Battle Brothers of the Jericho Reach

The Price of Hubris; Session 12

Where Tragedy strikes the World of Aarun

The Kill Team arrived back around mid-afternoon. Heydal, after being violently sick on the side of the road, informed the Battle Brothers that he would head straight for the Caele’s residence, to inform him of recent events. The Kill Team headed directly for the Imperial Compound to inform Brigadier Heth that whilst there had been a Xenos infection on Aarun, it had now been cleansed and the Rogue Trader, Diaz Lan, offered his congratulations on yet another world freed from the hated Xenos influence. They were also informed that their success in the Divested Hunt had given an instant impact, with the Aaruns treating the Imperials with a little bit more respect than before… which considering it used to be none, was a definite improvement.

The Battle Brothers spent the rest of the afternoon meditating on their success, whilst patching their numerous wounds and repairing the rents in their armour. Towards the start of the evening, they were informed that the Caele would see them after his evening meal, so the Battle Brothers decided to put on an impromptu training session, throwing the doors to the Imperial “Embassy” wide open so that the Aaruns could test themselves against the Adeptus Astartes in hand-to-hand combat. One of the first to turn up was the Aarun who had threatened them with “Legal Action” for the loss of his cart during the Grox Stampede… and in this case, his Lawyer was an impressive specimen of the Aarun world, standing 7ft 5inches with a build to match.

After a little negotiation over the terms of the combat, in which the Battle Brothers promised to pay for the business for two years if they lost, but the business owner promised to voice his awe at the Imperium to anyone who frequented his business for the same amount of time if his “Lawyer” lost, the bout commenced. Brother Curro was the one to take up the challenge, being the Assault Marine and Squad Leader for this mission, and he settled into a fighting stance. The Aarun, who was quicker than he looked, took the first swing, his meaty fists connecting with the face of Brother Curro, snapping his head back with a crushing blow and giving Brother Curro much more respect for this warrior. This made his hundreds of years of training kick in, and his reprisal was devastating.

One, lightning fast, punch hit the Aarun warrior in the chest, breaking a few of his ribs and driving the air from his lungs, whilst also making his feet leave the floor for a second. Brother Curro mercilessly exploited this, with a knee to the head of the Aarun sending him staggering backwards, wobbling awfully, really struggling to stay standing from this brutal assault that defied anything he had felt before. Brother Curro had all the time in the world, or so it seemed to his heightened senses, and he launched himself forward and felt his forehead connect with the face of the Aarun warrior, who let out a muffled groan as he toppled over, utterly defeated. The crowd was completely stunned, from first punch to the end of the fight had only been around 5 seconds, and it was just astonishing… but after another couple of seconds, the cheering started.

The Battle Brothers then started sparring with each other, and any Aarun’s brave enough to step into the ring with them, and the Kill Team became aware of just how impressive these people were, and a plan began to form in their minds as to the future of Aarun. As evening fell, they met the Caele on the roof of his residence… it was obvious that this was the place where he felt most at peace with the world and with what had happened. The Caele invited them to a feast in their honour, one last Aarun tradition because the Caele told them that he feared that the Aarun traditions would be subsumed in the Imperium… with the Caele even going so far as to ask the Kill Team to falsify their reports, to tell their superiors that the Genestealer seed was too deep in the planet, and that they should quarantine the planet until the sector is purified.

The Battle Brothers listened patiently as the Caele spoke to them about his fears for an Imperium Led future… with his proud warriors reduced to mere farm labourers, for the Decavane Crystals that made Aarun what it was being stripped away, for all the brutal beauty of this planet being destroyed all to feed the Imperial War Machine. Brother Curro spoke to the Caele about his chapter, the Storm Wardens, and how he had come from a world much like this, with a proud warrior culture… and how they were left to themselves, to be the people that would be recruited into the Astartes ranks… which intrigued the Caele immensely. Brother Curro’s comments that the Aarun’s would not be devoured, as they would by the Tyranids, but absorbed into the Imperium did not help ease the Caele’s mind, as he rightly pointed out that they sort of mean the same thing!

