Tag Archives: Warhammer

Reinforcements

“I don’t trust them.”

Pathfinder Shas’ui R’jon shook his head as he spoke. He sat around the thermal unit that was casting long shadows around the courtyard. His Tau brethren sat with him, those not going through routine maintenance on their battlesuits.

“We offer support they can use right now,” said Shas’nel Neran. The Cadre Fireblade stared into the light of the chemical fire that warmed them. “My instincts tell me Hoeth can be trusted. Terran and Tau may have faced off in battle before, but the Astartes have honor. We require assistance off this planet. They can use the firepower and battlefield expertise we can offer.”

Shas’ui T’Hara didn’t vocalize what they were all thinking. Neran was following his instincts but none of them trusted their own. Having shaken off the previously unknown psionic control they had been under from their former leaders, the Ethereals, they were all questioning their instincts. T’Hara trusted Neran, but part of her would never trust anyone in authority ever again. A gue’la like the Space Marine Librarian Hoeth may have honor, but T’Hara would be sure to keep one eye open at all times.

“They seem fractured,” said R’jon. “The Astartes fight themselves. Nothing on this world makes sense. Chaos, Necrons, Tyranids, Terrans… and now Tau. This world is everything wrong with the universe all thrown together, some kind of demented melting pot.”

“Be that as it may,” said Neran, “We are Tau. Our skill and training will prevail and guide us through. We are under Ethereal yoke no more, but we are still the superior fighting force.”

They turned at the sound of steps as Librarian Hoeth approached. The massive Space Marine nodded his head as Neran rose to meet him.

“I trust you are comfortable,” said Hoeth. His tone did not carry the concern his words implied.

The Tau, now having adopted the collective name H’Av’Raj’Ikon, had encountered the Astartes seven days after planetfall on what they now knew was the planet Adrilles. A tense standoff had started when the two forces met, but cooler heads, namely Neran and Hoeth, prevailed. Both sides knew the other had honor and negotiations should occur. In this case, the Greater Good meant working together to survive the death world that was Adrilles and stop the plans of their opponents, whatever that entailed.

“We are,” said Neran, his armor’s translator working to convert the Tau tongue to Terran Standard. “You have our thanks, Librarian Hoeth.”

“I have something to show you,” said Hoeth, “If you are up to a small ride. We’ve found something that may be of interest.”

+++++++

The Thunderhawk came down for a landing amidst the rocky terrain. As the rear hatch cycled open, Space Marines leapt out, bolters raised to ensure the area was secure. When the all-clear signal was given, Neran and T’Hara stepped out alongside Hoeth.

“Over here,” said Hoeth as he walked over a small rise. T’Hara saw the ground was overturned as if the rise was man-made. As she approached it, she saw it was the outer edges of an impact crater.

“By Puretide’s blood,” said T’Hara.

“Indeed,” said Neran.

Below them were the remains of a Tau Manta Escape Module. It had fared well in its planetary descent from all outward appearances.

“We identified the markings on it as Tau,” said Hoeth. “Security features are active, however. One of my men has yet to regain consciousness after trying the hatch.”

Neran began to slide down the embankment. T’Hara followed. As they approached the Module, part of the exterior hatch illuminated. Neran put his hand on the newly formed screen. Biometric readings scrolled down the screen beneath his touch. An instant later, the door opened. Neran entered, followed by T’Hara. Before she entirely entered, she looked back at Hoeth. He simply stood and watched, impassive.

“T’Hara,” said Neran, “The fates favor us… but this Module did not come from our Manta.”

T’Hara looked around the bay interior. Arrayed before them was their salvation. Crisis Battlesuits. Enforcer battlesuits. A Hammerhead Gunship. Two Piranhas. Broadside Battlesuits. Dozens of Drones. Weapons and ammunition. Somehow, this Module had been able to autopilot to the surface. It was a miracle… then she saw it.

Another battlesuit, but this one was different. It was the color of rust. A sword was maglocked to its arm. It had a symbol T’Hara had never seen before emblazoned on its shield generator…and the armor itself had Tau script etched on it.

“This is impossible,” said T’Hara as her hand traced the Tau letters. “Impossible!”

“What is it?” asked Neran as he approached her. Then his eyes bulged as he read the script.

“O’Shovah,” said T’Hara. “This module… this battlesuit… they belong to Commander Farsight… but how? And where is he?”

“I do not know,” said Neran. “But if O’Shovah is anywhere on this damned world, we will find him.”


Reconnaissance

In the days immediately after the Battle of First Contact, both the Jager Corps and the Space Wolves put a lot of emphasis on reconnaissance.

