The Old Times
At the dawn of time, long before mankind set out to colonise the galaxy, as the War in Heaven between the C’tan and the Old Ones drew to a close, the Necrons started to withdraw their forces to the safety of their tomb worlds. Buried beneath the surface of each of these planets, the undying race planned to wait out the danger until the time was again ripe for them to rise and conquer the galaxy once more. During this period, a lone Tombship entered an embryonic star system far to the eastern fringe of the Milky Way galaxy and vanished.
The planets themselves were newly formed, great clouds of nascent creation spreading out from the newly formed star. The Tombship disappeared within this conflagration of raw creation and was seen no more. The Necrons chose the eighth planet of this star system for their resting place and completing work on the vast underground tomb complex, they sank beneath the earth to await the long distant harvest.
The Coming of Man
The Valorax system was discovered and colonised during the Dark Age of Technology but fell, like many colonies, to a feudal level of society during the long Age of Strife. Why this occurred is uncertain but some truth may be gleaned from the confused and contradictory legends whispered across the different regions of Pariah.
As time went on, these groups grew into tribes, remaining together or splitting apart until thousands of groups existed, frequently battling one another for possession of resources and hunting grounds. Small nations formed and continued to war against one another, some becoming subsumed or annihilated, others growing in strength. Finally, two mighty factions remained the most prominent: the Chalice Tridents and the Pikemen of Escavar.
For much of this period of growth, the different human factions across the planet maintained a level of stable hostility, but now the Escavar horsemen organised themselves and systematically took control of the bitterly cold chillward region they named Kaltirey. United, they waged war scorchward, through the scattered villages of Paelar and into the Lapitar jungles.
The Jungle Men of Lapitar had no interest in vying for planetary control and no desire to be subsumed. They used their forestry skills to remain clear of the advancing forces to a great extent, leaving the Escavars to their march of conquest.
Finally, the Chalice Tridents and Pikemen of Escavar came into direct conflict at the Firebreak where the jungles finally gave out and grievous losses were felt on both sides.
Understanding the significance of this war, the Tridents struck chillward along the western coast toward Escavar itself, forcing the horsemen to split their assault into a pincer defence.
The conflict was brutal for both nations as the initial momentum of attack on each side failed without diminishing the desire for victory. The war degenerated into a long series of minor skirmishes, picking away at both tribes, attrition wearing them down for little gain. The war stretched into years and then into decades with only a rising death toll to mark it.
With only mutual destruction assured in their future, Commune Tensk, leader of the Chalice Tridents took a shocking step toward peace and offered full control of his realm to the Escavars. This ended the war and effectively united all people across the world of Valorax.
Despite this however, some bitterness remained and the ecological banding down the super continent maintained regional identities even with the apparently overall dominion of the Escavars.
Over the course of the next thousand years life on Valorax maintained a fairly prosperous stability, principally at an agricultural level with farming and mining the primary industries. Pariah, especially the barren lands of Kaltirey and the mountains of Paelar was rich in strong metallic ore which became a cornerstone of the very slowly developing technology. Escavar remained the capital city but other cities flourished throughout the land.
One thousand years after the first war for Valorax had come to an end, the skies were filled suddenly with Stormbirds and Thunderhawks of the Dark Angels Space Marines. The natives of Kaltirey were in awe of these majestic armoured warriors, especially after many of them were gunned down in a demonstration of power.
Lion El’Johnson, Primarch of the Dark Angels himself, met with the king of the Valori and offered them a place within the newly formed empire of man. Kort Sojee, king of the Valori clearly had no choice but to accept however within months the choice became a generally popular one. The people of Valorax were grateful to rejoin the fold of humanity and took great pleasure in their suddenly raised level of technology.
Some elements of Valori society did not wish to be subsumed and for several months, guerrilla attacks were made against the Imperial forces by cells backed primarily by the Jungle Men of Lapitar. This underground was brutally silenced however by a massive and probably over-severe culling of all possible members and any likely collaborators.
So it was that the people of Valorax rejoined the Imperium with almost no resistance.
Ten Thousand Years of Imperial Rule
Being so far to the galactic east, Valorax was almost untouched by the events of the great Heresy and smoothly came into alignment with the new Imperial polices that followed it. The planet was assessed for logistical and resource worth and given a tithe level of Solutio Extremis, requiring that a significant proportion of its fighting men be inducted into the Imperial Guard. Valorax was not strictly a death world but its environmental extremes bred hardy soldiers, perfect for the Age of Rebirth and the Scouring of all remaining forces of Chaos following the Great Heresy.
The valuable ores and mining potential also proved a significant lure and the Adeptus Mechanicus made deals to assume control of many of the manufactoria across the Pariah as well as drilling platforms out to sea. Valorax was not a Forge World however, and despite the growing presence and influence of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the point was never reached point where it became justifiable for the tech priests to assume control, despite the strong views of many of the Tech Magos.
