Deathwatch - The Jericho Crusade

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The Emperor Protects
The Price of Hubris / Briefing & Voyage

After the events that transpired on the world of Avalos, the Kill-Team returned to Watch-Fortress Erioch in order to be debriefed by the Chamber of Vigilance.

After said debriefing, Deathwatch Assault Marine Kyvax Varn was found guilty of using alien technology and was immediately removed from the Kill-Team with his fate unknown to the rest of the Deathwatch brothers.

Furthermore, Deathwatch Apothecary Galmech was required under a different theater of operations within the Jericho Crusade due to the scarcity of Apothecaries.

Both the aforementioned events invariably led to the fracture of the Kill-Team and forced the creation of a new Kill-Team (Excelsior) to be assembled under the watchful guidance of Deathwatch Captain Elias, formerly of the Ultramarines.

Shortly after the acquisition of two new Deathwatch initiates (Brother Kirik and Brother Azazel), Kill-Team Excelsior was petitioned for help by Rogue Trader Diaz Lan, who was presently nominated as the Crusade liaison.

He pleaded his case to the Deathwatch (after he failed the task himself), which was to seek their help in bringing planet Aurum back into the Imperium of Man's fold.

Aurum was classified as a Feral World that once belonged to the Imperium of Man before Mankind lost contact with the Jericho Reach. However and in the current era, they are akin to a pseudo-Barbaric civilization that respects only strength.

Following the briefing about the current events transpiring in Aurum, the Battle Brothers accepted the mission and commenced their journey from Watch-Fortress Erioch to Aurum.

During the voyage (which lasted roughly a month due to the "Horizon's Pride" having to make a detour as to avoid the "Hadex Anomaly"), Brother Azazel spent a considerable amount of time in the company of Diaz Lan and studying his library (and later on, discovering from Diaz Lan that he held a variety of artifacts and forbidden literature), Brother Kavar helped prove the innocence of Kohl Bennex (a crew member of the "Horizon's Pride" that was now imprisoned with murder charges after killing Enginseer Kreth)  and Brother Kirik spent his time mostly being vigilant.

After Kohl Bennex had his name cleared, a number of corrupted servitors showed their true colors and tried to kill anyone in their path. With the Deathwatch Brothers springing into action, the threat was quickly contained (shortly after being revealed that the corrupted servitors had been under the care of Enginseer Kreth).

With no further significant events happening onboard the "Horizon's Pride", Kill-Team Excelsior made planet fall on Aurum.

 

 

 

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The Emperor Protects
The Price of Hubris / Aurum (Haistand)

The Battle-Brothers made way into the city Haistand through the snaking ascent shortly after landing at the city's makeshift landing pad and proceeded to get a lay of the city without further ado.

When looking at ancient depictions on the walls of an equally old religious site, they noticed various similarities with the story of the Emperor of Mankind and thus confirming that the people of Aurum had once been part of the Imperium of Man.

It was also at that moment that Brother Kirik helped a Father Marius preach to some locals that were being less than friendly.

Father Marius then put the Battle-Brothers up to speed with the planet's status and the latest occurrences (the Imperium of Man wants to bring Aurum back into the fold in a peaceful manner, the Auran people value only Strength, Diaz Lan tried to bring Aurum back into the fold via diplomacy and martial prowess but failed, an Astra Militarum contingent was eventually allowed to stay within the confines of the city and create an outpost called Aspirance, their leader was also eventually killed after the settlement of a dispute with a local, murders were happening for both locals and the Imperium of Man personnel, Sister Rachayel had apparently killed herself and no one was ever allowed to leave the city of Haistand).

While Father Marius was showing the Battle-Brothers around the city, Brother Azazel stood behind in the Mission and got access to the blade to which the Sister Hospitaller Rachayel had apparently impaled herself with. Brother Azazel then proceeded to taste some blood remnants and got a vision of Sister Rachayel killing herself but definitely no while at a city (somewhere outside).

The Battle-Brothers then reunited and met with the leader of the Aurans, "The Caele" Rylus Darkscourge who seemed to know more than he was letting on and insisted that the Battle-Brothers partake on an ancient tradition called "The Divested Hunt" in order to prove their strength to the Aurans (which the Battle-Brothers reluctantly accepted since they would have to part with their sacred power armors and weapons during that same trial).

Before embarking in "The Divested Hunt", the Battle-Brothers noticed the smell of Promethium in the air and confirmed indeed that there was heavy smoke coming from the West and that mysterious small convoys left to the North in the middle of the night through one of the city's back gates but the Battle-Brothers decided to comply with the rules set out by "The Caele" and they didn't leave the city.

