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I see a rising deluge of violence drowning Humanity's worlds. Like the sea crashing upon the cliffs, it grinds and crushes with every surge. Entropy. Cruelty. Lunacy and hatred. These are the weapons of the Enemy. The tides of Chaos have toppled civilisations, bringing them from supremacy to the brink of annihilation. Blindly does Mankind make that same journey, now standing on the edge of the abyss.
I see war unbound raging across the cosmos, a black fire that consumes a million worlds. Every imaginable conflict is made manifest, and the valorous bleed and die anew each day. But beneath this battle of darkness and light there is a truth that sears the mind. The Enemy, nemesis of all, comes not from without. Our most cursed foes are the shadows of our souls made real, and they would see the galaxy burn.
On pages 12 and 13 there is a photograph of a huge playing table on which the Ultramarines are defending a large citadel from a massed force of Nurgle Daemons and Death Guard.
Page 18 shows a game in progress between Steve's Death Guard and Natalie's Ultramarines.
Something terrible came out of the warp storms as they roiled through the southern reaches of Ultima Segmentum. Where the seeds of corruption had been planted by the Plague That Walks, a new and terrible contamination spread. The diseased dead rose to claim the living. Previously, the walking corpses could be destroyed, but now doing so only released hordes of Nurglings that writhed impossibly out of the withered flesh of the fallen. Hive worlds were toppled, and as the Blackness descended, there was no escape. In the horrific ruins, Cults of Corruption slithered out of hiding, summoning forth further aid from the Realm of Chaos itself.
So did systems fall, creating the Scourge Stars - a trio of sickly systems that had fallen to Nurgle. From that power base, the Death Guard and Plague legions issued, systematically reaping planet after planet. On they spread. It was none other than the Daemon Primarch Mortarion that brought the fabled Realm of Ultramar, gem of the whole segmentum, under siege. Plague bombardments rained down, so severe that once gloried hives became pits and agri worlds became slime-ridden ruins. Chaos was encroaching on many fronts when Roboute Guilliman returned. It was his tactical acumen that first stabilised the many war fronts, and his Spear of Espandor counter-attacking campaign that successfully bought the forces of the Imperium still more time. At the Gates of Parmenio, Roboute Guilliman defeated the Greater Daemon Septicus and his Plague Guard. At Iax, once a glorious garden world, Primarch met Primarch as Guilliman confronted Mortarion, the two brothers fighting to a deadlock before the Chaos forces mysteriously withdrew under cover of a virus bomb.
The Ruinous Powers attack the galaxy in interwoven ways, using unexpected guises. It is beyond mortal comprehension to follow such machinations. Was the slaughter on Van Horne's World related to a greater plan, or was the bloodbath merely an opportunity for the denizens of the warp to enter realspace? What was the endgame for the corruption of the planetary governor of Drakus Prime? Only now can it be seen what foul seeds were planted upon the worlds infected with the Zombie Plague. What hope has Mankind to fathom such random, bloodthirsty and immortal foes?
Nurgle is the lord of entropy and fecundity, the joyous bringer of plague and physical corruption. His is the cycle of purification, rebirth and morbidity.
The Death Guard were one of the original Legions, but with lies and half-truths Horus swayed their Primarch, Mortarion, to his rebellion. The Death Guard would pay a nightmarish price for that betrayal, falling under the sway of Nurgle, the Lord of Corruption, to become the first of all the Plague Marines.
Few sights are more loathsome than the corrupted forms of the plague-infested Death Guard. Their oozing power armour has rotted away in places, exposing festering wounds and pestilence-filled innards - yet their bloated bodies do not feel the agony of their mutations. If anything, these afflictions only make them stronger, their necrotic bodies so numb to pain that only total destruction can stop them. Relentlessly they march forward.
Abominations against nature, the Death Guard advance within clouds of flies, their weapons spitting death, their miasma spreading unnatural disease. Truly, Nurgle has blessed the Death Guard - their flesh bulging with corruption - and they wish to share these gifts of virulence across the galaxy.
