Mission: Hivemares – Prelude
MISSION TASKS: CONDUCT RECONNAISSANCE ON THE TARGET WORLD AND UPDATE THE CURRENT INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY WITH THE AIM OF PROVIDING NECESSARY INTELLIGENCE FOR FUTURE DEPLOYMENT OF DEATHWATCH KILL TEAM ON THE TARGET WORLD. CONTACT ANY LOYAL IMPERIAL FORCES PRESENT ON THE TARGET WORLD AND SECURE THEIR HELP FOR DEATHWATCH KILL TEAM.
PERSONNEL: ONE (1) DEATHWATCH BATTLE-BROTHER, ONE (1) INQUISITION LIAISON.
COMMUNICATIONS: DIRECT ASTROPATHIC LINK BETWEEN INQUISITION LIAISON AND INQUISITOR IN CHARGE.
BACKUP COMMUNICATIONS: NONE.
INSERTION METHOD: SINGLE UNGUIDED DEAD DROP. NO CURRENT INTELLIGENCE ON THE LANDING ZONE AVAILABLE.
EXTRACTION METHOD: NONE.
MISSION TIME: APPROXIMATELY 90 DAYS
MISSION ABORT PARAMETERS: NONE.
MISSION END PARAMATERS: THE ARRIVAL OF DEATHWATCH KILL TEAM ON TARGET WORLD.
MISSION DANGER RATING: PURPLE
* * *
The engines screamed and the pod shook violently throwing brother Ulris and Anarete against the safety harness. Even though the harness was securely bolted to the huge metal stalk in the middle of the pod floor for a few seconds it felt like it really could give up under the stress of several hundred kilos of power armored marine being thrown against it. The screaming intensified, drowning all other sound and the drop pod stabilized for a fraction of a second before it hit the planets crust with bone-jarring crash. The lights went out and the emergency bolts exploded, releasing the drop pod doors to open. Brother Ulris threw his head back and let out a howl of joy. The wolf had landed.
The drop pod doors slammed to the ground, revealing a landscape of black basalt and orange sky. The ground looked like solid bedrock of basalt and the horizon was filled with volcanic clouds of ash pouring to the sky from the ground. Somewhere between the clouds one could just make out the outline of a huge hive, obscuring the sky with its unreal looking mass. The hive must have been at least half-a-dozen kilometers away but its bulk filled most of the sky on one side and it towered so high that most of it vanished above the clouds. The air smelled of sulphur and smoke and the hot air stung brother Ulrises eyes, filling them with tears.
Looking back inside the pod Ulris saw the small, power armored form of Anarete making her way out from between the jumbled mass of equipment crates. Under the stress of drop pods tumbling around in flight and finally hitting the solid rock surface of the planet the crates had broken loose and one had nicked Ulris on the forehead, leaving a small cut. Anarete seemed unharmed except for a few scratches on her armor. As there was no sign of anyone else around Ulris shouldered his boltgun and started to sort through the crates, lifting them out of the pod while making a mental list of all the stuff they had…
Twenty stainless steel tanks with 50 liters of oxygen each, ten thermoplastic canisters of water with 100 liters each, 200 individual rations of “food-like-substance” packed in twenty small plastic boxes. Containers including, that was more than three tons of stuff. Enough to keep the two of them alive for 100 days even if they were completely dependent on power armor life-support systems. Then there were the weapons: Both of them had a boltgun with 180 bolts and bolt pistol with another 24 bolts, the drop pod housed a Stormbolter with two boxes of 60 bolts in it. And then there were the crates of ammunition, twelve in total, each weighing closer to hundred kilos and inside each crate was 600 securely packed bolts. A total combat load of 7728 bolts. In top of all the oxygen, food, water, weapons and ammunition came the aegis shield elements, the ferrocrete elements, the thermoplastic shelters, long range voxcaster with hundred kilos of extra batteries and lots of other, smaller stuff.
Enough for the mission, Ulris thought. Then it sunk into his mind… It had to be enough, there was no extraction planned and their nearest point of contact was in another star system. In this mess they were truly alone. Well, at least for the time before the rest of the Kill Team would make planetfall. Ulris had no doubt they were coming. Sooner or later.
* * *
Intelligence Summary: CASTOBEL
Deathwatch / Astartes Only
World Type: Hive
Terrain: The terrain consists of desert and volcanic plains broken by large canyons and mountain ranges of volcanic origin.
Weather: Hostile. The whole planet is constantly battered by violent windstorms which bring torrential rains of volcanic ash. Radioactive fallout brought by the rains is a recent, but reoccurring phenomena after one of the hives destroyed itself in nuclear pyre caused by purposefully inflicted meltdown of its central reactor system.