The Battle Brothers told the Caele that they would take his advice to heart and would come up with a plan for this world, and that they understood some of his fears, however treasonous they sounded to their ears. The Caele thanked them for their counsel and informed them that he would send Alkedre to fetch them around midday for the Feast, and then he thanked them and left them on the roof to their own thoughts. The Battle Brothers were somewhat torn… they could see both sides of the argument and, whilst they were loyal to the Imperium, they were also loyal to the Emperor and could see how this world could strengthen his legions without losing what made this world so special. They decided that their recommendation would be a compromise between all the factions… this world would be a recruiting ground for Space Marine Chapters, for the Imperial Guard, the mining would be limited and a lot of the land would be used for Agriculture.

The next day the Kill Team was met by Alkedre, who gifted them each a necklace made with the fangs of the Diablon they had killed. Also, because the Kill Team had brought back the entire body, Brother Curro was gifted with a cape made from the Diablon’s red scales, which shimmered in the Aarun sunlight. The Battle Brothers accepted these gifts graciously before meeting with Diaz Lan and Archibald Heth, with Brother Curro sitting next to the Rogue Trader in his cape and just feeling rather superior. The Kill Team were at the head of the parade to the Hall of Victory with the Caele, resplendent with Power Armour and Weapons… including a Lascannon that Brother Calremus insisted on taking with him… he had a bit of a light show in mind towards the end of the ceremony.

As the procession arrived at the Victory Hall, the Caele took to the stage that had been set up outside and gestured for the Kill Team to join him. From the height of the stage, the Kill Team could see just how many Aarun’s had come to this area of the city and, whilst it did not have anything in terms of sheer numbers compared to some of the Hive Worlds they had visited, it was still an impressive spectacle. The Caele’s speech got the crowd cheering, and the Kill Team could see the Aarun warriors freely mingling with the small contingent of Imperial Guard that were on Aarun. During the cheering, the Caele leaned towards the Battle Brothers and asked them what their decision had been, and a smile split his face when the Kill Team informed him of their plan/recommendation. He turned back to the crowd and informed them that he had decided to bring the world of Aarun back into the Imperium, by the God Emperor’s grace.

Battle Brother Curro was then invited to speak to the crowd, which was an ancient Aarun tradition that had somehow been missed out of their mission packs. Still, whilst he was no great speaker, he did understand how a world of warriors would react, and pitched his speech directly to each of them, informing them of the great future this world had within the Imperium, and how their strength had impressed even those of the Adeptus Astartes. All in all, it was a rather rousing speech that would be spoken of in glowing terms in the near future of Aarun. After this, everyone moved into the Victory Hall and took their positions, with the Kill Team free to choose their seats (not that anyone could have stopped them sitting where they wanted anyway!), but as Guests of Honour, this gave them more freedom than usual… although most of the Kill Team decided to sit at the head table with the Caele.

After the first course, the formal setting and seating split up and the Kill Team started roaming around the hall, with Brother Haakon going straight for the harshest alcohol he could get his hands on… he was determined to put his enhanced organs to the test. Brother Drakhaus sought out the “Shaman’s” of Aarun, knowing them to be psykers in all but name, because he wanted to test them to see how they used their powers, what training they were given, and how likely it would be that a major Daemon incursion would happen because of one of them getting stupid. Brother Haakon also kept getting asked about his Fenrisian Wolf Cloak, it being a singular creature especially on a world dominated by scaled lizards, rather than more mammals. The Tech Marine was getting the most attention, his otherworldly look completely fascinating and terrifying the natives.

An Imperial Missionary, Marius by name, was using the success of the Kill Team to spread the word of the Emperor and, as he was talking about the Three Challenges of Lehman Russ, the Space Wolves Primarch) he called Brother Haakon over because a lot of the Aaruns had expressed a desire to do the first two challenges (eating a lot of food, and drinking a lot of alcohol). Brother Haakon, with his enhanced organs, was the only one left standing after imbibing a herculean amount of food and beer, with many Aarun’s either unconscious or writhing around in pain from eating/drinking too much. It was at this time that the superhuman senses of the Adeptus Astartes detected the hissing sound of Genestealers… but this was too late to stop what came next.

The Genestealers, many of them dripping in Promethium from where they had been hiding, materialised in the hall, striking with deadly intent. Those nearest to the entrance of the Victory Hall were overwhelmed, dying with a smile on their lips and a drink in their hands… those next in line were not so fortunate, they had just enough time to realise what was coming for them, and feel the terrible dread and terror, before they were cut down. At the head of the horde was a monster the Kill Team had seen before… a Broodlord! The Kill Team, being members of the Adeptus Astartes, were some of the first to react, their training and lack of fear allowing them to move as a team, rather than as a group of frightened individuals, which was what was happening with most of the Aarun’s… the Caele and Alkedre being notable exceptions.

