Vraks Prime was a Departmento Munitorum Armoury World in the Vraks System of the Scarus Sector of the Segmentum Obscurus and the site of the Basilica of Saint Leonis the Blind, a saint of the Imperial Cult.
The Vraks System comprised four worlds, Vraks Prime, Vraks Secundus, Vraks Tertius and the large, gravitationally-trapped asteroid Uryx, of which only Vraks Prime had been settled by the Imperium.
The system was protected from astronomical anomalies like stray comets and unidentified voidcraft by the Kerak Sub-sector vigilance stations that were installed following the Bane of Antius Incursion of ca. 748.M38.
Located in the Segmentum Obscurus to the galactic northwest of the Eye of Terror, Vraks' importance lay in its strategic position as a part of the Imperium's defences against incursions by Chaos-aligned forces.
The planet formed part of a network of similar Armoury Worlds across the Segmentum Obscurus. Its location and facilities enabled it to quickly resupply Astra Militarum regiments committed to defend worlds close to the Eye of Terror, particularly in the Scarus Sector.
Vraks was besieged by the forces of the Imperium of Man in 813.M41, after the attempted assassination of the heretical and traitorous Apostate Cardinal-Astra Xaphan by the Officio Assassinorum failed.
The Astra Militarum's 88th Siege Army was raised from line regiments of the Death Korps of Krieg to undertake the siege of the world and bring the Renegade cardinal down in a campaign of attrition that the Administratum's adepts calculated would take 12 standard years to successfully conclude.
At the conclusion of what actually turned out to be a 17-year-long Imperial campaign of attrition called the Siege of Vraks that required 34 regiments of the Imperial Guard to retake the planet in 830.M41, 14 million Imperial Guardsmen had been lost and Vraks Prime's entire original population of 8 million souls had been consumed in the violence or exterminated after they fell to Chaos corruption.
Vraks was a barren and drab world, covered in a layer of old volcanic dust and pumice-like rock. It was first discovered and logged into Imperial records by Imperial forces during the Great Crusade at some point after the Age of Strife.
Later it was explored by an expedition led by Rogue Trader Van Meer of the Van Meer Household. A supply base was established on Vraks for stockpiling Imperial military materiel for future exploratory expeditions around the rim of the Eye of Terror.
Throughout its settled history, Vraks endured many raids, mainly from Renegades and pirates looking to loot military equipment from its vast stores. There were also several uprisings from among its indentured labour force, the most serious of which was suppressed by the Imperium in 4665.082.M39.
As the supply base grew in size the materiel stockpiles needed protecting, and thus Vraks' use as an Armoury World began in earnest. A fortress was built to protect the stockpiles from raiding pirates or xenos. A star port facility was constructed to allow easy access for freighters and transport vessels. This facility was eventually destroyed during the siege by the Dark Angels under Supreme Grand Master Azrael in 821.M41.
The Vraks star port was surrounded by an Imperial city of approximately 5 million workers. Smaller settlements were scattered across the Van Meersland Wastes. Over thousands of standard years, Vraks was transformed into a huge Imperial armoury. The spaceport was expanded to service the largest Imperial landing craft, capable of ferrying huge shipments of arms, armoured vehicles and munitions to bulk carriers waiting in orbit.
Situated in the centre of the Van Meersland Wastes, Vraks primary fortress, known as "the Citadel," was the control centre of Departmento Munitorum operations on Vraks. It was a large fortress, situated atop the core of a long-dead volcano. It contained the headquarters of the Planetary Defence Forces, the Master of the local Administratum's offices, extensive archives, the Cardinal's palace and the Citadel's own garrison barracks.
High security dungeons carved into the rock beneath the Citadel itself were sometimes used as a secure prison for Inquisitorial prisoners captured in the sector. Astropathic communications, the Adeptus Arbites precinct, as well as the control centre for the network of defence laser batteries were also sited there.
The Citadel of Vraks also included the Basilica of St. Leonis the Blind, built by Vraks' Cardinal-Astra in the 38th Millennium to attend to the faith of the millions of indentured workers interred on Vraks and consecrated with the bones of St. Leonis, an Adeptus Ministorum Missionary of the 38th Millennia who was martyred by Heretics in the Scarus Sector. Pilgrims and penitents visiting the Shrine of St. Leonis arrived by the thousands on Vraks Prime, and were attended to by the many priests based at the Basilica of St. Leonis and the attached Cardinal's palace.
Siege of Vraks
"When the maelstrom descends, Vraks shall overflow with blood and skulls, and even the dead shall find no peace. Millions shall be sacrificed in their names, and the true Gods will rejoice... I have seen it, for I am the messiah of the coming apocalypse."
- —Lord Xaphan, Apostate-Cardinal, Arch-Heretic and the Despot of Vraks
After Cardinal-Astra Borja of the Scarus Sector died in 804.M41 following 400 standard years of life greatly extended by the ministrations of the Adeptus Mechanicus' Magos Biologis, his successor, Cardinal-Astra Scarus Xaphan, took his place as the cardinal of the Scarus Sector.
Over the course of 5 Terran years, Xaphan undertook a pilgrimage across the Scarus Sector, his new domain. He wished to see the places he would preside over, and he wished to bring a spiritual revival to the people.
Where he and his entourage passed, he amassed ever more followers in a series of religious uprisings. Criminal governments and oppressive tyrannies were shattered with each world he travelled to.
Whispering into his ear was the cardinal's favoured advisor, Deacon Mamon, a secret devotee of Chaos, who pushed the cardinal into believing himself to be a sacred champion of the Emperor of Mankind, who would single-handedly reignite the faith of the people of the Imperium and lead them to new heights of righteousness.
