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Mission IV: Rescue

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It has been a few weeks since the battle on Eleusis, where the Kill Team had suffered a narrow victory against the forces of Chaos. The men had been in the infirmary aboard the Grand Cruiser Vepres, recuperating and reflecting ever since that day. Skold was the first to be allowed back to duty. His physical wounds were heavy but the main delay in his return, compared to the others, would be the heavy dose of corruption the Ordo Hereticus believed he may have incured while wielding the relic blade. They found no evidence to suggest the Space Wolf was tainted but they rigorously tested him just to be sure.

A servo skull floated down the hall toward Skold, emitting a message to him as they neared one another. It was a summons from Magnus, requesting that he meet in the Armoury. Skold smiled at the information, his muscles flexing as he readied himself for battle. Before he could attend the briefing though, he would have to make a stop at the Infirmary. He was concerned as to the status of the others, and was uneasy at undertaking a mission with unfamiliar Space Marines.

Skold peered through the thick glass of the medical area, his eyes looking over the room with a heavy heart. Vlad had not awoken since their recovery at the wreckage site, his wounds inflicted from some sort of psychic phenomenon that has rendered him unconscious and unresponsive. Though, Skold could do little for his Battle Brother except pray for his slumber to break. Rune and Broteus were no longer in the Infirmary, apparently discharged while Skold was in his final evaluation. Skold breathed deep, watching the motionless Blood Angel, knowing his abilities had aided them greatly during their previous mission.

Skold entered the Armoury and immediately began gathering his standard gear, his mind uncertain of how things would unfold without their Librarian. Rune and Broteus were both surprised to see Skold, unsure of what had become of their Devastator. They both knew of Vlad's condition, both being severely wounded on Eleusis as well. They had only barely been out of the Infirmary before they were requested to meet in the Armoury.

Magnus entered , his yellow pauldron always standing him out from the other Deathwatch members. He looked over the three men and nodded, his face both proud and sad at the same time. "Hail, Brothers! We once again need your skills for a delicate mission," he spoke, allowing Skold to gather equipment. "I know you all struggled with the events that unfolded on Eleusis, but the relics you recovered were invaluable. You battled a larger force and managed to prevail, proving the Emperor's might and protection strong and righteous in the process. As we travel between the Halox Anamoly and the Black Reef, we have been informed that our Scout, Brother Alexandros, has gone missing on the Tau controlled planet Zurcon, either taken prisoner or slain. Whatever his situation, we need to recover him , either alive or dead. His presence was meant to be secret, so that the enemy was unaware of our information gathering. Our last communication told us that the Tau Commander and the majority of the troops had moved to push the recent Tyranid invasion back. This leaves the outposts minimally defended, which is a perfect time to strike and recover our lost scout. Since Brother Vlad has not awakened from his state, you will have to complete this mission only three strong. Due to this fact, I give you each fifty requisition. This should give you the necessary tools to handle any enemies you may face with such small numbers. Remember, this is a surgical mission, we need you in and out as quick as possible. Eliminate all threats, destroy any outposts you encounter, and leave none alive to relay what has happened. May the Emperor provide you a swift return! Dismissed!"

Each of the men silently collected their weapons and arms, each of their minds stuck between the last battle and the next. "The Tau are a very advanced," Rune said aloud, breaking the silence. "As such, we need to take plenty of equipment to help break through their armour and technology." Skold was finished collecting his items by this point but gave the comment some thought. "I believe Brother Broteus should lead us," Skold said while adjusting his backpack and heavy bolter. "His tactics will prove invaluable on such a mission as this." Broteus looked at the two men and gave both of their words consideration. "Very well," the Black Templar said while grabbing various grenades. "I incite the Oath of the Astartes to aid us on this mission. Everyone take extra grenades. Rune, grab the Vengeance Launcher." Rune smiled from behind his helmet, excited at the chance of wielding experimental tech.

