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"Those far distant, warp-beaten ships, upon which Imperial citizens never gaze, stand between heresy and the dominion of the galaxy."

— Lord Admiral Zaccarius Rath
Battlefleet Bakka

Battlefleet Bakka of the Imperial Navy

Battlefleet Bakka is a colossal fleet of Imperial Navy vessels charged with the the protection of the strategic Bakka Sub-sector within the Segmentum Tempestus. Bakka is the Sector Naval base closest to the Ultramarines Chapter's homeworld of Macragge and as such, Battlefleet Bakka played a major role in defeating the Tyranids' Hive Fleet Behemoth during the First Tyrannic War at the climactic Battle of Macragge in 745.M41.

History

Segmentum Tempestus

Segmentum tempestus

Departmento Cartographicae map detailing the Segmentum Tempestus

Bakka Sub-Sector Map

Departmento Cartographicae Map of the Bakka Sub-Sector

Segmentum Tempestus is one of the five Segmentum Majoris, the great Imperial administrative divisions of the galaxy. It lies to the galactic south of the central Segmentum Solar, between Segmentum Pacificus to the galactic west and the Segmentum Ultima to the galactic east. Here, matter is scarce and the Segmentum is mostly a dark and empty void dimly lit by scattered stars. Segmentum Tempestus is organised into 200 light-year cubes called Sectors. The Imperial Navy's Segmentum headquarters is located in a 15 light-year cuboid known as Sub-sector Bakka, which is located on the main galactic star arm that passes through the east of the Segmentum.

Segmentum Tempestus is mercifully free from proximity to a festering mass incursion from the Warp, such as the Eye of Terror or the Maelstrom. As such, a Chaos incursion is usually a problem of raiders rather than the mass attack of a large Chaos Fleet of deranged Heretics. However, Tempestus is notorious for infestations of Genestealers, as well as assaults from Ork and Eldar raiders. There has, therefore, been a tendency for Tempestus battlefleets to concentrate on small flotilla anti-piracy tactics rather than Grand Fleet strategy.

In the 36th Millennium, a group of Tempestus tacticians, sometimes called the Gareox Prerogative because they were based at the Gareox Sector Base, came to prominence. This "Young School" proposed a complete change to fleets based on Attack Craft carriers as such tactics had proved highly effective against pirate squadrons. The arrogant Prerogative eventually gained enough political influctence to control Imperial warship design and were able to order the construction of Attack Carrier warships such as the ill-fated Despoiler-class Battleships.

This action brought them into conflict with the "Big-Gun Lobby" at Bakka. Political rivalry eventually led to outright civil war, the so-called Gareox incident (Inquisita Classificationae Purgata Secrata, level sextus). A series of fleet actions demonstrated the superiority of Lance-armed warships over Attack Craft Carriers and the Prerogative was purged and Gareox cleansed. In their bitterness, many of their supporters in the fleet turned to blasphemy and fled into the Warp. Only three Despoilers were built out of the fifteen orginally ordered and all ultimately became Traitors. This incident left a suspicion of Attack Carriers in Tempestus battlefleets and even today there is a tendency for such fleets to favour big-gun ships. This is particularly true of Battlefleet Bakka where the Big-Gun Lobby had reigned supreme.

Forge World Bakka

A young world, Bakka was colonised during the Dark Age of Technology by the restless agents of Mankind who claimed it for their own, greedy for its abundant and available mineral wealth. The surface of the planet consists of black island rafts of basalt and granite that float on a glowing viscous sea of cooling lava. Every so often, turbulent flow or a meteorite strike causes fresh magma to burst through the thin skin on the surface of the orange seas and throw incandescent fountains of yellow fire into the sky. The atmosphere is hot, arid and very poisonous; oxides of nitrous, sulphur and sodium mix with ammonia in spirals of yellow, brown and red fog. Giant, tracked machines extract minerals when convective flow forces important ores near the surface of the seas. The loss rate among the lava workers is substantial and commonly penitents and Heretics are assigned to the hazardous duty. The punishment for a penitent and a Heretic is the same, for though the God-Emperor rejoices at the righteous remorse of a penitent the sin must still be cleansed by punishment.

Permanent installations are built on the black rafts. In the reinforced adamantium walls of the fortress-like plants, ore is processed into usable materials. Heavy laser batteries are mounted on the strengthened roofs of the squat, dark structures to blast away meteors, and the Emperor's foes should they make an appearance in orbit. Most of the manufacturing facilities hang above the planet in geostationary orbit and there are also found the vast, sprawling dockyards of the Segmentum Tempestus Sector Naval Base.

First Tyrannic War

"Put not your trust in ships because ships fail. Put not your trust in guns because guns fall silent. Put not your trust in men because men break. Put your trust in the Emperor because he is the salvation of mankind."

