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Campaign Log: The Maneater

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The Dead Ground – Execution (Part #1)

 

* * *

 

The Thunderhawk leaves the main hangar of the Maneater, the roar of its after-burners vanishing into the airless void outside. The rear monitor shows the blastdoors closing. Somewhere from the deepest recesses of the mind comes a vision of a coffin lid closing on you. Even though you are shot outside into the uncaring void it feels like you are being buried alive in a metal casket. The air inside the Thunderhawk suddenly feels damp and stale. The monitors of your power armor show everything is as it should be, but it just feels wrong. The front monitors show the rocky surface of the planetoid rushing towards as the Thunderhawk drops into the gravity well. Even the plain rock surface seems somehow strange. Instead of being just lifeless rock it has the look of an unknown enemy beast, charging towards you with its maws open. It does not feel lifeless in the normal sense of the word. Instead of being just lifeless, it feels dead. Devoid of the very possibility of life. This truly is Dead Ground.

 

* * *

 

As the Thunderhawk carrying kill team Maneater enters the lower orbit the battle-brothers all come acutely aware of the unnatural feeling surrounding the Object 11879. They were warned of it earlier by brother Falcon who had tried his psychometry on one of the rock samples brought back by the Inquisitor scouts but here the powerfull feeling of being cut off from everything and everyone else is so strong that even the those battle brothers who are not psykers are bothered by it. The Thunderhawk swoops down and starts to make its way towards the pre-designated drop point, flying as low as the rocky terrain allows. Suddenly the battle-brothers all enter a silent darkness as their auto-senses cut out all outside light and noise and they feel a bone-jarring impact in their bodies...

 

As the kill team comes back to their senses they are in a crashed Thunderhawk, still in their seats and all the warning lights of their Thunderhawk are flashing and their power armor is rebooting its functions. The kill team quickly exits the vehicle and secure the area, but they are in middle of rocky, dusty, airless desert with no enemy to meet them. A quick inventory shows that the ignition power source of brother Victors jump pack has died, there is something seriously wrong with brother Ezekiels lascannon and the Thunderhawks drives are damaged and control-surface still rebooting from some sort of EMP, requiring the pilots at least 16 hours of repairs before they can get the Thunderhawk up in the air again. The kill team decides to make for the nearest high ground and observe the surroundings. They have landed just outside a huge, several kilometers deep crater that is at least 200 kilometers across and their target area is actually in middle of the said crater, meaning that they need to descent down the steep side into the dust sea below and make a 100 kilometer journey on foot to reach the target. Just as they have sent brother Marius with his working jump pack down into the crater they notice a pair of lights, probably afterburners of Tau fighters, lifting up from the middle of the crater and heading their direction.

 

The kill team buttons up the Thunderhawk, powering it down and everyone outside gets under their camo cloaks as the fighters get closer. The Tau fighters, closer identified obviously as Barracudas, make a sweep around the area but as they don't attack the kill team assume their presence on the Object has, so far, gone unnoticed. The kill teams instructs the Thunderhawk pilots to continue the repairs while they themselves make down into the crater and start their journey towards the target. It takes them 18 hours forced march across the difficult dust-caked plains to reach the higher ground and the huge Necrontyr structures there. After some searching the kill team manages to locate a small five-man Inquisitorial Stormtrooper scout team that has been keeping eye on the Tau. It turns out that about 20 hours earlier the target of the kill team, the ”Upsilon”, entered one of the Necrontyr pyramids with an escort of four firewarriors and three XV8 Crisis battle-suits. The kill team is shown a record of the event and they notice that ”Upsilon” is a tall, gaunt character dressed in covering robes, dragging cables and two large canister units of some kind behind him. ”Upsilon” is constantly being under guard by four Firewarriors who seem to be ready to shoot him. More importantly the recording show that about an hour after the ”Upsilon” entered the pyramid with his retinue the pyramid started to glow eerie light and finally unleashed some kind of massive electromagnetic pulse that knocked out the recording servitors and caused uproar in the Tau encampment. It also seems that this might be the reason why the kill teams Thunderhawk crashed.

 

As their lascannon was destroyed in the landing and the time is short the kill team decide to alter their original plan. Brothers Falcon and Regis will go to the Tau fighter base and using Regis' armoursbane missile launcher and Falcons stalker boltgun will try to destroy the fighters on ground and/or kill the pilots before they can scramble. Two of the Inquisitorial Stormtroopers will follow along and support the two marines with laser sniper rifles. The rest of the team will sneak near to the Tau encampment and attack the buildings as soon as the firing starts in the fighter base. Another pair of Stormtroopers will follow them and support them with laser sniper rifles. After destroying or neutralizing the Tau main force outside the pyramid the kill team intends to enter the pyramid and capture the ”Upsilon” there and get out before Tau reinforcements arrive.

 

Brothers Falcon and Regis sneak about 200 meters away from the fighters. Two fighters seem to have pilots already inside while the others are on stand-by. There is also four Devilfish transports but there is no outside sign on if they have crews inside or not. Regis starts the battle by firing his missile launcher at one of the Devilfish, hitting it squarely. As the firing starts the two fighters start to roll up to the end of the runway and two of the Devilfish transports activate, steering their burstcannons towards Regis and Falcon. Regis manages to blow up a second Devilfish quite fast but at this point the battle brothers come under fire from fighters Ion Cannons and second Devilfishes Burst Cannon. Dodging the fire and taking cover they fire again, this time knocking out one fighters Ion Cannon with Falcons bolter. The fighters are, however, not stopped and while still nowhere near the runway and getting into air they open fire with Missile Pods, wounding Falcon. Falcon manages to destroy the fighter with well-placed bolter-shot and Regis manages to knock down the second Devilfish, but the second fighter hits Falcon with Missile Pods again, knocking him into unconsciousness for a few minutes. Regis finally hits the second fighter knocking it into burning wreck. Looking around Regis notes that the Stormtrooper snipers have managed to kill all eight air caste pilots who were trying to cross the runway and man the remaining four fighters so the situation is quite calm for a while. Regis revives Falcon and together Regis and critically wounded Falcon destroy the rest of the fighters and Devilfish with missiles and hand grenades. At the battle of the fighter base the kill team has one critically wounded casualty, but all six Tau fighters and four Devilfish have been destroyed into the ground and the Tau have lost their air superiority.

 

At the same time as the first missile is launched towards the fighters on runway the rest of the kill team explode into action. Brother Ezekiel is left behind to cover the area with bolter while the rest of the team splits up into three pairs and head towards the buildings. The assault is quick, ruthless and decisive. Each pair throws a frag grenade or two into the house and one member of the team assaults right into the exploding grenade, forcing the enemy into melee before they can recover from the explosions. Once each house is cleared the pair will continue to next and next after that only stopping when they have finally run out of targets to kill. The team trusts on their power armor to protect them from their own grenades and for the most part it works, allowing the kill team to make quick work of the Tau Firewarriors and human defectors inside the buildings using powerswords, bolt pistols, chainswords and hand flamers. However, brother Marius still gets light wounds as he charges into one of the buildings and a frag grenade goes off under him. That, however, is the only wound the kill team receives as they brutally sweep through all the eleven buildings of the encampment killing everything they find.

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The Dead Ground – Execution (Part #2)


The Kill Team gathers just outside the pyramid entrance and takes a count of casualties. Brother Falcon is hit pretty badly and brother Siracum has a few burns from Tau plasmaguns, but otherwise the team is still fit to fight. They are running pretty short on frag grenades and all missiles from the missile launcher are used. Also brother Marius is down to only a few bolt pistol clips. On the brighter note, they have cleared the whole Tau base outside and can now land the Thunderhawk intended for extraction anywhere outside the pyramid without danger to it. The remaining Tau are now inside the pyramid along with Kill Teams target and the remaining force is estimated to be at least three XV8 battle-suits and possibly four or more XV15 battle-suits.

