The Sabbat Worlds

Situated along a rimward portion of the Segmentum Pacificus, the region now known as the Sabbat Worlds Sector was first annexed for Imperial colonization in the 35th Millennium. This often-volatile region of space contains over 100 inhabited star systems, subdivided into several discrete territories or Sub-sectors, most notably the Newfound Trailing, the Khan Group, the Cabal Systems, the Carcaradon Cluster and the Erinyes Group. Rumor has it that the Blood Pact, a highly organized Chaos warrior-cult devoted to the Blood God Khorne, originally came from a star system in this sector.

The name Sabbat refers to the area’s original redeemer, Saint Sabbat, a young girl who received a vision from the God-Emperor to bring the region into the Imperium during a Crusade that lasted for 105 standard years and began in 500.M35.

The 8th Black Crusade

By the 37th Millennium Mankind was well-established throughout the region, with an estimated population of roughly five trillion and a thriving local economic infrastructure. However, due to its exposure to the eternal threats of the outer dark along the galactic rim, control of the Sabbat Worlds was ever disputed with the Forces of Chaos and various xenos.

In 999.M37, Abaddon the Despoiler launched the 8th Black Crusade of the Forces of Chaos out of the Eye of Terror into Imperial space. During this incursion into the Realms of Man, Abaddon completed a complex ritual of death known as the “Skullgather” in the name of Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways. On worlds throughout the Segmentum, Imperial citizens were slaughtered in precise numbers using esoteric rituals.

Only when the Inquisition finally broke the code of damnation was the Imperium able to bring an end to the Black Legion’s rampage across the Segmentum in time with these mysterious attacks, but not before countless worlds had been saturated in death.

Throughout the 38th Millennium, the region suffered a series of brutal wars and conflicts with the barbaric Chaos-worshipping human tribes of the so-called Sanguinary Worlds, located further rimward of the spinward extent of the Sabbat Worlds, and the area soon became known as a “troublesome province” to the Administratum.

Fall of the Sabbat Worlds

During the first centuries of the 41st Millennium, the situation altered drastically. A charismatic, brutal warlord known as an “Archon” rallied the tribes of the Sanguinary Worlds to war, and a series of assaults began from galactic trailward into the region. The Imperial High Command dismissed the assault at first as a replay of the minor Chaotic conflicts of the 38th Millennium, but in the years following 600.M41, it became impossible to ignore the true threat presented by Chaos Undivided. The Ruinous Powers decided to take the whole region away from the Imperium and launched a series of devastating attacks into the sector, conquering and destroying everything in their path. The Archenemy sought to drive the Imperium out of the sector and reestablish their mastery over the worlds Saint Sabbat and her original Imperial Crusade drove the Archenemy from in the 35th Millennium.

These Imperium faced over a half-dozen major Chaotic invasions in the Segmentum Pacificus during this period. The Imperial defense of the Sabbat Worlds proved valiant but ultimately unequal to the task, though the Imperium was simultaneously fighting eight other significant campaigns throughout Imperial-controlled space during this period.

To consolidate their lines of defense, the Segmentum Pacificus High Command made difficult decisions to sacrifice certain portions of Imperial space to enhance the Imperium’s defenses against the onslaught of the Archenemy. Severely underestimating the Archon’s forces, the High Command did what they thought best for the Sabbat Worlds. But ultimately, the meager Imperial defense was wanting, and the sector fell wholesale to the servants of the Ruinous Powers, returning the Sabbat Worlds to their heretical roots.

 The Archon’s forces swiftly reconquered and occupied the Sabbat Worlds, although many Imperial worlds in the region continued to resist as isolated outposts of the Emperor’s light in a vast sea of apostasy and heresy. Some managed to hold out for decades, whilst others managed to do so for more than a Terran century. Unfortunately, by 740.M41, Imperial governance of the Sabbat Worlds no longer existed in any meaningful sense and the Administratum reclassified this “troublesome province” as an “unstable/hazardous” region of space.

Suspension of the Civitas Imperialis

In 741.M41, the Administratum officially suspended the Civitas Imperialis and the Sector Lord Governor moved to a neighboring sector for his own safety. The Sabbat Worlds, from this point forward, became a dominion of Chaos entirely lost to the Imperium.

An oft misused term, Civitas Imperialis is assumed to mean, simply, the Imperial rule of law. Its actual meaning is specific and, as scholars have learned from Warmaster Slaydo’s personal diaries, of its importance to the great leader. At the foundation of the Imperium, the Civitas Imperialis was laid down to ‘guarnatee the safety and assurance of any citizen of the Imperium of Mankind, wherevever he or she travels or sets food within the length or breadth of the Imperium’.

the Civitas was therefore is the hallmark of refined Imperial culture, the measure of its power and security, and it was precisely this, the qualitative perfection of human civilisation as opposed to the basic ‘rule of law’, that Slaydo was determined to restore to the Sabbat Worlds.

History of the Khan Group

The Khan Worlds lie along a rimward portion of the Sabbat Sector of the Segmentum Pacificus, composed of over two dozen inhabited systems, near the Khan Star Group.

The Khan Worlds endured a long history of civil unrest and ongoing dispute, suffering from savage border wars with the Archenemy tribes inhabiting the neighboring worlds, situated rimwards of the Khan Worlds and reavers from the Halo Stars region of the Galaxy.

 Warmaster Slaydo

Warmaster Slaydo’s claim to fame started during the Khulan Wars (752-754), when he mustered a massive army and led then to a decisive victory. His huge popularity with the troops, combined with his obvious military genius, caused the High Lords of Terra to name Slaydo Warmaster in 755.M41, and charge him with the liberation of the Sabbat Worlds.