 

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The Emperor Protects
The Price of Hubris / The Divested Hunt

Stripped of their armor and weapons, the Battle-Brothers were escorted to the Reaving Canyons by Haistand's denizens.

With Rylus Darkscourge wishing the Kill-Team luck, they chose some local (and mostly primitive) weapons and commenced their trial (which was killing the infamous Diablodon and bring back proof of the deed).

Without their armors on, the Kill-Team relied on stealth and the high golden grass in order to bypass the Theratryx nesting grounds, a tactic that proved successful.

On the far end of the Theratryx nesting grounds, the Battle-Brothers came upon a Western and an Eastern path to which they decided to continue to the East. 

This led to a gnarled tunnel full of roots that the Kill-Team had to cut their way through, which in turn led to a cave-in that separated the team and forced Kirik & Azazel to back track to the Western passage while Kavar proceeded on the Eastern one.

Kirik and Azazel then continued to climb to an open plateau while under the ravenous gaze of winged reptiles but they never dared to attack since their prey were not comprised of a weak and/or single target. By then, Kirik and Azazel could already overlook the broiling and red Deadlands hundreds of meters below…

In the meantime, Brother Kavar was already in the Deadlands and was quickly greeted by the hostile environment/oppressive heat but it wouldn't find any purchase as Kavar felt right at home and it was also at this moment that Brothers Kirik and Azazel made their climb down and liaised with Kavar.

Among the thick fumes and midasaurs silhouettes, they found some peculiar tracks leading to a huge and cavernous lair… They had found their target.

As they drew closer to the lair, the stench, bones and fresh carcasses made it apparent that the Diablodon was in attendance and so an ambush was prepared just outside the entrance of the cave.

The scarlet monster was then lured to the outside but despite the ambush, the Battle-Brothers had met their match.

Without having their blessed armors by their side and relying mostly on primitive weapons in order to attack the beast, the Kill-Team engaged the creature successively but the weapons proved mostly ineffective as they were barely wounding their target.

Realizing that no one in Aurum expressively forbade the use of psychic powers, Brother Azazel pushed his powers to the limit time after time, creating a spectacle of flame and lightning that was surely damaging the Diablodon heavily.

Facing this elemental threat, the Diablodon attacked Azazel with his bite and took a good chunk of his torso. His undoing? Not being able to kill the Battle-Brother since he would exact terrible vengeance on the creature by literally frying it with lightning.

Taking the head of the beast and some of its fiery red scales, the weary warriors then emerged victorious from the canyons and were cheered by the Aurans that were awaiting them.

The journey back to Haistand was underway…

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The Emperor Protects
The Price of Hubris / Aurum (Haistand)

Returning to Haistand after a successful Divested Hunt, the Battle-Brothers reunited with their equipment and were finally told the truth about the situation in Aurum.

Abominable creatures known by the local populace as "Malissectors" had taken the village of Grensvayl like a nightmarish plague that couldn't be stopped.

These "Malissectors" seemed to corrupt the body and spirit of the Auruns but The Caele acted fast and had the perimeter of Grensvayl doused with "blood of the earth" (aka Prometheum)  and then lit on fire, creating a hellish perimeter that ensured that no one could go in or out.

The Battle-Brothers quickly realized that surely these abominations could only be Genestealers and without further ado, they prepared to cleanse the threat.

After formulating an infiltration plan and being given by Diaz Lan some fire-retardant armor coating, they proceeded to make way to the accursed location.

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The Emperor Protects
The Price of Hubris / Aurum (Grensvayl - Cave)

Shortly after arriving to Grensvayl and crossing the blazing perimeter, the Battle-Brothers noticed a breached (and previously well hidden) cave located into the western cliffs.

Deciding to investigate such location, they entered cautiously and came upon three paths.

To the south, they found some make shift living quarters with overturned cots and a scattered pile of broken cogs (all literally stained with old blood).

The cogs arrangement suggested the echo of the grotesque machine they once formed, leaving little doubt that the chamber was better off in its damaged state.

Several of the ruined components were etched with the symbol of a cog inside an eight-pointed Chaos star.

A mix on blood and oil in the floor suggested that bodies had been dragged away but a very mechanized body had been left behind. After taking a moment in order to recognize the pile of tubes, coils and manipulators, the Battle-Brothers realized that it had once been a living being.

The Kill-Team then made way to the chamber in the north to which they quickly faced themselves with a large, plasteel cylinder siting among debris and covered in a thick layer of grime. Lifeless bio-monitoring screens were checkering the stasis tube and a six-shackled adamantite restraint harness lied beside it.

