WAAAGH! Grimtoof is the Ork WAAAGH! under the control of the Ork Warlord Ghenghiz Grimtoof which slammed into the Periphery Sub-sector of the Segmentum Obscurus' Calixis Sector in 814.M41. The massive Ork assault forced the Sub-sector Governor Duke Severus XIII to request aid from the Sector Governor Marius Hax, who mobilised the Calixis Sector's military reserves to meet the Greenskin invasion. Even as the forces of the Imperial Guard poured into what the Departmento Munitorum soon designated as the Spinward Front, Severus XIII used the chaos caused by the invasion to secede from the Imperium, creating the independent pocket empire in the Periphery known as the Severan Dominate. At present, a three-way war is underway in the Spinward Front between the forces of the Imperium, the Severan Dominate and the Ork WAAAGH!
Tale of House Severan
Almost two thousand standard years ago in the mid-39th Millennium, the Calixis Sector was hewn from the xenos-haunted depths of the unexplored region of the Segmentum Obscurus once known as the Calyx Expanse by the blood, sweat, and tears of the countless thousands of Imperial martyrs who prosecuted the Angevin Crusade. The endeavour was a mighty one and only made possible by the combined efforts of numerous arms of the Imperium’s military machine. Hundreds of regiments of the Imperial Guard fought across worlds boiling with xenos corruption, millions-strong advances spearheaded by the elite Adeptus Astartes. The skies were darkened by the massed fighter wings of the Imperial Navy while warships as numerous as the stars themselves burned across the void. The war machines of the Adeptus Titanicus bestrode the battlefields like armoured gods while the private armies of the most ambitious of Rogue Trader houses fought in the hope of one day ruling those worlds wrested from the dead grip of nameless xenos fiends. It was one of these militant Rogue Trader princes that led some of the boldest thrusts into the region, so deep into the Calyx Expanse that he all but broke through into the Wilderness Zones beyond. That man was Duke Severus I, the bearer of a Warrant of Trade granted to his line by the High Lords of Terra themselves. Yet, his name is all but unknown in the Calixis Sector, while those of lesser men are celebrated across a hundred systems and more.
The deeds of Severus I and his companions were so heroic that they should be known and celebrated across not just the Calixis Sector, but the entire Imperium. It was Duke Severus who unlocked the Markayn Marches Sub-sector by plasma-boiling the hideous xenos spawning seas of Cantus Extremis, breaking a deadlock that had stalled the advance of three million Imperial troops. It was Severus who discovered and charted the Warp route between Dreah and Iocanthos, when the fleet-masters of the Imperial Navy were convinced the path spinward must surely lie between the Prol System and Fedrid. It is even said that a mighty Warp beast assailed the Duke’s flagship as he closed on Ganf Magna, the creature’s vast tentacles wrapping about the vessel so that when Severus ordered an emergency translation into realspace, the thing was dragged through too. Weakened by exposure to the laws of the material realm, the beast was eventually defeated. But before it faded from existence, Duke Severus himself hacked out a single, crystalline eye several metres in diameter and worth the ransom of a High Lord of Terra.
As great as his numerous victories were, it was the duke’s deeds in forging the Periphery Sub-sector that earned him true glory, for a short time at least. Of the Heretic and xenos fiends the duke’s fleet confronted as it ranged ahead of the main Angevin Crusade advance between Sepheris Secundus and Sinophia, the few extant archives are all but silent -- the Inquisition and other bodies having determined such truths unfit for public dissemination. In most cases, only the names of otherwise unknown battles remain. The Scouring of Cyclopea Nine; the Kulth Landings; the Retreat from Avitohol, closely followed by the Avitohol Reprisals; the War of Ash, in which a thousand xenos vessels are said to have been sent plummeting through the upper atmosphere of Sisk, the survivors ruthlessly hunted down by vengeful human natives. It was at the Second Battle of Kulth that the duke’s greatest moment came, his armies counterattacked by a millions-strong horde of slavering xenos monstrosities. Little is known beyond a faded entry in a crumbling tome, locked in the stasis vaults beneath the Lucid Palace on Scintilla, stating that the duke rallied his armies in person, even as the xenos horde closed in on all quarters and all seemed lost. The unknown scribe goes on to claim that Duke Severus faced a xenos being of such monstrous nature that his greatest champions were struck down by madness, but that he was not, delivering the killing blow with his own hand and turning the battle and the entire campaign in an instant. The xenos hordes were put to rout and with them, those human-held worlds that had resisted the Imperium’s advance capitulated. The region that would one day become known as the Periphery Sub-sector was opened up and a Warp route discovered that connected the region to the distant Scarus Sector, ensuring its fortunes as shipping hubs sprung up along its length.
