- "Sometimes, the stars gaze back."
- —The Stargazer's Mantra
The Eldar of Craftworld Neandra skulk around the perimeters of the Veiled Region, waging war with the enemy that lies within. But for the longest time Neandra remained recluse and withdrawn, avoiding contact with other races unless it is unavoidable or absolutely necessary. Yet the rise of the Necrons spurred these Eldar into taking action, so they began building a battle plan which would take many long years to develop and reach fruition.
Those Who Sleep Without Dreams
As the millennia passed, the Imperium continued on with its innumerable conflicts, each seemingly more petty than the last. Sometimes even the Eldar met Humanity in battle, most notably the overzealous warriors of Craftworld Biel-Tan and the elusive mystics of Ulthwe. As time passed on it became increasingly more apparent that there are occasions when the Eldar will have no other choice than to fight for their own survival, even as the ever-present threat of extinction looms overhead. Neandra participated in very few battles, mainly because they perceive warfare as the absolute last alternative, a method of survival that was only viable when deception and withdrawal were not an option. At times they would assassinate an Ork Warboss who was about to lead a WAAAGH! into an Exodite World, at other times they would cull cults and sects of Chaos worshipers before they managed to summon any Daemons into the material plane. The Eldar of Neandra are not hesitant to resort to violence when they have to, it is just that they believe it's better to conserve their strength and nurture their numbers which increased much slower than in any other species. Despite thousands of years passing, the Eldar are nowhere near recovering from the Fall and they know it.
But at some point in M39, Farseer Hylbres of Craftworld Neandra had a vision. He saw the night sky, stars beings extinguished one at a time, veiling the world with pitch-black darkness, and then the vision abruptly ended when a luminescent scythe tore through the heavens. Farseer Hylbres began to scry and consult the Runes for guidance, for he had an idea of what the vision might have meant, but he refused to believe it. Yet no matter how many times he scried the Runes they always gave him the same answer: "the sleepless awake". Autarch Khael-Magan understand what Hylbres' vision meant and realized that at the time Neandra was at the outskirts of the so-called Veiled Region. Kahel-Magan suspected that Hylbres had his vision as a warning when the Craftworld entered the space that the Imperium avoids, so she ordered for a flotilla of Aurora and Solaris class Light Cruisers to enter the depths of the Veiled Region and see what lies within. Several days later a scant few ships returned, severely damaged from what appeared to have been a fierce battle. The remnants of the flotilla notified Autarch Khael-Magan that they found Necron Tomb Worlds awakening from their long slumber and that there were far more than they could handle. With their darkest fears confirmed to be true, Craftworld Neandra fled from the Veiled Region, fearing that the Necrons would retaliate if the Eldar lingered for too long.
The Craftworld managed to escape unscathed, but the realization that their most ancient nemesis had risen again had taken a toll on the Eldar's morale. From what the flotilla said, there were multiple Tomb Worlds awakening at the same time, meaning that they were likely part of the same Dynasty and under the rule of one monarch. The Eldar knew that if they fought against the Necrons as they were they would lose too many and there was a strong chance that the Craftworld would be destroyed in the process. Nobody on Neandra was willing to take that risk, but they also knew that the Necrons should not be allowed to regain their full strength, else catastrophe would be wrought upon the entire Galaxy. That is when Autarch Khael-Magan had an idea, she realized that the Eldar don't necessarily have to battle the Necrons on their lonesome. Many were suspicions at first but upon hearing all of the details of Khael-Magan's plans they accepted them and thus went to work. From that point on, Craftworld Neandra was bustling with action, as if the spirits of its people were rekindled all at once. The storm of war rose above Craftworld Neandra, but now they welcomed it, for they had no other choice but to fight, else extinction would find more than just the Eldar.
- "I see a universe drained of light and warmth, where not even tales of our people shall remain. "
- —Farseer Hylbres after receiving his vision
The Means to an End
The full extent of Khael-Magan's plan entailed sending out their vibrant youths out of Neandra, so that they may launch a series of small-scale raids upon Imperial worlds arrayed along the border between Segmentum Pacificus and Segmentum Tempestus. These raids, which primarily included ransacking merchant ships and plundering outlying supply caches, were carried out with meticulous amounts of forethought, so the magnitude of the attacks wasn't great enough to rouse an Imperial Battlefleet but were just noticeable enough for the locals to realize that there was a new fleet of Eldar Corsairs in the area. The Eldar wanted to garner the attention of other pirate groups, who would eventually encounter the Corsairs from Neandra and interact with them.
