The Conqueror was an Imperial Gloriana-class Battleship that served as the flagship of Angron, the primarch of the World Eaters Legion, during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy in the late 30th and early 31st Millennia.
This flagship rode at the head of a flotilla of warships which comprised the XIIth Legion's 203rd Expeditionary Fleet. Before the primarch's ascension as master of the XIIth Legion, the ship had carried a different name.
In those more innocent days it sailed as the Adamant Resolve, flagship of the War Hounds Legion. The XIIth Legion eventually became known as the "Eaters of Worlds," after Angron's ascendancy, and their flagship bore the new name Conqueror.
It barely resembled the warship it had once been only a few years after Angron took control of it -- ridged by brutal armour plating, spiked by countless weapon batteries, the Conqueror had become a crude bastion under the command of its hate-filled master, beyond any other warship in Imperial space in its display of sheer physical pugnacity.
The orbital shipyards at Angron's disposal did not hesitate to incorporate refits that optimised Imperial warships for the combat doctrine and fighting style of the XIIth Legion, favouring high speed and serrated ranks of close-ranged batteries that encouraged close-quarters battles over the speartip formations and ranged combat naval doctrines developed over the course of the Great Crusade by most of the other Legion fleets.
Shortly after Angron was reunited with his Legion, whom he renamed the “Eaters of Worlds” or the World Eaters, the first known target to suffer the XIIth Legion's wrath under Angron's command was the stellar wasteland of the Golgothan Sector, situated in the galactic core near the Warp rift known simply as the Maelstrom.
The breaking of the Siege of Sarum in the Golgothan Sector would quickly become a part of the World Eaters' legend and serve as a portent of the dark path yet to come. Sarum was a besieged Age of Strife Mechanicum outpost with whom shaky and intermittent contact had been maintained for nearly a standard century.
Its masters, the Tech-priests of the Redjak Covenant, had remained nominally loyal to Mars down the centuries, but had been forced by fighting a relentless battle for survival alone to become something many within the wider Mechanicum suspected was a highly militant and schismatic sub-faith.
Sarum was besieged by the Abhuman empire known as the Brotherhood of Ruin who wished to take the Mechanicum's technological secrets for themselves. But then, like the wrath of living gods of war, the World Eaters arrived and the Redjak Covenant quickly embraced them as their saviours and allies. The Covenant swore to Angron and his Legion directly many oaths of fealty and entered into pacts of mutual protection and support.
For the World Eaters this provided the XIIth Legion and its Techmarines a ready source of resupply and rearmament far outside the Imperium's inner sphere. In the World Eaters, the Redjak Magi gained powerful protectors who shielded them from the scrutiny of their erstwhile brothers in the larger Mechanicum.
This allowed, among other benefits, the reconstruction of the Legion's badly damaged flagship battle barge, the Adamant Resolve, into the heavily-armoured and renamed Conqueror.
Once the retrofitting was completed it barely resembled the warship it had once been only a few years after Angron took control of it -- ridged by brutal armour plating, spiked by countless weapon batteries, the Conqueror had become a crude bastion under the command of its hate-filled master, beyond any other warship in Imperial space in its display of sheer physical pugnacity.
The orbital shipyards of Sarum did not hesitate to incorporate refits that optimised Imperial warships for the combat doctrine and fighting style of the XIIth Legion, favouring high speed and serrated ranks of close-ranged batteries that encouraged close-quarters battles over the speartip formations and ranged combat naval doctrines developed over the course of the Great Crusade by most of the other Space Marine Legion fleets.
With the Conqueror at the fore of their large warfleet, the campaign that was to follow would last 11 standard Terran years and see no fewer than 48 worlds and outposts ravaged and destroyed by the World Eaters, and 7 separate dangerous xenos species rendered extinct as the XIIth Legion's fleet cut a swathe of destruction through the wastes of Golgotha, and even ventured into the perilous fringes of the Maelstrom itself.
The Conqueror was known to have transported the World Eaters' contingent to the Triumph of Ullanor, where Horus was elevated to the esteemed rank of Warmaster by the Emperor Himself, in recognition of his numerous great deeds and outstanding leadership throughout the Great Crusade. The Conqueror was also present during many of the notorious events that occurred during the Horus Heresy which included the Istvaan Campaign.
The Conqueror was one of the many warships that comprised the Traitor fleet that willfully turned upon their former brethren and virus-bombed the planet of Istvaan III on orders from the Warmaster, in order to wipe out Loyalist elements of the various Legions under Horus’ command during the Isstvan III Atrocity. The Conqueror was also present during the infamous Drop Site Massacre at Istvaan V that saw the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders Legions nearly wiped out, and rendered ineffective as fighting forces during the rest of the Horus Heresy.
