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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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Outpost 2219

The defeat of Trayzn the Infinite at the Battle of First Contact left the Rubicon Necrons leaderless at the beginning of the Adrilles War.

Most histories make little mention of the Rubicon Dynasty between the time of Trayzn’s defeat and his return to the fray on the 41st day of the war. These histories suggest Overlord Zenith spent all that time consolidating his forces on the remains of the shattered moon Abfall. This is plausible because no faction involved in the war during that period paid any mind to the remnants of the Rubicon Necrons. The Rubicon Dynasty had thrown all of its might against the Sautekh Necrons as they rose from their Tombs at the onset of the war. The Rubicon and Sautekh Dynasties clashed in many battles on the same day the Battle of First Contact raged, the ancient feud of millions of years ago not forgotten by either side. The loss of Trayzn would have been felt by every Necron within the Rubicon Dynasty, a blow that would have caused the whole of the army to falter.

The remains of the Rubicon host that had been sent to the planet Adrilles from Abfall via a Gate of Infinity were now scattered across the volcanic north of Adrilles. Jagers and Space Wolves operating in that region make mention of engaging the Rubicon Necrons in the days and weeks following the opening salvo of the war, so it is certain numerous Rubicons had been left behind when Trayzn’s army collapsed. Interestingly, one Adrilles historian who focused much of his work on the Rubicon Necrons provides a possible answer to what Trayzn’s forces were up to during his absence.

He suggests the Rubicon Necrons throughout the volcanic north began to consolidate into larger groups in order to coordinate planned attacks against Sautekh positions. (This is corroborated  by other histories.) The historian also suggests that smaller units were assembled as well, comprised of elite, specialized troops whose purpose was to hunt down and kill Tyranids freed from the shackles of Jager control. This theory remains controversial, but the historian’s reasoning is sound:

“Any military unit operating in the volcanic north at that time would have had to remove the Tyranid threat from any sector in which it wished to conduct ops. Failing to do so would have jeopardized any defensive or offensive position gained. Tyranids freed from Jager control would have been unpredictable and formidable.”

It is known that Rubicon Necrons fought the Tyranids (and forces of Chaos) at the onset of the series of battles known as The Klendathu Three. Alois Fischer of the Erkunden (scout regiment within the Jager Corps), whose chronicling of The Klendathu Three would make him one of the most controversial figures of the Adrilles War, seems to have recorded a skirmish between Rubicon Necrons and Tyranids that lends support to the historian’s theory. That skirmish is presented below– as reconstructed from Fischer’s official logs and personal diaries.

“We took up position at [edited], 3.25 km from base camp at [edited] at 05:01:15 local. The sky remained scorched and angry so we relied on the full spectrum of our optics. In the washed-out patchwork of feeds, we discerned a newborn Tyranid nest with a small host of Tyranid sentinels.

“From our position on the ridge, we put together a plan to assault the Tyranids with the intent of detonating the nest, which was formed from a mass of liquidated sons of the Imperium– I could see Jagers and Wolf armour among the mass– fused with the skeleton of a Jager comms tower. The roads laid by our brothers when we came to this planet were still intact though not a single building stood whole. Two low, black ridges stretched across the area. Those were not natural. They emitted a cloud that hung low over the outpost’s remains. That cloud was similar to the one surrounding one of the Tyranid monsters– a many-tentacled beast that floated across the ground, a swarm of smaller monsters shrouded in its opaque vapours.

“As we split into two groups to begin our assault there arose a clamour that drew our attention. A fast-moving group coming from the north was opening fire on the Tyranid position. The three synaptic beasts– we call them Warriors– each took a number of smaller, scuttling kin and moved forward to meet the approaching attackers. Those attackers were Necrons, and as the Tyranids rushed forward a shot split the head of one of the smaller defenders.

“There were five single Necrons. Foot soldiers of some sort, but not warriors working as a group. Each Necron operated on its own, moving up a few feet, standing its ground, hoisting its weapon, looking down the great length of its barrel and firing a shot. These were surely the Necron equivalent of Marine snipers, though these metal creatures did not dig in. They moved. Ever moving.

“Skimming alongside these Necron snipers were figures fused with their vehicle–something akin to a jetbike. There were three and each cut across the tomb-like surface of the battlefield like blades, the propulsion throwing a cloud of debris behind the machine. Each had a different array of weaponry. There was the crackle and light of Tesla, the snap of carbine, and even larger denotations that threw debris high over what had become a battlefield.

“On the west flank, a Necron jetbike rose above one of the outpost ruins and fired into the approaching Tyranids. Return fire was more deadly. The fragile jetbike detonated, its rider torn from its embrace and cast into the broken ruins of the building. One of the Necron snipers hugged what remained of the outer wall, shooting into the cloud that covered the Tyranids approach. A moment later, the Necron collapsed, peppered by the Tyranids more accurate fire.