Why then, are the deeds of Severus I unknown to the peoples of the Calixis Sector? The answer is simple and lies in that most basic of human flaws -- the sin of hubris. Duke Severus I had been promised much by the terms of his Warrant of Trade, but in truth the High Lords of Terra had never expected him to survive the terrors that lurked in the Calyx Expanse. Before being granted his title, the duke was a senior courtier of the Senatorum Imperialis on Terra and his political trajectory was carrying him towards a seat on that highest of councils. His numerous rivals found this greatly disconcerting, for they believed Severus to have murdered numerous of his compatriots during his rise to power. These rivals engineered the granting of the Warrant of Trade, forcing Severus to embark on a Crusade they hoped would end his ambitions, his career, and his life. Severus was fully aware of the High Lords’ intentions and when he succeeded in carving the Periphery from the darkness of the Calyx Expanse, he interpreted the terms of his warrant to justify him claiming it as his personal realm, exempt from the laws and demands placed on the rest of the Imperium. In essence, Severus installed himself as the exclusive ruler of his own private empire within the boundaries of the Imperium, which in his eyes he had earned by the spilling of his blood and that of countless thousands of his followers.
In other circumstances, Severus I might have been allowed to realise his ambition, for the frontiers of the Imperium are often expanded by men with similar dreams of avarice and power, only to be absorbed into the greater mass of sectors generations later. This might have been the case with Severus, were it not for the simultaneous rise of a man who regarded him as a vainglorious and self-interested robber baron interested only in expanding his own domains off of the blood, sweat, and tears of millions of the God-Emperor’s faithful servants. This man was Lord General Militant Drusus, the man who had succeeded Lord General Militant Golgenna Angevin as the leader of the Angevin Crusade that conquered the Calyx Expanse. While Severus had been conquering the Periphery for his own ends, Drusus had been leading the armies of the Imperial Guard in a series of victories every bit as glorious as those earned by the duke. While Severus set about consolidating his power after the Second Battle of Kulth, Drusus fought on, claiming untold worlds for the God-Emperor of Mankind. Following his apparent death at the hands of the agents of rivals (which may, or may not have included Severus) and subsequent resurrection, Drusus was beatified by the Ecclesiarchy as a Living Saint and is celebrated to this day as the patron Imperial saint of the Calixis Sector.
Duke Severus was soon eclipsed by Saint Drusus and his plans to establish his own realm were cast to ashes. With every one of the leading lights of the Angevin Crusade openly worshipping Drusus as a paragon of the Emperor's justice, none would support Severus in his own ambitions. For a time, Severus turned his back upon his former peers amongst the Angevin Crusade, eventually only speaking with the famous Rogue Trader Sibylline Haarlock. What passed between the two remains unrecorded and some believe that Haarlock denounced Severus upon learning of his intentions to establish his own private realm. By the time Drusus was pronounced the first Lord Sector of Calixis, Severus was a broken man. He died in 417.M39, less than a month before Drusus himself passed away. To the last, he was a resentful, bitter man, turned by the cruelty of fate from a noble merchant-admiral to a paranoid recluse.
