Martin - GM
Matt - Space Wolves Wolf Scout Bjorn
Jon - Raven Guard Apothecary Validus
Garreth - Iron Hands Techmarine Maakus
Designated Leader - Assault Marine Hakim
Kill-Team Oath - Oath of Glory
Mission Requisition - N/A
Mission Seven - Flamewing
Intelligence has been received that a noted Tau Commander designated 'Flamewing' has set up a base of operations on a planet in the Borkan sector defended by significant numbers of the Fire Caste and supported by representatives of all the remaining Tau Castes. Unconfirmed information has also reached the Inquisition that one of the elusive Ethereal Caste is also on route to the location and may already have arrived.
Initial surveillance has revealed a facility consisting of four large compounds tentatively identified as corresponding to each of the four Tau Castes with a large command facility at it's centre as well as a large landing pad. This is in turn surrounded by a heavily reinforced perimeter wall manned by a significant number of Tau troops supplemented by a large number of the automated Drones favoured by the Tau for a number of roles. Given the limited Imperial resources in the area a full scale military strike is out of the question so instead the Deathwatch has been tasked with the assassination of both the Tau Commander and if present the member of the Ethereal Caste.
This surveillance has also noted deliveries of vast quantities of weaponry that are currently been stored in the facilities armouries awaiting shipment to Tau forces throughout the sector. The destruction of these stockpiles before they can be used to reinforce the Tau forces has also been designated as a priority.
Death From Above
Given the exterior defences of the facility compared to it's relatively light anti-aircraft emplacements it has been decided that the kill team will be deployed by Drop Pod and after insertion will split into a pair of smaller teams in order to maximise the chances of achieving all three primary mission goals. The Black Templar and White Scar Marines will assault the central facility as this is deemed the most likely location of the Xenos commanders and they will be accompanied by the teams Apothecary given the likelihood of injury due to the high chance of Crisis Suit bodyguards being deployed there. The remaining team members will go after the armouries located beneath the Fire and Earth Caste compounds. Given that the Fire Caste building will more than likely be the most heavily defended due to the high number of Fire Warriors stationed as the compound it will be the first building attacked by the second team where hopefully surprise will go someway to evening the overwhelming odds...
Editors Note - Those of you who have read our previous missions may be somewhat surprised to find that we actually made a plan this on this occasion. This is primarily due to the fact that making it up as we went along nearly got us all eaten by Tyranids last time...
The Drop Pod landed approximately in the designated area between the Earth and Fire Caste compounds though was closer to the central command facility than either of the other targets. The assault team immediately moved to the command facility while the fire team moved at a somewhat steadier pace towards the Fire Caste's base with the Wolf Scout ranging ahead noting a number of heavily armed drones along the walls and several guarding the Earth Caste facility. It seemed that the unexpected nature of the attack had granted them some time to act before the Tau realised what was occurring.
A few small groups of very surprised Tau Fire Warriors fell to controlled bursts of Heavy Bolter fire and somewhat less precise hails of Storm Bolter rounds as the three Astartes made their way across the open terrain. As they drew closer some more unfortunate warriors lives were claimed by blasts from Heavy Bolter, Storm Bolter and Assault Shotgun as the xenos were still in a confused state and had yet to organise themselves to deal with the threat in their midst. This was however to be a temporary advantage.
As the assault team approached the main door of the command centre they found it to be firmly sealed. After several unsuccessful attempts by both the White Scar and Black Templar to batter the door down with their armoured forms they communicated with their Techmarine and transmitted a pict feed of the controls to him who after a momentary pause which to the untrained observer might have sounded like the usually taciturn Iron Hand chuckling to himself pointed them at the necessary combination needed to allow them access.
Editors Note - Speak Language (Tau) might well have been the most useful upgrade I ever purchased for my Techmarine. The amusement came from the fact that apparently the door controls mainly consisted of buttons labelled in the Tau equivalent of 'Open' and 'Close'...
Utilising what was left of the barrier as a shield the Devastator scanned the area for any approaching targets while the Techmarine went to work on the now locked doors. Bjorn spent the time observing the Earth Caste building that was to be their next target making note of the positions of it's defences for future reference.
The Astartes making up the assault team worked their way up through the building where they had so far encountered minimal resistance, stopping only to transmit pict feeds of the various signs in the well ordered facility to Maakus in order to verify that they were heading in the correct direction. Though currently occupied working on bypassing the Fire Caste's security system it was only a moments work to translate the information from them and transmit it back in a readable form. As they followed the signs guiding them to the 'Main Control Centre' they emerged into a central open area surrounded by balconies and it was from one of these higher levels that a number of Tau Battlesuits suddenly emerged.
