+ inload: The Alien Wars – Arcturus and the Lamb's World 117th +

+ The Alien Wars: The Arcturus Theatre and the first Lamb's World 117th +

Lamb's World [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]. Of the planet itself, little is said; for it represents just one amongst hundreds of thousands that make up the Imperium. A backwater rainworld, loosly civilised, it sends its sons and daughters out to fight the Emperor's wars, and has done so for many millennia. +

Typical Lamb's World guardsmen - pugnacious, grimy and resolute.
+ Numerous regiments from the planet have served in the Imperium's armies; most more dutifully than remarkably. The 27th 'Copper Hornets' fought in the Damocles Gulf campaign; the 55th saw service in the Dolor Debacle; and a later raising of the 117th – the so-called 'Black Hands' – were deployed to Shale. +

+ The 117th regiment seems to have a cursed history. Owing to the peculiar recruitment habits of Lamb's World, there have been at least three 117th regiments, all of which have met dismal ends. The infamous Shale campaign [ca.M41], left but one survivor [cross ref. Terentius Dresden] or the resurrected 'Black Hands' regiment, while another was all but wiped out during the Fourth Scallop Star purges. +

+ The first recorded 117th served during the Alien Wars, far from the sector of their birth. Deployed to shore up the ongoing war on Arcturus in 191.M35, the regiment quickly found itself embattled against tough, resourceful ork invaders, who had established numerous beachheads and looked set to overrun the world in short order. +

Few Lamb's World regiments are specialised; the culture of the planet favours adaptable generalists. The 117th shows a preference for relatively low-tech and reliable equipment. The gunners complain about the 'back-breakers', but heavy bolter operators enjoy a certain cache in the mess.
The equatorial regions of Lamb's World has, since time immemorial, been plagued by an infestation of orks; which require the Imperial Commander to operate eternal vigilance – and his forces to perform regular sweep-and-clear missions. As a result, nearly every soldier who leaves Lamb's World will have fought against the greenskin, and become accustomed to their typical tactics. This proved not only useful, but life-saving, on the world of Arcturus. +

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+ The Arcturan War and Imperial Politics +

+ Many Arcturans muttered privately that the lack of support in their war with the invading orks was a sign that the Imperium itself was withholding its armies as a sign of disfavour. This was, after all, a dark period in the Imperium's history, with the Imperium itself sundered in two. Most planets beyond the immediate influence of the competing galactic capitals had studiedly remained neutral at the secession of the distant Segmentum Pacficus, but privately, most favoured the claim either of Terra's status quo, or Nova Terra's claims of greater adherence to the Emperor's vision. +

+ Of particular note during this period in history is the general inaction of the Astartes. If the worlds of the Imperium were become increasingly withdrawn in the political and religious forment of the time, the Chapters Astartes were doubly so. The Ecclesiarchical Bull of the Emperor's Deificiation – issued within living memory for those with access to juvenat treatments – officially stated the Emperor to be a god. In its wake, the increasingly influential Ecclesiarchy was clamping down on 'heretic' faiths – which included most Chapter cults. +

+ While few in the Church were unwise enough to declare against a local Chapter, they privately petitioned against the Imperium's armed forces requesting any aid from the Astartes – citing numerous reasons; from the importance of humanity defending itself, to the Emperor's Angels literally ascending to dwell with the God-Emperor in some other realm. Thus the Church and its Angels sat in an uneasy and unspoken truce; one refusing to request their help, the other warily dwelling in their fastnesses. +

During this period, few Chapters looked beyond their immediate fiefs, in order to avoid appearing to favour one side or the other in the temporal or spiritual debates of the time. Of those that remained actively campaigning, most deployed to wilderness space, where they could continue their duties without inadvertently sparking an intersectorial war. +

+ The result of this was that, to many, the fabled Space Marines became just that – fairy tales. +

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+ Arcturus, located deep in wilderness space in Segmentum Ultima, was far from the hub of Imperial politics, but Lord Governor Finchley-Gossamer, the otherwise shrewd Imperial Commander of Arcturus, had publicly spoken out and campaigned in favour of supporting Nova Terra against what he saw as an increasingly oppressive bureaucracy. +

+ The Historia Imperium, a common scholam primer on Arcturus today, makes it clear that it was vanishingly unlikely that the orks were in any way influenced by Imperial politics, but as the alien armada approached, many muttered darkly that the greenskins had been paid – though by Terran or Nova Terran agents was never clear. +

+ With the benefit of historical hindsight, it is more likely that the orks simply took advantage of thinning extra-solar defences as the players of Imperial politics gathered their forces closer to them, rather than contribute to cooperative efforts – but the dark cloud this suspicion cast over the defenders of Arcturus had a real effect on the war; retarding recruitment, slowing the building of defences, and leading to intermittent fighting and resentment between competing factions even as the orks reached the system pickets. +

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+ Caef Burton-Gogh and the Arcturan War +

Caef Burton-Gogh and his command team at the height of the war.

+ The orks that invaded Arcturus were typical of the greenskins only in that they were utterly unpredictable. The unidentified leader was possessed of obvious skill and cunning; using unconventional strategies to wage war on land, air and - critically - sea. It was the latter that caused the Imperial defenders such hardship, as their navies - mostly hastily refitted merchants - proved woefully inadequate to operate against the precociously advanced field technology of the orks. As a result, the orks quickly established superiority here, making mutual support between the Arcturans city-states difficult. Even as the Arcturans desperately sought to defend major ports across the world, the orks gathered to destroy one after another via sea. +

+ Caef (a rank in Lamb's World Gothic dialect, roughly equating to Colonel) Primus Burton-Gogh was like a bolt from the blue. Capable, dashing and charming, the experienced soldier proved a key to the defence of Arcturus. He split the 117th down into two parts; a core that retained two-thirds of deployment strength, and numerous subsidary companies that proved vital in shoring up both the physical defences of the Arcturan planetary defence force and their morale. +

+ Having a platoon of the veteran off-worlders deployed alongside them proved vital to reinvigorating the Arcturan companies defending their planet. The natives quickly warmed to the cheery and vigorous Lamb's Worlders; and came to see the extra-planetary aid as a symbol of the Emperor's continued favour. +

+ The larger part of the Lamb's World army then began a fight-back, rallying the Arcturans and reclaiming two of the lost coastal cities in swift-striking assaults – though only at crippling losses. Even as the Lamb's Worlders adn their Arcturan allies prepared their third assault, it was clear that the regiment was going to be unable to continue active duty for much longer. +

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+ The Blood Angels +

+ However reassuring the Arcturans found the deployment of the Lamb's World regiment, they were but men. While the tide of defeats slowed, the orks were still pressing their advantage across the coastal regions and moving inland. It was two long months after the reclamation of Porth Caul that a signal came that brought fresh hope to the fighters – the Angels of Death were rumoured to be coming... +

+ While the rumours were not denied, few in the High Command believed it. Indeed, a number of them denied the existence of the Astartes completely; though consented to a propaganda campaign being launched. + 

+ However, it was during the assault on Drevi Falls, the third coastal city-state that the 117th had set their eyes upon, that such rumours proved true... +

The Blood Angels 3rd Host in battle alongside the Lamb's World 117th.

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