Mining also began on the outer planets in the Valorax system, orbs controlled wholly by the tech Priests of Mars. Because of the common use of Valorium in the construction and maintenance of space craft, huge underground manufactorums were built to produce the parts, principally in Kaltirey and Paelar, and extensive space docks were installed in-system for repairs to be effected. Thanks to the proximity of these space docks, the Valori were the primary source of replacement crew members on these capital ships and the Flight Officer Academy in Valancia became famous for the high calibre of its graduates.
The Valorax system became a major staging post for the Imperial Navy ships of Battlefleet Carrion with dozens of space docks orbiting the outer planets of the system from Valorax VII outwards.
Valorax VII which had obviously been terraformed as an agri-world during the Dark Age of Technology was re-established as a major source of food and made to provide sustenance, both out of system to the neighbouring Forge World of Ichar IV and in-system to Valorax VIII and the mining planets. With so many of its resources turned to mining and manufacturing, the food was required to sustain life on the principle biosphere.
Arrival of the Men of Stone
In 201.M32, the Men of Stone Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes came to Valorax VIII and the planet became a key fortress bastion within that sector. The Men of Stone Space Marines drew their novices from the hardiest of the local population and used the planet as a strategic launch point for their ongoing crusades. If there was another reason for their initial arrival and the choice of location for their bastion then it was quickly forgotten, or perhaps covered up. The presence of the Men of Stone and the protection they supplied continued until approximately one hundred years ago when, without warning, the Adeptus Astartes disappeared.
Throughout the ten thousand years of Imperial rule, life on Valorax VIII was tough but prosperous, at least for the ruling classes. Menials continent-wide lived gruellingly long days of labour but the planet never came under major attack. Pirate and Ork raids were easily deterred by the strong ship presence within the system and the Men of Stone struck hard at any viable threats for many light years wide.
The Manticore War
Ichar IV, Valorax’s closest neighbouring system, was a vital industrial forge world providing military supplies to the Valorax forces and many other battle zones in the Carrion sector. With little warning, a huge Tyranid Hive Fleet codenamed Kraken swept in from the farthest reaches of the galaxy’s east and attacked. The Imperial Guard, Ultramarines and Eldar met this onslaught head on but its strength was unfathomably vast.
The Imperial Guard forces present included a large contingent of Valorax military and as the conflict wore on grinding thousands of men up in defence of this strategic world a sizeable percentage of the Valorax planetary defence forces were drafted in to add to the tithed regiments already present. The death toll was so substantial that most of the Valorax troops were annihilated by the nigh superior xenos forces, leaving Valorax itself at risk from future attack.
The greatest need at that point however was in protecting Ichar IV and the Imperial forces fought hard to do so, finally shattering the main drive of Hive Fleet Kraken and shooting its constituent parts out into the night.
With the Tyranid menace suddenly so close to home, Valorax High Command fully recognised the risk their drop in military forces posed. Planetary Governor Ivan Chord requested aid from the sector governor, Tabitha Quorll, but was refused. Other planets were already under attack from Kraken splinter fleets, specifically those close to the sector capital itself and Valorax’s weakness was not deemed a priority compared to her own life. Worse, Battlefleet Carrion in station around Valorax was fully mobilised and sent out to combat the flood of Tyranid bio-ships.
This risk became a dangerous reality when a surviving splinter of Kraken emerged from the darkness of the void and descended into the Valorax system.
Arch Magos Franz Corloin of the Adeptus Mechanicus Deparmento Biologis, in attendance with the planetary governor to discuss contingency plans in the event of an invasion was the first to give this conglomeration of alien death a name: Hive Fleet Manticore.
Without the ships of Battlefleet Carrion present, Manticore easily breached the system defences and made landings on the outer mining planets of Valorax IX and X.
The Mechanicum stations there were in no way equipped to defend themselves from a major assault and broods of carnifex tore open the outer doors of each mining station in turn, depressurising section after section as hordes of gaunts swept in and annihilated all the menials and tech priests present.
Above the planet, Hive Fleet Manticore barely slowed, drifting silently in-system toward the more densely populated worlds. The fleet split, elements of it continuing past Valorax VIII to make drops onto the agriworld closer to the Cold Eye, the rest disgorging their dark seeds all across the principle biosphere.
With millions of Tyranid monstrosities pouring down onto the planet, the Valori were barely able to defend themselves. Despite giving such devastating aid to the forces of Ichar IV, pleas for help continued to be refused. The space docks and manufactorums were already either destroyed or mostly overrun and with them the strategic importance of Valorax VIII plummeted.
With no other option, and as they had done for millennia, the Valorax men and women dug in to defend themselves. Cities and settlements the planet over became battlegrounds for the fighting but the bitterly heroic survivors fought back, doing their best to stay alive. Wave after wave of hormagaunts and termagants swept across the frozen plains of Kaltirey and into the jungles of Lapitar. Harpies and gargoyles picked off any exposed citizens in the mountainous region of Paelar. Raveners and trygons, thriving on the loose ground of the Chalice made strike after covert strike at the desert settlements and began an underground war within the confines of the capital, Infernus Interficio. Pariah’s capital, Escavar, was hit particularly hard. Somehow the Tyranids understood its significance and dropped thousands of spores into the narrow streets, overwhelming the city’s defenders.
