Following the catastrophic defeat of Imperial forces at the battle of Caluphel, and the subsequent retreat of Warmaster Jedhansen’s forces, the Salamanders would withdraw to the Occulta Manticora Sub-Sector to lick their wounds. Losing half their number in the conflict, the Crusade of Fire would now contain only a third of the marines that left Nocturne in mid 111.M42.
Additionally the Crusade was now headless, losing Captain Al’kehere in single combat to a Bloat Drone of Nurgle during the battle. For several months the Crusade would rearm and reassess the situation from within their sub-sector, sending word of their situation to Nocturne and Macragge. During this time, Captain Kalus would take up leadership of the Crusade. Lieutenant Felra was then chosen to be Captain Al’kehere successor. The Crusade of Fire would also go through a full force reorganization to better combat the threats present in Caluphel. The sector would be fortified and geared for full scale support of the Crusade. This was done in the hopes of creating a sub-sector that could support and supply Imperial forces as they pushed into xenos and traitor controlled space.
The Salamanders then decided that their main priority in the fortification of the sub sector would be to retake Broken Phalanx. A relic from the Horus Heresy, the Broken Phalanx was a Ramilies Class Starfort, the perfect tool in assisting the Crusade with locking down the sub-sector. The derelict station was surrounded by a killing field of mines and wrecked Heresy-era warships. Inside the station, the greatest threat to the sub-sector would present itself. Early scouting passes of the station revealed that it was infested by genestealers. While a common sight in derelict ships and space hulks, when final preparations were made to assault the Broken Phalanx it was further discovered that the Genestealers were that of Hive Fleet Tiamat. As long as they lived aboard that station, they acted as a psychic beacon to the rest of the Hive Fleet.
Alas, this fact was discovered too late. A mere week after the cleansing of the station, the first tendrils of Hive Fleet Tiamat began infiltrating the Eres System. All forces would be withdrawn from the station and sent to reinforce the defenders of the system. Initially their arrival would prove moot, losing colonies, mining stations, and trade stations to Tiamat. While several key victories and the arrival of relief forces led by Warmaster Jedhansen would push the Hive Mind back momentarily, a savage counter attack performed by the xenos would firmly claim three worlds of the system.
Following this phase of combat, the Imperial defenders would then enact exterminatus on the capitol world of the system after discovering a massive genestealer cult on the planet. Rather than commit forces to fight a secondary engagement, Jedhansen would send millions of Imperial citizens to the Emperor’s side. After nine months of conflict in the sub-sector, a valiant last stand would be mounted from the hive moon of Huenus — a final gambit to blunt the tendrils of the hive fleet.
Fortunately for the Crusade, unforeseen allies would soon arrive. Elements from the Raven Guard and Dark Angels chapters of Adeptus Astartes would exit from the Spatium Neferus Subrift. Both forces were en route to war zones elsewhere in the galaxy, but were thrown off course by the tides of the Cicatrix Maledictum. After deliberation between the three chapters and their arrival into an active war zone, both forces would decide to aid in the Crusade of Fire and Warmaster Jedhasen’s defense of Huenus.
The presence of more Astartes would bolster the moral of the human defenders while adding considerably to the pool of forces the defenders could draw from. With the aid of the Raven Guard and Dark Angels, the defenders held the moon for three months. Even with what felt like the full might of the Hive Fleet’s outer tendrils bearing down upon the moon, the combined Astartes and Astra Militarum would hold them back.
Just when the fate of the defenders of Huenus was balanced on a razor’s edge, victory would be achieved. The Swarmlord that led the assault upon the moon was vanquished by the action of a single Salamander sergeant and a melta bomb. After this engagement the forces of Tiamat would seem to withdraw from the moon, preceding a massive psychic scream. Finally, after nearly two years of fighting, the Tyranids’ advance had been halted. Even if for just a moment, even under strange circumstances, even if foreshadowing the greater engagement to come, the respite was welcomed.
The order and prosperity the Crusade of Fire had instilled in the sub-sector was gone, and now once more had to be rebuilt. Furthermore, as the conflict wound down, a garbled distress signal would be received from the Ianthe Sub-sector. All that could be discerned from the communique was a location and the key word “Crusade of Fire.” Now, more than ever, the destiny of the Crusade of Fire was pulled in many directions — all uncertain, and all holding the keys of fate for the Crusade.
War goals: Crusade of Fire
The Salamanders have three different war goals following the battle of Huenus. The first is to push Hive Fleet Tiamat out of the Eres system and fully reclaim the system. Their second war goal is to bring Broken Phalanx back online to be used as a mobile fortress monastery for all Astartes in the Sector. Their third and final war goal is to answer the distress call from the Ianthe Sub-Sector and to get to the bottom of the situation. With these objectives complete, the Crusade of Fire along with Warmaster Jedhansen, will have a secure forward operating base to fully pursue the pacification and exploration of the Caluphel Sector.