As the Kill Team enters the pyramid brother Victor warns everyone of his earlier encounters in Necrontyr ruins while serving with his own chapter. According to his chapters experiences in the Necrontyr ruins of Ghoul Stars the time and space bend strangely inside these structures and it is easy to get lost. Sometimes you might even get lost forever... The Kill Team finds the inside of the pyramid a maze with dozens of entrances to choose from. Brother Falcon uses his psychic powers to help them navigate inside. He has noticed that while the stone of the strcutures itself feels dead and emotionless it also means that non of the structures have any residual emotional aura left from Necrontyr, thus he can use his psychometry to find tunnels that have at least some emotional residue, meaning they have been recently used by Tau. Very soon after this the Kill Team runs into a prepared ambush set up by three XV15 stealth suits. Luckily brother Ulrik notices the very subtle shifts of light from one of the stealths suits optical camouflage and starts to assault towards the suit as the stealths suits open fire with burstcannons. The Kill Team is hit several times, but manage to rush and overpower the stealth suits in close combat before suffering more than light wounds from burstcannon blasts.

Continuing ahead the Kill Team quickly find being lost inside the winding corridors. Finding a door that has been somehow concealed from plain view they enter a bottom of a deep well inside a circular room. Two Tau stealth suits have taken positions in the room, raining blastcannon fire on the Kill Team below. Yet, once again, brothers Ulrik and Marius are on the point and manage to rush and overpower the Tau before sustaining more than superficial hits. At this point it dawns to the Kill Team that they have gotten seriously lost. The circular room has no exits but when they go back from the entrance they came in from they do not enter the expected corridor but the bottom of another well in another circular room that looks suspiciously similar to the one before. As brothers Ulrik and Marius enter the room first they witness a strange scene: Their target, ”Upsilon”, is floating in air, handling a strange looking xenos disc and being intensely watched by four Fire Warriors who are aiming at it with their weapons. ”Upsilon” is without robes now and the battle-brothers see a tall member of the Tau air-caste who looks like his whole body has been cut in pieces and reassembled with pieces of black stone here and there where his own flesh should be. There are also two tubes running into its back from what look like huge energy cells. Unfortunately, the battle-brothers also spot three XV8 battle-suits with plasma rifles in the room so they have very little time to act. As brother Ulrik shouts out a warning to others coming behind, brother Marius rushes the closest battle-suit with his jump pack.

The rest of the Kill Team rush inside, firing and in the confusion of the first seconds after the contact the Tau Fire Warriors shoot and kill ”Upsilon”. However, dying ”Upsilon” manages to cause the xeno artefact he was handling go off somehow and the room is filled with a flash of bright light. Coming around after the flash the Kill Team find themselves inside a cubic room 100 meters across. They have phased in space somewhere else along with the disc-shaped xeno artefact and two of the battle suits. However, brother Regis, the third battle-suit and the remains of ”Upsilon” and the Tau Fire Warriors have vanished, perhaps left behind or perhaps phased somewhere or somwhen else. Undisturbed by the sudden change of scenery the Kill Team rushes the remaining two battle-suits, mauling and slicing them with boltguns, bolt pistols and power swords. As the quick but brutal combat is over the Kill Team asses their situation. They are trapped somewhere inside the Necrontyr structures and have lost one member from unknown causes. Target is dead, but they have captured the xeno artefact the target was using. While the others start to look around their prison for way out and brother Falcon starts to investigate the xeno artefact. However as brother Falcon starts to reach towards the artefact with his psychic powers something goes wrong and the room is, again, filed with bright flash of light.

As the Kill Team comes around they notice that they have been teleported outside the Pyramid and, according to their Thunderhawk still howering above, eight hours have passed since they entered the Pyramid. Brother Regis is still nowhere to be seen and now also brother Falcon has vanished along with the artefact. Routing their signal through the Thunderhawk the Kill Team call Inquisitorial ship Maneater and ask for status report on the Tau. When Kill Team was inside the Pyramid the Tau ships had launched fighters to fly over the base, but so far the Tau have made no move to come to the surface to investigate their destroyed base.so the Kill Team decides to wait for a day untill they call for extraction.

Twelve hours later brother Falcon appears outside the pyramid and, when the Kill Team runs to meet him, he appears ghostly, almost translucent. Brother Ulrik reacts to the sight of ghostly battle-brother by raising his weapon, but brother Falcon calms him and, manipulating the strange xeno artefact still in his hand, suddenly reverts back to solid and more normal form. Brother Falcon reports that while studying the artefact he mistakenly transported himself in time, space and something he calls ”phase”. He had been in some danger, but managed to learn to control the artefact enough to get out of the Pyramid. He has no idea where Regis vanished during the battle twenty hours ago, but as it was also result of something going wrong with the artefact he is afraid that Regis is lost in time and/or space. Content that they can't wait any longer or risk any more losses by investigating the artefact the Kill Team abandon further search for Regis and call for the extraction back home.

Imperial casualities: One Deathwatch battle brother missing in action, One critically wounded Deathwatch battle brother, three lightly wounded Deathwatch battle brothers, one damaged Thunderhawk.
Xeno casualties: ~40 imperial guard defectors killed, ~30 Tau firewarrriors killed, 8 air caste pilots killed, 5 XV15 tau battle-suits destroyed, 2 tau XV8 battle-suits destroyed, 4 Barracuda-class fighters destroyed, 2 Manta-class fighters destroyed, 4 Devilfish transports destroyed.


 

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Poison Gardens – Preparations


As the Kill Team Maneater returns to Watch Fortress Erioch they notice that the whole fortress seems to be preparing for war. Several Kill Teams and individual Kill Marines are being redeployed and the techmarines of the fortress are in process of awakening a Deathwatch dreadnought. Returning to their own quarters they find them untouched with the two latest calls for assistance files still on their desk. The calls are from Castobel and Baraban with missions to either investigate possibly Tyranid related food poisonings in Castobel primary hive or to help the Imperial Guard in Baraban to stop the collapse of the Imperial defence there. Seeing as they have been away from the fortress for at least a month they realize that the intelligence on both calls must be highly outdated and decide to consult their watch captain on the state of war. Watch Captain Mordu tells them that the situation is critical on both fronts: Castobel hive is in a risk of falling, leaving the world to Tyranid hands and thus opening the Hive Fleet Dagon a new avenue of approach. The Deathwatch has reacted to this threat by sending a single Kill Marine to Castobel to gather up-to-date intelligence and by sending another Kill Marine to Hethgard to pressure the Imperial Navy to deploy ships to stop the Hive Fleet. On Baraban front the world is deemed almost certainly lost at this point and the Deathwatch reconnaissance has detected Tau ship movements towards Galactic North warp currents. If allowed to gather in force at Baraban orbit and head towards the Galactic North the Tau fleet will almost certainly next hit the Watch Station Oerth and possibly threaten the Watch Fortress Erioch itself.


The Kill Team discusses the merits of each operation and finally decide that the Castobel front is more critical. By their reasoning if Castobel falls it will threaten the lives of billions of Imperial citizens on several worlds while if the Baraban falls the Tau will be stuck fighting against fortified Deathwatch stations. They inform watch captain Mordu of their decision and start to plan. At this point the team is introduced to their new replacement: Battle Brother Sigmund of Crimson Fists is joining the Kill Team to replace the battle brother Regis who was lost in action in their last mission. After instructing the new battle brother about the next mission and the general situation in the Jericho Reach the Kill Team decides to go to the practice range. In shooting competition the new-comer scores as third after Ezekiel and Cassius and in practice-cage he seems to be an average duelist with swords. His strong grip does, however, impress brother Ulrik. After practice sessions the Kill Team holds a small ceremony in remembrance of their lost brother and then decide to gather intelligence considering Castobel. Brother-lexicanum Falcon receives an Aquila Token with Inquisitorial symbol and the monogram of Inquisitor Carmillus for figuring out the function and use of the xeno artifact captured in the last mission (see Dead Grounds).