Epistle to the Macraggans

One of the most famous battles involving Battlefleet Bakka took place during the First Tyrannic War in 745.M41. When the Imperium of Man first encountered the dire threat of the insidious xenos known as the Tyranids and Hive Fleet Behemoth, the Imperial Navy's Segmentum tempestus High Command ordered the entirety of the Bakka Battlefleet to help in the valiant defence of the Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter, who were being forced back, step-by-step, by the tide of alien horrors. Then, just when all appeared to be lost, the first squadrons of warships from Battlefleet Bakka began to arrive, to take part in the climactic Battle of Macragge. Its forces deployed on the planet's surface, the Hive Mind had chosen to withdraw its bio-ships from Macragge in order to lure the defending ships of the Ultramarines flotilla away and thus prevent them from coming to the polar fortresses' aid. Chapter Master Marneus Calgar took the Tyranids' bait, and pursued the Tyranid fleet toward the ringed world of Circe at the edge of the Macragge System. The timely arrival of the Imperial Navy's entire Battlefleet Tempestus from Bakka finally sealed the Tyranids' fate by catching them in a vice between the two fleets.

Calgar watched in rapt attention as reality rippled in front of the shapes emerging from the Warp before parting like a curtain to reveal the familiar shapes of Imperial warships. Over 200 Imperial Aquilas emblazoned the hologlobe representing Heavy Cruisers, Missile Destroyers, and Battleships, while a singular gold eagle represented the huge Emperor-class Battleship Dominus Astra. The sense of relief was a palpable force aboard the ships of the Realm of Ultramar. The Hive Fleet started to decelerate and turn back in-system, seeking to destroy the lesser Ultramar force behind them. The Ultramar fleet slowed and prepared to fight again as Calgar swiftly communicated with Lord Admiral Zaccarius Rath.

The hive fleet started to decelerate and turn back in-system, seeking to destroy the lesser Ultramar force behind them. The Ultramar fleet slowed and prepared to fight again as Calgar swiftly communicated with Lord Admiral Rath, commander of the Tempestus fleet, and exchanged plans. The Ultramar fleet clumped into a tight wedge to keep the Tyranids at bay with their massed batteries while the Tempestus vessels spread into a broad avellan cross. As the Tyranids engaged Calgar's ships the arms of the cross formed by Lord Admiral Rath's fleet closed in around them like the jaws of a trap. The battle was short and brutal as the Tyranids were caught in the cross-fire of the two fleets. Though they were outnumbered by over three to one the Imperial ships blasted their way through the hive fleet and scattered the bio-ships into small groups. The Tyranids' piecemeal counter-attacks were beaten off by the awesome firepower of the heavily armored and shielded Imperial ships. Their lances of fusion fire transfixed the organic hulls of the bio-ships and clouds of Imperial Navy fighters darted in to tear apart the crippled vessels. Within an hour the remnants of the hive fleet were dead and drifting, charred hulks spinning slowly through the void.

The battle had taken its toll of the combined fleet. Calgar had lost half his remaining ships, and several Imperial ships had to be destroyed by the weapons of their compatriots because they had been boarded and overrun by the Tyranids. The tales of horror from these vessels mirrored those from the polar fortresses on Macragge all too closely. It was evident that the Tyranids were horrifying, almost unstoppable opponents at close quarters. With the fate of the beleaguered polar garrisons pressing on his mind Calgar swiftly gathered up his fleet and turned back in-system, Lord Admiral Rath's ships swung into triumphant procession behind him. Though it would be many hours before the fleet could arrive at Macragge Calgar was determined to return in time to save his men.

Battle of Circe

Behind the two fleets the very fabric of space rippled before it was suddenly torn aside as another fleet emerged from warp space. The hologlobes were filled with ranks of red sparks as the second Tyranid hive fleet bore down on the ships of the combined Imperial fleet. This hive fleet was fresh and undamaged: hundreds of large bio-ships made up its vanguard with their smaller companions staying to the sides and rear. Calgar desperately sought an edge to exploit against this new foe. The other fleet had only been defeated because it was surprised and weakened; this new fleet was too strong to fight. The defences of Macragge were hours away, damaged by the ongoing Tyranid assault but still operational. The only other defensive point was the ringed gas-giant Circe, which they could reach within the hour.

Calgar headed back to Macragge. Lord Admiral Rath declared that too many of his ships would be caught before they reached that planet and turned away toward Circe. As the ponderous ships of the Tempestus fleet swung their prows towards roiling Circe and its treacherous rings of rocks and dust the hive fleet smoothly divided itself. The greater part of the alien ships pursued the Imperial vessels towards the gas giant and its shining rings. The remainder dogged the Ultramar fleet with such numbers that to turn back would be suicidal. Amidst the rings of Circe the Imperial fleet turned at bay, their engines holding them at a dead halt above bands of storm that reached about the giant's circumference. The Tyranid ships swept forward in a wave which filled the monitors and gun sights with targets. Laser salvos and plasma beams struck down the bio-ships by tens and then hundreds but the hive fleet ground forward regardless of loss. Vessels of both sides fell towards Circe's hungry pull as they were hit, tumbling down to be smashed apart in the stony rings or to send flares of incandescent gas jetting into space as they burned amidst clouds below.

