"Why weep comrade? Is it the blood we wade in? The thunder of the guns perhaps? Or this sodden corpse-hole of a trench? Friend, be of good cheer, our saviour the Emperor has brought us to this fine world with its open skies and wide vistas, and as plentiful scavenging as I've ever seen, and all he asks is that we kill a few of those godless bastards yonder. Why, it is a fine thing, to be an Imperial Guardsman."
- —Trooper Morlok Drax, 3rd Volg Regiment
Renowned for many years as a corsair stronghold, this former Imperial planet and its oppressed population have long been enslaved to one warlord or another, with Khazant's orbital naval dockyards and plentiful resources its principal prize.
From the Achilus Crusade's outset, Khazant was always considered a primary target, and its initial conquest, and the driving of Heretic forces from the Khazant System in a year long campaign, was the last great victory of the crusade under Lord Militant Tiber Achilus' leadership.
The former overlords of Khazant were allowed to escape; a development that, in hindsight, would later have the darkest consequences for the crusade effort. Shortly afterwards, the newly-acclaimed Lord Militant Solomon Tetrarchus divided the crusade to form the three existing salients.
Raids by Heretic forces into Imperial-held territories in the Cellebos region began to increase dramatically, and the Acheros Salient, under Tetrarchus' direct command, found its main assault meeting massive, organised resistance head-on.
During this period, Khazant was temporarily cut off and overwhelmed, its garrisoning forces suffering near-total casualties before an Imperial counterattack could once again contest the system.
Since then, control of Khazant has swung back and forth numerous times, and its now-wrecked surface has become the principal battleground of the war in the salient. Its star system is now littered with the wrecks of voidcraft destroyed in action, and it has become the hunting ground of raiders from both sides.
These raids are punctuated by attempts from Heretic and Imperial alike to run the gauntlet of enemy blockades to land reinforcements on the surface.
On Khazant itself, crusade regiments are still doing battle daily against the forces of the Stigmartus Chaos Cult and their unholy allies on a dozen fronts across a no-man's land, which is now little more than a tangled morass of bunkers, trench works and reeking mud.
It is a war of endless artillery barrages, poison gas, grinding armour, and brutal hand-to-hand fighting that shows no sign of relenting.
Khazant was a Death World ravaged by perpetual war long before the coming of the Achilus Crusade. What scant historical records survived the onset of the ancient Jericho Sector's Age of Shadow indicate the hereditary nobility of Khazant began an irreversible slide into decadence shortly after the disappearance of Lord Sector Designate Masimat Helicos in a devastating Warp Storm in 416.M36.
Without a central Imperial authority to enforce order, Khazant's noble houses were free to give in to their ambitions. Political assassinations led to blood feuds. Blood feuds led to civil war. In less than a standard century Khazant was a planet-wide warzone.
Khazant's Ecclesiarchy, the last weakening pillar of Imperial authority, shattered under the weight of noble hubris, splitting into innumerable factions each loyal to a different bloodline. The Imperial Creed was perverted to serve the needs of the nobility, each warlord claiming themselves inheritors of the God-Emperor's divine authority.
In a few short generations the warlords were considered divine beings, supplanting the Master of Mankind as a focus for worship. By the advent of the Achilus Crusade, the God-Emperor was all but forgotten upon Khazant.
Millennia of war left Khazant a withered husk of a world: her mines abandoned, her fields barren, her people weak and broken. In the end, the victors were those few warlords who managed to secret away a modicum of Khazant's dwindling resources. The rest starved in their fortress keeps.
Faced with the realisation that Khazant could no longer support their ambitions, the remaining warlords banded together under an uneasy truce and turned their collective gaze outward. A fleet of voidships, their hulls long ago gutted to provide materials and technology for the planet's civil war, were hastily repaired.
Taking advantage of Khazant's position along the Araqiel Main Warp route, the warlords remade themselves into corsairs, raiding neighbouring systems and bringing new resources to their world.
By the time of the Achilus Crusade, Khazant was a world to be reckoned with. Made wealthy by centuries of plunder, her population reinvigorated by slaves captured from across the Reach, her orbital shipyards constructing powerful vessels of war, Khazant was a prize Lord Militant Tiber Achilus could not ignore.
The Lord Militant claimed the world in 782.M41 after a hard-won campaign. However, as Achilus moved to consolidate Imperial power in the region, the displaced warlords fled into the Charon Stars to lick their wounds.
Within five standard years, elements of the Khazantine warlord fleet returned, deploying the first regiments of the Stigmartus across the crusade front.
Taking advantage of the Lord Militant Achilus' untimely death, this highly organised Chaos Cult army broke the Imperium's hold upon several worlds. And so the Cellebos Warzone was born.
The Battle for Khazant
Khazant is considered the most important planet in the Cellebos Warzone and is currently the most desired prize in all the Acheros Salient.
It can, perhaps, even be considered the most significant strategic location in the Jericho Reach as a whole, if loss of life is any measure, for more Imperial forces have died fighting on this planet than anywhere else within the Reach.
The surface of Khazant is a pocked and pitted landscape, lined with trenches and covered with Imperial crenellations and Stigmartus battlements.
The heaviest fighting occurs at the various landing points and staging areas -- these are the strategic areas in Khazant that change hands most frequently. Often a battle will be joined as soon as a group of reinforcements arrives, with troops heading directly out of their landers to defend an already besieged spaceport from being overrun by the enemy.
There is a pitched and near-constant naval engagement in orbit above Khazant. The inner periphery of the planet's orbit is covered with the detritus of a thousand space battles, with the still-burning remnants of cracked and broken Imperial frigates floating through the thousandfold wreckages of old Stigmartus vessels.
In this way, the fighting above Khazant is a grim reflection of that below it, with warship formations engaging in brutal and costly battles before receding to their side's zone of control.
Blockade running is common and necessary, as both sides must desperately penetrate the other's area of influence to get troops to where they are needed most, the influx of which is, as often as not, the difference between life and death for the beleaguered combatants on the ground.
When a section of the sky above is controlled by the enemy, a regiment on the surface can expect orbital bombardment and a fight against fresh troops. When it is controlled by their allies, they can expect the new reinforcements they so desperately need.
Every major faction of the Imperium is present on Khazant: numerous Imperial Guardsmen sporting an array of regimental colours and dying by the scores, the striking Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes making spearheads deep into enemy lines, ramparts and turret defences hastily constructed by the magi of the Adeptus Mechanicus and their Skitarii bodyguards, and brave Sisters of Battle fighting with ferocity and zeal.
Likewise the allied forces of Chaos all have a presence on the world: countless Stigmartus rank-and-file Chaos Cultists charging headlong into lasrifle lines, Chaos Space Marines tearing through Astra Militarum regiments until blunted by their Loyalist opposites, disgusting, slavering mutants doing battle with shining Adepta Sororitas.
Whole waves of combat, seemingly stretching from horizon line to horizon line, the rocketing explosions of artillery and orbital bombardment punctuating the fighting multitudes, with tactics and formations shifting like ocean tides until each unit meets its counterpart, and the occasional flare in the darkened skies -- a not-so-gentle reminder that another vessel has met its fate in the void.
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 347
- Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (RPG), pp. 69-70
- Deathwatch: The Jericho Reach (RPG), pp. 39-40