The first thing they do is have brother-lexicanum Falcon conduct an Augury on the subject. The Emperors Tarot reveals mixed signs pointing at human element of some sort being the greatest danger to Castobel and the Kill Team. Only after the reading is almost done does the new-comer Sigmund note that the Tarot cards have been intuitively placed in the shape of a common tactical symbol used for Tyranids with a skull in the center. Perplexed brother-lexicanum Falcon decides to take a new reading and now they are shown a vision of shambling hordes of humans with a huge, shadowy form at the background. While brother Eukarios is picking up some papers in the Library he accidentally comes across an old, misfiled report of an Lost Age of Technology relic being hidden on Castobel. He informs others and together with brother-lexicanum Falcon and sanguinary acolyte Siracum they start to investigate further. Meanwhile brother Ulrik goes to meet with Kill Marine Kraai of Raven Guard who is just leaving to Castobel and Kill Team Thunderstorm which is just returning from that front. He gathers some recent intelligence from the returning Kill Team and gives the Kill Marine leaving before the Kill Team Maneater their wishes on what he should gather intelligence on.


Meanwhile the three astartes doing research in the library have uncovered several reports which point to a mythic device called Caduceus Reactor being situated underground somewhere on Castobel. This mythic device is supposedly a Lost Age of Technology relic, a hive-city sized construct made for mass-producing biological entities by means of cloning. Siracum is horrified by the prospect of cloning technology and insists that if necessary the Caduceus Reactor should probably be destroyed. Brother Eukarios, on the other hand, wants to uncover it and let the Adeptus Mechanicus and Inquisition decide what should be done with it. At this point, however, both agree that the real mission is in trying to save the last hive on Castobel from falling and the possible Caduceus Reactor is just a sideline. After being notified that their ship is ready to leave the Kill Team arms itself and prepares to deploy. Brother Ezekiel takes a heavy bolter and Cassius takes a missile launcher with lots of frag, krak and incendiary missiles. Brother-lexicanum Falcon takes a stalker patter boltgun with auxiliary grenade launcher and lots of frag grenades. Siracum takes a bolt pistol, hand flamer and chainsword. Eukarios takes a meltagun and a bolter. Viktor takes two power swords and Marius takes three bolt pistols. Others feel content with simply loading up on frag grenades and ammunition. Last they take their oaths and depart the watch fortress.
 

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Poison Gardens – Execution


* * *
 

Click.


The sound of the boltgun action is cut out by the auto-senses, registering not as a sound but a momentary absence of the background sounds. A head vanishes in explosion of pink mist. The Astartes shifts the crosshair to another target.


Click.


Yet gain, a moment of silence. Instinctively he knows that there is still three bolts left in the magazine and one in the chamber. He also has one full magazine left. After that he is down to his bolt pistol, which is neither silenced, nor has enough range to reach down the mountain. A new head appears in the crosshairs.


Click.


Another pink mist. The Astartes knows that his fire will make little difference if the battle does not shift. He is now picking off the undead one bolt at a time, taking his time to watch the battle below, taking his time to assess the moment… Now in his crosshairs he sees one of them over a fallen Angel, its hand around his helmet, trying to pull it off his head. The Angel is dazed, momentarily blind.


Click.


The head vanishes, the arms left go. The Angel rises up again, chainsword ready. Another life saved by single shot, but how long? He spots another Angel to the right, slipping on the blood, going down amongst the undead.


Click-Click.


The Astartes is reloading as he watches through the scope while the Angel regains his balance, rising up and pushing the two headless corpses off him. Last magazine is in. After this one is gone the only thing he can do is sit and wait and watch the Angels die one by one under the overwhelming horde… or join the battle with them and die, taking his valuable intelligence with him to the grave. He hopes he won't have to make the choice.


* * *


As the Kill Teams Thunderhawk starts to enter the Castobel orbit they detect a Deathwatch coded locator beacon on the surface. They decide to follow the locator beacon, landing just a few hundred meters from it on a top of table-mountain and find Kill Marine Kraai there. At the foot of the mountain a huge battle is raging, what seems like a thousand-head horde of humans is attacking an Angels Vermillion encampment defended by a single Warhound titan. A second titan is close by, burning heavily. Kill Marine Kraai is, armed with his stalker patter boltgun, taking shots at the attacking humans but is running out of ammunition as the humans just keep coming regardless of losses. Looking closer at the battle with brother-lexicanum Falcons stalker pattern boltguns sights it looks like the massive attacking horde is composed of undead-like zombies who shamble and run towards the Angels Vermillion only to be cut down in their relentless boltgun fire. Brother Sigmund throws Kraai two boltgun clips and the whole team starts to descent the mountain. On their way down brother Kraai tells them that it turned out that the Castobel hives have been using the Caduceus Reactor for hundreds and hundreds of years to produce their food by cloning as the world itself is unable to sustain biological life. Recently however the primary hive became suddenly under attack by zombies and now most of the hive is in constant battle with full-scale zombie apocalypse. Kraai hasn’t had chance to infiltrate the Caduceus Reactor itself to see if the zombies are casued by something brewing there. He was about to try it by using an entrance at the foot of the mountain but arriving here he found the Angels Vermillion locked into battle with the zombies streaming from below.


The Kill Team make a quick plan: They will contact the Angels Vermillion and ask the titan to shift its weapons away from the foot of the mountain for long enough time for the Kill Team to fight their way in and seal the tunnel by using demolition charges. At first the fighting goes well and the zombies pose little trouble but after about a minute of continuous shooting and hacking the team find out that the blood of the zombies is corrosive and is starting to eat through their armour, hurting them. Also the zombie hordes tide has shifted and they are streaming towards the Kill Team now in huge crescent shape, trying to surround the team. Brother Sigmund makes a quick decision and throws his demolition charge to Viktor, instructing him to fly it inside over the zombies heads by using his jump pack. Viktor manages to deploy and detonate the charge a moment later, collapsing the tunnel. At this point team leader, brother Eukarios, orders the Kill Team to retreat from the zombie wave and let the titans weaponry to deal with them. However, both sanguinary acolyte Siracum and battle-brother Sigmund refuse and dig their heels in, taking on the horde. Assisted by the titans firepower the Kill Team manages to survive for another few minutes until the zombies suddenly stop and turn around, shambling towards the now blocked cave entrance. The Kill Team is surprised to see this but there is more strangeness to come as moments later all the remaining zombies suddenly collapse with their heads somehow severing themselves from the bodies and rolling off. As the Kill Team closes in to investigate the suddenly harmless bodies small cockroach-like creatures start to swarm from the recently decapitated heads. These creatures are harmless to power armoured marines, so they just take samples of them for later investigation.


The Kill Team contacts the Angels Vermillion and ask about the attack, finding out that the Warhound titans were sent to scout the opening in the mountain and were parked for the night when the zombies attacked by surprise, overwhelming the second titan. Now the number of Angels Vermillion has dropped to 17 marines of which five are in hibernation due to critical injuries and most others are wounded. Siracum can deal with the simple wounds but the geneseeds for the 18 fallen brothers need to be rescued and the Kill Team decide to arrange the evacuation of the Angels Vermillion geneseed when their Thunderhawk comes to pick them up. Leaving the Angels Vermillion to continue their struggle the Kill Team march to the hive, evading hormagaunt patrols on the way. When they finally reach the hive they find out that it has been divided into two by the fighting. Most of the lower levels are empty with only signs of fighting and piles and piles of decapitated zombie bodies left behind while the higher levels have fortified themselves and in many cases blown up huge parts of the hive infrastructure in attempt to physically contain the zombies on the other side of chasms created by explosives. Taking more samples on the way the Kill Team investigate the matter and come to preliminary conclusion that something is laying eggs inside the humans. The eggs hatch into small cockroach like creatures that burrow into the victims brains and release acid into the blood stream. As the acid starts to break up the victims bodies the creatures also control the victims, using their acid-blooded bodies as weapons. In some circumstances, perhaps if using the zombie proxies doesn’t seem to work, the hive-mind commands all the zombies to destroy themselves. When this command is given a small surge of acid will decapitate the head, collapsing the zombies and letting the small critter either stay inside the protective skull or, if necessary, leave it to find another host.


After some searching the Kill Team find an underground railroad leading away from the hive with a fully functional but hard-to-operate automated train still running. Boarding the train they make their way to a huge cave several kilometers across where some sort of industrial hemp is cultivated. As they investigate the fields they come across a huge horde of ripper swarms, looking a lot like bigger versions of the skull-infesting cockroaches, and have to fight their way back to the train. They continue and find the railroad terminating in a huge underground field of corn. While they start to walk on they come under attack by several waves of ripper swarms and must retreat to the entrance where they can defend against the swarms coming through a single tunnel instead of surrounding them and coming from all sides. The Kill Team take a stand there and have to fight through three successive waves of thousands of organisms each with last wave having some venomthropes guiding the rippers. At this point almost everyone in the team is wounded, some more than others. Most of the fragmentation grenades have been used and brother Ezekiels heavy bolter is down to just few bursts so he loans a boltgun to continue fighting while conserving his last heavy bolter rounds for bigger creatures.


