"...and in the last years of Angevin's Crusade, the most holy Saint Drusus did come to the far edges of Imperial space. There, he found his way blocked by vast and terrible storms that raged throughout the Immaterium, and he could go no further. Then Drusus, unwilling to leave what lay beyond in the darkness of heathen unbelief, did order a Watch be set upon the worlds along the Rim. There, his servants would defend the Emperor's worlds from the predications of the dread Halo Stars."
- — Excerpt from A History of the Calixis Sector
Battlefleet Calixis is a colossal fleet of Imperial Navy vessels charged with the protection of the Calixis Sector, an Imperial sector located in the Segmentum Obscurus on the northern edge of the known galaxy, near the Halo Stars and the Eye of Terror. To the trailing edge of the galaxy, the Calixis Sector is bordered by the hazardous territories of the Fydae Great Cloud and to spinward by the Scarus Sector.
Battlefleet Calixis origins can be traced back to 384.M39, when the Calyx Expanse was officially declared conquered and the Angevin Crusade at an end by General Drusus. The sector's Imperial Navy headquarters is located at the orbital void-station known as Port Wrath within the Golgenna Reach Sub-sector.
The ships of Battlefleet Calixis are widely dispersed across the sector; some maintain the trade routes and well-travelled courses of the great chartist vessels, while others patrol the danger zones of the Adrantis Nebula and the Hazeroth Abyss where dark forces lurk still. But their most unpredictable and dangerous task is to guard the border of the Halo Stars, beyond which horrors uncounted and unknown lurk beyond the reach of Imperial space.
The Calixis Sector
From the first discovery of the Koronus Fragments amongst Segmentum Obscuras naval records in 101.M38, the Imperium knew there might be unknown threats beyond the raging warp storms at the edge of the Calyx Expanse. These purported records of an unknown Explorator fleet told of mineral-rich worlds, habitable biospheres, and alien empires in the Halo Stars rimward of the Calyx Expanse.
As the Angevin Crusade forged those lawless regions into the Calixis Sector, the Imperial Navy probed the edges of the Drusus Marches, searching for passages through the vast storms. None could be found, and the Navy ceased searching in the years after the Crusade, as ships returned to their former battlefleets and the sadly depleted remnants formed the nucleus of the nascent Battlefleet Calixis.
Battlefleet Calixis officially came into being in 384.M39 when General Drusus declared the Calyx Expanse conquered and the Angevin Crusade at an end. The newly formed Calixis Sector was established with Scintilla as its capital world and Port Wrath selected to act as sector naval headquarters.
A substantial portion of the Angevin Crusade fleet dispersed to the coreward sectors, some returning to berths that they had left some sixty standard years before while others journeyed to join Imperial Crusades further along the rim. Aided by several Escort squadrons, the remaining half-dozen ships of the line formed the nucleus of the new Battlefleet Calixis.
All six vessels were veterans of the Angevin Crusade, their war-weary crews the survivors of the bloody death throes of the unspeakably vile alien race known as the Yu'vath. Most held the Yu'vath to be the most powerful and dangerous of all the foes the Crusade fleet had faced in conquering the Calyx Expanse. Of the six, the Grand Cruisers Loci Veritas Lux and Loci Veritas Lumen were called late to the conflict, but they too bore the scars from the assaults of Bale Childer Daggerships in their final, desperate battles over the Yu'vath's inner fortresses.
The Battleship Fist of Adamant and the Grand Cruiser Fire of Heaven unleashed the rain of fusion fire that finally wrought the end of those corrupt xenos and their Traitor allies. The Battlecruiser Chariot of Wrath lost thirty percent of its compartments to ravening Childer boarding parties at one point over the Hell Worlds of the Adrantis Nebula. Only the intercession of Iron Hands Space Marine boarding parties turned the tide and recaptured the ship. The Battlecruiser Bellicose was a survivor of the Fenksworld Calamity in 359.M39 when High Admiral Vaakkon inexplicably ploughed the Apocalypse-class Battleship Tempest's Child into the Fenksworld orbital docks, immolating himself and a dozen other warships.
In the first few centuries of its existence, Battlefleet Calixis was fully occupied turning the fledgling Imperial sector from marks on a star chart into a reality. There were innumerable convoys of pilgrims, colonists and Adepts to escort, Secessionist regimes to overawe and countless pirates to hunt. It is said that Lord Admiral Retman Hayes, the third to hold that rank in as many decades, died of apoplexy while berating a group of Chartist Captains who dared to demand better protection for their goods. Over time the sector stabilised and vessels constructed at worlds under Imperial tithe began to expand the fleet. Even so, when the Calixian battlefleet faced its first true test in 467.M39 it was barely equal to the task.
Purgation of Valon Urr (467.M39)
In 467.M39, the moderately advanced and highly civilised world of Valon Urr indirectly fell victim to the War of Hubris, a covert trade war instigated by the nearby independent world of Sinophia. The Sinophians feared the increasing industrial might of the Imperials and undertook a campaign to use every means at their disposal barring outright war to maintain their position. A favourite Sinophian gambit was to use their agents to discover course logs and manifests for voidships carrying Imperial cargo and then pass the information on to xenos and pirates. Countless Imperial merchantmen were attacked, stripped, and destroyed.
The situation became so desperate that four capital ships had to be assigned to the protection of merchant convoys entering the Golgenna Reach. Fortunately these were well placed to respond when an Astropathic distress call was received from the besieged world of Valon Urr. The rich pickings of the pirates had attracted a larger predator in the form of a coalition of Ork Freebooter vessels under the command of the Greenskin Warlord Brazzer Magtoof.
