Prologue: The Fall

Dauntless-class Light Cruiser Senatus

Location: Outer Fringes of Segmentum Tempestus

996.M41

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

- Imperial Guard Tactical Manual

It was the nine hundred ninety-sixth year of the forty-first millennium of the Imperial calendar. Upon the timeless void came a massive vessel that held several thousand souls. All of them have yet to be aware of what was in store for them as every crewmember, every guardsman were minding their own business. That was until a large explosion rocked the Imperial Dauntless-class Light Cruiser. In an instant, everyone dropped what they were doing and rushed towards their battle stations. Their response was fast and efficient given that they were all veterans in terms of naval combat. But with the supreme numbers of their assailant along with the light cruiser being caught off guard moments after their jump from a nearby system, their fates were sealed.

The Senatus desperately tried to maneuver itself through the cluster of enemy ships that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. But even with its nimbleness, it was impossible to dodge the barrage of iron and fire that it was being put into.

"Void shields are down sir! Decks two through eight along with twelve have been compromised!" The second lieutenant of the ship's crew screamed, his hands flew like a fury interceptor as he operated his control panel.

The experienced Captain Honeway sighed deeply. He was normally a cool headed commander, capable of making pivotal decisions at a moment's notice but he was no fool. He knew that this struggle against numerous Battleship-class vessels was futile. The whole crew knew that no help would be sent for them as they were the sole vessel tasked with investigating the lost world of Fonral. The planet was said to have a potential to become an agri-world when it was first discovered a decade before the Horus Heresy. An expeditionary force was sent to colonize the planet which consisted of three fully equipped Imperial Guard regiments and a few thousand civilians as its first citizens, or so the records said. Given that it was a backwater planet located in the outer fringes of Imperium controlled space, regular communication was rarely observed.

It was only during the final days of the Horus Heresy did the Imperium learned that a warp storm had isolated the world from the rest of the galaxy, but due to the events that had transpired, no response was sent up until now. It seemed that the warp storm that had raged since sometime during the Horus Heresy had finally calmed. It was only a matter of sheer misfortune that the Senatus, a Dauntless-class Light Cruiser, had the task to patrol the very sector where the lost world was located, a task that may have possibly ensured their demise. Due to the role that the Dauntless-class ships play within the Imperial Navy and its close proximity to the area as it scouted for habitable worlds, it was reassigned to search and investigate the lost potential agri-world.

The ship shuddered as shells slowly ripped the nimble vessel of what little armor it had. Honeway clicked his tongue in annoyance, if only their navigator and astropath weren't killed by shrapnel to the head, then perhaps they wouldn't be in this mess.

"There were no reports of any Ork Waaagh! in this sector! Why are they even here?" An officer asked while he frantically operated his panel.

"No use in asking that now. Have you established communications with high fle-" Honeway was cut off as another shell ripped through the ship causing it to shudder rather violently.

"Sir, we just lost our engines! We're sitting ducks!" The lieutenant shouted.

"We no longer have gun authority. Every single one of them is dead!" An officer added.

"Sound the alarm to abandon ship. Make sure everyone who is still alive will get out of here. That goes for all of you too."

The alarm resonated throughout the battered ship. Her once mighty crew now reduced to merely a handful of NCOs and guardsmen quickly ran towards the escape pods. Their boots moved as fast as they could on the blood drenched halls of Senatus. Screams of the gravely injured sounded throughout the once proud vessel, their pleas for help and prayers to the God Emperor added to the sound of flames and panic. There were no shortages of pods as most of the crew were either killed or lay dying amidst the carnage. Those who were lucky enough to survive the onslaught, both unscathed and those who can still move despite their injuries, took their equipment and entered the pods which gave them a small amount of relief and security.

"Done! But sir how abou-"

"A captain always goes down with his ship. If ever you people survive this, make sure to try to establish communications and report to-"

A shell shredded the bridge to pieces as the captain instructed his officers. Escape pods were launched but were all caught in the blast as the Senatus sank. One pod managed to survive the blast but with considerable amount of damage. With only two of its seven atmospheric brakes barely working and shields reduced to twenty percent. The lone pod spiraled out of control as it was gripped by the gravitational pull of the planet below along with the remains of the once glorious Senatus and her crew.