Mission One - The Vigilant
You and your fellow team members have been gathered together in order to engage in a number of missions primarily against both the Tau and Tyranid threats to the Imperiums interests throughout the sector. These missions necessitate particular timing and use of specialist equipment so until these factors are coordinated you have been left to engage in your own personal meditations, training and the other idiosyncrasies of your respective chapters.
This morning however is different. You have been summoned to a meeting with the Watch Captain in the early hours so seemingly your services are required in some manner. You all arrive promptly at the appointed time to a briefing room with a large holographic tactical display at it's centre surrounded by a substantial set of chairs obviously built for recipients of Astartes stature. A figure more machine than Marine is already in the room enacting some ritual with the device presumably readying it's machine spirit in anticipation of it's utilisation during your upcoming briefing. After some time he unplugs himself from the console and moves to a corner of the room and as he does so the cog symbols of the mechanicum and the symbol of the Iron Hands chapter can be seen worked into the vast array of bionics that make up the bulk of his body.
A moment after you are settled into the room the fortresses Watch Captain 'Mordrak' enters and wastes no time in beginning. "Greetings Brothers, I have been contacted by the Inquisition in regards to an urgent threat to our upcoming operations and as you are currently between missions I have offered your services in it's resolution" "He will be here to brief you his-self momentarily but as this is the first time you have all been gathered together perhaps it would be worthwhile if you were to introduce yourselves to one another formally...."
Editors Note - This seemed like an excellent way of letting the players do a bit of role-playing. The less experienced players pretty much read the info bit of their character sheets out but a couple did do this bit in character. With groups with varying levels of experience it's (imo at least) important to let people do this kind of thing at their own pace.
"Tidus of the Raven Guard is currently on a scouting mission related to our upcoming campaign and so you'll have to do without him on this occasion"
The White Scar Hakim was intrigued to note that the name Yiraka of the Raven Guard was the same as a veteran of 'Operation Chronos' whose claims of his chapters failure resulted in them coming to blows during a subsequent campaign some ten years ago...
Editors Note - Two characters picking effectively the same 'Past Event' at character creation was too good an opportunity to pass up...
Just as you are completing your introductions a figure sporting the Inquisition symbol emblazoned on his clothing enters the room. You had all heard that a member of the Ordo Xenos had recently arrived at the station but this is the first time you've met Inquisitor Nolan. Being used to dealing with members of the Astartes he dispenses with any flowery introductions and begins immediately.
"A Dauntless Class light cruiser 'The Vigiliant' carrying a number of important imperial officials has transmitted a distress call that was intercepted by one of our listening stations" *A holographic representation of the aforementioned cruiser appears in the display above the centre console*
"The gist of the message was that the vessels commander, senior officers and elements of the crew had been compromised by representatives of the Tau empire and that the remaining loyalist elements of the crew were attempting to re-take the vessel in the name of the Emperor but as the message ended abruptly we can only presume that they failed" He pauses briefly to check some piece of information on a data-slate before continuing "The Imperial navy wishes to find the vessel and destroy it but without knowing if the officials aboard have also been compromised the result of this would mean potentially changing our plans unnecessarily or not changing them at all and allow the chance that the enemy will be able to anticipate us" *The display changes to indicate an unremarkable looking planetoid with a cruiser in orbit around it which presumably represents the current location of the offending vessel* "We have therefore decided upon a more tactical solution" "An Interceptor class vessel of the Deathwatch modified to launch a single boarding torpedo will approach the cruiser from behind the indicated lump of rock targeting an area from which an assault on the engine room and primary power source can be implemented" *Various schematics of a Dauntless Class cruiser now fill the display*
"Tech-Marine Marcus assures me that he can effectively cripple the vessel from this location preventing it's escape as well as access the ships core systems enabling us to locate the officials (if they still live) and from there I will decide upon any subsequent actions"
"The 'Military' aspects of this mission shall be implemented by your kill team which we have provisionally designated 'Theta' and which (on this occasion at least) will be commanded by Brother Claudius" "However the overall plan of action will be decided upon by myself with the full authority of the Inquisition of course" "Any questions?"