Scattered squads of Space Wolves were left behind when the retreat was called by Woldermort Wolftongue at the Battle of First Contact. Many of those units dug in where possible, establishing fortifications from which they might be able to signal other units. The position that would become known as the Death Head was the largest of these, but there were many more scattered across the surface of Adrilles. Some lasted for a long period of time while others were overrun or abandoned even before the soldiers had caught their breath. For those that did hold, it soon became apparent that communicating with the Strike Cruisers in orbit or even other troops on the surface would be difficult because of the atmospheric anomalies plaguing Adrilles. As such, the Vlka Fenryka had to rely on the eyes and ears of units sent on reconnaissance missions.

Magister Militum Frans Ruldolf’s Jager Corps were in a similar situation. Many of the Jagers’ outlying installations were assaulted during the first days of the Adrilles War, and as the days wore on the Jagers’ communications were also hindered by the havoc playing out in the atmosphere of the planet.

With the Vlka Fenryka prowling and the Jagers scouting to see where its enemies were active, it is no wonder there are multiple reports of skirmishes between the two groups.

At the edges of the volcanic northern region, a Space Wolves formation established position and set up a monitoring and transmission position in the ruins of a pre-Tyranid invasion Imperium foundry. The formation was comprised of five elite Scouts, ten Grey Hunters and five Terminators. Heavy support was provided by an anti-personnel tank. The troops were not expecting confrontation. Previous scouting expeditions had revealed Jagers and Sautekh Necrons had been active in the area, but had seemingly moved elsewhere. The orders for this patrol, therefore, was to set-up monitoring, take readings, and transmit back to the main group, if possible. Enemy forces encountered were to be neutralized.

Two days after the Space Wolves settled into the foundry, a Huntsmen formation of five Scouts, ten Tactical Marines, ten veteran Vanguards and one anti-personnel vehicle picked up foreign readings in the sector and managed to triangulate to discover the position. The Jagers’ were ordered to conduct reconnaissance in the zone.

The Huntsmen Scouts infiltrated deep into the foundry and spotted a group of Grey Hunters holding position near what appeared to be a communications array. Immediately, the Space Wolf Predator protecting a choke point reversed course, driving up a set of metal stairs, letting off a burst of auto-cannon and heavy bolter fire as it did so. The stairs shrieked in protest; the metal buckled, but held. The Jager Scouts had to act quickly. They lept off the platform in an attempt to outflank the Space Wolves armour. One Scout lost his footing in the difficult terrain and fell into an acid pool, dying instantly. Another struck a girder on the way down and died of his injuries while the Scouts regrouped and planned their outflanking maneuver.

The Scouts notified their armored support that they were under fire. The Vanguard used jump-packs to gain high ground and advance up the flank. Before the armour could arrive to support the Scouts, a team of Blood-Maw Terminators teleported behind the Jagers’ Predator and a small group of Space Wolves Scouts broke cover from where they were concealed to the side of the tank. It was now clear the Space Wolves were well prepared for any threats they may encounter and had likely spotted the Jagers as they approached the foundry.

A round of suppressing fire from the Terminators hit the Huntsmen Tactical Squad. The Wolves Scouts quickly moved behind the Predator and attached a series of Krak grenades. The resulting explosion dropped one of the Scouts unexpectedly. The Huntsmen Tactical Marines were also engulfed in the blast but emerged unscathed.

The Wolves Predator tried and cut off the Huntsmen Scouts. It became bogged down in an acid pool but continued to fire it’s weapons, effectively closing off the entrance to the choke point, beyond which lay the Wolves’ communications array.

With no other option, the Jagers Scouts ran across open ground in front of the tank and into the cover of another foundry building. Meanwhile, without the support of their own Predator, the Jagers Tactical Marines fell back under fire from the Terminators. The Vanguard used their jump-packs to descend from the platform in an attempt to shore up the Huntsmen Marines for the assault that was sure to come.

But the enemy scouts came on first, following behind a swath of fire from their flamer that eliminated several Jager marines. Both forces then traded losses in close quarters.

Before the Blood-Maw pack could enter the fray, the Vanguard jumped into the assault, dealing damage to the Wolves Scouts but not eliminating them. The veterans threatened to turn the tide of the encounter, but then the Terminators waded into the confrontation, wielding power weapons and the crushing might of their armored fists.

A desperate battle raged. Armour screeched and then gave way. Blood soaked the ground and men died. The Tactical Marines broke ranks as the battle turned against them; the lone remaining Wolves Scout gave chase, blasting away with his bolter. Mad with feral blood lust, he fell back into close combat, but the odds were too great and his fury was his own undoing.

This clash of forces was so ferocious that at one point the Jager Vanguard Squad absorbed so many wounds they were forced to give ground and fall back. They regrouped quickly and plunged back into the combat, using jump-packs to smash into the Terminators. This move was a desperate attempt that ultimately failed under the weight of superior weaponry. The veteran Huntsmen were routed.