The four capital vessels formed a temporary squadron led by the Fire of Heaven under Admiral Lightman-Kapes and engaged the Orks over Valon Urr. Lightman-Kapes defeated the Orks, but tragically the planet was heavily damaged by debris from the ensuing orbital battle and Ork infestations. In 601.M39 Valon Urr was declared a Shrine World in memory of the sacrifice of the millions of citizens who died that day.
The Threefold (123.M40)
In the aftermath of Valon Urr, Battlefleet Calixis adopted a policy of more aggressive patrolling and reduced convoy protection in hopes that major engagements could be pursued in enemy territory in the future. This policy was completely rescinded in 123.M40 after the loss of a capital ship task force led by the Fire of Heaven and two Chalice-class Battlecruisers against unknown assailants in the Hazeroth Abyss.
Two heavily protected watch installations were lost within a Terran year in the same region, forcing a withdrawal of the sector boundary and ending further military expansion into the Abyss. This woeful incident became known as "The Threefold Curse." Despite increased vigilance, no trace was ever found of the attackers from the Hazeroth Abyss. The Hazeroth Sub-sector has been kept heavily reinforced ever since in case whatever horror is lurking in the Abyss should rise again.
The White Sorrows (556-570.M40)
Beginning in 556.M40, xenos corsairs plagued the Periphery Sub-sector with a series of devastating raids. Imperial lexographers knew them only as the Kabal of the White Sorrow, a piratical alliance of Drukhari renegades led by a shadowy figure known only as the Butcher Archon. The White Sorrow struck seemingly at will and over nearly two solar decades they enslaved an estimated two million colonists from the struggling frontier worlds of the Periphery.
Despite strenuous efforts, the capital ships of Battlefleet Calixis were unable to bring the Eldar Corsairs to battle and suffered a string of stinging defeats in Escort clashes in the Sleef, Ganf Magna and Kulth Systems.
In 570.M40 a Cruiser squadron formed near Sinophia for a special mission. It consisted of the Light Cruisers Intemperate and Intractable along with the Chalice-class Battlecruiser Triumph of Saint Drusus. The squadron joined a small fleet of Explorator vessels and Rogue Trader forces under the overall command of Rogue Trader and Imperial agent Kobras Aquairre.
Through some unspecified means (many suspected xenos involvement) Aquairre was able to lead his task force into a direct confrontation with the White Sorrow's fleet at an unnamed star deep in wilderness space. Here beneath the blood-red light of a dying star the old bones of planets formed grinding shoals of rocky debris throughout the system.
Jewel-like in the chaos hung a gleaming Webway portal surrounded by sleek Drukhari vessels. For once, the xenos corsairs were caught flat-footed and Aquairre's flagship, the Son of Seth, struck the portal at extreme range with an unknown type of Lance weapon. The resulting distortion effect barred the portal temporarily; xenos vessels trying to flee through the portal were seen being hurled back with great force.
The White Sorrows suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Aquairre's composite Imperial force. Trapped against the rocky shoals and with an unstable Warp distortion in their midst, there was little they could do but die to the superior firepower of the capital ships surrounding them.
A score of Raider-sized vessels attempted escape through the dense asteroid fields, but of these only a handful survived. Aquairre rammed the corsair's flagship, Altar of Torment, with his own vessel, slaying the Butcher Archon personally in hand-to-hand combat. The strength of the White Sorrows was utterly broken in the battle and it was subsequently marked as a Victorix Magna in the honours of the warships involved.
In the aftermath of the fall of the White Sorrows, Battlefleet Calixis was not to see another major capital ship engagement for almost two hundred standard years. Pirate and xenos ships fled at even the rumour of Navy vessels approaching the area. Several capital ships were withdrawn to reserve status as unsuitable for the patrolling and escort duties that became the norm. However, this outwardly mundane and sensible action laid the seeds of a great conflagration.
Establishment of Passage Watch 27-Est (673.M40)
Beyond the Rubycon II System, the Koronus Passage looms wide, ready to swallow the Rogue Trader ships that brave its depths. The Maw is so vast it is more a region of space than an opening in the Great Warp Storms along the Drusus Marches, but the Maw can also swell closed when the Warp Storms rage, shrinking to the narrowest passage.
Though the boundaries of the Calixis Sector end at the entrance to the Maw, there are certain Imperial organisations that venture beyond those bounds. Chief amongst them is the Battlefleet Calixis of the Imperial Navy which maintains a watch of warships at Port Wander, the entrance to the Maw, and some say, within the Koronus Expanse beyond. This squadron, under command of Fleet-Captain Nathaniel Horne, is on extended detached duty from the rest of Battlefleet Calixis.
Established in 673.M40, the Imperial Navy squadron known as Passage Watch 27-Est, is not large, especially compared to Battlefleet Calixis as a whole. It is comprised of several Cruisers, Light Cruisers, and Battlecruisers, supported by multiple Destroyer and Frigate Escorts. These warships possess most of the combat experience in Battlefleet Calixis, as they are almost constantly in conflict with raiders, pirates, and the occasional xenos vessel that comes through the Maw to plunder the Calixis Sector.
Passage Watch 27-Est is hard-pressed but vigilant, and on occasion has sent its distinctive grey-hulled, crimson-prowed vessels on counter-actions and reprisals into the Koronus Expanse. This has led the warships' crews to refer to themselves, only half-jokingly, as "Battlefleet Koronus." For more than 350 standard years, Passage Watch 27-Est has kept this vigil.
War of Brass (738.M40)
Sedition among the Hive Worlds of the Gelmiro Cluster erupted into full-blown rebellion under the charismatic "Emperor of Brass" in 738.M40. Already heavily militarised, the Gelmiro Cluster soon became a storehouse and armoury for rebel groups on a dozen nearby worlds.
