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Ludara Kresh (born 954.M41) is the First Marshal of Ashimar, the acting Governor-Militant of the world and supreme commander of its Astra Militarum regiments, the Ashimar Nova Guard. Kresh is a master strategist and military organizer, who is cold, ruthless, and logical in the planning and execution of her campaigns. She has brought many victories and battle honors to the Ashimar Nova Guard forces she has commanded, though often at great cost due to her relentless, win-at-all-costs mentality and calculating approach to her strategic planning. While many Ashimar Nova Guard officers are respected and beloved by their troops, Kresh is one of the few who is also feared.
Among Ashimar's aristocratic families, the Kresh family is among the most prestigious. Its traditions of military service in the Ashimar Nova Guard stretch back over 600 years, to when Alanta Kresh was selected to be the commanding officer of the newly-founded Ashimar 1st. General Delvrus Kresh and his battlegroup of the Ashimar 7th, 9th, and 17th regiments particpated in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, seeing action at the second campaign for Cociaminus and spearheaded the conquest of Fausta. In the records of the Ashimar Nova Guard, nearly a dozen members of the Kresh family achieved the rank of General - among them was Ludara Kresh's father, Jirad Kresh. Her mother, Nemira Kresh, was also a high ranking officer.
It was only natural then that Ludara Kresh was groomed from birth to be a military officer, especially because she was an only child. Throughout her childhood she practiced fencing and target shooting, and studied the military history of both the Ashimar Nova Guard and the wider Astra Militarum. She served in the Youth Cadet Army, distinguishing herself as a skilled leader from a young age. As a young adult, she attended Ashimar's prestigious Kinodia Military Academy, where she was a classmate of fellow future Lord General Danilus Voltek. The two quickly became rivals, both in academics and other matters, due to both being prodigies and being from different backgrounds - Kresh was from the aristocracy and Voltek was a commoner. When they graduated in 975.M41, they were at the top of their class, tied for number one. Both were commissioned as Lieutenants, with Kresh going to the Ashimar 31st and Voltek going to the Ashimar 42nd.
Kresh quickly rose through the ranks, rising from Lieutenant to Commander within her first decade of service. She served as a battalion commander and later executive officer of the Ashimar 31st. During this early period of her military service, Kresh would grow close to one of the regiment's Commissars, Anton Nageris, and the two would eventually marry. Kresh rose to the rank of Colonel and received command of the Ashimar 31st following the death of her predecessor, Col. Vanius Zenon, who committed suicide after being embroiled in a number of scandals which resulted in him being removed from command of the 31st.
Kresh would command the Ashimar 31st with distinction for over a decade; her strategic insights were crucial to Imperial victories in the Selvann Insurrection and several campaigns around the periphery of the Eye of Terror and led to her promotion to General in 999.M41 at the age of 45. She also had three sons with Nageris, now a Lord Commissar: Adom, Leon, and Saul. All three joined the Ashimar Nova Guard and were killed in action during the Katalian War, a protracted and bloody campaign in the Katalia Sector against a coalition of traitors led by the Servants of the Truth. While she publicly remained stoic and resolute, Kresh was devastated and blamed herself for the loss of her sons. The tragedy served to further harden her heart and she determined that such emotional ties were a weakness that someone in her position could ill afford, so she divorced Lord Commissar Nageris and successfully petitioned for the Officio Prefectus to reassign him far away from any war zones in which the Ashimar Nova Guard operated.
In the later years of the first century of the 42nd Millennium, Kresh achieved the rank of Lady General and was appointed to Ashimar High Command, the council of nine generals overseeing all Ashimar military forces. Following the retirement of Lord General Izak Prasilion as Chief of Staff, Kresh was elevated to the position in his place. With her newfound prominence and authority, Kresh frequently came to blows with Lord General Voltek, who was not a member of High Command. The conflict between them increased after Ashimar strategists calculated that the warband of Slaaneshi marauders known to Imperial records as the Ashen Maulers' attacks and movements were patterned in such a way to indicate that they were steadily advancing across Segmentums Solar and Pacificus towards Ashimar itself. Voltek vehemently disagreed with the approach pushed by Kresh, which involved keeping the revelation a secret from all save the Inquisition, with even the High Consul of Ashimar being kept in the dark. To prevent their rivalry from causing further strain on the affairs of the Nova Guard, Voltek and the regiments under his command, known as Army Group Sigma, were deployed across the galaxy to the Eastern Fringes of Segmentum Ultima, to help combat the advances made by the Tau Empire and the Death Guard against Imperial worlds in the region. With her most significant challenger effectively exiled from Ashimar, Kresh solidified herself as the leader of Ashimar High Command and the most powerful officer in the entire Nova Guard.