Even while still a Lord Militant in the 9th Division Pacificus, he supported the concept of a crusade to liberate the Sabbat Worlds, and in 732 he drew up a plan entitled “A Reasoned Approach to the Reconquest of the Sabbat Territories for consideration by the High Command.” Slaydo’s deep-seated passion for the cause of Saint Sabbat, the original liberator of the Sabbat Worlds, made him believe that the loss of her hard-won territories to the Archenemy constituted a crime against humanity. Thus, the great Slaydo proceeded to launch the Sabbat Worlds Crusade with characteristic drive and genius.

Slaydo fell eleven years later, on Balhaut, a key planet in his plan of reconquest. He landed with his troops and led the assault on the High Palace of the Oligarchy, where Nadzybar, the Archon of the forces of Chaos in the Sabbat Worlds, resided at the time. The bitter price of the crusade took a toll on Slaydo, and he seemed “weary and fatalistic” according to one officer who served with him, but he did not hesitate to lead the first attack wave, power sword in hand.

On the 18th hour of the tenth day of the assault, the Imperial Guard penetrated the High Palace and Nadzybar and Slaydo met face to face, joining in a combat so ferocious that “most were driven to leave the chamber by the fury of it” as one guardsman later said. Slaydo twice suffered mortal wounds, but through sheer courage rallied through and delivered a lethal blow to the Archon.

The Archon’s followers swarmed the fallen pair immediately, however, and Slaydo could not be found until the Imperial Guard cleared the riot of maddened cultists. No hope remained for the Warmaster by this time, but he lived on long enough to see Balhaut secured. His last words were “I am done, and yet I am undone.” One of his bodyguards saved Slaydo’s power sword, Liberatus. The sword, a gift to Slaydo by the High Lords of Terra, at the outset of the Crusade, symbolized command of the Crusade and passed to Slaydo’s successor, Macaroth.

In the months immediately prior to his death, he came to regret the incredibly high cost of life in his campaigns, especially the final assault of his career. He christened the operation “Hell Storm”, and may later regretted that name, reflecting that he consigned his men to a “storm of hell.” Slaydo’s strong premonition of his own death on Balhaut, perhaps as early as 756, did not stop him from prosecuting the assault to the best of his abilities. He did ensure a successor chosen as Warmaster, and Macaroth proved a worthy heir to the old hero.

The Blood Oath

Early in the Crusade, shortly after the victory on Formal Prime, Slaydo called forty-eight of his officers together for the victory feast. At some point during the festivities, Slaydo became solemn and sad, and when asked what was wrong, he replied he feared that he would not live to see the great work done.

Slaydo called for a blood oath, and one by one, the assembled officers sliced open their palms with bayonets or table knives and clasped the Warmaster’s bloody hand, swearing on their lives that they would continue the work and liberate the Sabbat Worlds, even if Slaydo fell in the Crusade. Slaydo fell on Balhaut a decade later, just as he feared.

During the siege of the Shrinehold of Saint Sabbat on Hagia in 770.M41, Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt of the Tanith First and Only, one of Slaydo’s favored officers, related to the story of the Blood Oath to his second officer, Major Elim Rawne.

Gaunt, one of the forty-eight who swore the blood oath with the great Warmaster, received orders from Lord General Lugo to remove the Saint’s relics from the Shrinehold in the wake of a coming Chaos fleet. Remembering the blood oath after viewing the uncorrupted remains of the Saint, Gaunt chose to disobey Lugo’s orders, and instead defended the Shrinehold from the Chaos forces.

Warmaster Macaroth

Jean Michelle Macaroth, was young and undistinguished compared to the other senior commanders of the Crusade. Slaydo noticed him during the Battle for Balhaut.  Macaroth assumed the command of the Balopolis front after the Archenemy killed or incapacitated all of his immediate superiors. Slaydo promoted him to Marshal, and Macaroth assumed command of the entire front, turning an impending Imperial defeat into a great victory.

On his deathbed, Slaydo declared Macaroth his successor as Warmaster of the Crusade. This decision upset many of his Lords Militant, who regarded Macaroth as too young and too junior an officer to ascend to the position. A period of political in-fighting amongst the highest echelons of the Imperial Crusade force took place over much of the next year. That Macaroth survived it and retained his position pays tribute to the rank-and-file of the Guard’s great affection for and faith in Slaydo, but also Macaroth’s surprising ability as a leader.

 Immediately after the Imperial victory on Balhaut, Macaroth launched a further advance into the Cabal Worlds, determined to keep up the momentum of the Crusade that Slaydo began. He gained a reputation as a gambler which worried many of his subordinates, but many of his gambits turned out successfully. A somewhat inscrutable figure, like many leading commanders, Macaroth’s actions led to heated debates among Imperial Tacticians and historians alike, but what they saw as recklessness may simply indicate Macaroth’s talent for strategy and outthinking his opponents, which Slaydo recognised.

Warmaster Macaroth led Imperial forces to many great victories, most notably at the fortress-world Morlond. The Crusade under his command also succeeded in the capture and/or destruction of many of the Magisters who escaped Balhaut after Nadzybar’s defeat, including Sholen Skara and Heritor Asphodel.

However, the Crusade stalled with the rise of Urlock Gaur, a brutal Chaos warlord in command of a disciplined army, the Blood Pact. Macaroth also knew he could not afford to underestimate the abilities of Anakwanar Sek, the most brilliant of Nadzybar’s former lieutenants, who continued to plague the Crusade in the years after Balhaut.

