The Scourge Stars is a small, pestilential stellar empire comprised of three former Imperial star systems that fell to the control of the Plague God Nurgle in the Segmentum Ultima after the creation of the Great Rift during the 13th Black Crusade of 999.M41. They include the Noxias, Verminox and Rottgrave Systems, which all lie to the galactic north of Ultramar.
The Scourge Stars were born after the newly-formed Cicatrix Maledictum cracked open the galaxy after the fall of the Fortress World of Cadia to Abaddon the Despoiler, causing a tidal wave of unnatural aetheric energies to be spilled outwards into realspace.
The resultant Warp Storm activity caused all long-ranged, astrotelepathic communications and interstellar travel to become virtually impossible. This period came to be known as the Noctis Aeterna, "the Blackness." Throughout several Imperial star systems located in the southern reaches of the Ultima Segmentum, the seeds of Chaos corruption were sown, and a terrible new contamination spread, causing multiple worlds to fall as the Blackness descended.
These fallen systems collectively came to be known as the "Scourge Stars" -- a trio of sickly systems dominated by the servants of Nurgle. From this power base, the Death Guard Traitor Legion and Nurgle's daemonic plague legions sallied forth under the command of the Daemon Primarch Mortarion to launch the Plague Wars in an attempt to bring the Realm of Ultramar into the embrace of the Lord of Decay.
The plague forces located within the Scourge Stars are commanded by Nurgle's greatest servants: the Daemon Primarch Mortarion, the Herald of Nurgle Typhus and the Great Unclean Ones Ku'gath and Slurg Glottathrax. All of Nurgle's commanders were charged with the singular goal of adding the worlds of Ultramar to the Garden of Nurgle and brought havoc to Lord Commander Guilliman's domain for solar decades.
This forced Nurgle to withdraw his own forces from Ultramar as the Plague Wars ended in order to defend his new empire in realspace. However, determined to eliminate the Chaos threat to Ultramar, Imperial forces including Space Marine troops continue to assault and defend themselves within the territory of the Scourge Stars as well.
Cadia had stood for standard millennia as a bastion world, bearing the brunt of countless Chaos assaults as the daemonic forces attempted to reach Terra. Cadia, and the fortified worlds of its system, were for long centuries a redoubt that withstood every horror that issued from the Eye of Terror.
A titanic Warp rift tore across the galaxy, spreading from the Eye of Terror in the west to the Hadex Anomaly on the Eastern Fringe. To those on the Terran side of the rift, it is a tainted scar stretching across the sky. To those unfortunates on the far side, in the region now named the Imperium Nihilus, the "Dark Imperium," it was something much worse -- the very gates of Hell.
As the Blackness settled across great swathes of the Imperium, Chaos Cult activity and recidivist uprisings led to the daemonic infestation of several prosperous star systems to the galactic north of Ultramar. Where the seeds of corruption had been planted by the Plague That Walks, a new and terrible contamination spread.
The diseased dead rose to claim the living. Previously, the walking corpses could be destroyed, but now doing so only released hordes of Nurglings that writhed impossibly out of the withered flesh of the fallen.
Hive Worlds were toppled, and as the Blackness descended, there was no escape. In the horrific ruins, Cults of Corruption slithered out of hiding, summoning forth further aid from the Realm of Chaos itself.
Under the influence of the Daemon Primarch Mortarion, these worlds fell entirely into the Plague God Nurgle's grasp and become the Scourge Stars, a feculent fortress for the servants of the Plague Father within realspace.
It is from these suppurating staging posts that Mortarion launched the campaigns pf the Plague Wars into Ultramar. Now, wherever the sepsis cohorts of the Death Guard's 7th Plague Company strike, the Crawling Pustulance extends its reach into the Ultramarines' realm.
Fall of Daxar
When the Scourge Stars arose, Death Guard warbands, or vectoriums, launched strikes against nearby worlds, ensuring that no enemy was in a position to disrupt Mortarion's muster for the Ultramar invasion. On the planet of Daxar, the Apostles of Contagion met stiff resistance from an Astra Militarum force built around the 56th Cadian Heavy Infantry.
Though the Death Guard drove the Cadians back from the defences of Haldyon City before harrying them across the sulphur deserts beyond, at the mouth of Tarran's Pass the Imperial Guard dug in and resisted all conventional attacks.
Conscious that his enemies were mustering their reserves for a concerted counter-strike, and that the will remained upon Daxar to disrupt Mortarion's plans, the Death Guard Lord Thelugh Poxmaw commanded that a mighty summoning ritual be performed.
As dark clouds spiralled overhead and the moons crawled backwards in the sky, several hundred Beasts of Nurgle were conjured into being and sent gambolling towards the Imperial defence lines.
Dozens were blown apart by Cadian fire, dozens more hacked and blasted apart at close range, but the remaining Beasts ploughed on regardless, and the depleted Death Guard followed in their wake. With the barricades smashed, the pass ran red with Imperial blood, and Daxar fell to the Plague God soon after.