Renegade warships flocked to the region, including the mutinous crews of two of the battlefleet's newest capital ships, the Chalice-class Battlecruisers Hosiana's Hand and Hel's Promise. Battlefleet Calixis found itself caught short-handed by the turn of events, and fleet personnel made heroic efforts to get reserve capital ships ready for action. Even so, weeks later when the Battleship Fist of Adamant under Vice-Admiral Dayes led the first punitive expedition to the rebel worlds, it left Port Wrath with thousands of dock workers still aboard.
The Gelmiro Cluster had been heavily fortified, but Vice-Admiral Dayes set about methodically picking apart the defences. The Renegade Battlecruisers posed the greatest threat to Dayes' forces but both fell victim to their own hubris in separate incidents. The lone wolf tactics they used against Dayes' deceptively plodding advance brought them up against superior forces at every turn. Hel's Promise fell to the guns of the Chariot of Wrath while Hosiana's Hand barely escaped from the Fist of Adamant with crippling damage and fled the star system.
The War of Brass was short-lived but extremely bloody. Within three standard years, Imperial Navy ships hung over decimated War Worlds in the Gelmiro Cluster, supporting Titans and Space Marines as they crushed the remaining pockets of Renegade resistance. However, as the Emperor of Brass went onto the defensive he used his debased worship of the Ruinous Powers to unleash ever greater horrors upon the once-prosperous Gelmiro Cluster. Even today, his lost domain remains a shunned place of blasted War Worlds.
Meritech Wars (211-226.M41)
The so-called Meritech Clans, a coalition of Voidborn families driven out of the neighbouring Ixaniad Sector some three Terran millennia previously, seceded from Imperial rule in 211.M41. The Merates Cluster had long been a home to Renegades and outlaws but the anarchy unleashed by the clans' extensive raids surprised the Imperial officials of the Ixaniad Sector. By good fortune, the rise in power of Calixis Sector Governor Myram Harvala spelled the doom of the Meritech Clans.
Harvala recognised all too well the threat to his new domain and was quick to encourage a vigourous response from the Imperial Navy. Battlefleet Calixis enjoyed a brief but rapid expansion under the governor's patronage, particularly among its Escort squadrons which added scores of vessels to their number.
Over the next decade and a half, Battlefleet Calixis methodically hunted down and crushed the Meritech Clans in space before pounding their worlds into lifeless rubble. Observers note the Escort squadrons of Battlefleet Calixis gained a great deal of confidence and expertise in the Meritech Wars, giving them a fighting reputation that carries through to the current day.
First Siege of Vaxanide (410.M41)
In 410.M41, an Astropathic distress call from the Vaxanide System alerted the Calixian fleet to a confederation of Ork raiders besieging the star system. An estimated eighty-plus Ork raiders made up their "fleet" and they held Vaxanide virtually prisoner. No voidships could safely approach and crudely-armoured landing craft were descending to assail the hive cities. The initial Ork assaults were swiftly repulsed but a grave long-term threat was posed to Vaxanide and the whole Malfian Sub-sector if its vital trade routes were strangled.
Heavy Warp Storms scattered and delayed the Imperial Navy's response. The Grand Cruiser Chariot of Wrath under Commodore Brokk and a newly commissioned Lunar-class Cruiser Pride of Scintilla arrived first almost a standard year later and, deciding not to wait for reinforcements, entered the star system alone. The unexpected arrival of the Imperial warships enabled them to surprise a dozen Ork raiders reloading at an asteroid base in the outer system. Fully half of the ramshackle alien ships were pounded into scrap by battery fire and torpedoes before they could respond. Unfortunately, swarms of Fighta-Bommerz managed to launch and damage the Pride.
A subsequent counter-attack by the Orks was driven off with heavy losses but Attack Craft continued to plague the two warships incessantly, in particular the Pride, with its inexperienced gunners and rapidly-accumulating damage. Despite the odds, Brokk pushed deeper into the system to confront the main Ork force over Vaxanide. A fierce battle developed as the Orks, encumbered by holds full of plunder, struggled to engage the Imperial warships in the face of withering fire. Nonetheless, numbers evidently took their toll and the Pride fell to the surface of Vaxanide in a blazing death grip with the Terror Ship Slicer. The Chariot of Wrath fought on alone until the timely arrival of the Veritas Lux and six additional vessels. The resurgent Imperial forces crushed the Freebooter ships, although it was later discovered that a sizeable remnant escaped to plague the Frontier Worlds of Ganf Magna.
Second Siege of Vaxanide (507.M41)
Battlefleet Calixis planners were left wary of Vaxanides' vulnerability after the first Ork attack and bolstered its defences with long range Augury stations in the star system's outer reaches. Their foresight was rewarded in 507.M41 when the Space Hulk Pinnacle of Savagery was detected approaching Vaxanide with an accompanying fleet of Ork ships.
A task force was quickly assembled from Imperial Navy, Explorator and Rogue Trader vessels under the overall command of Lord Admiral Vargaz. The combined fleet arrived in time to engage the Orks while they were still in the outer reaches, scattering their ships and shattering the Pinnacle of Savagery with massed weapons battery fire during its approach.
Some Orks broke through the Imperial gun line despite the odds and considerable fighting had to be done to clear them from Vaxanide itself. However, only a tiny fraction of the Greenskin horde survived the thunderous net of death they encountered to make planetfall. Even the notoriously taciturn Lord Admiral Vargaz is said to have commented that the second siege was "a most satisfactory affair."
