"...Xana is a gift simply too perfect to be trusted; it is either our greatest good fortune in these times of war, or it is a serpent lying in wait to slay us. My mind perceives the former, but my soul warns the latter."
- — Anonymous report by an Imperial military attaché from the Court of Terra, on the nature of Xana II, 846.M30
Xana II is a Hell-Forge of the Dark Mechanicum that was once a powerful and isolated Forge World of the ancient Mechanicum, whose capable forges and facilities were unmatched in its region of the galaxy. Xana II is particularly known for supplying the Hell Blade and Hell Talon attack craft to the forces of Chaos.
The Primaris-grade Forge World of Xana II was originally located in the Vicidax Thule Sector which lay on the very edge of the western galactic reach of the Segmentum Pacificus.
Long the subject of sinister rumour concerning its finding and inclusion in the Imperium of Man during one of the darkest episodes of the Great Crusade's early history, Xana's masters were notoriously independent and politically long-estranged from Mars.
Xana II's privilege was bought largely with the vast outpourings of its forges to fuel and arm the ongoing Great Crusade, and expediency was the mother of the pace which brought the Forge World into the Imperium by negotiation with the emissaries of the Emperor, rather than the full auspices of Mars.
While the forges of distant Xana issued forth provender and munitions in vast quantities, it was largely left alone.
As the Horus Heresy suddenly and bloodily unfolded, Xana II's isolation only increased and it was a situation its ruling synod of magi, known as the Vodian Consistory, did little to attempt to outwardly alleviate. They chose initially neither faction to favour, avowing, at least publicly, that the matter was an "internal matter of the Great Crusade's military" in which they had no direct involvement.
As the civil war went on with no clear avenue of victory in sight, both sides looked to the increasingly bellicose and active Forge World of Xana II with renewed interest.
In their years of isolation following the war's outbreak, the forges of Xana had not been idle and evidence began to amass that a vast and well-guarded stockpile of munitions and war machines had been built up in the system, and readied as if for shipment to a client, but to what end or to whom remained unclear. Eventually, Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Imperial Fists Legion and Praetorian of Terra, made an open proclamation declaring the Forge World of Xana II Traitoris Perdita and under sentence of death.
At the same time, covert entreaties were made via intermediaries of Malcador the Sigillite for the remission of this sentence in return for absolute allegiance and the deliverance of stockpiles of war materiel immediately to the Loyalists' defensive build-up in the Segmentum Solar.
The Warmaster Horus, however, was to offer a more subtle and honeyed bargain, which would inevitably lead to Xana II's downfall, and ultimately, they would become the first of the so-called Hell-Forges of the Warpsmiths of Chaos.
The Great Crusade
"The blade of suspicion is keener yet than that of hate, for it slays friends as readily as foes. It sunders kin and rends apart those who in sane course of action would be allies as easily as those whom nature itself decrees as deadly foes. So savage a weapon it is that they who master it need fear none, save of course themselves."
- — The Book of the Hydra
The Forge World of Xana was a potent and storied example of its kind, an Ultima II-grade faculty rated as one of the most capable Forge Worlds of the Imperium, and unmatched in its region of the galaxy. It comprised a main planetary sphere, Xana II, with a number of inhabited moons and extensive mobile sub-faculties in the form of void and gas mining installations scattered throughout the debris belts and turbulent atmosphere of the macro-magnitude gas giant, Xana I, around which the Forge World orbited as one of its moon.
Its position was on the very far tip of the galactic arm of the western fringe, granting it the title on the star charts of the Carta Imperialis as "Occidentem Thule" -- the last great port on the edge of the intergalactic abyss. To the crews of the Imperial fleet whose long range patrols used Xana as their furthest outpost of reach, it bore another more evocative name, "the Port of Bones" -- a reference of uncertain origin, but perhaps developed form the ossuary-white and grey-black livery of its ruling Mechanicum Magi.