The situation was untenable. Even with a fully arrayed planetary defence force they would have little chance to fight back. As it was, the battle was hopeless, but still they fought on.
Then without warning, a turning point came. Battlefleet Carrion returned to the system and let rip with nova cannons, lances and weapons batteries into the swarm of bio ships in orbit. Manned almost exclusively by the Valorax natives, the men of the fleet were fiercely loyal and ignored other calls for aid as they extinguished the Tyranid bio ships from the heavens.
Suddenly, with their reinforcements cut off, the Tyranids were fighting a losing battle but they continued to strip Valorax VIII of its fighting men. The war on the ground was no less hopeless than it had been.
Further calls for aid went unanswered and Battlefleet Carrion could only hold for so long before their presence led to accusations of treason.
After great deliberation, the order was given by Lord High Planetary Governor Ivan Chord (a former officer of the Chalice Tridents) to begin a massive planetary bombardment to wipe out the Tyranids.
“My people… you have fought as hard as any who have fought. You have given your lives to make our people and the whole Imperium safe. You have fought in every distant arena of war and now you fight here on our own home soil. But it is a losing battle. We are dying, no matter how valiant and unflinching we may be. Our foe is too numerous and the sacrifices we have made already in defence of our Emperor’s realm have taxed us too heavily. There is only one way left open to us – one way we can reach still for victory and at least save this world for our descendants if not for ourselves. I must ask something of you no leader should ever have to ask, but I know that it is the only way. I ask you once again, to give your lives so that others may survive; to die alongside the foul xenos filth that corrupts our world so that we can at last be free of it.”
- Planetary Governor Ivan Chord in a global communication shortly before ordering the all-consuming planetary bombardment that ended the Manticore War.
The human forces dug in but many were killed as the bulk of the Tyranids were destroyed in the rain of fire that fell all across the planet. Shell after shell fell, striking cities and towns, manufactorums and army bases, the open plains and the deep jungles. Whole swarms of Tyranids were vaporised. Over ninety percent of their strategic power was wiped out in the opening minutes of the bombardment. On Valorax VII too, bombardments truck at the Tyranids who had made landing there, wiping out hundreds with each blast.
The plan was working. But at a terrible cost.
After almost two full days of devastation the assault stopped and reluctantly the fleet pulled away from orbit, leaving the entire planet a smoking ruin.
With almost every city laid to waste, the survivors consolidated their forces. Valorax VIII was saved but at a great cost, not only in lives and economy but in something else as well. The people of the Valorax system had given nothing but loyalty and lives to the Imperium of Man. That debt had been left unpaid at their darkest hour.
Many members of the ruling echelons and high ranking officers of the predominantly Valorax-loyal Navy Battlefleet were not likely to forget this quickly and thus the darkest strand of the history of Valorax became darker still.
Aftermath of the War
The Manticore War was over. Through the sacrifice of billions of lives, every single Tyranid had been wiped out, leaving the Valorax System safe once more. Or so had been the intention.
Even as the cinders of the destruction continued to fall, the survivors, emerging from their bunkers caught sight of movement amidst the falling masonry. Although the Tyranids had been dealt a horrific blow, tearing out the superstructure of their forces, many individual organisms remained, scurrying furtively, reverting to instinctive animalistic behaviour.
The furious but exasperated survivors gunned down any Tyranids they saw but the xenos filth dug deep into the city ruins and forest bowers and proved immediately that they were going to be harder to eliminate than the humans had hoped. Although most of the Tyranids had been exterminated, the Valorax Guard had also been dealt an almost mortal wound and there were insufficient forces to follow through with the killing blow.
Another strike from orbit was considered but quickly disputed. There was no guarantee that a sufficient proportion of the Tyranids would be wiped out and the Guard and the rest of the population were too close to extinction themselves.
The armed forces started to consolidate their strength; bringing the survivors together to assess what power they had remaining. Confidence in Ivan Chord’s leadership was shaken but still held and his absolutely rigid belief in their continued survival kept the rank’s tight and discipline high.
In some areas the Tyranids were successfully held at bay but in others they started to flourish again. Nowhere more was this felt than in Escavar, whose ruin was the most crippling blow so far to strike Valorax. The planet’s capital city had to be largely abandoned following the orbital strike, but due, ironically, to the city’s own defences, the Tyranids had survived there in relatively massive quantities. The entire city was overrun. With a heavy heart, Ivan Chord ordered that all contesting forces be removed from the city and that planetary governance be shifted to Qualitat, the floating city in the Sea of Gore, which had remained almost untouched.
Like Birds to Carrion
With the planetary defences of Valorax VIII devastated, Imperial forces busy elsewhere in the segmentum battling other splinters of Hive Fleet Kraken and the expanding Tau Empire, other eyes turned to the system. These eyes, both xenos and warp-spawned, saw a place of opportunity, easy pickings for a bold and fast moving force.
As the natives continued to fight to keep the Tyranid menace in check, these other forces started to close in, each with their own agenda. There was little on Valorax to stop them taking what they wanted and the end of all life in the system was coming with little to stop it.
What the Valori needed now… was a miracle.