Aexe Cardinal is an Agri-World of the Imperium of Man located in the Sabbat Worlds Sector in the Segmentum Pacificus. The planet was home to a number of different nation-states that varied in culture, though each had a proud heritage of nobility and venerated the Emperor of Mankind with the reverence typical of any loyal Imperial world. Formerly a peaceful world, Aexe-Cardinal was riven by war as part of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade fought between the Imperium and the forces of Chaos.
The Aexe War
During the fall of the sector to the forces of Chaos, Aexe Cardinal at first managed to remain free of Chaos influence. However, one of its nation-states, the Republic of Shadik, was corrupted by Chaos and launched a great war against the rest of the world, with the objective of conquering it in the name of the Dark Gods. In response, the other nation-states of the Aexe Cardinal formed the Aexe Alliance, led by the most powerful of the nation-states, Aexegary.
The attack by the forces of Shadik caught Aexegary completely by surprise, as the enemy was able to cut across the Upper Naeme Valley. After five Terran years of heavy combat, and the decisive Battle of Diem, the so-called line of fortifications known as the "Meiseq Box" was established to contain the Shadik forces, and the nearly-razed city of Meiseq was rebuilt.
The nation of Kottmark was the first to join the Alliance as a senior partner twenty Terran years into the war, and its entry saved Aexegary from conquest by Shadik. Later on, the Principality of Fichua also joined the alliance. The result was forty years of stagnation as the conflict degenerated into a bloody war of attrition. The battle lines changed very little if at all over the course of the conflict, and despite the growth of the Aexe Alliance, Shadik was able to hold its own against the combined might of the other nations. Combat on the Northern Front between Aexegary and Shadik was concentrated in three primary regions -- the Meiseq Box, the Peinforq Line, and the Seiberq Pocket. Kottmark was separated from Shadik by its own defensive barrier, the Ostlund Shield Line.
The cost of this continual warfare proved devastating in blood and treasure to all the nations of Aexe Cardinal. Casualties were so high during the conflict that the Principality of Fichua, which joined the war on the side of the Alliance in 763.M41, would have had its entire population wiped out nine times over from the combined casualties suffered by the other nations of the Aexe Alliance.
Forty standard years after the start of the war, the Loyalist nations of Aexe Cardinal finally received aid from the forces of the Astra Militarum, which dispatched a force of infantry and armoured units to aid the Aexe Alliance and achieve a breakthrough that would hopefully end the war in the Imperium's favor. However, at the same time, Shadik received similar reinforcements from the forces of Chaos, in the form of the Chaos warband known as the Blood Pact, which also brought powerful, long-ranged siege guns to the world in an attempt to end the stalemate.
The outdated and inefficient methods of the Aexe Alliance's command and control protocols hamstrung the operating capacity of many of the Imperial Guard units. Attempts to prevent Shadik spies from stealing battle plans resulted in many units not learning information vital to efficient combat operations, and constant politicking between high-ranking officers produced bickering and suspicion between the off-world Imperial Guard regimental commanders and the generals of the local Alliance that degraded the ability of the Loyalist forces to coordinate their actions. As a result of this bureaucratic in-fighting and lack of unity on the Loyalist side, a breakthrough was not achieved before the Imperial Guard units were rotated out to other theatres of the war. However, the Tanith First-and-Only Regiment, under the command of Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, was able to succeed in a mission to destroy the enemy siege guns before they could be fully deployed, thus also preventing the forces of Chaos from gaining an advantage in the continuing stalemate on the world.
The outcome of the war remains unknown in current Imperial records.
Most of Aexe Cardinal's geography is unknown, but the terrain of the nation-state of Aexegary was idyllic, with a large number of forests, fields, and rivers in picturesque scenes, dotted with orderly towns and villages. However, near the battle lines, the terrain became muddy and more desolate, the product of forty Terran years of unrelenting war. Blasted trees and great muddy plains covered the area between the Aexe Alliance and Shadik lines, punctuated here and there by a ruined structure that had managed to survive the near-constant shelling.
To the southeast, Aexegary had a large stretch of coastline along the Cardinal Ocean, which gave it a lifeline to the sea. Aexegary shared a border with the much smaller nation of Fichua, and across the Kottmark Massif lay the nation of Kottmark. Aexegary and Kottmark both were bordered by Shadik, making them part of the war's front line. The eastern front line was anchored by Frergarten, an Aexe Alliance fortress.
Flora and Fauna
The flora and fauna of the world included flowers, along with animals like the behj, a large ursinoid creature that was the alpha predator on the planet, and the struthid, a massive, quadrupedal avian that was heavily muscled, had long claws on its feet and a great, sharp beak. The struthid were used as mounts by the cavalry of Aexegary. Struthid riders bonded with their mounts using cybernetic neural links, which could have horrific consequences if the mounts were killed while their riders were still in neural communion with them. Juvenile struthids were often used as the combatants in "cockfights" put on by bored soldiers. Due to the caualties the war wrought on men and beasts alike, the species' numbers were slowly dwindling.