Once the third wave is down the Kill Team get to break to gather their breaths and reload. They quickly decide to make their way deeper into the complex and following a series of railroads and elevator shafts find out that they are inside some sort of automated machine which is keeping the fields and huge rooms filled with cloning-tanks going. In a room with cloning tanks in it, they are attacked by two waves of extremely poisonous venomthropes again and notice that this particular genus of venomthropes is spreading some sort of small seed-spores. At this point some of them are already critically wounded from the venomthopes poisons. The Kill Team tries to contact the machine spirit several times, but to no avail. It does not seem to have any servitors, cameras, microphones or access panels. Only after they start to search through the radio frequencies they realize that the machine is communicating internally through a radio. After calling the Caduceus Reactor on its internal radio frequency the Kill Team is approached by three tall figures in white robes that arrive by teleportation. It turns out that these “ambassadors” are some sort of Lost Age of Technology bioengineered servitors that the Caduceus Reactor uses to communicate with humans. Speaking to these creatures the Kill Team find out that an unknown organism of some sort has infected many of the Reactors systems. Assuming this to be the root-cause of the zombies and ripper swarms the Kill Team asks to be shown where the unknown organism is.


As soon as they say their wish aloud they are teleported into a Tyranid infested chamber with a huge, previously unseen Tyranid bioform that looks like a cross between a carnifex and a venomthrope in the middle. The Kill Team immediately open fire and wound the creature which then attacks with its tentacles, hurting Siracum, Falcon and Sigmund badly. Siracum drops from the poisons and is administered detox by Eukarios while Falcon retaliates with a psychic attack. The powers of the warp answer to his call and the avengers flames are followed by a soul searing lighting that leaves the Tyranid bioform dead but also leaves a seed of corruption on brother-lexicanum Falcons soul… Fearing a Tyranid counter-attack the Kill Team again contacts the Caduceus Reactor and asks it to transport them to “where all the food was delivered”. There is a flash of teleport again and the Kill Team find themselves in an ancient ruin somewhere else than Castobel. Fortunately brother Marius knows some stellar navigation and quickly determines that they are in same star-system as Castobel, but different planet. The Kill Team decides to wait it out and surely enough after a few days of waiting the psykers aboard Maneater detect their signature has left Castobel and find them out for evacuation.


Imperial casualties: Three critically wounded battle-brothers


Xenos casualties: Queen of Poisons, 10 Venomthropes, 5000 zombies and 20000 ripper organisms killed

Aftermath: The Caduseus Reactor managed to purge its systems of the spores when the Queen of Poisons organism was no longer there. The food production for the hive continues even though the Caduceus Reactors capacity has been damaged by the Tyranid inhabitants.

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Poison Gardens – Epilogue

* * *


How many Astartes does it take to save a world?


That question has been running through his mind several times last days. After the Kill Team Maneater vanished on its mission to the bowels of the Caduceus Reactor, brother Kraai has taken the command of the hive. His assets: Five battle-brothers from Raptors, twelve battle-brothers from Angels Vermillion, one damaged Baal Predator and one Warhound class Titan.


Two days after the disappearance of the Kill Team the undead and ripper attacks have been down by 70%. The Hive feels safe again. The recent food samples show no signs of infection. Still, he can’t be sure yet so he ordered one hundred criminals to be hauled from the underhives and detained in single-man cells with only food from new samples brought to them. If none of them show any symptoms after a week he plans to order the old stockpiles burned and new food distributed amongst the hive population. His instinct says that somehow the Kill Team succeeded. He hopes he is right.


He has another problem. One concerning not the immediate battle, but the future. He has six brothers in suspended animation, one Raptor and five Angels Vermillion. He also has the geneseeds of four Raptors and eighteen Angels Vermillion waiting for evacuation. Assuming that all the critically wounded brothers would be healed and all the geneseeds would take root he holds a potential future of fifty marines in his hands, they all dependant on the evacuation away from the hive.


How many Astartes does it take to save a world?


If he can finish the fight with the eighteen that is left, then it takes eighteen. If the Kill Team was what turned the tide around, then it took just nine. He has eighteen living marines and fifty ones in animation and as geneseeds, waiting. How many worlds is that?

* * *

 


 

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Blood in the Void – Planning and Preparation

* * *

MISSION REQUEST / WHITE PRIORIOTY / REQUESTING PARTY: ADEPTUS MECHANICUS

DEATHWATCH KILL SHIP JULIUS ROBERT HAS BEEN GIVEN A PRIORITY ONE TARGETING ORDER TO CONDUCT A FULL SCALE EXTERMINATUS ON THE WORLD OF CASTOBEL BY USING SIX (6) CYCLONIC TORPEDOES. AT THE MOMENT IT IS UNKNOWN FROM WHERE THE TARGETING ORDER HAS ORIGINATED BUT AS SOON AS JULIUS ROBERT EXITS THE WARP THE ONLY WAY TO STOP IT IS BY DIRECTLY ASSAULTING THE SHIP AND FORCING A FULL SHUT-DOWN OF THE SHIPS SYSTEMS BY ACTIVATING THE EMERGENCY LOCK-DOWN PROCEDURES. WHEN THE SHIP EXITS THE WARP THERE IS A THIRTY-SIX HOUR WINDOW TO CONDUCT THE ATTACK BEFORE JULIUS ROBERT GETS INTO RANGE TO CALCULATE AND CARRY OUT THE FIRING SOLUTION.

MISSION TASKS: STOP THE KILL SHIP JULIUS ROBERT FROM CONDUCTING AN EXTERMINATUS ON HIVE WORLD CASTOBEL, FIND OUT WHO GAVE THE EXTERMINATUS ORDER

PERSONNEL: ONE (1) KILL TEAM

COMMUNICATIONS: DIRECT RADIO UPLINK TO TRANSPORTING SHIP

BACKUP COMMUNICATIONS: SECONDARY RADIO COMMUNICATION PROCEDURES

INSERTION METHOD: CAESTUS ASSAULT RAM

EXTRACTION METHOD: CAESTUS ASSAULT RAM

MISSION TIME: MAXIMUM OF THIRTY-SIX (36) HOURS

MISSION ABORT PARAMETERS: PREMATURE LAUNCH OF EXTERMINATUS WEAPONS, MISSION TIME ENDING

MISSION END PARAMATERS: STOPPING THE SCHEDULED EXTERMINATUS ATTACK ON CASTOBEL

MISSION DANGER RATING: WHITE

* * *

Having been evacuated after the mission to bowels of Castobel the Kill Team was met with two new mission requests. It seemed that by now the Watch Station Oerth was under attack from the Tau fleet but there was also a new problem brewing for Castobel: The Kill Ship Julius Robert had been assigned to destroy the planet by means of Exterminatus and Adeptus Machanicus was asking for Deathwatch to stop this. There was long discussion on the subject of whether the Kill Ship was under correct orders and if the Kill Team did really have the authority to stop it. There was also the problem that Shadow in the Warp laid by the Tyranid swarms attacking Castobel made it impossible for them to contact Watch Fortress Erioch so they were forced to resort to their own council. In the end it was decided that they had bled too much for Castobel to let the planet die without knowing the truth.

As the Kill Ship was now fully activated and trying to protect itself from any intrusion while carrying out the Exterminatus the Kill Team knew it had to break through the outer-hull, navigate its way through a changing labyrinth of automated defences and reach the ships pilot. They also had the problem of limited resources since their ship had not left Castobel system after the last mission they could not resupply themselves from Eriochs stocks but were forced to cannibalize their own vehicles magazines for boltgun ammunition and were running short on grenades and melta-bombs. In the end the plan was very simple: Breach the outer hull with Caestus Assault Ram, navigate the way through the automated defences to the pilot, communicate with the pilot to find out how the orders for the exterminates were given and then stop the exterminates procedure. As there was no quarantee that the ship would be responsive to Deathwatch or Inquisitor level override-codes it was decided that Tekwitch Lysiana would accompany them to ship as she could possibly break through the ship security by using non-imperial procedures (which Inquisitor specifically approved for this mission only). Understandably brother Eukarios was less than happy for the decision.