Malygrisian Tech-Heresy (742-770.M41)
In the middle of the seventh century of M41, the insular and isolationist Calixian Mechanicus was again thrust into the spotlight when one of their own turned violently, irrevocably Renegade and dragged the Lathe Worlds into a sector-wide path of carnage.
Explorator Arch-Magos Umbra Malygris was a militant renowned for his dedication to the destructive potential of technology. A devotee of the Divine Light of Sollex, the Arch-Magos attracted many of the most gifted weaponsmiths and researchers under the aegis of his organisation. Leery of the growing popularity of the militant Adept, High Fabricator Castellar moved to sanction Malygris and attempted to break up the cabal he had surrounded himself with.
Aware of the danger posed to the entire Calixis Sector by the Renegade Arch-Magos and his deluded followers, the High Fabricator formally declared Malygris and all who obeyed him as Apostate in the eyes of the Omnissiah. Next, Castellar contacted Lord Sector Marius Hax upon Scintilla, and requested assistance. This unprecedented outreach from the formerly isolationist Calixian Mechanicus quickly drew Hax's attention to Malygris' threat.
Convinced of the seriousness of the situation, Hax used his influence to dispatch several major concentrations of Battlefleet Calixis to assist in the search for the missing Explorator fleet. No less than five full battlegroups of warships, comprising both Loyalist Explorator vessels and detachments of the Imperial Navy, formed the pursuit of the heretical Arch-Magos.
Malygris and his followers fled to the furthest reaches of the sector, always managing to stay at least one step ahead of his pursuers. Along the way, Malygris tested his research and weapons systems in a series of attacks that laid waste to several planets in his path rimwards towards the Halo Stars. Eventually, the Calixian Mechanicus and Battlefleet detachments tightened the noose.
Malygris was cornered at the edge of the Synford System, caught between the advancing Mechanicus Explorator fleets and the flanking Imperial Navy detachments. The battle did not last long, as the Imperial Navy and the Mechanicus fleets ruthlessly destroyed any surviving enemy ships, including any intact pieces of debris large enough to support survivors. With a curt message of gratitude to the Imperial Navy, Castellar and his forces turned about and headed for their home port in the Lathe System.
Margin Crusade (784.M41-Present)
The Margin Crusade declared in 784.M41 by the Ecclesiarchy's Synod Obscurus did much to strip away the strength painstakingly built up by Battlefleet Calixis in previous centuries. Several capital ships (including the Chariot of Wrath) and a great number of Escorts were called away to fight beyond the light of the Astronomican to the galactic north. To date, none of these warships has returned to the Calixis Sector and news about the Crusade's progress remains sparse to nonexistent.
In truth, the Margin Crusade failed within only three standard years of the beginning of the offensive, but the Imperial authorities have kept this reality a highly-classified secret, as they use the excuse of the Margin Crusade to requisition starships, troops and materiel for the Achilus Crusade raging in the Jericho Reach. As the Jericho Reach lies on the other side of the galaxy from the Calixis Sector in the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy, the Margin Crusade provides an excellent cover for the reality that a large amount of Calixian military resources are being routed through the secret Maw/Jericho Reach Warp Gate that exists on the edge of the Calixian Drusus Marches Sub-sector.
Despite the ongoing drain of its warships to the Margin Crusade, Battlefleet Calixis has quietly expanded again and again over the last few decades. Even the dullest naval officers realise that expansion and exploration is occurring beyond the Maw, and eventually the Imperial Navy may play a part in the Koronus Expanse. As preparations proceed for more wide-scale operations, it remains to be seen just how well-equipped the Imperial Navy can really be for subduing the terrors to be found in the Expanse.
Battlefleet Calixis Rank Hierarchy
The Imperial Navy is an institution with millennia of dusty tradition behind it and regulations so lengthy that they fill moon-sized scriptoria and data-vaults to bursting. Attempts to modernise the fleet and update its protocols have always been doomed by the sheer size and inertia of an organisation spread across 100,000 light years of space and potentially centuries of time. On top of this, each Segmentae Majoris Battlefleet is so riven with its own traditions and precedents that it is hard to be definitive about even something so fundamental as rank below the very highest echelons.
In all cases, the constant risks attendant to fighting ships mean that the Imperial Navy's chain of command has to be robust enough to survive shocking casualties in battle and still keep functioning. A great deal of ink has been spilled codifying responsibilities and duties such that each will know their place, although in practice these become guidelines at best, useless bureaucratic nonsense at worst. Incessant training still drums the same message into every shipman's head -- keep doing your duty even when the world turns to flame and death and the frozen void yawns just inches away.
What follows is a breakdown of commonly held ranks and responsibilities within Battlefleet Calixis. Even within this broad structure many variations occur at the sector level that are unique to the needs and necessities of that locale; commodores may command fleets, admirals may command squadrons and warrant officers may command warships according to necessity.
Commissioned officers are the highest ranks of Navy officers and usually can only be created by the Battlefleet's Administratum. In the Calixis Sector, a certain number of officers are generated by the "commissions" issued to Planetary Governors and Schola Progenium worlds each year to fulfil. Each commission is for a single child of "good character" to attend Port Wrath, there to become a Midshipman in the Holy Imperial Navy. Once they arrive, they may serve aboard Port Wrath for years waiting for a ship, or leave mere days after they set foot on the station.
Commissions issued to Planetary Governors are commonly sold to noble families or bestowed in a politically expedient fashion to reward a trusted Imperial noble or remove a troublesome sibling. A career in the Imperial Navy is viewed as a glorious, honourable and very probably fatal enterprise by noble houses, a sacrifice that enhances the family's prestige immeasurably. The Schola Progenium, on the other hand, sends their best charges to serve, especially those with a naval heritage. The rivalry between the arrogant offspring of nobility and the earnest young orphans of the Scholas is legendary.
