History of the Imperial Guard Regiments
MORDIAN – The World Of Eternal Night
In the long and sinister annals of the Inquisition there are many tales of treachery and horror, of the destruction of worlds and the triumph of man’s greed and foolishness. It is a record of human weakness and the power of the Dark Gods of Chaos.
Yet amongst that record of lost planets and mortal defeat there are a few stories of human victory – rare cases where the daemonic army of Chaos has been turned aside at the moment of success and driven back into the void from which it came. One such place is Mordian – the World of Eternal Night.
The Mordian day is the same length as the Mordian year, the small planet turning upon its axis once each time it completes a circle of its sun. As a consequence, one side of Mordian is constantly burned by the fierce heat of the sun, whilst the other side lies in eternal darkness. The scorched side is lifeless and barren, a desert of splintered rock and canyons where mighty armies clashed during the Age of Apostasy many years ago. On Mordian, all life is on the dark side.
The slow revolution of Mordian does little to stir its thick atmosphere, so the weather is constantly hot and still with no natural breezes to move the oppressive air. In the sultry darkness the Mordians go about their daily lives. Ancient and ruinous cities sprawl across the planet’s dark surface. Pyramidal, multi-levelled towers reach for the sky and rise like mountains towards space. Hundreds of millions of people exist upon a land surface barely one tenth the size of Earth.
Mordian is a world that seethes with people, a crowded and dark world whose rulers, the Tetrarchs, must fight a constant battle against anarchy. Only the most careful husbanding of Mordian’s resources keeps its massive population alive. All food, all clothing, all essential resources and supplies are strictly controlled, rationed and recycled. This enables the Mordians to survive albeit with the utmost effort and in considerable impoverishment.
Such harsh and demanding conditions naturally breed discontent. Few people really understand the predicament they or their planet is in. Others care nothing for their fellow men and seek only to accrue personal wealth and power regardless of consequences. In the decaying, multi-levelled cities crime is rife. Gangsters and criminal warlords rule an underworld where life is cheap and where the desperate are merely pawns to be expended as their masters please.
THE IRON GUARD
The Mordian Iron Guard stands between order and anarchy. They are the champions of the Tetrarchy of Mordian, uniformed in bright colours and fiercely loyal to their cause. Their enemies are all those who would divert the scant resources of Mordian or threaten its continued existence. They fight a constant battle against the criminal warlords of the undercity, insane gangs of cannibals and misguided rabble-rousers who would sooner see universal destruction than endure the sacrifice necessary for the survival of the world.
The Iron Guard are ruthless in pursuit of their enemies. Their discipline is legendary and their training is as rigorous as possible. All who fight in the Iron Guard understand full well the horror that would engulf their world if they were to fail in their duty. Their loyalty and determination is all that keeps Mordian from plague, starvation and savagery.
THE CONSPIRACY OF CHAOS
The greatest threat to Mordian came one hot summer. The stifling heat was unusual even for Mordian, and the planet seethed with unrest. Beneath the streets brooded a secret conspiracy that posed a threat far greater than any seen before. In the depths met a dark conclave, a group of men who knew the extent of Mordian’s wealth and wanted it for themselves. Away from the sight of saner citizens they made their incantations and called upon the Dark Gods of Chaos.
A spell was begun. It is impossible to say how much innocent blood was spilled to fuel their sorcery, or what sinister pledges were made to their dark masters. Those who cast the spell sought only personal enrichment; their lust for power knew no bounds. They would destroy the planet itself if they had to. They cared no more for its teeming millions than did the Chaos gods.
The summer grew hotter as the spell neared its completion. Many strange things were reported in the capital. The cannibal mobs and criminal gangs were restless. Men saw winged monsters hovering in the city lights. People disappeared without trace.
A SKY OF FLAMES
At last the spell was complete and suddenly the world shook as its sky erupted into flame and disgorged the Warlords of Chaos itself. From the Eye of Terror distorted and ugly spacecraft soared into the Mordian skies to rain fire and destruction upon the world. Chaos Space Marines poured into the city slaying all around in a great and bloody sacrifice to their gods. Daemons stalked the burning towers and hunted the souls of those that fled from the devastation below.
From their dark hiding places the servants of Chaos crawled to the surface to bathe in the fire and terror of the world, confident of their masters’ favour now that their work was done.
As the sky exploded into flame the Tetrarchs of Mordian ordered their Astropaths to send psychic calls for help. The power of Chaos was so strong that the Astropaths’ minds melted with the effort. It was impossible for anyone to say whether the messages got through or if help was on its way.