Editors Note - Either it was an awesome briefing or every-one was a bit shy...I at least expected some-one to ask about getting back off the ship afterwards...
With the briefing complete as is traditional amongst Deathwatch teams they pledged an Oath together before moving to the armoury to equip themselves for the upcoming mission.They chose the Oath of Glory. Those that take the Oath of Glory pledge to the Emperor, their Chapter, their Primarch, and their Battle Brothers to prove themselves in battle above and beyond their duty.
Editors Note - An 'Oath' is taken before each mission that gives you differing benefits depending on the one selected. Apparently this team is a bunch of glory hunters, lol.
After receiving your briefing and making your 'Oath' you move to the armoury to collect the items of wargear allocated to you by your respective Chapters in anticipation of the extremely important nature of your upcoming campaign and where either your own Armour or that which you've taken from the Deathwatch's own stocks are stored. Several serfs in the service of the Deathwatch itself and a number of servitors are ready to assist in the armament process. The majority of the servitors are the watch fortresses own though several bear the symbols of the Iron Hands and were presumably bought along by the Techmarine allocated to your team. However the bulk of the Deathwatches equipment is stored separately and securely as it contains many ancient pieces of archeotech and chapter relics left in their care and so is issued when necessary and only to those who have proven themselves in the eyes of the deathwatch.
Editors Note - Going by the book you only get to keep your standard equipment and must requisition all your cool toys before each new mission and give them back afterwards. You can spend XP on some 'Talents' that allow you to 'buy' a piece of gear and keep it but the gentleman who will be our regular GM effectively gave every-one in character wargear for free. With this in mind I was justifiably stingy with the amount of requisition I handed out for extra toys...
The team requisitioned a Heavy Flamer and a standard Flamer, some extra Grenades and Explosives, and a Multi-Key device for bypassing security systems.
Once fully equipped you board a small escort vessel and after a short time are directed to the modified torpedo aboard. Under the direction of your techmarine the appropriate rituals are enacted and the launch commences with a sudden burst of acceleration. Without the protection provided by his own power armour it is likely that the forces involved would have proven to much for your none Astartes companion however he seems none the worse for the experience so far. A mechanical sounding voice begins to countdown...5, 4, 3, 2, 1...
The grinding sound of the initial impact is audible even through the reinforced hull of the torpedo and is soon replaced by the noise of the drilling gear in the torpedoes nose tearing it's way towards the predetermined access corridor specified in your briefing. A moment later the front of the vehicle opens and you get your first view of the inside of the cruiser. Despite the noise of your arrival the corridor ahead is deserted...Marcus informs you that this access corridor should end at a service elevator that brings relatively smaller supplies to the engine room but should be large enough to carry the whole team direct to your target. The alternative is to make your way up level by level which will take several hours...
The other team members requested that Marcus undertake continuous scans of the area and relayed any significant findings to the team via their linked systems though he noted nothing significant nearby within the approximate 50m range of the scanner. The corridor was wide enough for the team to walk two abreast and the Imperial Fist made note of areas that would make good defensive positions should they need to make a stand. Making no effort to hide his scorn for such precautions the Black Templar Klaus simply marched ahead. Apparently deciding that the Marine with the Heavy Weapon and a preference for defensive positions would make the best personal guard the Inquisitor stayed close to the Imperial Fist.
As they made their way nearer to the corridors end their Techmarine informed them that there were five humanoid heat signatures ahead. The Templar loudly announced himself and his shout was answered by a poorly aimed burst of solid projectile rounds from the darkness. In an impressive display of personal piloting skills the Jump Pack equipped White Scar surged ahead as the Devastator sent a burst of Heavy Bolter rounds passed him in the general direction of the end of the corridor. The rest advanced with the exception of Inquisitor Nolan who positioned himself just behind Arno. As the team moved closer the more detailed information from their various scanners showed them that at the end of the corridor a small team of five crew members is manning a multi-barrelled weapon on a heavy-duty mount. Their Imperial insignia has been somewhat hastily removed from their uniforms...