A good portion of Midshipmen join the Imperial Navy through a more informal system of patronage. It is not uncommon for a Naval captain to take on a noble's son or daughter as a Midshipman at their family's request. This may be a favour to an old friend, or a means to repay an ancestral debt. However, even in this case, most noble children find the Navy a harsh and uncompromising environment, where most must excel on their merits, or likely perish.
- Lord High-Admiral - Also called the Battlefleet Commander, Lord High-Admiral is the highest rank of the Imperial Navy. Only five of these august individuals exist, one for each of the Segmentae Majoris. Each is responsible for the Imperial Navy's fighting forces across the thousands of sectors in their allotted quadrant of the galaxy.
- Lord-Admiral - A Lord-Admiral, or Sector Commander, is responsible for all naval operations in a given sector and has direct command of units of the Segmentum warfleet allocated to that sector. Nominally a Lord-Admiral is based at the Segmentum Fortress with other sector-level Administratum officials, but most choose to base themselves at the foremost naval facility of the sector under their charge. The Sector Commander for the Calixis Sector is based at the orbital voidstation of Port Wrath.
- Solar Admiral - In the regions of space in and around the Calixis Sector, an Admiral with an illustrious career and a spotless record may eventually be sent to present themselves before the Battlefleet commander at the Segmentum fortress at Cypra Mundi - a journey that may take years. Should the Lord High-Admiral approve of the individual when he finally gets around to seeing them (often after several more years) he may send them on to Holy Terra for consideration to become a Solar Admiral, a process that can take the rest of their life. Solar Admirals are often prospective Sector Commanders waiting for assignment to a sector. As such opportunities are rare it's far more common for Solar Admirals to be dispatched to war zones in command of a reinforcing fleet or kept busy on "special duties" with their own independent flotilla.
- Admiral - An Admiral is allocated command of a portion of a sector's Battlefleet and responsibility for the security of a handful of star systems and the vast tracts of Wilderness Space that lie in between.
- Vice-Admiral - By long tradition a Vice-Admiral commands the leading division of a given fleet, the part that would equate to the vanguard of a terrestrial force. In later times this has come to mean commanding a force of Light Cruisers and Destroyers charged with scouting for the enemy, charting navigational hazards and long-range patrolling.
- Rear-Admiral - In ancient times when an entire Battlefleet might be massed together, the thousands of warships present would be divided in to three commands, each under their own admiral. The Rear-Admiral was the youngest and least experienced and so would be given charge of the rearmost division as the one least likely to see combat. Over time this rank has evolved into a largely administrative post charged with co-ordinating repair facilities, refuelling warships, forming convoys and other rear echelon activities.
- Commodore - Also sometimes called a Group Commander, the rank of Commodore was originally only a temporary one given to a senior Captain placed in charge of a squadron of warships. Over time the rank of Commodore has found its way into permanent usage as what were once temporary squadrons stabilised into regular patrol routes and areas of responsibility.
- Lord-Captain - Sometimes also referred to as a Flag-Captain, Lord-Captain is an honourific rank normally applied to Captains in command of vessels on detached duty. When a Lord-Captain speaks he is backed by the full authority of the Battlefleet.
- Captain - Imperial Navy Captains are aloof, uncompromising figures unbowed by the awesome responsibility entrusted to them. They may be a tyrant, martinet, swashbuckler, strategist or saint but a Captain will always be an exceptional individual to hold full command of an Imperial Navy warship.
- Commander - Individual Escort-class vessels normally come under the charge of a Commander, with a Captain or Commodore holding overall command of an Escort squadron. However, a Commander might also be found as the leader for a squadron of intra-system vessels, Wing Commander of the Attack Craft onboard a carrier ship, or placed in charge of an orbital voidstation.
- Lieutenant - Many officers in the Navy rise no higher than the rank of Lieutenant. System-defence ships and Monitors occasionally fall under the direct command of a Lieutenant. It is more common for them to be found acting as second-in-command aboard Escort-class warships, as part of the vast bridge crew found on a capital vessel, or in an Attack Craft squadron acting as Flight Leader.
- Midshipman - Midshipmen are the lowest ranking "officers" in the Imperial Navy, and are actually better described as students with an officer's rank. Technically afforded an officer’s respect, they are nevertheless in demanding training to become true officers, and many of their duties are "hands on" opportunities to learn.
Warrant Officers (also known in some quarters as "Petty Officers") act as the equivalent of sergeants and corporals in a planet-bound army. It is their job to disseminate orders from higher authority, ensure that those orders are carried out and maintain discipline amongst the enlisted ratings with regular floggings. They are called Warrant Officers because they are created through the issue of a written warrant from either fleet administration or the captain of the ship. Warrant Officers occupy positions of trust on the ship and a captain with even the most mutinous of crews can keep the ship running as long as he can rely on his Warrant Officers.
- Ship's Master - The Ship's Master is generally the ship's most senior Warrant Officer and most experienced voidsman.
- Gun Captain - A Gun Captain has command of a single gun crew on a warship. The Gun Captain must know how to do the jobs of all the men under his command and often achieves the post only after decades of working his way up through all the different enlisted ratings. Gun Captains are highly respected individuals and there is often a great deal of rivalry between them over who’s crew is the fastest and most accurate on the ship.
Honourific and Specialist Ranks
- Master of Ordnance - The Master of Ordnance co-ordinates the efforts of the deck crews to ensure everything is fuelled, armed and ready to launch at a moment's notice. They are also responsible for maintaining discipline and training standards among the kind of hotshot pilots attracted to Attack Craft service is said to be an art form in itself.