A Fateful Deal
But Duke Severus I did not die the last of his line. Before he passed, he recounted his sad tale to his first-born son, and in the telling it must surely have been distilled into a hateful story of lesser men allying against one of whom they were jealous. The son passed the tale on to his son, and again the story was filtered in the telling until all that remained was a twisted kernel, only barely resembling the truth. Generation after generation of House Severus heard, and then repeated, this tale of doom, until in 779.M41 Duke Severus XIII assumed power over what little remained of his house. Unlike his predecessors, Severus the Thirteenth had managed to claw his way up the rungs of power in the Calixis Sector, drawing upon methods and means yet to be fully revealed. In 799.M41, he assumed the appointment to which he had worked his entire life, the position from which he might finally realise the dreams of his entire line. He ascended to the position of Lord Sub-Sector, the Adeptus Administratum prefect of the region his eponymous forebear had founded -- the Periphery.
But in truth, Severus XIII could never have gained ascendancy over his peers to become the recognised Imperial governor of the Periphery without the aid of the Dark Eldar group known as the Children of Thorns. This outcast Dark Eldar Kabal, exiled from the Dark City of Commorragh, is made up of the dregs of Dark Eldar society -- escaped slaves, disgraced nobles, and defeated champions -- and its members are ever watchful for opportunities to gain weapons and slaves they can use to fuel their bid for a return to power in Commorragh. In aiding Severus XIII, the Children of Thorns Kabal has gained easy access to a region in which the Imperium’s forces are unable to oppose their realspace raids. Thousands of men, women and children are dragged screaming back to the dark sub-reality sinks of the Dark City in the Labyrinthine Dimension of the Webway, yet there are those that question whether the kabal’s involvement in the wars of the Spinward Front might be more pernicious still. Some fear that the Dark Eldar might be working towards another agenda entirely -- one that can only bring more doom and disaster upon the war-torn worlds of the Periphery and beyond.
His ambitions echoing those of his progenitor, Severus XIII believed that the Periphery should be his, yet he knew that overtly declaring secession from the Imperium would cause the Sub-sector's Loyalist Planetary Governors to rise up against him and bring the force of the Imperium crashing down upon his head. Instead, he sought allies in the darkness spinward of the Periphery, his spies seeking out any who might lend him aid, no matter their price. Waiting in the darkness, his spies discovered the Dark Eldar of the outcast Children of Thorns Kabal, and vile pacts were made in exchange for the aliens’ lethal services. Severus XIII consigned entire Frontier Worlds to the Dark Eldar’s cruel mercies, ensuring that when realspace raids occurred, the sub-sector’s military reserves were always too distant to intervene. Xenos chattel-barques swollen with slaves delivered hundreds of thousands of human beings to their doom in the pits of Commorragh, while the court of Severus XIII gained a host of new veiled courtiers and black-eyed assassins.
For over a standard decade, Severus and his cruel agent-allies worked tirelessly to cut the ties between the Periphery and the sector at large, one at a time, so that none even noticed as it was slowly transformed into his personal realm. Planetary Governors resistant to corruption or subversion were quietly removed, but always the eight worlds closest to the border with the Malfian Sub-sector were maintained in a state of outward normality. The worlds spinward of them were entirely in the sway of the noble, who had at last attained his ancestor’s dream of an independent stellar empire of his own in all but name.
The Green Tide
None can tell what might have come of Severus’ fiefdom had events continued unchecked. Perhaps he would have grown so bold as to risk openly declaring secession, or perhaps his shadowy allies would have turned upon him in his hubris. Instead, it was another xenos species that decided the matter. An Ork invasion under the Warlord Ghenghiz Grimtoof, the self-titled “Git-Slaver,” came crashing out of the darkness and fell upon the outermost fringes of Severus’ pocket empire, slaying millions in a few short months. The Planetary Defence Forces of these worlds were geared largely towards the suppression of their own populations, or else for blustering parades honouring their master in House Severus, and few were able to mount anything like a capable resistance. World after world slipped from Severus’ grasp as the Git-Slaver’s Orks rampaged all but unchecked through his realm. There was nothing either he or his sinister allies could do to halt them.
