Matt - Space Wolves Wolf Scout Bjorn
Jon - Raven Guard Apothecary Validus
Garreth (GM)- Iron Hands Techmarine Marcus
Designated Leader - Assault Marine Klaus
Kill-Team Oath - Oath of Glory
Mission Requisition - N/A
Mission Three - An Uninvited Guest
After successfully leading the Tyranids to the Tau encampment you withdraw back to your cache of equipment awaiting orders for the second phase of your mission. However rather than details of the next mission phase you are informed by command that they are receiving an Imperial distress signal some ten kilometres from your current position. Your orders are to find the source of this signal before the Tau are alerted to an Imperial presence on the planet and report back to command. As far as they are aware there are no officially sanctioned operations nearby. An Apothecary of the Raven Guard who was already on his way to support your missions next phase will be at your position shortly.
The Apothecary they were expecting arrived some moments later, briefly introduced himself and was quick to register his opinion that his arrival was in the nick of time judging by some of the recent medicae work he observed.
Editors Note - To cut a long story short in the first two missions first aid had been provided by the Techmarine equipped with a Mechadendrite primarily used for repairing servitors...it has a stapler...
Your servo skull network has detected significant activity in the intervening area of jungle from both Tyranids newly alerted to the Tau presence and increased Tau patrols, presumably concerned about the number of their own men who have failed to report in over the last few hours.
As the equipment cache would be necessary for the temporarily postponed next mission phase it was decided to leave the Ultramarine and White Scar to ensure it stayed secure as well as to provide a relatively safe fall back position should it become necessary.
Editors Note - The Ultramarine player wasn't available and we weren't sure if the White Scar player was going to turn up at this point so it seemed like a good idea to leave them behind both in and out of character so everything made sense from a narrative point of view. It's also fairly common for players to completely forget about NPC's when making decisions so it's better if they're 'doing something else'...
While closing on the enemy position Bjorn observed that the Kroot had slowed their advance and were moving with far greater care as if they had detected something. The Kroots own skills at stealth were shown to also be considerable as they inexplicably disappeared from the veteran scouts senses completely. When he finally located them again they were less than fifty metres from his position and advancing cautiously in his direction and as he attempted to withdraw they picked up their pace showing all the signs that they had detected his location.
Editors Note - Bjorns player Matt fluffed a lot of 'Silent Move' and 'Concealment' tests while I was rolling quite well for the Kroots Perception tests. It's possible that Matt might have needed a new character had not the rest of the team come up with a decent enough rescue plan...
Fortunately he had been giving regular progress reports to the rest of his team and given the increasing likely-hood of his discovery Klaus had ordered the rest of the team to move up in support as stealthily as they could manage with the exception of Marcus whom he ordered to stay at the extreme end of his weapon range in order to minimise the chances of the extremely heavy and relatively slow Techmarine from giving them away. However as it soon became evident that only the Raven Guard newly attached to the team was sufficiently skilled in the arts of stealth to approach without giving himself away it was decided that he would move into a decent firing position so he and the Wolf Scout could coordinate a surprise attack with the rest advancing once the ambush was sprung and overwhelming the enemy with superior firepower. With the enemy now barely ten metres from Bjorns position he and Validus prepared themselves...
Editors Note - Any armour above a certain level of protection (7 or more AP) also causes -30 in penalties to Silent Move and Concealment tests which means that despite them technically having the appropriate Skills it's tricky for a Marine to do anything stealthy. Deathwatch Scout Armour ignores that particular rule and Raven Guard can take a Talent called 'Guerrilla Training' which also bypasses those restrictions. I thought any of you planning on creating a stealthy Marine might want to know...
Editors Note - The White Scars player had arrived at this point ;-)
Having concluded that the Wolf Scout needed some support it was decided that the Raven Guard Validus who had shown significant stealth skill should also range ahead of the team. Bjorn observed the earlier detected group of Kroots trail in order to ensure they weren't returning and once sure continued to guide his team along a fairly direct line towards their objective. Somewhat more cautious than before the Astartes scout stopped more regularly to sight ahead and was becoming more and more certain that something was moving in his direction but just couldn't seem to actually get a bead on what it was. Validus meanwhile was navigating a parallel course some fifty metres behind the Space Wolf and was also beginning to get the distinct impression that something was moving towards them. After some brief consultation they decided to move off their current path as whatever was approaching seemed to be heading towards the area in which they'd engaged the Kroot and if they continued as they were they'd walk right into it.