The Crusade in the Khan Worlds

A Crusade into the Sabbat Sector and reclaim the Khan Worlds, purging the taint of Chaos for good launched on 755.M41. At the head of the great armada, Warmaster Slaydo led his forces into the heart of the Sabbat Worlds and waged a war that lasted for more than fifty years.

Before the Fall

Lyubov lays in the Segmentum Pacificus, near the so-called Khan Worlds Cluster in the Sabbat Sector. Settled by Terran exodites during the Dark Age of Technology, the people of Lyubov retained higher levels of technical know-how and even today, the world enjoys a higher than average technology. Col. Katarina Patrovskaya of Valhalla – a disciple of St. Sabbat – liberated Lybov in the early 36th millennium. Lyubov is a cold world, cooler than Earth but warmer than Valhalla. Exiles from Valhalla joined its native population in the mid-36th millennium. Lyubov quickly grew to become a civilized world of considerable population with significant local military forces.

Only lightly settled and slightly larger than Mars, Lyubov boasts a population of less than 10 billion souls. Untracked wilderness and large forests of Eisenholz trees covers much of the world. Highly prized for its durability, the Eisenholz tree absorbs large amounts of iron from the soil making the wood a rich reddish brown with a lustrous sheen when polished.

The world divided between squabbling factions, each suspicious of the other. While differences rarely came to blows, they did divide the people into mutually hostile principalities.

Bloated with wealth, corruption and indolence the leaders of many of these principalities waged petty vendettas and vindictive wars against one another. The ruling Oligarchs became increasingly insular and debauched, paranoid over any outside influence that could shatter their dictatorial rule. They farmed the vast resources of the world into building private armies and defending their ancestral seats with these household levies. Many of these principalities even boasted space-borne forces and slowly, the world acquired a formidable – if uncoordinated – planetary defense system.

The Fall of Lyubov

The fractionalization of the world made a fertile ground for the forces of Chaos. Slowly, heretical cults gained a foothold on the world. Distortions of the True Faith and treasonous political movements abounded and when the Alpha Legion and their Death Pact allies invaded, Lyubov fell, like an over-ripe fruit, into their waiting hands.

Several principalities welcomed the forces of Chaos as liberators; others fell to the Archenemy as their indifferent neighbors looked the other way and took short-sighted advantage of the shifts in the balance of power. Within a single generation, some ¾ of the world fell into Chaos hands. Though last of the Khan Worlds to fall, the Archenemy effectively conquered Lyubov in 750.M39, a two thousand year (Terra standard) long reign of terror ensued for the inhabitants of Lyubov. Like all worlds that languished under the heel of the Jieshi Is’Malal of the Alpha Legion and their allied Blood Pact cultists the people of Lyubov suffered oppression and exploitation on an unimaginable scale. However, despite the enemy occupation of most of the world, several arcologies remained under Imperial control thanks to the determination and iron will of the local PDF and garrison Guard units.

The loyalists faced dire circumstances; rebel and invader forces numbered in the millions and soon only a few principalities remained in Imperial hands. To make matters worse, the the enemy held the planetary and orbital defenses. These defenses made a full-scale assault by the Imperial Navy unlikely due to the high costs involved. Given the untenable Imperial position in the Khan Worlds, a fleet element capable of such an assault was not available in any case.

The Archenemy forced the people of Lyubov to provide fuel, spares and munitions and Lyubov became a major source of supply for the Chaos Legions operating in the Saytressia Star Group, most particularly the Is’Malal Cultists of the Alpha Legion.

By late 741.M39, the Imperium regarded the Khan Worlds, along with the rest of the Sabbat Sector, lost to the Archenemy. The Archenemy put the people of Lyubov, like the rest of the people of the subsector, to work in backbreaking labor to produce arms and supplies for the forces of Chaos. Millions worked to death in the factories of the Archenemy. A call for aid went out and, in time, the Imperium answered.

The First War for Lyubov

High Lord Marshal Hieronymus Cybon, a successful military commander, admired Slaydo as a leader, and expected the dying Warmaster’s favor and support in the light of his victories during the Western Plains Campaign and at Ascension Valley. Cybon regarded the common soldiery as mere cannon fodder, an attitude Slaydo despised. When Marshal Macaroth was appointed as Slaydo’s successor as Warmaster, Cybon was outraged, regarding the young officer as too inexperienced and too junior to command the Crusade.

Cybon landed forces on Lyubov in 773.M41, and with the aid of Zheltychelokski and Chazak forces based in the Zarra Uplands in Little Lyubov managed to force the Archenemy from Lyubovhive.

Unfortunately, the Forces of Chaos attempted a major counter-offensive to reclaim lost territory elsewhere in the sector in early 774, launching a pincer movement behind the advancing Imperial front at Macaroth’s overstretched lines of supply and communication.

By the 18th year of the Crusade the Imperial forces found themselves divided, hard-pressed and overstretched, fighting simultaneous actions right across the Khan Group and the trailward half of the Cabal Systems. Up until that moment in the Crusade’s history, the fighting never spread out across such a grievously wide front.

Cybon complained in his personal journals that “Old Slaydo” would be appalled at how Macaroth dismissed the traditional, methodical approach he favored. By the close of 773.M41, the Crusade’s advance broke, and the Warmaster’s forces fell into disarray. The fate of the Crusade hung in the balance at that point. By the close of 775.M41, as the Crusade entered its third decade, Imperial forces found themselves fighting a war on two fronts.

Macaroth charged Cybon with unifying and strengthening the flank of the Imperial advance and Imperial lines of support, a task he clearly felt was beneath his dignity. Cybon felt that he was a warrior and that his place should be at the front line of advance, not being sent to the rear to “mop up the dirt.”

