"Fire sputters...The shame of our deaths and our heresies is done. They are behind us, like wretched phantoms. This is a new age, a strong age, an age of Imperium. Despite our losses, despite the fallen sons, despite the eternal silence of the Emperor, now watching over us in spirit instead of in person, we will endure. There will be no more war on such a perilous scale. There will be an end to wanton destruction. Yes, foes will come and enemies will arise. Our security will be threatened, but we will be ready, our mighty fists raised. There will be no great war to challenge us now. We will not be brought to the brink like that again..."
The War of the Beast, also known as WAAAGH! The Beast, was a massive Ork WAAAGH! of extraordinary size that threatened Terra itself in the mid-32nd Millennium. It was led by the mysterious Warboss known only as "The Beast."
The Orks of this horde rampaged across the Imperium on a massive scale beginning in 544.M32. The number of attacks grew until it became the greatest Greenskin invasion that the galaxy has ever known, eclipsing even the one defeated by Horus upon the world of Ullanor during the Great Crusade, which earned the Primarch the title of Warmaster.
The Orks' widespread advance was only halted in 546.M32 when the Imperium resorted to the most extreme and desperate of measures. The war incurred terrible costs upon the Space Marine Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes and the other military forces of the Imperium of Man.
Battle of Ardamantua
During the middle centuries of the 32nd Millennium, the Imperium of Man was enjoying a period of relative peace and prosperity unheard of since before the Horus Heresy. The Traitor Legions were still in exile within the Eye of Terror, licking their wounds and seething with rage for having failed to overthrow the Emperor and claim the Imperium as their own. The vast majority of xenos species had been relegated to the far-flung frontiers of Imperial space, and for the first time in over a Terran millennium, the worlds of Mankind enjoyed peace. The stagnation, superstition and religious zealotry that defined the Imperium of later millennia had not yet set in.
With humanity having endured its greatest challenge, the Orks were no longer deemed a major threat. The Imperium believed they had been crushed by Horus' monumental victory over them during the Ullanor Crusade and had yet to recover. In truth, the Greenskins were severely underestimated by the Imperium's war savants and strategos. But with no major threats on the horizon, the vast majority of the Imperial Fleet had been dispatched to patrol the Imperium's borders far from Terra under the command of the powerful Lord High Admiral of the Navy Lansung.
This underestimation of the Greenskin threat would ultimately prove disastrous. What would become known as the War of the Beast began on the world of Ardamantua in the Segmentum Solar during a routine action against another xenos species. The entire Shield Company of the Imperial Fists Chapter had been sent to Ardamantua, just six solar weeks Warp-travel from Terra, and charged with the extermination of the insectoid species known as the Chromes.
It was a normal part of Imperial military operations in the centuries after the Heresy to eradicate such minor threats to the Imperial holdings near the Terran core worlds. Strategic surveys put the Chromes' numbers at something in the order of eighty-eight billion. More importantly, scans had indicated that the Chromes were in the midst of a great migration, as if they were fleeing something. Their path indicated that they would pass through the core worlds of the Segmentum Solar. This migration had to be stopped before the xenos became a threat to the Throneworld itself.
Ardamantua was suddenly wracked by unexpected gravitational storms and geological disturbances as the Chromes made their final desperate assault upon the Imperial lines. The Imperial Fists contingent on the world was decimated, their fleet lost, and Chapter Master Cassus Mirhen himself was slain by the Chromes. The High Lords of Terra, realising that disaster now faced Terra itself if the insectoids continued their desperate flight, ordered the deployment of a rescue mission led by the Lord Commander Militant of the Astra Militarum Heth and the entire Imperial Fists Chapter to Ardamantua. This course was particularly endorsed by the Grand Master of Assassins, Drakan Vangorich.
The source of the gravitational disturbances on Ardamantua soon became clear when a massive planetoid, an Ork Attack Moon, suddenly materialised in orbit above the world. It proceeded to attack the Imperial rescue fleet. Below, on the surface of Ardamantua, the entire Imperial Fist Chapter deployed under the command of First Captain Algerin, Second Captain Koorland and Captain Sauber, alongside a handful of Imperial Guardsmen. They soon waged a desperate fight for survival against the panicked Chromes and escalating gravitic anomalies. The anomalies were caused by the Greenskin planetoid, which continued to phase in and out of realspace as it drew closer to finally achieving full materialisation from an otherdimensional realm the Imperials would later dub "subspace."
It was then that Ork troops of massive size began to make planetfall and slew the remaining Imperial forces and the panicked hordes of the Chromes. There were only four survivors of the entire Imperial Fists Chapter, three of whom died while under the ministrations of a team of Adeptus Mechanicus Tech-priests. Only one Imperial Fist remained in the galaxy, Second Captain Koorland of the Daylight Wall Company, who now found himself the de facto Chapter Master.
Things were little better in orbit. After transmitting a final astropathic message to Terra that the Imperium faced a threat like none Mankind had known before, Lord Commander Militant Heth's fleet was destroyed by the Attack Moon. Imperial strategos determined that the Attack Moon's next likely target was Terra itself.
Last Wall Protocol
Over the following solar months, it soon became apparent to the Imperium that more than one Ork Attack Moon was causing havoc, as the unstoppable tides of unusually large greenskins spread across the Segmentum Solar, swallowing up entire system. Soon entire sub-sectors faced inevitable defeat, and finally, whole sectors were overrun by the massive WAAAGH!, which saw billions upon billions of Imperial citizens perish on the conflagration. The chaos caused by the Ork Attack Moons saw powerful gravitational and psychic storms driving millions of citizens to madness, while others, driven to desperation, formed cults dedicated to the worship of the mighty Beast.
Unfortunately, their foolish efforts availed them little, as they too, were slaughtered in the wake of the unstoppable greenskin tide. Faced with such an implacable enemy, the High Lords of Terra were rendered ineffective, as they continuously bickered amongst themselves of what appropriate course of action should be undertaken to defeat the Ork forces of The Beast. With no real leadership provided during this crisis, Lord High Admiral Lansun refused to cooperate with the Astra Militarum, and instead gathered his fleet at the Glaucasian Gulf. Meanwhile, as the Grand Master of Assassins, Drakan Vangorich, attempted to counter the Lord High Admiral's influence amongst their peers of the Senatorum Imperialis, he also made the troubling discovery that there were Adeptus Mechanicus forces hiding among the Ork WAAAGH! Their agenda was unknown to Vangorich, but the Grand Master of Assassins vowed to get to the bottom of this.
Meanwhile, High Marshal (Chapter Master) Bohemond of the Black Templars Chapter, undertook a quest to help reunite the scattered Successor Chapters that hailed from the lineage of Rogal Dorn. Koorland, now known as the "Last Son of Dorn", took part in this clandestine meeting between several of their fellow Scions of Dorn in the Phall System, which included representatives from the Black Templars, Crimson Fists, Excoriators and Fists Exemplar. As sole remaining Imperial Fists representative, Koorland invoked the "Last Wall Protocol", a contingency established by Rogal Dorn himself, that was only to be enacted in the event Terra was under grave threat, or perhaps had even fallen. Then all the Successor Chapters of the Imperial Fists Legion would come together to deal with the matter as one. Even if the Imperial Fists Chapter itself were to be destroyed, the other Successor Chapters of the old VII Legion would assume its duties. The Iron Knights would also respond to this call-to-arms, while the Soul Drinkers Chapter could not be contact.
