"And furthermore it is our conclusion that such a machine therefore does not exist and any personnel claiming to have seen it are deluded. It has been proven to a high degree of probability that the destruction of Kharlos II is wholly the result of coincidental seismic activity."
- — From the conclusions of the preliminary report on the destruction of Kharlos II by the Imperial Commissar for Mortal Truth
The Planet Killer, called the Krukal'Righ in the Cthonic tongue of the Black Legion, is a massive stellar vessel that served as Abaddon the Despoiler's flagship during his 12th Black Crusade, otherwise known as the Gothic War, from 139.M41 to 160.M41. Built around a central directed energy cannon of immeasurable magnitude and unknown type, the aptly named Planet Killer was able to destroy entire worlds with its powerful main weapon, which was known as the "Armageddon Gun." It was supposedly destroyed in 154.M41 by the Imperial Navy's Omega Squadron, freshly arrived from outside the Gothic Sector, but its ultimate destruction could not be confirmed. In truth, it had survived, and its return to Imperial space would herald the start of Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade, the greatest and most successful Chaos incursion into Imperial space since the Horus Heresy.
The origins of the massive Chaos vessel known as the Planet Killer are a mystery to Imperial Navy authorities. It bears no resemblance to any known Imperial starship design and is assumed to have been constructed by Abaddon's forces, just prior to the start of the Gothic War. In truth, soon after the conclusion of the 10th Black Crusade in the early 39th Millennium, Abaddon discovered deep within the Eye of Terror an ancient shipyard drifting through the Warp. Amongst its rusting gantries and crumbling manufactorum towers, the Warmaster of Chaos discovered a half-constructed vessel, vast in scale and terrible in its design. His Warpsmiths examined the ship, marvelling at its dark majesty, and promised that, when it was completed, it would be the doom of worlds -- a Planet Killer.
Many amongst the Tech-priests of the Machine God correctly attest that the Planet Killer could only have been fabricated within the Eye of Terror, so blasphemous to all the laws of nature is its construction. This formidable vessel was built around a central directed energy cannon, aptly named the "Armageddon Gun," a monstrous weapon capable of directing a focused blast of what is hypothesised to be the very stuff of the Warp. This weapon is capable of bringing about the destruction of worlds, for its blast is powerful enough to bore through the crust of any planet, causing catastrophic instability within the core and literally ripping it apart. It is also studded with numerous long-range Lances, weapons batteries, and torpedo launchers. Well-armoured and protected by a plethora of Void Shield generators, the Planet Killer's only weakness seems to be its ponderous speed.
In 978.M40, Abaddon overthrew Lord Teknos of the Dark Mechanicus Forge World of Raji IV. The Hereteks of that world swore allegiance to the Despoiler and returned with him to the Eye of Terror. By 982.M40 the Renegade Tech-priests began construction of a massive stellar vessel within the Eye, using data recovered by Abaddon's forces from the Halo world of Lanamorgstein. By 139.M41, the construction of the Planet Killer was completed and a massive effort began to find enough crewmen amongst the Forces of Chaos to man it. Abaddon's advisor, Zaraphiston, bound several daemons into the huge vessel, greatly reducing the manpower needed to run it. As Warp Storms began to engulf the Gothic Sector, Abaddon commanded his subservient Warmasters to attack, thus heralding his 12th Black Crusade into the realms of the Imperium.
The Gothic War
Abaddon entered the Gothic Sector in 143.M41, using the mysterious Chaos artefact known as the Hand of Darkness to capture the Blackstone Fortress at Rebo V. He then made a rendezvous with the Planet Killer and took it as his flagship. His first target was the world of Savaven, populated by members of the Ecclesiarchy. Cardinal Klein ordered the world's Imperial Commander to refuse Abaddon's demand for unconditional surrender. The Despoiler used Savaven as a trial for the Planet Killer's Armageddon Gun, destroying the planet in less than an hour and killing fourteen billion souls. One standard year later, the Planet Killer arrived at Saviour, a highly populated star system in the Lysades Sub-sector. After revealing the existence of the Planet Killer, Abaddon demanded that Saviour's orbital docks begin producing warships for his Chaos fleet. The commander of Saviour had little choice but to agree in order to save the lives of eleven billion people.