This would be the first mission since Rune's joining of the Kill Team that he would not be piloting the vessel. Brother Malcolm, hailing from the White Scar Chapter, would be their pilot. His orders were to fly them down, drop them off, and return until further notice. With two great enemies feuding so close, there was a very large risk of being detected or destroyed swiftly. They would also be traveling in a Stormraven, which was much nimbler than a Thunderhawk. The men boarded and signaled that they were ready, each of them unsure if the other had recovered fully from the previous incursion.

Zurcon was heavily forested, with trees standing as tall as some of the mightiest fortresses in the Imperium. The Stormraven swiftly landed, and departed, unscathed. The three Space Marines stood side by side and surveyed their surroundings. Malcolm had dropped them in a large clearing, one that looked natural and untraveled recently. A path had been cleared though, leading a winding path through the dense trees deeper into enemy territory. The edges of the path showed heavy undergrowth, which Broteus thought may prove useful.

"You are a hunter, are you not Skold?" Broteus asked, still looking over the area. "Aye," Skold answered quickly, his heavy bolter braced and ready. "I have slain and felled many beasts in my time. Each prey proving more resilient or dangerous than the last. I have learned many tactics due to such hunts." Broteus pointed at the foliage ahead and responded to the Space Wolf. "Would you say that that brush would provide us with the element of surprise and cover?" Skold eyed the tall grassy area Broteus was pointing at and nodded. "Aye," he said as he began to move forward, his keen nose sniffing the air intently. "But, that could work both ways. We run the risk of falling into a trap or being surprised as well." The three men neared the path, tall weeds and brush growing wildly on each side. "Then we each take a side," Rune said suddenly, the two men surprised at his words. "Broteus and I will take the left side and Skold can take the right. Skold's firepower is considerably greater alone than ours is solo, but together it is equal to his." Skold and Broteus both nodded in agreement at the suggestion, Skold speaking up about the plan. "I agree with this. We can catch any enemies in a crossfire as well. And we may need it, my wolf sense tells me that about twenty infantry have recently walked this path." Broteus and Rune attempted to see what the Space Wolf saw but could not, both men keeping his words in mind. "Then let us move," Broteus said, moving to the left side with Rune taking the flank. Skold also moved towards his brush on the right, his large weapon breaching the undergrowth first.

Skold, even with his large frame and large weaponry, had relative ease maneuvering through the underbrush of the forest. Rune, being more adept with machinery, struggled with the process. Broteus stepped ahead of the Techmarine, quietly parting the weeds, his eyes furiously scanning the area. Adjacent from the two, Skold moved up further ahead on his side, trying to watch the path and the trees equally. 

It was not long before his awareness paid off, revealing to him a small enemy bunker. "Hold, brothers," the helmetless man whispered through the vox port in the neckk of his suit. Broteus and Rune paused, awaiting to hear either words or war ensue after his warning. "I see a bunker," Skold said quietly over the vox channel to the others. "Lightly defended. I count three Tau Fire Warriors stationed here. No sign of drones or vehicles." Broteus could not see the bunker from his position but did know the path was clear as far as they could see. "Frag it," Broteus said to Skold over the channel. "Do not waste the ammo on them." Skold smirked at the order and reached for a grenade on his belt, popping the pin and hurling it one handed. Broteus and Rune could only hear the noise generated from the explosion, once again awaiting the Space Wolves response. "Enemies destroyed," Skold replied after a moment. "I am going to cross the open to gain access to the brush across from mine. The clearing is turning and my cover ends here."

Broteus and Rune moved up to give Skold over watch, now seeing that the path was indeed winding to their left now. The brush continued on both edges as before, extending for a long ways down the path. Skold eyed his surroundings then sprinted toward the other side of the path, entering the bushes noisily. "Keep moving," Skold said over the vox, his large from no longer visible to other two. They complied and moved along the path, its turn guiding them further in to Tau territory.

The three men moved for some time with no sign of enemy movement or equipment. Rune trudged behind awkwardly, his mechadendrite arm barely staying out of view. Broteus stopped suddenly and extended a hand, giving the signal to stop. Rune halted and tried to look around the Black Templar for whatever it was he had seen. Broteus could see another bunker, this time with four Fire Warriors watching the area. Two of the Fire Warriors seemed startled as he watched, the two beginning to move away from the bunker, toward Skolds side of the path.

