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.