With the threat of Abaddon's Planet Killer looming over them, many Imperial worlds chose to surrender without a fight. Multiple Sub-sectors fell out of Imperial control and with them a number of shipyards and orbital docks. As the Imperium faced increasing difficulties in repairing its own vessels, building new ones became ever more unlikely. With its critical early strikes, Chaos might well have won the war before it had even started. Abbadon took the Planet Killer to Fularis, where the Blackstone Fortress I orbited the world of Fularis II. At first the Imperials were optimistic as Abaddon's fleet had attacked from the other side of Fularis II, which meant that they would have to dare the orbital and planetary defence systems of that world to reach Blackstone I. The Imperial forces had recently upgraded their weapons at Fularis II for just such an occurrence and they doubted that even with two Blackstone Fortresses in his possession the Despoiler would survive their assault. But Borgia's early optimism was to be cruelly shattered as once again, Abaddon rendered the Imperial Navy's defences woefully ineffective. The two Blackstones took up station some seventy-five thousand leagues from Fularis II and just out of range of the world's weapons platforms, except for the torpedo launchers. An energy surge was soon picked up between the two Fortresses. Other recovered evidence pointed towards an energy beam being unleashed towards Fularis II. The Vindictive was caught full-on, her shields overloaded instantly and her outer hull vaporised as the energy wave passed over the ship. Fularis II was later found with its atmosphere stripped off and the surface scoured to a rocky plain. Of Blackstone I, there was no sign.
In 146.M41, the Planet Killer was spotted moving towards the Imperial world of Stranivar in Bhein Morr. Stranivar has been blockaded for two years, but still refused to surrender. Communications were lost with Stranivar and when an investigating fleet arrived to determine the planet's fate they discovered much to their horror that much of the Hive World had been devastated by meteors created by the destruction of all three of its moons. One year later, in 147.M41, an Imperial flotilla encountered the Planet Killer as it left Warpspace and was entering the Corain System. They attacked immediately before the rest of Abaddon's warfleet could arrive. After causing considerable damage, the Imperial fleet was driven off by the Planet Killer's immense arsenal. Abaddon's forces invaded Corain VI and took over its strategically important trikali crystal mines. Loyalist guerrilla fighters reported that considerable amounts of trikali crystal were shipped into orbit, where the Planet Killer was stationed. Trikali crystal is mainly used in the anti-magnetic containment fields of Warp generators and plasma reactors.
Abaddon invaded the Drakulu System in 148.M41 and enslaved the two million inhabitants of the star system's main planet, an Agri-World. It is widely believed that many of these slaves ended up as ritual sacrifices for Zaraphiston's fell magics, the remainder being forced into service as crews on the Planet Killer and other Chaotic vessels. By 150.M41, Zaraphison predicted that the Warp Storms affecting the Gothic Sector would end soon. Abaddon quickly moved his fleet out of the Drakulu System and met with the Blackstone Fortresses under his control. At this time, news reached Abaddon of Imperial reinforcements gathering in the Tamahl Sector, ready to counter-attack into the Gothic Sector through the Tarantis Warp Jump point. Abaddon sent the Blackstone Fortresses to destroy the Tarantis star and thereby prevent his enemies from using the jump point, while he took the Planet Killer to the neighbouring Boetia System. Using the power of the Planet Killer, Abaddon eradicated the Adeptus Astra Telepathica facility in Boetia's asteroid belt, cutting off the navigational beacon that would have helped any Imperial warships daring to jump through the Warp Storms into the besieged Gothic Sector.
Battle of Gethsemane
Abaddon left the Planet Killer under the command of his subsidiary Warmaster Malefica Arkham and travelled with the Blackstone Fortresses under his control to the Schindlegeist System to attack Blackstone V in 151.M41. The Planet Killer was despatched to attack Arimaspia as a diversion.