The reason why Khael-Magan wished to attract lowlife marauders was because she did not want to directly contact the Imperial Navy. If the Imperials even answered their call they would most likely be cautious and would only send the bare minimum of their forces in order to minimize any casualties in case the Eldar's call was a ruse. However, despite not harboring any such ideas, the Eldar feared that a small fleet would easily be overrun and destroyed by the Necrons, which would in turn lead the Imperials to believe that they were deceived and would no longer listen to the Eldar. This is why Khael-Magan sought Humans who did not follow the edicts of the Imperial Creed, but also those who did not fall to the temptations of the Ruinous Powers. She sought raiders, pirates, bounty hunters, mercenaries, cutthroat knaves and outlaws, for they were easier to coax and their deaths would not be grieved by many. Khael-Magan wished to gather a fleet of pirates to act as Neandra's "cat's paws" which would take the brunt of the Necrons' assault, giving the Eldar fleet enough time to strike from the most favorable angle.
When the plan first began the group of young Eldar who volunteered to play their part in this ploy set out under the title "the Cosmic Wyrms" in 287.M39. When they first began attacking merchant ships they had to feign weakness, purposefully missing several of their shots, running and dodging at a slower pace, using holograms to feign their own deaths on occasion, all in order to give their opponents the illusion that they have a fighting chance. Upon claiming the merchant ships' paltry goods they would withdraw while leaving numerous survivors to tell the tale. While only one survivor was enough to deliver a message, anyone would realize that the one survivor was left alive on purpose and thus these Corsairs would have been perceived as a notable threat. The Eldar wanted to leave a message without getting an Imperial punitive force involved, which is why they went to such great efforts to leave only the faintest marks. The Cosmic Wyrms continued their streak of moderately successful raids for several years, earning them a favorable reputation.
The first time these Eldar met with Human pirates was at 294.M39 in the middle of an asteroid ring orbiting a young star. During that occasion both the Eldar and the Human pirates were eyeing the same prize, a convoy of four cargo vessels which went through the tiny system in hopes of going unnoticed by any would-be marauders. The Eldar were first to notice the other group and allowed them to attack the convoy, in order to see how useful Human pirates can be. The pirate ship emerged from a hollow asteroid and rammed into the first convoy vessel with its reinforced bulkhead. The same pirate ship then launched a barrage of boarding pods which successfully latched unto the second and third vessel. The fourth vessel pivoted on the spot and attempted to flee but was cut off by the Eldar Corsairs. After the plundering was done the two groups made contact aboard the third vessel which had already been looted. The Eldar introduced themselves as the "Cosmic Wyrms" and in turn the Human pirates called themselves the "Bad Dog Company". The pirate captain, a middle-aged man going by the name of Rudolph "Dirty Mutt" Heinrich, said to the Eldar that he had heard of them and that he wouldn't mind "taking back what was rightfully his for the taking" as he pointed towards the fourth cargo vessel. The Eldar Corsairs replied to Rudolph, telling him that he would be better off making a pact with the Cosmic Wyrms, promising him piles of treasure if he were to follow their lead. Rudolph smirked at the response and gestured for his strongmen to kill the Eldar, but in an instant the Corsairs struck like lightning and massacred a dozen of Rudolph's best men, which included an Ogryn. After a brief silence Rudolph hesitantly accepted the Eldar's offer and said that the Bad Dog Company would be up to whatever kind of treasure hunt they had in mind. And just like that the Eldar left the cargo vessel, returning to their own ships, and then disappeared in the void of space.
- "You could do battle with us and your survival wouldn't be impossible, only very unlikely. "
- —Ilraeh, first leader of the Cosmic Wyrms
When Ploys Go Awry
Upon making a pact with the Bad Dog Company, the Cosmic Wyrms relied on their connections to meet other pirate groups in the Maximilian Sector. Over the passing years the Eldar had accumulated an astounding force consisting of three dozen pirate groups, both great and small. These scalawags were coaxed with promises of abundant treasure hidden away in the Veiled Region and protected by alien monstrosities that the Eldar couldn't handle on their own. Many accepted the Eldar's proposal to join their treasure hunting party on their own volition while others responded with hostility, which the Eldar replied with in kind. The armada was shaping up nicely, but then came troubles when the Humans required increasing amounts of resources, like fuel for their ships, food for their crew, ammo to load their guns and other miscellaneous expenses. To satisfy the rising needs of the fleet they had assembled, the Cosmic Wyrms began escalating the magnitude of their raids by striking and sacking multiple worlds within Sub-Sector Cherenkov in 353.M39.
The plundering the Eldar did in Sub-Sector Cherenkov was far more frequent than usual, which roused the Imperial forces to react. Although the Eldar were only attacking supply convoys and remote outposts, said attacks were too frequent and organized for ordinary Corsairs. In 361.M39 a punitive force consisting of six Einherjars of Ymir Homesteads, working in tandem with the local PDF, which were assigned to different worlds which were known to be prime target for the Corsairs. The Eldar tiptoed around Imperial defenses to the best of their ability, but the Einherjars were not just mere PDF soldiers or pirates, they were a professional army of the Imperial Guard, a caliber above what the Cosmic Wyrms were accustomed to. After several hit-and-run engagements the Eldar decided to switch their targets and move to less prominent planets in the Sub-Sector, but they only found the Einherjars already there, waiting for them. The skirmishes waged against the Eldar Corsairs and the Einherjars of Ymir were brief but bloody, leaving ample casualties on both sides. The series of skirmishes waged in Sub-Sector Cherenkov became dragged on, which drew the attention of an uninvited third party.
