Battle of Trisolian

From 1d4chan
The Battle of Trisolian
Date ~011.M31
Scale Void battle
Theatre Horus Heresy
Status Imperial retreat
Belligerents
Space Wolves Sons of Horus
Commanders and Leaders
Leman Russ

Belisarius Cawl

Horus
Strength
~40,000 Marines, near entirety of remaining Space Wolves legion.
Majority of fighting forces on a large loyalist Forge World.
~50 capital ships; Sons of Horus Legion; considerable elements of Word Bearers, World Eaters, Alpha Legion, Night Lords & Iron Warriors; Mechanicum Traitors
Losses
Extremely High - Maximum ~25,000. Some companies reduced to 20%.
Unknown number of Mechanicum loyalists - presumably high, but a sizeable amount survived past the end of the war
Extremely High - Number unknown. Higher number & percentage than the Space Wolves, but with sufficient reserves to absorb the losses largely unphased
Outcome
Space Wolves retreat to Yarant and prevented from returning to participate in the Siege in time.
Effectively ended the VIth as a "Legion".
Horus badly wounded/partly de-corrupted.
Leman Russ badly wounded and/or traumatized.

The Battle of Trisolian was the ill-fated attempt by Leman Russ to kill Horus before the inevitable Siege of Terra. It also marks the earliest appearance of a young Belisarius Cawl who is a mere up-and-coming but still notoriously unconventional tech-adept by this stage.

Background[edit]

Throughout the Horus Heresy, the Space Wolves were at the forefront for many of the most vicious battles. Loud space viking appearances and antics notwithstanding, the VIth Legion and their primarch, Leman Russ, always took their role as The Emperor's executioners very seriously, and so threw themselves into the thick of things quite often throughout the heresy. Fights they evidently mostly won, but which inevitably took a toll on manpower and material. Additionally, for at least the first half of the war, contact could not even be established with the Blood Angels, Dark Angels, and Ultramarines as they were trapped behind the Ruin Storm, and with the other loyalist legions indisposed, detained, or otherwise occupied, this resulted in the Space Wolves being engaged far more frequently than was ideal, without being rotated out of the front lines, and consequently, with no time to rest, receive repairs, or take on new recruits. By late in the war, the Wolves had lost around 25% of their forces at the Prospero, taken further maulings at the Battle of the Alaxxes Nebula, coupled with further engagements at Vanaheim and Daverant, ultimately reducing their numbers down to around forty thousand marines (give or take), after having started the Heresy with approximately one hundred and thirty thousand. Following Alaxxes, the remnant returned to Terra to coordinate with the loyalist forces.

Leman Russ sponsored a stealth mission by the Knights-Errant on the Vengeful Spirit during the Battle of Molech in order to gauge any weaknesses in the traitor dispositions and report back on the state of Horus himself. However, the mission went sour when they were discovered, leading to the deaths of several of the Knights-Errant involved when the Warmaster decided to make examples of them; though they succeeded in planting tracking devices on the Vengeful Spirit, and those that survived the ill-fated engagement ultimately returned successfully to relay their findings.

At the behest of Malcador, Constantine Valdor, and Rogal Dorn following the completion of the recon mission on the Vengeful Spirit, a war council was convened to take in new information and to determine the next course of action. Jaghatai Khan and Russ were already on-location, with Vulkan and Sanguinius now the newest arrivals (though the former arrived in secret, had remained in the basement ever since, and so wasn't invited). Rogal Dorn urged that all remaining forces maintain a defensive posture, but was appreciative that the Ultramarines and Dark Angels were assaulting the traitors' rear and providing relief to loyalist forces, allowing them to dictate the next few battles. Dorn declared that Terra was too confined a battlezone for the loyalist contingent of Titan Legions and so proposed a muster at Beta-Garmon and make a stand there in order to give time for Roboute Guilliman and Lion El'Jonson, to crush the traitors in a pincer movement. The Battle of Beta-Garmon would itself become the site of one of the greatest battles in the entire Horus Heresy.

However, Leman Russ would not be swayed from his original plan and chose to depart from Terra for Fenris in order to scry a weakness in the superhuman upgrades that Horus gained at Molech. Upon arriving to Fenris, through the combined efforts of Russ and his best Rune Priests, Russ would enter the world spirit of Fenris to gain the knowledge he sought, and while this was hardly a risk-free endeavor, even for a primarch, it effectively meant that Russ was able to enter into a plane of the warp directly, without exposing himself to chaos. Russ was ultimately successful, and when he re-emerged back into the materium, he had determined that he would have to take the oft-maligned "Spear of Russ" with him; it's a good thing he did too, as it turns out that it's actually probably one of the most powerful pointy sticks in existence, being a gift personally made and given by Daddy.