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Blood in the Void – Execution

 

* * *

 

Sometimes the Pilot envied his brothers and sisters who had been given reign over Astartes battle-ships. Having a command and control over a Deathwatch Kill Ship was, of course, one of the highest honors a Pilot like him could ever be given, but it came with the acceptance that it was, possibly, the most boring job for a full-cyborg Pilot.

 

Like his brothers and sisters he was also permanently tied to the machine spirit of the ship, never leaving the ship and rarely even stepping outside his cockpit. He didn’t crave for sensations of organic senses or the pleasures of the flesh as the neural links to those functions of his brain had been long ago replaced with couplings for machine senses and interfaces of the ships mechanisms. He saw what the ship perceived through its multi-spectrum sensors and he felt what the ships myriad machine-spirits felt.

And it was all limited by the strict operational security requirements inherent to Kill Ships. He was one of the seven pilots who only remained awake one at a time so what he saw was really just the uneventful voyages from system to system, popping out of the immaterium only for brief whiles. In the immaterium he was awake when it was his turn, but the ship was blind. When they came out of immaterium they only stayed for long enough to check protocols and launch exterminates if need be. Three days maximum, often less.

 

What he really, really envied of his brothers and sisters was, however, the bliss of battle. He knew that many Pilots had been designed so that their pleasure-centers were hardwired directly into weapons and battle-cognitors driving them to excel in ship-to-ship battle regardless of the personal risks. He was, however, completely cut off the network the moment command for Exterminatus came so he would not, and indeed, could not interfere with the Exterminatus protocol as it was being carried out. There was no orgasmic pleasure of feeling the lances break enemy ships spine for him. There was only the long wait.

The long wait without any meaningful sensory input at all, just waiting for the sensors to come back online just long enough for him to witness the death of a world.

 

* * *

 

As the Kill Team entered the ship they were instantly drawn into firefight with the murder servitors and gun servitors defending the ship. At first they were attacked by several unnaturally fast, power-weapon wielding murder servitors on hovering, human-like platforms supported by slower gun servitors fitted with heavy bolters. In the quite closed surroundings of the ship with darkness and blinking emergency lights everywhere the fight was short and brutal with several Kill Team members being wounded right away. After the first servitors had been destroyed the Kill Team quickly found out that the darkness and the emergency lights (along with vapor and smoke) were probably part of the automated defences, purposefully engineered to distract them. The terrain around them was also changing, with tunnels, chasms and blast doors moving around, trying to cut the Kill Team into multiple parts, isolating single members from other for easier destruction. They were attacked by several new waves of servitors and had to use jump packs to carry people over the chasms the automated defence tried to use to isolate them. In the end they decided to use the melta-gun brother Eukarios was carrying to simply shoot their way through the walls.

 

The next major obstacle on their way was a deep and wide chasm with a raised and walled shooting gallery on the other side. Several members were wounded by heavy bolter fire while entering the room and quickly they were forced to take cover behind remains of the walls. Their first plan was for the assault marines to jump over the chasm to deal with the gun servitors but this failed due to the sheer number of multi-meltas and heavy bolters facing them and resulted in brother Marius having to burn fate point to avoid being killed by fall into chasm as his jump pack was damaged. The next plan was to use Tekwitch Lysianas command of magnetic fields together with heavy weapons and snipers. Lysiana would use her  cybernetics to create a magnetic containment field that would stop the first multi-melta blast, while brothers Cassius, Ezekiel and Falcon would target the multi-melta and heavy bolter wielding servitors simultaneously with missile launcher, heavy bolter and stalker-pattern boltgun. The plan worked and the three astartes all hit their marks, killing the gun servitors. During the firefight a number of murder-servitors tried to climb up the chasm to engage the astartes in close quarters, but this attempt was stopped short as brother Marius spotted them and warned the other while also killing one servitor with his plasma-pistol.

 

While exiting the chasm-room and making their way deeper into the ship the Kill Teams medic, brother Siracum, was shot by a sniper using a stalker-pattern boltgun and kraken rounds. Siracum was seriously wounded but managed to continue but the implications of the shot were worrying. It seemed there were other marines aboard, trying to stop their mission. The Kill Team did manage to get into the command center only to find it defended by several gun servitors. As they did not want to get into a long firefight which could potentially damage of kill the pilot they decided to sneak up on the servitors through the access-cable tunnels below the command center. The plan succeeded and they managed to destroy all three servitors by well-placed shots fired from under the servitors and through the floor. Communicating with the pilot the Kill Team found out that the command for Exterminatus protocol had been approved by Deathwatch Watch Commander and given by Kill Marine Novak who had been earlier sent to secure Imperial Navy help for lifting the siege on Castobel. Furthermore the only sure way to stop the Exterminatus protocol was to stop the launcher which was programmed to launch the cyclonic torpedoes.

The Kill Team made their way into the launcher bay now advancing very slowly and watching out for the sniper they now assumed to be Kill Marine Novak himself. The launchers access panel was protected by automated hurricane bolters and a heavy force field which they planned to neutralize by having someone (brother Cassius volunteered) to draw the fire of the bolters while brother Ezekiel would destroy the force-field power-input with precision shot and others using heavy weapons to put down the unprotected hurricane bolters after that. At the last moment the plan was changed as brother Eukarios wanted to build a barricade to protect them from the hurricane bolters and the Kill Team retreated to search for suitable metal for the barrier. While ripping pieces of metal from the hull they were, again, fired upon by a sniper using stalker-pattern boltgun and brother Eukarios was critically wounded. The Kill Team answered the fire, laying down a heavy cover of boltgun shells and destroying large part of the room to force the sniper into cover and retreated back to the launcher. The building of the barricade was abandoned and the Kill Team returned to earlier plan. The force field was shut down by a well-placed shot and the hurricane bolters destroyed almost at the same time so brother Cassius (who was running to draw the fire) survived unharmed. After this Lysiana bypassed to panel and shut down the launchers. The Kill Team subsequently exited the ship simply walking down to launcher barrel into open space to be picked up by a shuttle.  

 

Imperial Casualties: Two seriously wounded and two critically wounded battle-brothers. Several dozen destroyed servitors.

Xeno Casualties: None.

Aftermath: The Exterminatus protocol was stopped and Castobel saved… For now.

Edited by Polaria

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Stand and Die - Prelude

 

* * *

 

Battle Brother Novak chambers a bolt very slowly so as not to make a sound.  The group of Space Marines, ten in number, are waiting for him in the shuttle bay. They had contacted him through secure Deathwatch channels and the crypting checks out. Hell, they even have an Inquisitor to back their claim. Still he wonders. These same Astartes exchanged shots with him not many days ago and stopped an Exterminatus sanctioned by the Watch Commander himself. How can he trust them?

 

Novak slowly raises his boltgun and looks through the scope. The most dangerous of them, the hulking Dark Angel with heavy bolter, stands relaxed. He is scanning his surroundings like any marine would but his heavy bolter is locked at his side and his head is looking up, exposing the weak, soft armour of the neck between the Mk 6 helmet and the Mk 7 chestpiece. Novak has a clear line of sight to the neck. A clean shot, right through the armour. That would neutralize their fire support. Then another shot to the apothecary, to put him down. Maybe.

 

Novak lowers his boltgun and clicks the safety on. **** Inquisitor to back them up. He can't resist hearing how this mess came about and the Inquisitor is probably the only one who knows…

 

* * *

 

 

Anarete finds her Inquisitor sitting alone in her chambers, looking at the darkness of the space. Only here, in her private chambers, the Inquisitor ever steps out of her power armour and wears the simple silken robes she so much likes. Being a powerfull telepath and a biomancer has its downsides. Having been under Inquisiotor Carmillusses harsh training regime for several dozen years now, Anarete is tied to her soul and body in ways that cannot be understood by anyone else. It is even hard to describe at times.

