First War for Tarsiss III

The Darkening Skies

During the winter of 554.M37, the Shrinehold came under attack. A fleet of chaos filth erupted from the nearby Eye of Terror, their intent to ravage the nearby space lanes and ransack any world unfortunate to fall under their path.

Even as the forward picket ships and system defense monitors of the Tarsiss system were swept away by the vanguard of the Chaos fleet, the defenders on the surface of the Shrinehold prepared themselves for the coming war.

Adeptus Arbites precincts girdling the world kept the populace in check whilst the Planetary Defence Force mobilised in force to any and all population centres of any size, ready for the coming attack.

On the sixth day since the first signs of the Chaos incursion, the first chaos Dreadclaw drop pods broke through the upper atmosphere even as vile, tainted Thunderhawks swarmed through the atmosphere of the Shrinehold but not before the largest cities were set ablaze from orbit by massed cannon fire and batteries of lance strikes.

Despite the horrendous casualities suffered in the opening salvos, the defenders of the Shrinehold held firm against the attackers for two days before the first city fell to Chaos. One by one, the cities of Tarsiss III fell under the iron heel of the Chaos Space Marines as more and more of the vicious killers arrived on the planet's surface with each passing hour.

By the eighteenth day, only Principalis was still in Imperial hands. Surrounded on all sides by rapidly gathering Chaos forces, the grizzled defenders prepared for the final push.

A Changing War

At the break of nightfall, the Chaos forces attacked the Principalis. The battle was costly for both sides but the city was lost. As dawn broke over Principalis, the Terminator-armoured Chosen of the Khorne Lord Arnell stood in defiance before the gates of the Templarium Majoris, the largest shrine to the Emperor on the Shrinehold.

Even as the survivors of the prepared to die, a figure came to the fore. Known simply as Holt, he spoke of a unified, if covert, resistance against the Chaos forces infesting the Shrinehold. Rather then open rebellion, he extolled the virtues of a guerrilla war.

As more and more followers flocked to Holt's side in the deserts between the cities, Holt decided to attack himself. His first target, the small trading settlement of Grit.

Holt's Gambit

Under the cover of the dead of night, a small group of warriors hand-picked by Holt slipped into Grit. The attack was already underway before the first Chaos Space Marines were even aware of their peril. A small splinter group had slipped in and had managed to silence two sentries before the rest of Chaos Space Marines raised the alarm. It was already too late as four surviving Leman Russ tanks rumbled into town seconds later, their cannons and additional firepower adding to that of the hidden troops amassed just outside Grit.

By morning, no Chaos filth continued to draw breathe within the village of Grit and the first battle for reclaiming of the Shrinehold had been won. Word spread quickly of the increasing success and Holt's band of warriors swiftly grew with each passing day as did its string of victories.

The Chaos Lords commanding the traitor forces on Tarsiss were not idle and quickly assembled a small death squad of Emperor's Children Noise Marines and Khorne Berserkers to hunt down and kill Holt before he became a real threat.

The Sacred Lady

When the death squad found their quarry, on the twenty-second day, outside the Convent of the Sacred Lady high in the Holy Mountains where he had been trying to persuade the Order of Adepta Sororitas stationed there to join the fight for the Shrinehold, battle was joined, but not by the Sororitas.

It wasn't until a purple Dreadclaw drop pod disgorged the traitor Canoness Gemiel onto the fields outside the Convent that the Sororitas finally joined the conflict.

Before the battle outside the Convent was over, the Chaos fleet in high orbit had already disengaged as a fleet of white Astartes vessels made transition into the Tarsiss system. When the Astartes entered orbit, any Chaos forces still left on surface were doomed as white-armoured drop pods descended.

Of Holt's fate that day, he survived although he quickly disappeared hours later.