Editors Note - It's sometimes difficult when you have to separate what you as a player knows from what your actual character would know.
Their combined onslaught quickly took care of the damaged suit though Hakim was struck in return. The second of the XV8's was pulverised by the Power Maul of Klaus a moment before the White Scar's Power Weapon bisected the third. Several unfortunate units of Tau who had entered the building to aid their comrades were pulverised by the remains of the suits as they plummeted downwards towards the ground.
Meanwhile the Iron Hand finally bypassed the doors sophisticated locking mechanism and warned his fellow warriors to ready themselves before opening the doors. Inside the Fire Caste base were ranks of Fire Warriors behind a number of barriers and though some were improvised many were obviously permanent defensive fixtures. The enemy numbers were to prove somewhat of an advantage to the attackers as it was almost impossible for them to miss as Astartes Frag Grenades landed in the enemies midst followed by a hail of shot and shell. Techmarine Maakus configured his weapons to fire rounds that would explode in bursts of fragments rather than explode within the enemies and these overlapping blasts were almost as devastating as the Heavy Bolter rounds that tore through the only semi-prepared defenders. Faced with such overwhelming firepower the surviving warriors decided to withdraw further into the complex leaving behind some thirty of their dead behind.
Editors Note - My Techmarine took a 'Deed' at character creation that allows him to add a number of effects to Bolt Rounds. In my case I picked Felling (1) and Blast (2) both of which were to prove useful this mission...though when it came to raw destructive power I only beat the Devastator once and that was mainly due to overlapping Blasts and closely packed Tau, lol.
With a target now firmly in their sights the team engaged their Jump Packs and immediately moved to follow.
The second team meanwhile were in a pursuit of their own as they fought their way deeper into the Fire Caste facility in search of the armoury that was one of the missions primary targets. Several of the survivors fleeing them were moving in the same direction and the team concluded that they were falling back to a place of some importance. Their navigation of the facility was somewhat assisted by it's well organised layout and the fact that Maakus could read the signs in the Tau language that appeared to be at virtually every intersection they reached.
Editors Note - Most...useful...skill...purchase...ever...
Assessing the situation logically the Iron Hand had came to several conclusions. Firstly it should be far easier to defeat the commander separate from his troops and out from behind the defensive positions, secondly it would give his comrades time to move to better positions themselves and thirdly it would allow him to gain valuable data on how Imperial weaponry fared against some of the enemies most advanced weaponry...as long as he survived that is...
From it's airborne position the Tau Commander countered with missiles and plasma fire causing superficial damage to the Techmarines heavily armoured form. After a second exchange of weapons fire it became obvious that the Astartes was outclassed with regards to ranged weapon capabilities and if the current situation continued he would be irreparably damaged significantly before his enemy would be and so instead closed to melee range.
While this duel was underway the Imperial Fist moved into a better firing position so regardless of the outcome he would have the best chance of removing the remaining defenders from this important mission objective. Noting the Devastators tactical move the Wolf Scout also relocated to a tactically superior location and additionally readied his payload of explosives as he estimated that he could get them dangerously close to the armoury with a decent throw.
To his surprise rather than attempting to maintain the distance the Xenos instead closed the gap between the two warriors and so the Techmarine activated his Breaching Augur and attempted to drill through the crisis suits armoured shell to the Tau within while his self-repair systems managed to restore some of his own structural integrity. The reason for this atypical Tau tactic soon became apparent as the suit shunted additional energy through the weapons contact point further damaging the Astartes though this was relatively inconsequential when compared to the horrendous carnage caused by the Augurs super-dense adamantine alloys and matter-wave generator.
The removal of this device seemed to spur the deceased Commanders troops into action and they began to sporadically return fire. Seizing the opportunity Bjorn hurled the explosive bundle towards the Tau armoury on a ten second delay and signalled his comrades in arms that now was a good time for them to be leaving as he ran for the doorway. Tyr laid down several bursts of Heavy Bolter fire before following him towards the exit as Maakus diverted power to his bionic legs and then sprinted after them.
Editors Note - Really need to find an in character way for my Techmarine to thank the Devastator for that as it was very nearly a 'Burn a Fate Point or die' moment...
While scanning the area for other threats Tyr observed the assault team emerging from the central towers dome in pursuit of a small anti-grav vehicle and quickly switched to his requisitioned Missile Launcher for a long-range shot . Unfortunately the vehicle was equipped with a defensive shield and the Krak Missiles destructive energies were harmless expended so with little else he could do to help his comrades he followed his reckless fellow Marines towards their new target.
