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Battle Brothers of the Jericho Reach

The Price of Hubris; Session 11

Where the Xenos threat to Aarun is cleansed

Halfway through sawing the head off the Diablon, the planets apex predator, the Kill Team realised that they were actually strong enough to carry the entire thing, and realised that as a statement of intent it would be so much more impressive if they turned up with the entire carcass and, given that one of the main reasons why they were here was to impress the natives, it was agreed. The trip back was uneventful, even the inhabitants of this blasted land knew to stay out of the way of anything strong enough to kill a Diablon, and so it was that the Kill Team exited the canyon in the early hours of the evening, the sun slowly setting behind them, framing them as the legends they were. Two Aarun youths who had remained just outside the threshold could not stop themselves from staring at the sight before them, before remembering their duty and mounting their Theratryx’s and riding off to deliver the news.

When they arrived at the city darkness had just started to fall, and the streets were lined with both torches and people, the news of the success of the Divested Hunt had spread quickly, not surprising given how rare it was attempted (and even rarer that it was successful). One of the first things the Kill Team noticed was a massive increase in the amount of respect in the Aarun’s gaze; they were obviously now accepted members of the Aarun’s, if not by blood, then by deed. They saw Brigadier Heth in the teeming crowd, a grin splitting his face from ear to ear, and they heard some of the missionaries, taking advantage of this momentous occasion to spread the word of the Emperor… “See, this is what we were telling you about… these are the Emperors’ Children!”

They were met by the Caele himself at the entrance to his homestead. They could see that he was pleased by this turn of events, and he praised their bravery and skill, telling them that the last Divested Hunt that had been completed was by himself and Alkedre, and that this was a momentous day for Aarun/Imperial relations. Brother Curro, bruised and battered frame still healing from the Diablon fight, presented a completely unstained sword to the Caele, letting him know, without any words being spoken, how the fight had gone down. After the short ceremony, the Caele gave his permission for the Kill Team to rest and recuperate, telling them that in the morning, they had a lot of serious matters to discuss, which was what the Battle Brothers had been wanting to hear ever since they stepped foot on the planet.

The Kill Team, after a night of meditation, rededication and healing, turned up at the Caele’s homestead just as the sun was rising… they were impatient to learn what had been withheld from them and, based on their knowledge of Tyranids, were just itching to cleanse the hated Xenos from this world. They were met by Alkedre who escorted them onto the flat roof of the homestead, where the Caele stood watching the rising sun, his back to the Kill Team. He thanked them again for not dismissing the Aarun’s ways, and promised them a celebration for such an august event, but he stated that they probably would like to know more about the “Scythed Death” that had come to their world, which immediately got the Kill Team’s complete attention. The Kill Team was informed of the town of Grensvayl which, over the last five years, had become increasingly isolated and last year, sent no crops at all.

The Caele sent a war party to the settlement, because not paying your yearly tithe is not something that the Aarun’s usually do, and only a few of the hundreds sent returned. Those that did come back spoke, in whispers, of terrifying six-armed monstrosities that had scythed through their ranks as though they were not there. They also spoke of horrific cross-breeds between the two. The reaction was instantaneous… having learned from the Imperium what uses promethium could be put to, a massive excavation of the pits north of the city was begun in secret, and the town of Grensvayl was surrounded in a ring of fire which continues to this day. The Aarun’s were lucky that Grensvayl was hedged in on two sides by towering cliffs, so it was actually possible to contain the Genestealer threat. The Kill Team offered their congratulations on making the best of a bad situation, and for not allowing the taint to spread, having seen first-hand what can happen to a world if that happens.

The discussion then took another turn, with the Caele confiding in the Kill Team that, after learning all he could about their Imperium, he was left to wonder just how much nicer a Master the Imperium would be, compared to the Tyranids. He then shook his head to clear his thoughts and gave them permission to go wherever they needed to go on the planet, and to get there however they needed… he recommended they speak to Zahir Heydal who was the man in charge of the quarantine effort. With that, the meeting was over and the Kill Team quickly moved to their Thunderhawk Gunship, flying quickly to their destination. They could see their destination from many miles away; they could see the massive plume of smoke from the promethium fires that surrounded the town. The Kill Team made sure to land the Thunderhawk a little way away from the town itself, they did not want to give away their presence to the Xenos that infested the place.

The Kill Team approached the perimeter cautiously, knowing that the Aarun’s on guard would be very wary to anyone approaching and, from what they could see, time and the quarantine had not been kind to Grensvayl, with withered orchards, lakes of fire and burnt out buildings all that seemed to be left of the town. The Kill Team were not exactly a stealthy team, what with Brother Elyes’s power armour demanding that he be at the front, taking charge, at all times. Brother Drakhaus, on the advice of Brother Calremus, descended into a psychic trance to try and understand whether the Genestealers had started calling to the Hive Fleet yet… and the Kill Team was very relieved to find out that the answer was no. The Kill Team was met by confusion by Heydal, as there had been no communication about the Divested Hunt, but the Kill Team was able to convince Heydal that they were supposed to be here and Heydal was not about to argue with the Battle Brothers.