Enemy Activity: The world is under constant siege of Hive Fleet Dagon. The Hive Fleet has managed to achieve an almost complete orbital control of the planet, but has continued to have trouble in getting a solid foothold on the planetary surface. While the Tyranid organisms have managed to overrun two of planets six hives the hives fleets victories have so far resulted in net loss of biomass for the Tyranids. This is partly because the second hive to fall committed a mass suicide in a nuclear pyre which denied the Tyranids of their flesh. However, the harsh nature of the planetary terrain and weather systems along with complete lack of indigenous life is also working against the Tyranids.
Currently the hive fleet is conducting its operations by relying on the hive fleets own biomass and energy, organizing massive scale orbital landings in order to capture the remaining hives and access the biomass they contain.
Imperial Activity: The planetary government have managed to keep the population of the rest of the hives under control, but maintaining civil order along with repelling constant planetfalls by Tyranid organisms are draining resources quickly. Current analysis suggests that the PDF has less than 20% of its orbital defence capability and less than 50% of its ground-fighting capability left. While the losses on PDFs trained manpower have been sustainable so far the shortage on weapons and ammunition is slowly becoming critical.
The Achileus Crusade has lost all contact with the world. Before the world came under attack the Tyranid attack a few ships of the Imperial Navy managed to get through the hive fleet, but after repair and rearming they were unable to flee the Castobel port. 3rd company of Angels Vermillion along with parts of 132nd Scout Maniple of Legio Titanicus was dispatched to search for the lost ships and managed to make a planetfall, but they are also now stuck on Castobel with no way out. They have been involved in heavy figthing ever since and are now reduced to two Warhound-class Titans and approximately 40 battle-brothers of Angels Vermillion. The detachment is running dangerously low on ammunition and repair-parts.
* * *
Anarete sat on the the edge of a huge basalt crevasse and watched the fire whirl dancing several kilometers away. For now it was harmless to their little camp, but she could still remember how the last one wiped out the drop pod, destroyed much of their shelters and scatter most of their equipment around several square kilometers area. The flaming tornado created by the combination of high winds and heat which ignited the dust-like ash had actually been strong enough to push the ferrocrete aside and throw aegis shield elements around like paper kites. Luckily their shelter and their power armor had protected them from the worst. The only real damage was some singed hair. Anarete had to crop her hair shorter than before after losing an inch or so of her hair to hungry flames. Ulris had escaped with just lost eyebrows, but perhaps the hit his ego had taken after was more severe than that.
Several hundred meters away, at the bottom of the crevasse, Ulris was concentrated in something totally different. The tracks in the ash looked familiar. Termagaunts. After meeting the Angels Vermillion astartes a few days back and agreeing to patrol the valley together with them Ulris and Anarete had ran into these small Tyranid creatures almost daily. Ulris pointed at the tracks and opened his fist twice, spreading his fingers to signal the red-armored angels following that there was at least ten or more Termagaunts nearby. His own radio cracked once. It was a signal that Anarete who was above them, keeping watch at the fire tornadoes had seen the signal. Quickly glancing back Ulris saw the form of brother Galenor, an Angel Vermillion devastator, nod as the red-clad giant started to charge his plasma cannon. The Angels were an odly serious, even sour bunch and while Ulris found little in common with their rituals and litanies he had to agree that they were very experienced in hunting the tyranid bioforms.
The force of the astropathic transmission hit her like an electric jolt, forcing Anarete to her power armored fingers into the basalt rock when her whole body tensed up. It was a very strong sending. Strong and precise enough to cut through the veil of silence that enveloped the Castobel system and the symbols invaded her mind, coming a quick bursts. Anarete was trained to push her feelings aside, block out most of the sending and concentrate purely on memorizing the symbols one by one. Many times it was actually necessary to protect her own mind from all the emotional package that came through together with the actual message, but in this case there was no need. The intimacy of the sending was unmistakable. There was no need to protect against this mind and she knew that her link with the sender was so strong, so primal, that the symbols would be burned into her memory without her even thinking about it. Instead, she just emptied her mind, threw her head back, closed her eyes and enjoyed the warm, almost orgastic rush of the renewed connection. For a brief, fleeting moment it almost felt like she could touch Iris... and then it was over. Sadness filled her mind. Anarete could remember how at times the loss of such an intimate connection almost brought tears her eyes, but now there was no time for it. Forcing herself on her feet and starting to talk to the radio Anarete noticed how her whole body felt prickly in the aftermath of the shock the sending had sent through her.
Unaware of what had happened a few hundred meters away Ulris only noted that Anaretes speech sounded like she was a bit short of breath. He didn't have much time to think about it, as the news stole away his attention. ”Hey howler, her highness just sent that they are on their way. As we speak the ship is exiting warp in our system and she'll send the kill team by drop pod into Landing Zone Alpha Three-Three-Fower as soon as pilots can plot the route. She estimates the team will land in few days.”
”Hell, its about time!” Ulris replied grinning inside his helmet.
* * *