Battle Brothers of the Jericho Reach

Shadows over Madness; Session 1

Where everyone is introduced

Having only just arrived at Watch Fortress Erioch in the past week, the newest Kill-Team of the Deathwatch was still trying to find its place in the current hierarchy, they had not been allocated to any particular watch captain, and so they were allowed the time to become more acquainted with the location, until they were called upon.

Brother Calremus spent most of his time training, running elaborate simulations that always ended with a massive slaughter of orcs. As a crimson fist, Brother Calremus hated the greenskin race as only one of their number can, and he hoped that he would run into some of the vile xenos during his long watch.

Brother Drakhaus, when not spending time training with his fellow crimson fist, Brother Calremus, spent most of his time studying the mysteries of the warp and the mysteries of his own gift. During that week, he struck up an accord with epistolary axineton, who was impressed by the dedication shown by such a new recruit to the Deathwatch.

Brother Elyes, on the other hand, spent most of his time studying the information he had been gifted regarding the gene-seeds of the Battle Brothers in his Kill-Team. This truly made him feel honoured, and he knew that, as a dark angel, he was best placed to keep those secrets that must be kept. He spent the rest of his time contemplating his place in his chapter, and what it meant for him to be in the Deathwatch.

Brother Haakon spent most of his time praying for the guidance of his primarch, leman russ. He knew that this watch would be a trying one, not only was he a natural leader of the astartes, but he had to lead a dark angel, and one who knew the secrets of his gene-seed. He put these thoughts behind him and focussed on his training, losing himself in the complex tactics that he was devising

Brother Curro was impressed by some of the training facilities and by some of his fellow Battle Brothers at the Watch Fortress. Whilst he did not lose any of the duels he called, he was tested on numerous occasions. When he was not duelling, he could be found walking around the corridors of the Watch Fortress, unwilling or unable to stay in one place for long.

A chapter serf appears before each of the Battle Brothers and informs them that their presence is requested in the surveillance theatre. Brother Curro finishes off his training routine with a slice of his chainsword that decapitates the servitor, before turning to face the serf, staring at him long enough for the serf to start to feel uncomfortable, before nodding and following.

They are met, on the way, by Brother hyzeron, a guardian of the chamber of vigilance, who greets the new arrivals and then goes on his way. As they enter the surveillance theatre, for the first time, they are struck by the cavernous size of it, the hundreds of monitoring stations on each wall, but their gaze goes to the relatively diminutive woman who stands up to greet them, formally welcoming them to the Deathwatch.

A few servitors fly down with hastily printed reports, which the inquisitor looks at quickly and then dismisses them and places them on the top of what is a very large “to-do” pile. Also present is watch commander mordigael, whose attention seems to be elsewhere, but who is also watching his newest Kill-Team quite closely. He nods a greeting to each Battle Brother, before turning his attention back to one of the monitors.

Inquisitor Quist stands, looking very haggard and weary, causing a comment of “humans” from Brother Curro which is ignored by the inquisitor, as apologises for taking over almost the entire surveillance theatre as she realises this is not good form. The Kill-Team are eager to know what has brought them here though, so Brother Drakhaus waves it off in a semi-familiar fashion.

Inquisitor Quist then fills the Kill-Team in on the situation, with the “dark daggers” falling from the sky, the fact that the imperial guard sent her one in a box, but nothing was in it when it arrived, and the more pertinent fact that the omega vault opened when this report was fed into the fortresses cogitator. She then shows them some of the data that they have correlated with this report.

She then shows them a pict of the pitched Battle between the imperial guard and the vespids, which shows the impossible shadow that should not be, on the ground, after looking from a wider viewpoint. Brother Elyes makes the observation that whatever it is, it is not acting on either side of the conflict, because the shadow is not just covering one side, it is covering the entire glade.

When inquisitor Quist shows them the archeotech laterns of clear imperial craftsmanship, the underlying thought around the group is “lanterns… what?” they manage to keep the meeting professional however, and inquisitor Quist asks for their aid, by the sacred agreement between the Deathwatch and the ordo xenos.

Brother Calremus, typical of a devastator, questions inquisitor Quist about the likelihood of running into Tau armour… only to be told that baraban is not a world that either side is really making a push for, and as such it tends to just be mostly infantry, axillaries and reserves who can be spared from more important conflicts, just to make sure that either side does not get the upper hand. This makes the presence of command units even more unusual.