The Kill Team learned about the breakout attempts from Heydal… there had been three attempts that the Aarun’s had only just managed to contain, including on description that made the Kill Team think that psychic powers had been used, which concerned them greatly. But, on the whole, the Kill Team were complimentary of the Aarun’s efforts to keep their world safe, once again they saw a great potential in these people if they could be brought into the Imperium… and some of the Battle Brothers were thinking what a great boon they could be for the Astartes ranks as well. The Battle Brothers fell into a strategic planning conversation, deciding to keep the Thunderhawk in reserve, knowing that having flying artillery like that would be a boon in this cleansing of Grensvayl… and they also agreed that anyone left alive would be inherently tainted, and was to be killed.

Utilising Brother Curro’s jetpack, the Kill Team was leapfrogged over the flaming barricade one by one until they were assembled on the other side. Smoothly getting into their combat formation, the Kill Team set about exploring the surrounding area, keeping their senses peeled for danger. Taking the lead from Brother Curro, the team swept down from the north and approached the burnt out remnants of the Theratryx stables, weapons to the ready in-case of any ambush, with one strange thing that they noticed was a freshly slaughtered carcass of an Aarun Theratryx, with the Kill Team wondering just what might be alive in here. As they moved away from the stables, they saw a group of Genestealers circling around an Aarun lodge, not trying to enter, just circling around, as if they were waiting to see if anyone was inside. Brother Calremus, after consulting the rest of the Kill Team, raised his Lascannon to his shoulder and fired a shot at the Genestealers, with the bright lasbeam illuminating the dusky atmosphere.

However, Genestealers are nothing if not agile, and it managed to dodge out of the way of the beam, which meant the beam punched a fist sized hole all the way through the lodge, from one side to the other and it got the attention of the Genestealers who had been lurking around the lodge. The Kill Team, knowing that all hopes of stealth was now gone, started firing on the Genestealers from long range, hoping to kill them before they reached them in close combat. Bolters started their chattering, spraying fields of explosive death at the Genestealers, with lascannon shots illuminating the picture as well… and it was one of those lascannon shots that took the first kill, a Genestealer being a little too slow to dodge, and being engulfed in the beam, which sent parts of it dropping to the floor, with the rest of its body vaporised. It was then that Brother Drakhaus, looking at the Auspex, detected a large group of Genestealers massing behind the Theratryx stables, and he shouted a warning to his Battle Brothers.

Brother Calremus was the first to respond, throwing an Astartes blind grenade into the mass of Genestealers, which confused the swarm somewhat, but not enough to stop their charge. Brother Drakhaus extended his arm and watched as the bolt of electricity exploded amongst the Genestealers; with the power being pushed it caused a lot of damage and destruction and only caused a gust of wind to appear in the area, because of Brother Drakhaus’s wards on his body. Brother Curro, itching for close combat but knowing they needed to delay it for as long as possible, threw his Astartes Frag Grenade into another mass of Genestealers, sending bodies and broken limbs up into the air… the Kill Team was doing a good job of thinning the horde, but would it be enough?

The Genestealers charged, all ferocity and rage, with their scythed limbs slashing against the Battle Brothers. Brother’s Curro and Drakhaus had numerous gauges in their armour, as the talons sliced through the Power Armour like it was not there, grievously wounding Brother Curro who had not really recovered from his battering from the Diablon the day before. Brother Calremus pulled out his Storm Bolter, and started spraying his mass reactive bolts into groups of the Genestealers, blowing their limbs off whilst Brother Haakon drew his Power Sword and started slicing into the Genestealers. Brother Drakhaus, understanding what dire straits the Kill Team was in, pushed his power again, electricity spraying from his fist and sending the Genestealers flying. Brother Haakon could see how much damage the Librarian was doing, and that he was probably their only hope; the Battle Brothers took up position to protect the Librarian, to sell their lives dearly.

It was then that the Thunderhawk launched its strafing run, driving Genestealers into the ground with its Heavy Bolters, and breaking up the assault somewhat, giving the Kill Team a little bit of respite, and allowing them to get into their Triangle Formation. Brother Curro, overwhelmed by the Genestealer Hordes, fell to the ground after being taken apart by the Genestealers, his body buried under the seething mass that was assaulting the Kill Team. Not for the first time, this spurred the Kill Team into a ferocious assault on whatever caused the “death” of one of their fellows, even though Brother’s Haakon and Calremus were also taking a lot of damage from the Genestealers, with Brother Calremus only just holding himself up and Brother Haakon also looking pretty ropey. Brother Haakon refused to go down, taking down four Genestealers and Brother Calremus let rip with his Storm Bolter, taking down eight of the Tyranids.