When the Horus Heresy erupted, Angron's XIIth Legion was at the very forefront of the bloodshed. The Conqueror was at the vanguard of the Red Angel's warfleet. Most notably, the World Eaters led the assault upon the walls of the Emperor’s Imperial Palace during the Siege of Terra, taking the breach with no regards to their own losses. By this point, the World Eaters had given full vent to their most destructive urges.
While Angron had once been a great man possessed of a fearsome sense of martial pride and honour despite his brooding rage, now he was a frothing, blood-soaked berserker, as were his warriors. Any reason that had survived the process of inserting the cortical aggression implants used by all the World Eaters Astartes was driven from their minds, replaced with the will of Khorne, the Blood God.
It is said that when the Emperor defeated Horus and the hordes of Chaos assaulting Terra were finally routed, the World Eaters were the last of their number to quit the field of battle. None can say how close the World Eaters came to destroying the Imperial Palace, or whether they would have come face to face with the Emperor had not Horus lowered the Void Shields of his battle-barge Vengeful Spirit, precipitating the final confrontation in orbit.
In the aftermath of the Horus Heresy, the World Eaters descended to new depths of bloodlust and destruction, reaving across the already shattered space of the Imperium before plunging into the twisted depths of the Eye of Terror. None can say exactly what happened within the Eye, but it is apparent that the XIIth Legion all but consumed itself in a bitter internecine conflict that saw it fractured into countless smaller warbands of Chaos Space Marines. None could say what the ultimate fate of the Conqueror was, whether it was destroyed or still endured.
For centuries the fate of the Conqueror remained a mystery, though scattered reports indicate that it was at the head of small flotillas or solitary raids on several occasions throughout the Segmentum Obscurus and the Northern Rim of the galaxy. When the World Eaters ceased to exist as a unified Legion, due to the actions of Khârn the Betrayer at the Battle of Skalathrax in 021.M31, the Conqueror likewise faded into obscurity.
It was finally reported destroyed by a large Imperial formation in the 35th Millennium, but this proved to be incorrect when it again assailed itself upon the dominion of Mankind in a series of raids in 435.M37 ranging throughout the Segmentum Obscurus. Adorned with row upon row of white, leering skulls in dedication to the throne of Khorne, it is known to have changed hands several times, as the servants of the Blood God see their starships as little more than a means of transport from one opportunity to slaughter in Khorne's name to the next.
The Conqueror figured prominently during Abaddon the Despoiler's 12th Black Crusade in the Gothic Sector, this time under the leadership of Warmaster Heinrich Bale at the head of a large Chaos warfleet. His warfleet in general, and his flagship in particular, proved to be a menacing foe that successfully maintained a blockade of Port Maw itself for more than three standard years and laid waste to many Imperial warships in the Port Maw Sub-sector.
Bale's was one of the very last warfleets to withdraw in defeat in the closing stages of the Gothic War, only doing so while engaging in a titanic series of running battles during which many of the warships under his command were destroyed, usually only after engaging at close range and attempting to board their enemies rather than retreat. Once again the infamous vessel escaped and disappeared from the record, only to emerge at the head of a small warfleet during the 13th Black Crusade, this time as the flagship of Kossolax the Foresworn.
In battle, the Conqueror often employed a crude but unique weapon known as Ursus Claws which enabled the vessel to get within close proximity of an enemy ship in order to board it. From ridged battlements and armoured ports along the warship’s hull, a tide of what looked like spears would burst out into the void. Each of these lances was the size of a smaller Escort ship in its own right. Up to a dozen could be fired, either separately at multiple targets, or all at once, at much larger vessels.
These massive lances would then puncture home into the hulls of enemy vessels. Once impaled, the immense spears became active, locking to their prey's ravaged insides with magnetic strength. But while they were effective against regular foes, alien vessels like those employed by the Aeldari were forged from synthetics beyond mere metal.
Sometimes these vessels would manage to slide free, dragging their impaled carcasses away from the Imperial warship, but their cores would be holed right through and opened to space. They would prove to be the lucky ones. The other enemy vessels that were still impaled would shake, as they were dragged off course, stalling in the void. Their engines would burn in silent heat, but each of them would remain anchored in place.
The spears driven through their bodies were more than mere projectiles, they were lances launched to cripple. They were harpoons fired to claim prey. With malicious slowness, the Conqueror would then recall its spears. The lances would begin to ratchet back towards the vessel that fired them, dragged home on massive chains one link at a time. Only the World Eaters had the audacity to deploy something so barbarous, so primitive on such a scale. And only the World Eaters were able to make such crude weaponry into something so efficient.
Link by link, the Conqueror would drag the impaled enemy vessels closer, its massive engines straining against their stagnant thrust. Other enemy starships would often break away, finding it increasingly difficult to fire upon the Imperial warship, now using their own allied ships as barriers to protect itself. Angron would then give the order to release the hounds, the elite World Eater assault companies known as the Devourers upon their doomed enemies.