For a long period after his ascension to daemonhood, the Traitor Primarch Mortarion allowed his Death Guard to fractionalise. He was content to rule from his throne upon the Plague Planet - a Daemon world inside the Eye of Terror - only rarely issuing forth. In the wake of the Noctis Aeterna, however, Mortarion has taken a more direct role in leading the Death Guard. The time for the planting of corruptions had ended, and the time for reaping has begun.
Lords of Contagion stamp their filthy footprints across the domains of the Imperium, leading corrupted monstrosities in their wake.
Amongst a stinking miasma of infectious gases, the legions of Nurgle advance with slow but unstoppable momentum. The air fills with the drone of bloated flies and chanting Plaguebearers, their vile chorus punctuated by the crash and roar of gunfire.
Plague Marines bring to their victims the foetid gifts of Grandfather Nurgle - amongst them disease, despair, and boundless entropy.
Greedy eyes looked out from the roiling warp. They lingered long over the southern reaches of Ultima Segmentum. Nurgle wanted them for his own. He wished to lavish his gifts upon them, to watch their citizens sprout new growths and lament while other parts rotted and sloughed off.
The worlds of Ultramar were prosperous, well governed and aesthetically beautiful. It is no wonder that such a gem drew the eager eye of Nurgle. Wishing to annex those worlds directly into his own Garden in the Realm of Chaos, the Father of Plagues set his minions to the task. After the Great Rift tore reality and flooded warp energies into the galaxy, Nurgle deemed the time was ripe. Where seeds of corruption had been planted, where the Plague That Walks, the Oozing Pox, and the Eyerot had decimated overcrowded hive worlds, there did Nurgle put forth his greatest efforts. As darkness closed over those worlds, new, virulent strains of those dreadful diseases started the cycle of death anew. This time, however, the cycle was completed, for there was life also. From the corpses of the fallen burst countless Nurglings. In the devastation that ensued, Cults of Corruption summoned further aid. The following battles - known by the Imperium as the Plague Wars - ended when three systems to the galactic north of Ultramar were corrupted and turned into the Scourge Stars. Calling upon three of his greatest commanders, Nurgle tasked them with next conquering Ultramar.
The first invaders to issue forth from the Scourge Stars were the Death Guard, led by their grim Primarch, Mortarion. His meticulously planned seven-part campaign would bring untold ruination to all of Ultramar. So began the first part the War of Flies including the assault of the Three Planets, the besieging of the hive world of Ardium, and the Creeping Doom offensive against Espandor and Drohl. Virus bombardments preceded the Death Guard. Once-gloried hive cities became pits, and agri worlds became flyblown wastes. The attacks were slow but relentless, wearing down the Ultramarines and their auxilia. With communications severed and relief forces cut off by fresh warp storms, the defenders were hard-pressed in a hundred locations across Ultramar. Then, Roboute Guilliman returned from his galaxy-spanning crusade. Tactically, Mortarion and his fellow commanders now found themselves evenly matched, their offensives blocked at every turn by the Ultramarines and their Primarch's precise counter-attacks. A new stage of the war had begun.
In the early stages of the invasion of Ultramar, many different strikes were levelled at the capital world of Macragge. Whether Mortarion planned these events to probe the defences of the Ultramarines' home world, or merely aimed to tie down as many of the Imperial forces as he could, is unknown. All of the battles were short, sharp affairs, such as rapid strikes from Plague Drone forces, or cultist attacks attempting to deliver pox bombs into the heavily guarded defence networks. Whatever Mortarion's intent, the number and variety of the attacks steadily drained both morale and resources from Macragge until Primarch Guilliman returned and seized the initiative with his own strikes into Chaos-held territories.
Mortarion's Creeping Doom offensive on the cardinal world of Espandor initially made great advances. When Guilliman returned, however, he ordered a new defensive plan to slow the attacks. As the battle turned into a stalemate, the Primarch launched a series of system-wide counter-attacks.
In attacking Ultramar, Mortarion was not alone. Two other commanders led massive armies out from the Scourge Stars, each seeking to win the contaminated glory of Nurgle's favour.
