Well here it is, the Fall of Cadia. The
Overall, I liked the story and like how GW is finally moving the story of 40k forward. While I wouldn't say I'm happy that my personal favorite regiment and their world had to die, it would make little sense for it not to. A bit of a gripe I have is that the initial invasion is glossed over very quickly, as well the secondary conflicts which get little more than blurbs occasionally on the side of the page. It works well enough, but I feel that more of the invasion could have been expanded upon.
After a few pages of this, the story moves to the meat of the matter with Creed organizing the defenses to prepare for the main assault by the forces of Chaos. With nearly all astropaths and most psykers dead from the initial attack and warp turbulence, Creed orders all remaining pyskers to be used in lieu of astropaths to send a message for reinforcements. Of course most of his leadership disagrees with throwing away their remaining pyskers for what would be an unlikely chance of the message breaking through. Creed of course ignores them and the psykers send out the message, with pretty much all of them dying in the process. The message is out.
Now we leave Cadia to meet up with one of the other characters that will play a part in this story, Belisarius Cawl, Archmagos of the Mechanicum. Basically he is on a random world that had shown signs of previous technology during a previous survey. Of course though things never go that easy in 40k, and some random orks have a little fun with Cawl's skitari and other troops. Cawl is about to leave as he has another errand he must complete but gets a visit from a Harlequin and is convinced to continue. Throwing all his troops to defend the landing zone, Cawl continues to dig and just about giving up, but digs through and finds buried the unmistakable remains of a Pylon, just like those he has seen on Cadia. Moving on. No seriously.
Belakor is a bit miffed that Aby is going to impress their parents the most so he's jelly and decides to somehow warp into the Phalanx, around Terra. How, well hand wave, that's how. Really, don't have a huge problem with it, as its not the first direct demon incursion on the Phalanx. Anywho, there is only a single company(3rd) on board as they are a newly reformed company and the rest of the Imperial Fists are off on vacation/crusade, with a few of the First company as well hanging around. They fight back against the demon incursion, turning the Phalanx's guns on itself to take out lost sections, but as they are losing, they make an emergency jump into the warp. Belakor keeps on summoning more demons once in the warp, but funnily enough, some of these demons look a lot like space marines that are also on fire. Surprise! With the Legion of the Damned now reinforcing the Imperial Fists, they drive the demons back and slap belakor into the warp crying. To be honest, this is one of my favorite sections of the book and while its all a bit convenient, it works enough for me. As the Fists are about to set a course back to Terra for repairs, they receive the dying distress call of Cadia and though damaged, set course.
Technically this section happens right before the Phalanx, but its relatively minor as it just sets up Trazyns motivations. Rather unkindly, one of his stolen trinkets, The Bell of Saint Gerstahl starts to toll despite its stasis field. The results are not good, with a significant number of his artifacts being destroyed and damaged in the cascade failure caused by the bell. He loses a few bodies and his bodyguards are frozen. The bell stops of its own accord, but for good measure Trazyn chucks it into the webway. Now intrigued he sets off to figure out why it started to chime. He travels to the Celestial Orrery and there notices that events are in motion to change the fate of the galaxy, and it is centered on Cadia. Having a bit of a midlife crisis, wondering if all he is good for is thieving, he sets off to see what he can find on Cadia and perhaps be a hero for once. Most likely just a thief.
Back to Cadia. Creed has been organizing the defenses when they detect abaddon's main fleet approaching Cadia, and with it the last known blackstone fortress. Having faced their fury before, the Imperium is prepared and can tune their defense shields to withstand the fortress, but those relays are down and damaged. Creed orders all resources to get the shields back up but they don't have time. To buy time, the Space Wolves have one working ship and are sent on a suicide mission to disable/destroy the fortress. The fleet continues to approach, with no sign the wolves were successful, and the relays are not repaired. The fortress fires, and the relays activate. Mysteriously all the adepts are dead, but the repairs completed. But with Chaos dropships descending, there is no time to investigate.
Abaddon does not lead the ground assault, leaving it to his lieutenant, Urkanthos. The Cadians bear the brunt of the assault, with only three remnant companies of Dark Angel, Space Wolves, and Black Templars, Sisters, and a host of Knights assisting. But they are outgunned, the Knights attempting to hold off the Chaos titans. Noticing the titans seem to all be linked to their leader, the last remaining Valkyries make a suicide run, with the last remaining crashing into the Warlord titan's face. But this only gives a momentary respite as the rest of the titans shortly recover and continue fighting. Urkanthos leads his assault and breaches the walls of Creed's fortress, seeking to destroy the relay protecting Cadia from the Blackstone Fortress. In short he succeeds in destroying the relay, but as all seems lost, hope arrives.