After several questions regarding the nature of baraban, including whether there are old ruins on the surface (no), and whether there is any information on baraban from the time when this area was the Jericho sector (also, no), Brother Calremus asks about the landing zone, and he is informed that they will be making a stop at imperial outpost epsilon 420.

Brother Curro hypothesises that this mission is “your typical locate and destroy,” only to be told by inquisitor Quist that, actually, this mission is more of an investigation, and that they are leaving it up to the Kill-Team to find out what is going on, and then make their own decisions based on the available information. Brother Curro gets a thoughtful look at this, and then comments “well, as long as my chainsword gets to drink the blood of the xenos, it has already been far too long.”

After learning about how they would be getting to baraban, the Battle Brothers are left alone for their oath taking, and then escorted to the armoury for their pre-mission arming. After a muted discussion, it was determined that the leader for this mission was to be the librarian, Brother Drakhaus… with each member of the Kill-Team thinking that if there were ghosts, then a librarian was just what the mission needed.

The Kill-Team was also very happy to learn that they were to be gifted a land speeder storm for this mission, although they then realised that none of them could pilot it, meaning the land speeder launcher had to be scrapped to allow all 5 of them to fit into the vehicle with the pilot who had been seconded to their team.

Other than their usual armaments, some of the picks from the Kill-Team was anti-plant grenades, a missile launcher with various missiles, many stummers by Brother Elyes (whose armour really hates being quiet!) and various clips of special ammunition. Brother Drakhaus also requisitioned the a chain blade for his bolter, because, although he would use his force staff in combat, you just never know what is going to happen!

The Kill-Team boards the spear of fury after their solemn oath taking and arming ceremony. They are greeted, warmly, by captain Jaresh, who originally hails from the black Templars chapter. His warmth, however, dries up quickly when it comes to Brother Drakhaus, and the tension between the two marines is noticeable to all on the bridge. However, captain Jaresh is too professional to let this cloud his judgement.

The Kill-Team are informed that the warp translation to baraban will take approximately two weeks, but that the warp lanes at this time are very stable, so the crew do not expect any problems on their travels. The Kill-Team get into a routine of praying, training and dining with each other, and they meet a very young (for the Deathwatch) Battle Brother called Dane.

They learn that Dane followed captain Jaresh into the Deathwatch, and that he looks up to the captain in awe. During the two weeks, however, he does tell them a story regarding baraban, and each Battle Brother from the Kill-Team comes away with a key piece of advice… do not always believe what your eyes are telling you on baraban… there is something wrong with the soul of the planet that can cause even astartes to succumb.

After an, as promised, uneventful two weeks, the Kill-Team boards the thunderhawk gunship that is to take them to the surface of baraban. They learn, to their general amusement, that Brother Dane will be the pilot. They strap themselves in, make sure the land speeder (and pilot) are securely fastened, give their oath to the emperor one last time and then sit and wait, viewing the holopict information of the terrain outside.

Brother Dane informs the Kill-Team that he will only be providing transport for this mission, as it is imperative that he returns to the spear of fury so that it can take up an orbit around the moons, to avoid detection by the Tau warships in the sector.

After a short trip, the Kill-Teams’ power armours’ shock absorbers are tested as Brother Dane brings the quick descent to a screaming halt, answering their queries with the proclamation “the outpost, it’s under attack!” with his ship under the Kill-Teams command (to a point), Dane waits for their decision. With a quickness of thought that he was chosen for, Brother Drakhaus orders the thunderhawk to drop as low as it can… the Kill-Team are going to exit the flying gunship in the land speeder!

This gamble proves to be worth taking, as although the land speeder struggles to get the anti-grav aspects working, it does just before the land speeder was due to crash into the ground. For the second time, the shock absorbers in their power armour are given a workout, but the daring move does allow the Kill-Team to close to within 80 meters of the horde of Kroot assaulting their designated landing zone.

Battle Brother Elyes was the first to react, leaning out the side of the land speeder to send a holy rain of bolter fire into the Kroot horde. The mass reactive shells explode into the bodies of the Kroot, sending them spiralling backwards into their Brothers, their broken bodies limp as they landed on the floor. Brother Drakhaus leaped over Brother Elyes to take up the land speeders’ heavy bolter.