In 109.M42, the fleet of the Ashen Maulers was spotted in Segmentum Pacificus. The following year, the Maulers launched an offensive against several neighboring worlds of Ashimar, overrunning their defenders and causing millions of refugees and retreating military forces to flood into the Ashimar system. Ashimar High Command issued a recall order to all its regiments and began preparing for a defensive war against the imminent Mauler attack. With the situation so serious, Kresh was declared First Marshal of Ashimar, with the planetary governor, High Consul Gailavera Safrax, ceding total military and political authority to Kresh. Kresh orchestrated Ashimar's defense, where she had to maneuver herself politically around the many Generals, Inquisitors, and Chapter Masters that led the allied Imperial forces that came to her aid in order to maintain overall control of her homeworld's defense. Seeing how the Maulers' greatest strength, their numbers, was also their greatest weakness, Kresh's strategy was not to try and quickly win a decisive battle against them. She maintained a largely defensive stance for years, building up her forces in secret while mobilizing civilian militias, sending Youth Cadets and penal battalions into battle, and bringing relic vehicles back into service in order to make the situation look worse than it really was. When the the time was right, she inflicted a devastating defeat on the Ashen Maulers at the Battle of Fort Alanta, where the Chaos hordes attacked a fortress they thought was manned by a tattered and exhausted army, but was in fact a strong, well-armed, and dug in defensive force. After a week of fighting, Kresh ordered her reserve forces into action, who outflanked and slaughtered the Chaos cultists. This marked the beginning of the end of the Siege of Ashimar, and in short order after the Battle of Fort Alanta the Ashen Maulers were driven from Ashimar.
While it was expected that Kresh would relinquish the position of First Marshal and restore civilian rule after the Siege, she did not. Kresh believed that the civilian government's weakness and complacency was what allowed Ashimar to come under attack, and she refused to allow its mistakes to be repeated. Under her firm, but fair rule, Ashimar has begun to rebuild from the devastation of the Siege, and militarize to an extent never seen before in its history, producing many Ashimar Nova Guard regiments to fight the enemies of the Imperium.
Ludara Kresh is, at least publicly, an aloof and serious figure, devoted entirely to her duty. She is an incredibly shrewd and intelligent person, well educated in the history of Ashimar and the Imperial Guard. This has made Kresh a deeply introspective individual, frequently comparing herself to the Imperial heroes of the past and musing on her perceived shortcomings and failures.
While many Ashimar Nova Guard commanders go to great lengths to connect with their troops, Kresh does not, remaining distant from them. To her, the purpose of Guardsmen is to die, and no price is too high to pay for victories that will ensure countless more survive.
Despite this, Kresh is not without a sense of justice. She is a harsh disciplinarian who deals with crimes and misdeeds in the same ruthless, logical manner with which she wages war. When she served in the Ashimar 31st, she was the main architect behind the downfall of Col. Zenon, having viewed his actions as greatly undermining the morale, unity, and combat effectiveness of the regiment.
Ludara Kresh is most commonly armed with a pair of ornate, custom-made bolt pistols and a power sword. Like many Ashimar Generals, she wears carapace armor and a greatcoat, though Kresh typically keeps her greatcoat draped over her shoulders like a cloak.
By Ludara Kresh
- "She's too soft. She's content to know only of the peaceful little bubble of stability and prosperity that Ashimar is, and remain ignorant of the dangers of the wider galaxy. If she knew what I knew, if she had seen what I have seen... if she knew of the marauding Ork warbands, the ever-present threat of Chaos, the insidious Genestealer Cults, the insatiable hunger of the Hive Fleets, the Necrons that could be slumbering beneath our very feet... then I think the High Consul would act differently, and be a better ruler and leader for Ashimar."
- — Lady General Ludara Kresh on Gailavera Safrax, the High Consul of Ashimar.