"Xana" had been a word that conjured images of sinister mystery at the edge of the unknown since the earliest days of the Great Crusade. First recorded in rumours taken from the reports of Rogue Traders and exploratory craft sent out towards the western reaches of the galaxy as early as the ninth century of M30, these early "myths" were confused, contradictory and exaggerated in the telling. These tales told of a machine empire that spanned many worlds on one hand and of a lonely outpost -- a forbidden domain which held within it the wonders and terrors of the Dark Age of Technology on the other.
Some versions of the rumours held its rulers to be cyborg lords such as the masters of Mars, while others spoke of a nightmarish cabal of dark overminds, fleshless things that should have long been dead. But despite these discrepancies, certain consistencies remained between the iterations of the story; firstly that this technological power was -- or at least had once been -- human and that its home was a star system on the very edge of the western galactic reach upon a world that was time and again named as "Xana."
The pursuit of what truth lay behind the myth of Xana became of great interest to the planners and strategists of the early decades of the Great Crusade, not least of all, it is believed, to the Fabricator-General of Mars and the Emperor Himself. To the former, the mysterious data indicated the presence of a powerful and independent Forge World, though one founded perhaps by a lost Ark Mechanicum as no records remained in the vaults of Mars as to an intentional expedition to this desolate and ill-populated region of space.
As to the latter's interest, it can only be speculated upon, but it is known that probe ships were sent out into the region by the Emperor's express order. Perhaps it was merely a part of the Master of Mankind's greater interest to see the far-flung domains of humanity united, or perhaps to isolate a rival to be destroyed. It might have been that He saw Xana as a potential location where one of His lost sons might be found; we shall never now know.
Deep-range Empyreal explorers and expedition flotillas searched far in their quest for Xana for solar decades, but either did not return or came back empty-handed, save for a fresh handful of rumours and suppositions, and the myth of Xana remained just that, superseded by more pressing conflicts and tangible discoveries which drew away the Great Crusade's attention.
The tides of war and conquest would mean that the truth of Xana would remain uncovered until 843.M30 when a damaged galleass belonging to the Rogue Trader Casilida DeAniasie, having been flung far off-course after engaging in battle with Fra'al Corsairs, intercepted a trio of hulking automata warships at the edge of the intergalactic void. Although they might have taken or destroyed her already damaged voidship with little effort, these vessels instead offered aid and carried with them a message of greeting and an offer of diplomatic exchange between the "Sovereign Forge Domain of Xana" and the Imperium of Man and its Emperor.
The Xana vessels made good on their intentions by taking the stricken galleass back under tow to the Xana System itself, where it was repaired and resupplied for its journey home with exemplary speed, and the Rogue Trader herself treated with courtesy and honour in a realm that DeAniasie herself would later go on to describe as a "...beacon on the shore of night" -- a fully-fledged Forge World, as potent as any then in the Imperium save mighty Mars itself, set in orbit around a titanic gas giant, itself beholden to a star cast alone on the edge of the great void, without constellation or neighbour for hundreds of light years. A world, if any could be said to be so, on the precipice of the abyss of the unknown.
An Uneasy Alliance
"Death has reared himself a throne, in a strange city lying alone, Hell, rising from a thousand thrones, shall do it reverence."
- —Unknown poetic fragments collected in the Lexis Dramaturica, Circa M2
Negotiations between the Imperium and Xana soon followed upon the Rogue Trader's return, but despite the cordial tone under which they had been instigated, they were quickly beset by suspicions by many within the Imperium's camp. The first among the doubters were the emissaries of Mars. To them Xana was a troubling paradox; a recognisable Mechanicum-dogmatic and Mars-originated Forge World where one should not exist, and of whose creation they had no record. Furthermore, it was no mere hardscrabble outpost of the Machine Cult, such as Kalibbrax had been when rediscovered, nor even a recognisable exemplar of an Ark Mechanicus-created domain which had maintained intermittent links to Mars such as Lucius.
Instead, any cursory examination of Xana showed it as a primary Forge World of vast resource and manufacturing facility far outstripping its own needs. A Forge World whose roots were sunk deep, centuries deep perhaps, and indeed whose arts had dragged other minor planetary bodies into its near-orbit for its homeworld's use after its own native mines had played out. Its mature technologies and industries had produced multiple quasi-independent forge-fanes which in turn had created powerful Taghmata for their protection, and for the defence of their world pooled their resources to create a Titan Legion of a size matching the first rank of the Imperium's own classification, and that had also constructed its own void-navy, whose vessels had Warp capability.