He laid down a serious volume of fire, cutting a few of the guardsmen in half as well, but reaping a large toll of Kroot as well. The Kroot, who had been focused completely on overrunning the outpost, suddenly became aware that the tides of Battle had turned, and turned their attention towards the space marines, who they knew were the greater danger. They raised their Kroot rifles and fired.

Most of the shots went wide, but a few pattered against the armour of Brother Curro, who had moved to the front of the land speeder and was firing his jetpack in anticipation of the carnage to come. He was just about to launch into the air when a large volume of fire impacted against his armour. Ancient and powerful though it was, it could not stand up to that volume, and Brother Curro was injured and his suit was breached.

So shocked was Brother Curro, that he could only fire back a couple of shells from his bolt pistol, which nevertheless blew a few Kroot back into the arms of the earth. Meanwhile, Brother Calremus had been aiming his missle launcher at the heart of the Kroot horde, a blessed incendiary missile ready to fire… he breathed in to steady his aim, and let fire.

The missile flew true, right into the heart of the horde. However, the blessing performed on that particular missile must have been faulty, because although the blast was great, all the Kroot picked themselves up and carried on fighting. A few did catch on fire as a result of the missile, but so did a few guardsmen as well, their screams mingling in with the squawks of the Kroot.

Seeing that Brother Curro was going to make the reckless charge in spite of (or, more likely, because of) the wound he suffered, Brother Elyes came to his aid, using the medical pouch and his own inherent knowledge to patch up Brother Curro, quickly bringing the Brother back to full fighting strength, ready to cause the xenos ten times the pain they had caused him.

The pilot, on the urging of Brother Drakhaus brought the Kill-Team even closer to the fighting, being, at the most, only 20 meters away from the fierce fighting still raging at the outpost. Brother Drakhaus brought the power of the warp to bare, summoning a fiery creature in the form of his primarch and sending it straight into the Kroot horde, many of whom died from the great heat that emanated from the beast. A few guardsmen were also caught in the blast.

Brother Curro, his hatred of the filthy xenos who dared to wound him blazing through his veins, launched himself up into the air and then, descending like a wrathful angel from on high, dove directly into the remaining horde of Kroot. Brother Curro’s chainsword wrought a horrible swathe of destruction, and the force of the impact also claimed the lives of many a Kroot, as well as a few guardsmen unlucky enough to be close to the landing site.

The Kroot, assailed as they were by a flaming avatar of destruction, high reactive exploding shells and now an avatar of death who had plunged out of the very sky to destroy them, lost their nerve and with squawks of fear, ran for the trees. Some of them made it, the rest were killed by the guardsmen left standing, or by the fires that still burned some of their flesh. The guardsmen let out a cheer at the site of the Kroot routing.

The Kill-Team could be satisfied that their actions had stopped the death of many guardsmen, their quick thinking and merciless tactics had turned the course of the Battle, turning a massacre of the imperial guard into a massacre of the Kroot instead. Those guardsmen remaining would thank the emperor for the rest of their lives for the intervention of their holy angels of death.

The rest of the Kill-Team then brought the land speeder to a halt, exiting the vehicle and looking around at the carnage. The guardsmen left alive were staring in awe at the living avatars of the emperor who had saved them, and there was a lot of awestruck muttering going around the humans. Brother Elyes, aware of the pain that some of the guardsmen were in, started walking around the outpost, offering his services.

This, in some cases, had the opposite effect, as the records of that day show that there were 15 cases of fainting, all caused by the guardsmen in question literally losing the ability to maintain consciousness when a massive 8 foot tall astartes in power armour came up to them, and offered to tend to their wounds. However, his aid was still greatly appreciated, and those who were treated by the astartes of the dark angels chapter never again had to buy their own drinks, as they had that story to tell.

The rest of the Kill-Team was still taking stock of the situation when they were approached by a lieutenant of the imperial guard… and a quick glance around showed that he appeared to be the highest ranking officer around. He nervously greeted the Kill-Team, awed by their very presence, and knowing that he and his men owed them their very lives. He was quick to offer them aid in whatever had brought them to this blighted world.

After retiring to the old colonels bunker, the lieutenant began to answer the questions the astartes put to him. He told them about the dark daggers falling from the sky in the glade nearby, how they were ambushed by the Kroot whilst on a routine patrol… all the while making sure to tell them that he had definitely put the right forms in to get another colonel out to the guard post, because he did not want them seeing him as a usurper, fearing what they would do if that was the case.