After years of pilgrimage, during which he was increasingly received as a living saint by the people of his sector, Xaphan went into seclusion on the Imperial Armoury World of Vraks Prime in 809.M41, also the site of a popular Imperial Cult shrine of Saint Leonis the Blind, an Ecclesiarchy missionary who had been martyred in the 38th Millennium after having his eyes removed while spreading the word of the Imperial Creed across the less civilised worlds of the Scarus Sector.
A shrine had been built to contain the saint's remains and relics, as well as a palace for the cardinal-astra of the Scarus Sector should he ever choose to make a pilgrimage to the shrine.
Here, Xaphan chose his battlefield. As the cardinal had come to believe, through Deacon Mamon's careful encouragement, that corruption was eating away at the Imperium, he now saw himself as a messianic figure destined to ignite a holy war and give the faithful a chance to purge the galaxy of darkness.
Believing the cardinal to be amassing far too much popularity and power, an agent of the Officio Assassinorum was sent by the Ordo Hereticus of the Inquisition to assassinate Xaphan during one of his sermons.
After the failed attempt on his life by this operative, the Armoury World of Vraks erupted in full-scale rebellion against the Imperium. It wasn't long until the Citadel and the industry of the Armoury World were under Xaphan's full control.
By seceding Vraks from the Imperium, Imperial forces in the sector and, in some cases, the entire segmentum, would be left without adequate resupply of arms and armour.
By breaking the Imperial supply chain of which Vraks Prime was a part, forces as far removed and important as the Cadian regiments guarding the Eye of Terror would be sparsely armed, allowing a potentially major Chaos incursion or even a Black Crusade to erupt in or around the Cadian Gate.
The Administratum deemed that Vraks must be returned to the Imperium's fold. By the time word reached the Imperium of the rebellion on Vraks, it was already too late. Millions of Traitors and Heretics were now dug into meticulously planned, constructed, and reinforced defences, with massive orbital lasers protecting the world's Citadel from orbital bombardment and assault.
It fell on the Imperial Guardsmen of the Death Korps of Krieg, united under the umbrella of the Imperium's 88th Siege Army, to dislodge the traitorous forces of Cardinal Xaphan in what would become a grinding war of attrition that would consume millions of lives across 17 standard years of battle remembered as the Siege of Vraks.
Vraks is considered an old planet in geological terms for the Scarus Sector, with a stable surface. Little tectonic movement has been recorded in recent Terran millennia.
This geological stability, combined with some of the planet's bedrock being relatively easy to access and mine, made Vraks a good prospect for subterranean storage of volatile materials like munitions.
Sulphur-rich oceans cover 55% of the planet's surface and waterways cut deep trenches into the planet's crust. It was possible for violent electrical storms to form on short notice, bringing torrential downpours that turned the sulphurous soil into sticky mud as it drained away and unleashed flash floods. These storms were initiated by the effects of high sulphur content in evaporated water on the upper troposphere.
The Van Meersland Wastes were perhaps one of the most dominant geological features of the world. Extending across some five thousand barren square kilometres, outcrops of volcanic rock were the only noticeable terrain feature in the region.
The world had small northern and southern polar regions that were largely unexplored. Its mountains were rugged and highly eroded. Some exposed deposits of harder igneous rocks had been quarried for construction of Vraks' worker hab-blocks.
Vraks Prime's lowland regions were exposed to fierce storm erosion and criss-crossed by canyons and trenches. The Imperial population was concentrated within the lowland region around the Citadel and the Vraks star port in the Van Meersland Wastes.
The population's water supply was generally supplied by deep hydro-sinks driven into the soft crust of the planet to extract subterranean stored water. This was then filtered to remove the high sulphur content before being rationed to the general worker populace.
Additional water shipments were transported to Vraks Prime from the Ocean Worlds of Paeleos VIII and Gjar Alpha.
Flora and Fauna
Vraks Prime has no extant fauna. Some algae and single cell organisms were recorded in early Imperial surveys. These are all now considered extinct.
As an Administratum facility, Vraks Prime's society was organised with the same hierarchy as the broader Adeptus Administratum on Terra. Masters, prefects, adepts, ordinates, scribes, ciphers, curators, menial and subordinate workers ran the vast bureaucracy on Vraks.
The millions of Administratum Labour Corp indentured workers were guarded by Departmento Munitorum garrison troops. Vraks' also had its own Planetary Defence Force militia, organised from within the work force.
There was also a substantial Ogryn population amongst the Labour Corps and a transitory population of Imperial pilgrims that visited the shrine of St. Leonis, ranging from approximately 1 to 5 million. The exact figures were unknown.
Many different Astra Militarum regiments arrived for arming and equipping on the world before being transported to their next destination. Barracks were provided at the starport to house these transient Imperial troops.
The largest urban area on Vraks Prime was the sprawl of worker habitats, temporary storage facilities, hangers, repair facilities, barracks and administration buildings that had risen up around the landing areas of the star port.
Although still referred to simply as the star port, it was in fact a small Imperial city of some five million workers.
Other urbanised locations were the Labour Corps workers' habs scattered across the Van Meersland Wastes to house the labourers that constructed and maintained Vraks' network of storage bunkers, service roads and defences.
These hab-zones contained rudimentary barracks as housing for the labourers and their Departmento Munitorum guards.
- Imperial Armour Volume Five - The Siege of Vraks - Part One, pp. 6-13, 15
- Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three, pg. 86
- Imperial Armour - The Siege of Vraks (Second Edition), pp. 8-9