With a formidable fleet composed of 17 capital ships (including 2 Battleships and 2 Battlecruisers) and 20 Escorts under his command, the Imperial Navy's Lord-Admiral Cornelius Ravensburg, the commander of Battlefleet Gothic, pursued the enemy fleet into the Gethsemane region. Realising their plight, the Chaos forces attempted to head out-system again to try to get far enough from Gethsemane's star to attempt a Warp jump. Ravensburg detached the fastest vessels in his fleet to pursue and a week-long sternchase ensued. The action that resulted was recorded by Captain Blythe of the Guardian.
As the Imperial vessels followed the fleeing Chaos fleet, signals came in warning of another enemy fleet on a closing course. The Imperial starships had been lured into a cunning trap. Bolstered by a further 12 warships, the Chaos fleet turned on the Imperial vessels and it was all they could do to evade the bulk of the enemy. Even in doing so, they lost 3 Destroyers and 4 Frigates in a series of small skirmishes. The enemy losses totalled at least 5 Escorts and maybe as many as 10 or more. With all of the massive warships remaining with Lord Ravensburg's command, there was little else the Imperial vessels could do but run. Blythe and his battlegroup headed back towards the vicinity of Ravensburg's main fleet, but even with his other capital ship, the Imperial forces were still outgunned to a serious degree.
For three days the two fleets circled and dodged each other through the system, neither fleet commander prepared to commit the bulk of their ships against an enemy whose exact position was unknown. Three weeks after arriving in-system, Ravensburg's fleet and the Chaos armada clashed. Six Firestorm-class Frigates located the Chaos warfleet near Gethsemane II, using the cover of several dust clouds to avoid being detected themselves. Seizing the opportunity, the Lord Admiral moved his whole fleet in to attack. Ravensburg's Cobra-class Destroyers launched several torpedo salvoes at extreme range. Although they had little hope of inflicting damage, the torpedo attacks forced the Chaotic warships to alter their heading so that they were moving towards the Imperium's capital ships. Forced into a head-on clash with the Imperial fleet, the Chaos vessels came off poorly in the initial exchange of fire.
Salvoes of Imperial torpedoes screamed into the Chaos fleet. Some were evaded, others hit home with the blossom of explosions. The Imperial Escorts carefully kept the enemy herded in a compact mass as the other Imperial warships passed through their lines. When Lord Ravensburg gave the order, the Imperial capital ships poured a continuous fusillade into the Archenemy's ships. The stars were thick with the enemy, and the Imperials could not miss at such short range. The Imperial fleet tore through their adversaries, crippling 4 capital ships and destroying 11 Escorts in the initial pass. Rather than turning to fight, the Chaos Warmaster ordered his fleet to continue on their course in a bid to escape. As the faster Renegade vessels accelerated away from Ravensburg's pursuit, it looked as if the Chaos warfleet would once again escape justice.
Even as the enemy drew away, more drama occurred, as recorded by Captain Drew of the Fortitude. The Chaotic fleet was suddenly attacked without warning as Eldar warships appeared in front of the Chaos vessels as if from nowhere. Even as the Imperial fleet attempted to haul onto a new heading, their dread became ecstatic happiness as the Eldar attacked the enemy.
Caught between the attacking Eldar and Ravensburg's fleet, the Chaos warships were annihilated, although a dozen more of the Emperor's vessels were crippled or destroyed before the victory was finally claimed. Why the Eldar decided to lend their weight to the Imperial cause was never discovered, though it is a common belief that they had finally heard of Abaddon's capture of the Blackstone Fortresses and had seen an alliance with the Mon-keigh as their only chance for survival.
By the end of 151.M41, Abaddon had been defeated at Schindlegeist, but the Planet Killer succeeded in destroying two of the five planets that make up the Arimaspia System.