Unwilling to engage an unknown foe without any intelligence both the advancing Marines found areas of cover and waited to see just what was incoming. The remaining members of the kill-team spread out and awaited their brother Marines report. Techmarine Marcus also decided to carefully re-position some of the servo skull relay network to give them a better idea of what may be ahead. As the jungle foliage parted a familiar creature emerged in a glimmer of chameleonic scales that was familiar to the Space Wolf from the transmissions received from Marcus as he'd led it to the Tau encampment but that the Apothecary only knew from his Deathwatch training on Xenos creatures.
The Lictor continued it's journey as two more camouflaged shapes followed behind and given the damage they'd seen one of the monstrosities do to a small army of Tau the Wolf Scout swiftly transmitted a visual warning to the rest of the Astartes. Klaus transmitted back that if an opportunity arose they should attack and attempt to neutralise this foe...a request that Bjorn considered briefly before rejecting. Both the advanced scouts stayed perfectly still while the monstrous trio left the immediate area and the rest of the team spread out to avoid their path.
Editors Note - Lictors in Deathwatch are easily equivalent in Strength and Toughness to an Astartes and come with every Talent in the rulebook that enhances reaction time, dodging, damage output and number of attacks as well as having nearly the same armour, double the Wounds count and several other useful abilities. Both the players and their characters are aware of this based on what they observed during the last mission so not wishing to engage is entirely reasonable...especially as they already had a specific mission to accomplish at the time...The fact that the Space Wolf players exact words were "F@#k that..." was probably just a coincidence...
Not wishing to draw any more attention to themselves or their destination the team carefully avoided any further patrols with their advanced scouts carefully selecting routes that avoided further contact.
The jungle abruptly opens up as you reach a deep ravine blocking your path. You can see a treacherous looking waterfall some half a km to the north and to the south the cliff face seems to have collapsed into the river below. The signal is still some three kilometres away on the other side of the vast space. Techmarine Marcus also decided to carefully re-position some of the servo skull relay network to give you all a better idea of what was ahead due to there now being significant gaps in the network due to the unscheduled nature of this mission and the servo skulls previously being placed with a different target in mind. Your sensor network is showing a significant increase in activity ahead though the readings will be vague at best until the sensors are correctly placed and interfaced...
With no guarantee that the climb up the opposite side of the collapsed section would be viable for a heavily armed and armoured Astartes it is decided to instead cross via the area above the waterfall as upon closer examination there were enough rocky sections to make the journey viable if a little uncertain in some places. Auspex readings indicated that the water was only a metre or so deep so shouldn't leave any partially submerged Marines particularly vulnerable. The Raven Guard and Space Wolf crossed first, while the others followed with the Devastator and Techmarine covering them while they were in the open. The White Scar used his Jump Pack to propel himself into the trees so he could get into a position to keep watch while those giving cover fire joined them. However upon taking a vantage point he soon realised that they weren't alone...
Editors Note - So far in the last mission and this one the Templars kill count amounts to one tree...
They paused only briefly to acquire for later study one of the unusual weapons and a strange helm worn by a single of the Vespid while the Apothecary went to work on those wounded by the Vespid weapons. For some reason the Wolf Scouts wounds were particularly severe and he was unable to do much more than offer moral support. The team moved on though this time they kept a careful watch for attack from above. The Scouts were beginning to see signs that a number of groups of Kroot and armoured Fire Warriors had travelled in the same direction in which they were currently heading and judging from the freshness of the damage this had occurred very recently indeed. It was possible that the enemy had already discovered the source of the signal before them. With an increased sense of urgency Bjorn continued...
Ahead you can see a heavily modified Aquila Lander with the cog symbol of the Mechanicum emblazoned on it. Two group of Tau Fire Warriors are stationed around the vessel accompanied by a number of Kroot leading several packs of vicious looking Hounds. The bodies of two techpriests have already been removed from the wreckage and one of the Tau is frantically messing with what looks like a com device or Xenos equivalent though it seems your jammer is preventing them from reporting their find.
A plan of attack was quickly agreed upon. Bjorn was to target the Fire Warrior operating the communications system who judging from the markings on his armour was a leader of some kind while Validus was to kill a member of a second squad who had similar rank markings. Tyr removed the ammo feed from his Heavy Bolter and instead loaded a clip of Hellfire Bolts as he hoped that the large blast area would take out more targets than individual Heavy Bolter rounds before taking aim at a large group of Kroot and their Kroot Hounds. Techmarine Marcus set his Storm Bolters for maximum area of effect and pointed one at each of the two groups of Fire Warriors. Hakim and Klaus waited for the first volley of fire to be completed so they could take out targets of opportunity during the confusion. The cue for the attack was to be taken from when the Space Wolf took his first target.