The Ork Freebooter, Kaptin Buzzzsaw, had his curiosity piqued when he heard that the Einherjars, one of the greatest enemies to Ork-kind in Segmentum Tempestus, had a notable amount of its forces relocated to a remote Sub-Sector to fight Eldar. Seeing a golden opportunity dangling before his eyes, Kaptin Buzzsaw could do nothing but grab it before it got away, so he ordered his armada of pirate ships to set a course for Ymir. The Freebooters arrived to the Einherjars' homeplanet in 411.M39 and began laying siege to Folkvangr, the great fortress situated on Ymir's only moon. The three Homestead which had been sent to Sub-Sector Cherenkov were called back to defend Ymir, thus ending the long lasting confrontations they had with the Eldar. To the surprise of the Imperial citizens located in Cherenkov, the Eldar Corsairs had disappeared as well, leading many to think that they had somehow orchestrated the attacks in order to draw the Einherjars out so the Orks could hit Ymir when it was vulnerable. This was not the truth, because the Cosmic Wyrms were called back to Neandra by Farseer Hylbres.
When the Cosmic Wyrms returned to their Craftworld, they were greeted not with hospitality but with disappointed glares. When the Cosmic Wyrms and Ilraeh, their leader, entered the Farseer's presence, they saw Autarch Khael-Magan was there as well. Hylbres and Khael-Magan told Ilraeh and his men the folly of their actions in great detail. Although it was true that the pirate armada required resources to function, they could have just disbanded it and told the pirates to fend for themselves until the Eldar called for them again. But the Corsairs were too hasty, too impatient, they did not believe that they had the luxury to wait for the Mon-Keigh and that they needed a push in the right direction, which is why the Cosmic Wyrms began their desperate raids in Sub-Sector Cherenkov. Although it was reasonable to believe that the Necrons in the Veiled Region were steadily recovering their strength and that they could begin a mass genocide at any moment, the actions that the Cosmic Wyrms took were too rash and might have even hindered their plans. The Einherjars of Ymir, a prominent Imperial faction in the Segmentum, was now struggling to survive because the Corsair's youthful impatience and foolishness, and if they were to perish than the Imperium would be sure to launch a Battlefleet to hunt the Eldar who started it all. Neandra couldn't afford an all-out war with the Imperial Navy, it would be a waste of time, resources and manpower since the Necrons were a far greater threat than either of them. This is why the decision was made for the Craftworld to cut its ties with the Cosmic Wyrms, essentially exiling them. Farseer Hylbres told Ilraeh that he would not be welcomed back into Neandra until he matured and proved that he could be trusted. After the declaration was made, the Cosmic Wyrms took their ships and journeyed to the far reaches of Segmentum Tempestus and another group of Corsairs was assembled to take their place.
As the Ork siege of Folkvangr gained traction, inspiring more Ork tribes in surrounding areas to join the battle, Kaptin Buzzsaw grew a wryly grin as he anticipated his victory. Unbeknownst to the Kaptin, a single cloaked ship passed the Ork fleet and entered Buzzsaw's personal ship, Da Ol' Rustbucket. The ones piloting the stealthy ship were Eldar and they managed to pass Ork defenses and reach Kaptin Buzzsaw's First Mate, an Ork Nob named Breakjaw. The Eldar introduced themselves as "the Astral Specters" and then informed Breakjaw of a world of unimaginable bounty which could only be obtained after winning a battle so grand it would dwarf the siege of Folkvangr by at least tenfold. The Astral Specters told the Ork that the prize of both treasure and bloodshed could be his if only he followed their lead. They also told Breakjaw that Kaptin Buzzsaw was losing his edge and would definitely lose if he was in charge, so they suggested that Breakjaw replace him. Surprisingly, the Ork listened to the Eldar and acknowledged the fact that Buzzsaw steered the Ol' Rustbucket for long enough. After Breakjaw killed Buzzsaw, he assumed the position of Kaptin and ordered the fleet to leave Ymir, as greater plunder awaited them in the Veiled Region. And so, the siege of Folkvangr ended in 412.M39 and the Einherjars were victorious, yet they did not know why. The Orks had a clear advantage and would have won if the battle lasted any longer, but they withdrew for no reason whatsoever. The more religious of the Ymirfolk proclaimed that it was the God-Emperor's doing and that he was the one to thank for that miracle.
- "The brightest stars shine on long after they're gone."
- —An excerpt from the "Astronomer's ballad", a famous piece of Eldar poetry on Neandra