- Master of Arms - The Master of Arms is charged with ensuring that all weaponry onboard is serviceable and ready for action, from the greatest Macrocannon to the meanest Stub Pistol. The Sergeants-at-Arms report directly to him, and by extension all armsmen aboard a warship are under his control, and so he also performs a role akin to chief of police aboard ship.
- Sergeant-at-Arms - A Sergeant-at-Arms has charge of a squad of armsmen anywhere between six and twenty strong with responsibility for close action in naval combat (such as hit and run attacks and boarding actions). A Sergeant-at-Arms' greatest responsibility is the keys entrusted to them for the weapons lockers found on every deck of a warship.
- Bosun (Boatswain) - The ship's Bosuns are disciplinarians and taskmasters in a crew, assigned to oversee the common ratings and indentured workers, determine their duties, and ensure they are carried out.
- Ship's Surgeon - Sometimes also called the Chief Chirurgeon or unofficially, "sawbones," the Ship's Surgeon has charge of the medicae facilities aboard the vessel.
- Officer of the Watch - The Officer of the Watch draws up duty rosters, assigns watches and attends the ship's chronometers. On most Imperial warships the title of Officer of the Watch is rotated through the ranking commissioned officers.
- Fleet Commissar - Just as the regiments of the Imperial Guard have Commissars appointed to them to ensure their unwavering loyalty to the Emperor, the warships of the Imperial Navy are host to Fleet Commissars.
- Ship's Confessor - The Confessor works tirelessly to promote the Imperial Creed among the crew and weed out Heretics. In these duties the Confessor is usually assisted by lay-preachers chosen from the most faithful on the lower decks.
Ratings take care of the functions that need muscle instead of training -- hauling shells and missiles, re-routing cables, clearing debris and conducting basic maintenance (i.e., scrubbing the decks). They are the basic voidsmen aboard a ship.
Ratings in this class typically have a myriad of sub-classifications (ratings) that specify their role further, e.g. Gun-Layer Third Class, Fuse-Changer Second Class and so on. Ratings make up the bulk of the warship's crew and will be the ones doing most of the fighting in boarding actions.
- Armsman - Armsmen are crewmembers trusted to carry weapons at all times onboard the ship and maintain the contents of the vessel's weapons lockers. They keep discipline among the lower ranks and protect the crew as needed -- usually by wading in with truncheons or shooting first and asking questions later.
- Voidsman - Voidsmen (also referred to by the more archaic term "shipmen" on some Imperial Navy vessels) are those ship's crew with some training and skill, the enlisted ratings most likely to be entrusted with tasks such as conduit-maintenance, bulwark repairs, cog polishing, or other jobs that might require some skill and autonomy.
Articles of War
The laws and guidelines of the Imperial Navy are every bit as byzantine and convoluted as those governing the rest of the Imperium. The Imperial Navy is a hard service, and it requires hard work and demands hard discipline aboard its warships and in its ports.
While to the outsider the Navy appears mindless and its ships space-going hells full of casual brutality accompanied by the constant song of the lash, nothing could be further from the truth. While severe discipline and savage punishment are indeed hallmarks of the service, the behaviour of officers and voidmen in the Calixis Sector is carefully and rigidly controlled by a unique set of laws, known from the lowest rating to highest ranking Admiral in Battlefleet Calixis as the Articles of War.
These articles, and their countless rules, clauses, and sub-clauses that fill entire data vaults at the Admiralty Spire on Scintilla set rules governing everything from grooming standards to the right and proper punishments for high treason. While most of these articles are arcane, little understood, and rarely enforced, there are a few that every voidsman and Imperial officer knows by heart and lives in constant fear of contravening.
Naval discipline is brutal. The regulations cover a dizzying variety of infractions, and for most of them the punishment is death. Infractions vary from fleet to fleet, even from ship to ship. According to Battlefleet Calixis regulations, for example, crew members caught sleeping during their watch are to be beaten to death by their comrades, those that neglect maintenance are to be electrocuted, black marketeers are strangled, and hoarders are starved.
Even minor failings such as an unkempt appearance or speaking after curfew might earn a flogging. Page after page, chapter after chapter of the regulations of the Articles of War codify punishments in exhaustive detail. In every case the attitude is taken that branding an indelible message on the rest of the crew is more important than the individual lives of any wrongdoers. Crew have no rights of appeal nor indeed trial beyond what the captain grants them, and his word is law.
This being said, few captains are ferocious enough to execute their crew as often or as viscerally as the regulations demand. The best command through respect as much as discipline, and for most the threat is enough to wield absolute authority. However, the Navy wants captains that are feared and respected, not loved. Where the captain fails in his duty, the Fleet Commissar stands ready to ensure discipline is properly maintained.
As benefits any major sector of the Imperium, the Calixis Sector boasts a wide range of naval and commercial facilities to support travel amongst its star systems. The Calixis Sector's Imperial Navy headquarters is located at the orbital void-station known as Port Wrath within the Golgenna Reach Sub-sector.
This Imperial Navy installation is a huge combination dockyard and naval base serving as headquarters for Battlefleet Calixis. It half protrudes from a metallic planetoid orbiting Mundus, a white dwarf star in the Golgenna Reach, and bristles with Lance batteries matching the firepower of most fleets. Commanded for over fifty standard years by Rear-Admiral Zoila Kusch, this is the mainstay Imperial Navy installation in the sector.
"We are the first line of defence, mankind's protection against the endless tides of heretics, traitors, criminals, and aliens. While we exist, while we remain vigilant, the Imperium remains safe. The lives of uncounted trillions rest in our hands..."