 

What she knows is that Carmillus is a pessimist down to the last fraction of her soul. She believes, truly believes, that the Emperor will never wake up, the Imperium is collapsing and mankind is doomed to extinction. Paradoxically enough that is why she keeps on fighting. That is where she gets her power and will. Carmillus is a narcist who believes only in herself and no-one else.  And she wants to make a difference. She wants to show everyone that she is right. This is why she thrives in crises. This is why she can deal with her job only through believing that the mankind is doomed but maybe, just maybe she can save them all. For if she could not, then everything she has ever believed of herself would be lie and she would have no reason to live.

 

It's not easy to love such a mistress, but Anarete has no choice. Being tied to her in almost cellular level means she might as well kill herself if she could not love her Inquisitor. Anarete walks over to her Inquisitor and gently touches her shoulder. The connection forms with no resistance at all. Her Inquisitor is in odd mood. It is an exotic mix of desperation and happiness. The world has once again confirmed her deepest fears and hopes. The Imperium is a mess the mankind is racing towards the cliff and only Inquisitor Carmillus herself, the self-appointed messiah of her own world, is smart enough to realize it.  

 

* * *

 

INTERNAL  SECURITY LOG 894632789

SUBJECT: KILL TEAM MANEATER, PRIVATE CONVERSATION BETWEEN ASTARTES

 

"So let me get this story straight: Watch Commander Mordigael sent Kill Marine Novak alone to contact the Imperial Navy Sectorial Command and speak them over to sending a fleet to help Castobel but he also gave Novak order to ensure Exterminatus of Castobel?"

 

"Yes, he though if the fleet declined to request then Castobel would be doomed and Exterminatus was the only choice possible."

 

"But then the Inquisitor okayed us to stop the Exterminatus, walking over Watch Commanders explicit orders and basically messing up his plans."

 

"Well, yes, but it is not all lost. Inquisitor tells us Adeptus Mechanicum is sending a fleet force to protect their beloved machine we found on Castobel. Maybe they can stop the Tyranids. If it doesn't work I'm sure the Inquisitor can commission another Exterminatus mission on Castobel herself. In any case she is here, we are here and Watch Commander is months away."

 

"Hell, I've been fighting too long for the blasted Castobel rock to let it go down in flames without even trying to save it. I say to hell with Watch Commander. Lets do this."

 

+++ LOG ENDS +++

 

/delete log

 

+++ TYPE YOUR ID TO CONFIRM TO DELETE +++

 

Hezika Carmillus, Inquisitor

 

+++ LOG DELETED+++

 

* * *

 

 

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Stand and Die - Planning and Preparation

 

* * *

 

It had to be the most poorly executed call for assistance brother-lexicanium Falcon had ever seen. It was clear the AdMech representative had composed it in haste and without any thought at all, printing it out last minute so they would fulfill the bare minimum requirements of Imperial bureaucracy. The ink was still moist and it had typos all over. Falcon did not even want to go there. How on earth could an AdMech official call for assistance have typos? Unless it was intentional and they made it purely to insult. Maybe it was. It was very clear what was happening here. The AdMech had brought their own army and own fleet and were taking over the war. It was clear they didn't spare a thought for the imperial citizens and the millions of civilians on the planet. All they wanted was to save their precious Caduceus Machine. They probably though Deathwatch had messed the whole operation and were insulted as well because Watch Commander had authorized putting a couple of cyclonic torpedoes into their godly Caduceus Machine.

 

It was a right mess, no doubt, but Falcon was trying to make best of a poor start. Millions of lives depended on him and the rest of the Kill Team. Sure, the AdMech wanted to absorb them into their own armies for the operation but that was not how Deathwatch worked and that was certainly not the best way to utilize the skills of Kill Team Maneater. So let the machinebodies have fun with their petty insults, ignore, roll with the punches and go on. Falcon wasn't doing this for his own glory or satisfactions. He was doing this for the civilian population of Castobel and the whole of mankind.

 

* * *

 

After stopping the Exterminatus the Kill Team returned to the Maneater and heard that an armed fleet sent by Adeptus Mechanicus was coming to Castobel to help with the Tyranid problem and the take over the Caduceus Machine. They had received a call for assistance to return to defend a Watch Station against Tau but after a short discussion they decided that they had spilled too much blood for Castobel to let the Tyranids win. They would stay and work alongside the AdMech fleet, taking advantage of any resources they could get their hands on, and try to stop the Tyranid invasion and end the battle for Castobel now before it was too late. They managed to contact the AdMech and get an official call for assistance to work on, but it seemed the AdMech was waging their own war for the most parts. Intelligence gotten from planetside from kill-marine Kraai who was still commanding the local PDF indicated that they had four primary problems:

 

1) There was a some sort of highly evolved "invisible" Kraken ship on the orbit which prevented the AdMech fleet from taking orbital control. The hive had defence lasers set up to burn it out of the sky, but could not get targeting devices to fix on its location without help.

 

2) The Tyranids had landed a hibernating biotitan on the Castobel and were feeding smaller creatures to it to load it up for eventual assault to breach the hivecity.

 

3) The hivecity had problems of its own: The possible landing pads that could be used to air drop AdMech reinforcements on the planet were taken over by flying Tyranid bioforms and there was a large scale problem with the remnants of the Genestealer Cult.

 

The Kill Team discussed the situation for a long time, trying to sort out the best tactic to approach the problems on Castobel. Finally they decided to try to contact an Officio Assassinorum ship that was in the area and ask for their assistance. Before this they consulted the Emperor's Tarot and brother-lexicanium Falcon saw a vision which confirmed him that the Kraken ship was some sort of psychic Nexus for the Tyranids and that there were two other psychic Nexi of similar kind on the planet itself. They managed to get in contact with the Officio Assassinorum ship and got to discuss with the mistress of the ship, a Culexus clade assassin. As Falcon told her of the vision he had seen the Culexus replied that she had been sent here to remove a "Tyranid bioform of unprecented psychic abilities" and had the authority and time for one target. The Kill Team told her that the only target they could locate with any accuracy for the moment was the Kraken ship and it did fit the description. Culexus agreed to take on that target and try to coordinate it with the Kill Teams other actions. She also gave the Kill Team a couple of psyk-out grenades to use against the other possible psykers.

 

The Kill Team decided to modify the psyk-out grenades to make a single psyk-out missile. The rough plan would be that they would drop on the Castobel near the hive city and contact Kraai. After getting the current intelligence from the ground they would find whoever was leading the Genestealer Cult and neutralize the Cult, thus giving the PDF better chance to concentrate on the Tyranids outside. After this they would locate the biotitan and try to deploy the psyk-out missile inside its body. It was a long shot, but if they could get the pysk-out missile to cut the biotitan out of the hive minds psychic network even for a small time the other Tyranids would probably see it as an enemy and attack it, making the defence of the hive city easier. Furthermore, if possible, they would try to coordinate the Culexus attack on the Kraken ship psyker at the same time with their own psyk-out attack on the biotitan to mess the hive minds ability to coordinate its myriad bioforms. Much of the plan was, however, dependant on how things actually turned out on the ground so they agreed that they would probably have to think on their feet and make things up as they went along. In any case everyone was sure that this operation might be a one-way ticket with no chance but to go down fighting if things went wrongs. However, they were also equally adamant that they would not give up Castobel without a good fight…

 

 

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Stand and Die - Execution: Part I

 

* * *

 

MISSION REQUEST / PRIORIOTY PRIMA / REQUESTING PARTY: ADEPTUS MECHANICUM

 

ORDO XENOS AND DEATHWATCH HAVE DETERMINED THAT THE FINAL ASSAULT ON CASTOBEL IS IMMINENT AND IT IS VERY PROBABLE (PROBABILITY >90%) THAT THE CASTOBEL DEFENCES WILL FALL AND THE TYRANIDS WILL GAIN A NET INCREASE OF 300% TO 500% OF BIOMASS FROM THE PLANETARY ASSAULT. EXTERMINATUS PROTOCOL HAS BEEN PUT ON HOLD PENDING THE POSSIBILITY THAT RECENTLY ARRIVED ADEPTUS MECHANICUS FLEET FORCE TENSEGRITY IS ABLE TO TURN THE TIDE OF OF THE BATTLE.