Battle of Port Sanctus
On Terra, tensions between the bickering High Lords of Terra threatened the stability of the Senatorum Imperialis and hampered the Imperium's war effort against the massive Ork WAAAGH! During this time, the Inquisitorial Representative Marguerethe Wienand, was forced to bring here considerable influence and might of the Ordos of the Inquisition to bear, forcing Lord High Admiral Lansung to take immediate action against the Orks. Utilising her Inquisitorial agents that had been secretly inserted into the Imperial Fleet, they were able to exploit the rivalry between Admirals Price and Crziel Acharya, convincing the latter to attempt to take his portion of Lansung's fleet anchored at Lepidus Prime and attempt to relieve the beleaguered Imperial forces that were being besieged by the greenskins at Port Sanctus. Exploiting Admiral Acharya's lust for glory, the Admiral agreed to the Inquisitorial agents' overtures. However, once the Lord High Admiral received word of what was transpiring amongst his senior officers, he did not wish to display an inability to command. Therefore, Lansung also departed with a large segment of Battlefleet Solar in order to personally lead the attack on the Orks at Port Sanctus. To compound matters, after the Lord High Admiral departed, the Puritan Lord Inquisitor Veritus launched a political coup within the Inquisition. He then forced Weinand to fake her death and go into hiding, effectively becoming the new Inquisitorial Representative. Veritus was determined to force the remaining High Lords into a subordinate role to the Inquisition, in order to successfully enact his plans. Despite the appearances of conflicting agenda between Veritus and Lord High Admiral Lansung, the astute Drakan Vangorich suspects that the two High Lords are somehow in league with one another.
Upon the arrival of Lansung's fleet, the remaining elements, amounting to half a Segmentum fleet, that survived the greenskin onslaught, rallied around Lord High Admiral Lansung and Admirals Price and Acharya. The Imperial fleet then launches a desperate attack against the Ork Attack Moon and its accompanying greenskin fleet that were besieging the vitally important Imperial shipyards. After weeks of intense fighting between the two opposing fleets, it soon became readily apparent to the Imperial forces that they were outmatched would ultimately be defeated if they did not withdraw immediately. The Orks' surprising ability to have small raider-sized vessels rapidly teleport Ork warriors aboard Imperial vessels, despite having their void shields up, proved especially troublesome. But due to their overriding urge to fight in close melee assault, and perhaps a lack of discipline, the Ork fleet eventually began to dissipate in order to pursue individual elements of the remaining Imperial fleet. Sensing an opportunity, the Imperia fleet launched a desperate attack against the Attack Moon, or die in the attempt, in order to halt its destructive presence once and for all.
Though the near-suicidal assault against the Ork Attack Moon proved costly to the Imperial fleet, the devastating barrage launched by the remaining Imperial Navy vessels degraded the Attack Moon's void shields, which allowed for the Imperial forces to combine their firepower in conjunction with a suicidal attack by smaller Imperial Attack Craft directly inside the massive artificial station. With the destruction of the Attack Moon's gravitic generators, the entire structure of the artificial sphere exploded spectacularly. Tragically, the resultant explosion took many of the surviving Imperial vessels along with it. The siege of Port Sanctus was finally lifted and the first of the Orks Attack Moons had been destroyed. Lord High Admiral Lansung returned to the Throneworld in triumph, as he was celebrated in a massive triumphant parade. But this premature victory celebration was short-lived, as another Ork Attack Moon materialised in orbit over the Throneworld itself.
The Proletarian Crusade
The ensuing conflict took a turn for the worst, as the Imperium seemed to be beset on all sides from the massive Ork expansion that was now on a galactic scale. All corners of the Imperium, in every Segmentum, saw heavy fighting against the seemingly unstoppable tide of the The Beast's greenskin tide. Both Imperial worlds of Prandium and Quintarn in the Realm of Ultramar were invaded, forcing the Ultramarines and several of their Successor Chapters to take a defensive role. This left them unable to assist the rest of the Imperium. Meanwhile, the Iron Hands sent three whole companies to assist Terra, while their fellow First Founding Chapters, which included - the Salamanders, Space Wolves and Raven Guard - to become bogged down fighting their own separate campaigns against the forces of The Beast, leaving them unable to come to the aid of Terra as well. However, the heroic and noble Blood Angels achieved some small victory, successfully destroying an Ork Attack Moon in the Baal System. The expansion of the Ork invasion was such, that it even spread beyond the borders of the Imperium, as the greenskins assailed the Iron Warriors-held world of Klostra, located near the Maelstrom warp rift.
Back on Terra, the arrival of the Ork Attack Moon caused widespread panic amongst the population. The Adeptus Arbites struggled to contain the massive waves of riots that erupted across the Throneworld and in the anarchy and chaos, thousands of innocents died. The High Lords themselves, were barricaded within the secure areas of the Imperial Palace to ensure their safety and security. To make matters worse, all contact was lost with the Martian Priesthood on Mars, as Fabricator-General Kubik refused to send aid to Terra.
With the majority of Battlefleet Solar deployed elsewhere or destroyed during the Battle of Port Sanctus, Terra was now left virtually defenceless. This left Lansung disgraced, as the former Lord High Admiral fell out of favour and lost position within the Senatorum Imperialis. It was at this moment, that a desperate plan emerged, concocted by Juskina Tull, the Speaker for the Chartis Captains and Ecclesiarch Mesring of the Ecclesiarchy. They proposed to launch a "Proletarian Crusade" comprised of millions of Frateris Militia forces and Imperial civilian volunteers in support of remaining Astra Militarum regiments and Adeptus Arbites. Though many notable High Lords, including Vangorish, Veritus and Lansung condemned the plane as sheer madness, they were overruled by the ascendant Speaker for the Chartist Captain and Ecclesiarch.
The commencement of this Crusade took place shortly after its announcement. Thousands of civilian voidcraft of all types, were launched towards the Ork Attack Moon in Terra's orbit. Ork fighters and boarding parties sustained heavy casualties as millions of Imperial crusaders, Astra Militarum troopers and Adeptus Arbites forces, launched their desperate attack upon the Attack Moon. Due to immense size of the makeshift fleet, the Imperials were able to punch through the Ork's defences, and successfully landed millions of troops upon the surface of the Attack Moon. They were even able to land a few hundred Leman Russ Tanks as well as a number of Chimeras and Hellhounds in support. They were soon engaged in a vicious battle with a large force of attacking greenskins. The Imperials were able to drive back the Orks through their sheer numbers and brutal close assault fighting. However, at their moment of triumph, the Imperial forces were utterly annihilated when the Orks manipulated the planetoid's surface, crushing the invading Imperial forces by enclosing mountains.