"My pack snagged on a large branch," Skold reported suddenly over the vox. "I think they heard me." Broteus looked at the two soldiers then back to the bunker, the other two warriors watching closely. He removed a frag grenade from his belt slowly and readied his arm. "Rune," he whispered through the helmet. "Take out the two as soon as my grenade detonates." Rune shifted his weight slightly and took aim on the investigative duo. With little effort, Broteus lobbed the grenade at the bunker, the primed weapon landing solidly inside the outpost. The small area and high explosive tool dispatched the two posted inside of the building with little exterior mess, but the noise was enough to alter the others focus. Without delay, Rune loosed a few rounds into each of the Fire Warriors, tearing them apart in place.

The three Space Marines waited for the smoke to clear and for time to pass, watching the outpost for any response teams. Skold moved ahead on his side, seeing that the path was turning again. His brush remained unbroken this time but the others would have to move across as he had before. He rested at the corner and watched the area for movement, signaling them to advance. Rune tapped Broteus on the shoulder as Skold signaled, giving the Black Templar the signal to move across. With a light sprint, Broteus moved in front of the bunker and into the hedges ahead, kneeling down as he made it safely. He waved a hand outside for Rune to follow, and the Stormwarden wasted no time crossing.

Rune moved further into the bushes than Broteus as he entered, stepping over some branches and logs to gain a footing. He paused for a moment, something grabbing his eye. The wood he had stepped over was unusual, almost manufactured instead of organic. It blended in perfectly with the surroundings, only noticeably up close and under scrutiny. Broteus looked over at his partner and his eyes widened behind his helmet. Swiftl, he knocked Rune over and drew his knife, plunging it into the camouflaged trooper lying in wait. Rune regained his footing and looked up confused, his mind quickly understanding as he saw the Tau Pathfinder wearing various foliage to blend in. Rune was more startled by the weapon it was carrying: a rail gun. A shot from that pulse weapon would have punched a hole straight through any of their armours, and at an incredible range too. Broteus removed the Pathfinders helmet, keeping it as a trophy and proof that they killed the xenos unit.

Skold knelt in his bushes, still waiting for a signal from the others. He was beginning to grow concerned, he knew these pups were not used to this type of combat. "Skold," Rune's voice whispered through the vox. "We uncovered a Pathfinder. Broteus has slain it and is securing the area." Skold chuckled to himself. He was surprised and pleased that the pups had proved him wrong. With a signal from Broteus, the three men crept further and further into Tau controlled timber, now more wary than before.

Skold traveled a short distance before coming upon another bunker, this time he could only see two Fire Warriors. He watched for some time before alerting the rest of the Kill Team, making sure there were no hidden or returning enemies. "I have another bunker in sight," Skold whispered, already pulling another grenade from his belt. "There are only two foes here. I shall dispatch them. Watch and cover me as I cross to the next patch of weeds." Broteus and Rune moved through the tall grass until they could see the bunker across from them, a large path opened up between it and the next dense portion. With a bold stride, Skold sprinted out in front of the bunker, hurling a fragmentation grenade into the bunker before disappearing into the brush on the other side. The Tau troops were caught off guard, trying to decide to shoot the invader or take cover from the grenade. With a blast, the two xenos were blown limb from limb, collapsing the front of the outpost on top of them.

"You took a risk with that move," Broteus barked over the vox. Skold laughed to himself and responded, moving further into the undergrowth. "This whole mission is a risk, Broteus. I have no fear of the enemies we face today or the day after. I shall burn through them with Emperor's fury and might." Broteus moved on, torn by his fellow teammates reasoning. They were sons of the Emperor but they were not invincible, that was proved in the last mission most of all. He would keep to his tactics, even if Skold's brash decisions did have successful results.

