Into the Fields

If one briefly looks upon the Adrilles War it seems it was a war of annihilation. It is easy to believe Chaos sought only to annihilate (and manipulate) all factions involved in the war. It is also widely accepted that the Sautekh Necrons strove to destroy its enemies. Imotekh the Stormlord wanted to cleanse the planet, to reclaim it for the Sautekh Dynasty. The same could be said of Trazyn the Infinite, seeking the planet for the Rubicon Necrons. It has been argued the Council of Terra charged the Vlka Fenryka with finding and stopping the Jagers Corps because the Council knew full well Grimnar’s Wolves would eradicate the blasphemous Chapter and any force that got in the way. A cursory look at the conflict shows protracted battles waged on several fronts, involving multiple factions, fueled seemingly by nothing more than bloodlust. In the grand tapestry of bloodshed, the sacrifices of the H’Av’Raj’lkon are forgotten. In the detailed reports of the war’s commanders, the refined plans of the Jagers Corps are not mentioned. In the sea of data, the precise strategies of the Adeptus Mechanicus are obscured.

On the fringes of Imperial academia, there are scholars focusing their treatise on Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf and his Jager Corps, specifically, a series of strategic moves in alliance with the Adeptus Mechanicus in an area of the western hemisphere known as Tyranid Fields. That the Adeptus Mechanicus willingly assisted the Jagers is both blasphemous and treasonous, but a dispassionate observer would say the Adeptus Mechanicus’ agenda is always its own and that alliances with undesirables would be acceptable in the Cult’s quest for divine knowledge. That is the argument made by one scholar who feels he has evidence of operations conducted jointly by the Jagers and the Adeptus Mechanicus. He does not give a date as to when the Adeptus Mechanicus contacted the Jagers Corps or when the two forces formulated a plan, but he does claim the operations began on the the 32nd day of the Adrilles War in a sector defined by…

***

…ridges rising jagged like raw mountains. These vast spines used to be under the western ocean of Adrilles in the days when the Imperium thrived on the planet, but now the rock lay under only the tumultuous, bruised sky.  From these mountainous ridges smaller rocky formations branched like capillaries from an artery. Each of these was still taller than a gene-enhanced trooper of the Astartes Adeptus.  As a result, Trooper Audwin Havener, 7th Company, Jager Corps, had to rely on his armour’s instrumentation to fix his position. He had been running for nearly four hours since fighting his way out of the remains of 7th Station. He had taken several wounds in the final melee against his battle brothers. His Astartes physiology had sealed the most grievous gashes by the time 7th Station was lost behind him in the gloom. Less then an hour later, Havener was at full strength. This was fortunate because shortly thereafter he was ambushed multi-armed Tyranids that emerged from the ground like specters from shadow. He fought clear of those only to be assaulted from high by a swooping monstrosity. It had scooped him up in its talons, its grip grinding his armour into his flesh. Havener emptied his bolter into the beast’s exposed underbelly. He and the monster’s burst entrails plummeted. Back on his feet, Havener continued his run, heading east to where this abyssal plain ended. He knew an operational Jager position was crouched upon the continental shelf. He also knew from the sounds echoing among the ridges that more monsters were on his trail.

Havener paused now, his eyes reading the bearings his helmet’s tactical display overlaid on his optics, but also listening intently to his surroundings. He was in a boulder strewn valley between two of the lower ridges. The sky overhead was angry, thick cloud shot through with red and brown light. His vox crackled and his displays glitched whenever lightning flashed and thunder roared. He could feel warmth leaking out of fresh wounds, his enhanced physiology no longer able to keep up the pace of the patch jobs required. His multi-lung drew deeply and this two hearts beat harshly within his battered chest. Havener closed his eyes for the briefest of moments and shook his head once in an effort to clear his mind. He kept hearing some kind of voice over the garbled vox whenever the storm overhead surged. He could not understand what was being said, but it felt like a taunt. It clouded his mind at a time when he needed to clear. A shake of the head, the gale force wind abated, and the voice faded. Havener opened his eyes and that is when the beast struck.

It hit him like a Land Raider driving through a rockcrete barricade. The plated bestial head rammed him. Havener’s ceramite armour cracked, shards driving into his chest. He flew backward, losing all sense of up and down. He rolled to his left to escape the thunder bearing down on him. One of the beast’s hoofs clipped his shoulder, but he avoided a trampling that would have surely have crushed his helmet and the skull within. He scrambled to his feet, raising his bolter, his vision blurred, his ears ringing and his breath coming in shallow fits. The beast had turned, its momentum and weight throwing up a wave of rock and dust. It reared, scythe-like talons nearly as long as Havener was tall silhouetted against the angry sky. Havener fired at its belly, but the rounds could not pierce its thick carapace. Its front quarter thundered back to the ground and it charged. Havener readied himself, gore-soaked chainsword buzzing to life in his hand, firing already with the bolter in his left.

The beast was not slowed.

“Come on!” Havener shouted. “Come on!”

“Down!” shouted a voice much louder than his own. There was a incendiary screech and a flash mere inches above Havener as he dropped instinctively, and then was an explosion that washed Havener in fire and gore.

Trooper Audwin Havener had thought he was the last surviving member of the 7th Company still loyal to the Jager Corps. As he got to his feet, flesh and blood dripping from his ruined armour, he realized this was not so. Trooper Rainer Amsel stood in front of him, a smoking rocket launcher on his shoulder, and behind Amsel were two squads of Jagers, each Astartes at the ready in case any other enemies should appear.

“I thought you and Sergeant Janz might have got out, too,” said Amsel, clasping Havener’s shoulder. “I convinced the station commander to let me go back out with two squads to lend a hand in case you needed.”

“Just me,” managed Havener as he gasped for breath, feeling every wound, new and old.

Amsel nodded. Nothing more needed to be said.

***

The Jager station had been constructed on the edge of the continental shelf. From a height 3.5 kilometers above the abyssal plain, the station commanded a view of more than 100 kilometers. There had been no volcanic islands in this hemisphere of Adrilles and the submarine ridges, though plentiful near the horizon, were low and sparse in the final 45 kilometer approach to the continental rise. Escalating atmospheric disturbances had made scanners and even vox unreliable, but the height from the station ensured its defenders would always be aware of approaching hostiles or friendlies returning from forays onto the floor of the former ocean. Thus it was that Trooper Audwin Havener entered a station ready to receive him and his rescuers.

The outpost had been renamed Sentinel Station by its new occupants. It had been abandoned in the opening days of the Adrilles War, its squads sent to join other, larger forces mustering along the ridge lines to the north. Less than 2000 Jagers had fallen back to the ridges, where defensive positions were to be held to stave the advance of xenos. A complement of 450 Jagers and support staff were ordered back to the continental shelf outpost. From this heavily fortified position, the Sentinel Station Jagers protected the flank of the ridge-line operations. If Sentinel Station fell, the ridge fortifications could be assaulted from the east and the south.

Sentinel Station was now more than 100 kilometres west of Trooper Audwin Havener’s current position. He was among two squads of Jagers sent by the station commander to assault a ruins that Jager scouts had reported as being infested with xenos, including the

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About caperaway

I’m a publisher writer of graphic novels and short fiction. Published works include Acts of Violence: An Anthology of Crime Comics, The Grim Collection, Black Salt, and Psychosis. View all posts by caperaway

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