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Old 10 Dec 2008, 04:08   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Black Templars: A Comprehensive History

The Age of Apostasy

In M36 an era that later became known as the Age of Apostasy engulfed the Imperium in civil war. The insane High Lord Goge Vandire the High Lord of the Administratum declared himself the Ecclesiarch and with the power garnered by being the dual head of the two most powerful factions in the Imperium Vandire began the Reign of Blood. The Reign of Blood was a terrible conflict that swept the Imperium as Vandire's paranoia ordered the deaths of billions, if not trillions of Imperial citizens and the destruction of whole worlds. Many resisted and the armies of Vandire clashed with their enemies in open warfare across the Imperium. However factions on both sides of the conflict were unwilling to risk their relations with the Imperial Fists and not only did they leave the Fists unmolested while the Chapter campaigned against the Ebon League, the Imperial Fists were often able to bring both factions together to face a common threat that would otherwise have found the defenders divided and weak. Because of this the Imperial Fists and those they encountered weathered the storm of internecine war and political upheaval better than most. However eventually the neutrality of the Astartes could not continue and when the Black Templars returned to the Sol system to find their Chapter Keeps destroyed they declared a Crusade against the High Lord Vandire. The Imperial Fists along with the Fire Hawks and Soul Drinkers joined the Crusading Templars and laid siege to the Imperial Palace and Terra, though ironically this time around it was the loyalists who were the attackers, in a cruel twist of fate and an echoing repetition of the horrible events of the Horus Heresy.

2nd Siege of the Imperial Palace
-For months the armies of the Saint Sebastian Thor, the Space Marines and their allies laid siege to the Ecclesiarchal Palace without managing to breach its formidable defences. Eventually the Emperor's Champion Navarre of the Black Templars led a daring last ditch assault. At the height of the fighting the Chapter Banner Bearer fell, all eyes watched as the Chapter Standard began to fall but Navarre swept the banner up and carried it through the breach in the Palace's walls, inspiring his brothers to fight all the harder. After the battle Chapter Master Lazerian honoured Navarre with the title of Captain of the Banner as a reward for his exceptional courage.

With the outer walls breached the loyal warriors of the Emperor carried the fighting into the inner precincts of the Palace, something that had not happened since the dark days of the Horus Heresy when the Imperial Fists and the Blood Angels had stoicly held the traitors at bay. The situation was now reversed but despite the prowess of the Imperial Fists and their successors and allies the battle was brutal and ugly. The fighting only came to an end when the Custodes intervened. Bringing the leader of the militant sisterhood known as the Brides of the Emperor Alicia Dominica before the Golden Throne itself. The Brides of the Emperor was a militant sect of nuns that Goge Vandire had inlisted as his strong arm, equipped with Holy Bolters and cleansing flamers, and armored in sanctified power armor the Brides were a force to be reckoned with but it was their faith from which they drew their true power. No one knows what happened in the Emperor's throne room but when Dominica emerged she and a cadre of her most trusted companions marched straight to Vandire's Audience chamber, denouncing him as a heretic and traitor Dominica cleaved his head from his shoulders, ending the 2nd Siege of the Imperial Palace and the Reign of Blood. Sebastian Thor became the Ecclesiarch, the renamed Daughters of the Emperor became the Sisters of Battle, the militant arm of the Ecclesiarchy and the Ordo Hereticus and the victorious Space Marines departed, their mission complete. It is unknown however whether the Black Templars rebuilt their Chapter Keeps within the Sol system, or whether they moved on immediately.

The Jerulas Crusade

The Jerulas Crusade is one of the most notable campaigns of the Black Templars for one main reason, it was where the designs for the Land Raider Crusader were first recovered and put into use. The Black Templars were tasked with returning the Emperorís Light to the previously isolated worlds of the Jerulas system. Previously cut off from the Imperium for an extended period the worlds of the system had managed to thrive and were not keen on once again being under the yoke of Imperial rule. The first missionaries from the Missionarus Galaxia were slaughtered, but when a second group came to the system they brought the Black Templars with them. Under the direct command of High Marshal Ludoldus the Templars fought the forces of the rebel worlds with great success until they came to the well defended hives of Jerulas itself.