Following the disaster of the Proletarian Crusade, the Throneworld faced destruction at the hands of the encroaching Orks. Seemingly out of options, an unforeseen event took place when a surviving Crusade vessel landed upon Terra's surface. Three Orks, including an "ambassador" emerged from within. The Imperials identified these Orks as an entirely new sub-set of advanced-evolved "Beast" Orks, similar to their infamous Warlord. The ambassador, identifying himself as Bezhrak, amazingly spoke Gothic and managed to arrange a meeting with the Senatorum Imperialis thanks to the efforts of Vangorich. The Ork ambassador demanded that Terra surrender or face inevitable death. Left speechless, the High Lords were unable to give the Ork ambassador any kind of coherent response. Disgusted by the humans' cowardice and apparent lack of resolve, the Ork ambassador took his leave and departed Terra. Just as the Crusade vessel departed and Aeldari vessel appeared over the Imperial Palace.
Imperial Palace Incursion
Panic and disorder erupted within the Imperial Palace as a small Aledari strike force of seven Harlequins led by Shadowseer Lhaerial Rey, infiltrated the confines of the sprawling fortress of the Master of Mankind. Intent on delivering a message at the behest of Farseer Eldrad Ulthran, the Aeldari let none stand in their ways as they brushed past the elite Lucifer Blacks security and massacred any who attempted to impede their advance towards the Sanctum Imperialis. The Harlequins managed to reach the confines of the Inner Palace itself, where they encountered a large force of hundreds of furious Custodians of the Adeptus Custodes - the elite transhuman bodyguard of the Emperor Himself. Bound by oath and duty, the Custodians struck down the Aeldari strike force that attempted to breach Emperor's throne room. In the end, only Shadowseer Lhaerial Rey remained, grievously wounded and captured by the Custodians at the foot of the Eternity Gate. She claimed to be a messenger of "peace", but Captain-General Beyreuth refused to acknowledge the lying xenos and ordered her execution. It was at this moment, that both Grand Master of Assassins Vangorich and Inquisitorial Representative Veritus arrived on the scene. Intervening on the fallen Aeldari's behalf, they urged the Captain-General to not execute the Shadowseer and allow both of them to take the xenos into their custody so that she could be properly interrogated. Though reluctant, Beyreuth complied with the High Lords' wishes, and allowed the Aeldari to be taken away. After interrogating Lhaerial at the Inquisitorial Fortress, the Shadowseer revealed that she had been dispatched by the Farseer Eldrad Ulthran himself, in order to deliver a message to the Master of Mankind. To prove her intent that she was delivering a message of peace, she presented a tooth of a Nocturne drake that the Salamanders Primarch Vulkan has supposedly given to the Farseer Eldrad. Lhariel went on to state that through the efforts of Craftworld Ulthwé, they had managed to calm the Warp around the proximity of Terra in order to aid the Imperium's war effort against the greenskin menace. However, the true threat of Ruinous Powers was gathering.
Battle for Terra
After the audacious raid by the Aeldari on the Imperial Palace, the Chapters of the "Last Wall" arrived in-system. This powerful combined fleet of Imperial Fists Successor Chapters were comprised of 20 Battle Barges and Strike Cruisers carrying 2,800 battle-brothers from the Black Templars, Crimson Fists, Excoriators and Fists Exemplar Chapters. The newly arrived fleet emerged directly above the Ork Attack Moon in Terra's orbit. Led by High Marshal Bohemond of the Black Templars and Chapter Master Koorland, the last surviving Imperial Fists Astartes, the Astartes were finally able to finagle aid from the reluctant Martian Priesthood. Faced by such a powerful force, Fabricator-General Kubik agreed to assist the "Last Wall" fleet by sending a fleet of Basilikon Astra, 5 regiments of Skitarii and 7 cohorts of the Legio Cybernetica.
Once their forces were consolidated, the combined Imperial fleet launched an assault against the Attack Moon. Utilising Cyclonic Torpedoes, they were able to disable most of the weapons on the Attack Moon's surface. However, the Orks were still able to utilise their deadly gravitic whip technology and managed to inflict severe losses on the Imperial forces. With the Orks preoccupied with the attacking fleet, the "Last Wall" Chapters and their Mechanicus allies launched a near-simultaneous attack on the Attack Moon's surface. These forces were comprised of the Chapters' veteran elite arrayed in deadly Terminator Armour supported by battle tanks borne by several Thunderhawk Transports, alongside their deadly Skitarii allies and formidable Battle-Automata of the Legio Cybernetica. The Imperial forces were soon engaged in an all-out pitched battle against thousands of Orks. During the fighting, the void-battle slowly turned in the greenskins' favour due to their devastating gravitic whip ability, but this was soon overcome by the timely arrival of the Iron Knights Chapter, which quickly turned the tide of battle. Successfully disabling the Attack Moon's teleportation portal, the greenskins could no longer receive reinforcements. With a large portion of the Attack Moon's surface left in shambles, the exhausted Imperial forces made a hasty tactical withdrawal. In the closing stages of the epic battle, the Iron Knights Chapter Master, Malfons, sacrificed himself to cover the escape of the fleeing Imperial forces, as he fought a massive Ork Warboss the size of a Dreadnought.
In the battle's aftermath, a tense meeting was held between the "Last Wall" Chapter Masters and the Lord Commander of the Imperium, Udin Macht Udo, who had audaciously claimed credit for the Imperial victory against the Orks. The Lord Commander then proceeded to scold the Astartes, claiming that the unification of Imperial Fists Successor Chapters into a Legion-sized forces as borderline heretical. He also condemned them for their unannounced arrival over the Throneworld and ordered the Chapter Masters to break up their fleets immediately. Udo also ordered that the destruction of the Imperial Fists be kept from the general public, as to countenance such a disaster would be unthinkable and the masses of Terra would devolve into outrank panic. Most outlandish of all, the Lord Commander ominously demanded that no further attacks would be made against the Ork Attack Moon as Fabricator-General Kubrik demanded it to remain intact for some unknown purpose. Though enraged by the impertinent and outrageous demands of the Lord Commander, Koorland cautioned his brothers to maintain the Emperor's vision and to comply with the chairman of the Senatorum Imperialis.
Meanwhile, at that exact moment, on the world of Dzelenic IV, the Black Templars Crusade force led by Marshal Magneric and the Iron Warriors' Warsmith Kalkator came to uneasy truce, formating tentative alliance in the face of the mutual threat of the invading Orks. For the first time in over 1,500 years, not since the bygone era of the Great Crusade had the sons of both Rogal Dorn and Perturabo fight side-by-side.
In the meantime, back on Terra, the outspoken High Marshal Bohemond expressed his disdain for both the squabbling and weak-willed High Lords of Terra as well as the Lord Commander. After Lord Commander Udo passed a motion to ban the Inquisition from the Senatorum, Koorland finally came to the realisation that the squabbling and weak-willed High Lords proved too ineffectual to achieve victory. The "Last Sons of Dorn" personally led a political coup in cooperation with several members of the Senatorum Imperialis, including Grand Master of Assassins Vangorich, Inquisitorial Representative Veritus, Lord Inquisitor Wienand and Grand Provost Marshal of the Adeptus Arbites, Vernor Zeck. Realising they could not oppose Koorland, the rest of the High Lords eventually fell in line and unanimously approved the Imperial Fists Chapter Master's appointment as the newly instilled Lord Commander of the Imperium.