Macaroth charged Cybon with unifying and strengthening the flank of the Imperial advance and Imperial lines of support, a task he clearly felt was beneath his dignity. Cybon felt that he was a warrior and that his place should be at the front line of advance, not being sent to the rear to “mop up the dirt.”

In a communique to the Warmaster he complained incessantly of being relegated to such an unglamorous position and the grievous insult to his honor. He asked if he truly had to continue to undertake such a menial task. Macaroth answered him bluntly the following day by responding with a single word, “Yes.”

Cybon chose to address the unpalatable task of defending his gains on Lyubov and pushing back the Archenemy’s counter-attack, but this meant they had to retake well-fortified enemy worlds that Macaroth had bypassed on his way to extending the Imperial salient deep into the Sabbat Worlds Sector.

Cybon needed troops for the massed actions he preferred, so he ordered the entire military of Lyubov along with every able-bodied Chazak rider to abandon the campaign on Lyubov to be detailed to planetary invasions elsewhere. True to their independent roots, the Chazaks simply refused and their riders vanished into the wilds of the Taiga. The Lyubov, well understanding the tactics of the Chaos invaders, simply abandoned several fortifications between their own forces and those of Cybon allowing themselves to be cut off from the unpopular Lord Marshal.

Cybon’s utter lack of understanding of the political situation on Lyubov lead to the collapse of the Imperial position on the world in 775 and the ignominious withdrawal of Imperial forces from Lyubov. The Warmaster would eventually order Cybon to retake Lyubov to deny it to the Archenemy as a source of supply to their forces operating in the Khan Star Group.

The Second War for Lyubov

 Lyubov sits in a strategically useful location on one of the main jump routes and served as a source of supply for the Archenemy forces within the Khan Group.

Despite an abortive attempt to liberate Lyubov failed in 775.M41 with the humiliating withdrawl of Imperial forces when Marshal Cybon failed to drive the Archenemy off the planet. By this point, Lyubov had suffered under the wholesale occupation of the Archenemy for over two millennia; although several hive cities managed to remain under Imperial control during this period. Several major wars were waged on the ground as a result.

Despite an abortive attempt to liberate Lyubov failed in 775.M41 with the humiliating withdrawl of Imperial forces when Marshal Cybon failed to drive the Archenemy off the planet. By this point, Lyubov had suffered under the wholesale occupation of the Archenemy for over two millennia; although several hive cities managed to remain under Imperial control during this period. Several major wars were waged on the ground as a result.

In response to demands by Warmaster Macaroth, Lord Militant Cybon issued new orders that Lyubov to be retaken in late 777.M41 and gave responsibility to General Andreas Carnhide.

General Carnhide was a veteran Imperial Guard commander with a prestigious and long military career that pre-dated the start of the Crusade in the Sabbat Worlds. Serving under the former Warmaster Slaydo during the Khulan War (752-754.M41), Carnhide had risen as one of the Warmaster’s chosen to ascend to the command echelon at the beginning of hostilities.

Prior to the Lyubov campaign, Carnhide’s service during the Crusade remained unglamorous, as circumstances often found him commanding deployment garrisons or forces in transit. After the death of Slaydo in 765, Carnhide found himself fallen out of favour with the new Warmaster. With nothing to prove in terms of loyalty and ability, many veteran commanders such as Carnhide found themselves relegated to the onerous chores associated with Second Front Command.

General Carnhide was not selected for the job of liberating Lyubov on merit but rather circumstance. Lord Militant Cybon tasked the only senior officer he felt he could spare, as the Khan Group was overstretched and beset by three significant conflicts.

Though he was given command of a sizable liberation army, they were an ad hoc formation comprised of disparate units who had not served together operationally. Many of these units had seen significant service on the front for an excessive amount of time and desperately needed to be retired and restated.

Cybon more than likely used the General’s taskforce as a stopgap measure, to keep Lyubov busy until such a time when the Lord Militant could eventually claim victory for himself. Cybon greatly misunderstood the threat level on Lyubov, which would eventually prove to be worse than anyone suspected.

A New Kind of Enemy

The Forces of Chaos arrayed against Carnhide on Lyubov were significant. Within the occupied zones there were substantial cult armies of indigenous conscripts that had been tainted by the touch of the warp. They occupied the ‘Transcontinental Nexus’, a heavy populated zone where the largest and most important of the planet’s hives and manufactorums lay. These forces were augmented by numerous war machines, armor, aircraft, corrupted Chaos Titans, and even a considerable number of traitor Chaos Space Marines.

The Chaos army was further supplemented with the deadly and ferocious clan army of the Blood Pact. These forces of the Archenemy were commanded by a being known as Araek Etogaur. Imperial scholars believe that the name ‘Etogaur’ is a rank or honorific meaning, meaning ‘sub-‘ or ‘demi-Gaur’, perhaps denoting an equivalent rank comparable to Colonel or General. This capable and charismatic leader had forged the usually disparate force of Chaos into a unit of command, making the Archenemy occupation force into a singular, coherent structure. This is what awaited the Imperial forces on Lyubov.

Liberation of Lyubov

Planning the successful liberation of Lyubov was a difficult undertaking, for the bulk of the separate fronts considered for a mass drop assault were too active and defensible. Nineteen separate plans for the initial assault were rejected by Carnhide and his planners, including the strategic points of Srady Bay, Zinc Hill and Lyubovhiveburg.

Principal assault of Lyubovhive was deemed unfeasible so long as these outer hives were still active. Having obtained a substantial amount of useful intel on the Nexus Zone, most objections to these various drop point plans were made by Carnhide’s infantry commanders. This was mainly due to the considerable air coverage from the Archenemy’s interceptor squadrons. These hunter-killer squadrons were hard to track and kill from orbit, for they were based upon mobile land carriers that made it all but impossible to track their whereabouts.

