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.

***

 

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.

“The remaining Tyranids fell apart after the nest was destroyed. Some 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 Breaking Tide – Klendathu Canyons

By the end of the 9th day of the Adrilles War the forces of Chaos had firmly established reign over the region known as the Klendathu Canyons.

Comprised of collapsed calderas and rents as deep as 30 kilometres, the Klendathu Canyons became a stronghold lorded over by Skarbrand. The personal diaries of Alois Fischer (Scout, 4th Company, Jager Corps) tell of Skarbrand’s “fortress of bones and corruption” at the northern most point of the canyons.

“This great daemon perched upon high would lash out with his ethereal whip of flame,” wrote Fischer, “incinerating daemons for sport, driving the howling, scuttling masses into the earth to escape his wrath.”

In the weeks following the series of battles known as the Klendathu Three, Skarbrand was rarely seen. Instead, the daemonic forces who fought on the surface of Adrilles were led out of the canyons by Soul Stealer, or driven from the dark depths by Torment. Imperial forces– whether Jager, Space Wolves or Adeptus Mechanicus– operating in the volcanic north would have been aware of increased daemonic activity in the canyons. Orbital scans by Arjac Rockfist’s fleet would have confirmed what the ground troops were experiencing, but also read– if perhaps misinterpreted– strong Warp activity within the deepest pits of the canyons.

Fischer’s diaries would later reveal large swathes of the canyons had been consumed by the Warp. “It was as if the barrier between our world and the ethereal had grown so thin that the ethereal was bleeding through.” He also described Warp storms that started landslides and portals opening and collapsing seemingly at random. “The fiends that spilled out were often destroyed a moment later by the portal’s violent collapse.” Fischer also wrote of Imperial troops– Jagers, but also support personnel from Arjac Rockfist’s host– being drawn to the canyons, seemingly uncaring of the dangers within. Later entries even suggest the dead returning. “Dead flesh is carried into the embrace of Chaos. Corrupted flesh returns. Battle brothers walk again.”

The accuracy of Fischer’s diaries is debated among historians. It should be noted, however, that the H’Av’Raj’Ikon reported Astartes fighting alongside daemons in the depths of the Klendathu Canyons. This report was filed after a joint operation by the Tau and the Jager Corps. Reports from the Jagers during this same time period make no mention of Imperial troops fighting with forces of Chaos. (It should also be noted the original Fischer diaries are rumoured to be in the hands of the Cult Mechanicus. Scholars seeking to understand the Adrilles War have to make due with copies of the Fischer diaries, the validity of which is difficult to discern because the various copies are incomplete and often contain discrepancies when compared.)

The joint operation between the Tau and Jagers was an effort to penetrate into the Klendathu Canyons in order to strike at the heart of the Chaos stronghold that was believed to lie within. Elsewhere in the volcanic north, Arjac Rockfist, under orders from Logan Grimnar, was assaulting a Sautekh Necron stronghold with a detachment of Adeptus Mechanicus. The two assaults– though executed separately– came to be known as The Breaking Tide.

The joint effort by the Tau and Jagers was most likely devised by Grand Librarian Hoeth and Shas’nel Velk’Han Neran somewhere between the 15th and 19th day of the war. This was several days after the Assault on Grimmig and most likely the period when Neran’s host of H’Av’Raj’Ikon found the remaining Tau who had become stranded on the planet. Reports from the Jagers during this time also reveal that Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf was reigning in his troops and redeploying them to key positions still held by the Jagers. With the Tau suddenly with greater numbers and the Jagers consolidating positions it is likely the leaders of both groups began planning the joint operation.

The Assault on Grimmig had been designed to deny the Sautekh Necrons a key staging area for their war effort. With that assault a failure, the Jagers had to focus all effort on disrupting Chaos and Sautekh Necron positions of strength on the planet. There was no region more firmly within the grip of these enemies than the volcanic north. The arisen Necrons were populous in that region. Each tomb was a fortress and in the swathes of broken earth between the tombs the Necrons and their Chaotic allies were erecting strongholds created from the bones of old Imperial forges, abandoned Jager facilities, and the very rock itself that was being wrought and reformed by the power of the Warp.