Severus XIII brooded upon his granite throne as millions perished. His closest advisors counselled him to beseech the Imperium for aid, yet all were silenced by the executioner’s blow. At the last, his counsellors all dead or fled, Severus was left alone and his empire all but fallen. In a moment of grim revelation he saw they had all been correct. He dispatched his own kin to the court of the Calixian Lord Sector Marius Hax on Scintilla to beg for aid against the Ork invasion. Though most of the messengers were intercepted by unknown assassins or fell prey to other, equally deadly fates, one got through. Severus’ own granddaughter went before Sector Lord Hax and delivered the plea for aid. Hax simply laughed at her.
The patrician Calixian Sector Governor had been watching the Periphery from afar for years and knew well the treachery of Severus XIII, though how much he was aware of its origins, he did not reveal. Later hearsay implied that some link between Severus and Hax, some dark tie, perhaps even a blood tie, stayed his hand as Severus built his own private realm. Yet, when the Orks attacked, it was to Hax’s own benefit, for it humbled Severus and forced him out of the wilderness in a very public manner. At length, Hax agreed that the Orks must be checked and the Calixis Sector’s military reserves were mobilised.
Kulth, the capital of the Periphery Sub-sector, was relieved, though in truth the Imperium never committed sufficient force to truly turn the tide against the Orks. The worlds beyond the Periphery descended into a churning cauldron of total war, yet so many Calixian troops were being committed to the secret war in the Jericho Reach that to many in the highest Imperial circles of the sector the endeavour in the Periphery seemed to have little hope of success. Some whispered that those who prosecuted the distant Achilus Crusade had need of a war closer to home to mask the huge drain on resources, and so a deadlock in the Periphery was at best convenient, and at worst deliberately maintained.
While the situation on Kulth was stabilised, the war beyond the Periphery was going badly for Severus XIII. While the Orks plundered the worlds of Deluge, KW-9, Pertinax, and a score of lesser star systems, a myriad of other threats rose up. Despite the pacts Severus believed he had secured with the Dark Eldar, the pernicious children of Commorragh launched ever more audacious raids against those worlds of the Periphery on the verges of the war zone. Drawn by the near total collapse of the Imperium’s power in the region, the servants of Chaos, in particular the warband of Chaos Space Marines led by Sektoth the False Whisperer, launched a series of brutal assaults, pursuing their own blasphemous missions.
Beset upon all quarters, Severus XIII announced his personal annexation of the chaotic zone of space beyond the Periphery into what he termed the “Severan Dominate” until the crisis had passed. Lord Sector Hax was incensed, declaring Severus a Secessionist and a Traitor, and the war escalated to a previously unseen pitch. The servants of Chaos now walk openly upon the war-torn worlds, doing the unknowable bidding of their masters, while the Dark Eldar raid where they will, their pact with Severus XIII all but torn up. The Orks have now entered the second phase of their WAAAGH!, the focus shifting from slaughter to enslavement. The Ork Warlord has established his own bastion world at Avitohol and enslaved its populace so that countless millions of tons of ramshackle war materiel are being churned out to feed the greenskinned species’ incessant hunger for weapons and munitions. The lines are drawn and the pressure on the front is increasing, and it is only the far more pressing needs of the Jericho Reach fronts that keep the Imperium from flooding the Spinward Front with so many regiments of the Imperial Guard that all resistance is crushed. Each year that the Severan Dominate is not brought to heel is another year it spends reinforcing its core worlds, and another year the Orks’ strength becomes ever more established. And all the while, the Forces of Chaos move unchecked through the region, and mad prophets whisper of an imminent manifestation of Komus, the dreaded Tyrant Star that has long afflicted the Calixis Sector.