Now with specific targets at which to aim a more targeted burst of Heavy Bolt rounds reduced the enemy weapon team to a series of bloody smears before either the White Scar or the Black Templar could reach them...
Editors Note - Most Deathwatch campaigns start off with the players thinking as individuals rather than a team.
The service elevator is a large rectangular shape that will just about hold you all but there is little room to spare...
With the Inquisitor in the middle and the heavily armoured Techmarine at the front, the group crammed themselves somewhat uncomfortably into the service elevator as it was decided that speed was an issue during this particular mission.
Editors Note - There was always a possibility that they were going to decide that the elevator was too dangerous and take the long route which would have meant a few more skill tests (Some Climbing and Jumping) but would have given them a better opportunity for a surprise attack. Not knowing the PC's preferences I gave them both options as this mission was to all intents and purposes to get them used to the system and get some idea of the kind of roleplaying experience they were looking for.
The elevator doors grind open and you get your first view of the engine room. Dozens of crew are milling about in an area containing several heavy servitors designed for unloading equipment, large stacks of crates and random piles of parts litter the area seemingly at random. Before the doors are fully open several of the crew can't help but notice the lifts unusual contents and begin to shout warnings to one another while several others run in the opposite direction though whether this is too escape or fetch help is not immediately apparent. All those remaining appear to be armed...
Though unfamiliar with each others preferred tactics the Astartes still deployed from the cramped elevator in good order. The assault orientated characters quickly advanced, the Devastator immediately moved to a defensive position with the inquisitor just behind and set about destroying the heavy duty Servitors before they could be turned on the team while the Iron Hand Techmarine began a purposeful advance across the chamber towards the main entrance to the engine room. The Ultramarine stayed back in order to better assess the situation while his more impetuous team members began to eliminate the immediate threats. It had also occurred to Claudius that they didn't yet know the extent of the rebellion aboard the ship and it was possible that the crew members here were entirely innocent. A quick look at the enforcers leading the engineering crews and the defaced uniforms they wore quickly removed any doubt from his mind however and he added his own Bolter fire to the attacks of his team. The small disorganised groups put up little resistance but shouts could be heard from the main engineering section and large groups of crewmen bullied together by armoured enforcers could be seen grouping in the distance.
With the intervening crew thinned out slightly Techmarine Marcus begins to make his way across the room towards what was presumably an area of importance of some kind occasionally smashing aside an interfering crew member. He transmits to you all via vox his intention to attempt to close the main blast doors to the engine room to prevent any reinforcements from the ship interfering further while he disables the core systems. Evidently he plans to do this from somewhere in main engineering as he moves off in that direction...Several large groups of crewmen and several servitors are moving to intercept...
Editors Note - Our Devastators catch phrases are apparently 'Is there any cover?" or "Where is the nearest cover?" or "How far is it to the next bit of cover?". Though in his defence his character does have a lot of abilities that benefit from being behind something. The others were also beginning to make better use of their characters own skills. Our Black Templar has an ability called 'Litany of Hate' which allows him to share a 'Hatred' ability of his with his allies and in this case the rest of the team suddenly developed a particular dislike for Heretics...
The remaining enforcers had seemingly managed to convince the hordes of crewmen that no mercy was likely from the Astartes facing them and that there only hope was to bring them down by sheer weight of numbers and they had formed large mobs that with some encouragement from the rear charged forward. Those of the team with Flamer weapons switched to these in anticipation of the closing horde while the White Scar Hakim systematically eliminated the weapon teams along the gantry. Unperturbed by the mass of enemies the Templar charged into the largest group and began to gleefully butcher his way through them as blasts of promethium incinerated the unfortunates in the other hordes of the increasingly reluctant engineering crew.
