Thursday, September 28, 2017

Jornath: Fort Behras

Fort Behras.

Fort Behras is the keystone defensive structure in the north of the continent of Manfredi-At-Prima, in Kula Provence. This structure has existed for generations and stretches all the way into the pre-Imperial history of the planet. During its extensive history, it has played various roles politically and culturally in the identity of the region.

The citadel that would later become known as Fort Behras was established after the system of pseudo-feudalism was introduced to Jornath several thousand years after the initial colonization effort occurred. Jornath in these times saw a great deal of inter-familial skirmishing, large national governments were not established, and so territorial control of prime agricultural land, mineral wealth, and other natural resources was almost constantly in a state of dispute. In Usamiljen, and the glacial plains fed by runoff from the Ctre Valley, this skirmishing was of a particularly elevated intensity. The perfect confluence of agriculture and local material wealth, lords and ladies from Guffmans Platz, and numerous surrounding towns sought to use an asset to hand to fully cement their families claim to the region. Three of these families, representing a coalition of northern mining interests concocted a bold strategy, risking everything these families redirected all of their peasant miners, onto the lone peak to the east of the Ctre Valley, and instructed them to put their skills to use in creating a vast network of hardened tunnels, effectively hollowing out the peak, and turning the mountain into the shell for an underground city. At first, the project seemed to be total folly to the other families of the region. The builders were quickly draining their coffers on what appeared to be a foolish mining enterprise. It wasn't until the first Huscarls moved into the completed mountain complex that the real purpose behind the project was understood. Familial alliances were quickly formed to oust the miner's coalition from their mountain fortress. The extensive tunnel works provided proof enough from initial attacks, impossible to predict the location from which attacks would come, attackers faced enfilade fire from hundreds of hidden bunkers and fire-ports. After the alliances found that conventional attacks would be little proof against the position, their forces withdrew and prepared to lay siege to the mountain. The siege of the miner's coalition lasted for nearly thirty-five years, the mountain was supplied with a reservoir drawn from natural freshwater aquifers, and underground horticultural complexes kept the garrison fed on staple crops. No major fighting erupted for the majority of this period. Sporadic skirmishing would occasionally break out, but no large-scale actions were conducted on either side. The siege would eventually conclude when the families in control of the mining coalition were placed in financial danger by careful posturing from the alliance of families in Guffman’s Platz, who forcefully bought out several transportation cartels that moved ore for the miners. Faced with bankruptcy, the mining families sold their mountain fortress to their rivals, ending the siege.
Within a generation of the siege’s conclusion, Jornath’s nation-states were starting to establish themselves. With much of the contestation of the earlier feudal period slowly fading, the fortress’ role as a military structure began to diminish. Faced with a sizable piece of real estate which now lacked a practical application, the families sought to apply a more domestic purpose to the land. It was decided in short order to turn the mountain to growing a mutation of grape known as the Behras Berry, which has a thick waxy skin and grows small. This makes it horribly bad for eating, but ideal for wine production especially in the foothills where the slopes funnel runoff water and minerals downhill. The tunnel networks under the mountain are the ideal environment to store barrels of wine to ferment, as it's cool and dark. All this combined with the proximity to the transit hubs in Guffmans Platz meant that within a handful of years the Fortress was producing sweet white wine for all of Kula Province to enjoy.
When the Imperium made contact with Jornath, the name “Fort Behras” was a common brand amongst the citizenry of the planet. In the codification of planetary landmarks by surveyors of the Administratum, Fort Behras had its name erased however, purportedly because the adept filing the listings thought that a defensive position named after a grape was terribly inappropriate, and so gave the location the designation Height-906, lumping it in with peaks several dozens of kilometers to the north. The families who owned the fortress took this in stride, in fact, finding it so entertaining that they put the designation on their bottles.
It was not until after the completion of the Horus Heresy, indeed after the scouring had come to a conclusion that members of the Munitorum began to exert pressure on the nobility to open up land for the creation of planetary defense structures to use in maintaining Imperial authority. Private business interests chafed under this pressure, the Heresy had barely affected Jornath and many of the planets noble families, national administrations, and cartel leaders felt that the planet would be better served continuing with the way things had always been. But no planet argues with the will of the Emperor’s administration for very long, and soon enough the foundations of bastions and orbital batteries were being poured all across Jornath’s surface. At Fort Behras, a deal brokered with the Munitorum’s representatives allowed production of wine to continue in the lowland areas around the exterior of the fortress proper and along the slopes of the mountain itself as curtain walls, barracks, and defensive positions were erected in sections around the site. The completion of the work created the base of the defensive structure seen on modern Jornath, a patchwork of vineyard squares separated by auxiliary roads linking various supporting sites such as rail yards, vehicle repair centers, and sensor arrays to the gates of the fortress. The fortress itself now surrounded by a mighty plastcrete wall, dotted with small gates to allow for various automotive traffic, and bolstered from each cardinal direction by sizeable defensive gatehouses that allow access to the interior for heavier vehicles.
The most modern change in the landscape of the fortress is the town of Saine Yeltsville, which began construction just before 741.M41 as a suburban area to serve as overflow housing for members of the garrison, vineyard workers and other laborers needed to tend to the Fortress’ previously mentioned ancillary sites. The suburbs grew ever larger, with the eastern approach to the walls consisting of winding clumps of small housing, and shops.
When Ork forces entered the system at the beginning of the War for Jornath, the fortress was largely in a state of unreadiness, much of the garrison were part-time reservists from Usamiljen and various cities of northwestern Kula province. Readiness drills, weapons tests, proper maintenance of hardware had all been conducted infrequently if at all, which meant that the fortress was woefully ill-prepared to act as northern kula’s primary defensive keystone.  Garrison commanders frantically recalled all the garrison cohorts and scurried to check that weapons batteries could still be summoned to function.  This lapse in readiness prompted pioneer units, and local cohorts under the direction of regional Tactica command, to create the Ctre Valley firebase hopefully to allow more time for the fortress to be brought up to operational condition.

By the time of the withdraw back to the staging areas around the fortress after Operation Remits Maw’s failure, the complex had organized its garrison and brought half of its defensive weapon systems online. The process of restoring the facility to function was being waylaid by xenos incursions on the Usamiljen Heights mechanicus outpost, limiting the number of techpriests that could be flown safely to Behras, past greenskin flakk positions or through contested skies. Therefore, when Orks under Warboss Krump pushed along the highways southward eventually smashing against the walls of the fortress they were met with less than the full strength of the positions capabilities. Enough to stall the beasts, but not anywhere near enough to obliterate them, leading in turn to the protracted siege of the fortress.