Each attempt to capture the Hives was fought back with great losses and it seemed like the Templars would be unable to force their way into the Hives. But the answer was found by the Artificer Simagus of the Templars who discovered the means to develop the now legendary Land Raider Crusader.

Armed to smash through enemy defenses and disgorge large squads of Marines right into the thick of the fighting the Crusader was the perfect tank for breaching the defenses of the Jerulas hives. The tank was so successful that other Chapters began to request information on the tank and by 763.M39 it was officially recognized by the Adeptus Mechanicus though that was more of a formality than anything as the tank variant had already spread to hundreds of Chapters by that time.

Each of the traitorous hive spires fell in the first assault by the Land Raider Crusader and even those that surrendered suffered the Templars merciless wrath.

The Donian Crusade

The Donian Crusade was called to combat the growing Ork population of the Donian Sector in the Segmentum Pacificus. The first Marshal, brother Austein was killed during the fighting on Nickel V. He was succeeded by Marshal Wemher. The Crusade went on for fully seventeen years before the High Marshal declared it successful and Wemher moved on to lead the Thangdron Crusade. The Crusade also included Fighting Companies led by Castelan Heinman, Castellan Lazarus, and Castellan Gotchalcus.

The Vinculus Crusade

One of the earliest campaigns in which the now famed High Marshal Helbrecht participated. Still a lowly Neophyte at the time Helbrecht was merely a witness to the dramatic events of the campaign. The Crusade was undertaken against the assassin-cult warriors of the Peleregon cluster. Under the command of the legendary High Marshal Ludoldus, the Templars fought alongside Inquisitor Vinculus and the Adepta Sororitas of the Order of the Bloody Rose. The assassins were traced back to the world of Peleregon IV, a hellish lava world all shifting tectonic plates and rivers of magma.

The initial landings met little opposition and the sororitas and astartes easily fought their foes back to the massive temple that was the seat of the cultís power. The combined forces fought their way deep into the temple, Ludoldus and his Sword Brethren breaching and holding the walls of the temple for their allies to fight their way inside. As the Imperials breached the pillared inner sanctum Inquisitor Vinculus faced the cultís leader in single combat. Vinculus succeeded in slaying the cultís leader but suffered a terrible wound himself, the wound that proved to be the Inquisitors doom, for the slight weakening in the Inquisitors mental shield was enough for the freed daemon that had possessed the cult leader to leap into the Inquisitor and manifest itself.

A Bloodthirster of Khorn tore itself into the material realm and began slaughtering the Imperial soldiers by the dozen. High Marshal Ludoldus, The Emperorís Champion Ulricus and Canoness Jasmine took on the Daemon in brutal close combat, but though the champions of the Emperor were courageous and their sword arms fueled by holy faith they were no match for the daemon. In desperation Ludoldus threw a Holy Orb of Antioch into the boiling lava in the chamberís central chasm. The explosion initiated a massive earthquake that began to tear the temple apart and the possessed Inquisitor fell to his destruction in the roiling magma.

Thunderhawk Gunships braved the billowing ash and storms to pick up the survivors. While a number of gunships were lost in the attempt the majority of the survivors escaped the world and made it back to their ships in orbit. To make sure the job was finished the fleet bombarded the site of the Temple until the entire site was drowned in a sea of lava.

The Crusade of the Ophidium Gulf

The Crusade of the Ophidium Gulf is a mystery with many dark secrets. The Strike Cruiser the Ophidium Gulf bearing the survivors of the Garon Crusade under the command of Castelan Raimer, traveled deep into the unexplored wilderness of the Veiled Region. The Crusade encountered strange alien beings living in great cities of gold that worshipped a being known as the ďVoice of the Emperor,Ē curious the Crusade moved on in search of this being destroying all the temples they encountered.

Strangely though the Raimerís Fighting Company found that many of the cities they encountered had already been visited by destruction far greater than they alone were capable of and as they pressed ever deeper into the Veiled Region they finally encountered a fleet of Space Marine vessels owned by none other than the Dark Angels who were themselves on the hunt for the Voice of the Emperor.