As his first act as Lord Commander of the Imperium, Koorland moved to curtail the scheming of the Martian Priesthood. It had come to light that the Mechanicus were secretly experimenting with Ork teleportation technology in the hopes of teleporting the Red Planet away from the Sol System. The Tech-Priest Eldon Urquidex had knowledge of The Beast's true origins and massacred an Officio Assassinorum investigation team under the command of the Vanus Temple Assassin Clementia Yendl, which had discovered the Mechanicus' illicit experiments. Under order from the newly instilled Lord Commander Koorland, a force of Astartes from the Fists Exemplar commanded by their Chapter Master Maximus Thane, was dispatched to Mars to take Urquidex into custody. But upon landing on the surface of the Red Planet, they were confronted by a large force of Skitarii, Electro-Priests and Battle-Automata of the Legio Cybernetica under the command of the senior Artisan Argus Van Auken. The senior artisan did not wish to engage the Astartes and attempted to impede the Astartes progress with his own Skitarii forces, ordering them to leave Mars immediately. Though engaged in a terse standoff, Chapter Master Thane continued his advance upon Pavonis Mons where Urquidex was being held. He refused to let his progress be impeded, but was careful not to engage the Mechanicus forces, provoking them unnecessarily.
However, despite the effort of the commanders of both sides not to engage one another, disaster struck, when an errant shot from an Onager Dunecrawler accidentally struck an incoming Fists Exemplar Drop Pod. Both sides immediately engaged one another in an intense, but thankfully brief, firefight. It was only through the supreme efforts of Fabricator-General Kubrik, who was currently on Terra, that a complete massacre was averted. Thanks to Lord Commander Koorland's impassioned speech to the Fabricator-General about unifying in the face of the nearly unstoppable greenskins menace, was the Fabricator-General finally swayed to the Imperium's cause. Kubik immediately ordered his forces on Mars to stand down. The panicked Van Auken quickly complied with the wishes of the supreme commander of the Mechanicus. The Fists Exemplar then took Urquidex into custody.
The Fabricator-General then revealed to the Lord Commander the extent of the Mechanicus' experimentation with the Orks' teleportation technology, as they were able to successfully teleport the small planetoid of Phobos from one side of Mar's orbit to another. Gleaning knowledge from the now half-Servitor Urquidex, the Lord Commander learned the location of The Beast's homeworld - Ullanor - the very same world that once saw the most favoured son of the Emperor elevated to the esteemed rank of Warmaster, before his fall to Chaos. He quickly dispatched a call-to-arms across the Imperium, to gather at Terra, in order to launch an Imperial Crusade towards the fabled planet and destroy The Beast once and for all, as well as finally dealing a fatal blow to the crippled Attack Moon that remained in orbit above Terra. The Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves and the Ultramarines all heeded the call and made their way towards the Throneworld of humanity.
Return of Vulkan
Following this successful coup, Inquisitorial Representative Veritus informed now-Lord Commander Koorland of valuable information that could potentially drastically change the outcome of the War of the Beast -- the lost Primarch of the Salamanders Legion, Vulkan, had been rediscovered upon the world of Caldera, waging a one-man war against the greenskin hordes of The Beast. Desperate to defeat The Beast, Koorland immediately gathering an ad-hoc force of several "Last Wall" Chapters, Astra Militarum, Imperial Navy and Mechanicus forces. Lord Commander Koorland led the expedition to the world to recruit the Primarch to fight against The Beast. The Lord Commander understood that to recruit a living Primarch to their cause, that the Imperium might finally be able to tip the balance in their favour. When Lord Commander Koorland and Veritus traveled to Caldera to seek out the lost Primarch, Vulkan seemed to know who Veritus was, but his relationship to the Primarch remained elusive. Upon the Imperial fleet's arrival, they witnessed the might of the Primarch, single-handedly holding back the Ork invasion. With his innate regenerative abilities along with his powerful new weapon, Doomtremor, Vulkan was able to massacre thousands of Orks, drawing the remaining greenskins to attack him instead of Caldera's Imperial defenders.
Despite his best efforts, inevitably, the planet was doomed. The Orks were in the process of converting the planet into a new Attack Moon by draining the planet's surface and core into orbit with a gravitic generator on the surface. When the Lord Commander was finally able to meet with the Primarch, Vulkan initially refused to join the Crusade, until he was able to save Caldera from destruction, honouring a vow he made long ago. With help from Koorland and his Imperial forces they were able to destroy an Ork Attack Moon in Caldera's orbit, thus averting catastrophe. Following the destruction of the gravitic generator and apparent death of the Primarch, Vulkan later appeared fully regenerated.
With the planet finally saved, Vulkan agreed to join with Koorland and journey with the Lord Commander back to Terra. Once they arrived, they found the Imperial host that was set to march upon Ullanor, waiting for them. The Salamanders' Primarch scolded the High Lords for their squabbling and ineptitude, but did not purge them for the sake of unity, though it would have been beneficial had he done so. Vulkan proclaimed that he would lead the might of the Imperium's forces to Ullanor and confront The Beast himself, and finally end his menace once and for all.
First Battle of Ullanor
With the Primarch at their forefront, the massive Imperial coalition set upon their path towards Ullanor Prime in order to halt the greenskin menace. The Imperial force was comprised of several Space Marine Chapters, including the Chapters of the "Last Wall", the Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves and the Ultramarines. A sizable detachment of several Astra Militarum regiments (made up of Lucifer Blacks, Granite Myrmidons, Jupiter Storms and Orion Watch, alongside several others) as well as a sizable Mechanicus force of the Legio Skitarii, Legio Cybernetica, House Taranis Imperial Knights and Titans of the Legio Ultima. Though the Primarch was the nominal commander of this formidable Imperial force, he secluded himself aboard the Fists Exemplar's Battle Barge, Alcazar Remembered, the acting Imperial command ship, offering little advice. The burden of command eventually fell to Lord Commander Koorland and Magos Dominus Gerg Zhokuv, to oversee the overall strategy of the upcoming campaign. The Imperials were able to deduce (at great cost) through a communion of several Librarians (which caused several to go insane and turn upon their fellow battle-brothers, due to the sheer power of the WAAAGH!) that the location of The Beast's lair lay within a "capital" on Ullanor Prime.
Together, the Imperial force invaded The Beast's capital world, and assaulted the city of Gorkogrod, fighting alongside the Primarch. Within the center of the capital city, lay the temple-palace of The Beast, located on the exact spot where the Emperor and the Primarchs had assembled 1,500 years earlier during the Triumph of Ullanor. Meanwhile, Grand Master of Assassins Vangorich deployed the Venenum Assassin Esad Wire, known also as the "Beast Krule", to Ullanor Prime on a secret mission to find and eliminate The Beast.
Much to their surprise, the Imperial forces found the planet heavily colonised and covered almost completely in ramshackle, but surprisingly organised Ork urban settlements. Due to the protection of an immense energy shield and the advent of a multitude of surface-to-orbit missile batteries, orbital bombardment by the Imperial fleet was largely ineffective, forcing them to launch their ground forces directly into the jaws of the greenskin tide. As the initial assault commenced, an Ork electromagnetic weapon decimated the first wave of Mechanicus ships. All the Imperial commanders were concerned by the seemingly disorganised and weak resistance displayed, thus far, by the Orks. As the Imperial ground forces pushed their way towards the outer defences of the capital city, it was here that The Beast unleashed his first real resistance. As the surface of the planet itself moved, it soon became clear the Orks had turned Ullanor into an "Attack Planet", akin to their Attack Moons that had been plaguing the Imperium throughout the galaxy.