To the emissaries and assayers of Mars, who the Lords of Xana received with cordial if chill honour, these facts did not make sense. Far-flung Xana was simply too powerful, too well-established, too apparently concordant in Machine Cult doctrine for a world with no history of communion with Mars on record; the facts did not compute, Xana was a paradox.
Suspicions were not allayed by the Xanites' vagueness as regarding their world's origins and activities over the years, blaming the tribulations of long distant wars and the privations of past solar storms of blistering power for their missing and incoherent records as to their own history, while their vast military capacity they explained as reaction to prior attacks by alien invaders. The Fabricator-General's ambassador demanded full access to planetary archives and forge-fane data-looms for verification, but was flatly denied; negotiations for admittance to the Imperium were under way and the Lords of Xana rejected any demands to capitulate sovereignty prematurely; they did not desire war, but nor would they submit to "enslavement" without conflict.
Hard calculations were being run by this time by the commanders of the Great Crusade; estimations of the degree of force required to take Xana were high. Such a conquest would require the full might of at least one entire Space Marine Legion, preferably more, and that force backed with a full strength of multiple Titan Legions and hundreds of thousands of ancillary troops. This to secure victory over what would be an inevitably shattered prize.
The force required to perform such a task was one the Imperium of 846.M30 was ill-equipped to spare, for looming over the stalemating negotiations was the spectre of a far larger war. That war would be the first waves of what would become afterwards known as the Rangdan Xenocides; the greatest existential threat of the Imperium's first century of existence and a conflict whose casualties and losses would be unmatched in scope until the wars of the Horus Heresy itself were fought.
Under the baleful influence of this far greater threat, a deal was reached between the ambassadors of Terra and the Lords of Xana, a proposal which came with the undertone of drastic action by the Imperium should its generous offers be rejected. Under this treaty of Imperial Compliance, Xana would maintain its sovereignty as part of the greater Imperium, and notionally while falling under the rule of distant Mars, its affairs and secrets would largely remain its own so long as it obeyed the restrictions on technological development imposed on Mars itself by the Emperor.
Xana in return, and its forges and fanes, would now arm the Great Crusade and serve as port for its ships, and the Imperium in turn would feed Xana with raw materials and fresh blood and schematics to enable this. The accord was sealed and ratified by the Lords of Xana and the Emperor's own writ, despite the misgivings of many and the barely concealed displeasure of the Fabricator-General.
In spite of the suspicions of many, the accord and the uneasy alliance bore fruit; the Titans of Xana, divided now into two Legions, the Legio Vulturum (known as the "Gore Crows") and the Legio Kydianos (the "Death Cry"), left their world along with the Xanite void warship armada and scores of Cybernetica cohorts, and hurled themselves without relent into the fires of the Rangdan campaign.
Their reinforcement of the front line was sorely needed, and the Xanite forces broke their greater strength in countless battles on the edge of the Halo Stars, becoming shattered remnants of their former selves, but earned much honour in doing so for their Forge World. More importantly, weapons and arms poured forth from Xana and were shipped directly to the Segmentum-wide battle lines of the war, providing much needed respite and fresh strength to beleaguered Imperial forces, helping to slowly turn the tide of defeat into first stalemate and eventually victory. It was a victory Xana was in no small part bled dry to achieve.
Though now diminished, Xana entered the Great Crusade's later era as still a powerful and sovereign Forge World, its independence from the direct authority of Mars and Terra, maintained not simply by the absolute adherence to the treaty under which it had entered the Imperium, but also its great distance from the Segmentum Solar and easy scrutiny.
Rumours still circulated of hidden operations and deep and forbidden secrets hidden on Xana II, of heresies whispered by her Tech-priests on the myriad battlefields on which they served, of a distance and distrust steadily growing between the Mechanicum of Xana and those of other Forge Worlds, even as the Great Crusade progressed. But compared to the oddities and macabre practises openly observed in Tech-priesthoods the likes of the Redjak of Sarum or the Crat'mau'kora of Voss, these were subtleties lost on those outside the Omnissian Cult and its intimates.