While the other contents were largely empty crate and broken tools, a stack of parchment schematics and drained data-slated were found by the Battle-Brothers.

Among these schematics, the Kill-Team found one durable parchment filled with rick inks that had survived the years of dirt and dankness well. This was obviously an important document scribed with care and its main diagram showed an octagonal crystal conduit of indeterminate size. Several notations and sub-diagrams detailed runes and complex circuit patterns illuminated on the device. 

Brother Azazel then proceeded to use his Psyniscience powers to exact that the aforementioned runes were indeed the markings of foul sorcery.

Finally, the Kill-Team proceeded to the last and widest chamber. This chamber seemed to had been prepared as to sustain a mining operation; the floor was embedded with metal squares as to even out the floor, dormant drilling lasers, extraction bits and complex storage arrays lined the walls of the large room ahead.

A huge central drilling column occupied the heart of the chamber and it was at that moment that the Kill-Team was ambushed by infected Aurans that were lying in cover behind such machinery.

Joining a couple of power cables that clearly sprung an elaborate trap, the infected Aurans activated the Decavane crystals lining the walls and suddenly jolts of energy were flying towards the Adeptus Astartes.

Taking some hits and dodging others, the Kill-Team managed to kill the enemies and inspect the mining operation closely. The Decavane crystals were indeed linked to directional electrodes (thus weaponizing them) but other than that, they didn't appear to power anything else. Other than that, numerous dull and grey crystals seemed to have been completely drained in this manner and remained in the floor, cold to the touch.

With the help of Brother Solomon via vox-link, a refining cylinder was identified to also be in the chamber, its sole purpose being bombarding the Decavane crystals with photons until they could be stable enough to be packed and transported.

Before leaving the cave, the Battle-Brothers also noticed a huge hole in the stone beneath the drill (several meters across and extending twenty meters down). The Battle-Brothers descended and saw an even larger hollow created by years of mining. Judging by the amount of rock removed and the density of the crystals still remaining in the walls, it was possible to verify that thousands of kilos of crystals may have been extracted.

The Battle-Brothers returned to the village of Grensvayl.

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The Emperor Protects
The Price of Hubris / Aurum (Grensvayl)

Returning to Grensvayl, the Kill-Team saw a lodge that was separated from the rest of the village by a river and decided to investigate it first since no enemies were detected (at least outside).

Upon entering the structure, the Battle-Brothers were quickly greeted by the ivory blades of 3 Auran villagers that had barricaded themselves on the lodge (one was a bald man with small black eyes (Gorus), the second was a leathery old woman (Srena) and the third was a little more than a boy (Jaff) – around the age that the Adeptus Astartes choose their recruits, all looking gaunt and malnourished.

Freezing with indecision, they glanced at one another but didn't lower their weapons. With the woman accusing "what new beast is this?" and the bald man pointing a lean finger at the Adeptus Astartes while proclaiming "it's a trick! Malissectors are hiding inside those statues!", the Kill-Team quickly assured them that they were the only help that they were getting.

Exchanging situation updates, the Battle-Brothers came to realize that apparently they were the only survivors of an incursion led by none other than Karthas (one of The Caele's inner circle), however, it seemed that he Karthas had just waltzed out of the situation while the Aurans were being slaughtered by the Malissectors – did Karthas bring lambs to the slaughter on purpose or had he just managed to narrowly escape the onslaught when the situation was untennable? 

Unwilling to risk having an infiltrator in Haistand and wanting to bring the 3 survivors back to safety, the Battle-Brothers communicated ahead to Haistand about the situation and made way to the capital of Aurum.

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The Emperor Protects
The Price of Hubris / Aurum (Haistand)

The Kill-Team returned to Haistand and quickly convened with The Caele and his inner circle. Given the nature of the situation, The Caele wondered if the Battle-Brothers hadn't been fooled and instead claimed "what if the 3 survivors are the ones infected and they are tricking you to kill one of the high ranking members of his inner circle?" but any indecision was swiftly quelled by a swift chopping motion of Alkedre Firestalker's greatsword, sending Karthas's head flying across the room.

Much to the surprise of everyone, Alkedre quickly explained that she had done an investigation of her own and had found a small but foul breeding ground in Karthas's house basement. The Kill-Team had some closure knowing that an infiltrator had been killed but it didn't last as it meant that maybe the Genestealers were already ingrained in the populace but couldn't know for certain.

