The Pale Wasting was an obscure conflict fought between the Imperium of Man and a mysterious threat arising from the Ghoul Stars in the Segmentum Ultima, which took place at some point during the late 34th Millennium.
During the dark and terrible times known to later historians as the Nova Terra Interregnum, when the Imperium fractured into warrior factions, there exist in what records remain scattered and veiled references to a great threat arising from the Ghoul Stars known as the "Pale Wasting."
Inquisitorial investigation has discovered that much of the extant evidence relating to this threat has been censored or purposely destroyed, but there are contradictory indications which describe the nature of the threat as both a "Star-spawned plague" that swept away scores of worlds and as "Nightmare engines" slaughtering whole sectors.
The only evidence for the Novamarines meeting this threat is an ancient stelae relating to this conflict in the Imperial Palace itself. This artefact praises the Chapter most highly and records them compellingly as having "By their mortal sacrifice and unmatched valour unmade that which cannot die and so preserved the most holy realm of Mankind."
The inscription goes on to name eleven other Chapters who were lost in the final battles of what must have been a truly apocalyptic struggle.
The Novamarines' own chronicles are curiously empty of any reference to the conflict, which makes one of their earliest recorded great battle honours remain one of the most shadowed and mysterious, and it is quite possible that this ancient threat may also account for the unusually large number of formerly human-inhabited Dead Worlds in the region.
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 26
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War, Part One, pg. 118