So it was that when the Warmaster Horus rose to power after the Ullanor Crusade, Xana remained a distant and almost legendary force in an Imperium grown much to encompass a galaxy on whose silent and unpopulated edge it dwelled alone, a Forge World whose Magi kept no counsel but their own, its paradox unsolved.
The Feathered Messenger
The first ambassador sent by Horus to Xana after Rogal Dorn's judgement of it in rebellion was an unexpected one. Assessing perhaps correctly that an overt show of empty force would avail him nothing at this time and that a Priest of Mars would be even less welcome on Xana than one of his warlords, Horus had instead sent one of the lodge priests of Davin. Identified by Loyalist agents as one "Unvacar Noon," an individual bedecked in strange feathered raiment and the bones of the dead, he offered the Lords of Xana more than threats and intimidation; on behalf of his master, he offered power.
Much as with Sarum and Cyclothrathe, other "Renegade" Forge Worlds distrustful of Mars that the Warmaster had enticed into his cause with the lure of petty empire-building and freedom of experimentation, he offered a new treaty of alliance whose accords Xana's ruling Vodian Consistory would find more to their liking than the old. By this new pact Xana would serve his "new Imperium" just as it had the old, but where they had been used and bled dry callously in the past by a master who cared nothing for their power or prosperity, under Horus they would flourish and be rewarded.
Gone would be the petty restrictions of the Emperor's technological edicts -- blocks put in place to avert the spectre of the terrors of Old Night -- and gone would be the dead hand of Machine Cult dogma -- if they so desired, so long as they offered up their weapons and war machines to the Traitors' cause with abundance. The details would prove more torturous and elaborate to finalise, but in secret an agreement was reached, even while in false faith the Lords of Xana continued to equally secretly deal with Malcador the Sigillite's emissaries to the contrary. So the Archmagi of the Vodian Consistory sought to play one side against the other, right to the bitter end.
In 009.M31 a desperate campaign, which came to be known as the Xana Incursion, was conducted by Legiones Astartes Blackshield irregular forces as well as a small force of Dark Angels against the recalcitrant Forge World of Xana II. Intelligence had reached Terra that the Renegade Forge World on the western fringe of the Imperium had reached an accord with the Traitor forces to supply the Warmaster's armies with vast output of arms and material. The bargain was to be sealed with the delivery by Xana of a number of newly-created powerful Ordinatus-class weapons undergoing final field tests.
In what was effectively a suicide mission, a handpicked force of Astartes, including many Blackshields -- in this case Space Marines who had chosen to remain loyal despite their parent Legion's treachery -- was despatched under great secrecy to destroy the war machines and drive a wedge between Xana and the Traitors. Two Ordinatii were captured by the Loyalist force and evacuated from the surface of Xana-Tisiphone, to be maintained and utilised by Loyalist Tech-magi in latter campaigns of the Heresy.
It is believed the Loyalists would use to the weapons to their own ends during the Titandeath and the Siege of Terra itself, although the true gains of this victory or whether they were worth the great cost it took to achieve them is a judgement none can now make. Of equal enigma was the means by which the victory was gained, and in particular the true nature of the "army of the fallen," which was used to such lethal effect in the seemingly suicidal attack on the Forge World itself.
Ultimately, the alliance of Xana II with the Traitors' cause had not been thwarted, only delayed by years, and perhaps that was enough. The Xana which was rapidly rebuilt and re-fortified and finally began to supply the Traitors with a great perfusion of ever stranger and more savage war machines in the Horus Heresy's final years -- a true example of what became known as the Dark Mechanicum -- was hardly recognisable from what had gone before and charged a heavy price for its support.
There are some who have gone so far as to opine that in toppling Xana's existing ruling synod, the Vodian Consistory being murderously deposed from within the Forge World's own ranks soon after the Loyalist incursion, caused a far darker and more dangerous order of masters to come forth. And that they took what was left on the battlefield and used it for their own infernal ends, meant it was the Imperium's own deceit and savage weapons that gave rise to the nightmare that was to come.