The substantial number of enemy fighters would make any drop assault a suicidal proposition, whilst the large formations of enemy stoop-bombers would swiftly annihilate any forces that managed to somehow make it to the surface intact.

Considering his options carefully, Carnhide posed the problem to his Imperial Navy officers. The General initially wanted the fleet commanders to bring their ships into a much tighter and lower orbit, from which they would be able to more accurately target these ground positions. The Navy officers, however, were unwilling to risk their line ships against the range of the Archenemy’s huge anti-orbital batteries.

Instead, they devised a daring but risk-worthy plan of their own. Flight Marshal Kared Hydun presented an audacious plan to send eight massed waves of Imperial fighters ahead of the troop drop to engage the enemy aircraft head to head for air superiority. Though normally such a bold tactic would be frowned upon by most Commanders of the Fleet, their subordinate pilot officers saw merit in the plan, relishing the notion of such a challenge. In this theatre, the commanders of the major vessels were willing to risk their fighters rather than their main vessels. An accord was reached by the various Commanders, and with the blessing of Carnhide, the plan was approved.

Air War Phase

The massed waves of Imperial fighters, made up predominantly of Thunderbolts but also including some wings of Lightnings, began to attack at zero hour on day one. This phase included a large, full-scale air battle that involved almost 30,000 Imperial aircraft and some 45,000 enemy warplanes. At the height of the engagement, nearly 63,000 Imperial warplanes would be committed overall.

Srady Bay, Balk Cliff Hive and the Zinc Hill regions were the principal attack zones, with the most intense air battles being fought on the first and third days of the operation over Srady Bay and on day four at Zinc Hill. In the second week of the air war, a nine-hour engagement ensued over the coastal zone at Balk Cliff Hive. By the third week of the air war, the Forces of Chaos’ air power had been reduced to only a third of its starting strength.

Lyubov was now vulnerable to a full-scale ground assault with the loss of its defenders’ air support. After over two weeks of air combat, the Forces of Chaos were well-aware that the Imperium was about to launch a massive ground assault and prepared accordingly for the fight to come.

Ground Assault Phase

The land war was now ready to commence, and even though the air was clear for a full-scale orbital drop assault, the Imperial Guard was once again resistant to the Lord General. Carnhide understood their reluctance, and instead of ordering them to attack, he showed intuitive understanding that the answer to his problems lay with the forces of the Adeptus Mechanicus and their mighty war machines – the Titans. Carefully formed by Warmaster Slaydo at the inception of the Crusade, the Mechanicus entered cooperative pacts for the tentative use of their war machines.

Though invaluable, the Mechanicus was an organisation that was prone to act autonomously, with a reluctance to be commanded by a Crusade general. The Priests of Mars continued to show their displeasure with the progress of the Crusade, enduring the hardships that it entailed longer than led to expect by the former Warmaster. They grew increasingly dissatisfied with having to provide ever-greater quantities of their war machines. Macaroth had done little to appease the Mechanicus, and their forces assigned to the Second Front resented not being a part of the primary campaign.

Titans Lead Assault

Carnhide had a reserve of over 130 Titans in his taskforce (the majority being Warhound-class Titans), and he knew that these war machines of the Mechanicus could break the Arch-enemy’s ground defenses, opening the way for the Guard forces and its armor.

Spending hours in carefully orchestrated talks with the senior Adepts of the Mechanicus, Carnhide reasoned that the Warmaster sought triumph and glory, and those units that exhibited the most courage and zeal would more than likely be summoned by Macaroth to the front lines where the true glory lay.

Carnhide promised the Mechanicus, if he garnered their full support, to route directly to the Warmaster reports of the ground assault on Lyubov being led by Mechanicus forces. The very next day the Mechanicus led the assault on three target zones: Srady Bay, Balk Cliff Hive and Zinc Hill. Long-range orbital bombardment and carpet-bombing preceded the Titan landings. Instead of dropping in and then advancing on the target, the Titans landed and radiated from the landing zone. At Zinc Hill and Sradhive, large areas of territory were cleared in this way.

Twenty-three hours after the successful Titan deployment, the Imperial Guard forces mobilized en masse in a full-scale drop assault composed of 2.6 million troops in the first wave. The Guard targeted the three main zones that the Titans had already cleared of the defenses of Archenemy forces. A fourth drop force composed predominately of Carnelian Light Foot, targeted Lyubovhiveburg hive, successfully wrested control of the automatic defenses and swiftly brought it back into use by Imperial Occupation forces. Though it was the second largest hive on the planet, the Guard force managed to take Lyubovhiveburg the fastest and most easily, with the least collateral damage.

Zinc Hill

Zinc Hill was another matter entirely, as it soon proved to be the toughest of the targets to conquer. Being the most resistant to the Mechanicus’ Titan assault, the enemy garrison still retained some air cover, using it to their advantage.

Advancing under armor support, the second wave of Guard troops advanced upon the subsidiary hive. As the Imperial forces attempted to storm the western wall of the main hive a massive battle soon erupted. The archenemy deployed many bizarre engines of destruction, shredding both men and body armor with thereto unknown mechanized heavy mortars that spat high-velocity razor chaff.

Fortunately, these weapons proved to fragile as they were soon destroyed by the Guard’s field batteries and their sustained heavy bombardments. It took three days of constant assualt to finally breach the western wall. Invading the outer ring of the hive, the Imperial Guard force soon encountered a concealed and dug-in enemy force and their nightmarish ditch-work of trenches and foxholes.