Utilising the terrain to their advantage, the Orks drew the Imperial forces into deadly urban-kill zones, inflicting horrendous casualties on the Imperial attackers. Showing an unusual display of tenacity and discipline, the Orks made the Imperial forces pay for every inch of land they took, especially through their use of exotic weapons that were both psychic and gravitic in nature. To make matters worse, a seemingly endless tide of Gargants appeared and began to exchange fire with the Imperial's Battle Titans. As the battle continued, casualties mounted, with the Astra Militarum regiments rapidly approached nearly 50% casualties, while one in every three Astartes were lost during the Imperial force's drive on the capital city. Despite suffering severe attrition, it was only through the direct intervention of Primarch Vulkan himself, along with the sheer determination of the Imperial forces on the ground, that they were able to slowly advance forwards.
Meanwhile, Esad Wire, the Imperial Assassin managed to infiltrate the immense temple of Gork and Mork located in the center of the massive Ork capital, which was believed to be The Beast's lair. Once he was inside the Assassin found tens of thousands of Warboss-sized Mega Armoured orks, accompanied by a Mega Gargant that was held in reserve. Esad Wire realised he would never be able to get close enough to The Beast with such a massive force arrayed against him. He also realised that he needed to warn the Imperial forces of the impending trap. Esad Wire commandeered an Ork flyer and managed to reach the Imperial's lines, informing them of the Orks' trap. Apprised of the situation, Lord Commander Koorland ordered that their forces would instead strike at the Ork's supply depots. With the Primarch's approval, Koorland put his plan into action. As the Orks were already experiencing food shortages, they had already began to turn on their own, eating Gretchin, human slaves and even, each other. The Imperials believed that by putting the Orks remaining food storehouses in jeopardy, they would be able to draw The Beast and his elite guard out into the open.
The attack on the Orks' food supplies fulfilled their intended purpose, as the center of Gorkogrod shook as it spat forth waves of massive geenskins and Gargants. The Imperial forces were able to withstand the Ork onslaught, thanks in part to a hastily constructed Ordinatus assembled from the wreckage of a Capitol Imperialis and a massive Plasma Accelerator from a downed Imperial vessel. As the Imperial forces continued to fight their way towards the massive temple, the Orks revealed their final surprise - the temple itself was, in fact, a Mega Gargant beyond normal classification! Emitting powerful psychic WAAAGH! energy from its large artificial "eyes", the massive Ork walker rained fiery death down upon the Imperial forces.
In a desperate last stand, Vulkan led the remaining 3,000 Astartes in a final, suicidal airborne assault against the Ork superweapon, in the vain hope of reaching The Beast and finally slaying the fell creature once and for all. Penetrating the temple-Gargant's outer hull, the Imperial forces encountered Ork Stompas defending within. The Astartes forces continued their inexorable advance, slaughtering every greenskin they encountered, until they reached a large central chamber. Here, they came upon a large power generator and a massive ten metre-high metal idol of a mighty Ork. It was only when the statue began to move that the Space Marines realised that they faced no mere idol, but The Beast itself, clad entirely in a massive suit of mega armour.
After both the Crimson Fists and Ultramarines Chapter Masters, Quesadra and Odaenathus, were quickly killed by The Beast, the Blood Angels Captain Valefor attempted to attack the creature, but was swatted away like an insect. No such creature had been encountered since the time of the Great Crusade. The massive Ork was a foe beyond any mortal's understanding and no mere Astartes could face such a nightmarish creature. Therefore, it fell to Vulkan to confront the massive greenskin alone. Koorland finally came to the understanding that the Primarch intended to sacrifice himself in order to slay the creature. Therefore, the Lord Commander respect the Primarch's wishes and ordered a tactical withdrawal. High Marshal Bohemond once again objected to following Koorland's leadership when he ordered the Astartes to evacuate and let Vulkan face The Beast alone. Enraged by the High Marshal's callous disregard, he struck Bohemond to the ground. Chastised, the High Marshal remained on the ground, shamed before his fellow Scions of Dorn, until he eventually evacuated with all the rest.
During the epic final encounter with The Beast, the massive Ork Warboss revealed that it could speak perfect Gothic. The fell creature gloated that it had brought Humanity to its knees and that it would be its final doom. The Salamanders Primarch tackled the gargantuan creature and both of the combatants tumbled into the temple-Gargant's power generator. Vulkan was inundated by a massive influx of WAAAGH! energy, but instead of being utterly consumed by it, like so many others, the Primarch reached into the reserves of his own primal and savage essence, becoming one with the influx of Ork energy and launched one final attack, slamming his warhammer, Doomtremor, into the face of The Beast and detonating the power generator. This caused a chain reaction that destroyed the temple-Gargant in a massive explosion, which seemingly obliterated both Vulkan and The Beast. With the apparent death of The Beast, the morale of the Orks was shattered and all greenskin resistance on Ullanor crumbled. The badly mauled Imperial Crusade force limped back to Terra. When they finally reached orbit over the Imperial Throneworld, an Orkish chant could be heard broadcasting across all Imperial frequencies, repeating, "I am Slaughter! I am Slaughter! I am Slaughter!"
Inception of the Deathwatch
Despite the apparent death of The Beast on Ullanor Prime, the ork chanting continued unabated, for weeks. It soon became apparent to Koorland that The Beast was either not dead or another Ork Warlord had assumed control over The Beast's WAAAGH! With their forces nearly bled dry from the desperate fighting on Ullanor, Lord Commander Koorland agreed with the Grand Master of Assassins Vangorich, that a new change of tactics was needed nin order to handle the most dangerous of xenos threats. Koorland proposed the use of small, elite Kill-Teams to eliminate vital strategic assets of the encroaching Greenskins and eventually, The Beast itself.
When Koorland proposed that these Kill-Teams would be comprised of Astartes from multiple Adeptus Astartes Chapters, existing purely under his overall command, and would continue to exist even after The Beast was finally defeated, that he met bitter opposition in the form of the High Lord Tobris Ekharth, the Master of the Administratum. Ekarth felt that the Lord Commander's proposal went against the foundations of the Post-Heresy Imperium and the dictates of the Codex Astartes incorporated by Roboute Guilliman. Ecclesiarch Mesring agreed, for he had repeatedly declared such actions as blasphemy in a manner that uneased the other High Lords. In the first Senatorum Election held to vote whether or not to create Lord Commander Koorland's proposed xenos-hunting force, only Drakan Vangorich voted yes while Fabricator-General Kubik and Inquisitorial Representative Veritus abstained.
The situation drastically changed when the long-dormant Attack Moon over Terra reactivated. With its subspace gate repaired, a massive force of Ork reinforcements soon swarmed the Attack Moon, as The Beast, discovered to have survived the assault on Ullanor, announced that he would slaughter all of humanity. Though reluctant at first to acquiesce to the Lord Commander's plan to approve the creation of such a force, desperate times called for desperate measures. Therefore, the High Lords of Terra consented to Koorland's proposal. In a second vote, only Ecclesiarch Mesring voted against the proposal, while Kubik and Veritus once again abstained.
