Sunday, May 08, 2011

Inquisition War begins

The first real shots of the Inquisition war were fired on 0805.011M42 when the Grey Knights attacked the Dark Angels on Ares. Believing that Inquisitor Xanthus was on the planet, the Grey Knights moved to arrest the Inquisitor lord and stop an Imperial civil war before it started. Lord Hathek wasn't even consulted as the Knights believed that as Xanthus had broken from the council, and the primary function of the crusade was to destroy chaos, the Inquisitor was now a traitor and aiding heresy.

Hathek and Huron didn't try to stop the Grey Knights, they knew better. However unknown to the astartes chapter, Xanthus wasn't on Ares at all. Certain that the planet was now in Imperial hands, the Inquisitor lord had left for Sentinel to bolster his forces. Instead the Grey Knights found themselves facing the two Astartes chapters who had been responsible for returning the planet to the Emperor's light, the Lamenters and the Dark Angels. The Lamenters didn't interfere with the arrival of the Knights, but the Dark Angels, when asked to withdraw and allow the Ordo Malleus marines to carry out their investigations, they refused.

This refusal led to an immediate attack by the Grey Knights on the Dark Angels positions. By now the knights of the Ordo Malleus had decided that the Dark Angels had declared themselves "for Xanthus", and by their reckoning were already traitors. The attack caught their opponents by surprise and the battle quickly went away from the 6th company. Still they refused to yield and the Dark Angels took heavy casualties before finally departing from Ares in their strike cruisers. By then the Lamenters, still basking in the glory of their victory on Ares, had made themselves scarce. The gauntlet had been thrown down and now the sector waited to see what retaliation or worse, escalation, the Dark Angels would pursue.

Although ostensibly represented on the Crusade Council, the 4th Company of the Dark Angels under Captain Angelus El'Zahariel had taken no part in the crusade since its deployment to Bastien back in 1810.010M42. Since then they had pursued their own goals, brutally suppressing the Aganthean Apostacy in the neighbouring sub-sector. On receiving news of the treaty with the Tau, and with their campaign against the Apostates successfully concluded, El'Zahariel redeployed his company back to the Perseus Deeps.

Before the 4th could rejoin their battle brothers on Ares, El'Zahariel received an astropathic communicae detailing the attack by the Grey Knights. Whilst El'Zahariel was under no illusions about the stubbornness and intractability of his brother captain he was infuriated by the actions of the Grey Knights. Ardently pro-Hathek the Grey Knights had been acting like a loose cannon, attacking Imperial forces without hesitation and pushing the Imperium towards civil war.

Although keen to see the heretical alliance with the xenos Tau broken, Captain Angelus was anxious to avoid a split within the Imperium. This left him in an impossible position. To fail to respond to the attack would be humiliating and make the Dark Angels appear weak and pathetic. To respond in force, and against such a renowned chapter as the Grey Knights, would escalate tensions and plunge the sector further towards civil war.

Having monitored the Grey Knights base of operations on Ares, the 4th deployed a task force of roughly equal strength. They then issued a formal challenge to combat – an honour duel to the death to maintain the reputation of the chapter and hold the Grey Knights to account for their actions. The Grey Knight's pride gave them no choice but to accept and they sallied forth to give battle.

The two astartes chapters manoeuvred through the ruins of Ares, but it was the Dark Angels who struck the first blow, attacking with a fury born of righteous retribution. The Grey Knight's lead vehicles were quickly destroyed in lightning attacks by the Ravenwing, then Dark Angel's fell upon the survivors without mercy. Using their superior mobility they picked apart the Grey Knights, inflicting heavy casualties whilst sustaining few themselves. Clear winners of the duel, the Dark Angels declared honour satisfied and withdrew rather than push forward to attack the Grey Knight's base.

Although costly, the honour duel defused the tension building between the two chapters and the contained, formalised resolution of the dispute met with the approval of the ruling council on Ares. The threat of outright civil war had lessened for the time being.

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