This was an amazing result, as it left just a few remaining stragglers alive, which were then cleaned up by Brother Drakhaus, his Holy Smite destroying the rest of them and leaving the Kill Team hurt but alive, and thanking the Emperor for his grace. When they pulled Brother Curro out from under the massive amount of Genestealer corpses, they were amazed to see that he was still alive, and they got him to the Apothecary, Brother Elyes, who was able to get him back on his feet again. After taking care of the rest of the Kill Team, they took stock of their situation… they had just killed a hell of a lot of Genestealers and it did not seem like there were anymore that they could see. The Kill Team had seen some movement in the lodge after their lascannon shot and they were determined to check that out before continuing with their cleansing, and they had the Thunderhawk conduct a strafing run on the orchard to sift out any Genestealers that may have been hiding.

Brother Haakon decided that whatever was in the lodge would probably be impressed/terrified if he made an unusual entrance so, rather than going up to the door, or looking through the lascannon hole, he just walked up to a random wall and kept on walking, destroying the wall with ease. The three Aarun’s who were holed up in the lodge spun round with curse words forming on their lips, their blades jumping from their sheaths into their hands, before they saw it was not a Genestealer. However, they were confused when Brother Haakon commented that he was here to see why the grain had not been sent to Haistand in the past 5 years… the Aarun’s not understanding Space Wolf humour. The Kill Team was suspicious of how these Aarun’s had managed to survive in a town teeming with Genestealers, and the story that they had been hiding out and then raiding the Theratryx compound for food, because the Genestealers never seemed to bother with them, did not ring true.

Not trusting that these Aarun’s were not infected, Brother Haakon assuaged their fears, and gave them an Astartes Frag Grenade, telling them that this would bring the Kill Team back to them to “save” them. The Aaruns, having no contact with the Imperium, did not know that this was a fallacy, and so were quite thankful for this aid, even though it would be their doom. With their backs “secured” from being surprised, at the very least, the Kill Team moved out further into the town, being very cautious indeed after their last encounter. However, they were all distracted by Brother Haakon chuckling to himself over his rather mean “joke” that he had played on the Aaruns, and so they were surprised when a group of infected Aaruns rounded the corner and charged them. However, these were not Genestealers, and the Kill Team took them down with extreme prejudice. Frag Grenades exploded in their midst and the charge of Brothers Drakhaus and Curro was too much for the remainder.

As they were killing the last of the infected Aaruns, the Kill Team heard a series of loud noises, from both the areas where Brother Haakon had set up his mines to guard their flank, and from the lodge, where the sound was accompanied by the visual of spraying blood, as their “security measure” was used. Standing in the middle of the ruined town of Grensvayl, the Kill Team spotted the last remaining Genestealers approaching them, and stood their ground to take them down. A huge, intense beam of energy flew out of Brother Haakon’s Melta Gun, but his aim was off an all it did was set yet another fire burning in the town, whilst Brother Calremus aimed his lascannon at one of the Genestealers, and turned it into paste. Brother Curro drew his Power Sword and, with a cry to the Emperor, charged into melee slicing one of the Genestealers down the middle, from the head to its groin, with his Chainsword slicing across and taking out another one of the Genestealers, slicing all four of its arms off and leading it bleeding on the ground.

Brother Drakhaus reached deep into the immaterium and directed his immense willpower towards one of the Genestealers. Alien thoughts filled his mind, threatening his sanity, but he pushed past and found the monsters motor controls, and wrenched control from the Genestealer to himself, piloting it like a meat puppet. He managed to make the Genestealer shift sideways, and attack its fellow, ripping into the surprised organism and dealing a deathblow with its razor sharp claws. The remainder of the Genestealers crowded around Brother Curro, ready to deal death with their claws, but Brother Curro acted first, ducking under one of their lunges and burying his Chainsword deep into its belly, before rotating and throwing his Power Sword at the last remaining Genestealer, taking it through the eye and killing it instantly. Brother Curro pulled his Power Sword out of the corpse whilst looking askance at the remaining, docile, Genestealer and Brother Drakhaus.

Brother Drakhaus now had complete control over the Genestealer, and he had it out front as a scout for the Kill Team, as he informed his colleagues that he could control it for quite some time unless anything happened, but that the risk were worth the potential reward. The Kill Team had, from the air, seem a cave system towards the southern end of the town, and given they had cleared everything out up until then, they decided to take a look… and it was confusing because the closer they got, the less the Auspex could see, until Brother Calremus took a look at it, and deciphered that the magnetic interference was coming from the cave itself, which made the Kill Team very cautious as they approached it as they realised that this could not be caused by a natural occurrence. As they made their way towards the disturbance they saw a metal door, which had been worked so that, if it was not open, it would have been barely detectable, especially by the primitive Aaruns.