With Abaddon's fleet gone, the attention of the Imperial Navy was turned on the other Chaos fleets. The Warp Storms had decreased to almost their normal level and scores of ships poured into the Gothic Sector. Many of the Chaos Warmasters followed Abaddon and fled back to the Eye of Terror, to nurse their hatred and bitterness until another opportunity to attack came. However, the fight was never truly finished, for there are worlds within the Graildark Nebula that still await the Emperor's fleets to free them. There are scattered Chaos warships and even two or three Chaos fleets that still roam the darkness between the stars of the Hammerhead Deeps and the Cyclops Cluster, waiting for their chance to strike again.
Battle of Kharlos II
By 154.M41, Malefica Arkham, having been abandoned by Abaddon, attempted to use the Planet Killer to carve out an empire of his own in the Gothic Sector. The world of Gonnacrash in the Quinrox Sound swore sovereignty to his rule, but, as he moved the Planet Killer to Kharlos II, Arkham was discovered by the Imperial Navy's Omega Squadron, freshly arrived from outside the Gothic Sector. With no vessels to support him, Arkham still decided to attack, but the Planet Killer was eventually destroyed by salvo after salvo of continuous torpedo fire from the four Lunar-class Cruisers. Two standard years later, an Imperial expedition was launched by Inquisitor Horst to recover the hulk of the Planet Killer for study by the Adeptus Mechanicus. No trace of it could be found, and there were worrying rumours of a Black Legion vessel being sighted in the vicinity. The ultimate destruction of the Planet Killer could not be confirmed, yet in the years after the Gothic War there were no confirmed sightings of it.
The 13th Black Crusade
As the end of the 41st Millennium drew closer, the dire portents indicated that Abaddon's long-feared 13th Black Crusade was imminent, as a pattern emerged in the Chaotic attacks launched into Imperial space in the sectors surrounding the Eye of Terror in 999.M41. Deep within the anarchy of this hell-region of the Immaterium, ancient feuds had been set aside in the face of Abaddon's leadership as the Warmaster of Chaos. Bitter hatreds were quelled and even Traitor Legions with a deep-seated hatred for one another shared an uneasy peace so that they might launch the greatest coordinated assault upon the Imperium in the Long War since the time of Horus. Binding oaths and debts had been called to account and a force, the likes of which had not been seen since the Horus Heresy, had been assembled, ready to strike the Imperium like a thunderbolt.
As part of their constant vigil around the Eye of Terror, highly trained units of Cadian Kasrkin were pushed into the swirling maelstrom, desperate to find some indication of where the first blow would land. Astropathic divination pointed towards the blighted world of Urthwart, a world already taken by Chaos, its population enslaved and sacrificed to the Dark Gods. Finding nothing alive on Urthwart, merely death and hideous Plague Zombies infected with the Curse of Unbelief, the Kasrkin prepared to withdraw. Suddenly, a frantic Vox communication from their ships in orbit reported numerous vessels advancing on Urthwart from the Eye of Terror. The Kasrkin attempted to fall back to their dropships to return to their troop carriers, but it was already too late. The Imperial ships in orbit were either crippled or were forced to disengage and make speed for Cadia. There was to be no escape for the Kasrkin who were stranded on Urthwart as a massive vessel, larger than the most gargantuan capital ship of the Imperium, approached the doomed world: the Planet Killer. Few were aware of the existence of this monstrous ship, for it had been thought lost at the Battle of Kharlos II, during the Gothic War centuries earlier. Oblivious to their fate, the stranded Cadians could do nothing as the incomprehensible power of the Planet Killer was unleashed in a devastating lance of energy that annihilated the blighted world they were trapped upon into spinning pieces of molten rock. As Urthwart died, collapsing in on itself, a Chaos warfleet composed of hundreds of warships and hulking troop transports surged from the depths of the Eye of Terror, heralding the beginning of Abaddon the Despoiler's fearful 13th Black Crusade.