Ku'gath Plaguefather, a favoured Great Unclean One, led the Bubonicus legions into Ultramar. Typhus, First Captain of the Death Guard, commanded a Plague Fleet, a dilapidated rot-armada packed with Renegades, cultists and his own loyal Death Guard. Ku'gath's Daemon legions ravaged the Tartella System, which lay between the Scourge Stars and Ultramar, before manifesting on the garden world of Iax, an ideal place to nurture new diseases. The Plague Fleet, meanwhile, destroyed three of the six massive star fortresses that stood sentinel over Ultramar's shipping lanes. Even with Guilliman's return, the attacks were too many and too widespread for the defenders to contain. The timely arrival of the Ultramarines' successor Chapters, however, along with reinforcements from several forge worlds, allowed the Primarch to attempt to regain the initiative. Guilliman launched the Spear of Espandor counter-attack, hoping to buy the forces of the Imperium more time.
The final battle of the Plague War was fought at First Landing, on Iax. Before the ruined citadel the Death Guard held the upper hand, their relentless assault all but unstoppable, when Mortarion was summoned back to the Scourge Stars to defend his holdings at the onset of the War in the Rift.
Across Ultramar, the Plague Wars escalated. Guilliman's brilliant counter-attacks staved off defeat, allowing him to stabilise fronts across several systems. The largest battles of the war, however, were still to come.
With Mortarion's Creeping Doom offensive mired in continent-spanning trench warfare in the Espandor System, the Daemon Primarch shifted his focus, joining forces with Ku'gath. Together, they sent their surviving forces to Parmenio and Iax simultaneously. On Parmenio, the largest armour and Titan battle of the war took place over the shell-ridden Plains of Hecatone. At the battle's height, Roboute Guilliman struck against Ku'gath's vanguard, slaying his lieutenant, Septicus, and shattering his Plague Guard. In space, Galatan - Ultramar's largest star fortress - attempted to provide support but was boarded by the Plague Fleet. Massive casualties ensued, including the loss of the Novamarines' Chapter Master. The Ultramarines and their auxilia made gains on Parmenio, and Guilliman led a relief force to Iax. Once a verdant garden world, it was in ruins when Primarch met Primarch. Guilliman confronted Mortarion, fighting to a deadlock before the Death Guard withdrew under cover of a virus bomb.
The defence of Ultramar was really a tale of three parts: the initial losses, where the defenders gave ground before the Death Guard onslaught; the stabilisation with the return of Primarch Guilliman; and finally, the seizing of the initiative with the Primarch's counter-attacks along with the final battle.
*Many Chapters arrived to lend aid to Ultramar and to fight beneath Roboute Guilliman. The Primarch and Lord Commander of the Imperium organised those Adeptus Astartes in less-than-company numbers into battle-brother battalions, using them for special missions and to shore up the Ultramar Auxilia.
Let them flee beneath cover of their virus bomb. By the Emperor, they shall be repaid tenfold for the evils they have wrought upon Ultramar.
— Roboute Guilliman
The invasion of Ultramar began as separate spearheads, but as the campaigns slowed, Mortarion and Ku'gath formed an alliance. Unlike the Champions of the other Dark Gods, Nurgle's lieutenants were more capable of cooperation. This was not the case, however, between Typhus and Mortarion.
Bursting with life. Bursting with life. Bursting with life.
— War Drone of the Sloughskins
Abaddon led the final assault force against Cadia in person. With him came the legions of the hellish Eye of Terror, the manifold hosts of the Dark Gods amassed under a single banner. The cause that united them was not just the destruction of the Imperium, but the demise of the material realm itself.
As befits Abaddon's cruelty and meticulous planning, thirteen massive transports of combat-drugged mutants, wretches, zombies and Chaos Spawn were crash-landed into the ruined city of Kasr Kharkovan, ensuring that many of the final assaults were performed by the least storied among his armies.
Destroy it all. Do not stop until it is ruins. Let it become a monument to death.