The path began to curve to their right again but the brush remained constant as it did so. The team paused on both sides and accessed their surroundings, unsure of where they were heading. Broteus scanned the path and noticed a structure ahead of them. A relay station lie about two clicks from their current position, probably the main purpose for this path being cut. He radioed Skold and began discussing how to proceed, while Rune watched the woods around them.

The Techmarine stared at the surrounding trees, looking for clues either about the enemy or the Scouts whereabouts. With nothing lending answers to his questions, he knelt down and checked his belt to make sure all of his grenades were intact and that nothing had shimmied loose. Within seconds of looking down, he noticed a red dot floating on his chest plate. Without looking up, Rune leapt from his position, the railgun missing its mark and striking his arm. Broteus whirled around and unloaded a burst of fire at the location from where the shot came from, his scanners trying to find the culprit. Lying on his side, Broteus could see the outline of the Tau soldier, hidden amongst some downed tree limbs. He unleashed a volley as well, shredding the trees and trooper apart.

Skold witnessed the pulse fire pierce through the brush but could not see what unfolded immediately after. Before he could radio to them, he saw a fast approaching group of Fire Warriors. This must be the group that made the tracks from earlier but that did not matter now, Skold was alone for the moment. He knew that if his first attack did not succeed, then he may be overwhelmed easily. He would wait for them to vox him or for the enemies to get close before pulling the trigger, he was just waiting on which would happen first.

Rune rose to his feet and checked the damage to his left arm. It was minimal, thanks to the Emperor's graces. Broteus took the helmet off the dead Tau, clipping with the other one on his belt. He looked back to Rune and to his wound, which seemed minor. Rune gave him a thumbs up and Broteus nodded in return, acknowledging that the Techmarine was okay and ready for action. "Skold, we..." Broteus' communication stopped as a hail of heavy bolter fire rocked the forest, screams being drowned out by the loud volley.

The two Space Marines pressed to the edge of the brush and peeked out at what was unfolding. An entire platoon of Tau were shredded and strewn upon the grassy path leading up to the relay station, Skold standing over an enemy with his heavy boot crushing it's wounded leg. "Tell me of the scout," Skold growled, pressing down on the Fire Warriors mangled leg. "We tortured your scout and began re-education on him," the helmeted trooper said, writhing in pain. "You cannot stop the greater good!" With a shift of his foot, Skold stomped the xenos head in with one motion, spitting on its corpse in response to its words.

"Back in the bushes, brother," Broteus ordered, amazed at the Devastators work. "We can still surprise the enemy relay station ahead if we hurry." Skold looked to the relay station then darted into the brush, moving quicker than before towards the building. Broteus and Rune also picked up the pace, their blood charged with adrenaline and battle. On each side of the path, the Kill Team advanced like a pack of wolves. They would encircle their prey then tear its throat out, swiftly and mercilessly.

The relay station sat in the middle of a large clearing, with two bunkers adjacent on opposite sides. The team eyed the area and found only the few soldiers in the bunkers to be left, the larger force either at the front lines or laying in the path yonder. Either way, they would strike hard and fast as if it were heavily defended. With a grenade volley from both groups, the two bunkers were destroyed easily. Rune dashed toward the door panels on the left side while Skold attempted to enter on the right side, Broteus playing look out while they attempted to breach the building.

A bolter shot from Skolds side startled Broteus, until the Space Wolf meandered around the corner. "That panel does not function," he said, taking up a position to cover Rune. Broteus shook his head and moved behind Rune, prepping for entry. Rune struggled with the interface due to his large hands but he finally decoded the sequence to enter. The doors slid open and the two Space Marines readied to fire on the occupants inside, but there was no one. Only a simple hall with a door on each side.

Broteus took the left door as Rune opened the right, each entering the opposite rooms. Rune's room was the control center, panels and pads lit up with xenos technology. Broteus found what seemed to be an empty room except for the Scout Alexandros, who lay bloodied and battered on the floor. The Black Templar knelt over him and checked his vitals. They were feint but stable, the scout was alive. With his Narthecium, he injected the neophyte, jolting him awake. The scout was groggy and weak but the drug helped him ignore most of it, getting to his feet slowly. "The relay center," he said in gruff manner. "You must cripple it, destroy it. It is valuable to them in this area."