The original recruits for this newly created elite force were drawn from the survivors of the various Chapters who took part in the initial invasion of The Beast's capital world of Ullanor. These Space Marine re-painted their battle-plate a sombre black, in honour of their fallen brethren that had died during the First Battle of Ullanor. Thus standing in vigil over their fallen brethren, the seeds of the newly dubbed "Deathwatch" were sown. Lord Commander Koorland eventually came to an agreement with the Inquisitorial Representative Wienand, to assuage any doubts held by the rest of the members of the Senatorum Imperialis, that the Deathwatch would fall under the purview of the Inquisition, but an Astartes would ultimately serve as Chapter Master.
In their first notable action, a Deathwatch Kill-Team successfully teleported aboard the Attack Moon while the Imperial Navy desperately held the line against an attacking Ork fleet. The Kill-Team was successful in achieving their mission objective by planting Mechanicus beasonce that were reversed-engineered from the Orks' subspace technology. The Imperials' audacious plan was to teleport the Attack Moon out of the Sol System, however,the Adeptus Mechanicus was unable to master the Ork technology, and as a result, when they attempted to teleport the Attack Moon, they inadvertently teleported only half of the massive artificial planetoid, which caused the remaining half to shatter. The debris rained down upon Terra in a hail of debris, with some of the flaming wreckage damaging much of the Imperial Palace. Hundreds of millions of Terra's population died as a result of the ensuing disaster.
Second Battle of Ullanor
Despite this setback, Lord Commander Koorland remained undeterred, realising that in order to defeat The Beast and his WAAAGH!, they needed to counter the greenskins' potent psykers. Once again, Inquisitorial Representative Veritus displayed his uncanny knowledge of the past, when he informed Koorland of the existence of the last bastion of the Sisters of Silence upon the world of Nadiries. He told the Lord Commander that he had long sought them out even before the events of the War of the Beast. Following Veritus' lead to the world of Nadriries, located in the far reaches of the Segmentum Pacificus. It was here, that the last forgotten bastion of the Silent Sisterhood had remained for 1,500 years. When Lord Commander of the Imperium Koorland arrived, he found Nadiries under siege by the Orks, who feared the Pariah psyker-killers. Koorland led the effort to lift the siege, and once inside, he attempted to convince the reluctant Sisters to join him in his Crusade.
The leader of the Sisters explained that they had been cast out by a distrustful Imperium, and although they were fiercely loyal to the Emperor and the Primarchs, they would rather see the now-corrupt Imperium burn, rather than aid it in its time of need. Koorland convinced the reluctant Sisters to join him only after he revealed that he had the blessing of the Primarch Vulkan himself. Devising a new plan to defeat The Beast, the Deathwatch captured several Ork psykers on Eidolica, Plaeos and Valhalla. Koorland intended to use the null effect of the anti-psyker Sisters of Silence to create a reverse-WAAAAGH! effect through the Ork psyche, and essentially decimate the greenskin hordes of The Beast using their own power against them. After successfully conducting their theory against a large Ork force on the world of Incus Maximal, the Lord Commander declared his intent to launch a second invasion of Ullanor Prime. This time they would slay The Beast utilising their new secret weapon.
Leading a large, but much smaller, Imperial Crusade during the Second Battle of Ullanor, this force was comprised of several battered Chapters, including: the Aurora Chapter, Black Templars, Blood Angels, Brazen Claws, Excoriators, Fists Exemplar, Iron Knights, Iron Snakes, Raven Guard, Storm Lords and Space Wolves. This strike force was further augmented by the Deathwatch, several Astra Militarum regiments consisting mainly of several veteran units of the first campaign, Frateris Templar, Skitarii, several cohorts of Legio Cybernetica, Imperial Knights, several dozen Sisters of Silence, Inquisitorial Storm Troopers and the remaining Titans of the Legio Ultima. Due to the losses sustained by the Imperial Navy, the Imperial Crusade was transported by the Inquisition's Black Ships provided by the co-Inquisitorial Representative Weinand, who became the co-commander, alongside the Fists Exemplar's Chapter Master Maximus Thane, of the invasion phase of Ullanor. The Lord Commander would personally lead an assassination force to seek out and slay The Beast, consisting of the following: Black Templars High Marshal Bohemond, Deathwatch Chapter Master Asger Warfist, a single 6-man Deathwatch Kill-Team led by Raven Guard Sergeant Tyris, the Imperial Assassin Esad Wire, the Skitarii Ranger Alpha 13-Jzzal, a squad of 6 Sisters of Silence led by Knight Abyssal Kavalanera Brassanas, Commissar Heliad Goss and two Ogryns.
The Imperials began the second invasion by launching several damaged warships manned by skeleton crews, sacrificing themselves spectacularly as they collided with the large energy field that protected the world's capital of Gorkogrod, causing it to overload. With the shield temporarily disable, Koorland's assassination team used this opportunity to teleport into Gorkogrod's central complex. The Imperial strike force met little resistance, and quickly realised that The Beast was already aware of their presence. The energy shield was quickly reactivated and a large Ork force was diverted towards the Imperial strike force in the palace. Meanwhile, a large Ork fleet suddenly appeared in orbit and launched an ambush against the Imperial fleet. Though the trap was set by The Beast, Koorland would not be deterred, as he was intent on succeeding, where Vulkan had failed.
The Imperial strike force fought a desperate battle of survival, but eventually, they managed to reach the complex's central throneworld, where they encountered six thrones, six statues and six banners. Seated in one of these thrones was a massive Ork armoured in mega armour. The creature was as large as a walker. To compound matters, the Imperials were surrounded by a large force of Gargants that stood taller than an Imperial Reaver-class Titan. As the other members of the strike team held off The Beast's honour guard, the Lord Commander and the other Space Marines engaged The Beast. Though they proved ineffective against the massive creature, they held off The Beast long enough for the Sisters of Silence to enact their ritual and activate their anti-psyker effect. Due to the Sisters of Silence's Pariah effect, the Ork Psyker that was present imploded, which resulted in a sort-of feedback effect, causing a reverse-WAAAGH! chain reaction that swept across Ullanor, affecting the massive horde of greenskins. Temporarily disabling both The Beast's honour guard and several Ork vehicles, the Warboss was only momentarily disabled, which allowed for one last desperate, final attack by Koorland and the assassination team, which narrowly slew the fell creature.
Though Koorland's plan succeeded, the Imperials' victory was short-lived, as a larger and even more vicious Ork appeared. The Lord Commander recognised the creature as the original Beast that had fought the Primarch Vulkan during the first invasion. It was revealed that the creature Koorland killed, was in fact, one of six "Prime-Orks", each a veritable Beast in its own right. After this revelation, the newly revealed Beast swept aside the Imperial assassination force and Koorland was soon slain by The Beast, crushing the Lord Commander under one of its massive boots. With the death of the "Last Son of Dorn", the Imperials recovered the fallen Lord Commander's body and fled the surface of the planet.