WAAAGH! Grimtoof Space
The green-skinned, barbarous Orks have plagued Mankind and the other star-faring species for as long as they have traversed space and it is probable they are Mankind’s oldest xenos foe. The Emperor Himself is said to have fought, and defeated, one of the species’ mightiest leaders during the Great Crusade, averting the rise of an Ork empire that might have grown so powerful as to threaten the Imperium’s manifest destiny to rule the stars. No sector of space is free of their anarchic presence, for they infest the entire galaxy. Ork society, such as it is, is focused on continuing strife, the process of powerful individuals rising to command their own stellar empires pushing the species ever onward. Through ceaseless conflict with themselves and with other species, the Orks spread across entire sectors of space. Once established, they are all but impossible to repulse and so the anarchic, ramshackle Greenskin empires expand across the void, staining vast tracts of the galaxy with their vile presence.
The coming of WAAAGH! Grimtoof was a huge shock to the military of the Calixis Sector, for it came from a quadrant of Wilderness Space beyond the Periphery Sub-sector not known to host any such force. The star systems in that region were only partially catalogued and all-but unexplored, but the long range patrols of the Imperial Navy's Battlefleet Calixis should have picked up any nascent threat. If these patrols did detect any such sign, then the intelligence was certainly not acted upon. The Periphery found itself the target of a massive Ork invasion and Severus XIII felt compelled to declare the secession of his worlds and the creation of his Severan Dominate. Some have whispered that the Calixian Lord Sector Marius Hax was, in fact, informed of the oncoming storm, yet chose to withhold the information from Severus, perhaps anticipating, or precipitating in, the Sub-sector prefect’s treachery. Whatever the truth of the matter, it is certain that when WAAAGH! Grimtoof smashed into the worlds beyond the Periphery’s spinward borders, none were in the slightest bit prepared or able to repulse them. Four entire star systems fell in as many months and over a dozen more are now in the grip of total war as the forces of humanity, whether loyal to the Imperium or to the beleaguered Severan Dominate, fight desperately to hold the anarchic xenos foe at bay.
Of the first worlds to have fallen to WAAAGH! Grimtoof, very little is known and, while they were ostensibly within the borders of the Dominate, Severus XIII had little or no real power over them. Most exist as names or codes on the stellar charts of the Imperial Navy and may not have known the tread of outsiders for many millennia. The outermost is a dismal world named Deluge, which was host to a small community of mendicant Imperial aesthetes thought to have settled there in the aftermath of the Angevin Crusade. Of the monks’ fate nothing is known, but Deluge has been under the hobnailed heel of Grimtoof Git-Slaver for so long that it is unlikely any are still alive.
The world of Porphyry was the second settled planet to fall to WAAAGH! Grimtoof, the Adeptus Mechanicus stripmining facility present there making it a tempting target to the avaricious xenos. The fate of the servants of the Cult Mechanicus remains unknown. Of late, Imperial Navy long range sweeps have detected stray Vox signals suggesting some remnant of the Adeptus Mechanicus forces still exist, though in what form none can say. Perhaps it is no more than an automated beacon cycling endlessly into the void, but perhaps it represents a small group that somehow continues to hold out.
Between Porphyry and the leading edge of the Ork invasion lies a cluster of worlds linked by minor, barely known and highly unstable Warp routes. Even the largest of these are unexplored and as such have only astrocartographic identifiers, including KW-9 and XD-777. Closest to the border with the Severan Dominate is the world of Augury, a planet long shunned even by the pirates and outcasts that haunt such regions. The Orks took Augury six months into their invasion, but they seem unwilling to commit sufficient forces to keep hold of it and the Severan Dominate has retaken it on several occasions. Currently, Dominate forces have been compelled to vacate Augury by the need to bolster nearby Lukius, and so it nominally falls under those worlds in the thrall of Grimtoof Git-Slaver.
