The Battle of Ullanor - The Dawn of the New Millenium
The Ullanor Crusade, despite its designation as a crusade, was not likely to be an endeavour of exceptional length, though it was the largest the Imperium had seen since the Rangdan Xenocides, and certainly the greatest concentration of power ever put together for a single objective. Over two hundred Titans, courtesy of the Cult Mechanicum’s Titan Legions; tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Space Marines from many different Legions, most led to the field of battle by their very progenitors, the Primarchs; tens of millions of soldiers from the Imperial Army, and in particular the Solar Auxilia at its core; the very Emperor of Mankind himself, leading the charge to such an important affair; and close to a thousand battleships of the Imperialis Armada to carry them all, not to mention the countless smaller ships of the Armada and the Legiones Astartes' contributions to such an immense fleet.
Such brutishly-amassed power would be needed. The Ullanor Sector had for a long while been the home of a great and terrible Orkish empire, which had as its core the Ullanor System, a dozen enslaved planets formerly controlled by human societies. Worse yet, the empire continued to grow ever-larger: an escalating WAAAGH! that could only spell disaster if it spilled out into the wider galaxy. The Crusade, of course, was set to end this threat. Nothing less than utter victory would suffice, even as estimates suggested the Orks would still outnumber the Imperial forces several times over.
With so many Primarchs involved in the matter, an exquisite plan of attack was inevitable, be it from one mind or many. The majority of forces would target the outer planets of the Ullanor System, drawing away as many Orks as possible in their defense to leave the true target vulnerable to a speartip strike: Ullanor Prime itself, the central keep called the Tower of Ullanor, and ultimately the leader of the empire, Overlord Urlakk Urg, alongside any Orks powerful enough to potentially succeed him. With the removal of the head, the body would surely collapse.
The initial strategy, ultimately, went down like clockwork. The armada entered the Ullanor System quite publicly, the majority of ships heading toward Ullanor’s outer planets. In turn, hundreds of ramshackle Orkish vessels built up upon themselves time and again moved to intercept these aggressors, either to crush their enemy’s ships with as much firepower as they could muster, or else deposit countless Orks on the threatened planets for ground defense, and often both. And once these had been displaced, the last fragment of the Imperial fleet moved toward Ullanor Prime, comparatively ripe for the picking.
What was left was to indulge in warfare, plain and simple. Beyond the atmosphere of each planet, the navies of both sides hammered away at one another; within the ships and on the ground, greenskins and humans clashed, men giving and receiving orders even in the heat of battle, lasfire hammering into the masses even as Ork dakka and Ork choppa took life after life. Most of all, the Astartes Legions made their dent wherever they strode, boltguns and volkite weaponry turning Orks into mincemeat and incinerated vapour, and each participating Primarch directing their forces the way they saw fit.
And yet, the Ullanor Crusade was not the sole battleground of the Imperium at that moment. Across the galaxy, humanity made its mark, and the Legions who did not fight at Ullanor were nonetheless occupied elsewhere, as were those Legion elements separated from their counterparts in the Crusade, and the Excertus Imperialis’ wider forces. Not all of these battles were dangerous; not all were even crucial for the Imperium’s well-being; but for the sake of mankind’s superiority, and for the Imperium’s brightest future, the enemy was put to rout, be it an unconscionable xeno or a human empire that refused to bow down.
The conquest of the ocean planet Laeran, in particular, might well go down in history as a footnote compared to the larger combat taking place. Nonetheless, the planet was under siege by a variety of forces, not least of which was the Night Watch under Micholi Vakrain. He had plenty of reasons to see them dead, and plenty more regarding why he chose to engage them instead of destroying their planet outright, but they would not go down without a concerted fight by any means.