40K Lore: Death of a Hive Fleet
The Tyranids may be terrifying creatures, but they are far from indestructible.
Turn your gaze skyward, Loremasters. Out there among the stars is a great devouring beast that threatens to destroy all of humanity and devour life as we know it. With Hive Fleets like the tendrils of a searching, hungry beast, the Great Devourer searches for worlds to fuel its expansion into our galaxy. And yet–in spite of the danger, these monsters from beyond our stars can be defeated. Their mighty hive fleets can be destroyed, and their foul presence driven from Imperial space. This has happened at least twice that we know of, and so, to mark what we hope is an increased turning of the tide, let us look at the fall of a Hive Fleet.
The first instance we’ll talk about is the death of Hive Fleet Naga. A massive victory for the Imperium, though one that came at a dire cost to both the Imperium and the Xenos who had been caught in the struggle. Though all Xenos are traitors, this does mark a time when their deaths served the Emperor. Hive Fleet Naga was a Tyranid Hive Fleet, relatively small in comparison to other Hive Fleets, that invaded the Galaxy from the Eastern Fringe somewhere to the galactic-north of the Tau Empire in 801.M41, destroying countless alien domains and devouring several Eldar worlds. The Eldar referred to Naga as Shai’naid, the Endlessly Winding Serpent, and fleets from the Malan’tai, Iyanden, and Idharae Craftworlds eventually eliminated Naga in 812.M41. But not before the Tyranid Hive Mind absorbed several dozen samples of new biomass, including the DNA of the Eldar and also gained valuable experience of Eldar military capabilities.
Though Hive Fleet Naga is now known to have first attacked the Galaxy in 012801.M41 when it fell upon the Ulumeathic League and spent the next seven years devouring them from outer colony to the core, absorbing the League’s Throneworld before the remaining colonies declared a full quarantine–it ultimately bore out little impact for the Imperium and is unimportant, except perhaps, as an object lesson in the fate of those who dare to defy the Emperor. There are many of these, however, so we shall not dwell on it.
When Naga attacked the Imperium, however, the majority of the Administratum believed it to be a splintered tendril of Hive Fleet Behemoth that would soon die off from starvation. It wasn’t until two hundred years later when Hive Fleet Kraken emerged that it was understood there were other Tyranid Hive Fleets poised to enter the galaxy. Indeed, the only dense region of Imperial space in their path was the Ybaric Cluster.
As Naga assaulted the Ulumeathic League, rumours reached the Ybaric Cluster of an approaching alien menace and a cult known as the Cult of Veiled Oblivion grew in membership all across the cluster. In 909801.M41 Naga invaded the world of Crimsonfall. The nearby world of Tern sent reinforcements including a company of neglected but operational Cadian Baneblades. The Imperial defenders rallied behind these powerful tanks, but they were quickly reduced to scrap by a brood of Tyrannofexes. Further reinforcements were shipped from Tern only to be ambushed enroute by Dark Eldar Raiders, who in turn were caught and destroyed in Naga’s advance. The coremost world of Silax, which had fallen into anarchy as the Cult of Veiled Oblivion gained prominence, refused to send aid to Crimsonfall. In 701802.M41 Naga devoured Crimsonfall and then continued on to Tern which, having sent many of its forces to Crimsonfall, was easily overcome. In 001808.M41 Naga arrived over Silax. On the planet’s surface members of its population, including the planetary governor, revealed their true allegiance to the Cult of Veiled Oblivion and took arms against the loyal defence forces. Both sides were devoured when Naga descended on the planet.
The elimination of Hive Fleet Naga had little to do with the Imperium and was chiefly at the hands of the Eldar. Naga was weakened significantly in the fighting, however, and their crippled fleet limped off to Eldar space to try and refuel itself. It had previously spread itself thin, striking against the Exodite World of Tar-Etenil. The death throes of the planet projected a psychic shockwave that crippled the World Spirits of several neighboring Exodite worlds, leaving them easy prey for Naga. But in 131809.M41 Eldar fleets from Malan’tai and Idharae had gathered to attack Naga’s leading elements. Naga responded by splintering its forces into two tendrils, the first continuing ahead to the Exodite world of Halathel, and the second turning back rimwards towards the Maiden World of Eth-aelas.
As the Tyranid devoured the world, the Eldar mimicked a maneuver they no doubt stole from Imperial tacticians (proof of Xenos perfidy at every turn) when a young Prince Yriel, successfully lead the Iyanden fleet to victory and proceeded to scour all life from Halathel. There are reports that the Eldar were saddened or enraged at the death of one of their worlds–but such losses are to be expected. What is one world to the Imperium? Let the blood of planets grease the wheels of our unstoppable progress.