Dominus Astra capital ship

The capital ship Dominus Astra valiantly fights to the death against the Tyranids

One by one the Imperial vessels were grappled and overrun or torn apart by the hail of shots from a dozen foes. The rings flared with the bright flashes of Imperial ships dying in fiery wreaths of plasma. The skies above Circe were filled with the detritus of war, charred fragments of ships and bio-ships merging together to form new rings of steel, blood and bone. At the height of the battle only a fraction of the Imperial warships remained operational, amongst them the scarred bulk of the Dominus Astra. Giving his remaining ships a final order to scatter Lord Admiral Rath swung the mighty capital ship about and thrust forward into the heart of the hive fleet. Roaring forward on its many tails of white fire the Dominus Astra ripped through the bio-ships with its jagged ram, weapons blasting from every gun port and turret, the enemy so close that the shot and detonation of its fusion cannon were simultaneous. For a brief instant the Dominus Astra kept the horde back with the blaze of its weapons before the Tyranids swept in like a tide of bone and flesh to cover it with their numbers.

A black globe crackled and flared into existence over the spot. Real space rippled visibly and then shuddered back before the groaning warp drives of the Dominus Astra as it hurled itself into the warp. Reality contorted under the strain: mass and warp energy collided in a cataclysmic implosion of black light and impossible sound. All of the closest Tyranid ships were dragged into the Astra's displacement and were lost with it. Those further away were smashed in the swirling storm of dust, rocks and other detritus swept into the ship's wake. Great flares of incandescent gas gouted up from Circe to incinerate the handful of surviving ships that remained in a holocaust of flame. The Dominus Astra disappeared into the warp never to be seen again. Only a dozen other ships of the proud Tempestus fleet survived the battle of Circe. These limped away towards Macragge, though the battle for the Ultramarines' homeworld would be long over by the time they arrived.

The last stand of the Ternpestus fleet was visible on magnascope, the light from Circe's orbit taking seconds to catch up with the Ultramar fleet. Calgar could only helplessly watch the Imperial vessels wreathed in the flame of their weapon fire, the silent explosion of Tyranid ships as they were struck, the glittering aurora of lights as laser salvos vaporized rings of dust. As the Dominus Astra dragged the heart of the hive fleet to oblivion the bio-ships pursuing Calgar started to split up, the smaller vessels rushing after the Ultramar ships while their larger companions turned back and left the Macragge system. In space the survivors of the Ultramar fleet easily destroyed the last wave of bio-ships. The Tyranids drove straight forward against the fleet and Macragge's defenses, each successive foe was destroyed before it came anywhere near the planet. Hive Fleet Behemoth had been defeated.

Special Weapons of Battlefleet Bakka

  • Fleet Defence Turrent - Battlefleet Bakka warships need to be well equipped with turrets because of the relative lack of fighter defences. A particular Bakka innovation is the Fleet Defence Turret. This is a special long-rang turret fitted to special "flak" ships that can be used to protect other vessels in a near convoy from incoming enemy Attack Craft.
  • Psychic Cannon - The ancient cruiser Daemon Slayer is equipped with a unique prow weapon described as a Psychic Cannon, which is rumoured to have been forged by the master magicians of the Dark Age of Technology. A hit from this weapon can banish any Daemon back to the Warp. Hive Ships fair no better, as a hit from this fell weapon can knock out the synaptic control of the bio-ship, disrupting its ability to receive psychic commands from the Hive Mind.

Notable Vessels of Battlefleet Bakka

Notable Squadrons of Battlefleet Bakka

Sources

  • Battlefleet Gothic Magazine 2, "Battlefleet Bakka," & "D'aynes Fighting Ships of Segmentum Tempestus - Battlefleet Bakka," pp. 30-35, 36-40
  • Battlefleet Gothic Magazine 7, "Rath's Last Stand," by Time Driscole, pp. 6-8
  • Battlefleet Gothic 10 (US), "The Defence of Macragge", pp. 6-10
  • Battlefleet Gothic 15 (US), "The Ultramarines", pp. 16-23
  • Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), pg. 16
  • Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pp. 12-15, 57
  • Codex: Tyranids (4th Edition), pp. 8-9
  • Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 32-33, 40, 87
  • Deathwatch: First Founding, pp. 69-70
  • Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse, pp. 25-32
  • Warhammer 40,000: Planetstrike (5th Edition), pg. 54
  • Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (5th Edition), pg. 129
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