Vicious trench warfare ensued for another two days until the Imperial Titan Vainglory Tumultus was brought in to clear the way. The ground forces sustained a high number of casualties. Chaotic street fighting soon ensued, as the Guard were continuously harangued by poorly armed Chaos cult zealots. Carnhide wisely rendered command in the field to those officers on the ground who would be able to make split-second decisions to deal with the fluctuating threat as the situation dictated.

After further investigation, it was revealed that the difficulties faced by Imperial forces were since Araek Etogaur had made his base of operations at Zinc Hill. The Archenemy forces had acted accordingly, making this site one of ritual importance, defending it with fanatical vigour. Etogaur may have been present at the time of the Imperial invasion, and the vigorous defence put up by Archenemy forces was used to give him time to escape and flee to Lyubovhive.


With the successful pacification of the southern portion of the ‘Trans-continental Nexus’, Carnhide’s attention next turned to the gigantic main hive city of Lyubovhive.

Almost all the remaining enemy forces had retreated to this veritable fortress, Carnhide knew this prepresented many strategic problems for his overall strategy. In the years of occupation, the forces of the Archenemy had turned the hive into a nearly impervious fortress with a heavily armored outer structure while also embellishing it with innumerable gun emplacements and malevolent antipersonnel devices.

The ancillary hives of Zenic and Zevin that lay to the west also proved to be a problem, as both fed primary power reserves into Lyubovhive. An overlapping system of defensive trenches, dikes and armor traps lay to the south and southwest, constructed in wide crescent many hundreds of kilometers long, and partly mined. It would be a major chore just to get to the main hive.

Carnhide’s senior staff offered numerous conflicting schemes regarding how to best take the formidable Lyubovhive. Instead of choosing a single plan of attack, the General once again displayed keen insight and remarkable fluidity of thinking by deciding to embark upon a simultaneous three-pronged assault that incorporated these various plans. Though criticized as indecision by his peers at the time, Imperial history would later vindicate Carnhide. Dividing his forces into six separate ‘armies’ the General also divided his commanders to lead their respective forces and carry out the various plans that each commander had recommended.

Led by Major General Arcol, the first army would maintain a firm occupation of the areas already taken, providing a slow siege of the main hive to wait the enemy out and standing in reserve if necessary. The second army, mostly composed of motorised light infantry, was to be commanded by Colonel Hjak. His forces were also to be kept in a reserve and support position outside Sradhive, ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. Carnhide himself would command the third army and commence a frontal assault on Lyubovhive, cutting a patch through the defensive system.  Under the command of General Doshen, the fourth army would encircle Lyubovhive around the eastern fringe and attack from the northeast sector. Such a plan had been recommended by Doshen. The fifth and sixth armies would be composed of smaller motorized forces commanded by Colonel Paquin and Colonel Varnsetter respectively. Their primary objectives were the ancillary hives, with the fifth army severing communications with the main hive while the sixth army struck at Zevin and Zenic simultaneously.

Using his superb diplomatic skills and a bit of guile, Carnhide once again made use of the Imperial Navy and Mechanicus forces to help his overall strategy succeed. He manipulated the two separate organizations by insinuating that he would hate to see them robbed of their share of the climactic glory by the Imperial Guard forces on the ground. The Mechanicus immediately seconded their war machines and Titans to the third and fourth armies, while the Imperial Navy would conduct precision air strikes on the coastal power farms of the ancillary hives. They would then provide air cover for the fifth and sixth armies.

Colonels Paquin and Varnsetter initiated the attack by striking deep at the southern side of Zevin and Zenic. Paquin’s fifth army succeeded in cutting all communications with Lyubovhive by severing the mass transit and cable links within a single day, then turned west towards Zenic. The Navy did its part by reducing the power farms to smoking craters with its deadly air power. The sixth army managed to break into the southern side of Zevin, but the advance soon ground to a halt after facing ferocious resistance.

Traitor Guardsmen

The Imperial Guard soon came face to face with significant numbers of the Blood Pact for the first time since the invasion began. On the move for the better part of three days, General Doshen’s fourth army swung around to assault the northeastern margin of the main hive. They were soon met by huge numbers of enemy armor, composed principally of units of the Blood Pact, armed with captured and customized Imperial battle tanks. An enormous armor battle soon erupted on the northeastern plains.

Meanwhile, the large third army force commanded by Carnhide dug a path through the rudimentary but deadly defence system erected by the Archenemy. Fortunately, the strength of the Mechanicus’ war machines served them well by destroying and clearing these lethal defenses, losing two Titans in the process, but ensuring that by the end of the first day the outer walls of the hive were in sight. Despite this success, Carnhide soon received negative reports of the sixth army being fought to a standstill by Blood Pact forces and the fourth army being pushed back and slaughtered. Pleading for support from the reserves, both commanders were refused by Carnhide. Though his decision was viewed as cold and heartless, Carnhide knew he could not spare them for he would soon need the reserves to reinforce his main assault. Though he wanted to support the efforts of his beleaguered officers, he had full confidence in both commanders to accomplish their individual objectives. In less than twenty-four hours, his confidence was rewarded.

Colonel Varnsetter managed to launch a thrust into the Blood Pact forces, driving them back about three kilometers into Zevin. Moving with all speed, Colonel Paquin moved in to support the sixth army in a counter strike, bringing the fifth army into a pincer movement on the Blood Pact’s vulnerable left flank. The Navy air wings heavily supported their efforts, attacking both the Blood Pact in Zevin and key positions within the hive. It would take nine more days of fierce fighting before a conclusive Imperial victory could be claimed against the ancillary hives, with exceedingly high casualties because of their troubles.

