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"The majesty of the Imperium's triumphs becomes ever more grandiose when it is compared against those efforts that have met with terrible failure."

—Grand Missionary Agnar Clavan

Falon's Lament -- originally known as X-alpha 782 and Falon's Pride after that -- is an unsettled planet found within the Outer Reach region of the Jericho Reach.

Legends suggest that Falon's Lament is a cursed world. Over the millennia, every Human effort to tame this beautiful planet has met with terrible tragedy.

No matter the benefactor, the era, or the resources invested, the efforts invariably lead to the loss of countless lives and a sense that all of the effort invested was squandered. In spite of this, the planet's natural resources and mysterious artefacts continue to make it an irresistibly tempting jewel.

While it is currently under assault by the Tyranid forces of Hive Fleet Dagon, these xenos are having no better luck with their attempts to seize the planet than Humanity has had over the millennia. However, this time, the reasons for the difficulties have finally become clear.

History

Falon's Lament is inextricably tied with the tale of Marquis Caleb Falon. During the height of the ancient Jericho Sector, he was the head of the Falon mercantile guild. The family maintained a powerful shipping trust that controlled the vast majority of intersystem commerce through nine of the Jericho Sector's richest worlds.

The marquis had a rather grand opinion of his own abilities and was believed to have substantially more money than sense. In an effort to establish new markets and ensure his legacy, Falon chose to sponsor the founding of a new colony world.

After substantial research and bidding to obtain the rights, the marquis received a writ of colonisation for a world designated "X-alpha 782." Preliminary reports indicated that the world had ideal gravity, climate, and natural resources for Human habitation.

The marquis renamed the world "Falon's Pride," and promptly committed a significant portion of his guild's resources to the colonisation effort. Initial efforts recruited a disproportionate number of members of noble families from the Jericho Sector.

Many younger sons and daughters were granted substantial farmstead rights to the world in exchange for an agreement to numerous standard years of service. So many of these overly generous grants were made, in fact, that settlement rights to more than 80% of the planet's habitable surface were made prior to any vessel actually travelling to the system.

When colonisation efforts began in earnest, the true extent of this folly became obvious. Even with his substantial fleet of vessels, the marquis was unable to provide necessary homesteading equipment to all of the colonists.

Upon arrival the greater error was soon apparent -- very few of the colonists had ever lived outside of a hive city. The majority of the new colonists were incapable of agricultural work or of successfully hunting any game animals.

By the end of the first winter, more than 90% of the colonists had died. The remaining 10% were desperate to escape from their contracts, but after investing so many resources into the initial effort, the Falon family lacked even the resources to retrieve the survivors.

In the end, House Falon collapsed and its members were sold into servitude. There were no known surviving colonists, and the residents of the sector renamed the world "Falon's Lament."

Collapse

While Falon's attempt ended in catastrophe for his family and his colonists, it was not the last attempt to colonise the world. Tales of the effort, along with its catastrophic ending, spread swiftly throughout the sector. So quickly, in fact, that many sought to follow up on it.

After all, in spite of the deaths and the miscalculations, most believed that there may have been significant resources left behind on the planet.

Interstellar travel is expensive. Hauling heavy equipment in addition to passengers and vital supplies make the total cost of an interstellar trip astronomically expensive.

The fact that the colony world had a waiting supply of agricultural equipment in place -- even if it was spread unevenly across the planet's surface -- made the world even more appealing.

Numerous groups attempted to settle the world, each giving it their own new name. As the Jericho Sector began its rapid spiral into collapse during the Age of Shadow, several groups of refugees even tried their hand at colonisation.

Ultimately, every single attempt ended in failure. For many, the lack of training was a substantial problem. For others, the amount and quality of the equipment that Falon had left behind led to disaster. In a few cases, groups that reportedly made landfall simply vanished without a trace.

Some legends indicate that psychic echoes of the first colonists -- or perhaps those of an ancient race long gone -- led to the destruction of these newcomers. Others stories continue to proclaim the overall incompetence of these desperate colonists as the ultimate reasons for their failure.

In any case, the world has remained Falon's Lament in Imperial records and in the sector's stories.

At Present

In 811.M41, a Deathwatch Dark Hunter passed through the system as part of a routine inspection. During the course of its scans, the drone vessel discovered that there were numerous Tyranid void-capable organisms in orbit around Falon's Lament. In keeping with standard orders, the voidcraft immediately made best time back to Watch Fortress Erioch.

Analysis of its recordings identified a hive ship, at least three cruiser-class organisms and too many Escort Drones to reach a consistent count. At this time, the world was unquestionably the target of a major Tyranid invasion.

Falon's Lament is far from any of the Achilus Crusade's frontlines. Even if the crusade were adequately supplied for its current objectives, it is improbable that the crusade could send resources to this distant world in time to make a difference.

The Deathwatch lacks the resources to repel a Tyranid invasion during its later stages, but concerted Space Marine efforts have successfully stopped Tyranid attacks in the past. As the time of initial attack and the success of the world's native defenders were unknown, a decision was made based upon the security of the Reach as a whole.

If a substantial Tyranid sub-fleet were allowed unlimited access to the resources of this world, it might later sweep into either the Acheros or Canis Salients. As part of an effort to prevent this, the Deathwatch dispatched three Kill-teams to the world in the hopes that they might be able to repel or at least delay the Tyranid invasion.

When they arrived, the Space Marines were stunned by their discoveries. Initial imagery from space showed that the world's surface had substantially changed.