The Broodlord let forth a horrific psychic scream into the Warp, which made the already scattered Aarun defence fall apart, with only the Battle Brothers able to rally the tables where they were, along with the Caele, Alkedre, Brigadier Heth and Diaz Lan… and then battle was joined. Brother Elyes stepped in front of Alkedre and Heth, shielding them with his armoured body as he pulled out his Bolter and spat a stream of death towards the Genestealers attacking that table, but the incredibly swift Xenos were able to dodge easily as they surged towards the Battle Brother. Brother Drakhaus, meanwhile, had more exalted foes in mind, and sprayed the Broodlord with a full-auto burst from his Storm Bolter, but the creature’s tough carapace mostly held off the attack, with a few splinters of carapace being split off his carcass. However, the Genestealers then ripped into the Aarun ranks, slaughtering many of them for only the loss of a few of their own.

It was at that point that Karthus, one of the trusted generals of the Aarun people, revealed his true colours and leapt on Brother Calremus… unknown to the Kill Team, Karthus had been infected for quite some time, and him and his infected warriors had chosen now to strike. Brother Calremus was able to dodge out of the attack of Karthus, but another infected warrior managed to lodge its Genestealer dagger into his chest, but it only just penetrated the armour, and Brother Calremus’s natural toughness took care of the rest. Brother Calremus, using his natural strength and agility, shrugged off those attacking him, pulled up his Lascannon, sighted down the Broodlord and fired. However, the Broodlord was incredibly aware of its surroundings and managed to shift its bulk out of the way, but in doing so it left itself vulnerable to Brother Curro.

Brother Curro stepped up with his Power and Chain swords, swinging them in a concave pattern and carving big chunks out of the Broodlord, but not stopping the rampaging monster. Brother Haakon thought about using his Meltagun to attack the Broodlord, but the close proximity of Brother Curro nixed that plan, and his bolter shots were dodged by the Genestealers. Meanwhile, the Caele, fighting for his home and his people, stepped up and slashed at some of the Genestealers, his incredible strength (for an Aarun) carving through one of the Xenos. The Broodlord, with incredibly strength, pushed Brother Curro aside, his armour gouged by the scything talons of the Broodlord, leant towards the Caele, his mouth within a mouth extending, and punched through the Caele’s Saurian scale armour and into his chest… the Caele dropped immediately.

Brothers’ Elyes and Haakon started co-ordinating the first from the Bolters, more accurate bursts of mass reactive bolts ripping through the Genestealer Ranks and giving the overwhelmed Aaruns a fighting chance. Brother Drakhaus, himself relatively safe in one corner of the room, reached out with the power of his mind and overwhelmed the willpower of one of the Genestealers next to the Broodlord… with the plan being to make the Genestealer attack the Broodlord, and thus giving more opportunity for Brother Curro to hack it down. Father Marius, reciting prayers to the Emperor, started spraying the room with his Holy Flamer which, given that the Genestealers were covered in Promethium, was a startlingly effective manoeuvre, if a devastating one.

Brother Calremus, realising he could get overwhelmed by the number of infected warriors trying to attack him, dropped his Lascannon and quickly drew his Power Sword and Bolt Pistol and stood in a confident stance, awaiting their attacks. Brother Tyhous, the Tech Marine, lurched forward and buried his Combat Knife into the body of the Broodlord, whilst his Servo Arm came crashing down on another Genestealer, destroying the Xenos’s skull and flattening it into the ground like a squashed bug. The Caele pulled himself to his feet and buried his sword deep into the guts of another Genestealer, before quickly dodging a riposte, whilst Brother Tyhous took a couple of grievous hits from the other Genestealers, but his enhanced and machine aided constitution and armour were able to keep him alive, if wounded.

