Wednesday 1 May 2013

The Monster & The Giant

The Monster and the Giant – The Invasion of Talos VII

Talos VII Planetary Profile

Designation: Talos VII
Type: Deathworld
Tithe Grade: Tertius – Regimental tithes, Adamantium ore, Chem and Bio weapon research
Location: Talos System, Kharvaria Subsector, Invigila Sector, Ultima Segmentum
Satelites: 2, (Perseus - type 3, Bresais – Type 2)
Est. Population: 4.6 Billion
Status: Loyal

Overview of Talos VII

Some believe that the Imperial world of Talos VII was saved from destruction, that the planet was spared in the name of the Emperor of Mankind. Others believe that the people of Talos VII may yet be damned..............

Talos VII itself is part of a system of eleven giant planets which lies in the Invigila Sector, far to the Galactic East, in the Ultima Segmentum. It is a world of twilight, acrid fog seas, blasted wastelands and voracious continent spanning forests. It is a Deathworld, a world poisoned centuries ago by Xenos spore that writhes in agony and rebels against the corruption within. The people of Talos VII are proud and stoic, strong in both body and spirit, but they are grim of countenance, as though they carry the same pain deep within them that infects the heart of their home world. Talos VII is a world redeemed, saved from the brink, though at a cost which is yet to be fully realised.

Hive Fleet Scylla

In 774.M41, the Talos system was engulfed by a tendril of the Tyranid Hive Fleet designated ‘Scylla’, after the many headed monster of old Terran mythology thought to have been slain by the Emperor Himself.
At the time when the Hive Fleet entered the Talos system, the monitoring stations lying in the systems outer reaches were old and poorly maintained, and many had been abandoned millennia before. No signals were received by the Monitoring Servitors of Talos VII of what approached from the void. The Hive Fleet quickly bypassed the four outer planets, which were a combination of insubstantial gaseous giants or great airless rocks and supported none of the biological life that the Hive Mind craves for sustenance, and Scylla steadily approached the prime system world of Talos VII.

Talos was an isolated world, and few interstellar craft passed through the system, though it was one such vessel, the light transporter ‘Guiding Light’, which first brought word of the approaching Hive Fleet. Her Captain was much travelled, and, understanding the gravity of the situation, reported the dire news directly to Planetary Governor Alexandus himself.

Immediately, the order was given to prepare for war. Every military installation on the planet was brought to alert status, units were re-called from leave, munitions were allocated and oaths were sworn. Just as the final Planetary Defence Volunteers reported to barracks, the long range augars of the orbiting weapons platforms began picking up the incoming fleet, and few though they were, they prepared to commence firing, desperate to destroy as many Tyranid vessels as they could before they made orbit.

The orbital weapons platforms may have been ancient, but unlike the outer monitoring stations they were well maintained and heavily armed, and they destroyed a great number of Hive Ships with high energy beams and immense armour piercing explosive shells, cracking meters thick armoured shells and spilling the ships innards into the icy void. Despite the determination of their crews, the orbital defences were too few by far to halt the Hive Fleet, but, resolved to do their duty and inflict as much damage as they could on the approaching flood of ships, the crews of the defence platforms sealed themselves inside and kept firing until their ammunition was spent and capacitors overloaded. Great armoured Kraken assaulted the defence platforms, crushing them with mighty jaws or piercing their metal skins with razor sharp beaks, disgorging thousands of Tyranid creatures into the stations which overwhelmed the trapped crews within hours.

Slowly the Hive Fleet slipped into orbit above Talos VII, surrounding it with a sea of living vessels. As the transmissions from the orbiting platforms ceased, and the defenders below looked to the skies, the first mycetic spores began to fall, glowing hot as they plummeted ground wards through the atmosphere.