Noting another group of enemies amassing below the gantry network Hakim ripped an unused ammunition drum from the heavy weapon teams now useless weapon, tucked into the clothing of a dead weapon team member together with several Frag Grenades and hurled the improvised anti-personal weapon directly into it's centre. The combination of fragmentation shrapnel, exploding ammunition and the pulped remains of the crewman were too much for them and their courage broke. At the same time the group in combat with the Templar also decided that they had less dangerous places to be and being nearly leaderless due to precisely placed shots from the Inquisitor broke also.
Loud grinding noises can be heard from various points around the area followed by the heavy clang of blast doors closing...
Inquisitor Nolan called out that he needed a prisoner and Hakim dutifully obliged by acquiring a likely looking leader who foolishly thought he could outrun a Jump Packed equipped Space Marine. After a brief but effective interrogation they discovered that the crew had been promised a better life on a Tau world away from the oppressive regime of the Imperium and that the leaders of this rebellion were based on the bridge though the location of any Imperial Officials aboard was not known to him. The Inquisitor sentenced him to death on the spot and this was carried out by Klaus who removed his head from his shoulders before returning to systematically executing the scattered remnants of the crew.
Marcus has been busy destroying certain consoles, re-wiring others and informs you that the engine room should now be beyond the crews ability to repair without several days work. He has also cut power to the ships weapon systems. He then directs you all to a control room overseeing the main floor accessed via a heavy duty stairway that is apparently used by the overseers to monitor their workers but which also allows access to the various security systems throughout the vessel. The large room has several walls filled with monitors surrounding a central console into which he plugs himself via several cables. "What do you need to know then?"
It was discovered by monitoring the many pict feeds and data streams that there were no prisoners of note in the actual prison hold which was convenient as the prisoner hold was actually 3km away on other side of ship. It was also of note that the pict cameras were disabled in the officers quarters and on the main bridge. They also monitored the feeds in the shuttle bay and though there were no Xenos vessels in the hold they did discover the location of the shuttle used by the officials. It was decided that securing this transport so they had a convenient way off the ship was an important secondary objective. This task was allocated to the White Scar Assault Marine who would eliminate any resistance and the Imperial Fist Devastator who could easily secure the area and discourage any attempt to retake it.
Editors Note - A decision somewhat influenced by the fact that one of their players needed to go home...
The rest of the team concluded that the most likely place for holding the important prisoners would be that area that had been rendered 'blind' and combined with the information from the prisoner, also the likely HQ of the traitorous heretics and foul Xenos. There were several approaches to this area and the three most likely would be via the hab levels, through the navigation spire from about the halfway point, via the ships armoury or down through lower decks and up entire Nav spire. They opted for the direct route.
Inquisitor Nolan suggested that they create a slow overload of the ships core power systems that would destroy the vessel in the event that they failed as the vessel was obviously now infested by traitors. The majority of the team decided that as there was no guarantee that they could secure a getaway route that this might be premature and the Inquisitor agreed to temporarily delay in implementing this plan...after a message was transmitted to the Techmarine on a closed channel from the Inquisitor the act of sabotage was done anyway...
Your journey through the ship is fairly uneventful. Your tech-marine easily bypasses any bulkheads or barriers you encounter, any groups of crew you encounter make themselves scarce as soon as you approach and the occasional attempt to prevent your progress is easily repealed by a combination of overwhelming firepower and brutal melee assaults...the whole thing seems...suspiciously easy...
Marcus informs you that you are nearly at the command quarters adjacent to the bridge. In theory this area should be filled with guards but you are yet to encounter anything other than the most token resistance. It is possible that this is simply a disorganised and opportunist take-over rather than the grand and insidious plan that the Imperial Navy and the Inquisition suspected.