Third Battle of Ullanor
Following the tragic death of Koorland during the Second Battle of Ullanor, the High Lords of Terra remained indecisive on what the best course of action should be taken to end the threat of the remaining Greenskin threat. Shortly after the events on Ullanor, the core systems of the Segmentum Solar were subjected to a renewed wave of attacks carried out the seemingly neverending tide of Greenskins. Paralysed by the lack of clear and concise orders, the majority of Battlefleet Solar was utterly devastated by an Ork fleet of space hulks. During this new wave of attacks, tragically, Ecclesiarch Mesring was killed during the Orks' onslaught. Just before dying, the half-mad Ecclesiarch raved in a nearly incomprehensible astropathic message, that nearby worlds should throw open their gates to the forces of The Beast. Tragically, several Cardinal Worlds made the fatal mistake of complying with the insane Ecclesiarch's final directive and peacefully surrendered, which resulted in their planets' populations being massacred. During this time, the Space Wolves followed the primal urge to return to their feral homeworld of Fenris while the Ultramarines and their fellow Successor Chapters became bogged down in the defence of key regions of the Ultima Segmentum. With their Warboss slain, the Orks launched an all-out rampage across the Imperium, butchering and slaughtering whole worlds, with impunity.
While the Orks continued to rage unabated across the worlds of the Imperium, the Fists Exemplars' Chapter Master, Maximus Thane, came to the decision to take decisive action against the Greenskin threat, while attending Koorland's funeral during the Feast of Blades on their Primarch's homeworld of Inwit. Unlike Koorland and Primarch Vulkan, the Chapter Master had no intention of attempting to work with the ineffective High Lords of Terra, and instead began gathering key competent individuals to form an inner circle of trusted advisors. Allying himself with Grand Master of Assassins Drakan Vangorich and Fabricator-General Kubik, Thane and his co-conspirators began to secretly plan for a third offensive engagement against Ullanor in an attempt to snatch victory from a seemingly crushing defeat.
The first phase of Than's plan called for the remaining "Last Wall" Chapters to set aside a portion of their remaining strength in order to reconstitute the Imperial Fists Chapter. With the death of Koorland, the "Last Son of Dorn", during the recent Second Battle of Ullanor, the Imperial Fists were now an extinct Chapter. This was both a travesty and a great tragedy that needed to addressed post-haste, as the original Chapter descended from Rogal Dorn could not be allowed to remain extinct. Within a short span of time, 1,000 Battle-Brothers had been gathered from every Scions of Dorn Chapter, and stood proudly in their battle-plate that was freshly repainted in the livery of the Imperial Fists on the parade grounds of the Imperial Palace on back on the Imperial Throneworld. Maximus Thane stood at the head of the reconstituted Imperial Fists as their new Chapter Master. The truth of the destruction of the Imperial Fists at Ardamantua was deemed necessary to keep from the citizens of Terra, who now rejoiced at seeing the stalwart defenders of Terra marching in parade at full-strength. However, the High Lords knew the truth of what had occurred, and though they agreed to keep this tragic event from the wider masses, grew suspicious of Thane's true intentions.
Thane intended to repeat Koorland's original strategy and devised a plan to capture another Ork psyker in order to utilise the creature in conjunction with the innate Pariah abilities of the Silent Sisterhood in order to create a reverse-WAAAGH! effect to slay The Beast once and for all. Meanwhile, the Chapter Master took advantage of the Grand Master of Assassins' power and influence to help their cause. Vangorich used his considerable influence to intimidate both Lord Commander Militant Verreault and Lord High Admiral Lansung into contributing their combined resources for the renewed push on Ullanor Prime.
Unlike the previous campaigns launched against the Greenskins on Ullanor, Thane opted to utilise more unconventional tactics in order to gain an advantage over their foes. Utilising the advanced technology of the Mechanicus, Chapter Master Thane had the Imperial strike force redirect several asteroids and send them in devastating waves to collide with the highly populated capital world that now teemed with literally trillions of Orks. With Orks distracted by the devastating assault of asteroids that collided with the planet, knocking out orbital and ground defences, the bulk of Imperial troops utilised a modified asteroid, dubbed 44 Thoosa, and used it to make a controlled landing upon the Ork planet. Even though they made a successful controlled landing, the asteroid still made a devastating impact that wiped out much of the capital city of Gorkogrod. The Imperial strike force then launched their main assault in the form of five separate attack groups. The attack group was comprised of the newly reconstituted Imperial Fists and the Sisters of Silence, led by Chapter Master Thane himself. Another group was comprised of Mechanicus forces led by Magos Gerg Zhokuv, while a third attack group was comprised of the remaining "Last Wall" Chapters led by High Marshal Bohemond. The fourth attack group was led by the former Wolf Lord Asger Warfist, who was now the first Watch Commander (Chapter Master) of the Deathwatch and Inquisitorial Representative Wienand, while the final attack group remained in orbit, which was led by the formidable Imperial Fists' mobile fortress-monastery, the Phalanx itself, which was manned by the Chapter's 10th Company and two demi-Companies of Imperial Fists.
Having annihilated the majority of the Ork settlements of Gorkogrod by the Imperial's asteroid attack, this time the Imperial forces faced a more straightforward fight, though the battle was still a desperate struggle as they now faced a neverending wave of angry and battle-frenzied Orks. Four of the five attack groups concentrated on keep the Orks distracted while the last group, led by Chapter Master Thane, continued their drive on The Beast's Gargant-palace located in the center of the capital city. With three remaining captive Ork psykers held by the Imperial Fists, they utilised one of these fell creatures to annihilate remaining Orks located around the proximity of the central palace complex. Another one of these powerful Greenskin psykers was lost during a vicious firefight. Meanwhile in orbit, the Imperial fleet sustained heavy losses, while the Phalanx itself was forced to defend itself from boarding Orks.
Though exhausted and bloody, Thane's attack group finally managed to penetrate the Ork palace and fight their way towards the complex's central throneroom, where they once again came across six thrones made for six "Beast"-sized "Prime Orks". During the final epic battle, the Imperial strike force was confronted by one of these truly nightmarish monsters, which they speculated to be "The Beast of Beasts". After a hard-fought and desperate, blood struggle, the Sisters of Silence, led by Knight-Abyssal Kavalanera Brassanas, conducted the final ritual with the sole remaining Ork psyker, and using their innate psychic-null effect, they created a powerful anti-WAAAGH! effect. The chain reaction of this deadly effect successfully annihilated the remaining Orks within the palace complex and caused the massive head of the The Beast of Beasts' to explode spectacularly, just before it could slay Chapter Master Thane.
In the aftermath of the Imperium's victory achieved during the Third Battle of Ullanor, The Beast's WAAAGH! finally collapsed, though thousands of Imperial systems remained under threat of the remaining Greenskins. The newly instilled Lord Commander of the Imperium, Maximus Thane, decreed that the Imperium would raise as many new Chapters as they had gene-seed in the great vaults of Terra to sustain. All Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes were ordered to release a portion of their Veterans to provide the initial basis for this Founding, the greatest since the First Founding. Gene-seed tithing would be doubled for the next standard century to replenish the vaults. When it was done, there would be hundreds of Chapters to ring the Imperium in adamantium and ceramite instead of dozens.
