equivalent to a mighty Centurio Ordinatus of the Adeptus Mechanicus. At the height of the battle, on the fifth day, the enemy managed to break through the Iron Hands' lines, a single traitor armoured company outflanking one of the massive mobile fortresses and unloading round after round of ordnance upon its more vulnerable rear from nigh-on point-blank range.

The Iron Hands launched a furious counter-attack, Assault squads armed with meltabombs deploying from the crenelllated towers of the monastery to land atop the massed tanks. Many Iron Hands lost their lives in the counterattack, shot down by the tanks` pintle-mounted weapons as they swooped in, or ground beneath their tracks as they made near suicidal charges against them in defence of the monastery.

Despite the Iron Hands' losses, the counter-attack succeeded, disabling or destroying the majority of the traitor armour, and sending the remainder into a disorderly retreat. The Iron Hands then launched their own armoured assault on the traitors, massed formations of Predator Annihilators running down the enemy tanks and finishing them off with deadly-accurate lascannon lire.

With Medusa largely secured by the midpoint in the war, the Iron Hands could spare a number of Clan Companies to the defence of the Cadian system, and despatched a force to oppose the vast hordes of invaders threatening to overwhelm the naval world of Vigilatum.

Subjugators

The Subjugators are at present in a state of disarray, having lost the majority of the 3rd company during the initial stages of the Siege of Cadia. when they brought about the destruction of one of the Ramilies class starforts to deny its use to the Chaos invaders. The 1st and 5th companies took heavy casualties during the siege itself, notably in the defence of Kasr Gallan and the subsequent rearguard actions during the desperate Tarn Retreat, and are in serious need of resuppiy.

The Subjugators are a recently founded chapter, and as such maintain only a small amount of gene-seed. The loss of the 168 battle-brothers who have fallen is a terrible blow to the Chapter, particularly as the Apothecaries were, in most cases unable to recover the gene-seed of the fallen.

The Chapter is now faced with a choice of whether to retire from the conflict and regroup, allowing time to rebuild their numbers, or to fight on regardless, and risk the death of the Chapter through sheer attrition, before it has even had the chance to make its mark upon the annals of the history of the Imperium.

White Scars

The first contingent of White Scars to reach the Cadian Gate was the Brotherhood of Khajog Khan, a leader known for his victories at Armageddon and a dozen other campaigns. Khajog led his force against the hordes massing on Cadia. launching a series of devastating hit and run attacks across that world's bleak moors.

Within a short period of time Khajog's Brotherhood had become a major threat to Abaddon's plans, striking deep within enemy held territory. So effective were their actions that the sieges of Kasr Myrak, Soliq and Rantik were lifted as Chaos forces were diverted tof hunt down and confront the elusive White Scars.

It would seem that Khajog's attacks were in fact too effective, for Abaddon himself ordered the Brotherhood hunted down and destroyed once and for all. He knew that the White Scars planned on him diverting forces piecemeal to oppose them, but he reasoned thai a full-scale response would be beyond the scope of the small force to face. Ordering the first company of the Black Legion, as well as uncounted hordes of mutants, traitors and cultists out onto the moors, the Despoiler began his hunt.

It was through the divinations of Abaddon's most senior advisor, the sorcerer Zaraphiston, that Khajog was located. Unaware that his force was being watched through Zaraphiston's scrying. Khajog launched a raid against an enemy slave train west of Lake Terror, only to discover that the convoy contained not Imperial prisoners, but the Chosen of Abaddon. The first wave of White Scars bikers hit the convoy, to find themselves hurtling headlong into the guns of the Black Legion. The four biker squads, realising they stood little chance against such a foe, continued their charge nonetheless, determined to buy time for the other warriors of the Brotherhood to regroup. The warriors of the first wave sold their lives dearly, and Khajog reluctantly ordered his men to withdraw, vowing that he would return at a time of his own choosing to avenge the deaths of his brothers.

But Khajog did not get to choose the manner of his next confrontation with the enemy, for as his Brotherhood sped across the moors they found every route cut off by the forces of Chaos. At length, Khajog decided that to flee in the face of the enemy was an insult to the honour of his Chapter, and resolved to make a last stand at the base ot a pylon on the shores of the Caducades Sea.

The pylon to their backs and the massed hordes of Chaos to their fore, the warriors of Khajog's Brotherhood chose to defend themselves according to the ancient traditions of their homeworld, by launching a suicidal charge against the enemy. The sixty White Scars smashed into a horde at least fifty times their own number, Khajog Khan at their head bellowing the battlecry of his Chapter.

As the Brotherhood smashed through the ranks of the horde, its warriors were torn from their saddles, one by one falling to the sheer weight of numbers arrayed against them. Khajog rode his bike through a sea of mutated bodies, clawed arms and whiplash tentacles seeking to drag him under with every metre he gained. Khajog Khan was the last of his Brotherhood to fall that day, and the Storm Seers of the White Scars claim that his shade remains upon the windswept moors, unwilling and unable to return to the Chapter's homeworld until vengeance is visited upon the heads of those who slew him.

Space Wolves

Being the first Chapter Master to muster at Cadia, and being recognised as the most experienced Space Marine of those that followed him, Logan Grimnar was elected by his peers as nominal head of all the Space Marine commanders defending the Cadian Gate. Some chapters, notably the Dark Angels and their successors, and the Relictors refused to submit to his authority, pursuing their own agendas instead, and taking no part in his plans.

When the Despoiler's hordes smashed into Cadia, initiating the largest siege of the world in its long and proud history, Grimnar was to be found leading the defence personally. The fleet of his Great Company fought alongside that of Admiral Quarren, inflicting heavy losses on the invaders as they closed on Cadia.

Grimnar's flagship accounted for three enemy capital ships during the battle, including the infamous Desolator class battleship Bleak Sabbath, as well as the entire "Abolishers" squadron of Idolator class raiders.

At the height of the battle, Grimnar and his warriors took to their Thunderhawks and drop pods, seizing the last opportunity to reinforce Cadia before the ring of Chaos invaders closed around it. Contact was lost with the Great Wolf for a number of weeks, before his Great Company emerged bloodied from the ruins of Kasr Varak. where they had faced a force of traitors many times their own number, and defeated it through a sheer bloody-minded refusal to accept the possibility of defeat.

Re-establishing contact with the other Chapter Masters fighting in the region, Grimnar dictated that all their efforts should be focused on the Cadian, Belis Corona and Agripinaa sectors. Space Marines were redeployed, and contact was made with those chapters forging their way towards the Eye of Terror, so that when the reinforcements arrived they would immediately launch a coordinated attack that would sweep away the invaders in one fell swoop.

As the Space Marines of thirty or more chapters converged on Cadia, Belis Corona and Agripinaa, the loyal defenders prepared for the ultimate reckoning with the forces of the Great Enemy. By the mid point of the war, the Imperium was sorely pressed on the Cadian fronts, and it would take all the legendary skill at arms of the Space Wolves' leader to see the defenders through this darkest of times.