The War of The Beast
|This article contains spoilers! You have been warned.|
The War of the Beast is the focus of the The Beast Arises series and is one of the major events in 40k history in which the Imperium got the biggest buttfuck it would ever get in between the Horus Heresy and the tremendous dumpster fire that is the late 41st millennium. The series serves as a reminder the orks represent serious business and, goofy moments aside, they can be as cruel, hateful and threatening as any other enemy of the Imperium.
- 1 The Imperium at the time
- 2 The Catastrophe: Slaughter at Ardamantua
- 3 Galaxy Spanning threat
- 4 Battle for Port Sanctus
- 5 Terra under threat and the Proletarian Crusade
- 6 The Last Wall, a Legion reunified
- 7 The Imperium Strikes Back
- 8 So that thing about Chaos? Orks are way worse
- 9 The new regime
- 10 Attack on the Beast
- 11 The Deathwatch is born, the Sisters of Silence return
- 12 The Fist of the Imperium
- 13 Aftermath
- 14 Major revelations
The Imperium at the time
Believe it or not, during the years prior to the biggest WAAAGH! that has ever been the Imperium was living a time one might call peaceful. Yes, there were silly little wars here and there such as the first Black Crusade, the first battle of Cadia, the Battle of the Fang, multiple traitor Primarchs fucking over many worlds, not to mention all of the Daemon cults that were popping up everywhere, but if we ignore all of those 'minor' events/chaos invasions we're left with a few others which basically consisted of the Imperials wiping out some xenos races. The Astartes were dying out because the author forgot the other shit that happened, the Imperial Fists-for example- hadn't left Terra for centuries and it was said nearly none of its battle brothers had had real battle experience in any substantial terms. The Emperor's Herd had grown complacent.
The Catastrophe: Slaughter at Ardamantua
For the first time in centuries the Imperial Fists left their role as praetorians of the throneworld and went on to slaughter alien scum known as the Chromes who were considered little better than non-sentient vermin.
The Fists were caught by surprise by strange gravitational hazards which started chewing up the landscape and causing their starships to fail and crash, thus they were dealt severe losses. The High Lords of Terra, reluctant to lend their own aid to the Fists on what they considered a trivial matter of fighting Chrome pests, allowed the remaining Fists who were guarding the throneworld to deploy to Ardamantua, along with a contingent of Guard forces commanded by the Lord Commander Militant Heth.
When the counter attack commenced, an ENTIRE MOON materialized in the system; the process by which it was traveling had been messing up the planet's gravity, practically destroying it, while causing navigational hazards which scattered the fleets in orbit around Ardamantua, crushing them.
Then appeared the WAAAGH! Beast. It was said that its boyz were as strong and big as space marines, as tall as them and quite cunning to boot. Its nobs were massive. However, its biggest threat was the Ork Warboss: The Beast, (who will bring much) Slaughter. The Beast was a leader of unprecedented tactical acumen and sophistication for an Ork and thus managed to turn his WAAAGH into a cohesive fighting force that uses actual battlefield tactics and even diplomacy.
Lord Commander Militant Heth died as his forces were slaughtered right after warning the Imperium of the greatest threat they had ever faced before. The Imperial Fists were slaughtered to a man. There remained only one survivor: Captain Slaughter Koorland. The future Chapter Master of the Imperial Fists and then Lord Commander of the Imperium.
Galaxy Spanning threat
The WAAAGH! Beast threatened to engulf the whole galaxy: the guard was bogged down in many fronts, the space marine chapters were mostly tied down trying to fight the invading orks. The Ultramarines had 2 of their worlds invaded and had been forced to bring in successor reinforcements. Many chapters were annihilated as they struggled to fend off an enemy the likes of which they hadn't ever faced. Worst of all was the fact that the orks were DEVELOPING technology, having such things as gravitational whips and massive teleporters capable of teleporting whole armadas in the blink of an eye.
The Imperium couldn't help but lose ground as Lord High Admiral Lansung, leader of the Imperial Navy and main topdog of the High-Lords, focused more on deploying his fleets to gain favours from other high lords and protect his own interests rather than ferrying the Imperial Guard and fighting the ork fleets. The rest of the lords were about as incompetent barring one man: Drakan Vangorich, the infamous Grand Master of Assassins who would later stage The Beheading. The man was a patriot and tried his damn best to get the imperials to move their damn fat asses. The pay off took a while but it was noticeable.