The Battle[edit]

The battle itself took place over the loyalist Forge World of Trisolian A-4, which had recently been captured by traitor forces following a surrender of Mechanicum forces. However, this was a surrender brought about entirely by the machinations and sabotage of a single ambitious individual (Cawl's boss), following the sudden and somewhat suspicious death of her superior. The loyalists had actually been putting up a stiff fight, but were unwillingly prevented from continuing due to the interference of that individual. For their part, the Mechanicum forces on the forge world were by and large also exceedingly loyal to the Omnissiah and despised what the Warmaster and Kelbor Hal had done to their faction, and so had fought with a fire that even Cawl found surprising. This left an enormous reserve of seething, very well-equipped, capable warriors whom Cawl would eventually be able to free and unleash against the traitors.

Russ really wanted Horus's wolf pelt. And honestly, who can blame him?

The Space Wolf fleet used the unique gravitational properties of the three stars of the Trisolian star system to approach with stealth and speed, using most of their ships as a distraction while Russ own flagship engaged the Vengeful Spirit directly, allowing him to board with thousands of marines.

Russ had already figured that the battle would result in a loss for his forces, but thankfully Cawl's considerable loyalist Mechanicum elements on the Forge World managed to overthrow the regime and revert the planet back to loyalist control, allowing it to lend a hand in the conflict. Not just some paltry offerings either. Remember, this is a FORGE WORLD, so it's up there with among the hardest of targets in the setting to hit, and probably only really second to the Necrons. It's further suggested that the forces garrisoning this forge world were particularly formidable. Some even survived well after the war, later coming to Cawl's defense, and vouching for him when the latter was suspected of being a traitor. When the loyalist Mechanicum forces came back online, they caught the traitors completely flatfootted and unleashed all kinds of hell. This also meant that the traitors were forced to split their efforts and fight on two fronts, rather than focusing on the Space Wolves.

Once aboard the flagship, Russ engaged Horus directly in an extremely savage duel and incredibly, managed to best Horus in single combat, scoring a debilitating wound with his spear and literally (not figuratively) bringing Horus to his knees. In addition to being the twin to Constantine Valdor's Apollonian spear, Russ' spear had been made by The Emperor himself, and so contained some of his power, and as everyone here knows, that power is anathema to Chaos, so when the Chaos-juicing Horus was wounded by it, the effect was even more destructive than it might otherwise have been. In point of fact, this power was so pronounced that when Russ began to further run him through, Horus was shown to be visibly terrified, not by Russ, the wound, or even the very real prospect of death at the hands of his brother, but of the spear's ethereal power coursing through him, obliterating the effects of his chaos-juicing, and wrecking his massive gains. Unfortunately however, Russ was then suddenly and without warning beset by a rampaging plot device in the form of a narrative cliché which momentarily overcame his better judgment and stated goal. Thus, instead of immediately killing Horus like he should have done [that was precisely the primary mission objective remember] the wound gave Horus a brief moment of clarity, and so despite the sacrifices made of himself, his sons, and some of his closest advisors (like the death of his chief Rune Priest, Kva), not to mention having heavily negatively impacted Dorn's defensive plans for the upcoming siege by leaving Terra, and that the single most powerful motivator for Russ had been that he wanted to protect his father, now, with the Arch Traitor himself at his mercy, Russ instead tried to plead with his brother to rejoin the Emperor's fold. Horus declined and then suckerpunched Russ, starting a new duel. Tired from the last duel, emotionally devastated, and now caught unawares, Russ was on the backfoot; Horus was about to kill him, but was prevented from delivering the killing blow by a mob of dozens of Space Wolves who literally dogpiled him, allowing Bjorn to drag Russ from the battlefield and back to the Loyalist fleet where they began to disengage and retreat.

Aftermath[edit]

Already heavily depleted from all the military actions since Prospero, following Trisolian, the Space Wolves were mauled further still, with some companies even being reduced to just a fifth of their strength, and ultimately dropping the effective fighting force of the legion as a whole down to somewhere in the range of just 10 to 15 thousand marines, after having started the battle with around 40,000. While on its face that number of survivors may still sound a tad higher than expected, consider that A, this is all that they had to get them through the rest of the war and the subsequent Scouring, and B, they would eventually form an ill-fated Second Founding chapter, also made largely of veterans of the Heresy. Or to put it another way, that means that the Space Wolves suffered something like 66% casualties to their entire legion in a single engagement. Under most circumstances, those are literally (not figuratively) war-ending casualty figures, so don't for a second think that they got off lightly. They most certainly did not. In any case, without any means of quickly replenishing their forces, this effectively ended the existence of the VIth Legion as a legion.

