Devastation of Baal

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The Devastation of Baal (First iteration)
Shield-of-Baal-art.jpg
Date ~999.M41
Scale Planetary
Theatre Third Tyrannic War
Status Inconclusive*
Belligerents
Tyranids The Imperium of Man
Commanders and Leaders
The Swarmlord Dante, Gabriel Seth, Ercon, Scaraban, Erden Cleeve, Follordark, Sentor Jool, Kaan, Raxiatel, Zedrenael, Zargo, Sendroth, Hajjin, Quaeston, and later Roboute Guilliman
Strength
Hive Fleet Leviathan Blood Angels, Flesh Tearers, Knights of Blood, Blood Drinkers, Carmine Blades, Angels Encarmine, Angels Excelsis, Blood Swords, Sable Brotherhood, Angels of Light, Flesh Eaters, Charnel Guard, Golden Sons, Angels Penitent, Sanguine Host, Angels Glorious, Burning Blood, Brothers of Jarad, Blood Wings, and Angels Vermillion Space Marine Chapters, Legion of the Damned, and later forces from the Indomitus Crusade
Losses
Very high Massive; see below
Outcome
*Battle is interrupted by the formation of the Great Rift and the intervention of Ka'Bandha
The Devastation of Baal (Second iteration)
Date ~999.M41
Scale Planetary
Theatre Third Tyrannic War
Status Imperial Pyrrhic victory*
Belligerents
Chaos Tyranids
Commanders and Leaders
Ka'bandha None
Strength
Hordes of Khornate Daemons Hive Fleet Leviathan
Losses
All banished or returned to the Warp Near-total annihilation
Outcome
*Imperium claims victory with the mutual destruction of the Tyranids and Daemons; Baal and its moons are almost completely devastated

"They are not coming here to worship, you foolish man. They have come here to die."

– A Baalite civilian, realising what exactly was about to happen


The Devastation of Baal was a gigantic three-way free-for-all battle between the Imperium of Man, Tyranids, and (later) a whole fuckton of Daemons for control of Baal and its two moons. It was one of the most calamitous events of the Third Tyrannic War for all parties involved, and was directly affected by the galaxy-changing Noctis Aeterna.

Prelude[edit]

The Cryptus Campaign[edit]

In 998.M41, the Blood Angels led a spirited defense of the Cryptus System during a grueling campaign against the onslaught of Hive Fleet Leviathan. With the reputable defenses of the Cryptan Shield having been severely fucked by the Hive Fleet, Chapter Master Dante quickly gathered an alliance of his own chapter, the Flesh Tearers Chapter, dozens of Imperial Guard regiments, the Order of the Sacred Rose, an entire Imperial Navy Battlefleet, and even a force of Tempestus Scions.

Despite this massive Imperial presence, the Cryptus System fell anyways in just two days. In the ensuing Imperial counterattack, Dante forged an alliance with none other than the Necrons of Anrakyr the Traveller, who happened to have been in the system awakening legions of the Mephrit Dynasty. Who the hell let Ward get his hands on this narrative!? Together, the Blood Angels and the Necrons managed to activate an ancient Necrontyr doomsday weapon called the Magnovitrium, which ignited the core of the gas giant Aeros to send a massive pillar of flame across the system, incinerating the Tyranid fleet as well as some unfortunate Imperial soldiers, citizens, Sisters of Battle, and Space Marines (of course, the Necrons phased out right before the weapon activated).

With Hive Fleet Leviathan having been dealt a huge blow, as well as all of the biomass in the Cryptus System having been burnt to a cinder, the Imperial forces (or what was left of them) withdrew. However, the Cryptus Campaign only delayed Leviathan's inevitable advance towards Baal.

Imperial Preparations[edit]

Realizing the incoming threat, Dante forged yet another alliance of Imperial forces. This time, he gathered the support almost all the active and loyal Blood Angels Successor Chapters, barring the Lamenters (even Dante notes you can't hold it against those poor bastards; by this point they're severely mauled, and they couldn't reach Baal in time even if they were at fighting strength to begin with) and the Angels Vermillion (due to a deep-seated grudge between Dante and the Chapter over their practices, though a few of them came anyway in defiance of their Chapter Master's orders). Even the renegade Knights of Blood Chapter answered the call for aid, but they wisely decided to fight separately from their brethren.