At this point, the Jagers Scouts made a break across open group in an attempt to escape the slaughter. The grounded enemy Predator blasted it’s weapons across the killing field. The Grey Hunters leaped into action, running across the foundry platforms to cut off the fleeing scouts. One Jager died under the hail of bullets and now only one remained. Across the field, the Terminators turned their focus and fired. The smoking ruin of what was the Huntsmen Predator threw off their targeting and they missed their mark. Several Grey Hunter rounds smacked off the façade of a ruined building as the lone scout dove under cover.

In their subsequent investigations, the Space Wolves could find no trace of the Huntsmen Scout and had to conclude he had escaped.


Nurgle Rising

If one is versed in the ideologies of the historian and the philosopher it is easy to understand why it is philosophers who have written the most about the Nurgle presence in the Adrilles War. The most convincing argument regarding the topic of Nurgle come from the Cult Mechanicus:

“Khorne was attracted to Adrilles because of the call of the Warp, but its horde was active throughout the war because it was easy to find souls to harvest. Of all the powers at play in that war it can be argued Khorne’s reasons were the simplest. Free the Warp and wash the planet in blood. The Lord of Decay– the oldest of the four Ruinous Powers and the one most involved in the plights of mortals– would have felt the ripple of the Adrilles War in the Warp because within the first days of the war there was not only death and destruction involving Astartes, Terrans, Necrons, Tyranids and Tau, but also the birth of new life– yes, the Jager Corps’ manipulation of psychic energy to raise Tyranid life, but also the melding of Necron technology and Tyranid biomass. Nurgle is the God of Disease, Death and Destruction, but is also the God of Rebirth. Death and destruction on Adrilles was a daily event. It need not the prodding of Gods to make it so. But Rebirth! Now that would require the influence of a God.”

The first record of Nurgle in the Adrilles War comes from a Space Wolf commander attached to a 10-man squad of Terminators. On the 10th day of the war, the Terminators, a Dreadnought, and two squads of Grey Hunters converged on Imperium ruins at the foot of a mountain in the planet’s southern hemisphere. That region had not seen as much fighting as the northern hemisphere, but Arjac Rockfist believed the Jagers would have established fortresses within the mountain ranges and thus dispatched numerous, diverse combat squads to survey the area and report back to the Strike Cruisers in orbit.

The Space Wolves combat unit had recently joined with another unit operating in the area whose armoured support had become mired in nearby foothills during one of the flash storms that plagued the area. This second combat unit was held in reserve and was under orders to advance only if resistance was met within the ruins.

It was obvious something was amiss with the ruins. A haze hung over the place– a shimmer that moved in fits and obscured what lay beyond. There was also a fetid stench the Wolves’ rebreathers could not fully cleanse. The commander signaled his troops to move in.

The writings of the Space Wolves’ commander is a martial account — movements, orders given, shots fired, casualties. It offers no insight as to what the commander suspected was in the ruins nor does he spend words speculating on how Nurgle arrived on Adrilles or even how long those daemons he encountered had been in the ruins. His cold, short, factual accounting does, however, end with a break in form. “There is a new player at work in Adrilles,” he reports, “and it is the form of Disease.”

Throughout the Ages of Imperium, Man has sought to weaken the power of unspeakable horrors by giving it name. “When something has a name– a label– it can more easily be understood by those who do not possess the knowledge– nay, the courage– to face it. That the Astartes labels the creatures of the Chaotic realms is perhaps the most dire example of the danger posed by these so-called Ruinous Powers.” — from Forbidden Texts of the 30th Millennium, compiler, L’Ash Umbrio, exact date unknown

The Space Wolves fought a bloody battle against Nurgle daemons– Nurglings, Plaguebearers, Plague Drones, Beasts of Nurgle, a Herald, and a disease ridden beast known as a Great Unclean One. When the battle began, the Space Wolves commander ordered the units held in reserve to move in. Blood Klaws and Grey Hunters rushed to support the units already engaged with the daemons.

Daemon and Space Wolves both paid the butcher’s bill that day. The Space Wolf unit commander found himself alone, facing down the Great Unclean One and the one remaining Beast of Nurgle. The dead littered the area around him, including the smoldering form of the Dreadnought and the ruins of the Plaguebearers who had cut through its armour with their Rust Swords. The brief moment of calm made him realize someone must survive the fight to ensure a report got back to Arjac Rockfist. So the commander withdrew, making his way back to the armour and support staff in the foothills. From there he filed his report. The chaotic storms in the planet’s atmosphere made it difficult to communicate with the orbiting Strike Cruisers but he hoped his report would reach someone.

There is one final thing that must be mentioned about this first clash with Nurgle during the Adrilles War. In his report, the Space Wolf commander writes: “Herald opens portal. Creatures best described as twisted and pink emerge.”

This is, most likely, the first proof of Tzeentch’s presence on Adrilles.

On that topic, the historians, philosophers and Cult Mechanicus are– for now– silent.