During all the chaos, the Kill Team realised that the Genestealers attacking Diaz Lan did not seem to be going all out (if you could make that distinction with Genestealers) and did not seem to be trying to kill him. But they could not do too much about this, as they were still engulfed in a tide of Genestealers, the Caele was injured and the rest of the battle was not going that well. Brother Drakhaus, controlling one of the Genestealers, used this tool to attack one of its brethren… which was completely surprised and went down after being torn to pieces by its Broodmate. Meanwhile, the Aaruns were putting up a bit more of a fight, taking down some more Genestealers as reinforcements arrived from the guards outside. Father Marius managed to clear the area where he was fighting with more gouts of flame from his Flamer, which freed up some other Aarun’s to go to their colleagues aid.

Brother Curro, seeing the damage the Broodlord had done, let out a cry as loud as Thunder, fixing the Broodlord’s attention entirely on him and away from the Aarun’s in the battle, before driving his Power Sword deep into the stomach of the Broodlord, causing a massive wound, and leaving the Broodlord staggering. Brother Elyes, who had taken out his Bulkhead Shears, saw the opportunity and took it… leaping high into the air off one of the tables, crying out a Dark Angels battlecry and burying them deeply into the back of the Broodlord, which staggered backwards and then, in almost slow motion, fell down dead, hitting the floor with a thud. The Kill Team had been made aware that the Caele had probably been infected by the Broodlord’s kiss, and so Brother Drakhaus, knowing what needed to happen, ordered his Genestealer Thrall to attack the Caele.

However, the Caele was a fine warrior and was still quite healthy and managed to dodge the Genestealers attacks, especially with the Aarun warriors throwing themselves in the way of the blows, willing to lay down their lives to protect their beloved leader. With the death of the Broodlord, that freed the Kill Team to focus down the rest of the Xenos, which they did with precision and brutality… although both Alkedre and Diaz Lan were pulled down by the Genestealers, but were found to still be alive, if gravely injured after the fight was finished. The final blow went to Brother Drakhaus, whose warp powered smite completely destroyed the two Genestealers that were retreating… and the Caele managed to survive the assassination attempt, even if he did not know it was as such… and, in fact, the Caele was the one that pinned the Genestealer and jammed his sword into the monsters throat, before collapsing.

With the battle over, the Caele and Alkedre were taken by their own people to be seen to, although their injuries did not appear to be as serious as were first thought, probably a side effect of the Decavane Crystals that were seeded throughout the planet. The Kill Team took stock, and realised that it was possible that any of the Caele, Alkedre or Diaz Lan may have been infected with the Xenos taint… and they only had the medical facilities to sort out one of them. The decision was made to scan the Caele… as if he was infected then this entire planet could be at risk, and might end up signalling the Hive Fleet that the Kill Team had very personal experience with. The Caele was somewhat sceptical of their claims, but could not deny that his General Karthus had turned against him, and was horrified that it could potentially happen to him… but in the end agreed to come up and be scanned on the Rogue Traders ship.

The scanning process was long and invasive… they were looking at an infection on a genetic level using arcane machinery that Brother Elyes and Diaz Lan barely understood but, eventually after a month the scans came back… and it was bad news, the Caele had been infected by the Broodlord’s Kiss and was a danger to the entire planet of Aarun. However, there was still hope… not only could the facilities on the Rogue Trader’s ship scan for the disease but it had the ability to cure as well… which Brother Elyes set about with much haste. Unfortunately, his skill was not up to the task and the scans they did after the “treatment” showed that the infection was still present and was in the process of rewriting the Caele’s very being. The Kill Team, who respected the Caele greatly, informed him of this in a very solemn way, although they were also unaware of how he would react to this news, because they did not know how fast the infection would spread.

So it came to pass that Caele Rylus Darkscourge took his own life in a ceremony that was witnessed by Diaz Lan, Brigadier Heth, Alkedre Firestalker and the Battle Brothers, and leadership of the planet of Aarun passed to Alkedre… whom the Kill Team were still not sure of. They managed to convince Alkedre that they needed to come back and test her for the same issue that had caused the former Caele to take his own life, and after informing the Brigadier of this, and that some members of the Adminstratum would be coming to help administer Imperial control, the Battle Brothers went back to the Watch Fortress to restock Lan’s medical facility, knowing that they were gambling that Alkedre was not infected, due to the amount of time that will have passed by the time they return (circa 3 months). The Kill Team were frustrated at this amount of time, but there was nothing they could do to change the eddies of the Warp.


That fight was a bastard

The Price of Hubris; Session 12

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