Battle of the Whisperhead Mountains
The Battle of the Whisperhead Mountains was the last battle during the compliance of Sixty-Three Nineteen (63-19). Taking place at the end of the Great Crusade, it is chiefly worthy of notice due to the accidental release of a malignant Chaotic force by Adeptus Astartes before they were familiar with such enemies.
The 63rd Expeditionary Fleet had begun pacification of the world known as 63-19 some months previously, with the initial strike carried out by Astartes of the Luna Wolves Space Marine Legion. The Imperial Army regiment attached to the expedition, the Byzant Janizars, carried out subsequent military actions, successfully quelling resistance in all locations except one: the Whisperhead Mountains. The rebels, sallying forth from the mountain range, had initially managed to stir up the local inhabitants, causing violent unrest in the nearby town of Kasheri. The Imperial Army had managed to throw them back into their mountain fastness and put down the rebellion, but found themselves unable to successfully root out the rebels, spending six weeks fruitlessly throwing themselves against their positions.
The Janizars therefore respectfully asked the aid of the Astartes in dealing with the holdouts, and were gratified to receive the assistance of Captain Garviel Loken and his entire Company to the theatre.
10th Company deployed in one dozen Stormbird assault craft, landing on a great plateau near to the rebels' location. The rebels were holed up in a fortified mountain peak reachable only through narrow causeways and bridges well-covered by gunnery positions. These bridges had proved impossible to cross due to the severity of the rebel's fire. Loken ordered his Terminator squad, led by Sergeant Rassek, to brave the enemy fire and neutralise their gun-nests. This achieved, 1st and 3rd squads followed up on the advance of the Terminators immediately, with the rest of 10th company methodically making their way in and fanning out to cleanse the mountain-complex. Operating at close-quarters, the Astartes took advantage of their superior arms and armour to brutally and systematically put down the rebellion, eliminating all resistance in a space of 68 minutes and with no loss. The losses of the rebels were estimated at 972, minimum.
During the Whisperhead campaign, vox-communication proved unreliable, regularly being washed out by a mysterious, repeated transmission apparently made by a man called "Samus," who issued a general - and somewhat spooky - threat. Gossip spread through the Byzant Janizars that Samus haunted the Whisperheads, but when talk of this reached the ears of Astartes and other Imperial representatives, they scotched such superstitious nonsense. The Samus transmission was derided as an attempt to unnerve the besieging Imperials.
During the cleansing of the complex, several squads of Astartes reported discovering crude meltwater shrines, over thirty in all, each a pool cut into the rocky floor underneath a trickling or dripping of melting ice. Each pool contained a seemingly random assortment of bottles, coins, lizard skulls, and the like. Loken ordered them all destroyed, judging them objects of worship for the rebels. It was conjectured later that these fanes were part of a system relating to "Samus," a monster, according to local legend, whom an ancient king had defeated and imprisoned in the mountains. Whether the rebels were worshiping Samus or guarding his prison is unknown. What is clear is that, shortly after the destruction of the fanes commenced, Loken received a communication from Sergeant Xavyer Jubal of his 1st squad telling him that "Samus is here."
Leading his 7th squad to the location of Jubal and the 1st, Loken discovered his sergeant all alone beside a stone well set inside a cavern cleft with a great drop to one side. Jubal appeared ill and would not respond to Loken's commands. Loken ordered him restrained and Jubal responded by raising his weapon and opening fire. In the ensuing melee, Jubal managed to kill seven members of the 7th Squad, including Sergeant Udon, before Loken killed him with his combat blade. Unable to understand what had transpired, Loken summoned his second-in-command, Sergeant Nero Vipus, and embedded iterator Kyril Sindermann to his location. Their conference about Jubal's unbelievable behaviour was interrupted when the dead Astartes's body rose, mutating and transforming into a dog-faced beast. This monstrous creature was able to murder several nearby remembrancers before Loken and Vipus put it down with over ninety bolt-rounds and incinerated the remains with a flamer.
No sign of the rest of the 1st squad was found.
The Whisperhead action was treated as a great success. The Samus incident was suppressed, never making its way into official Imperial records. The experience had psychologically troubled many of those present, especially Loken, Sindermann, and Euphrati Keeler, an imagist who barely escaped from the Samus/Jubal-beast with her life. Warmaster Horus personally debriefed Loken, revealing to him restricted knowledge that the Warp was thought to possess inhabitants able to manifest in realspace and that it was likely Samus was one of these. Horus's explanation of this demonstrated a "scientific" approach to this knowledge, comparing the warp-inhabitants to aliens and leaving out any serious reference to supernatural powers. Whether this was what Horus believed, merely what he had been taught, or was a story designed to placate his subordinate is unknown.[Needs Citation]
This may have been the first incident of an Astartes killing another. Loken could not comprehend such an previous occurrence and still had trouble believing it despite seeing it with his own eyes. Due to the suppression of this incident, it is possible that there were others that are currently unknown. Similarly, it is also unknown if this was the first incident of a daemon possessing a Space Marine.[Needs Citation]
- Garviel Loken discovered a lodge medal while personally disposing of Jubal's effects. He would subsequently attend a meeting of the Luna Wolves' warrior-lodge.[Needs Citation]
- Euphrati Keeler began a descent into deep depression, initiating the path that would eventually lead her towards religious prominence.[Needs Citation]
- Kyril Sindermann began an almost obsessive search of Imperial records for information related to similar occurrences to the Samus incident.[Needs Citation]