Celestine descends onto Cadia, and with her the Phalanx and a lost ship of Battle Sisters. The Black Fleet initially panics with the sudden appearance of the Phalanx in their midst and many Chaos ships are ripped apart in the opening salvo. A tiny explosions mars the Blackstone fortress, and a significant section of its shields fall. The wolves had not failed. The Phalanx opens with all its firepower and grinds the fortress to dust. Its detonation sucks many of the black fleets ships into nothing, with only three shards of the fortress remaining. At this point, the Phalanx retreats from the fleet to the other side of Cadia, with the Black fleet refusing to pursue. Celestine brings her reinforcements to the planet and personally dispatches Urkanthos and with Imperial fist thunderhawks destroying the remaining chaos titans, the chaos forces break and retreat.
Over the next few days more reinforcements limp to Cadia, most importantly Cawl. Though Creed initially considers evacuating Cadia, Cawl brings a message that the Pylons are the key to holding the eye of terror back. So they prepare for the defense while Cawls attempts to activate the pylons. Trayzn shows up to chat with Cawl and give him a few hints. Abaddon takes to the field for his final assault.
The final battle begins and though the reinforcements have stiffened the defense, they are no match for Abaddon. Trazyn pops up again to unleash some help from his imperial collection, with a company of heresy era Ultramarines, a Vostroyan regiment, and inquisitor Greyfax and her scion bodyguards. This slows the assault with enough time to activate the pylons. With it, the eye of terror pulses, and recedes. Unfortunately, the warp is now cut off from Cadia, and while the demons vanish, so does the legion of the damned and celestine's power is diminished. The black legion and Abaddon fight on and he nearly slays celestine, though Creed rallies to her defense to only be taken up in Abaddon's claw. Creed shit talks and an arrogant Aby is distracted for Celestine to stab him. Realizing he only has a moment before he is cut off, he teleports off Cadia, along with most of legion.
But he is not defeated totally. While Creed had prepared the defenses, abaddon had ordered engines attached to on the shards of the blackston fortress, still the size of a small moon. The shard begins its descent and impacts Cadia, which in short, tears it apart. The pylons are destroyed in the shock wave and eye expands. The remaining forces begin to evacuate but with the remaining chaos forces attacking, Creed remains with the 8th to hold the line so the rest can evacuate. In the end, he is successful and the remaining imperial forces evacuate to the Phalanx and a dozen other surviving ships. Before Creed falls though, Trazyn shows up to add him to collection, to rejoin the Imperium who knows when.
Now Cawl, Greyfaz, and Celestine retreat out of the system. Grayfax has some sort of hate boner for Celestine, I'm sure there is some back story to her that I am missing (age of apostasy maybe?). Anyways Cawl also has something in stasis that was his original mission and he needs to deliver his cargo. Abaddon is content to let them escape with, though doesn't stop any of his captains that pursue, that is until he learns what is in the stasis chamber (because chaos that how) and gets mad and chases after them. Now the fleet had timed its jump for Cawls mechanicus ships to jump last as they were in the best shape, but as the rest of the fleet jumps, abaddon shows up and damages Cawls drive.
Celestine, who has been having visions, advises them to land on one of the planets near them and Cawls has his ships sacrifice themselves to cover their drop to the planet. Celestine leads them on the planet and they are chased by abaddon. They make their way up a mountain pass and as all seems lost and abaddon closes in, suddenly Eldar! The eldar cover their escape into the hidden webay portal and here is where this story ends. And the Eldar side of the story is told in the Fracture of Biel-tann.
And we have a pretty good idea who Cawl is carrying in stasis. Guilliman! As he is going to return to life in the third gathering storm book, which will cover how the Eldar and Imperials make it through the webway to Macragge and awaken him.
Whew, thats a lot, and there is far more detail in the book. Overall, I enjoyed the story, and though some are complaining about the convenient interventions of Trazyn and the Eldar, well I've been around 40k long enough to accept that as many factions as possible are going to be involved in a campaign because reasons *cough* sell models *cough*.
Now, I do wish they had included a full fledged campaign in the book, but the missions are fine, if unremarkable. The Characters are all good, with Cawl being a stand out, and his detachment which allows you to take bot skitarii and cult in one army, basically its a normal force org with each respective choice in each book under that org, so all troops of skitarii and cult can be taken as troops in his detachment etc. He has an modified canticles which are good and access to relics. I won't go in depth, but I like him. Celestine is slightly modified from her old rules and still pretty darn good. Greyfax is a herticus inquisitor and though 150pts, she is a solid pysker with a unique power and can take two more from telepathy. By no means the most amazing thing, but if you are looking for an inquisitor, she is a great all round choice and has some nice buffs and equipment.
I will probably go into more detail later, but for the most part the other detachments are really too large to be used commonly but there are some fun ones to allow you to have single army of Imperial forces in a single detachment (no allied detachments needed).
Should you get the book? Well maybe, if you have or are building an Admech or Sisters army and want the story, yes. The story is good, but not sure if its $50 bucks good on its own. But I would say, if you plan to use a mix of imperial forces and want the story, its a solid buy.
I'll be back.