Dante launched pre-emptive attacks against Leviathan, and managed to inflict losses against hundreds of splinter fleets. When the main Hive Fleet reached Baal, a mixed fleet of the assembled Chapters' Battle Barges and cruisers launched salvos of nuclear-tipped warheads directly into the mass of organic ships, causing extensive losses amongst the vanguard of the Tyranid onslaught. But eventually, all of the Space Marines' vessels were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Hive Ships filling the space around Baal and its moons, and the Imperial forces on the ground could only watch as millions of living missiles began raining down on them past the wreckage of once-mighty Imperial ships.

As if the above wasn't enough, some time before this this time our favourite Psychic Vampire Marine, Mephiston, had been getting some visions - daemons wreaking havoc on Baal, literal mountains of skulls filling the landscape, and the Blood Angels' oldest nemesis fighting his way toward a portal. After a final vision in which an Eldar Harlequin led the Librarian on a merry mental chase into the realm of Khorne itself and warned him that the Bloodthirster was about to breach into the Materium, Mephiston was rightly paranoid. So, after talking to an old buddy and interrogating a foul xeno prisoner (as well as conferencing with Dante), Mephiston decides it's time to take drastic action.

Roughly concurrent to the initial Tyranid landings, Mephiston assembles a team of each Chapter's strongest Librarians and takes them into the wastes of Baal, leading them to a cave filled with psychically-resonant crystals. He reveals what he's seen to them, and declares that since the BA's can't take on the Alien Space Locusts and that yandere fuckhead of a Bloodthirster simultaneously, they're going to have to dial up Ka'Bandha and tell him to screw off.

Big surprise, it just makes him angrier.

Courtesy of one Librarian nearly losing faith and disrupting their ritual, Ka'Bandha actually breaks through into the Materium for a moment, slaughtering several Librarians and collapsing the entrance to the cave before they can drive him back into the space between worlds. Mephiston and his crew of Librarians (mostly) survive, though the rubble blocking the way out stops them from taking any further part in the battle.

The Battle[edit]

The Tyranids sent nineteen waves of merciless attacks, with each one being even larger than the last. These waves were driven off at great cost by the Imperial forces, with five Chapter Masters falling in these battles; three of the Chapter Masters were killed in the bloody Battle at the Dome of Angels alone.

The Space Marines initially held their own thanks to recommissioning all of their powerful Heresy-era fortifications and weaponry, along with the use of inventive tactics (such as a moat of Thirstwater hundreds of meters wide, which slaughtered tens of thousands of lesser bioforms, and sending all the Death Company marines of all the Chapters present against the hordes in one giant steamroller of rape) and the forced mass-recruitment of tens of thousands of Baalite civilians into a makeshift defence force to supplement the Astartes.

Despite this, the tide inevitably began to turn - a Lictor managed to infiltrate the Arx Angelicum of the Blood Angels' Fortress-Monastery, destroying the main reactor and forcing the powerful defences offline, while Genestealers broke into the Hall of Sarcophagi and butchered the vast majority of the Chapter's slumbering Neophytes, royally fucking over the Blood Angels' future prospects for survival and sending Dante into a rage. The Swarmlord took to the battlefield shortly after this, coordinating the final wave of Tyranid attacks.

With the Imperial defences falling little by little, the battered defenders retreated to the Blood Angels' Fortress-Monastery, with the planet close to destruction. The Tyranids began the process of draining the world and her moons of biomass, absorbing even the rad-poisoned deserts of Baal Secundus. But then...

Daemon Ex Machina[edit]

It was at this moment that the Great Rift opened up across the width of the galaxy, which fucked over everyone - millions of Tyranids of all forms and frames died outright or were reduced to animalistic behaviour as the Hive Mind's connections were disrupted by the Warp, while numerous Blood Angels were driven into the throes of the Red Thirst and Black Rage by the sudden touch of the Warp; this also drove most of the Astropaths on the planet insane or just plain killed them, seemingly preventing any hope of reinforcements from reaching Baal.

Worse was yet to come, as a ravenous horde of Khornate Daemons surged onto the battlefields of Baal Primus. They were led by none other than the Bloodthirster Ka'bandha, the archenemy of the Blood Angels and their late Primarch. In a voice that probably sounded like Satan gurgling melted iron and the souls of the damned, he declared to the Tyranids that only he had the right to destroy his hated foes.