“The foot soldiers were having trouble scoring kills through the screening cloud,  but the jetbikes were seemingly unaffected. A glow around the bike and rider suggested enhanced shielding, and an array on top of the bike suggested enhanced targeting systems capable of picking out foes in cover. Indeed, the two remaining Necron jetbikes were responsible for several kills.

“With the west flank clear of enemies, the Tyranids swung east in order to join up with the central group and a third group that was running parallel to one of the unnatural black ridges in an effort to get to the Necrons using the ridge as cover. From our vantage point, it was clear to me the Necrons were rushing to get past the Tyranids in order to reach the nest.

“One of the Necron snipers fell back and took up a position at the center of the battlefield. From there, it picked off the leading Tyranid in the group moving from the west to east. It continued to fire and drop Tyranids moving east even as some of the beastly group broke off in an effort to silence the killing fire. The Tyranids running parallel to the ridge finally reached its end and moved in to intercept the approaching Necrons. One of the jetbikes got through the cordon. Other Necrons that had taken up positions to provide covering fire were destroyed or maimed though several Tyranids fell to their fire beforehand.

“As we watched, the Necron jetbike who had gotten past the Tyranids drove at speed not just to the nest but directly into it. The resulting explosion lit the underbelly of dark clouds and caused wet debris to rain down on the battlefield.

“After the nest was destroyed, some Tyranids ran off after the remaining Necrons. Others went into the flaming remains of the nest and never re-emerged.

“The flames had died down by the time we had moved up to the once outpost. There was something we needed to know and we found our answer as we turned over inert Necrons. Each bore the symbol of the Rubicon Dynasty.”


The Klendathu Three

In the great tableau of galactic strife within the 41st Millennium, the Adrilles War is lesser in size, length and scope then many of the battles waged by the Imperium against heretics and xenos alike, but it has attracted to it a large number of philosophers and historians because of the number of factions involved. Certainly some of the most eccentric figures in academia have wrestled with the Adrilles War at some point in their career. There was even a time when to ponder the Adrilles War was a ritual of passage for fringe thinkers. Indeed, to set one’s mind to the intricacies of the war is still common among academics when the shackles of Imperium doctrine feel too tight. Furthermore, to those scholars, Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf and Alois Fischer are certainly the most intriguing of the war’s dramatis personae.

The Erkunden were a celebrated Scout regiment within the 4th Company of the Jager Corps. Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf had seen fit to bestow upon the regiment this honourific title during the Corps’ defense of the League of Veiled Star Systems. This was years before the Magister Militum moved the Jagers to Adrilles. In the space of time after the Corps’ arrival on Adrilles but before the outbreak of the war there is little mention of the Erkunden. Presumably, the Corps’ psykers under the guidance of Grand Librarian Hoeth were responsible for searching for and isolating dormant but viable Tyranid presence.

Within the varied histories of the Adrilles War, the earliest mention of the Erkunden comes via orders from Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf to his company commanders 72 hours before the planetary assault known as the Battle of First Contact, specifically that the Erkunden were to be sent into the “wastelands” to “find, study, and report the plotted sites” with a “propensity for instability” in order to ascertain if said sites should be acquired by the Corps as “positions of strength where the instability is likely to hide but not hinder Corps activity” or should be reported to Grand Librarian Hoeth for “high priority psychic cleansing.”

To some scholars, these orders– specific to the Erkunden and its support staff– is a suggestion that Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf was aware of the psychic storms forming and increasing in certain sectors of Adrilles and that he was willing to use the turmoil to his advantage in the inevitable war. Where this was not possible, the Corps would attempt to quell the storm. The herculean effort required for such “psychic cleansing” operations would require not only Grand Librarian Hoeth’s personal attention but also the bulk of his psykers. As an exceptional strategist of many military operations in defense of the League of Veiled Star Systems, Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf would have known using Hoeth and the psykers in this manner would have been at the expense of the Corps’ defense of the planet against the Vlka Fenryka sent to destroy them. If this is all true then this means that perhaps only Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf fully understood the threat taking shape in regions scattered across Adrilles.

This theory clearly flies in the face of other more established histories that claim the Jager psychic experiments with Tyranids were responsible for the development of the powerful storms that would grow to ravage the planet. It is worth noting, of course, that Grand Librarian Hoeth in the personal records he kept during the Jagers journey to Adrilles makes mention of such storms being the “light that guides us to this abandoned planet.”

Setting all that debate aside, it is clear the Magister Militum did order the Erkunden into the lesser explored territories of the planet– specifically volatile regions of the volcanic north, including the depths of the Klendathu Canyons.

Alois Fischer had been with the 4th Company for less than two years when the Magister Militum bestowed upon the Scout regiment the name Erkunden. He goes mostly unmentioned in the Jager histories until the time of the Adrilles War, where his journals would elevate his status in history. Before he chronicled what he witnessed of the series of battles that came to be known as The Klendathu Three, Fischer recorded the details of a small skirmish between Tyranids and forces of the Rubicon Necrons. The clash took place…

[more to come]