The Battle of Castobel
“And the stars will be blotted out, and men shall despair saying that
they are without light. And in that moment of heresy they doom
themselves most surely”
–From the sermons of High Ecclessiarch Sebastian Thor
Classification: Hive World
Population: 198 Billion inhabitants at the start of the tyranid invasion. Now estimated at 115 billion.
Castobel is a battered Hive world, ruled by a noble-born elite, that remained loyal to the Imperium’s ways through the Jericho Reach’s long Age of Shadow. It is also a world that is now all but alone, facing any enemy that wants nothing more than to consume it utterly. While other worlds fell to anarchy and the lure of false gods, Castobel remained true to the Imperial Creed and faithful to the belief that, in time, the Imperium would return to restore it to its glory. Through the application of brutal authority, a council of nobles called the Aquilan Pluracy kept the population in order, the cathedrals un-profaned, and the forges and manufactorums fed by resources harvested from the lesser planets in its system. The Pluracy helped Castobel’s hard-pressed defences weather the storms of intermittent raiders and xenos predators from beyond.
When the Crusade forces reached Castobel, they were welcomed. The Crusade found a world willing and able to give support and eager to rejoin the Imperium. Since then, Castobel has revelled in its importance to the prosecution of the Crusade; its rulers apply greater and greater brutality to its somewhat threadbare population in order to yield up weaponry, provisions, and regiments of troops to aid the Crusade.
Hive Fleet Dagon arrived without warning, and Castobel was once again severed from all contact with the Imperium. Thanks to their brutal iron-fisted control, the Pluracy averted mass panic turning into riot, but soon, stories began to circulate of unholy things stalking the lightless depths of the hives and rumours spread of the dark fates that befell the Crusade in the cold void beyond. Work and production levels have fallen, and the reports of seditious whispers from the Pluracy’s vast network of informers have risen almost exponentially across the entire system. Desperate attempts have been made to reestablish contact with the Imperium. However, a few lost and beleaguered Crusade ships managed to make it to port to re-arm and re-fit. The crews of these ships spread tales of monsters stalking the stars and terrible battles lost. Afterwards, a great dark mass appeared in the night sky above Castobel, blotting out the light of the stars. Troops were mustered and desperate and largely unheard pleas to the Crusade forces were screamed by the planet’s remaining Astropaths. On the eve of 817.M41, dark spores began to fall on Castobel, despite the many more gunned into oblivion by the world’s ancient defence networks.
Deserted and doomed, many of the planet’s ruling elite became lost to despair and flung themselves from the highest spires of Hive Cressos, while others determined to sell the world dearly to the inhuman enemy. Castobel is now a world at war against the most terrible enemy imaginable, its hive cities besieged and its hardy population fighting for their very survival. Its fate, however, is yet to be sealed, as the Tyranid forces that have descended upon it were but a part of the greater whole, and were not so numerous as to overwhelm Castobel quickly or completely. The world’s barren surface of lifeless wind-scoured deserts and volcanic plains have also proved an advantage in resistance, as they take their toll on the invader and offer little biomass to fuel the enemy’s onslaught.
While two of Castobel’s six major hive complexes have fallen, one turned itself into an atomic funeral pyre while dying, which robbed the enemy of its flesh. The others are holding out, however precariously, for the moment. The Deathwatch has also become aware of Castobel’s plight, and is now considering its own plans for possible intervention. The fate of Castobel remains in the balance, although one thing is certain—its future is even now being written in blood.