While the Black Templar and Raven Guard moved towards the Honour Guard, Hakim diverted all the power he could to his Jump Pack and possessing strength considerable even for an Astartes attempted to use this combination to gain entry to the Barracuda transport via the cockpit. Though designed to withstand a variety of stresses apparently plummeting, armoured, Power Sword wielding, jump pack enhanced space marines was not one of them and the pilot compartment exploded open as Hakims ferocious impact destroyed both the protective dome, both the pilots and much of the internal compartments floor and amazingly he himself survived the experience completely unharmed.
Editors Note - No I haven't dramatised that at all...that's exactly how it happened...apparently there's no escaping Kill Team Theta...even if you have a space-ship and they don't...
While Hakim was digging himself from the shattered remnants of what was once the underside of a Tau Barracuda, Klaus of the Black Templars assaulted the awaiting Tau guards but by a strange twist of fate managed to miss with every attack. The Tau selected to guard the Ethereal were obviously the pick of their warriors as despite having a Marine in their midst they still were collected enough to concentrate their firepower and the mass of energy weapons at close range tore through the Templars armour inflicting horrific burns upon the Marine within. In an impressively precise piece of flying the Raven Guard managed to use the exhaust blast from his own Jump Pack to extinguish the flames engulfing his battle brother while simultaneously unleashing a torrent of Shotgun Rounds into the retreating Honour Guard now protecting the stranded Ethereal.
Rather than make any attempt to defend himself the Ethereal began to speak to his attackers, extolling the virtues of the Tau Empire, the inherent value in the philosophy of the Greater Good and for unexplained reasons his voice began to worm it's way into the thoughts of Hakim and Validus delaying their finishing of him. While making this impassioned speech he slowly moved back making some distance between himself and his potential executioners...
Editors Note - Several important Willpower tests had been failed and Fate Points for re-rolls were unfortunately in short supply...
Through an act of astonishing willpower somewhat assisted by the plethora of stimulants now flooding his system the Black Templar once again entered the combat. The Ethereal was now undefended and the enraged Black Templar grabbed hold of him and ended his existence with a brutal headbutt that shattered his skull breaking the strange spell that had overcome his comrades. A few approaching defenders were quickly mopped up by Hakim and Validus. The complex around them was now however completely focused upon the eradication of the trespassers within their midst and it looked like they would be unable to gain the brief respite needed to contact their base and activate their teleport homer.
With the facility knee deep in corpses, destroyed technology and burning buildings Kill-Team Theta gathered what intelligence they could salvage, several of the drones and the body of the slain Ethereal before activating their homing devices and teleporting back to the ship that had brought them there and rushing the severely burned Templar to the Apothecarium.
Klaus lay on a biobed in the Apothecarium connected to its monitors via the sockets in his Black Carapace and with many tubes feeding sacred nutrients into his body to enhance it's own regenerative properties. Though the damage to bone and flesh was well on the way to repair his skin however was beyond the ability of grafts and healing slaves to rectify and he now had a visage which was truly terrifying.
Klaus was somewhat surprised to note the Iron Hand Maakus had entered the room. Even without his Power Armour, Servo arms and Mechadendrites the wounded Templar could see very little flesh remaining on the Techmarine though he could see what may have been a flash of disappointment cross his face as he realised that Klaus had all his limbs intact.
"I hear..." stated Maakus in his usual monotone "...that you plan on utilising that new visage of yours to strike fear into the enemies of the Imperium". Klaus confirmed the rumour that had been circulating and the Techmarine continued. "There is a basic technique amongst those familiar with such procedures that we refer to as 'Cranial Armour' that will go some way to increasing your survive-ability if you plan on eschewing the use of a helm" The Iron Hand paused briefly to tap his own reinforced head with a bulky metallic finger "It needn't look like this though, plates and reinforcement can be added internally should aesthetics be of importance to you." Klaus paused as he considered the idea before replying "Externally will be fine...how are you skills as an artificer?...I have something particular in mind..."
Back to Reality
I'm not sure whether the massacre of the facility was part of our GM's original intention but this is now the 2nd time that the Techmarine has been responsible for unspeakable amounts of mass murder...
After some discussion with the GM it was decided to allow the Chaplain in training to have the Cranial Armour bionic upgrade and for the Devastators Heavy Bolter to be upgraded one level in craftsmanship to 'Exceptional' as free rewards based on roleplaying.
Every-one was given 750XP for this mission as we achieved all the mission objectives and most of the players got bonus experience points for roleplaying their characters successes...and failures...so the session was immediately followed by a bit of an XP spending spree. Several of the players (myself included) are now Rank 2 so have access to a whole new set of GM frustrating Skills and Talents...
As expected most of the experience was spent on upgrades to basic characteristics that effected Skills that the players had failed rolls attempting and upgrades to those Skills themselves. A number of Talents were also purchased that players thought might come in useful.
Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.