Trailing Augury is a line of systems once claimed by the Severan Dominate but currently fighting desperately for their own survival in the face of the xenos invasion. The Imperium is largely unaware and uncaring of their fate and the Dominate is unable to project forces much further than Lukius and Augury. The worlds of Pertinax, Letum, Melqart, and Iris form a lost front, the peoples of each fighting alone to keep the Orks at bay.
Several amongst the Spinward Front’s Imperial High Command have proposed sending Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy units to bolster the defence of these beleaguered worlds and in so doing draw Ork forces away from more valuable war zones. Such proposals have met with dogmatic intransigence, for the worlds lie beyond the effective rule of the Imperium. A number of missions have been launched to ascertain how effective such operations might be, but to date they have all met with such overwhelming Ork forces that none have returned with any useful intelligence.
Under Greenskin Occupation
Those worlds that have suffered the presence of the Git-Slaver’s invasion fall into three types types. Those that fell in the opening phase of the invasion are now largely desolate wastes reduced to ashes by the unleashing of total war. Several of these have now spawned populations of Feral Orks, which are likely to be unaware that they were “seeded” by the passage of a mighty WAAAGH! Even now they are struggling to gain power and momentum of their own, so that the greatest of their leaders might launch their own migration.
The second type is where the forces of humanity, whether the Imperium, Severan Dominate, or native, are holding on and all-consuming war now rages. Such planetary war zones are the scenes of epic battles of attrition consuming thousands of warriors of all sides each day. There are at least a dozen primary worlds of this type in the Spinward Front, and countless more planets and systems where war waxes and wanes as the embittered foes launch massive salients or counter-attacks.
The last type is relatively new and its appearance heralds a new phase in Grimtoof Git-Slaver’s invasion. Several of those worlds the Warlord’s forces have captured have not been razed to ashes, nor their populations slaughtered for food or for sport. Rather, they have been taken largely intact and their populations have been enslaved in sprawling, forced labour camps and slave-foundries, forced at gunpoint to manufacture the crude arms and ammunition used by the barbarous Orks. This turn of events signals a failure on the part of the Imperium, for it means the Orks have been allowed to consolidate their gains to such an extent that their migration is becoming an occupation. Previous experience teaches that if the Orks are allowed to establish a new stellar empire, their inexorable pattern of strife and migration will make a new invasion inevitable. With the source just beyond the Calixis Sector’s borders it will prove a hundred times more challenging to halt. Some whisper that the Spinward Front High Command has been negligent in allowing this state of affairs to develop, for with a full commitment of forces, the Orks could have been defeated decades ago and the Severan Dominate would never have come into being. With the drain on resources by the Jericho Reach and the upheavals caused by the recent appearance of the Dei-Phage,however, it is hard to see how events could have proceeded differently. The situation is a perfect example of the perils that beset the Imperium at every turn, with entire star systems falling, or being ceded, as forces are deployed in other, more important regions despite the potential loss of millions of the Emperor’s loyal subjects.
Th Feral World of Avitohol lies within the borders of the Periphery Sub-sector, and has been part of the region’s infrastructure since the founding of the Calixis Sector almost two thousand standard years ago. When the Angevin Crusade first made planetfall there under the command of Duke Severus I, they found a fertile, windswept land ruled by primitive and warlike human nomads. This barbaric culture lived and died by the possession of the great herds of gargantuan bovine creatures thought to have been genetically engineered from the yaks of Old Earth and brought to Avitohol at some point during the Dark Age of Technology. These beasts have such prodigious appetites that they must continually migrate across the endless plains and they are so massive and stubborn that all the nomad tribes could do was follow along in their wake or on their backs.
This mode of existence led to the Imperium drawing upon the herds of Avitohol as a food source, but it also meant that the human tribes would never be able to settle and enjoy the fruits of their world’s integration into the greater empire of Man. Instead, the tribes maintained their aeons-old ways and the Chartist Captains of the Calixis Sector came once each season to purchase a share of Avitohol’s mighty herds to feed the teeming masses on the distant Hive Worlds. This way of life continued almost without interruption until, one day, the skies turned black with the contrails of countless thousands of drop vessels and soon the grasslands were set alight in a raging inferno that swept from one horizon to the next. WAAAGH! Grimtoof had come to Avitohol and nothing would ever be the same again.