Naga’s second tendril was caught by the Idharae fleet on the outer edges of the Eth-aelas system and, finding itself cornered and outgunned, was destroyed. But not before it managed to send several thousand Mycetic Spores raining down on Eth-aelas. Idharae ground forces descend to the planet, determined not to lose another of their worlds, and set about the long task of freeing the world from the Tyranids. Having dealt with the first tendril, Yriel’s forces arrived and joined in. After the last Hive Tyrant was finally slain at the battle of Sorrowforge Pinnacle, the remaining Tyranids were left leaderless and easy targets.
Do not let the apparent heroism of the Eldar sway you. This is an Imperial Victory, for without the debilitating effect that the defenders of Silax had upon the fleet, no massive psychic backlash would have caused the Hive Fleet to be in disarray at the precise moment that the Eldar decided to attack the Naga. If you think it was anything other then the providence of the Emperor that allowed them to defeat the Tyranids, you should report yourself to your Commissar.
Meanwhile, let us turn our gaze to the fall of Hive Fleet Gorgon.
Hive Fleet Gorgon was a Tyranid Hive Fleet which invaded the Tau Empire in 899.M41. It was relatively small compared to other Hive Fleets, but it was exceptional for its ability to quickly adapt on a biological level to new circumstances of battle. In fact, Gorgon manifested more bioform varieties than any other Hive Fleet. This rapid pace of adaptation may have been unique to Gorgon, or it may have been a response to conflict with the Tau, a race who are also highly flexible and adaptable but on a technological level. Gorgon was destroyed in 903.M41 by the combined forces of the Tau and the Imperial Guard.
Gorgon launched its first attack on the Tau Empire by destroying an orbital perimeter outpost of the Sha’draig colony in 980899.M41, then continued on to the shipyards of Sha’draig’s moon. Initially the shipyard’s interceptor guns held Gorgon back, but soon an adapted strain of Gargoyle with a refractive mucous coating that lessens the damage from interceptor fire overwhelmed the shipyards and slaughtered its remaining defenders. A fleet from the Ke’lshan Sept, commanded by Kor’o Valroth, was sent to investigate the outpost’s silence. Gorgon continued on to the Sha’draig planet itself and by the time the Ke’lshan fleet arrived in 420990.M41 it was already under siege. The fleet broke through the Tyranid blockade surrounding the planet long enough to deliver reinforcements to the surface.
This cycle of adaptation, evolution, and innovation continued, with both the cowardly Tau and Tyranids racing one another towards oblivion. The fighting in the system delayed the Tyranids enough for an Imperial Fleet to arrive and sort the whole mess out–though not before Gorgon had devoured several of the Tau’s worlds. It was in the Kel’shan system that an Imperial fleet emerged from the Warp in 760902.M41 and immediately besieged the planet Ke’lshan Prime, unaware that their warp journey had taken one hundred and fifty years and the Damocles Crusade they were dispatched to fight in had already come to an end.
Castellan Crask‘s Cadian XVIIIth were deployed to begin the invasion. Volroth’s fleet, heavily retrofitted at the Ke’lshan shipyards to beat Gorgon’s immunities, was diverted to engage the Imperial fleet. In 785902.M41 Gorgon descended upon Ke’lshan and joined the already underway battle. Now faced with a common enemy, Crask and Valroth agreed to a truce and together their fleets turned on Gorgon, destroying close to all of its bio-ships. The Tyranids were unable to adapt quickly enough to the disparate nature of the Tau and Imperial Guard forces combined, and at the Battle of Worldspine Ridge in 500903.M41 the last Dominatrix and Hive Tyrant were slain and Hive Fleet Gorgon came to an end.
The truce between the Imperium and the Tau also ended shortly after, but the damage was already done. Hive Fleet Gorgon was utterly destroyed, never to be heard from again.
Let that be a lesson. Though it may seem that in both instances of a Hive Fleet being destroyed, the vast majority of the work was accomplished by Xenos forces, the Tyranid are a species that can be defeated. Their armies will fall before the might of the Astra Militarum, as all must–and we will sacrifice the armies of the Xenos like so many conscripts before us, throwing them into the gaping maw of the great devourer so that it is open wide when it chokes upon the might of the Imperium.
Our Loremaster has since been stalking the ruins of our office, shouting praises to the Emperor while we await dispensation from the Administorum for new facilities–all in all we’re counting this as a win.