Boarding parties would be spat from the Conqueror’s hull, crossing the short distance in the blink of an eye and disgorging World Eaters warriors into the bowels of the impaled enemy ships. The Conqueror would then fully retract the Ursus Claws that failed to strike. Smaller-scale versions of these Ursus Claws would be created to arm the Warhound-class Titans of the Legio Audax that supported the XIIth Legion and for the World Eaters' assault Dreadnoughts.
Within the bowels of the Conqueror were the infamous fighting pits of the XIIth Legion, where both World Eaters and Astartes from the other Space Marine Legions would be invited to engage one another in vicious duels. Two combatants would enter the sand-filled fighting pit in their full suits of Power Armour, both helmetless.
The World Eaters warriors would often bind their weapon (usually a Chainaxe) to their arms so that they wouldn't lose it during the vicious bouts that would ensue. The use of such chains were a personal tradition of the XIIth Legion, spread amongst the other Legions after their popularity had escaped beyond the fighting pits of the World Eaters. Sigismund, First Captain of the Imperial Fists had taken to the custom with his usual zeal, binding his knightly weapons to his wrists on dense black chains.
He had made an impressive name for himself in the bowels of the Conqueror dueling with the XIIth Legion's finest warriors late in the Great Crusade. The "Black Knight" the World Eaters had called him, in honour of his prowess, his nobility and his personal heraldry. The "Flesh Tearer," Nassir Amit, the Captain of the Blood Angels' 5th Company, was another to earn great glory in the World Eaters’ pits. Amit was known as the rare Blood Angel who fought with the same savagery and brutality as his hosts.
The Audaxica was the wide avenue that comprised the Conqueror's central spinal corridor. The Audaxica itself was a chamber of monumental scale, wide enough to walk a pack of Titans abreast and tall enough that the arched ceiling was a dark blue, with its millions of etchings and carvings too distant to make out unaided.
Colossal ground elevators transported Titans from the Audaxica to the XIIth Legion's planetfall hangar below. The Audaxica was so named because it was where the Titans of the Legio Audax were housed. Every one of the Audax's Titans was a variant on the Warhound-class, made bulkier from additional armour plating and each bearing a stylised head of dark metal resembling a jackal or a wolf baring its teeth.
- Captain Lotara Sarrin - Captain Sarrin served as the Shipmistress of the XIIth Legion warship Conqueror. Sarrin often had to ignore the frightening transhuman warriors around her, the very avatars of cold indifference. She always had other matters to deal with, such as the 300 bridge crewmen caught between avoiding Angron’s uncontrollable fury and the performance of their duties. An intelligent and calculating officer, Captain Sarrin always measured her words when conversing with the rage-fuelled Primarch. Sarrin knew the World Eaters well, for she had served aboard the flagship as a helm officer for years before her promotion to command rank. Captain Sarrin enjoyed taking risks as much as any warrior in the Legion she served.
- Ivar Tobin - First Officer of the XIIth Legion warship Conqueror.
- Feyd Hallerthan - A Bridge Officer of the Conqueror.
- Lehralla - Scrymistress of the Conqueror. Scrymistress Lehralla was a crippled thing, emaciated and legless, augmentically bound to the warship's central Auspex console. She had cables that were strung between her head and the ceiling machinery which gave her a sinister aspect, providing her with a makeshift crown of serpents, like the legendary Gorgon from the ancient Grekan mythos of Old Earth.
- Kejic - Voxmaster of the Conqueror.
- Nisha Andrasta - Scion of House Andrasta of the Navis Nobilite, Nisha Andrasta had been selected personally by the Emperor to become the Navigator of the Adamant Resolve, flagship of the War Hounds Legion and one of only twenty Gloriana-class Battleships to be commissioned at the shipyards of Mars at the launch of the Great Crusade. At the helm of the renamed Conqueror, Nisha Andrasta served the World Eaters Legion and her captain faithfully for many decades until the beginning of the Horus Heresy and the changing loyalties of her superiors. Still loyal to her Emperor she wished to protect by all means, Nisha Andrasta decided to take her own life while still in the Warp, causing tremendous damage to the Conqueror and thus disrupting the Shadow Crusade.
- Battlefleet Gothic 2010 Compendium, pp. 113-114
- Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy: Book One - Betrayal, pg. 96
- Butcher's Nails (Audio Drama) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Betrayer (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Legacies of Betrayal (Anthology) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Nick Kyme, Graham McNeill, Chris Wraight, John French, Guy Haley, David Annandale, Gav Thorpe, and Anthony Reynolds, "Heart of the Conqueror" (Short Story) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, pp. 385-391