When the Heresy failed during the final epic conclusion at the Siege of Terra, through unknown means, the Xanite Mechanicum somehow were able to flee the wrath of the Loyalists, and move their entire world into the hellish realms of the Eye of Terror.
Fully corrupted by the Ruinous Powers, Xana II became one of the first Hell-Forges, wholly given over to Daemon Engines and infernal industries, where mills grind flesh and suffering to make the insane visions of its nightmarish masters real.
The oldest reference to the Hell-Forge of Xana II appears in the introit to the final volume of the writings of the cursed Heretic archivist of the Gethsamane Reclusium, purporting to catalogue certain terrors that lurk within the Eye of Terror beyond the ken of mortal savant and beyond the reach of even the keenest of assassin's blades.
Countless millions are enslaved to toil endlessly in a world-spanning network of labyrinthine forges, churning out an infinite supply of weapons and armaments for the Traitor Legions' Long War. The masters of Xana II, said to be half-daemon machines themselves, have long since left the shreds of their humanity behind and are beholden to no one, be they mortal or Chaos God.
They are willing to sell or barter their unholy inventions and arms to the highest bidder, be they warlord, demagogue, Chaos Sorcerer or Daemon Prince without favour, and their coin of exchange is always the same: raw materials and the flesh of new slaves to feed Xana's endless hunger.
Xana II seems to be the source of attack craft frequently utilised within the baleful energies of the Eye of Terror, craft matching the descriptions of the Hell Blade and the Hell Talon have been sighted in war zones across the galaxy, suggesting that its masters -- themselves known to be singular hybrids of man, machine and daemon -- have established bonds with Chaos factions across the void and are supplying them with weapons and materiel to their own ends.
To date, the greatest concentration of Chaos attack craft Imperial forces have faced was at the infamous Siege of Vraks, but recent confessions extracted from captured Hereteks suggest a mustering of unprecedented scale beyond the Cadian Gate in preparation for Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade.
Planetary Information (Pre-Heresy)
Before its corruption by Chaos, Xana II was a Terrestrial-type world which despite its long-term inhabitation and exploitation by the Mechanicum [See addendum-record ref/ chronological dating anomaly of founding], had retained a viable, albeit reduced, biosphere and sustained native and transplanted life (including chthonic megafauna), although with high degrees of environmental toxicity.
The planet's surface comprised approximately 52% high-salinity ocean, with the remaining land mass broken up into sixteen primary formations and numerous islands and archipelagos. The prevailing topography was varied, with swamp glades near the equatorial regions giving way to areas predominately of tundra and taiga towards the polar regions.
The Mechanicum's presence on the world was notably dispersed, with only some 17% of the surface dominated by artificial structures, with the vast majority of the planet's forge-fanes, production, dormitory and storage facilities located under the planet's surface in both subterranean and sub-oceanic vaults. These distinctly located geographical forges, each of which operated under considerable autonomy, were linked by a vast sub-surface network of natural caverns, played-out mineworks and deliberately-created tunnels of unknown extent and complexity.
As well as Xana's mass-manufacturing and technological capability, which was unmatched on the western fringe of the Imperium, it is also of note that thanks to its tenacious biosphere, which may evidence specific evolution or artificial adaptation to endure industrial toxicity, an ecology which included extensive subterranean flora, Xana, unlike most Forge Worlds, was fully self-sufficient in agricultural need.
This sustaining factor, along with the inherently protected nature of its planetary infrastructure, made Xana II a remarkably independent and highly defensible example of a Forge World of its magnitude, although data harvested by the Carta Imperialis survey of the late 30th Millennium also suggested that most of the planet's resources had been exhausted and consumed, making its manufactoria dependent on off-world supply to sustain full output.
Xana System Planets
- Xana I - A macro-magnitude gas giant, which the Forge World of Xana II orbited. The Xanthine Mechanicum possessed extensive mobile sub-faculties in the form of void and gas-mining installations scattered throughout the debris belts and turbulent atmosphere of Xana I. The debris belt of Xana I also possessed potent and deadly macro-conveyers that could unleash fiery death upon any unwanted vessels that entered their proximity.