The Black Templars offered to fight alongside the illustrious First Chapter. The Dark Angels were hesitant to accept the Black Templars help but eventually consented and the two forces launched a ground invasion of the final stronghold of the Voice of the Emperor. During the fighting it was the Black Templars that breached the inner sanctum first and to their surprise they discovered that the mysterious ďVoiceĒ was a Space Marine wearing ancient black power armor devoid of insignia. Suspecting their prisoner was the reason for the Dark Angels reluctance to accept their help the, Raimer ordered his forces back to the Ophidium Gulf, but no sooner had they returned to their ship then the Dark Angels ordered the prisoner handed over. When Raimer refused the Dark Angels fleet powered up their weapons and locked on to the Ophidium Gulf, with no choice remaining Raimer handed over the prisoner and watched as the Dark Angels broke orbit and departed.

Raimer sent a single communication as the Ophidium Gulf made its way to the system jump point but the Ultimate fate of Raimerís Crusade is unknown as the Ophidium Gulf has yet to check in with any Chapter Keep.

The Ghoul Stars Crusade

This was the first Crusade declared by High Marshal Helbrecht upon being sworn in as High Marshal before the shattered sword of Dorn. The Crusade was launched with the intention of exterminating the Cythor Fiends that inhabited the Ghoul Stars and within eight years the Crusade had utterly eradicated all trace of the xenos in the outlying systems and the Black Templars pushed deeper into the core systems. Strangely when the Crusade reached the home worlds of the Cythor Fiends they found them totally abandoned and could find no trace of the xenos or where they may have gone. The investigation was cut short however as the Templars caught the distress call from Armageddon telling of a second invasion by Ghazghkull and Helbrecht ordered the Crusade redirected.

The 3rd War for Armageddon

The 2nd War for Armageddon was really more of a furious prelude to the 3rd War, and though the Templars participated in the second war it was during Ghazghkullís second invasion that the Templars really shined. Three Crusades under the command of High Marshal Helbrecht himself mustered at the Chapter Keep on Fergax before departing to assist the defenses of Armageddon. Taking command of the space forces directly and leaving the other two Crusades to make planetfall Helbrecht fought a space campaign against the Orks with a stunning degree of success.

On the ground Marshals Ricardís Dimaris Crusade and Amalrichís Tiberior Crusade fought a series of brutal campaigns throughout the wastes of Armageddon, including the notorious battle for the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant in Helsreach Hive where Chaplain Grimaldus was the only survivor. Grimaldus led the defense of the Temple with fire and zeal, famed for the declaration:

ďI have dug my grave in this place and I will either triumph or I will die!Ē

The fighting was eventually carried into the temple itself, the orks looting and destroying priceless relics with every moment but Grimaldus and his warriors would not relent and as the fighting reached its zenith the temple collapsed ontop of both ork and crusader in a firestorm of destruction. All were feared lost, but a day after the collapse Grimaldus dragged himself from the shattered temple with the last three surviving relics. The apothecaries who treated Grimaldusí wounds later reported that he should not have survived, only the sheer steel of his will kept him alive. Now Grimaldus goes to war with the three surviving relics of the Temple of the Emperor Ascendant carried by Cenobyte Servitors, and famed as the Hero of Helsreach.

Meanwhile in space together with the other fleets of the Astartes and the Imperial Navy fleet under the command of Admiral Parol began to whittle down the massive fleet of Ork ships and hulks, the reduction of ground reinforcements eventually began to tell and by the commencement of the Season of Fire where the surface of Armageddon becomes hostile to all life, the fighting had boiled down to an uneasy stalemate.

The Fall of a Champion

The Black Templars success was shattered when Helbrechtís Crusade returned to the hulk the Malevolent Dread. Earlier in the space engagements the Hulk had been heavily bombarded by the Black Templars Battle Barge the Light of Purity, and damaged by charges planted by boarding parties. Finally Helbrecth decided to put an end to the Hulk once and for all and gathering his Crusade and all of his Sword Brethren Terminators launched a massive boarding assault. Such an assault had never before been attempted on such a scale, but Helbrecht was determined to put an end to the gargantuan space born monstrosity.