The overall cultural and technological level of Aexe Cardinal was similar to that of Terra in the final days of the 2nd Millennium, with elegant cars, trains, and high-ranking military officers drawn from its planetary nobility. Aexegary was the largest and strongest of the seven different nation-states that composed the Aexe Alliance, and was ruled by its High Sezar. Its currency was called the scuto. The nation had a proud military history, and the High Sezar was guarded by an elite military unit, the Bande Sezari, in his palace of Mons Sezari.
The country's capital, Brunsgatte, was a grand city with docks and a commercial district located on the Naeme River. In the ancient days of Aexe Cardinal, generals rode to the Mons Sezari in jeweled palanquins from the city's Fortress Gate. This tradition was still maintained in the city, and it was customary for the palanquin's driver to be paid a scuto in return for his service. At the time of the Imperium's intervention in the war with Shadik, the High Sezar of Aexegary was Leonid Fip Krefuel.
Kottmark was a similarly proud nation, which was often reckless in its military efforts as its people tried to showcase to the rest of the Alliance their skill and fortitude.
Much like their culture, the technology of Aexe Cardinal was similar to that of Terra in the late Second Millennium, though they did possess more advanced technologies that were closer to the galactic standard for the Imperium. Though the main Aexe armies utilized bolt-action Auto Weapons, rhomboidal tanks with sponson or dorsal-mounted cannons, tri-wing propeller-driven aircraft, and cavalry, they also made use of cybernetic neural links when forging bonds with their cavalry mounts. Energy shield technology was also available to protect command posts from artillery bombardment, though sufficient shelling could ultimately penetrate even this form of defence. Servitors were available to carry out especially hazardous or dangerous tasks.
The arrival of the Imperium and the forces of Chaos on ther world brought enormous change, as despite being hamstrung by the primitive military doctrines of the Aexe forces, the greater technology base of the off-world Imperial and Chaos forces was capable of overwhelming the much more primitive militaries of the Shadik and the Aexe Alliance.
The largest and strongest of the members of the Aexe Alliance, Aexegary was a nation with a long and illustrious military history that had a long-standing rivalry with the Shadik Republic, having fought and bested them in five separate earlier conflicts. A nation with a great deal of ritual, pomp, and circumstance behind it, Aexegary's nobility were proud and would never admit the possibility of losing a war, as Aexegary had never lost in its history. Aexegary was ruled by its High Sezar, who ruled from the capital city of Brunsgatte. He was protected by the bodyguard force known as the Bande Sezari. The Aexegary currency was called the scuto.
The Aexegary cavalry, which held the premier place within its military forces, rode the quadrupedal avian mounts known as struthids into battle, though the species' dwindling numbers meant they were becoming a rarer and rarer sight on the front lines. Those ridden by frontline cavalry had become thin and haggard, unlike the ones who remained behind safe in Brunsgatte, which remained prime examples of the species. Aexegary's coat of arms was a pair of leaping behj, the local ursinoids that were similar to Terran bears. The High Sezar wore a behj pelt as part of his badge of office, and sometimes the locals used their claws as lucky charms.
Kottmark was a large nation-state to the west of Aexegary, divided from its neighbour by the mountainous wall of the Kottmark Massif. Kottmark was the other senior nation of the Aexe Alliance. Its people were proud and brave, and it fought Shadik with as much fury as Aexegary.
The Principality of Fichua was a more recent addition to the Aexe Alliance, having joined in 763.M41. It was a fairly small nation, located to the east of Aexegary and nestled between it and the Kottmark Massif. Its primary route to the Cardinal Ocean lay to the south, in a large bay that lent the country a crook shape.
The Republic of Shadik was the primary enemy of all the other nation-states of Aexe Cardinal, who had formed the Aexe Alliance to combat its ambitions to rule the whole world. In ancient times it had lost five different wars against Aexegary. This history of humiliation had made it a ripe target for the machinations of Chaos, which had suborned the nation's rules and given them the power needed to make a sixth and final attempt to defeat their ancient foes.
After forty standard years of warfare, Shadik had managed to successfully hold the seven other nations of Aexe Cardinal at bay, and was supported in the endeavours by the off-world Chaos warband known as Blood Pact even as the Astra Militarum arrived to reinforce the Loyalists of the Aexe Alliance.
Unlike the forces of the Alliance, the Shadik Republic began to fight a more modern kind of war, often raiding trenches and using more advanced technology and different tactics, which made the situation more and more desperate for the Alliance. Shadik soldiers wore gas masks and chain-veil helmets, with khaki and brown fatigues. Old pattern Autorifles, pistols, and curved daggers were also used, and Shadik trench raiders carried makeshift shields of flakboard.
- Straight Silver (Novel) by Dan Abnett