Editors Note - It's possible to requisition 'special' ammo types for various weapons. As the Devastators weapon comes with a backpack ammo supply it wasn't really clear how this would work so we decided that he got a clip of ammunition for his requisition in the same way as a user of a standard Boltgun would get and that he just loaded that instead of the backpack ammo feed taking the usual reload time to make the swap. The Techmarine has an ability called 'Master of Arms' which enables him to add certain effects to any Astartes weapon and my character chose Blast (2) and Felling (1). In this case he chose to add a Blast to the Storm Bolter Rounds to maximise the area covered.
The Tau's attention is suddenly drawn back to the crash site as a panel falls from the vehicles rear and a third very much alive techpriest emerges from what would normally be a cargo area...
The two Tau whom the team presumed were in command dropped almost simultaneously from precisely aimed shots and a moment later a Hellfire Round from the Devastators Heavy Bolter exploded in the midst of a group of Kroot and their Hounds. Though designed with the Tyranid threat in mind the acids contained within the shell were equally deadly to the Kroot and their pets who were decimated by the attack. Marcus's first Storm Bolter tore apart the closest group of Fire Warriors leaving only a few survivors though the second group suffered less dramatic losses.
A second volley from a variety of weapons further thinned the enemy ranks before the Astartes moved in to finish off the survivors. Two more died to Hakims blade with a third beaten to the ground by a blow from his Combat Shield while The Black Templar disappeared under a pack of Kroot Hounds closely followed by one of their handlers.
A vicious kick propelled one of the creatures across the clearing to land in a crumpled heap though he failed to thin the pack much more than that. The Apothecary put a bolt through the head of one of his pair of opponents though only wounded the second a moment before the Techmarine finished off the enemy engaged with Validus by grabbing hold of it with his servo-arm and messily squeezing it in half. The few survivors of the well planned attack attempted to withdraw but were hacked apart or shot to pieces before they could warn the rest of their forces. Several of the kill-team had taken wounds but none of them were of a life threatening nature.
Editors Note - The players plan was a good one which made this battle seem a lot less of a threat than the enemy numbers would indicate. Seeing all the players act as a team during this mission was particularly gratifying as they hadn't really been doing that in the previous ones.
Seeing that the area was clear the survivor of the crash emerged from the hold where he'd taken cover to avoid the second of the Devastators Hellfire rounds that had very nearly caught him in it's blast area. Klaus immediately moved to interrogate him about his reason for being in this area.
The surviving Techpriest introduces himself as Falcus. He thanks you for the timely rescue and then claims that he and his fellow crew members are part of a group of teams surveying the area looking for warp anomalies as a space hulk known as the 'Blinking Eye' that periodically emerges from the warp in this sector is due to make an appearance. As this vessel exists in real space for a very short time span and has it it's core a number of ancient vessels of interest to the mechanicum they are attempting to maximise the amount of time they have to investigate the vessel by preempting it's arrival time and location. He was unaware that Deathwatch operations were being conducted in the area and is grateful for your timely arrival.
The somewhat fanatical Black Templar decided that his initial orders about keeping the teams activities a secret applied even in this situation and as soon as the Techpriest had finished his explanation unsuccessfully attempted to cave his skull in with his Power Maul. The rest of the team were seemingly taken by surprise by their current leaders decision as they failed to act themselves until Tyr who had just replaced the ammo feed in his Heavy Bolter shot the fleeing priest in the back. Having little else to do their Techmarine retrieved the vessels Cogitator units as well as any salvageable memory cores and useful implants, bionics and the like from the dead crew before creating an overload of the ships core which would hopefully destroy enough of it and the surrounding area to confuse any attempt to identify the craft.
With the source of the signal discovered and silenced Klaus declared the mission a success and the team prepared to travel back to the temporary camp at their cache of equipment where hopefully the Apothecary could heal their remaining wounds and the Techmarine could patch up their armour before the actual second phase of the mission would begin.
Back to Reality.
I wrote the mission brief, waterfall interlude and lander discovery bits but all the stuff in-between I winged based on the players own paranoid conjecture...luckily there was a lot of that so I wasn't short of material to work with. The Lictor pack thing was a bit of a gamble as there was always the possibility that they were going to go for it which would more than likely have resulted in a few player deaths but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Luckily it all worked out fine...
Every-one involved got 500XP but no renown as not only was the mission meant to be a secret but I doubt any-one would think that boasting about the murder of an ally would be a good idea...
Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.