On Avitohol, Ghenghiz Grimtoof Git-Slaver found a world teeming with humans and ripe for exploitation. Despite being fearsome warriors, the natives were tragically outgunned and, though the tribes came together for the first time in recorded history, they could not defeat the overwhelming numbers of bloodthirsty rampaging Orks. Within three standard months the steppes were reduced to a smoking, corpse-strewn wasteland. Those nomad warriors that could not flee to the deepest wilderness regions were enslaved. Grimtoof informed the captured natives that they would be allowed to live, so long as they worked to build what he believed would be his greatest work -- a world of foundries, ruled over by a palace as great, in his mind, as any the Imperium had ever built.
The invasion of Avitohol caused great consternation within the ranks of the Spinward Front High Command, for no stable Warp route exists between it and the nearest Ork-held star system. This is not to say that a route could not be forged, but traversing the uncharted currents of the Warp in such a manner is generally beyond all but the most experienced or desperate Navigators. Not anticipating an assault from that vector, the Imperium had failed to reinforce Avitohol, and so when the Orks came they were unopposed. To make matters worse, Avitohol represents the apex of a new Greenskin salient, the tip of WAAAGH! Grimtoof plunged deep into the Periphery. When Avitohol fell, heads rolled amongst the general staff, several veteran commanders losing their stars or their lives as punishment for the unforgivable dereliction in duty.
Its upper echelons drastically re-ordered, Spinward Front High Command ordered a hasty counter-attack on Avitohol before the Git-Slaver could fully consolidate his gains. The Imperium launched the largest planetstrike operation of the conflict with the Orks -- twenty entire Imperial Guard regiments landing in three successive waves and striking out for Grimtoof ’s half-built “kapital.” The battles that followed have entered into the consciousness of the Spinward Front High Command staff corps, or at least those not executed for incompetence by the Commissariat following the massive Imperial defeat that ensued. Despite initial gains, the Imperial Guard soon found their advances surrounded on all sides by far larger numbers of Orks than any had prepared for. In days, the assault ground down into a bloody slog to win every metre, before stalling entirely and becoming a bitter war of attrition. Lord Marshal Ghanzorik was faced with the choice of committing still more resources to a battle it was clear to all he could not hope to win. Vowing to return to Avitohol at the head of an army ten times the size of that committed to the operation, Ghanzorik ordered those Imperial troops who could leave to do so. It is estimated that less than thirty per cent of the units on Avitohol when the withdrawal order was given made it off-world. The remainder either died glorious but unheralded deaths, refusing to surrender to impossible odds, or they were captured and set to work in Grimtoof ’s foundries.
In the aftermath of the failed assault on Avitohol, Lord Marshal Ghanzorik unleashed a ferocious purge of his intelligence units, who he blamed for multiple failures. Not a single intelligence officer between the rank of General and Major is said to have survived Ghanzorik’s purge, further reinforcing his reputation and his nickname of “Old Steel and Blood.” In so doing, Ghanzorik became something of a folk hero amongst the Imperial Guard's rank-and-file, whose ire was shifted from the command corps to the intelligence advisors.
With the decapitation of the Spinward Front’s intelligence infrastructure came another purge, one that could only be instigated with the express aid of the Inquisition's Ordos Calixis. Avitohol was declared a Forbidden World and all reference to what had occurred there was struck from the records. Lethal dataslayers were released into Cogitator networks across the entire sector and, while many physical or isolated records no doubt survive, almost all mention of the fate of Avitohol and its would-be liberators is now destroyed. So far as those that ply the Warp routes of the Calixis Sector are concerned, Avitohol is simply out of bounds, none having any notion that it is, in fact, the capital world of a nascent Ork empire on the very edges of the Calixis Sector, nor that millions of natives and captured Imperial Guardsmen labour there under the yoke of Ghenghiz Grimtoof the Git-Slaver’s despotic regime, forced to manufacture arms and ammunition for the Orks.