Meanwhile, the Iron Guard fought a gallant resistance against the daemonic assault. Whilst lesser men fled in terror before the might of Chaos the Iron Guard stood their ground, pouring volley after volley into the enemy ranks. At last the Iron Guard captains were forced to give the order to withdraw. Though their men would stand until the end they could achieve little against the hordes that opposed them. Reluctantly the Iron Guard regrouped around the capital, abandoning the rest of the planet to the enemy.
Whilst the forces of Chaos rampaged throughout Mordian the Iron Guard prepared the capital’s defenses. Every building became a fortress, every tower a strongpoint, and every street and plaza a killing-zone for the Iron Guard’s carefully sighted weapons. At the centre lay the Tetrarchal palace itself, from which the defense of the capital was co-ordinated.
When the attack began the Iron Guard was well prepared. Chaos Space Marines fell before their well disciplined fire as shot after shot struck their ranks. Channeled into well prepared fire traps the Chaos Marines were easily repelled, but far greater and more potent foes followed upon their heels.
ATTACK FROM THE DEPTHS
From the sewers and service ducts poured an army of those who had sold their souls to the Dark Gods. Clad in rags and armed with no more than iron bars and lengths of chain they threw themselves upon the defenders. Driven by their insane devotion to Chaos they cared little if they lived or died, and thousands were cut down by the devastating weapons of the Iron Guard. Nonetheless, this attack from an unexpected source left the defenders unprepared for the next assault.
The forces of Chaos moved upon the Iron Guard with purpose. Daemons and Chaos Marines advanced as one. Bloodthirsters of Khome roared a great challenge to chill mortal blood. Keepers of Secrets stalked the battlefield, slaying those that dared to look upon them with a withering glare. Whirling Horrors skipped and chattered in an eerie blur of incandescent power. It was a terrifying sight, yet the Iron Guard held firm before the onslaught though many paid the ultimate price for their devotion.
Street by street, building by building, the Iron Guard fell back into the heart of the city. Their lines drew tighter but refused to break, as attack after attack was repulsed. When losses grew too heavy to endure, or as positions were outflanked and became untenable, the Iron Guard withdrew to another line, always preserving what they could of their men and weapons. It was a battle fought with all the tactical brilliance and discipline the best Imperial troops could hope for. Yet it was a battle the Mordians could not win. Eventually they would have nowhere left to retreat to.
THE BATTLE FOR THE PALACE
At last the Iron Guard took position around the Tetrarchal palace itself, the last strongpoint on the whole world. Behind hastily constructed defences the infantry waited for the inevitable attack. From the towers and ceremonial balconies the barrels of lascannons and other heavy weapons glinted in the light of the burning sky.
Suddenly the horde of Chaos was upon them, screaming and bellowing in its might. Greater Daemons of Nurgle strode clumsily amongst their minions, rising above them four or five times the height of a man, giants and lords of their foul kind. The bloated daemons shuffled forward, putrid innards spilling over the ground, nauseous gasses bubbling from rents and tears in their leathery flesh. Beside them were the Chaos Space Marines of that pestilential god, their armour green and rancid with decay, their rank bodies stiff with disease. Before them came a black cloud of flies which buzzed about the Iron Guard, crawling into their eyes and ears, and filling their mouths with black hairy bodies.
The Iron Guard’s lasguns spat a volley of death into the screaming horde. Again the lasguns cracked with a single voice, as the captains ordered shot after shot into the vile mass. From the Tetrarchal palace came the chatter of autocannons, the angry scream of boltguns and the piercing shriek of lascannons. With mechanical precision the weapon crews loaded and fired, loaded and fired, never stopping for one moment or breaking their routine. Daemon gore ran like a foul river in the once white square, but as one beast fell another twice as hideous marched over its body towards the Iron Guard’s position.
The captains ordered their men back to the palace steps and formed a firing line. Their discipline intact, the Iron Guard prepared for a single volley before the forces of Chaos fell upon them. Their final moment had come, though there were few left now to witness their inevitable defeat.
THE TIDE IS TURNED
Little could the defenders of Mordian know of the power or purposes of Chaos. How could they imagine, as the hordes of Chaos advanced upon them, that the Chaos gods’ hold upon Mordian was but a tenuous one. The spell that had brought them to mortal space and imbued the flesh of their servants with physical energy was almost spent. The fires that burned in the sky were growing dim and the bellows of daemons echoed shallowly in the air.
As the Iron Guard watched, their enemies dissolved before their eyes. The sky darkened to its customary blackness. In the dark the guiding lights of Imperial spacecraft glittered amongst the stars. The Iron Guard had won not just a battle, but the most precious thing of all – time. From beyond the orbit of Mordian Imperial psykers had wrought a counter spell to break the hold of Chaos. Whilst the Iron Guard fought upon the planet, a separate battle of wills had raged between mortals and gods. Only the Iron Guard’s heroic resistance had given the psykers enough time to work their mystical abilities before Chaos won the planet for all time.
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