 

 

MISSION TASKS: ASSIST THE ADEPTUS MECHANICUS FLEET FORCE TENSEGRITY IN DEFEATING THE TYRANID FORCES ON CASTOBEL SYSTEM AND SECURING THE SITUATION ON CASTOBEL

 

PERSONNEL: ONE (1) KILL TEAM

 

COMMUNICATIONS: AS AVAILABE

 

BACKUP COMMUNICATIONS: AS AVAILABLE

 

INSERTION METHOD: AS AVAILABLE

 

EXTRACTION METHOD: AS AVAILABLE

 

MISSION TIME: APPROXIMATELY FIFTEEN (15) DAYS

 

MISSION ABORT PARAMETERS: NONE.

 

MISSION END PARAMATERS: STABILIZATION OF THE CASTOBEL FRONT

 

MISSION DANGER RATING: ULTRAVIOLET

 

* * *

 

The Kill Team inserted on Castobel via a drop pod targeted at an unknown beacon detected approximately 30 kilometers outside Hive Prime hivecity. The drop did not go fully as planned because on their way down the drop pod was hit by one of the radioactive tornadoes that were typical to the Castobel weather systems lately. The drop pod landing engines failed midflight and its electronics shut down causing it not to stabilize in time and to hit the ground in wrong angle and faster than intended. Everyone inside was hurt by the impact, many of the equipment containers were broken scattering grenades and spare magazines around and finally the Kill Team had to open the stuck drop pod doors on their own. When they finally dug their way out of the wreck they were greeted by no one else but battle brother Regis who they had thought to been lost several operations ago in the xeno pyramid. It turned out that the xeno pyramid had made Regis jump several weeks forward in time and he had be marooned in the asteroid totally alone as both Tau and Deathwatch forces had left the place. However, after several weeks there he had managed to contact an unknown Inquisitor who had come to do some sort of research in the xeno pyramid. This strange Inquisitor had agreed to provide Regis with a way out of there, explaining that she had the power to use the xeno pyramid to send him into "correct place and time". Regis agreed and woke up on Castobel just minutes before the drop pod entered the atmosphere as if he had been in strange dream.

 

The Kill Team quickly gathered their equipment and started the march towards Hive Prime. The weather was protecting them for some time but when it cleared up they were attacked first by groups of high-altitude Tyranid flier creatures that made near-suicidal sweeps down on them. As they shot at the creatures a couple of them exploded in huge sprays of acid and the Kill Team realized that the creatures were a sort of weapons in themselves, trying to kill the Kill Team marines by dropping on them and letting their highly-pressurized, acid-filed body cavities burst on impact. After dealing with a couple of packs of these flying suicide-bombers the Kill Team was seriously hurt and had to make a run for the Hive Prime just to find out that the Hive Prime own defensive turrets started to spray them with hundreds of frag warheads. Luckily enough these warheads were designed mostly for killing small tyranid creatures and did not manage to hurt the power armored space marines. Instead the blasts did kick up enough dust to cover the Kill Team from fliers as they made their way to the Hive Primes defensive wall and blasted their way through it.

 

Inside the hive the Kill Team quickly made their way through the lower hives and contacted a PDF group who provided them with a Rhino ride to the upper hives where the PDF leaders were. Once up there the Kill Team met kill marine Kraai, who was still leading the hive defense, and his staff who were a motley band of higher ranking PDF officers and Adeptus Arbites commanders. It turned out that the missile turrets that had fired upon Kill Team were probably manned by genestealer cultists operating inside the PDF and that the genestealer cultists in general were causing a lot of trouble. Much of the lower hive and outside defenses were already lost, the PDF was almost collapsed due to infighting and what was rest of the Adeptus Arbites was tied into containing the hive-wide civil war between imperials and genestealer cultists. The Kill Team got first hand taste of this themselves as they were attacked by a cultist suicide-bomber in PDF uniform using a plasma-grenade. The Kill Team was saved as they noticed the cultist before he got right next to them and forced him to explode the grenade a bit early. This encounter did, however, strengthen their resolve to deal with the genestealer cult situation first.

 

To find the leaders of the cult the Kill Team once again entered the tunnels of the underhive to track down the cult. They were surprised to note that the underhives were empty and abandoned as if the cultists had been warned of their coming (which was the case) and had abandoned their posts. After several hours of patrolling the tunnels the librarian finally sensed some sort of psyker in one of the tunnels and the Kill Team proceeded to track it down. They were almost right away attacked by a group of genestealers who seemed to appear from thin air into their midst but after killing the first group of them they noticed that they had been attacked by some sort of new breed of genestealers that could camouflage themselves very well in urban environment. After fighting their way through several, increasingly large packs of these camo-genestealers the Kill Team met the new brood lord leading them. This creature was not only virtually invisible due to its telepathic abilities but was also able to telepathically project its hunger straight into the minds of any living creatures nearby, thus driving the genestealers into frenzy and the marines almost insane. The librarian was forced to fight in the psychic front to protect the rest of the team from the most vicious telepathic projections while the rest of the Kill Team dealt with the broodlord and its genestealers with bolter and blade in the physical realm. After using a load of fate points and gaining number of insanity points in return the Kill Team did manage to best their first real opponent on Castobel and kill one of the three Tyranid psykers leading the hive fleet on Castobel.

 

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Stand and Die - Execution: Part II

 

* * *

 

OPERATIONAL PLANE / PRIORIOTY PRIMA / PROCECUTING PARTY: ADEPTUS MECHANICUM

 

DESIRED END STATE OF OPERATIONS: TYRANID FORCES BESIEGING CASTOBEL ARE UNABLE TO CONTINUE PLANETARY ASSAULT ON CASTOBEL. HIVE PRIME IS COMPLETELY UNDER IMPERIAL CONTROL. IMPERIAL FORCES ARE IN CONTROL OF LOWER ORBITS. RESUPPLY AND RESTORATION OF HIVE PRIME DEFENCIVE CAPABILITIES HAVE BEEN STARTED.

 

PHASING OF OPERATIONS:

 

PHASE 1: FLEET FORCE TENSEGRITY WILL SEIZE THE CONTROL OF LOWER ORBITS AND SECURES A LANDING SITE NEAR THE HIVE PRIME.

 

PHASE 2: FLEET FORCE TENSEGRITY WILL LAND FORCES ON THE CASTOBEL SURFACE AND DEFEAT THE TYRANID PLANETARY ASSAULT IN GROUND COMBAT.

 

PHASE 3: FLEET FORCE TENSEGRITY WILL CLEANSE THE LOWER ORBITS AND HIVE PRIME VICINITY OF REMAINING TYRANID FORCES AND COMMENCE RESUPPLYING HIVE PRIME AND RESTORING ITS DEFENCES IN FULL CAPACITY.

 

ORDER OF BATTLE:

 

Ark Mechanicus Tensegrity

Factory Ship Diffeomorphism

Escort ship Prestress

Escort ship Pretension

Escort ship Precompression

 

1st Battle Maniple of Legio Venator

Maenater Detachment – Deathwatch [RESTRICTED]

Silencio Cell – Officio Assassinorum [RESTRICTED]

Delta-116 Special Operations Detachment of Legio Cybernetica

Omega-559 Special Operations Detachment of Legio Cybernetica

Fi-13 Battalion of Skitarii Tech Guard

Fi-23 Battalion of Skitarii Tech Guard

Fi-33 Battalion of Skitarii Tech Guard

Nu-Nu-7 Demi-Formation of Ordo Reductor

 

* * *

 

After dealing with the broodlord the Kill Team returned to the upper hive and learned that the death of the broodlord had caused a momentary surge of violence amongst the cultists, exposing many of the so-far unknown cultists hiding amongst the PDF. Led by kill marine Kraai the Adeptus Arbites was dealing with the cultists and it seemed to be going quite smoothly now that the efforts of the cultists seemed to be less coordinated and many cultists who could have posed an inside threat were exposed before they could do any harm. However, other intelligence said that while there had been furious space combat between AdMech fleet and the Tyranids the "invisible" Kraken ship was still in the orbit, blocking the Adeptus Mechanicus ships from closing in. Furthermore the tyranid fleet had started to drop increasing amounts of troops on Castobel and was clearly preparing for imminent assault.