Imperial naval experts began plotting worlds likely to be chosen as targets for the vessel's attentions. Intelligence gathered during the Gothic War indicated that the Planet Killer was a ponderous vessel, and its Armageddon Gun took a great deal of time to power up and exert its effect upon a world once it was functional. The vessel was likely to be accompanied by a large fleet, which would be employed to subdue and distract the Imperium's own naval forces until the Planet Killer could unleash its main weapon. All available Imperial naval assets had therefore been tasked with locating such a flotilla, and system defence pickets were put on high alert for any signs a large Chaos fleet approaching one of their worlds.
The skies above the worlds of the Imperium turned black with innumerable drop craft as the dread Forces of Chaos began their invasion. The Planet Killer itself, Abaddon’s flagship, drifted ever closer to the Cadian System. Terrible, mighty Chaos Space Marines trod the surface of worlds they have not set foot upon for ten millennia and their hatred and thirst for vengeance truly knew no bounds. The Imperial Navy, for long weeks forced to fight a desperate holding action against the seemingly endless waves of Chaos vessels, was eventually reinforced. A fleet the size of which has not been seen since the end of the Gothic War eight standard centuries earlier had been dispatched from Cypra Mundi, and staged itself at Belis Corona in preparation for a massive counter-push into the Cadian Gate. The arrival of this vast armada allowed those Imperial vessels that had been fighting continuously since the beginning of the invasion a brief respite. Severely depleted ship’s companies were bolstered through indiscriminate press-ganging, and hasty repairs and refits were undertaken on those vessels most in need of them.
The Imperial reinforcements were split into battlegroups, each tasked with bolstering the defences in a specific sector. The regions around the Eye of Terror encompass many millions of cubic light years, and only by the concentrated application of resources in those areas in most desperate need could the Imperial Navy hope to make inroads and slow, stall, and eventually repel the Chaos warfleets plaguing the region. During the latter stages of the campaign, when Abaddon's fleet was seen approaching the Agri-World of Lortox, the Ultramarines Honour Company -- a specialised company of Ultramarines that had been stationed at the Cadian Gate for many millennia, rotating officers and warriors from Ultramarines companies elsewhere and also drawing from the Ultramarines' Successor Chapters -- distinguished itself with a bold, space-borne counter-assault against Abaddon's fleet as the Planet Killer closed with that Imperial world on the outskirts of the Agripinaa Sector. The action bought Lortox's Planetary Defence Forces time to evacuate a significant proportion of the population before the world was destroyed by the Despoiler's horrific weapon of planetary destruction. The Ultramarines Honour Company managed to succeed in crippling the Planet Killer, but it still had enough power to limp away. In the aftermath of the Lortox Evacuations, the Honour Company redeployed to Cadia and the surrounding star systems, launching a series of operations to hinder Abaddon's forces as they assaulted the Imperial positions. These attacks included a series of highly successful boarding actions against the lumbering Space Hulks being used to transport vast hordes of enemy troops to reinforce the Despoiler's siege of Cadia.
It was a fool's dream to hope the Planet Killer could be found before it was brought to bear upon the Imperial forces. Without warning, it appeared in orbit over the world of Macharia. Though many could scarcely believe it, the world was destroyed by the massive vessel. It was lost, and with it millions of loyal and faithful subjects of the Emperor, dead at the hands of the Despoiler and his despicable weapon. Utter dread now descended upon the Imperial High Command. Despite the successes of the early weeks of the invasion, many had come to believe that this war might not be won in the short term. Where at first the Imperial forces fought to repulse the Despoiler, to deny him footholds upon their worlds, they now fought to keep him from overwhelming them entirely. This was a grim paradigm, and one the Imperial forces were not ready to accept. They believed Abaddon dare not destroy Cadia, as its Pylons were reckoned intrinsic to the continued stability of the Cadian Gate. So the Imperium would stand and hold there, no matter the cost.
At the height of the final Chaotic assault on Cadia, a massive orbital battle took place between the Imperium and its Eldar allies and the Forces of Chaos. The Imperium was still attempting to piece together the details of the battle, but the records currently remain so confused and incomplete that it may never be possible to learn the true details of what occurred. But during this final battle, the Planet Killer once again disappeared, and it is assumed to have made a hasty retreat towards the Eye of Terror, where it once again waits patiently until another opportunity to strike against the realm of the Corpse Emperor presents itself.
