Second War for Tarsiss III

Wolves at the Door

The second attack on the Tarsiss system was of much greater strength then the first, consisting of virtually all the chaos vessels at the disposal of the Nurgle Lord, Damius and the Khorne Lord, Arnell.

Even the upgraded and up-gunned system defences of the Tarsiss system could not withstand the onslaught of the Chaos fleet although they withstood as long as they could whilst the majority of the populace was evacuated off planet in the continual stream of bulk transports. Not all the transports made it off planet and the few that were caught were shown no mercy by the Chaos raiders.

Even before the first Dreadclaw drop pods broke orbit, the Chaos fleet came under attack from a network of orbital defence lasers that had been built since the First War. The Chaos fleet lost several vessels before the guns of the dreadnoughts at high anchor could obliterate the orbital defences. Substantial amounts of flak opened up on the descending attack craft but even this was of little consequence whilst the majority of the invaders made it successfully to the surface.

Failed Breakthrough

The small Fists of Flame fleet garrisoned at world of Vivenhall responded quickly to the general distress call broadcast from Tarsiss and arrived in system as the main Chaos fleet settled into their final holding pattern over the Shrinehold. Despite outnumbered nearly ten to one, the Librarian Orthan Xander ordered his fleet in.

The cursory blows from the two fleets were tentative even as Xander brought the fleet to bear with maximum effect, closing in shadow-side of Tarsiss with his ships powered down to conceal his presence until the last moment. Despite the element of surprise, the Chaos fleet reacted quickly, closing the Fists of Flame fleet down quickly in a net of death and destruction.

Seeing the situation as hopeless as it was and with a heavy heart, Xander ordered the fleet to disengage to regroup. With the fleet successfully disengaged but not before four of his vessels were crippled or nearly destroyed, Librarian Xander orders his fleet back to Vivenhall.

The Fall of Tarsiss

For nine days and nights, the beleaguered defenders of Principalis held out. On the tenth day of the conflict, the Tarsissian capital city fell to Chaos. Chaotic engines, traitor Space Marines and vile cultists marched into the city over the corpses of the slain defenders and took control of the Templarum Primaris, slaying all the temple priests in an orgy of death.

With the capital lost, Tarsiss itself fell quickly with the Imperial defenders morale broken and spent.

Only the two militant minor Ordos of Adepta Sororitas remained defiant against the forces of Chaos, buried deep in the Holy Mountains in their fortress monasteries.

The Fists of Flame Return

Upon hearing the report from Librarian Xander, Chapter Master Mars Aran ordered the assembly of the entire Chapter for the coming liberation of the Shrinehold. Only when the Fists of Flame Chapter had fully assembled in the Vivenhall system did Aran give the order to make final transition into the Warp.

What they found when they emerged from the Warp two days later was a world no longer besieged by a fleet, the Chaos forces had simply left. Descending to the surface, the Fists of Flame found the world changed utterly. The verdant fields were overgrown with vile xenos plant-forms that were as insidious as they were wretched and the natural animal life had all but vanished. The surviving populace had been moved to hundreds of slave camps and forced to create war material for their new masters and only the hardiest had survived. Of the resistance, only fragments remained and those were on the verge of extinction as mobile eradication teams of vicious turncoats scoured the wastelands and smaller townships, searching for anyone foolish enough to be found.

It was on the smaller clusters of islands in the equatorial zone that the Fists of Flame finally found those they had come to fight. Heavily dug in and well prepared, the forces of Damius were deeply entrenched in fortifications built to withstand even a determined Astartes assault. Without even a moment's thought, Chapter Master Mars Aran ordered the assault to commence immediately and the entire Chapter was committed to vengeance for their world.

Damius was a keen tactical genius and only gave up ground if it proved to his advantage and he allowed the Fists of Flame to gain several footholds on the small island fortress, but no more. With the Fists of Flame attacks rapidly losing momentum, Damius blunted the successive assaults with overwhelming fire power and hundreds died on both sides before the orders came from the Chapter Master to relinquish the assault and merely hold the small offerings their blood had earned them.

Eventually, Aran ordered his Astartes to dig in as well and wait for Imperial Guard reserves to be mobilsed from Vivenhall, Middenhead, Arcreu and Galdri. Hours turned to days, days turned into weeks as the two stagnated forces glared at each across the killing fields littered with dead from both sides.

Rictuus Plague

It was then that Damius revealed his master stroke. Early in the campaign against the Shrinehold, the Plague Lord had unleashed his most vile creation, the Rictuus Plague. Slowly at first, the Rictuus Plague begun to work its grisly work. Flesh begun to putrefy and turn waxy and even the enhanced bodies of the Astartes proved little defence against the plague, given enough time. Those that did not die of the contagion were slowly turning into Plague Marines and would eventually turn from the Emperor's light entirely. With little choice Mars Aran ordered the Fists of Flame off-planet to halt the effects of the contagion and to try to save his Chapter, leaving Tarsiss III to its fate.

On the dawn of the sixty-fifth day, the Chaos fleet returned. Breaking orbit, the Imperial fleet moved into an attack formation, ready to exact some revenge for desecration of the world below. When battle was joined, it became increasingly apparent, however, that the Chaos fleet was more intent on reaching the world below then engaging the Imperial forces attacking them and auspex arrays picked up massed flights of corrupted Thunderhawks and Stormclaw transports leaving the surface as the Chaos fleet entered orbit, and despite suffering horrendous damage to many of their vessels, the Chaos fleet managed to disengage successfully, leaving the Imperial fleet to regroup.

The Fate of the Shrinehold

The final blow for the Shrinehold came when the Inquisitorial task force arrived several days later to find the Fists of Flame fleet still in high orbit above their dying world. Little could be said of the surviving Astartes, except that they had simply failed and nothing more could be done for their homeworld except the final sanction, Exterminatus.

As the Inquisition vessels prepared to exact the Exterminatus, the Fists of Flame fleet moved to incept them, placing their vessels between the Inquisition vessels at high orbit and the world below. A brief, static laced vox message played across all the screens on-board all the Black Ships of the Inquisition, a final plea to let the sons of Tarsiss put their own world to death.

It was granted, the response signed by Inquisitor-Lord Tibius Holt himself, fire rained down on the Shrinehold, but not before everything of value was transferred off the surface including the two surviving Ordos militant of the Adepta Sororitas who had stayed contagion free, sealed away in their fortress-like monasteries during the fighting.