The Tyranid invasion of Talos VII lasted ninety three horrifying days, during which over four fifths of the population was slain and rendered down to feed the Hive Fleet. Tens of millions died in a visceral orgy of primal slaughter. By the thirtieth day, the rolling green grasslands, mist shrouded marshes and continent spanning forests were changed beyond recognition. The ancient fathomless lakes were transformed into bubbling seas of toxic murk, writhing with slashing tentacles and enraged bellows as the lakes ferocious denizens were poisoned by the alien spore infecting their habitats, and battled against ravenous Tyranid creatures in the depths. The year round snow upon the titanic sky scraping mountain ranges began to melt as the temperature rose with the choking of the atmosphere by alien spores and micro organisms, and the vast tracts of equatorial forests exploded in a chemically induced frenzy of growth intended to increase the volume of bio mass available for the Hive Fleet to consume, smothering settlements, arterial vehicular routes and major supply lines.

As the sky darkened and the heavens heaved and rolled with thunder and strangely coloured lightning, the war on the ground was raging. The Planetary Defence Regiments fought bravely, withdrawing to the mighty fortress cities of Talos VII which rose like mountains from the land. Here they could better defend the many thousands of refugees that had made the arduous journey from the rural areas to the cities as the first spores began to fall. Terrified men and women who were judged fit to bear arms were swiftly armed with what weapons were available, many of which were nothing more than converted tools, and pressed into service to bolster the inner defences of the cities. Thousands of street gang members from every territory arrived unbidden at the recruiting stations Their age old blood feuds and ancestral grudges set aside, they sewed service badges onto their clothing and swore binding blood oaths to defend their home cities to their last breath.

The backbone of the Talosian defence was to be the soldiers of six entire regiments of Talosian Light Infantry, and two of Talosian Armour, mustered for service across the stars. None could have foreseen that the blooding of these regiments would take place in the defence of their home world against such a terrible foe.

The vast swarms of Tyranid creatures numbering in the millions which flowed across the changing lands broke upon the huge bastions of Talos VII in endless waves of voracious scythed and clawed beasts. Those that looked out from the great plex-glass viewing occulus high in the fortress towers saw nothing but a tide of chitinous bodies crashing over and around everything, stretching as far as the eye could see, until the hordes were obscured by thick mists.

The gargantuan armoured weapon blisters which studded the kilometres high walls of the fortress cities spat forth enormous explosive shells and searing lasbeams as Macro Cannons and Turbo Lasers opened fire on the enemy. Wide mawed cannons would gout forth blazing chemical fire, scouring the approaches to the walls of enemy creatures, only for the vile Xenos to surge forward in even greater numbers, pouring between the scorched and blasted mounds of their own dead that they used as cover from the torrents of defensive fire.

The defenders of the bastion cities knew that they were trapped, and all contact had been lost with those caught outside the walls. With the huge influx of refugees from the settlements beyond the cities, provisions of food and water soon began to dwindle, and all supply routes had been cut save for the few brave pilots who, with the grace of the Emperor, managed to survive the frantic death runs from the upper landing platforms of one city to the next, dodging great winged Tyranid creatures that filled the skies, and bringing in what meagre supplies their limited holds could carry.

The ancient incoming aqua ducts had been contaminated with Tyranid spores and parasites, and across Talos VII thousands died in agonising convulsions as vile alien creatures exploded from within their wracked bodies before the order was given to seal all incoming pipelines. Even at those cities where the swarms had not besieged the walls, none that ventured out survived for long, as they became prey for roving packs of Tyranid warrior beasts. The limited numbers of armoured units that were far away from the cities at the training fields knew they were doomed, but courageously attacked the swarms where they could, heavy bolters and battle cannons spitting death and blasting gaping holes in the rushing hordes, but the enemies numbers were too great and the tanks ground to a halt amidst the sea of chitinous forms, scythe armed Carnifexes and Trygons tearing through their armoured flanks, and smaller rippers forcing their way through grills and vents to smother and choke the tanks engines with their own scorched bodies, or squeezing into crew compartments where crewmen were so confined that they stood no hope of defending themselves. Many poor crewmen died, choking on engine fumes or burned alive when their vehicles caught fire or were even devoured where they sat strapped into their seats, screaming as their blood and viscera pooled beneath them and showered their stations with gore.