Battle for Port Sanctus
After a lot of political maneuvering and tug-o-war, Lansung decided to move his fat ass into fighting the orks (mainly because one of his admirals had broken his orders and he didn't want to lose face) for the shipyards of Port Sanctus. There half of what was a segmentum's fleet fought the Orks. And it went horribly at the beginning: the ork attack moon's gravity whip was so powerful that BATTLESHIPS were torn apart by it and the moon's WAAAGH! gate brought in constant reinforcements to fend off the imperial navy as thousands of boarding ships and small cruisers sent in boarding parties to the imperial vessels, even with the void shields up and the gellar fields on. Lansung decided he couldn't take more of this shit, and for the first time in two whole novels of total incompetence he went on and got shit done: he led a suicidal assault towards the moon. Dozens of battlecruisers and battleships were lost to the Imperium but the void shields of the gargantuan construct were drained by the energy consumption and the Imperial Navy was able to obliterate the threat.
Terra under threat and the Proletarian Crusade
But all wasn't so nice. Yes, the Navy had, at a great cost, destroyed the attack moon (and closed its WAAAGH! Gate) but the thing was that the orks had more of those buggers around. And one of them had recently popped out... on Earth. Right then the Navy assets were on Port Sanctus and the massive network of star forts was still in construction. Basically the throne world was under threat and there was nothing that could defend them. At that time Lansung's power had been almost lost as many of his political allies turned from him, a new figure taking his place: Juskina Tull. Tull represented the chartist captains and had a "brilliant idea" (read: a suicidal, stupid idea): lead a crusade made by the people. The idea was to take the massive merchant fleet available in Sol and load it chock full with people: guardsmen and civilian alike. Literally billions were ferried into ships that ranged from massive mass conveyors to tiny shuttles in a massive tide of steel. The ork defense forces shut down a great number (if not the majority) of the vessels but the Imperials still managed to land millions of sods and hundreds of vehicles.
There they frigging zerg rushed and beat the crap of the ork forces on the surfaces... only to be crushed by mountains. The orks manipulated the surface of the moon and shifted the mountains close to a door to the moon's interior. Trapped between the stones, the imperial forces were crushed by their own bodies and the master-crafted trap the orks laid. Thus ended the last ditch effort of the Proletarian Crusade, with a single survivor: a female adeptus arbite.
Oh, and the Eldar show up in the Imperial Palace trying to warn the humans not to let the Orks distract them from Chaos, cuz, you know, chaos has to be your #1 priority even though the Imperium is being torn apart by killer Ork death stars. This cryptic crap achieves absolutely nothing other than getting the hard-line Inquisitors into a frenzy of saying "I told you so" to anyone who will listen.
The Last Wall, a Legion reunified
Dorn had envisioned the chance of something BIG happening. So he had ordered his sons that, should the need arise, they reunited at Phall, where the Heresy began for the Imperial Fists. There they would unify into a single legion and fight as one again, albeit keeping their traditional heraldry. The note was sent with not much time in advance but the majority of the second founding chapters managed to be present. There Koorland revealed to the utter shock of his fellow chapter masters from the Black Templars, Crimson Fists, Excoriators and the Fists Exemplar that he was the last Imperial Fist alive. The truth was almost too much for them to process but in the end they decided to get over it and banded together. Over 3000 astartes and 50 ships went into Terra and led a glorious assault to neutralize the attack moon.
The fleet was joined by the Iron Knights chapter and succeeded in destroying the WAAAGH gate at the heart of the moon and rescuing the remaining human prisoners (including the aforementioned female Arbitrator) but unfortunately leaving the moon intact. While also suffering substantial casualties, amongst which was Chapter Master Malfons of the Iron Knights, who sacrificed himself to save Koorland from an Ork warboss the size of a Dreadnought.
The Imperium Strikes Back
After the battle of Terra and the blockade of the attack moon, the Last Wall (the new name for the Fist Legion) were praised by The Lord Guilliman (also: Lord Commander of the Imperium, also: Warmaster, also: your boss) Udin Macht Udo (a fellow more useless than Abaddon) who wanted to make a show of having five chapters bow to him and invited them to a party. He also wanted to keep the loss of the Imperial Fists chapter a secret for public relations and ordered the successors to play dress up and give Koorland an honour guard. Udo would also show himself "gracious" enough to ratify Koorlands's position as Chapter Master, since according to rules lawyers, the successors aren't allowed to do that.
The Fists were explicitly ordered NOT to destroy the attack moon that remained in orbit, because the Adeptus Mechanicus wanted the Ork technology for themselves. (oh the irony) The Fists were also disgusted by the constant power playing between the high lords and were happy enough to leave. Suffice to say, the space marines consider them all dicks.