"We have enemies inbound," Skold voxed to the others, his voice sounding delighted at the sight of enemy forces. "Take my bolt pistol," Broteus instructed Alexandros, who nodded his head and took the weapon. "Stay in cover until we can get you out of here." Alexandros left the room, Broteus in tow, stopping to see Rune's progress in the control room. "I cannot get the interface to overload or disconnect," Rune said, annoyed with the xenos machine spirits. "We will have to find another way to disable the station." Broteus looked at the room and then at Rune. Give me the Vengeance Launcher, then join Skold outside to help fend off the enemies. Rune nodded and gave the launcher to Broteus as he made his way outside.

Skold and Alexandros opened fire on the large mass of Fire Warriors that had appeared, as if in response to their breaching the station. Skold fired upon the forest that the Tau were lurking in, cutting down tree and foe alike, splintering the trees and their cover. The scout fired the bolt pistol with surprising accuracy, killing a few Tau soldiers near the left bunker. Rune exited the building and took up the right side of the building, enemy pulse fire spitting around him furiously.

Inside, Broteus readied the weapon and fired three shots into the command room, and an additional three in the torture room they used. The vengeance rounds were remote detonating explosive rounds, so Broteus had time to leave the building without concern for folly or explosions. He exited the building with his bolter in hand, the vengeance launcher primer in the other, firing bolts upon stragglers that made it out of Skolds kill box. He could see that the path was clear leading up thanks to Skold, but the back area was beginning to get overwhelmed.

Skold kept up his fire, suppressing the area in front of him and slaying all enemies who entered it. Rune could see that the enemies were trying to take cover behind the bunker, obstructing his shots and not allowing him to move unless it was in to pulse fire. He reached down and grabbed a grenade from his belt and hurled it behind the dome shaped structure. The explosion gibbed the troops behind the building but the action prompted a squad to unload on Rune, rocking his armour and burning his body.

Skold and Broteus saw this unfold, quickly decimating the Fire Warriors responsible. The few remaining troops were ironically gunned down by Scout Alexandros, who had not taken cover at all but stood his ground in the face of the enemy. Broteus grabbed up Rune and began moving him towards the rubble that was left by the bunker nearest, Skold and Alexandros taking the rear. As they made it to cover, Broteus injected the wounded Stormwarden with the Narthecium, easing his pain.

Before they could celebrate, and call in for pick up, a squadron of drones glided over the relay station, spitting more pulse fire down upon their location. Alexandros took cover this time, taking pot shots when he could. The floating disc shaped droids were small but deadly, and these were in mass. Skold cared not for the round robots with mounted guns, they were only machines, abominations of machinery. He pulled the trigger of his heavy bolter and shot down four or five within seconds, splintering the large rod like antennae that sat on the roof of the relay station.

Broteus did not fire his bolter but instead the vengeance launcher, detonating the explosives inside. The explosion rocked the building's interior and exterior, the shockwave knocking all of the drones out of the air and into the carnage below, destroying the remaining enemies and their relay station in one move. Skold let off the trigger and watched the fire burn the building and enemies alike, his eyes watching for survivors."We should waste no time," Broteus said, helping Rune to his feet. "Radio the transport and let us be gone from this place." 

The men waited only a short period before the Stormraven appeared, Malcolm glad to see them all alive and with the scout safe. They hurried aboard and raced away from the site, escaping orbit without any indication they had been there at all. The trip back to the Grand Cruiser was short, but Runes visit to the Infirmary would not be. Broteus and Skold stood outside of the medical room, while Vlad still lay asleep and Rune underwent repairs and recovery for his wounds. The two men said nothing because each knew it was only a matter of time before they would be called again. For now, they would pray for their Brothers to recover so that they may continue protecting the Jericho Reach, and the Emperors children, from all of the horrors in the known verse.



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