The Fires of Phaistos Osiris was a notable Imperial campaign conducted by the Salamanders Space Marine Chapter against a large invading Ork WAAAGH! on the Cardinal World of Phaistos Osiris, located in the northern Segmentum Ultima, to the galactic northeast of the Warp Rift known as the Storm of the Emperor's Wrath. Of all wars in which they have gained glory over the millennia, it is the actions of the Salamanders in defending this important Cardinal World from an Ork onslaught that have most often been held up as a shining example of the role of the Adeptus Astartes in the protection of the Imperium of Man. The story of this great battle has since been mythologised and praised time and again in tactical treatises and pulpit sermons alike. Phaistos Osiris had long been a rare beacon of human civilisation and power in the northern Segmentum Ultima. This important Cardinal World was and remains the capital of the Osiran Sector, and is both the location of the revered Basilica of Saint Thoth the Intercessor as well the sector's primary Schola Progenium facility. As such it was the lynchpin of the Imperium's spiritual and temporal control in this otherwise desolate region.
In 533.M39 a massive Ork WAAAGH! under the thrall of the Snakebites Warlord Rukrippa was on a collision course with Phaistos Osiris and threatened to drown the entire Osiran Sector in a savage darkness. When Rukrippa's trio of gigantic Deft-Hulks battered their way into the Osiris System after despoiling a score of scattered Imperial outposts and colony worlds, they found the full strength of the Salamanders Chapter waiting for them and they were not alone. Given advance warning by the Orks' grinding progress, the Chapter stood at the head of an army of disciplined troops raised from the students of the Imperial Schola and hundreds of thousands of volunteer pilgrim-militia whipped into a frenzy by the exhortations of the Basilica's clergy. All stood in defence of a world too important to be allowed to fall to the enemy, less the lives of billions be blighted for generations. Even so, the defenders of Osiris faced terrifying odds as Orks in their millions, backed by savage Squiggoth war-herds, descended in makeshift landing craft and "Krash-Kapsuls" from the Deft-Hulks in orbit on to the planet's sacred soil.
Leading the resistance, the Salamanders Chapter had devised a complex and subtle defence in depth which denied the planet's resources to the enemy. They employed a scorched earth policy; withdrawing from the planet's outer zones, which they had laced with multiple traps, extensive minefields and pre-planned ambushes to break up and whittle down the invasion force before they could mount a concerted assault. Those civilians that could not fight -- the old, the infirm and the young -- were sheltered in the many vaults of the great basilica complex and the Osiran temple cities' many holy sites, and with their kinfolk so protected at their backs, the will of the pilgrim militia to resist was all the greater. As the numberless Ork horde, already enraged that open battle had been so far denied them, broke against the walls of the temple-cities like a roaring, murderous green tide, the Salamanders seemed to be everywhere, striking down the foe with fire and fury, bolstering the defence wherever it faltered and matching inhuman brutality with unyielding strength. The wise and resolute Salamanders used the Orks' own homicidal rage and ill-discipline against them, goading them on and trapping them into the killing grounds of the Salamanders' choosing, targetting and destroying their leaders and slaughtering swathes of the enemy in the resulting confusion. With the first great assault resisted, not a single temple-city had so far fallen, although the price paid in lives by the defenders had been appallingly high. It was then that the second phase of the Salamanders' plan swung into operation.
From its position of concealment in the eclipse phase of the Osiran sun, the Salamander Chapter fleet, supported by Battlefleet Ultima attack squadrons, engaged Ruckrippa's Deff-Hulks in a shock assault. The gigantic Ork Hulks, unable to quickly manoeuvre to bring their weapons to bear on the attackers in close orbit were soon encircled by the fleet and pounded remorselessly with torpedo strikes and cannon fire. Even the fury of such weapons were unable to do more than scorch the surface of the Deft-Hulks such was their size and density, but under the cover of the bombardment chosen squads of Salamanders Firedrake Terminators conducted daring teleporter raids, planting seismic charges a kilometre-deep within the Hulks' innards. Torn apart from within by powerful atomic blasts, the Deft-Hulks slowly broke apart and began to disintegrate, millions of tons of metal and rock flying out into the void, secondary explosions ripping like lightning flashes through the debris.
Below on Phaistos Osiris, the skies were wracked with sudden storms and riven by fire-fall of wreckage raining down from the skies above. The Orks, belonging largely to the superstitious Snakebite Clan, grew increasing fractious at what might be an ill omen of Gork's (or possibly Mork's) disfavour at their failure to take the temple-cities and quickly fell to fighting amongst themselves. Rukrippa was forced to take the matter in hand, and brought together his army like a clenched fist and hammered it directly at Sanctis, the greatest of the temple cities and vowed before his chief Nobz and Weirdboy shaman to smash it down or die trying. Not even the city's fanatic defenders could hold back this onslaught as scores of gargantuan Squiggoths shattered the gates and pulverised their barricades. A wave of savage Orks spread like a river of blood into the sacred city sweeping all before them, killing as they went. It was not until the first wave of rampaging Cyboar Tuskas reached the very steps of the great basilica that the last of the Salamanders' traps were sprung and the city was set ablaze.
Thousands of gallons of Promethium poured from the city's many church gutters and gargoyles, pumped from prepared reservoirs deep from beneath the city and torched into flame as hab-blocks were blown apart by long-planted firebombs and incendiaries rained down from the great basilica's own defence guns. The city burned and the Orks burned with it. Their Squiggoths, driven mad by the sea of flame, rampaged out of control, trampling hundreds and destroying any order left in the Greenskin horde. As the burgeoning firestorm raged, shrines and walkways crumbled and the skies were filled with ash, the Salamanders launched their final counter-attack, now fighting on a hellish battlefield that was to the Chapter no more nor less than home ground. The Salamanders surged up from the catacombs and sanctuaries, their Melta and Flamer blasts adding to the conflagration. With them came suicide-squads of fanatical Redemptionists, their robes soon catching fire in the scalding air singing hymns as they died, blades and scourges flashing in their hands. The final killing blow came as the Firedrakes descended from the darkness above; the Salamanders' Thunderhawk and attack ram pilots trained in Nocturne's volcanic skies easily negotiated the burning debris to deliver the Veteran 1st Company to do battle in the hell below.
Rukrippa died at the chancel of the great Basilica. Some reports refer to a Salamanders Librarian wielding a sword of flame, while other tales claim the beast died by the hand of the fiery incarnation of Saint Thoth himself. Regardless of the truth, when he died his WAAAGH! died with him. In the weeks that followed, the scattered surviving Orks were purged from the face of the world, and high above, the wreckage from the destroyed Deft-Hulks settled into new debris rings girding the planet. Word of this great victory spread far and wide and soon the Fires of Phaistos Osiris entered legend throughout the Imperium, and although the temple-city of Sanctis was sacrificed to destroy the Orks, its great basilica endured, its once-white spires scorched a midnight black. In solemn gratitude for their intervention, a battle standard depicting the black silhouette of the Basilica of Saint Thoth wreathed in flame and woven from the sacred cloth of the Saint's death-shroud was presented to the Salamanders by the thankful cardinals and commanders of Phaistos Osiris. The banner remains an honoured relic of the Chapter to the present time.
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 76-78