Probably pissed off even more than usual at this point since the Tyranids didn’t understand nor give a fuck about what he just said, Ka'bandha and his groupies surged in and began slaughtering Tyranids and Imperial defenders alike on Baal Prime. With the planet and its moons now cut off from the greater Imperium, two absolutely insane combatants dunking it out on a planet covered with corpses, and Ka'Bandha's presence amplifying the Red Thirst to horrendous levels, Chapter Master Gabriel Seth of the Flesh Tearers had no choice but to evacuate with any survivors.

Their forces were only able to escape due to the sacrifice of the Knights of Blood, who all gave in to the Black Rage and charged directly into the melee of xenos and Daemon, probably blasting death metal from their voxes and screaming obscenities at everything in their path. The last thing Seth saw before the ramps on their ships closed were their renegade brothers selling their lives in one last act of heroic badassery, with their Chapter Master Sentor Jool verbally flipping off Ka'Bandha himself as they engaged in a one-to-one duel to the death.

You’ve Heard This Part Before[edit]

With their defences crippled, their Neophytes dead, the Swarmlord itself leading the Tyranids on a final assault, and no hope of victory in sight, the Blood Angels and their successors collectively decided to go down swinging; using ash, blood, and grime in place of paint, they inducted themselves into the Death Company and resolved to make the Tyranids bleed as much as possible before going down. The Tower of Amareo was opened, unleashing the Red Thirst-mutated monsters within to accompany them on their last charge into the hordes.

In the resultant fighting, the present Chapters suffered utterly horrific losses despite the Legion of the Damned and the Sanguinor arriving to lay a smackdown on the 'Nids; all but one of the remaining Sanguinary Guard were ripped to shreds, along with the likes of Chaplain Ordamael (Astorath's second-in-command) and several other Captains from the Blood Angels and their successors. Dante himself came within millimetres of falling to the Black Rage as he fought his way toward the Swarmlord, keeping himself together through nothing but sheer willpower and hatred for the Tyranids.

The two leaders eventually met in a vicious duel to the death - Dante burned off one of the Swarmlord's arms, broke one of its swords, and tore out an eye, only for it to retort by badly damaging Dante's armour with a stream of psychic attacks before shanking him through the chest with the remnants of its damaged bonesword, popping his secondary heart and leaving him badly poisoned. Unfortunately for the Swarmlord, Dante took advantage of his impalement to fire the Perdition Pistol at point-blank range into the Swarmlord's face, cooking its head to steaming mulch.

The victory, however, soon proved a pyrrhic one. Dante actually died from his injuries on the battlefield, and the war continued to rage on as the last remnants of the Blood Angels and their successors sought to bloody the Tyranids one final time.

Lo and behold, at the most dire moment for the Imperial forces, who else would show up but Rowboat Gorillaman himself, at the head of his merry little Indomitus Crusade (turns out an Astropath managed to get out one last message after the Rift hit, alerting Girlyman to the mess afflicting Baal at the cost of the psyker's life). With Guilliman and his allies forcing their way into the fray, the tides of battle began to change in favour of the Imperium as the Crusade began to reclaim orbital supremacy; the Unnumbered Sons of the Blood Angels were also unleashed into the battle planetside, providing the beleaguered defenders with desperately-needed reinforcement.

Around the same time, Dante experienced something between a dying dream and an out of body experience, seeing both the Sanguinor and the soul of Sanguinius himself. The latter praised Dante's great deeds and loyalty to the Imperium, before Dante asked to be allowed to die and finally find rest. The father of the Blood Angels mournfully revealed that Dante could not yet die - he would be needed in the coming years, and poured strength into him, restoring Dante enough for his apothecaries to stabilize him (much to his chagrin).

Of course, this did nothing to stop the Tyranids from fighting until the very end, and Baal was finally liberated only after a whole mess of battles. The Daemons on Baal Prime were either banished or fell back to the Warp after wiping out the remaining Tyranids and Imperials there. Ka’bandha, being the Daemonic yandere that he was, left a little gift for the Blood Angels in the form of his sigil on the now-barren rock of Baal Prime, formed from the skulls of hundreds of millions of Tyranid bio-organisms. It was the only trace of Leviathan the Imperials ever found on Baal Prime.

The Aftermath[edit]

With both Baal and its moons now thoroughly fucked (well, the moons were just fucked more than they already were), Guilliman and his allies immediately got to work helping his red-armoured comrades rebuild their shattered home. Once they did what they could recovering from such a disastrous battle, the Blood Angels and their remaining Successor Chapters quickly set off to other Imperial warzones that were in desperate need of assistance, vowing to mourn their lost brothers at a later time. However, the Tyranids had not been completely repelled, and rumour has it that something on Baal itself is attracting the Tyranids to the planet.