- — Rear Admiral Zoila Kusch, Commander of Port Wrath, addressing the 812.M41 class of cadets
Patrols make up the majority of Imperial Navy operations within any given sector. Most vessels will spend most of their time patrolling, moving through the Wilderness Space between inhabited star systems. Passing along commonly-travelled routes, quarantined zones and areas of suspected hostile activity with varying frequency, most voidfaring criminal activity is encountered by Navy patrols first. Many patrols are fairly light, consisting of a squadron or two of Destroyers or Frigates, performing cursory sweeps of dust clouds and asteroid fields.
Only in areas of known hostile activity are patrols heavier, referred to as "fighting patrols," consisting of as much as a Cruiser and several squadrons of Escorts, often supported by Attack Craft for more detailed investigations. Where patrols cannot frequently reach, long-range Augur stations and sentinel satellites provide a measure of security against enemy forces, giving system ships a degree of early warning about invading fleets, marauding pirates and other void-borne menaces.
Most patrols are only given a simple numeric designation, but over the years, well-established patrols have gained identities of their own, named for their bases or granted honorifics for notable actions. The Stygian Vanguard, for example, patrol the centre of the Hazeroth Abyss Sub-sector from the Stygian System, while the Golgenna Third Extinctum, have a long legacy dating back to the Angevin Crusade.
Notable Patrol Groups
- Patrol Group 686, "Retaliator" - Officially known as Patrol Group 686, "Retaliator" Group is commanded by Commodore Teodor Evard Naremmus, a decorated officer hailing from a family on Sepheris Secundus with a distinguished history of naval service. The patrol group consists of seven vessels: a Light Cruiser and two squadrons each of three Frigates. The patrol is technically classified as a minor battlegroup, due to the presence of two War Worlds on its route and its proximity to the Koronus Expanse, a region known to harbour criminals and alien threats in abundance. Given the variety of potential enemies that could appear in the region, the crews of Retaliator Group are all battle-hardened veterans where such crewmen are available. Retaliator Group has been responsible for innumerable defensive actions against pirate vessels, and have crushed several smugglers over the centuries.
Battlefleet Calixis Fleet Composition
- Frigates - Frigates fill the ranks of Battlefleet Calixis, where they are prized commands for the youngest and most aggressive naval captains. While a Frigate may not seem as prestigious as a Cruiser or Battleship, their versatility means they are the Navy's ship of choice for all manner of actions. Frigates are tasked for convoy escorts, patrols, anti-piracy operations, and even attacks on rebel ships and voidstations. They routinely skirmish with the Frigates and Raiders of seditionists, pirates, and even hostile xenos races. Thus, a Frigate captain is "in the mix" much more often than his counterparts aboard the Battlefleet's larger vessels.
- Sword-class Frigates - The Sword-class Frigates have been a mainstay Escort vessel for Battlefleet Calixis ever since its founding. Every system aboard one of these frigates has been tried and tested in innumerable engagements. Its laser-based weapons and turrets are accurate and hard-hitting, its plasma drives are rugged and reliable in extreme conditions. Few task forces do not include at least a pair of Swords to guard the flanks of larger vessels or pursue smaller, faster raiders.
- Light Cruiser - Light Cruisers are the eyes and ears of the Battlefleet. Smaller and faster than true Cruisers, Light Cruisers have the massive fuel and supply reserves for deep void patrols. These may last for standard years, even decades, and thus Light Cruiser commanders must be independent-minded and self-reliant. Light Cruisers are also used as the flagships of small squadrons of Frigates and Destroyers tasked with escorting convoys or hunting pirates.
- Dauntless-class Light Cruisers - Light, scouting Cruisers are the eyes and ears of Imperial fleets. They carry enough fuel and supplies for patrols that last months or even years, and enough firepower to dispatch any smaller vessels foolish enough to close with them. The Dauntless-class Light Cruiser is popular because it combines the manoeuvrability of a Frigate with a daunting forward Lance armament.
- Cruisers - A Cruiser is a warship through and through. These are the ships of the line of Battlefleet Calixis, the heavy-hitters that fight major naval engagements. These warships are rare -- building one takes centuries if not longer, and requires knowledge and technology from Mankind's golden age now only known to the most powerful Tech-magi. However, each vessel --often five or more kilometres long -- carries the firepower to burn planets. They are designed to win wars, and the Imperial Navy guards them zealously.
- Lunar-class Cruisers - The Lunar-class Cruiser makes up the backbone of Battlefleet Calixis. Its (relatively) uncomplicated design dates back to the dawn of the Imperium, and it can be constructed at worlds normally unable to build a ship of the line. Its variety of weapons batteries, Lances, and torpedoes make it both a versatile combatant and dangerous foe.
Notable Vessels of Battlefleet Calixis
The following are some of the famed vessels in Battlefleet Calixis. Some have served in the Battlefleet since the founding of the sector, while others are more recent additions:
- Fist of Adamant (Retribution-class Battleship) - Flagship of the current Lord-Admiral of the Calixis Sector. The Fist of Adamant is an ancient and potent Retribution-class Battleship with systems dating back as far as the 32nd Millennium. The Fist is believed to have been salvaged from a Space Hulk and rebuilt somewhere in the Scarus Sector in the 37th Millennium. In the midst of a long and illustrious career, the Fist of Adamant won great renown with Battlefleet Calixis as the saviour of Port Wander. Under the command of the then Lord-Admiral Androvast Strophes, the Fist led the charge that finally broke the Ork blockade around the station. She was heavily damaged in an epic duel with the Ork flagship Da Wurldbreaka during the encounter and afterwards had to limp back to Port Wrath for extensive repairs. It was over a century and a half before the Fist of Adamant was again able to return to full active service.