The first stage of the assault was a teleport attack led by the Black Templars Terminators. The Terminators established a perimeter to allow the rest of the Templars forces to board the Hulk. The Ork response was immediate however and the Terminators came under heavy assault immediately. Casualties mounted but Helbrecht was determined to make room for the reinforcements. Thunderhawks and boarding torpedoes made it to the Hulk and joined the fighting at the perimeter. The Terminators were still holding the Orks at bay but it was a tenuous achievement at best.

The second phase of the mission began as the Crusade organized into strike teams to lay the heavy thermic charges that would tear the Malevolent Dread in two. Helbrecht himself would lead the most important team, despite having been wounded several times already Helbrecht was determined to plant the charges that would initiate the chain reaction and destroy the Hulk once and for all. Along with his command squads and the Emperorís Champion Vosper, Helbrecht pushed deeper into the hulk.

The Terminators had held the Orks at bay during the first phase, and during the second phase they led the advance, forming the spearhead of the Templars forces as they fought their way through the twisting corridors of the Hulk. Once they abandoned their relatively secure firing lanes however casualties began to increase yet again, with the support of the entire Crusade the Terminators managed to press through the Ork defenses but as more and more strike teams broke off to complete their individual objectives the Templars forces became ever more vulnerable to sudden ambush and attack.

It was as the Templars broke into a cavernous gap between two ill fitting ships that made up the Hulk that the Orks launched their largest assault yet. Over a thousand of the green skinned monstrosities threw themselves into the bolter fire laid down by the Templars, heedless of their own losses.

An audible crack sounded as the Orks smashed into the Templar line, their advantage lost the Templars nevertheless managed to hold the line. Vosper and Helbrecht led the counter-attack, scything into the Orks with skill unmatched, building a pile of Ork dead at their feet. Slowly the tide of battle turned as the Templars reformed behind their champions to cut through the ork horde. As the two mighty warriors slashed their way through the Ork horde they came upon the largest of the foul creatures, the warboss, who tore through the swirling melee cutting down warrior brothers wherever he went. Filled with righteous fury the Emeprorís Champion Vosper called the Ork to account and faced the creature in one on one combat. Each Templar whispered a prayer to the Emperor as Vosper and the Ork Warboss crossed blades, praying for their Champion who was the best of them all and who was the very embodiment of the Chapter.

Vosper attacked the Ork warlord with huge two handed sweeps of the Black Sword, driving the creature back step by step and slowly gaining the upper hand. But as the Warboss reeled back from a powerful overhand blow it became enraged and recovered with inhuman speed, driving Vosper back and though the Emperorís Champion met every blow of the Orkís sword he could not stop the creature from barreling into him, knocked off balance Vosper could not sway aside as the Warboss split his skull in two.

The Championís fall was the turning point of the battle, despite Helbrechtís best efforts the Templars faltered and the Orks redoubled their efforts. The High Marshal was forced to the ground, swamped by dozens of greenskins, his personal Command Squad pulled him clear but an Ork Choppa was buried in his chest armor. As the Templars fell back many were brutally cut down and the casualties went from bad to horrendous. Many groups of Templars found themselves cut off, the teleporter arrays of the Light of Purity overloaded with the strain of teleporting units back onboard and without an effective perimeter there was nothing the Crusade could do to rescue the stranded squads, leaving them to do nothing but try to sell their lives as dearly as possible.

By the time the Light of Purity pulled away from the Hulk almost half of Helbrechtís Crusade had been lost and Helbrecht himself had been critically injured, only his enhanced body keeping him from joining the Emperor.

Finally with the Season of Fire upon them and the fighting stalled the Hulk believed to be the flagship of Thraka departed along with the bulk of the Ork forces. Swearing a mighty oath to hunt down and slay Ghazghkull, but the Black Templar fleet did not leave alone. The Hero of Armageddon, Commissar Yarrick petitioned High Marshal Helbrecht to accompany the Templars and as a sign of the esteem Helbrecht held Yarrick the High Marshall granted his request.

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