Built around a central energy cannon of immeasurable magnitude, the Planet Killer is also studded with numerous long range Lances, weapons batteries and torpedo launchers. Well armoured and protected by a plethora of Void Shield generators, the ship's only weakness seemed to be its ponderous speed. It was this lack of acceleration which seemed to pave the way to its defeat, as it was seemingly destroyed by salvo after salvo of torpedoes, fired at extreme range by the Lunar-class Cruisers of Battle Group Omega, shortly after the destruction of Kharlos II. All technical details that are known or can be deduced from close range observation of the Chaos vessel known as the Planet Killer are listed below:
- Armageddon Gun Projection Barrels - These elements are unique to this vessel. Imperial analysts are no closer to understanding the manner of their operation. That they are capable of focusing and projecting an energy beam of immense power is beyond doubt. However, the type of energy involved and exactly where it is generated remains a mystery. The reason for the larger size of the central barrel is equally shrouded in uncertainty. Many hypotheses have been put forward but none bear up to close scrutiny or sustained logic.
- Unidentified Central Structure - Postulated functions include tertiary Warp-core phasing accelerator or some kind of "charging-coil" for the vessel's primary weapon system. Certainly no identifiable system on this vessel is capable of generating the phenomenal levels of energy which the vessel's primary weapon must require.
- Execration Pattern Tri-diotic Laser Array - This weapon system has been in continuous use since the mid-23rd Millennium, although it is currently classified Perdita by Imperial Naval Commissioners.
- Torpedo Tubes - Unusually configured to allow a wider arc of launch than is standard on Imperial vessels. These are capable of launching a torpedo spread commensurate with the massive size of the vessel.
- Macro-Projectile Weapon Systems - Massive calibre weapons capable of firing a large round to an extreme range. Other than their unusual size, these are of similar pattern to those observed on other Renegade vessels.
- Unidentified Structure - Located aft of the vessel is possibly an extra-spatial sensor device of sorts. Some have hypothesised that these are simply communications and/or sensor arrays, in which case their configuration is such that interference from the Warp core would make them all but useless.
- Ventral Stabilisation and Trans-Etheric Relay - A common structure seen on many Renegade vessels and older patterns of Imperial shipping. The size of these is inconsistent with the estimated mass of the vessel, so it is possible that other systems are also incorporated into these structures.
Regarding external dimensions, unfortunately no reliable assay has been made of the vessel's size, but it is without doubt significantly larger than the Imperial Navy's own Battleship class vessels. Captain Vinrex of the Felicitas estimated the Planet Killer 's gross displacement as being in excess of 400 million tonnes. According to a designer of Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, the Planet Killer is approximately 6 miles long (or 10 kilometres). But scaling the Planet Killer to the size of the other voidships in the Battlefleet Gothic: Armada PC game means that it comes to an actual length of around 8.4 miles or 13.5 kilometres.
- Battlefleet Gothic 2002 Annual, pp. 83-89
- Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, pp. 36-37, 42
- Battlefleet Gothic Rulebook (Blue Book), pp. 92-10
- Battlefleet Gothic: Armada (PC Game)
- Codex Heretic Astartes - Chaos Space Marines (8th Edition), pg. 24, "The Daemonic Shipyard"
- Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition), pp. 7, 13
- The 13th Black Crusade (Sourcebook) by Andy Hoare, pp. 30, 33, 37, 48, 51, 65, 72, 79-80, 87
- White Dwarf 238 (US), "The Slayer of Worlds: History of the Origins and Activities of the Planet Killer" by Gav Thorpe, pp. 103-109
- Execution Hour (Novel) by Gordon Rennie
- Shadow Point (Novel) by Gordon Rennie
- The Talon of Horus (Novel) by Aaron-Dembski-Bowden, pg. 74