The Psychic Awakening book Blood of Baal sees a return to this theatre. While the sons of Sanguinius are still incredibly battered, they have gathered enough forces to begin retaking vital outposts with the arrival of the Primaris reinforcements (including Mephiston himself undergoing the Rubicon Primaris).

Also, the following battles detailed in "Blood of Baal" saw Primaris Marines succumb to the Black Rage. Mere months after the new Marines showed up and were perceived as a cure to the legions' ancient ailment. This has led to shiny Primaris Marines filling up the Death Company, which, while quite unfortunate from a lore standpoint, is amusing to field in-game. (The newly joined, taller marines of the Death Company even get their own unit!)

This actually makes perfect sense from a lore perspective, despite what some butthurt fanboys will claim; the Black Rage is a psychic ailment, not a genetic one. So there is no real reason why any Primaris son of Sanguinius would not be susceptible to it.

The Cost of Victory[edit]

This is a complete list of all the Imperial casualties of the complete battle, including losses incurred during the Cryptus Campaign. They will be sorely missed.

  • Battlefleet Cryptus (all ships lost in the Cryptus Campaign).
  • General Maelon Dhrost of the Imperial Guard (MIA, presumed dead on Asphodex).
  • Millions of Imperial Guardsmen WIA, MIA, or KIA in the Cryptus Campaign.
  • Canoness Magda Grace of the Order of the Sacred Rose (KIA by a Tyranid Lictor on Lysios).
  • Hundreds of Sisters of Battle from the Order of the Sacred Rose KIA in the Cryptus Campaign.
  • Unspecified number of Baalite civilians (KIA defending the Blood Angels' Fortress-Monastery).
  • Most of the Blood Angels' Neophytes (KIA when Genestealers infiltrated the Fortress-Monastery]].
  • More than half of the Blood Angels Chapter KIA.
  • 600+ Flesh Tearers Space Marines KIA.
  • Sentor Jool, Firstblade of the Knights of Blood (KIA in single combat against Ka'bandha).
  • Kaan, Firstblood of the Carmine Blades (KIA on Baal Secundus).
  • Carmine Blades Chapter almost completely destroyed while defending the Astropathic Choir on Baal Secundus.
  • Castellan Zargo of the Angels Encarmine (KIA while defending the Blood Angels' Fortress Monastery).
  • Angels Encarmine Chapter almost completely destroyed; two-thirds died along with Castellan Zargo, and all but slightly less than a company's worth subsequently fell to the Red Thirst.
  • Follordark, Chapter Master of the Angels Excelsis, KIA when his Battle Barge Essence Eternal was ripped apart by Tyranid Bio-Ships.
  • Angels Excelsis Chapter wiped out in space combat with Hive Fleet Leviathan.
  • More than half of the Blood Swords Chapter KIA.
  • More than half of the Sable Brotherhood Chapter KIA.
  • More than half of the Angels of Light Chapter KIA.
  • Flesh Eaters Chapter almost completely destroyed.
  • Charnel Guard Chapter almost completely destroyed.
  • Knights of Blood Chapter destroyed fighting Khornate Daemons.
  • Erden Cleeve, Chapter Master of the Golden Sons, KIA with the rest of the Chapter fleet.
  • Golden Sons Chapter functionally destroyed; their ships were lost in the void battles, taking their gene-seed and support personnel with them. A few scattered groups of Battle-Brothers are indicated to have survived, but it's likely they were KIA in the subsequent battles.
  • Angels Penitent Chapter Status: Unknown.
  • Sanguine Host Chapter Status: Unknown.
  • Angels Glorious destroyed.
  • Burning Blood destroyed.
  • Brothers of Jarad destroyed.
  • Blood Wings Chapter presumed completely destroyed.
  • Angels Numinous Chapter Status: Unknown.
  • Several Companies of the Angels Vermillion Chapter wiped out, though the wider Chapter survived.
  • Blood Drinkers Chapter almost completely destroyed.
  • All but 1 of the Sanguinary Guard KIA. That is, only 1 Sanguinary Guard out of all 20 Chapters survived.
  • Dante has mega-depression and just wants to die, but Sanguinius won't let him.
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)