The defenders of Talos truly believed the end had come when the ground vibrations caused by rampaging swarms of Tyranids were joined with a deeper shaking, and from the mists marched Hierodules and Hierophants, towering behemoths of bestial destruction armoured in meter thick armoured chitin shells and as large as the greatest Mechanicus constructs. The hulking Bio Titans strode through the storm of fire issuing from the wall emplacements, some falling to concentrated blasts, but those that reached the citadels struck the walls like living meteors, tearing the gun emplacements from the walls with their immense claws and bringing tonnes of stone and plasteel crashing down on the swarms which clamoured at the walls below. Where the Bio Titans breached the mighty walls, the swarms of assault beasts outside flooded through to slaughter the terrified defenders within. For the people of the cities that fell, it was as though the monsters of their darkest nightmares had come to claim them.

At the breaching of the walls of the northernmost fortress city of Kouris, perched upon a mighty cliff overlooking the broiling ocean, where the approach causeway was carpeted with the blasted carcasses of a million Tyranid creatures, swarms of scythe armed Hormogaunts and serpentine Ravenors flooded the tunnels and access ways, every corridor and every building until they could barely move for the press of chitinous bodies. Where they broke open store rooms and cellars and other makeshift strong points within which the terrified people had taken refuge, the butchery was horrific, and they had nowhere to run. Many went mad with stomach churning terror, and men turned their weapons on their families and then themselves rather than allow them to be taken by the Tyranids.

Far to the south, the ancient citadel, L’Havar, was decimated by a dozen or more Bio Titans which crashed through the plascrete walls and went on a furious rampage, demolishing walls and towers, habs and manufactoria with their titanic bulk, tearing down everything around them until all that was left was a mountain of smoking rubble, tens of thousands of humans and Tyranids alike crushed beneath the mounds of rockcrete and plasteel, or hopelessly trapped in creaking and flooded pockets beneath the ground, effluvia and alien parasites pouring in to devour them.

At the mountain fastness of Heavens Gate, a great many winged Harridans circled above the city, and from their cyst covered underbellies they disgorged great clouds of shrieking Gargoyles which swept down through the ceaseless anti-aircraft fire to smother the city. Though the air defences brought down great swathes of Tyranid monsters, and the blasted bodies of Gargoyles fell like rain and giant Harridans plummeted like chitinous meteors to crash into the buildings below, one by one the defences were silenced, their ammunition hoppers ringing empty or power couplings fused with the continuous fire, until the city was utterly choked with a sea of chittering Gargoyles and membranous wings and was devoured.

At Phyrros, out on the eastern plains, the beleaguered defenders retreated from the outer walls after Tyranid Bio-Titans swept them clear of defenders with great gushing torrents of organo-acids and corrosive bile. Those doused by these vile fluids died where they stood, screaming in agony until their throats sloughed away and their lungs dissolved, their bodies hissing as they burned until their legs gave way and plunged them into the liquid, their bubbling remains carried away with the toxic flow. The survivors retreated to the ancient and impregnable keep at the heart of the city and sealed themselves inside, in their desperation leaving thousands outside when there was no more room, trusting, praying that help would come. When the Imperial Scourging Teams opened up the keep several weeks later, they found a charnel house of horrors. Pict-records showed that broods of Lictors had managed to infiltrate the keep before it was sealed, and trapped in the darkness, terrified and with nowhere to run, the Lictors hunted the people through the narrow corridors and halls and butchered them one by one.