The Jagers and Tau were aware of the forces at work within the Klendathu Canyons. Official reports from Scout Fischer combined with the Tau’s firsthand experience within the canyons made it clear that Chaos had taken root within and that the canyons were the source of the daemonic tide threatening the whole planet. The number of Sautekh Necrons may have been greater and their positions of strength more visible, but Chaos was an unpredictable force the Jagers did not want to leave unchecked. Grand Librarian Hoeth, in particular, believed Chaotic energies raging in the canyons and in the atmosphere of the planet was causing his Psykers’ control over the Tyranids to be “increasingly unpredictable.”

When the Tau / Jager operation began and from where it launched is debated among historians. What is known for certain is the operation crossed hostile terrain to reach the canyons. Numerous skirmishes were fought– Tau and Jagers against Necron patrols and even clusters of daemons. It is unlikely the attack force went unnoticed, but it is also highly likely that no formal resistance was organized.

The Jager and Tau entered the canyons on the 22nd day of the war. History knows this because the Jager commander in charge of the operation sent a communication back to Grand Librarian Hoeth. Contact was lost minutes  later, presumably as the troops moved into the canyons, the depths of which were, by now, a maelstrom of ethereal energy.

Two days later, the Jager and Tau operation climaxed with a large scale battle deep in the Klendathu Canyons. The Jagers and Tau assaulted a position of strength. What history knows of this climatic battle comes from statements given by the survivors when they were debriefed. What follows below is information gleamed from the briefings…

****

Tau and Jager forces take position in a heavily armoured entrenchment. All units are gathered in this one position, spread out horizontally across a considerable distance within the canyon. The daemon position is approximately 1 kilometer ahead where the canyon opens up to reveal a heavily fortified position.

“The very air crackled with foul energy. Our vox was awash with static. It was difficult to contact the other squads. We resorted to hand signals and as we rushed forward it was obvious to me that each squad might be on its own for the duration.” — Ulrik Rasmoosen, Trooper, 8th Company, Jagers

“There was a lot of light down there. There shouldn’t have been, but there was. There was no sky, but there was light. Lightning flashes where there were no clouds, and a rippling light not unlike that of fire.” —  G’ar Frondheim, Trooper, 8th Company, Jagers

“A great and powerful winged shaped rode the lightning that rent the sky. It howled and snapped at the daemonic forces below. It seemed to me that if this was a daemonic fortress than this being was its nightmare prince. When it advanced on our position the signal was given and the battle began.” — Fash’Va, Air Caste, H’Av’Raj’Ikon.

In the opening salvo a Jager Rhino is wrecked and an entire Breacher Unit of Tau is killed. A Land Raider and a H’Av’Raj’Ikon Devilfish take hits but escape damage. The Devilfish, seeking to steer clear of the enemy fire, runs aground and is damaged. Tau Broadsides fire at the oncoming “Daemon Prince”, but do not stop its approach. A Jager Drop Pod deep strikes. Ultra Marines disembark and focus their attack on the “three-legged mechanicum in the shadows”.

“The artillery was pestilence.” — Fash’Va, Air Caste, H’Av’Raj’Ikon

“We could see monsters in the distant haze. In the shadows and smoke there was a towering, three-legged mechanicum wrought with daemonic flesh. Its bile weapon hit the Breacher Unit like a wave.” — Ulrik Rasmoosen, Trooper, 8th Company, Jagers

“Much of the details of that desperate fight are a blur, but something I do remember clearly occurred soon after the order to attack was given. The Rhino had gone up in flames almost immediately. The force of the blast staggered me and as I looked over I saw the Dreadnaught vaulting over the wreckage.” —  G’ar Frondheim, Trooper, 8th Company, Jagers