 

The Kill Team decided to push ahead while the Tyranid biotitan was still hibernating and geared up for destroying it. Their plan was to sneak near the biotitan and fire upon its carapace with two lascannons to blast a whole in the several feet thick carapace to expose the flesh and blood inside. When the hole was done, one marine would shoot the anti-psi missile into it, thus (likely) injecting the anti-psi agent into the blood stream of the biotitan. According to their earlier experiences with the first broodlord and current theory this should cause the hivemind lose connection with the biotitan, thus interpreting the biotitan as dead or excess biomass to be devoured. There was no quarantees on it working, but as it was the only weapon they could even hope to hurt the biotitan with it was worth the taking the shot.

 

Sneakingpast the patrolling hormagaunt hordes proved easy enough and the Kill Team managed to get into secure firing positions about half a kilometer away. Just before opening fire on the biotitan the Kill Team sent an astropathic message to both their own Inquisitorial ship Maneater and the the Officio Assassinorum ship Silencio to coordinate their attacks. There was no reply from either one, possibly due to shadow in the warp effect, so the Kill Team just had to continue as planned. The first lascannon shots sheared off enough carapace from the biotitan to expose the soft flesh inside and the psy-out missile hit the target. However, immeadeatly after the psy-out missile hit the weather turned suddenly very foul and a dust storm of deadly intensity covered the area. At that moment the librarian realized that the biotitan was probably a strongly psychic and due to the already adverse weather typical to Castobel it had evolved psychic powers to control the weather… Powers which the enraged biotitan was now using to destroy its attackers. Harassed by dust tornadoes, lightning and enraged swarm of gaunts the Kill Team had to retreat quickly to the hive.

 

Once the Kill Team got inside the hive and managed to get to the perimeter walls they realized that the Tyranid attack had started in full force. Clearly something was wrong with the biotitan who was now rushing towards the wall, covered with smaller gaunts, swarming it like a pack of hungry ants. Also, something had clearly happened to the Kraken ship which was no longer invisible but burning as its dead hulk made an uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere just a couple of dozen miles away. The Kill Team tried to contact their ship but got only garbled transmissions in return and the remains of the kraken ship impacting the Castobels surface with the energy of several dozen nuclear bombs, causing earthquakes and a new dust storm did not help the matter. As the biotitan crashed against the perimeter wall, cracking it and started to claw at it while the gaunts were eating the biotitan from inside the Kill Team decided to seek cover deeper inside the Hive city.

 

On their way deeper inside the Hive brother Marius suddenly noticed a group of automated servitors hauling rocket ammunition needed specifically in aircraft rocket launchers. As the Kill Team did not previously have any information about imperials having aircrafts in the hive they decided to follow the servitors and stumbled upon an ancient, long-forgotten shuttle-bay built inside the hive wall and sealed with astartes markings. Inside the shuttle-bay they found an ancient Stormeagle gunship, possibly thousands of years old, with Salamander markings and started to investigate it. It turned out that the Stormeagle gunship in question had belonged to the Salamander legion during the times of Horus Heresy and had been abandoned by a lone survivor of the legion during those times. It had been well stored and regularly maintained by the hives servitors ever since, however, and the tech-marine was able to put it into use quite quickly. The Kill Team decided to board the Stormeagle, man the guns and take the fight to the sky.

 

Flying through the dust storm raised by the kraken ships impact the Kill Team finally managed to get above the storm and contact the Maneater ship. It turned out that the lone Culexus assassin had indeed managed to do the impossible and hurt the psionic kraken ship enough to make it crash. After the biotitan had been attacked by the tyranid swarm it seemed that the swarm had lost all three hivemind nexi and was now operating purely on instinct. However, even uncontrolled the sheer amount of the creatures on the ground could probably tear down the hive if nothing was done to stop them so the Inquisitor Carmillus suggested that she would set the Maneater on low orbit above the hive city and could burn away much of the swarm with ship-board lance as long as someone could target the lance strikes from below the dust storm. The Kill Team took the chance and the Stromeagle dived back towards the planet. Above the hive the Stormeagle was attacked by the first Tyranid flier swarms that had got into air after Kraken ship impact and even though they did kill hundreds of bioforms with Stormeagles missiles and with heavy bolter fire out of the hatches the Stormeagles cockpit was soon breached. At this point brother Cassius brazenly climbed out of the broken cockpit window to clear the Stormeagles surface of flying gaunts and librarian Falcon and apothecary also assisted him with flamers.

 

With the Stormeagle finally cleared of gaunts the Kill Team flew it around the hive city, close to the ground coordinating searing lance strikes from the Maneater across the swarming tyranids. Several minutes later the biggest parts of the Tyranid swarm were burned down to the ground but it took several days to finally clear the hive and its surroundings of tyranid creatures. The Kill Team spent the first critical 72 hours in the Stormeagle, observing tyranid movements, coordinating lance strikes and leading the ground parties organized by kill marine Kraai, the remains of the Angels Vermillion forces on the ground and the AdMech Legio Cybernetic special operation detachments. After several weeks of fighting the tyranid swarm was finally defeated, the AdMech forced had secured the hive and the Castobel was saved.

 

Imperial casualties: Millions of civilian, PDF, Adeptus Arbites and skitarii dead. At planetary scale the casualties were approaching 90% of the original population.

 

Xeno casualties: Too numerous to count. At least 95% of the tyranid biomass on Castobels surface and at least 70% of the total tyranid biomass inside the Castobel system had been destroyed.

 

 

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Stand and Die - Epilogue

 

* * *

 

In the distance the sky was burning.

 

At least that is what it looked like, standing at the top of the hive prime's defensive wall, high above the ground. It was fire, yes, but what was burning was not the sky, but the remains of a crashed kraken ship, spread over several dozen square miles of desert. Kraai turned away from the wreckage of battle surrounding the city and started to walk towards the landing pad where the Thunderhawk was waiting for him. Around it the remaining few Angels Vermillion, Raptors and the Kill Team Maneater were waiting for the lift-off. The Astartes and the Deathwatch had done their part here, the Castobel was safe at least for now. It was time to head to other warzones.

 

Kraai didn't join the other black-clad Deathwatch marines who were gathered in their own tight group. After the last cleanup operations the Kill Team Maneater had received a message from Watch Fortress Erioch that invading the Julius Robert and the battle of Castobel, even though unplanned and unsanctioned by the Watch Commander, were, due to actions of Inquisition, entered into Deathwatch annals as official operations and would thus count as the ninth and tenth operational missions for the members of Kill Team Maneater. In effect their tour in Deathwatch was now over and they would be going home. Kraai, being seconded into Deathwatch for the second time now, knew that this moment would be better left for the Kill Team themselves. They would be saying farewells to each other, leaving for their home chapters, possibly never to meet each other again. They needed this moment for themselves.

 

It was not easy to go back to home chapter. Kraai knew that even with the best hypnotherapy pushing the memories of the Deathwatch to the back of the mind the former members of the Kill Team Maneater had high risk of never fully adjusting back to their own chapter. Many would end up loners, some would, perhaps, come back to Deathwatch like he had. Kraai noticed that one of them, the Carcharodon Marius, walked over to him.

 

"You know, everyone is heading home. Everyone except me."

 

Kraai turned his head, "I'm not. Not yet at any rate. But how come?"

 

"My motherfleet is too far away. To be exact, no-one even knows where." Marius noted, sounding as unemotional as ever.

 

"And they can't very well send you home if they don't know where it is, can they?" Kraai smiled.

 

"No."

 

"Don't worry. We'll find a place for you here, if you wish to stay.", Kraai answered planting a playfull punch into Carcharodons left shoulder plate, "Besides, I'm not sure if those guys are going to find home where they are going either."

 

* * *

 

Yep. The Stand and Die was the "season final" for the Kill Team Maneater and after a debriefing the proud members were sent back to their home chapters. I have planned a "second season" for them, which will take place at least ten years later and we have already played the opening scenes for that campaign too. So there might be a new Campaign Log about the Kill Team later on... Maybe in this thread to continue the story.

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