So that thing about Chaos? Orks are way worse
Despite the warnings from the Eldar, Chaos, or more specifically: some Iron Warriors were also getting their asses kicked by Orks. While also being hunted by some Black Templars with a grudge. Realizing that the fight won't end well, they decide to join forces temporarily, but still can't overcome the Orks. When a relief force of Fists Exemplar show up to pull them out. However, the Orks use their gravity based weapons to SPAWN A FREAKIN' BLACK HOLE, which destroys the star system, the Imperial fleet escapes by scattering into the warp, where one ship turns up on Prax along with the Iron Warriors.
Prax turns out to be a key world in the new "Ork Empire" and reveals that the Orks have been evolving even further than anticipated. Where previously they were considered to be little but savages who could hammer bits of technology together and make it work, they now have their own society and specialists, "Bloody Axes" and "Leering Moons" and so forth. They actively conquer and enslave other races; taking humans, feeding them steroids and farming them like cattle, while some "lucky ones" get their teeth punched out, shaved bald, branded like slaves and get pushed into battle as auxilia cannon fodder.
The combined Fists and Iron Warriors then destroy the planet rather than letting the Orks keep it.
Back on Terra, Vangorich manoeuvres Koorland into taking the top job of Lord Guilliman from Udo, who seems to think its business as usual, despite the Ork threat still signalling imminent doom. The Imperial Fists strut into the Senatorium and denounce him, and Udo orders their arrest, not noticing that everyone bar the Ecclesiarch and the Fabricator General have switched sides and actually wants someone competent to take command.
The new regime
With Koorland in charge, Vangorich brought him evidence of the Mechanicum withholding vital information to the war effort because of their fanatical need to hoard knowledge (and abscond with any new Ork tech). So Koorland's first act was to land military troops on Mars and bluff the Mechanicum into stepping into line. After a brief "incident" which was totally not a micro civil war the Fabricator General finally started singing the Imperial national anthem and revealed that the Orks were coming from Ullanor, which had sunk into ancient legend because of its significance to the Great Crusade.
Deciding the Imperium needed its own legend, they went looking for Vulkan, since the Inquisition conveniently knew where he was (and had been for a thousand years). Gathering a fleet, they went to the backwater volcanic planet and found Vulkan singlehandedly defending it against MILLIONS of Orks. Their arrival turned the tide, eliminated the attack moon being constructed in orbit. Providing the first major victory of the War. Yay.
Attack on the Beast
With Vulkan on board and confirming Koorland's position, the Imperium launched an assault against the Beast Capital, though upon coming to Ullanor the Imperial Fleet found massive resistance and were forced to adopt a suicide approach in order to allow troops to disembark. Once landed, the armies of the Imperium stormed The Beast's main citadel, and after a brutal raid a killteam composed of the Primarch himself and a bunch of chapter masters found the Beast, first confusing it with an humongous statue. The Beast soon revealed its power, reducing the smurf chapter master to a bloody pulp (seems like Games Workshop has finally apologized for 5th edition) and killing most of the imperial forces in a few minutes. Vulkan ordered the survivors to pull back while he dueled the Beast, quoting the "Forget the power of..." he used his own might to refocus the Waaagh! psychic make to blow himself and the Beast up. The Imperial armies retreated from the planet thinking the Beast slain, at the cost of a Primarch. Upon reaching Terra they discovered to their horror that the Beast had somehow survived the conflagration.
The Deathwatch is born, the Sisters of Silence return
With the Imperium getting overrun Koorland and Vangorich envisioned the creation of the Deathwatch. Knowing however this would not be enough, the Imperials, helped by inquisitor Veritus, managed to get the Sisters of Silence back from their self-imposed exile. Koorland ordered a new assault on Ullanor, this time using the brand new Deathwatch and the Sisters to assassinate The Beast. Sadly, they only managed to get a shadow of the former forces thrown into the assault, as the High nutheads of Terra argued they couldn't leave Segmentum Solar undefended or something (not that it would matter in a few months considering how bad the war was going). Still Koorland managed to punch through the Ork defenses once more and this time, with the help of the sisters and an ork psyker getting used as a waaagh! chain-reaction bomb, he managed to kill the Beast. Except it wasn't The Beast, but a lesser Prime-Ork. The real Beast appeared and proceeded to kill Koorland and destroy his progenoids, effectively destroying the Imperial Fists. The remaining survivors, seeing defeat, pulled back totally demoralized.