- Angevin's Destiny (Unknown Class) - This ancient Imperial Battleship is the flagship of Battlefleet Calixis and regarded as the saviour at the Battle of Markayn.
- Loci Veritas Lux (Exorcist-class Grand Cruiser) - One of two Exorcist-class Grand Cruisers in the Battlefleet Calixis, the Loci Veritas Lux is a variant of the old Vengeance-class, a handsome keel-built ship designed at a time when broadside firepower dominated naval tacticians' thinking above all else. While the Vengeance sacrificed prow armour and weaponry for improved broadsides and turrets, the Exorcist-class fitted launch bays in place of the broadside Lances and increased stores so the ships could operate self-sufficiently for long periods. This created a more versatile vessel, but Exorcists remain a rare sight except along the Rim, although that versatility makes them popular with Rogue Traders. Loci Veritas Lux and its sister-ship Loci Veritas Lumen have been successfully employed for several centuries in the Calixis Sector leading patrols and supporting convoys. The Attack Craft squadrons make the Exorcists a terror to pirates and raiders, while their increased endurance allows them to stay on patrol long after smaller craft have to turn for home. It is rumoured that both Exorcists have been ordered to join Navy forces in the Koronus Expanse where their great endurance can be put to good use. How well these old warhorses will stand up to the trip through the Maw is a matter of sharp concern for Rear-Admiral Skalingden.
- Loci Veritas Lumen (Exorcist-class Grand Cruiser) - One of two Exorcist-class Grand Cruisers in the Battlefleet Calixis, the Loci Veritas Lumen is a variant of the old Vengeance-class Grand Cruiser. Loci Veritas Lumen and its sister-ship Loci Veritas Lux have been successfully employed for several centuries in the Calixis Sector leading patrols and supporting convoys. The Attack Craft squadrons make the Exorcists a terror to pirates and raiders, while their increased endurance allows them to stay on patrol long after smaller craft have to turn for home. Commodore Wake used the Loci Veritas Lux as his flagship in the Golgenna Reaches for three decades, transferring his flag to the newly arrived Mars-class Battlecruiser Promethean Thunder only recently. It is rumoured that both Exorcists have been ordered join Navy forces in the Koronus Expanse where their great endurance can be put to good use.
- Triumph of Saint Drusus (Chalice-class Battlecruiser) - The Chalice-class Battlecruiser is a design thought unique to the Calixis Sector, along with all other vessels produced by the Lathe Forge Worlds. Famed ship-wright Hosiana Joz is said to have been gifted a vision of the Chalice-class sent by the Omnissiah. He was inspired to set about crafting a warship that could survive the turbulent tides in the Immaterium so often found close to the rim. Some whisper that the resultant ships possess some of the interior structures and conduit relays of an old Hades-class Heavy Cruiser. Despite such mutterings the handful of Chalice-class warships built are acknowledged as fine vessels, even if it is said they possess a bit of a glass jaw. The Triumph of Saint Drusus won fame routing the Emperor's foes in many engagements, often operating independently to take full advantage of its superior grace and speed. However, an ill star does seem to hang over the history of the class. A disproportionate number have been lost over the centuries in enemy action (or unknown circumstances), while others have fallen and gone over to the Ruinous Powers. Currently, Lord-Captain Laomyr and the Triumph are on detached duty, investigating "disturbances at Sheol VII."
- Vengeful Martyr (Dauntless-class Light Cruiser) - The lead vessel of Patrol Group 686 ("Retaliator" Group), the Vengeful Martyr is an ancient and revered vessel, one of the warships that served in the Angevin Crusade and survived to form the core of Battlefleet Calixis. Broadly speaking, the Vengeful Martyr is somewhat more capable than the average Dauntless-class Cruiser, being slightly more resilient and significantly more manoeuvrable than most, and fitted with a rare but potent plasma drive to power its forward Lance battery. The Vengeful Martyr has gained something of a reputation in its long history for being an eager warship, unwilling to hide or retreat but always reliable and potent on the attack. A long line of commanding officers have found it challenging to rein in the animal ferocity of the ship, but those who have succeeded have done great things with it.
- Nameless Saint (Firestorm-class Frigate) - Fairly new additions to Retaliator Group, the Nameless Saint, Just Persecution and Reaver's Dismay were constructed and commissioned to replenish Vanguard Squadron, a trio of Sword-class Frigates that had formed part of the patrol group since its creation. Having served in the Angevin Crusade, the original Vanguard Squadron was destroyed by Ork ram ships during the Battle for Port Wander. Its replacements consisted of Firestorm-class Frigates, a comparatively recent development, made in the centuries before the Gothic War, and which did not exist during the founding of the Calixis Sector. The Firestorms of the replenished Vanguard Squadron were the first warships of their kind to be introduced to Battlefleet Calixis, and their successful use heralded the widespread introduction of this class to the sector fleet. Their effectiveness against raiders and Frigates makes them ideal for patrols and raids.
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- Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pg. 176, 216
- Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods (RPG), pp. 46, 70, 76, 126, 173
- Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pp. 17, 119, 156-157
- Dark Heresy: The Lathe Worlds (RPG), pp. 18-19
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 18, 33, 190-191, 195-196 , 341, 343, 356
- Rogue Trader: Battlefleet Koronus (RPG), pp. 54-58, 72
- Rogue Trader: Hostile Acquisitions (RPG), pg. 17, 23, 90-93
- Rogue Trader: Into the Storm (RPG), pg. 252