For his part, Horus was NOT happy in the battle's aftermath. Far from gloating, he was sour over the considerable losses his own forces had incurred, but more than that, he was rattled that Russ had bested him. Horus hadn't considered Russ his equal even before he fell to Chaos, yet now, even being infused with additional power from the Ruinous Powers, Russ had laid him low and legitimately could have killed him, had the plot not suddenly intervened Russ' feelings not gotten the better of him. Horus spent time ruminating on this, fully acknowledging it to himself and taking it all in, because he clearly did not like the implications of this. It was amidst these meditations that Horus then suddenly began to experience moments of visions, or perhaps glimpses of visions of his conscience, or something to that effect, berating him for betraying his father, becoming a pawn of the Ruinous Powers, and ultimately just doing what he knew to be wrong. It was this last that most unsettled Horus as it had never happened before, and try as he might, he couldn't simply dismiss it; unbeknownst to him at the time, the wound Russ had dealt him had impacted his spirit as much as his body, and the power of the Emperor's light had slowly started to counteract the baleful malaise of the chaos gods. Flustered and annoyed, he then ordered a certain armless failure to lead a contingent of his forces to hunt down the remnants of the VIth and not return without Russ' head. Disappointmaddon then returned without Russ' head. Oh, and without most of the astartes Horus had given him as well. Abaddon basically starting as he meant to go on.

With their Primarch unconscious from his injuries, the remaining Space Wolf commanders have to make a decision of whether to stay together and likely die, or disperse and play no further part in the Horus Heresy. Choosing to remain together to present a viable threat that the traitors would have to divert resources to deal with, they retreat to Yarant III to make a stand where they are hunted by Failbaddon but are eventually saved by Corax following his own gene-seed debacle.

Horus was partially cleansed of the corruption he gained at Molech after being wounded by the Spear of Russ and a momentary glimpse of the original Primarch is witnessed by his brother, granting him enough self control to seemingly reject the Chaos Gods only to continue the campaign nevertheless with their help. Lorgar believed that Horus' failure to submit to the gods' will but still accepting their gifts would lead them to withdraw their power when he needed it most and cause the war to be lost. Horus later fell into a coma at the aforementioned battle at Beta-Garmon as his wound reopened, and Lorgar attempted a coup.

A shard of Horus' soul that had been purified by the Spear of Russ would be fought over by the Chaos Gods, requiring the sacrifice of Maloghurst in order to free him (by destroying said purified soul fragment) and Lorgar was expelled from the Warmaster's fleet after his coup failed, with Horus warning that he would kill Lorgar if he ever saw him again. From this point forwards, whatever was left of the old Horus simply ceased to exist. With the last possibility for his redemption denied, all that was left for the Warmaster was a rapid downward spiral into insanity as the power of the Dark Gods destroyed him from the inside out.

Timeline of Warhammer 40,000
The Times of Old Wars of Secession - War in Heaven (60.000.000 BC) - Fall of the Eldar (M30)
Pre-Heresy Age of Terra (M1-M15) - Dark Age of Technology (M15-M25) - Age of Strife (M25-M30)
Great Crusade (Late M30-005.M31) Unification Wars - The Last Church - Rangdan Xenocides - Interex - Gardinaal - Faash - Council of Nikaea
Horus Heresy (005.M31-014.M31) Battle of Isstvan III - The Burning of Prospero - Battle of the Alaxxes Nebula - Drop Site Massacre - Thramas Crusade
The Battle of Phall - Battle of Calth - Signus Campaign - Imperium Secundus - Battle of Trisolian - Siege of Terra
Time of Rebirth (015.M31-M32) The Great Scouring (~015.M31) - Start of The Long War (M31) - The Legion Wars (M31) - The Battle of Skalathrax (M31)
The Battle of Harmony (M31) - Creation of the Codex Astartes (M31) - Second Founding (021.M31) - Battle of Thessala (121.M31)
The Forging (M32-M34) The War of The Beast (544.M32-546.M32) - The Beheading (546.M32) - The War of the False Primarch (780.M33-860.M33)
Nova Terra Interregnum (M34-M36) 21st Founding (M36)
Age of Apostasy (M36) Plague of Unbelief (310.M36)
Age of Redemption (M37-Early M38) Abyssal Crusade (321.M37-121.M38)
The Waning (Early M38- Early M41) Gothic War (143-151.M41) - The Macharian Crusade (392-399.M41) - The Macharian Heresy (400-470.M41)
Wars for Armageddon (444.M41, 941.M41 and 991.M41) - Damocles Crusade (742.M41)
Time of Ending (Early M41-999.M41) The Vaxi Atrocity (731.M41) - First Tyrannic War (745-746.M41) - Sabbat Worlds Crusade (755.M41-780.M41) - Siege of Vraks (813.M41-830.M41)
Massacre at Sanctuary 101 (897.M41) - Badab War (901-912.M41) - The Vaxhallian Genocide (926.M41) - Second Tyrannic War (990.M41-993.M41)
Orphean War (991.M41-Ongoing) - Third Tyrannic War (997.M41-999.M41) - Taros Campaign (998.M41) - Fall of Shadowbrink (998.M41)
Octarius War (999.M41-Ongoing) - Conquest of Uttu Prime (Late M41) - Devastation of Baal (999.M41) - 13th Black Crusade (999.M41-M42)
Age of the Dark Imperium (000.M42-Ongoing) Ultima Founding (999.M41-012.M42) - Indomitus Crusade (999.M41-Ongoing, first phase ended on 012.M42)
War of Beasts (001.M42-025.M42) - Plague Wars (~012.M42) - Psychic Awakening (M42)