It was at the planetary capital, Talos Invictor, where the fighting was most desperate. Here, the difference between the Planetary Defence troops and the elite of Talosian Light Infantry regiments was plain. The entire strength of six infantry regiments (the 1st, 5th, 10th, 11th, 18th, and 24th) and two armoured regiments (the 3rd and the 8th) had dug in around the city in a ring of heavily fortified gun positions. Over twenty five thousand men and nearly 250 tanks all told, including a company of Shadowsword Super Heavy tanks, thus far kept in reserve to defend the Talosian capital, ready to defend the city.

As the assault began, and huge waves of Tyranid assault beasts bounded towards the Imperial lines, the infantry manned heavy weapon emplacements and dug in Leman Russ Battle Tanks opened up, taking a fierce toll on the enemy creatures. Time and again they swept the killing fields clear of shrieking and chittering Tyranid hordes, the pre-prepared crossfires of lasbeams and explosive shells hammering the approaches mercilessly. It was only where Bio-Titans and broods of Carnifexes led the assaults on the walls that the lines were sorely pressed. The Hierophants and Hierodules were engaged by the mighty Defence Laser ‘Spear of Righteousness’, from its housing high up on the Tower of Eternity, and by the Volcano Cannons of the three Shadowswords, and where they pierced the armoured carapaces of the Bio Titans, they cracked and split as their innards were superheated, and many were brought crashing to the ground.

In some places the Tyranids reached the outer defences, and here they were driven back by grim veterans wielding massed flame units. Where the largest assault beasts led the attacks, mighty Tyrgons and Mawlocs bursting up from beneath the cratered ground, and broods of raging Carnifexes crashing into the Talosian positions and scattering helpless Guardsmen like chaff, the line threatened to buckle under the horrific onslaught. Only the actions of noble officers and even individual troopers kept the enemy from tearing great holes in the lines as short ranged but deadly melta and plasma weapons were brought to bear, bringing the creatures down through sheer volume of fire backed by Talosian grit. Many names passed into the annals of regimental legend during those close and desperate engagements, as the brave men of Talos stared death in the face.

The battle for Talos Invictor was to turn at the positions where a concentration of Hive Tyrants led the assault: the approaches to the great western gate. Here the Tyrants led great numbers of Hormogaunts and Genestealers behind an impenetrable wedge of Carnifexes five ranks deep. Though many of the living engines of destruction were felled by concentrated fire from dug in Leman Russ, Demolishers and Vanquishers, they were too many to be halted and they smashed through the lines of tanks in a tide of destruction not yet seen during the battle. They were an unstoppable mass, tearing through tank armour and smashing them aside to continue the charge, driven by the overriding directive of the Hive Mind. The Talosians morale was reaching its limit as this monstrous assault crashed towards the city walls, and the firing intensified as the Tyranids closed in.

It was at this critical point that the volume of defensive fire was abruptly cut in half. Broods of Lictors which had infiltrated the Imperial positions under cover of the attacking Carnifexes and Hive Tyrants sprang from cover to assault the gun emplacements and command posts from the rear and they were powerless to engage this new attack, the Lictors upon them in an instant. With the defensive fire so greatly reduced and the Talosian soldiers embroiled in chaotic short ranged battles against enemies attacking seemingly from every direction, Tyranid creatures began to pour through the breach in the lines and into the outer reaches of the city.

Those defenders that were able retreated within the city walls, under covering fire from defenders within, and those that could not sealed themselves inside rockcrete bunkers as the enemy flowed over and around them, screaming, their hands locked over their ears as the chitinous horde scraped and scratched and battered at the hatches, eager to gain entry and slaughter those locked inside.

Defenders within the city were forced to fight a frantic fighting withdrawal deeper and deeper into the wounded stronghold, using the tight alleys and access ways to funnel the attackers towards one prepared position after another, tenaciously defending every foot of ground until they were overwhelmed or the positions became untenable. They held every street corner, every tunnel, every building, many giving their lives to slow the Tyranid advance and buy precious time for the defenders and civilians deeper within the city.