Though the Imperium has withdrawn its forces from Avitohol, the world is far from free of war. Firstly, numerous Imperial Guardsmen escaped the initial encirclements that slaughtered so many of their fellows and even years later many of these still fight on, organised into ad hoc units and striking the Orks wherever they can. The object of these attacks is two-fold -- if sufficient damage can be done to the Orks’ war effort, then perhaps the Imperium will consider a return to Avitohol, but they also hope to free as many as possible of the hundreds of thousands of their fellows captured during the withdrawal. Ork hunter-killer-eater mobs roam the blasted steppes in search of insurgents and, to many, it is as if war has never gone away. Some of the most organised of these guerrillas have made contact with those surviving nomad tribes of humans that still exist in the deepest wildernesses and have launched a number of highly effective joint attacks on the Greenskins' infrastructure.
Ghenghiz Grimtoof the Git-Slaver's Iron Mountain
Several years after his invasion of Avitohol and the enslavement of its native peoples, Grimtoof Git-Slaver has constructed for himself a formidable Ork stellar empire. That empire has as its capital a structure now rivalling the average Imperial hive city in size, a teetering spire so tall its peak skewers the clouds and constructed from the scrap of an entire sub-sector at war. At the very summit of this grim, rusted edifice, which Grimtoof has dubbed Iron Mountain, is the lair of the Git-Slaver, a huge throne room with one face open to the skies, the walls bedecked with trophies from a hundred battlefields and more. Opposite the open wall is Grimtoof’s throne, a massive seat constructed from the weapons and armour of the greatest of his foes.
Seated upon his throne, the Git-Slaver glowers out across the ashen steppes of Avitohol, brooding sullenly on the next stage of his conquest. By his side are his most trusted Nobz, those with more to gain in protecting his life than betraying him. About the dais are chained numerous captives, for Grimtoof delights in laying low the champions of his enemies in such a way. It is said that Imperial Guard Marshals have suffered such treatment, as well as aliens, including a Succubus of a Dark Eldar Wych Cult, though she escaped within days of her capture, leaving a trail of dead Nobz behind her. By day, the vast expanse of the chamber floor is filled with Orks of all stations, some receiving their orders to conquer distant worlds, others seeking some favour from their dread overlord. Several hundred of the diminutive Gretchin slave race scamper to and fro, running errands and attending to their master’s every need. On occasion, Grimtoof has even ordered the largest of his Gargants to attend his throne by crossing the steppes far below to stand before the Iron Mountain. From his throne, the Git-Slaver looks down at even the mightiest of his race’s creations, and with a grunt orders the destruction of countless foes.
Yet, even though his nascent empire is by far the most powerful of its type in the region, perhaps even in the entire Segmentum Obscurus, Grimtoof the Git-Slaver is entirely unsatisfied. Like all successful Ork Warlords, he is prone to fits of violent rage, but of late, Grimtoof has been known to enter protracted periods of dour brooding. With no warning, he dismisses his entire court and sits alone upon his throne, his brow furrowed and his red eyes glowering out across the blasted steppes of Avitohol. What thoughts of doom and bloodshed cross his blunt consciousness none can say. Perhaps with his WAAAGH! entering its new stage, Grimtoof expects a challenger greater than any he has faced before to appear before him. Or perhaps he ponders the next stage of his endeavour, when his great work is complete and the entire Calixis Sector will tremble before him, his armies fuelled by the toil of scores of enslaved worlds. The Orkish mind is a tiny thing, capable of little more than thoughts of violence, yet the scope of that violence in the mind of one such as Ghenghiz Grimtoof the Git-Slaver must be limitless.
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 343-345