General Doshen redoubled his efforts on the northeastern front, bolstered by the news that the Blood Pact was not as invincible as their reputation suggested. He then ran the heavy armor and Titans in his command into a long, tight angle of attack across the hydroelectric valleys of the East Lyub River. Battalions of light support and anti-tank units were simultaneously directed in an encircling maneuver around to the north. Soon a second, fierce tank battle erupted, but the General’s gambit proved to be successful. The Blood Pact war machines fell back and attempted to reform into a cohesive force, but many soon found themselves easy targets for the advancing Imperial armor and were destroyed before they could reassemble.

Forced to retreat towards the flanks of the main hive, the Blood Pact armor broke into two distinct elements. The first was annihilated by advancing Warhounds and tank destroyers outside the main eastern gate. The other element soon faced the encircling light support battalions which picked them off at their leisure, breaking their cohesiveness as an effective fighting force. The light support and tank destroyers continued to pick off the last of the Blood Pact’s war engines as Doshen’s main force advanced to assault the outer defenses of Lyubovhive.

Guard Assault

Carnhide’s third army broke past the defense systems, crossing the outer road networks near the main hive itself just as they received word that Doshen’s forces began their assault. Taking heavy fire from the gun emplacements and hardpoints that studded the hive’s outer perimeter, the Imperial drive started to falter under the relentless barrage. Even the Imperial Commissars balked at the prospect of advancing into the deadly barrage of cannon fire, batteries, las and flamers.

The Imperials hardened their resolve and drove forward into the heart of the enemy. General Carnhide’s third army penetrated the southwestern perimeter of Lyubovhive in the early hours of the campaign’s 17th day. Ferocious urban fighting ensued, as the Archenemy countered the Imperial assault with a well-orchestrated resistance meeting them at every step of the way. Carnhide was soon forced to call in support from the second army, sooner than he had anticipated.

The brutal fighting ensued unabated for the next eighty hours. News of Doshen’s forces breaching the main hive perimeter in the northeast and driving in towards the hive’s core reached them forty-six hours into that period. Though the General’s spirits were lifted by the good news, his hopes were soon dashed as the Blood Pact once again proved to be an implacable foe that fought with stealth and guile. For every small victory and every inch of ground taken, the Blood Pact made the Imperials pay dearly, laying traps, setting ambushes, mining tenements and employing snipers and booby traps. After eighty hours of continuous fighting, Carnhide finally relented and called a halt, allowing the frontline forces to retire and be replaced. The fighting dulled somewhat for a short period of time but at hour eighty-five, Carnhide pressed his forces onwards.


As the Imperials made a furious thrust into the wounded hive, they encountered fewer Blood Pact forces at this latter stage and more levies of cultists. A great fire soon broke out in the main hive’s northern sectors, burning unchecked until one fifth of the hive was consumed. It is speculated that this fire was the result of stray munitions but was more likely caused by enemy sabotage. Carnhide focused on his main goal of finding and destroying the focus of Lyubov resistance – Araek Etogaur. He drove his forces relentlessly forwards, knowing full well that victory was within his grasp. Late on the seventy-third day of the campaign, three fireteams from the 82nd Carnelian Light Foot finally ran the Etogaur to ground.

Driving ahead of the main advance, the fireteams encountered unexpected resistance from a squad of Blood Pact warriors. A firefight ensued, which left three of the foe dead on the causeway outside and forced the remainder of the enemy to back down into a vandalized Censorium. Checking for signs of life, the Imperial medic noticed the dead foes weren’t attired like the average Blood Pact warrior. Alarmed by this unusual turn of events, the squad leader soon alerted command for support.

The fireteams soon found themselves under renewed fire from the Censorium before any support could arrive. They then encountered stiff resistance from all quarters, but the Imperials valiantly fought on. By the time a squad of Kasrkin specialists arrived to support the beleaguered fire teams, the squad leader believed he had spotted the rogue Etogaur. He quickly pursued him with two other members of his squad through the lower quad and towards the west door of the Censorium.

Cornered, the Etogaur drew a barbed chainsword, snarled like a cornered animal and lunged to attack. His two subordinates were swiftly cut down, and the squad leader missed the Etogaur with his first two shots. With one charge in his weapon’s power pack remaining, the squad leader fired one last time into the snarling face of his foe. Araek Etogaur was finally dead. Though it later transpired that the squad leader had missed, and the headshot was claimed by one of the Kasrkin marksmen in an adjacent building, the deed was done. Sporadic fighting continued for weeks afterwards but eventually an Imperial victory was declared after the successful conclusion of the Lyubov campaign.


From the very beginning of the campaign, Carnhide had numerous obstacles arrayed against him. He was given a poorly supplied and equipped ad hoc force of mixed units and still managed to achieve what was thought to be an unlikely victory.

Carnhide was a genius at understanding how to use the disparate parts of his command coherently and his command allowed them to function at their best. He knew how to play to the strengths of the various organizations under his command and make them an asset, bringing out the best in his troops through respect for their opinions and initiative, even as the Forces of Chaos often did the opposite.

General Carnhide should have achieved glory and honor considering this great Imperial victory, but alas, it was not to be. Though he would achieve his assigned objective and drive the Archenemy forces from Lyubov, ending their threat to the advancement of the Crusade’s front across the Sabbat Worlds Sector, General Carnhide was accused of wavering and indecision, with his peers casting doubts on his strength of character and even his ability to command.

These specious allegations were largely an act of political vengeance orchestrated by Cybon when it became clear that Cybon had badly misjudged the situation on Lyubov, especially in the abortive attempt at liberation two years earlier. Lord Militant Cybon even had the gall to berate Carnhide for allowing elements under his command “to do as they will,” even though it was tactical flexibility that had allowed Carnhide to claim the victory in the first place.