The “Daemon Prince” summons daemonic minions. At least two don’t survive the summoning. Heavy fire from the Ultra Marines immobilizes the daemonic mechanicum. Jager Sternguard take up a defensive position near the beleaguered Land Raider and fire upon a charging monstrosity. The monstrosity is not repelled or even slowed and it rams the Land Raider. The Land Raider remains operational, fires all of its weapons and destroys the monstrosity. A Tau Broadside is destroyed by what is reported as a “lascannon attack”. Two Tau Strike Teams are sent to outflank the enemy but fail to get into an effective position. A Jager Thunderfire Cannon held back from the attack fires volleys into the enemy position and causes casualties. A Tau Hammerhead engages and destroys what is reported as a “assault vehicle of the Imperium”. Several units that spill out of the wrecked craft are killed. Tau Infantry move up, engage the enemy, and destroy all but one of the daemons attacked.

“It was a lascannon that did the Broadside. Yes, it was confusing down there what with the very air thick with corruption and smoke, but I know a lascannon when I see one, and it was a lascannon that did the Broadside.” — Jarl Grimon, Land Raider Crew, Jagers

“I didn’t see it before it blew up, but I saw the wreckage later, and it was one of ours, all right. It had been changed– modified heavily and strung with fetishes– but it had been a Rhino for sure.” — G’ar Frondheim, Trooper, 8th Company, Jagers

“I saw the bodies and I can say with certainty that those were Astartes once. It is clear to me that the daemonic raging of this planet has corrupted some of those who once belonged to the Imperium.” — Shas’nel Velk’Han Neran, H’Av’Raj’Ikon

Shas’nel Velk’Han Neran of the H’Av’Raj’Ikon enters the fray with several supporting units. The new strike force destroys one of the enemy’s monstrous creatures. A unit of Jager Marines is crushed when cornered by a pestilent horror. Captain Thale Reichman, Jagers, Commanding Officer in charge of this operation, engages a daemonic champion in single combat and wins. Tau units take heavy damage but hold ground. “Chaos Marines” charge Tau position and are thrown back. Jagers lose a Landspeeder. Another daemonic monstrosity is felled by Tau Broadsides.

“I take no pleasure in saying this, but I faced Astartes fighting alongside the spawn of the Warp. I do not know if much of what is Man remained within the armour. I fear the number of these Chaos Marines will grow the longer this war rages.”
— Shas’nel Velk’Han Neran, H’Av’Raj’Ikon

Another “Daemon Prince” is summoned. Chaos forces swarm Tau Piranhas and Battlesuits. Captain Thale Reichman is killed. Jagers kill a Chaos daemon, but from its corpse rises a Bloodthirster. Tau Strike Teams secure a position of strength. Jager Corps Ultra Marines secure a position of strength. Warp storms increase. Chaotic energies become dangerously volatile. The order to retreat is given by Shas’nel Velk’Han Neran and the Jager Ultra Marines.

“We had carved out positions we could defend from the daemons, but the very air was becoming unpredictable. I felt we could hold and prevail over the enemy, but I did not feel we could survive the mounting threat of the Warp storms. And so I consulted with the Ultra Marines and the order to retreat was given.” — Shas’nel Velk’Han Neran, H’Av’Raj’Ikon

“I saw him– the Captain– just before he died. Out of the shadows and smoke came the enemy and it was not daemon. It was Astartes. It was one of our own. A Jager. His form was twisted and his armour a mockery of everything we stand for, but I know he had been one of us. The Captain knew it to. He did not even raise his weapon as the once Astartes ran him through.” — Ulrik Rasmoosen, Trooper, 8th Company, Jagers

****

With the order to retreat given, the Jagers and Tau fell back and regrouped on the volcanic plains just south of the canyons. Casualties were low among both groups. The losses were later deemed acceptable when compared to the casualties given to the enemy and in light of the intel gathered. The operation had proven an assault into the canyons could be successfully executed, but that the unpredictable nature and increasing power of the Warp storms occurring in the canyons meant that another assault would require a large contingent of Jager Psykers to protect the traditional fighting units.