The Kill-Team learns that the colonel is mia at the moment, but more importantly, they learn that the glade is only a couple of kilometres to the north east of the outpost. They also ask questions about what the colonel had seen, what his thoughts were of what he had seen, and other interesting but meaningless information. They also learned that all of the “dark daggers” that the guard had collected had vanished into thin air within a few hours of their collection.

After a few more minutes of talk, the Kill-Team gathered back to the land speeder and, with the grateful waves of the lieutenant and his men behind them, set off towards the glade. Even with the directions, it took them a good couple of hours to find the glade, as the land speeder had to make many course adjustments to avoid the large trees and other dense foliage that made their home on baraban. They finally arrived at their destination, and immediately noticed the criss-cross pattern being shed across the clearing.

The marines immediately set about creating a perimeter around the glade, with overlapping fields of fire and designated kill zones. They leave Brother Haakon in charge of this process whilst the rest of them move around the glade, trying to figure out how to reveal whatever is throwing this shadow. Brother Drakhaus, being a librarian, gets a sinister sense of unease and warp spawned madness from this general location.

He tunes his senses to this feeling which enables him to follow the shadow strands, with his eyes, down to a part of the glade (near the edge), where there is no shadow being cast. Brother Drakhaus posits that this is because whatever device is causing the shadow is located there. Meanwhile, Brother Calremus is taking a typical devastator marine view towards the problem, shooting a frag missile directly up in the air, in the middle of the glade. Unsurprisingly, it does not hit anything, but the explosion can be seen from kilometres away.

It finally falls to Battle Brother Curro, getting restless and annoyed at the lack of progress, to suggest that they use the archeotech lamps that the omega vault spat out. This enables the Battle Brothers to get their first look at the delirium trellis, which Brother Drakhaus, filtering his mind to get the knowledge they need, recognises from some of the more obscure tombs he had been perusing before the mission.

The lanterns reveal both the trellis and the control desk, from which the trellis appears to grow from. It is of obvious alien manufacture, and uses a metallic glass to construct the trellis that none of the marines have ever seen, or heard about, before. They begin to see patterns in the trellis, unique to each of them, but their superhuman willpower allows them to shrug it off, for now. They also realise that these must have been here for a long time, but that there were no “ghost” reporting’s until after the fighting started.

After a long discussion about the correct route to take, this included, among others, ideas such as:
• Finding a Tau hammerhead tank and using that to destroy the trellis
• Taking a piece of the trellis from the ground and using that to destroy the trellis (somehow)
• More and more explosions, because there has to be a max load of explosives that would destroy anything
All of these were ignored due to not being practical, based on what they had with then. Then, Brother Drakhaus had an idea. He would call upon the blessing of the emperor and jolt the trellis with his holy lightning, whilst the lamps were keeping the trellises firmly in phase with this reality.

The rest of the Kill-Team readily agreed with this plan, and Brother Calremus stayed close to his chapter Brother whilst he prepared his mind for the stress to come. Readying himself, Brother Drakhaus called upon his innate powers, manifested them into lightning inside his body, and then expelled the warp lightning from his body and into the control unit of the delirium trellis. The control unit seemed to absorb the lightning into it, and nothing appeared to happen for a couple of minutes.

Then, however, the lightning that the control unit had absorbed proved too much for the xenos device, and spirals of lightning began running along the entire delirium trellis, sparking from point to point, and slowly but surely, bringing the delirium trellis back into phase with their current reality. After looking around at the pure vastness of the trellis, they are about to start cutting themselves out of the trellis dome, when they hear a beeping coming from the control unit.

After making sure it is not about to explode, the Kill-Team approaches. Brother Drakhaus, after making some internal calculations, realises that the display screen, from which the beeping is coming from, is showing a representation of the entire planet of baraban. Brother Curro is quick to point out that the flashing lights, of which there are three, appear to be locations on the planet, and the Kill-Team suspects, rightly, that this is where other active delirium trellises are located.

After figuring out the vast distances that are between these trellises, the Kill-Team decides that these devices are too powerful to leave in the hands of the Tau, and that even though their primary objective had been completed, that they were going to stop the filthy xenos even having the chance to study these delirium trellises. They finished chopping the control unit from the trellis webbing, load it into the back of the land speeder storm, and then start towards their next trellis… for the emperor!



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