Carnhide was deeply wounded by this criticism. He eventually went on to publish his own account of the action at Lyubov and retired from the Crusade and Imperial military service altogether. Eighteen months later he committed suicide, dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head

The Reintegration of Lyubov

The actual campaign took longer to plan than to carry out. Imperial forces liberated Lyubov in 778.M41 with a lightning campaign that pushed the Archenemy from the major population centers in a mere 80 days. With the grip of Chaos broken, the world has been placed under the protection of the Guardians of the Covenant Chapter of Space Marines (a Dark Angels successor chapter).

The people of Lyubov have religious opinions like the Guardians of the Covenant themselves, so the influence of the Ecclesiarchy on Lyubov is weaker than you might expect on a world so recently liberated from Chaos. Then again, the hatred of Chaos and those who collaborated with the Archenemy is extremely high, so the Inquisition tolerates the religious deviation of Lyubov, so long as they continue to adhere to Guardians of the Covenant cult… for now.

Lyubov and the other worlds of the Khan Group rejoined the Imperium, but with conditions. Under the terms of the re-integration Lyubov and her sister worlds in the Khan Group are guaranteed tolerance of their religious and cultural autonomy in return for political adhesion to the Imperium. For over two centuries the Imperium has kept its word and Lyubov forces assisted in the Defense of Piscina IV and defended the Imperium in the 3rd Armageddon War and in the 13th Dark Crusade.

The Third War for Lyubov

(The Great Patriotic War)

 In the late 41st millennium, the Archenemy returned to Lyubov. The Jieshi Is’Malal had retreated to their home world of Hira in the Sanguinary Worlds following the Liberation and the subsequent Imperial victory in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Sultan Farouk never gave up on his dreams of empire. The Is’Malal allied themselves with Waaagh Grishnak and returned to Lyubov in the last years of the 41st millennium.

The war began within Sanguinary Stars. The forces of the Archenemy usually fight each other, but occasionally and inexplicably they put aside their rivalries to form an assault on the Imperium, their common enemy. In this case, the unity came about when the Sultan Faruq Al’Fadi of the Jieshi Is’Malal managed to convert several Chaos warbands to his cause. In addition to the worshippers he recruited, Farouk also hired several warbands of Blood Axe Ork mercenaries and struck an alliance with the Waaagh Brakka, led by a brutal Blood Axe warlord with holdings along the rimward edge of both the Sabbat Worlds and the Sanguinary Stars. Farouk declared a Jihad and set out to reconquer the territories he once controlled among the Sabbat Worlds. The Sultan’s forces arrived in the Khan Group undetected by the Imperial Navy, possibly at the whim of Malal, Himself.

Meanwhile, on Lyubov, a series of strange events culminated in armed rebellion breaking out in several provinces, especially Cherez. Lyubov consists of five main landmasses and six provinces. Most of the population lives on the main continent, Great Lyubov. The revolts were quickly put down in Great Lybov, but in the outlying provinces they proved more difficult to eradicate. As the planetary defense forces seemed capable of dealing with the revolt, no additional units were sent by the Imperium. Lyubov is a backwater in the Khan Group and no one considered the revolts was more sinister than simple civil unrest.

Busy containing the rebellion, Imperial forces were caught by surprise when the forces of the Jihad arrived in the Lyubov system. The Jihadi fleet housed an enormous Chaos army led by the the Sultan himself. Chaos Marines from the Jieshi Is’Malal, the Word Bearers, and the Alpha Legion, as well as cultists, daemonhosts, mutants, beastmen, and hordes of daemonic creatures descended on Lyubov.

This army, including millions of Chaos Cultists known as the Jieshi Jihadi al’Mahdi Is’Malal (The Army of the Holy Warriors of the Divine Guide of Submission to Malal) and the Eleven Djinni, the eleven strongest daemons of Malal whose lives and deeds most pleased their wretched god. Chaos Space Marines from the Alpha Legion and hordes of other daemonic creatures dedicated to the Outcast God also poured onto the surface of Lyubov and swept across the land.

The insidious effects of Chaos were quickly felt as nearly a third of the Planetary Defense Force went over to the invaders. The bloodlust driven Jieshi Is’Malal descended upon the planets populous with a fury, butchering millions in the first weeks. The few remaining loyal defenders were quickly routed from White Lyubov and the Archenemy established a foothold in Cherez as well, occupying the former capital at Odessye. Falling back through the tiaga in the south, the survivors joined up with the units from Great Lyubov and prepared to make a last-ditch defense along the White River.

The Imperial defense was well organized. Unknown to the Forces of Chaos, a Host of Guardians of the Covenant Astartes had been assigned to this sector of the Imperium, and they moved quickly to provide aid to the beleaguered defenders as soon as they received the astropathic distress messages from Lyubov describing the invasion by the Sultan.

The Imperial defenders gained valuable time while the Sultan attempted to impose Is’Malal on the occupied populations and raised bloody monuments to the Outcast God from the wreckage of his offensive instead of pressing his advantage. When his army emerged from the mountains that divided White Lyubov nearly in half, they found the Imperial defenders ready and waiting — and reinforced by the Guardians of the Covenant.

Huge battles erupted along the entire front. In the east, along the White River, the Imperial forces held, but towards the west. In the northern portion of the White Mountains, Sultan Farouk led the way himself. He smashed through the Imperial lines and led his forces towards Lyubovhive and its surrounding settlments. With parts of the world once again under Archenemy occupation, the Third War for Lyubov continues.