The Lord Commander also decreed that the Imperial Fists would no longer garrison the Throneworld of Terra, as they would become a Crusading Chapter to bring their strength and Thane's authority as Lord Commander of the Imperium to the beleaguered worlds of the Imperium, to free them from alien tyranny, and speed their reconstruction. Knowing that his labours would be long, and that he might never see the Throneworld again, Thane invested Drakan Vangorich as the new Lord Protector of the Imperium, to be his personal representative and act as his voice and his hand, to be heeded and treated with as if Thane were present himself. To allay the High Lords' misgivings, he reminded them that the threat of his return would be enough to ensure Vangorich's good behaviour.
Following the departure of the Imperial Fists from Terra, Vangorich was left to oversee the reconstruction efforts of the Imperium and to act as Thane's voice in the council of the Senatorum Imperialis. But over the course of the War of the Beast, Vangorich had grown contemptuous of the political machinations and squabbling of the fractious High Lords during the conflict.
But he remained committed, at first, to do his best to work with them in the rebuilding of the shattered Imperium. However, Thane had warned Vangorich of Fabricator-General Kubik and his self-interest. Eventually Vangorich discovered the full extent of the Fabricator-General's plans.
The head of the Adeptus Mechanicus had utilised matter displacement technologies plundered from the Greenskins' Attack Moons to secretly teleport the Ork capital city of Ullanor, Gorkogrod, aboard the immense Mechanicus vessel Ark Majesty instead of carrying out an Exterminatus on Ullanor as Chapter Master Thane had demanded. Kubik was intent on plundering the Greenskins for every scrap of their advanced technology. Enraged by Kubik's deception, Vangorich decided to act.
The Grand Master of Assassins understood that the Officio Assassinorum was a tool to be used to check the follies of empire. He knew what it could do and what an abuse of power it could be to use as the Emperor intended it to be used. That is why he had avoided acting, until now.
Vangorich came to the conclusion that the squabbling rabble in the Senatorum Imperialis were irredeemable. They had done nothing for a thousand standard years but stuff their greedy faces with the wealth of the Imperium. Vangorich saw no other choice but to act, for the Imperium had become corrupt from within. The deadwood needed to be disposed of, and the new given a chance to germinate.
Striking swiftly, Vangorich ordered the death of the High Twelve, which was swiftly carried out in a single solar day. Only Wienand, the joint-Inquisitorial Representative, was spared, as Vangorich harboured romantic feelings towards the female Inquisitor.
Thus, in 546.M32 the byzantine politics of the Imperium of Man took a calamitous turn when the High Lords of Terra were all assassinated. This lamentable event came to be known as "The Beheading". Vangorich then moved swiftly to install new High Lords, who acted as a puppet representatives of the Senatorum Imperialis for the Lord Protector to do with as he willed.
Though he did not say as much, Vangorich believed that the acting Lord Commander of the Imperium had more or less given unspoken permission to the Lord Protector to remove the chafe from the wheat. Whilst out on Crusade, Thane received reports of what Vangorich had done, but did not move against him, as he decided to let the Lord Protector lead the newly-installed Senatorum Imperialis and rule the Imperium effectively for once.
Vangorich would go on to govern the Imperium for nearly a standard century. Though he eventually became a tyrant, he was an effective one, and oversaw the reconstruction and re-fortification of Terra and the Imperium, the rebuilding of Imperial military forces as well as the Fourth Founding of the Adeptus Astartes. However, after nearly eighty Terran years of rule, the Lord Protector had begun to display a variety of troubling behaviours and uncontrolled paranoia.
Seeing enemies everywhere, he called for unnecessary purges and massacres, which only seemed to grow in number on a daily basis. Receiving troubling reports from abroad about the Lord Protector's growing instability, Maximus Thane decided that the Imperial Fists would return to Terra to remove the troublesome Vangorich.
Fury of the Space Marines
When the Imperial Fists' Crusade fleet finally arrived back at Terra, four hundred Space Marines were despatched to the capital world's surface. A company each from two of the newly founded Chapters, the Halo Brethren and the Sable Swords, as well as two hundred Imperial Fists of the 1st, 4th and 5th Companies took part in the efforts to remove Vangorich from power. The commander of the strike force, Qublicus Amar, Chapter Master of the Sable Swords, was assassinated by a Vindicare Assassin's bullet soon after making planetfall.
Seeing no other choice, the remaining Space Marines commenced their attack nevertheless. Assailed by hundreds of Assassins, the Space Marines lost half their number securing the Imperial Palace from the agents of the Officio Assassinorum. Confronting the Inquisitorial Representative, the elderly Wienand, she convinced Thane of her loyalty, and gave the Chapter Master the necessary intelligence he needed in order to find and remove the mad tyrant Vangorich from power.
The Grand Master of Assassins had taken refuge in the Eversor Temple at Terra's north pole. Moving the retribution force there at once, the Astartes proceeded with their attack. Within the Eversor Temple, the Space Marines were assailed by a hundred Eversor Assassins. Only Maximus Thane managed to survive, to reach the Grand Master and finally deliver the Emperor's judgement personally with his Bolt Pistol. In the aftermath of Vangorich's fall, the Imperium would proceed to descend into a period of political anarchy for some time.
This sorry situation would last for almost two more standard decades, until Chapter Master Agnathio of the Ultramarines gathered the support of his fellow Chapter Masters from all over the galaxy, and a combined armada of over 50 Chapters of Space Marines descended upon Terra for the first time since the end of the Horus Heresy.
Agnathio provided the warring factions of the Throneworld with an ultimatum to either cease fighting and form a unified government immediately or be purged as Heretics. The factions, unable to withstand the military might of the equivalent of an entire Space Marine Legion of old, quickly fell into line, and a new council of High Lords of Terra were quickly elected and order restored at the heart of the Imperium.
In the wake of these events, the Inquisition formed the Ordo Xenos and the Ordo Malleus in order to combat threats both xenos and daemonic in nature, while the Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes was granted a position as one of the High Lords of Terra. In a final act, the esteemed position of Lord Commander of the Imperium was abolished, and would not be reconstituted for another nine millennia, until the resurrection of the long-dead Ultramarines Primarch, Roboute Guilliman at the end of the 41st Millennium.
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 169
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (5th Edition), pg. 124
- I Am Slaughter - The Beast Arises, Book 1 (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Predator, Prey - The Beast Arises, Book 2 (Novel) by Rob Sanders
- The Emperor Expects - The Beast Arises, Book 3 (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- The Last Wall - The Beast Arises, Book 4 (Novel) by David Annandale
- Throneworld - The Beast Arises, Book 5 (Novel) by Guy Haley
- Echoes of the Long War - The Beast Arises, Book 6 (Novel) by David Guymer
- The Hunt for Vulkan - The Beast Arises, Book 7 (Novel) by David Annandale
- The Beast Must Die - The Beast Arises, Book 8 (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Watchers in Death - The Beast Arises, Book 9 (Novel) by David Annandale
- The Last Son of Dorn - The Beast Arises, Book 10 (Novel) by David Guymer
- Shadow of Ullanor - The Beast Arises, Book 11 (Novel) by Rob Sanders
- The Beheading - The Beast Arises, Book 12 (Novel) by Guy Haley