The Fist of the Imperium
The Imperium had weeks of life left, with thousands of worlds getting overran, their populations murdered by an unending tide of orks. On Inwit, Maximus Thane, Chapter Master of the Fists Exemplar, presided the successor chapters a farewell ceremony for the last Imperial Fist, which took the form of the Feast of Blades. While competing (and subsequently winning) the Feast, suddenly he got an idea: so, the Last Wall protocol was active, right? That means technically the Imperial Fists legion was back, riiiiight? So, technically they could just say they were Imperial Fists too. After some agreement with the successors they pooled up and reformed the Imperial Fists, because, why not? He returned and asked the High Lords what they thought about it, some of them didn't get it and refused to cooperate, so Thane, teaming up with Vangorich, got them in line at gun point (finally, someone got fed up of them) and forced to unleash everything they got in a last ditch assault against Ullanor, everything, Astra Militarum, Skitarii, Titans. Battleships. And this time they decided to take note of the Orks tactic, by unleashing asteroids against the Ork Capital, filled with the entire newly reformed Imperial Fists chapter and the remaining Sisters of Silence (problem, Adepts?), and it worked, using the last remaining captured ork psykers they finally managed to kill a Beast, the other Beasts and all near orks, ultimately cleaning Ullanor of Ork presence and finally breaking the back of greenskin unified galactic assault.
The Imperium was saved, Chapter Master Thane and the Imperial Fists had managed to save mankind, unfortunately the flaws were still present, and Vangorich decided to fix things up, interestingly, killing most of the High Lords of Terra actually wasn't so bad as you may think as for the first decades him handling the Imperium's government while Thane was busy recovering all the territories lost to the ork seemed to work, sadly Vangorich finally went totally mad, like, Perturabo mad, and stablished a terror regime (ok, even for Imperium's standard) on Terra, in the end Thane went back backed up by other 2 chapters and stormed the Throneworld to get Vangorich killed (by this point you may be wondering why is it that Failbaddon, Imotekh or the Tyranids have had it so hard to get here, plot armor maybe?). Vangorich unleashed 100 Eversors to deal with the marines, and if you watched that video made by Karl the Deranged from the Alpha Legion then you may imagine how bad it went for Thane, fortunately, the last eversor, who seemed about to kill him, was an ex-operative of Vangorich forcefully converted into a WRRYYY!, fighting back to psycho-conditioning and drugs, he gave Thane the open to kill Vangorich, the rest is history. Hey, this series was cool, and unlike the Horus Heresy, it actually went somewhere, don't you agree? *BLAM*
Here come some major spoilers!
The series has revealed many events which have previously only been hinted at or not really touched on at all:
- The Imperial Fists were completely wiped out during the war, it took the combined effort of the successor chapters to bring them back.
- It was Captain Koorland who came up with the idea of creating the Deathwatch from the marines who have survived the first months of the war.
- Drakan Vangorich was actually quite a cool guy, and it was only after 100 years passed from the beheading that he went mad and had to be removed.
- The novel series gives an excellent idea of the state of the human colonies during the Age of Strife when there wasn't an Imperium to defend mankind from the alien threat and those who actually tried to negotiate with them.
- That inquisitor named Veritus? None other than Kyril Sindermann, Luna Wolves' iterator and one of the founders of the Imperial Creed. This explains how he knew so much about, well, everything, and he came with the idea of the Ordo Malleus and the Ordo Xenos as separate defined branches, making him the grand-daddy of the modern Inquisition.
- Chapter Master Janus from the Grey Knights makes a cameo.
- Vulkan was still alive, and of course he will still be due being a perpetual, but it was good to have him back for a while, also, there are be hints Rogal Dorn may be still alive too.
- After the defeat of the Beast the Mechanicus feinted destroying the planet of Ullanor by teleporting it to another solar system. It has become well known in the 41st millennium by the name of Armageddon (yeah THAT Armageddon).
- All the remaining Sisters of Silence were killed during the final battle against the Beast, the last one sacrificing herself to destroy the Ork-Prime, however, it remains to be seen if the Imperials can pull the same trick they did with the Imperial Fists. Later in M41, they arrived on Luna to stop Magnus from mopping the floor with Guilliman.
- Eldrad had a hand helping the Imperium to stop the orks, and during the final passages of the last book it was revealed to him that Mankind and Eldar fates are irrevocably twined.
- Throughout the siege of Terra, the Orks taunted the defenders with transmissions from orbit across all vox-channels in their own tongue: the name of their commander, a phrase roughly translating as "Beast", "I am Slaughter", or "Lord Who Brings Great Slaughter". It is revealed in the final passages of the last book that, in Orkish, this phrase is "Mag Uruk Thraka". Granted, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka has exactly nothing on the Beast... yet. It could be a sort of title given to Warlords destined to give the entire galaxy a good, thorough spanking. It's also worth considering that the Orks believe that dead Orks go back to Gork and Mork to be belched into another body. And when ten zillion Orks believe a thing...