Marcus's distinctly monotone voice crackles in your vox systems as he informs you that his auspex systems have detected a significant number of bio readings and energy signatures about 200m ahead at what should be the blast doors separating the command and bridge areas from the rest of the vessel. with a much smaller concentration of bio readings some 100m before that.
With little else to do the team decided to simply advance and assess the situation themselves.
The corpses of crew members litter the approach having been torn to shreds by a mixture of las blasts and solid projectile rounds presumably while attempting to retake the bridge. Three groups of some ten to fifteen men still very much in their Imperial uniforms are taking cover behind a few crates and barrels that are to your experienced eyes unlikely to withstand even a half-hearted assault of any kind. This is seemingly all that's left of the loyal crew. Distinct amongst these is single figure in the uniform of a senior Imperial official...
The Inquisitor recognised this individual as Leandros Maleko a former Imperial Governor and leader of the strategic planning team that they had been sent to find.
It is immediately apparent that the traitors have chosen this area to make a stand. Weapon teams are stationed at strategic points around the entrance area and barriers have been erected behind which dozens of armed and armoured ships security members are stationed. More disturbingly two squads in the distinctive armour of Tau Fire Warriors are amongst these defenders. A second less heavily defended set of barriers has been hastily assembled further out from the entrance. As you get closer a voice calls out to you requesting a meeting with your leader...
"This vessel is now under the protection of the Tau Empire. If you withdraw now you may take with you those officials and crew who have refused to join our cause as a gesture of our good faith"
Editors Note - I thought I should at least give them the opportunity of a 'diplomatic' solution...
In a decision that surprised every-one concerned Inquisitor Nolan sent the Black Templar Klaus to speak with the crews representative. Klaus informed the officer who was seemingly speaking on behalf of the traitors and their Xenos allies that he had no intention of discussing the matter in the midst of Xenos vermin and the traitorous scum who had allied with them and began to drag the unfortunate steadily back towards the rest of the team. The mutineers seemed reluctant to start a fire fight and allowed the officer to be removed from their midst. The Inquisitor gave all the impression that he was actually negotiating with the officer but was instead using the time to discuss with the team the best way of clearing the bridge area as well as further reiterating his earlier plan about destroying the ship.
Knowing that the Tau were weak in melee it was decided that the techmarine would lay down some suppression fire to prevent them from immediately bringing their weapons to bear while the Marines closed the gap into close combat range. The surviving crew would then support the assault in their own meagre way to occupy the weapon teams. Once in the cover previously occupied by the soon to be deceased Tau Fire Warriors the Kill Team would move onto any remaining threats. At this point the smaller team sent to the shuttle hanger transmitted the news that the area was secure and that their getaway transport was ready whenever necessary.
With the plan decided upon there was little else to do but attack....
Report 194659776KTT - The Vigilant Incident
Investigating Agent - Inquisitor Nolan
The operation to retrieve the missing Imperial Tactical Officers has been completed successfully with the retrieval of Leandros Maleko the most important of the group.
It is also with some regret that I relay the news that those of the crew who had still kept their oaths unfortunately died in a valiant attempt to retake the bridge but it should be noted that their bravery enabled us to withdraw with the target.
Regrettably 'The Vigilant' itself suffered a catastrophic engine core explosion shortly after our teams withdrawal. Techmarine Marcus of the Iron Hands has attributed this due to Xenos meddling with the superior imperial technology of the vessel which no doubt angered the ships machine spirit comprising the integrity of the vessel.
Back To Reality.
The session went well considering that most of the PC's were unfamiliar with the system.
There were a few bits I weren't happy with as my original plan for the mission was to have the battle sequences broken up by stealth aspects so the Raven Guard player had something to do but unfortunately he couldn't attend the session. It's possible that I should have done a bigger rewrite than I did to take this into account as I had to wing some of the linking segments.
Still the players seemed to enjoy themselves and as they've all signed up for another session it can't have gone that badly.
The players were given 750 XP each and 3 Renown with the White Scar and Black Templar players getting a bonus of 100 XP each for roleplaying.
Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.