Rain of Filth
During the siege of Godorian -- a world unlucky enough to be within light years of the Scourge Stars -- squadrons of Plagueburst Crawlers lobbed their shells in high parabolas.
The diseased munitions slammed down on manufactorum stack-vents and spilled their filth in the Godorian labour furnaces to create giant, toxic plague censers.
The resultant smog clouds drove the Imperial defenders into the open, where they proved easy prey for the guns of the Death Guard.
WAAAGH! Badsmak overran a score of worlds to the galactic west of the Scourge Stars, forcing Mortarion to deploy numerous Death Guard vectoriums to counter its wrath. During the campaign's pivotal battle on Krug's World, Warlord Badsmak himself led a headlong charge against the outnumbered Death Guard.
The Death Guard Lord Fulgous the Bloated ordered an immediate advance into the teeth of the greenskin assault, calling down Plagueburst Crawler fire upon his own position. Weathering the pounding ordnance through a mixture of resilience and sorcery, the Death Guard drew the Orks into an explosive meat grinder.
Plaguespitters dissolved wave after wave of the enemy hordes. Noxious Blightbringers tolled their tocsins of misery again and again, driving the greenskin Weirdboyz insane and spreading despair through their ranks.
The first invaders to issue forth from the Scourge Stars were the Death Guard, led by their grim primarch, Mortarion. His meticulously planned seven-part campaign would bring untold ruination to all of Ultramar.
Virus bombardments preceded the Death Guard advance. Once-gloried hive cities became pits, and Agri-worlds became flyblown wastes. The attacks were slow but relentless, wearing down the Ultramarines and their famed Ultramar Auxilia Planetary Defence Forces. With communications severed and relief forces cut off by fresh Warp Storms, the defenders were hard-pressed in a hundred locations across Ultramar.
Then, Roboute Guilliman returned from his galaxy-spanning Indomitus Crusade. Tactically, Mortarion and his fellow commanders now found themselves evenly matched, their offensives blocked at every turn by the Ultramarines and their primarch's precise counterattacks.
A new stage of the war had begun. Across Ultramar, the Plague Wars escalated. Guilliman's brilliant counterattacks staved off defeat, allowing him to stabilise fronts across several star systems. The largest battles of the war, however, were still to come.
The March of Plagues
In attacking Ultramar, Mortarion was not alone. Two other commanders led massive armies out from the Scourge Stars, each seeking to win the contaminated glory of Nurgle's favour. Ku'gath Plaguefather, a favoured Great Unclean One, led the Daemon Bubonicus Legions into Ultramar.
All three were charged with the single goal of adding the worlds of Ultramar to the Chaos God's Garden in the Realm of Chaos and brought havoc to Lord Commander Guilliman's domain for many solar decades.
The Plague Fleet, meanwhile, destroyed three of the six massive star fortresses that stood sentinel over Ultramar's shipping lanes. Even with Guilliman's return, the attacks were too many and too widespread for the defenders to contain.
The timely arrival of the Ultramarines' Successor Chapters, however, along with reinforcements from several Forge Worlds, allowed the primarch to attempt to regain the initiative. Guilliman launched the Spear of Espandor counterattack, hoping to buy the forces of the Imperium more time.
However, the conflict ultimately ended when the forces of the Chaos Gods Tzeentch, Khorne and Slaanesh invaded the Scourge Stars to prevent the spread of the Plague God's power in the Materium; Nurgle was forced to order his own forces to withdraw from Ultramar in order to defend his new empire.
Mortarion reluctantly withdrew his Death Guard from Iax under the cover of a Virus Bomb assault.
War in the Rift
Ever jealous of one another in the pursuit of the Great Game, the Dark Gods began to war amongst themselves in realspace. The opening campaign saw Tzeentch and Khorne send daemonic legions to the Scourge Stars seeking to destroy Nurgle's growing foothold.
War spread as Nurgle recalled his lieutenants from Ultramar and counterattacked the realspace strongholds of his rivals. Slaanesh allied with all sides at different times, always furthering its own gains.
The greatest of Daemons met in grinding clashes of attrition at the titanic Battle of Vigrid, the fighting only ending when all agreed to Tzeentch's proposal to settle the war via a contest of champions.
- Noxias (Hive World)
- Krantos IV (Hive World)
- Illyan (Agri-World)
- Kabhar (Mining World)
- Olbhar (Feral World)
- Rottgrave (Hell-Forge/Former Forge World)
- Muscaei (Industrial World)
- Pestifria (Knight World)
- Vermioil (Shrine World)
- Foetid Hive (Naval Base)
At the current time, it is not known what worlds make up this third system of the Scourge Stars.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pg. 29
- Codex Heretic Astartes - Death Guard (8th Edition), pp. 19, 21, 48, 54
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (8th Edition), "War Zone: Ultramar - Deadlocked," "War in the Rift," pp. 49, 53, 134, 158, 167
- Warhammer Community - New Warhammer 40,000: War Zone Ultramar
- Warhammer 40,000: Core Book (9th Edition), pp. 137-138