- Xana II - A potent and storied example of its kind, the Forge World of Xana II was located on the very far tip of the galactic arm of the western fringe, known as the "Occidentem Thule."
- Xana-Tisiphone - A moon of Xana I that served as Xana II's proving grounds. During the Xana Incursion, matters on Xana-Tisiphone ended in a bloody state, as the prison-forge itself had fallen under the assault of the Loyalist Legiones Astartes under Endryd Haar's command and the firepower of the captured Ordinatus, the population descending to violent anarchy and revolt which further allowed Haar's forces to ransack the weapons-testing facility there before being suddenly and savagely beaten back by a counterattack from below by brazen-armoured Legio Cybernetica cohorts, of strange, hitherto unknown patterns whose almost diabolic appearance were at odds with any recorded Mechanicum pattern. These Battle-Automata drove back the Loyalist Legiones Astartes, killing many and forcing a retreat when all that the Loyalists had gained was soon endangered, the counterattack culminating when one of the prized Ordinatus, the Nepothax, was assaulted and destroyed in an attempt to recapture it. Reluctantly Haar's forces withdrew, taking their surviving prizes with them and departing the planet, their ship, the Tyrannis, herself sustaining heavy damage in her escape, barely outrunning the returning Xanite fleet.
- Escorial - One of Xana II's major forge-fanes, as well as a sister forge-fane of Tephra, Escorial suffered significant damage during the Xana Incursion of the Horus Heresy, but not to the extent that Tephra did. The damage was widely diffused, the enemy having spread to its tangled arteries of tunnel-way and gantry, and the last remnants of the invaders, though reduced to a mere handful of ruined bodies, had still managed to cause havoc in the depths.
- Tephra - One of Xana II's major forge-fanes, during the Xana Incursion, Tephra suffered greatly, with one of its mighty reactors breached and detonated, rending several square kilometres of its heart into radioactive slag at the cost of tens of thousands of lives lost and vast resources of machinery destroyed before the Loyalist invaders were finally overwhelmed through sheer weight of numbers.
- Setna - One of Xana II's three great forge-fanes. Of these three, during the Xana Incursion, Setna had come through its attack all but intact; the invaders having penetrated as far as the vast, sub-surface galleries before being met by Setna's most bellicose guardians, a contingent of Knights of House Malinax. Though nearly half of the Knights present had perished in countering the onslaught, the invaders had been burned and crushed in their hundreds, the fighting halting only when the last of the revenant Space Marines had been bodily broken beyond whatever bitter thread of life propelled it.
Notable Xanite Personnel
- Anacharis Scoria - Known as the Xanophane Tyrant, the true history of Anacharis Scoria has been lost, but there exists fragmentary evidence that place him as a Magos Dominus in the service of Xana some thirty standard years before the outbreak of the wars of the Horus Heresy. It is believed he was gifted the rank and duties of the Vodian Magister -- the chief enforcer of Cult Mechanicus doctrine on his shadowed and secretive world, but some time after that he was cast down and removed from all records until the time of the Loyalist covert operation known as the Xana Incursion. In the aftermath of that disaster, Xana II's existing rulers were destroyed in a bloody coup far more powerful than before to slay those who had once judged him. Evidence exists that Anacharis had been held captive upon the prison-forge of Xana-Tisiphone, his dark genius put to use despite being maimed and caged by the very Archmagi he once served. His release was an unintended consequence of the Loyalist attack, and it was he who took command and hurled the Loyalist invaders off the planetoid. If this is true, it is a dark irony indeed as it would be under the mastery of Scoria that Xana II would become the first of the so-called Hell-Forges of the Dark Mechanicum that would blight the galaxy in the centuries to come.
- Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks, Part II, pp. 160, 163
- Imperial Armour Thirteen - War Machines of the Lost and the Damned, pp. 12, 75, 82-86
- The Horus Heresy - Book Six: Retribution (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 30, 55-81, 244-245, 272-273