Numerous large black stripes were visible that encircled the globe. There were few atmospheric signs of a successful Tyranid assault, even though it had been more than six solar months since the Dark Hunter's initial observations. Upon landing, the situation took an even more unusual turn.

Those black lines visible from space were, in fact, automated defensive systems. These were clearly of xenos origin, and had been effectively blunting the Tyranid assault.

The systems exhibited no reticence in regards to attacks upon the Space Marine forces, but the battle-brothers were able to exploit these systems in such a way that they managed to destroy the Tyranid hive ship. Since its destruction, the ongoing Tyranid assault has floundered.

Environment

By most Human standards, Falon's Lament is a beautiful and bounteous world. Its climate is largely temperate, its weather mild, and its growing seasons are much longer than its mild winters.

The planet's native fauna is largely non-threatening. Preliminary tests have also shown that few of the native plants are capable of effectively competing against terrestrial strains. This combination suggests that the world should be ideal for Human colonisation -- and also relatively easy prey for a Tyranid assault.

Of course, even these relatively mild conditions might seem overwhelming for those who are unfamiliar with life in an unforgiving environment. This factor certainly contributed to the collapse of several of the colonisation efforts. However, the planet's harsher seasons are exacerbated by the way that its water supply is organised.

There are no major oceans upon the world's surface and only a limited number of significant rivers. Most of the fresh water on Falon's Lament is concentrated along those rivers and their estuaries. These provide areas that are most fertile for agriculture.

However, those same regions naturally have some of the densest concentrations of native life. Before these regions can be properly settled, they must be thoroughly cleared. The portions of the planet's surface that are less congested with native life only have adequate access to water during the world's rainy seasons -- about half of its local year.

For the remainder of the year, there is no ground water and only limited access to well water. This dry period often begins abruptly and can be brutal to those who are not adequately prepared for it.

Because of this cyclic nature to the world's water supply, many of its native life forms are migratory. These include vast flocks of flying herbivores, as well as a few ground-based predator species that stalk the airborne prey as they feed. Perhaps the greatest threat among these is one known as the Stobrox.

It most resembles a 20 kilogram cat with extended ears and powerful hind limbs, which grant it a vertical leap of more than 3 metres. A few of the surviving colonial reports indicate that these specimens may attack Humans, but only when cornered.

Since 811.M41, two additional significant threats have factored into the world's ecology. When the Tyranid invasion began, the entire ecology of their xenos threats emerged. These included the broad range of hostile bioforms characteristic of Hive Fleet Dagon in addition to the structural elements including spore chimneys and capillary towers.

However, for reasons that remain unclear, none of these have been able to garner a consistent foothold. The massive structures that characterise a Tyranid attack are either absent or much smaller than normally observed.

Without these structures to breed new specimens, the vast majority of the attacking bioforms arrive via Mycetic Spore rather than breeding upon the surface. As the hive fleet has begun to deplete its resources, the ongoing invasion has faltered.

At the same time as the Tyranids launched their attacks, the world's hidden defences became active. Analysts suggest that these likely emerged from deep beneath the planet's crust. These devices -- clearly of xenos origin -- extend in linear fashion from pole to pole.

Massive weapons batteries have slowed the Tyranid assault and could be working to substantially restrict the incursion. Additional analyses have suggested that related subterranean structures might be responsible for the failure of the hive fleet's capillary towers and brood nests.

Based upon their structure, armament, and unexpected appearance, Deathwatch analysts believe that these defences are of Necron origin. However, there has been limited evidence to confirm this. There are no confirmed sightings of Necron Warriors or other more sophisticated specimens.

A few sightings have been recorded which are suggestive of Necron Scarabs. These reports are purely verbal but did come from respected Space Marines of the Deathwatch, so are likely accurate. If so, it is simply a matter of time before additional Necron forces appear.

Culture

Prior to the Tyranid attack, there were no known Human inhabitants upon Falon's Lament. Both the attackers and the newly revealed xenos defenders are extremely hostile to any Human habitation.

With the exception of the occasional Kill-team, it is highly improbable that there are any surviving Humans living upon the world's surface. Consequently, any discussion of the cultures upon this world must focus upon the xenos.

The Tyranid assault appears to have stalled at a relatively early stage of the invasion effort. The infestation has been largely incapable of establishing a solid foothold. There remains a relatively diverse spread of different bioforms.

However, these specimens are not present in the frequencies more typical of an established Tyranid invasion effort. For example, there are a disproportionately high number of the larger Tyranid specimens, including Carnifexes and Tyrannofexes, relative to the numbers of Termagants and Hormagaunts.

Analysts believe that this disparity is due to the limited number of brood nests and capillary towers upon the planet's surface. Those specimens that might normally be produced using the target world's biomass are dramatically reduced in frequency, while those introduced by Mycetic Spore as the invasion continues are still appearing.

This suggests that the hive fleet may have begun to deplete its available reserves of biomass -- or it could be a sign that this invasion effort is following an atypical pattern. Since these data were delivered to Magos Vatsoon of the Divisionis Biologis, he has repeatedly requested Kill-teams be deployed to the world to compile additional specific bits of data.

The recently revealed xenos defensive systems represent another threat, but the precise nature of this peril remains unclear. A previously unknown xenos civilisation active within the Jericho Reach represents a significant danger to the crusade's efforts.

If that force possesses technology sufficiently advanced to hamper a Tyranid incursion, the risk is even more substantial. Additional data regarding these systems must be compiled so that their origin, capabilities, and weaknesses can be identified.

Sources

  • Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 73-75
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