With a new found resolve, the Adeptus Astartes convened with Brigadier Heth and formulated an attack plan that would purge Grensvayl from the foul beasts once and for all (this plan consisted of having a mixed force of Astra Militarum and Aurans standing by in Grensvayl's perimeter while the Adeptus Astartes would make a daring insertion via transport shuttle on the center of the village, while the perimeter forces would only intervane should the Battle-Brothers communicate so).

The incursion mobilized to it's destination.. 

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The Emperor Protects
The Price of Hubris / Aurum (Haistand purge)

With the allied forces in stand-by, the Kill-Team proceeded as planned and dropped in the center of the village, fearing nothing. However, they were quickly swarmed by the terrible beasts from all sides.

In a raw display of power, Battle-Brothers Azazel and Kirik proved their efficiency in fighting hordes by unleashing deadly psychic flames and heavy bolter barrages, respectively. But when the initial carnage settled, the few remaining beasts focused their vicious melee attacks on Brother Kavar, as if they knew that the squad leader had to fall first in an effort to disrupt the Kill-Team.

Their bladed arms found purchase on Kavar and quickly reduced him to a grotesque mix of rent power armor and torn/bloodied flesh as he fell inanimate. 

His brothers, filled with righteous fury, quickly ended the threat but not before horrible psychic phenomena came to be as a result of Brother Azazel's psychic exertions. This phenomena barely affected the Battle-Brothers but it had terrible consequences for the Humans lying in wait on the perimeter.

Both Aurans and Astra Militarum personnel started fighting each other, voluntarily walked into the blazing perimeter or just went completely mad amidst the images of cackling daemons.

This overall carnage coupled with the fact that Kavar was on his death bed, led Kirik to harbor a deep hate for Humans in general as he felt that they should have acted (even if they were waiting for the Adeptus Astartes' orders as planned).  

With the threat on Grensvayl seemingly thwarted and the tensions under control by the efforts of Brigadier Heth and Rylus Darkscourge, Azazel and Kirik med-evac'ed Kavar by shuttle to the Horizon's Pride (due to the severity of Kavar's wounds), with Azazel dropping out in Haistand as to ensure the success of their original goal.

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The Emperor Protects
The Price of Hubris / Aurum (The crimson feast)

With Kavar making a miraculous recovery, all the Battle-Brothers reunited in Haistand in order to attend one last tradition as per request of The Caele, Rylus Darkscourge.

Before the victory celebration, surrendered in utter gratitude and accepting whatever outcome the Battle-Brothers may deem appropriate, The Caele tried to convince the Battle-Brothers one last time as to let Aurum follow its own course even if that meant death in battle against any of the numerous threats in the universe for that would mean that the Aurans would remain true to their traditions and not just be another cog in the grand and merciless machine that is the Imperium of Man.

After much debate and pondering, The Caele accepted Brother Kavar's arguments and proclaimed the (long overdue) return of Aurum to the Imperium of Man.

After a parade and a speech by Rylus Darkscourge to which the Aurum populace was cheering to, the Battle-Brothers made way to the Hall of Victory alongside with other important personnel (Brigadier Heth, Diaz Lan, Father Marius, Rylus Darkscourge, Alkedre Firestalker, the 3 survivors from Grensvayl, other Auran great warriors, etc.).

The Kill-Team was spread among different tables as to strike conversation with multiple personalities but it was then that tragedy struck; vicious promethium-covered Genestealers invaded the Hall of Victory without mercy and this time being led by a Broodlord.

Several fights broke out with the Kill-Team doing everything in their power to avert the threat – including Brother Azazel noticing that 2 of the 3 Grensvayl survivors (Gorus and Srena) were pretending to fight as to maintain the charade that they were infected.

As the Kill-Team managed to kill the Genestealers without any important casualties from their side, the time had some to face the monstrous Broodlord.

In an epic fight in which Azazel had his powers nullified for several hours due to exertion, Kirik grabbed his Chainsword and vowed to protect his Battle-Brothers under a defensive style.

In the meantime, Kavar took it to himself to pick-up Kirik's discarded heavy bolter and started firing Hellfire rounds into the dreaded Broodlord resulting in victory when one of the aforementioned rounds struck the monster's head, splitting it open.

The day was saved, reinforcements arrived from Watch Fortress Erioch some weeks later (including an Apothecary) and Aurum was back into the fold.

The Battle-Brothers then proceeded to say farewell and returned to Watch Fortress Erioch without further delay.

The de-briefing followed and Brother Azazel recommended Jaff for recruitment into the Dark Angels chapter.

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