The Alchemy of the Word

Brother Koris - Journal Entry Two

Official Journal of Brother Koris, Deathwatch Apothecary, Blood Angels Chapter
Entry Two – Watch Fortress Erioch / Gladius class frigate Thunder’s Wrath / Andronicus System

Brother Zariel requisitions two combat servitors (designations Deimos and Phobos), and shortly before we depart our Kill-Team is assigned an additional member, Brother Calibos of the Dark Angels, carrying a variety of heavy weapons.

The journey from Watch Fortress Erioch to the Andronicus System takes ten days subjective time, during which we review the plans of Watch Station Andronicus and formulate our approach strategy. The Watch Station is designed to accommodate a Kill-Team of four to seven Battle-Brothers plus a complement of approximately one dozen serfs and numerous servitors of various types. Brother-Codicier Ardashir was stationed there along with five Erioch-pattern gun servitors, plus the Watch Station’s embedded servitors and maintenance servitors. The central tower is twenty metres in diameter and fifty metres high, topped with a roof battery of four energy lances. The upper floors house the cogitator systems, the lower floor corridors are cramped and winding and mostly too low for a Battle-Brother to stand upright. The tower has internal bulkheads – serving the dual purpose of security against intruders and security against atmosphere breaches – and also internal gun emplacements. The lance battery’s fire arc is a 90 degree vertical cone, and between the Watch Station’s surface-based sensor array and its orbital sensor satellites a covert approach to planetary orbit is all but impossible.

The Watch Station’s outer defensive perimeter consists of a ring of automated gun emplacements one hundred metres from the tower. These gun emplacements have a 270 degree horizontal fire arc and a 90 degree vertical fire arc and a substantial ammunition load. Small underground tunnels enable their maintenance and resupply by quadrupedal servitors less than one metre high. From the outer perimeter to the base of the tower the ground forms a smooth upward slope.

From the outer perimeter to a radius of sixty metres from the tower stands a thick ring of heavy obsidian blocks, five metres high, to block vehicles and armour. The gaps between the blocks are narrow enough for Battle-Brothers in power armour to find them a tight fit, and thus impede the progress of most heavily armoured troops.

From sixty metres to fifty metres there is a field of outward-slanted metal stakes to slow infantry advances, and at fifty metres another ring of automated gun emplacements forms the inner defensive perimeter. There is clear ground from the inner defensive perimeter to the walls of the tower, in which are embedded further automated gun emplacements.

Various approach strategies are discussed, including the possibility of Brother Zariel physically accessing one of the sensor feed lines from the surface arrays and using the datastream in an attempt to gain control of the tower’s cogitator banks and thus disable the lance battery, the advisability of splitting our forces, and the possible orbital flight paths we might use. Eventually we decide that our approach plan will consist of launching a decoy shuttle piloted by one of the frigate’s servitors, with our Kill-Team launched immediately behind it in a powered-down assault shuttle. The decoy shuttle will make a direct approach, with the reaction of the tower’s defences providing data on Brother-Codicier Ardashir’s likely state of mind, while our shuttle will have its sensor-trace hidden behind that of the decoy shuttle when it launches and will make an unpowered glide to the surface.

Once we emerge from the Warp into the Andronicus System we make a direct approach to the Watch Station, scan the system and attempt to open communication with the Watch Station. We detect energy signals from the target planet, but details are obscured by a great deal of interference. The rest of the star system appears clear, and as far as our sensor systems can tell the interference is originating from the target planet. It is possible that such interference could result from a misalignment of the Watch Station’s sensor array. Brother Ramiel’s instability manifests briefly.

We manage to make contact with what sounds like Brother-Codicier Ardashir, but his responses raise concern. Of note are the phrases “…colours … silver vines … won’t let go…”, “…little red mouth in my head…”, (on being asked to report his status) “Report, report, report…”, “…is it the mirror? The eyes…”, “…claws … wood and oiled steel…”, “…she won’t let go … underneath, the tunnels … in the spiral…” and “…glass biting inside my spine…”.

My initial speculation is that we are facing an unknown Xenos threat, located either beneath the Watch Station or elsewhere beneath the planet’s surface, which has achieved some form of parasitic hold (whether psychic, physical or both) over Brother-Codicier Ardashir. Possibly a blend of organic and inorganic natures, possibly organic with possession of inorganic technology, possibly those references are merely symbolic imagery.

Audio contact is terminated and we prepare for the launch of the shuttles. I retire to a private chamber with Brother Ramiel and Brother Zariel to conduct the rites of our Chapter before we embark on the mission, and our communion is blessed as I and Brother Zariel are touched by the heritage of Sanguinius. May this omen prove favourable. Then we board the shuttles and launch.

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