Given that they were going to be entering close quarters combat, the Kill Team shedded themselves of their heavy weapons, and took up their Storm Bolters and Melee Weaponry… and the decision was made to send in their Dominated Genestealer first. When nothing happened, the Kill Team advanced into the case, seeing immediately that there were three tunnels and, before deciding where to go, Brother Haakon took off his helmet and, using his Wolf Senses, attempted to get a better idea of the surrounding area. To the south, he smelt only death, to the north he smelt only metal and to the west he could smell the strong smell of death, and he quickly relayed this to the Kill Team, who decided that they would head towards the Death smell first. Advancing slowly down the corridor, they found a few broken life pods, which were inscribed with a symbol that none of them had seen before, a cog, inside which was the eight pointed star of Chaos.

After a discussion on what this could mean, the Kill Team moved on and found three corpses, one of which was more machine than man, all of which had been stripped of flesh and eaten, maybe when they were alive. Brother Calremus took one of the cogs with the eight pointed symbol of chaos to show the Deathwatch later, and then they decided that the Kill Team would move towards the sweat smell, with none of the Kill Team wanting to leave anything alive that could attack them from behind. As they walked down the corridor towards the sweat smell, Brother Calremus picked out, with his enhanced eyesight, some movement behind some of the rocks… with this, the Kill Team slowed down and approached in a more cautious manner, before realising that there were Infected Aaruns ahead, and a lot of mining equipment. However, they had been spotted and, before they could get to cover, the Mining Lasers were activated and shot a deadly beam of energy towards the Kill Team.

However, because of Brother Calremus’s words the Kill Team was able to dodge the Mining Laser, and the energy started melting the rocks behind them… what it would have done to their power armour would not have been pretty. Brother Drakhaus, feeling his grip on the Genestealer slipping, decided to send it charging towards the infected Aaruns, which mean it went outside of the sphere of psychic energy that Brother Drakhaus was maintaining. However, all this meant was that it reverted to instinctual behaviour, and that behaviour was to attacked the creatures that had attacked it… the Kill Team could hear the cries of terror and pain that emanated from behind the Mining Laser as the Genestealer ripped them apart with no mercy. After this slaughter the Kill Team wasted no time in blowing the Genestealer to pieces, it had served its purpose, and it had served it well, but it was just too dangerous to keep on a leash all the time.

Brother Calremus could see that the reason the Mining Laser had been so potent was because of the web of Decavane Crystals (which Aarun was famous for) had been interfaced with the normal power supply, and it had given so much more power it was almost unreal, so Brother Calremus picked up a few to take back for study. They also discovered a way to make the Decavane crystals inert for transportation, leading to a discussion about just what exactly was going on in this crazy place, and they received some of the answers when they looked down the mine shaft and saw that many Decavane crystals had been mined from here, and then shipped off-world to places unknown. With nothing else to see here, the Kill Team moved towards the last remaining corridor, the smell of “Metal.” And it was at this juncture that they realised some of what was going on… the Genestealers were just a distraction to stop people investigating, but it was a distraction that had turned on them because of the Quarantine.

The Kill Team, certain that nothing else was left, decided to thoroughly search the last room, finding a large group of Schematics, a lot of which they could at least figure out some areas on, but one in particular which was something entirely new to their minds, it seemed to be an unholy fusion of sorcery and technology, which Brother Calremus clarified for the Kill Team. It seemed to be mostly in tune with teleportation technology, which concerned the Kill Team, as teleportation technology was an ancient archeotech and not to be trifled with. With their work here done, the Kill Team did one last sweep of the area, but could not find anything else that was Xenos Tainted and, once they were happy with that, they incinerated what was left before getting the Thunderhawk to extract them.

Heydal was incredibly surprised to see the Kill Team alive, and even more surprised to learn that the town had been cleansed fully… with all the smoke from the Promethium, Heydal had not been able to distinguish between that smoke, and the smoke from the Kill Teams cleansing… but he was ecstatically happy that his long vigil was at an end. He listened, incredulously, as the Kill Team filled him in on what this small team had accomplished where the armies of Aarun could do nothing… he asked the Kill Team if their ship could take him and his men back to the capital so they could report back to the Caele… this was accepted by the Kill Team, who wished to get back themselves. The flight back was fine, although Heydal and his men, not being used to flying, were mute and looked rather sick for most of the journey, and as soon as the Thunderhawk landed, his men made a break for the door… almost kissing the earth so glad were they to be back in contact.

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