Ever jealous of one another, the Dark Gods began to war amongst themselves in realspace. The opening campaign saw Tzeentch and Khorne send legions to the Scourge Stars seeking to destroy Nurgle's growing foothold. War spread as Nurgle recalled his lieutenants from Ultramar and counter-attacked the realspace strongholds of his rivals. Slaanesh allied with all sides at different times, always furthering his own gains. The greatest of Daemons met in grinding clashes of attrition at the titanic Battle of Vigrid, the fighting only ending when all agreed to Tzeentch's proposal to settle the war via a contest of champions.
Sickness, disease, plague and pox, suffering and the slow, living rot. Such wondrous gifts does Nurgle seek to bestow upon the unworthy human cattle of the Imperium. We are merely the vectors by which his virulent beneficence may be spread to the undeserving masses.
— Urgloth Rotheart, Plague Champion of the Death Guard
The mightiest heroes of the Imperium gather upon the steps of a sacred cathedrum, pitting their might against the suppurating traitors of the Death Guard in all their blighted glory.
|Warhammer Fantasy||Third Citadel Compendium; WFRP (1st ed); RoC: Slaves to Darkness; RoC: The Lost and the Damned; Beasts of Chaos; Blightwar; Malign Portents website|
|Man O' War||Plague Fleet|
|Mordheim||Empire in Flames|
|Warhammer 40,000||Warhammer 40,000 (1993); Codex: Chaos (1996); Codex: Chaos Space Marines (1999); Chapter Approved 2001; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2002); Codex: Eye of Terror; Chapter Approved 2004; Imperial Armour 5; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2007); Imperial Armour: Apocalypse (2007); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2008); Imperial Armour 6; Imperial Armour 7; Imperial Armour: Aeronautica; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2012); Codex: Dark Angels (2013); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2013); Stronghold Assault; Codex: Imperial Knights (2014); Dataslate: Helbrutes; Codex: Militarum Tempestus (2014); Imperial Armour 13; Codex: Imperial Knights (2015); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2016); Codex: Traitor Legions; Warhammer 40,000 (2017); Dark Imperium; Index: Chaos; First Strike; Codex: Space Marines (2017); Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2017); Codex: Grey Knights (2017); Plague Brethren; Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus (2017); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2018); Codex: T'au Empire (2018); Tales from Vigilus webpages|
|Epic||Adeptus Titanicus; Space Marine (1st ed); Codex Titanicus; Renegades; Titan Legions; Epic 40,000|
|Kill Team||Dolorous Strain|
|White Dwarf||Oct 1988 (#106); Dec 1988 (#108); Jan 1989 (#109); May 1989 (#113); Jun 1989 (#114); Nov 1989 (#119); Jan 1990 (#121); Feb 1990 (#122); Apr 1990 (#124); May 1990 (#125); Dec 1990 (#132); Jan 2002 (#265)|
|Citadel Journal||Jul 1994 (#4); Mar 1995 (#8); May 1995 (#9); Dec 1995 (#12); Sep 1996 (#17); Nov 1996 (#18); Aug 1997 (#21); Apr 1998 (#25); Jun 1998 (#26); Aug 1998 (#27); Oct 1998 (#28); May 1999 (#32); Jan 2002 (#48)|
|Battlefleet Gothic Magazine||Nov 2002 (#12); Aug 2003 (#16)|
|Black Library Novels|
|Warhammer 40,000||Ravenor Returned|
|Fantasy Flight Games|
|Dark Heresy||Shattered Hope; Dark Heresy (1st ed); Disciples of the Dark Gods; Creatures Anathema; Radical's Handbook; Daemon Hunter; Dark Heresy (2nd ed); Game Master's Kit (2nd ed); Forgotten Gods; Enemies Within; Enemies Beyond|
|Rogue Trader||Rogue Trader; Citadel of Skulls; Battlefleet Koronus; Koronus Bestiary; Navis Primer; Stars of Inequity|
|Deathwatch||Mark of the Xenos; Achilus Assault; First Founding; Jericho Reach; Rising Tempest|
|Black Crusade||Black Crusade; Game Master's Kit; Hand of Corruption; Tome of Fate; Tome of Blood; Tome of Excess; Tome of Decay|
|Only War||Enemies of the Imperium|