At the city’s heart, Governor Alexandus had descended with his personal guard ready to stand and face the enemy at the finish. Within the deep catacombs beneath the city where the Ministorum Priests had gathered the faithful, fearful pleas for salvation could be heard, filling the vast underground spaces with prayers to the Emperor of Mankind for deliverance. At the last barricades, and with nowhere else to withdraw to, the Talosians steeled themselves to face the foe. All around them they could hear the shrieking and chittering of the swarms as they built for the final assault.

The Imperial soldiers opened fire one last time as the alien host charged at them across a wide thoroughfare, littered with fallen statues of ancient heroes, wrecked vehicles and falling masonry. Behind the Talosians, the Preachers cried out above the din of battle, and just as the soldiers braced for the assault, and the prayers of the people reached a crescendo, the ground shook and lurched violently. The prayers ceased immediately and the people wept in terror.

Outside the city walls, where the hordes of Tyranid creatures clamoured to enter the city, and Bio Titans prepared to tear down the walls, beams of searing light meters wide lanced down from the heavens, evaporating the discoloured clouds and vaporising great swathes of Xenos, the armoured behemoths buckling before this intense and pinpoint bombardment. From the high towers, the people there saw a sight such as few ever live to see. The sky was alight with hundreds of fiery spears as Imperial troop ships descended from orbit. Darting between the monolithic troop ships were wings of Marauders and Thunderbolts which harried the Tyranid Harridans and Gargoyles that swarmed in the skies, and strafed the swarms on the ground, dropping hundreds of tonnes of high explosive munitions into their midst, tossing broken Tyranid bodies left and right.

Within the heart of Talos Invictor, the Tyranid charge had faltered, and before the Hive Tyrants could reinvigorate the attack, squad upon squad of hulking Terminators in Bone coloured armour materialised before the barricades, blocking the path of the Tyranid swarm, their Storm Bolters and Assault Cannons spitting death, and Heavy Flamers incinerating great masses of aliens, leaving charred mounds of fused Tyranid corpses strewn across the thoroughfare. Even as the Tyranids charged forwards, they were cut down by the Deathwing’s relentless fire, joined now by that of the Talosians, their faith renewed and eager to cleanse their world of the Xenos invaders. The size of the swarm was great, and they yet pressed forwards, but as they did so, Dreadnoughts and Marines of the Dark Angels Chapter, delivered to battle by gunship and drop pod, engaged them from the rear, pouring ever more fire into the Tyranids until, caught between the grim Terminators of the Deathwing before them and the Dreadnoughts and Battle Companies pressing from behind, the swarm disintegrated.  

It transpired that the Imperial Fleet that had been en route to take on board the Talosian regiments before striking for the nearby warzone of Kairis Ultra had found a sight they never expected as they arrived in the Talos system, and, caught unawares, the Hive Fleet in orbit was annihilated by the vessels of the Imperial Navy and the Battle Barges and Strike Cruisers of the Dark Angels force in attendance. The following hours and days were hard fought, and many Imperial servants yet lost their lives before the majority of the Tyranid creatures were finally eradicated from the surface of Talos VII. The halls and passageways of Talos Invictor were scoured with fire and shell, and great numbers of the Tyranid invaders, bereft of their Hive Fleet and many of their leader beasts, succumbed to their inbred survival  instincts and vanished into the wilderness to spread their vile Xenos corruption. Though the tendril of Hive Fleet Scylla that attacked the Talos system was vanquished, the mass of the Hive Fleet, stretched across many light years, continued its journey deeper into the inhabited galaxy, and to this day, more than two centuries later, the people of Talos are watched from the shadows by agents of the Inquisition for signs of Xenos taint or corruption, lest a beacon be lit to draw the Hive Fleets once more.

The soldiers of the Talosian regiments fight in the Emperor’s name across the length and breadth of the Imperium, courageous, loyal and tenacious, they fight to repay their debt to the Emperor for saving their world from annihilation.

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