The Alchemy of the Word

11th December session

The journey in our Stiletto from Watch Station Scapula to the planet Iphigenia, now with a captured Tau Orca dropship and the Watch Station’s salvaged cogitator banks in our hold, took a couple of days. We plotted a course to make as stealthy an orbital approach as possible, keeping us clear of the orbital defence satellites and aiming for a gap in the defence grid, while Zariel searched the cogitator banks for relevant data. There are three main sites of Laer ruins on the planet – an amphitheatre in the mountains of the northern continent, a partly excavated buried city among thickly forested terrain on the southern continent, and a network of walls forming some kind of labyrinth on a massive scale. According to the Station’s records Inquisitor Hoffman visited the excavation a year before the planet fell to the Tau and recommended it was quarantined from the local populace pending a full Inquisitorial investigation, charging the Deathwatch to ensure the Governor’s compliance with the order. From orbit we were able to tell that the Tau have recommenced excavations and set up a couple of installations on the edges of the buried city, and that there is an occupied Tau & human city relatively nearby. Zariel noticed a pattern to the ruins, but was shielded from its influence by his strength of will, his orthoproxy and our squad’s Oath to the Emperor.

The next stage of our plan was to have Zariel modify the captured Orca’s cockpit so that Calibos could pilot it (with Zariel providing technical assistance and handling the comms) into the atmosphere for a closer recon sweep, while Siegmund, Darqiel & Elyas waited in a drop-pod in case emergency back-up was required, with a human pilot on standby with a Stormraven gunship in case extraction was needed, the latter accompanied by Aemilianus to bolster her will against the sight of the Laer ruins. The recon sweep reveals many wrecked vehicles and spreading fires in the planet’s urban areas. One of the facilities at the excavation is wrecked and on fire while the other (about 500m in diameter) is locked down & heavily defended by mixed Tau & human troops plus a couple of Hammerhead gunships, some drones and some fighters. The Orca is contacted by a stilted Tau voice which seems dissatisfied with the initial authroisation codes Zariel gives, so he rummages through the Tau brain in his pocket and comes up with some crisis authorisation codes. These are accepted and the Orca is ordered to proceed to a landing zone for quarantine, for which journey it gains a couple of drone fighters as escorts. Those on the Stiletto are informed of the situation and we come up with a plan – when the Orca is halfway to the landing zone we launch the drop pod at a location inside the facility’s compound near the Hammerhead on the far side from our Orca, at which point Calibos and Zariel divert the Orca to the facility to provide “assistance”…

The drop pod makes a suitably dramatic landing. Elyas plants both feet firmly on the ground and erects a psychic Force Barrier around himself. Siegmund turns the volume on his armour’s external address system to maximum and orders the human troops to return to the service of the Emperor. Calibos and Zariel are unable to talk their drone escorts round into allowing them to come help rather than continue heading for quarantine, so Calibos performs some neat evasive manoeuvres while Zariel uses the comm link to access the systems of one of the fighters and convince it that the Orca is the other fighter and the other fighter is the Orca disobeying orders, as a result of which the compromised fighter opens fire on its companion which retaliates in kind. The filthy xenos show their cowardly nature by broadcasting a message over the facility’s speakers in crude Low Gothic suggesting that we start negotiations, while the troops fall back to defensive positions. Darqiel uses his jump-pack to power over to the nearest Hammerhead and mag-lock his boots to its bonnet. A pack of gun drones flies over to fan out and cover him.

Elyas unleashes a blast of Hellfire on the largest concentration of Tau & human troops, centreing it behind their paltry cover and taking out about half their number. Siegmund exhorts the human troops to show their loyalty by turning their weapons on the xenos beside them, then uses his jump-pack to jet over to the door of the command bunker. Zariel uses his breaching auger to make a hole in the Orca’s cockpit canopy, Calibos plots a course for the second Hammerhead and pokes his lascannon through the hole in the canopy ready to fire. The first Hammerhead tries to back off and dislodge Darqiel, this doesn’t work and unable to bring its weapons to bear on him it instead fires its main rail-gun at Elyas – most of the force of the blast is absorbed by his Force Barrier, the rest dissipates against the energy field generated by his Storm Shield. The second Hammerhead moves into view on the far side of the compound, helpfully presenting its vulnerable rear to the approaching Orca. Darqiel punches his power fist straight through the front armour of the first Hammerhead, then reaches in and crushes the gunship’s hapless pilot to a bloody pulp. The troops are now in disarray, the humans mostly turning their guns on the Tau or fleeing, the Tau retaliating or seeking cover. The gun drones open fire on Darqiel – he dodges half the shots, the other half merely scratch his armour.

On Siegmund’s suggestion Elyas centres the next Hellfire blast just in front of him, warping and softening the bunker’s door and charcoalising the Tau in the first 15m of the corridor behind it. Siegmund is then able to barge through the weakened door and move up to confront the nearest surviving Tau defenders. Zariel makes some final course adjustments to the Orca while Calibos fires his lascannon and scores a direct hit on the weak rear armour of the second Hammerhead, then he and Zariel bail out of the Orca moments before it crashes into said Hammerhead – there is a massive explosion, while the two of them land firmly on their feet and stride purposefully from the flames. With the aid of his jump-pack Darqiel leaps up and catches one of the gun drones in his power-fist, crushing it into tiny fragments, while the rest of the drones maintain their ineffective fusillade.

Brother Koris - Journal Entry Nine

Official Journal of Brother Koris, Deathwatch Apothecary, Blood Angels Chapter
Entry Eight – Babel Seventeen Shrine World

Brother Siegmund is unable to contact Brother Ramiel by vox. He thus attempts to contact Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus and Brother Zariel; Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus is also out of contact, but Brother Zariel responds and is able to boost the vox signal through to Brother Ramiel (though the machine spirits of the vox howl and shriek in protest at being forced to exert such effort). Brother Ramiel has not yet reached the art history section, being still in a landspeeder driven by one of the Sisters and just approaching the musicology section. Brother Siegmund orders him to wait there until we can join him, and then contacts Sister Superior Winifred once more to request a landspeeder for our own transport. Sister Superior Winifred soon arrives, along with another Sister driving a spacious landspeeder, and we pick up Brother Zariel then proceed to meet Brother Ramiel. As we travel, Brother Calibos informs us that according to his observations the script used by the Sisters of Babel for their signs and markings has its origins in one of the scripts used by the Inquisition.

Meeting with Brother Ramiel, Brother Siegmund informs him of the discovery that “Sister Marian” is an impostor and the Kill-Team begin to plan an ambush for her. While we are discussing I hear a rhythmic clanging that I assume to be the complaints of nearby machine spirits, but when I bring it to Brother Zariel’s attention he avers that it has some other source. Following the noise, we arrive at a cargo lift which has had its entrance clumsily boarded up some time within the past week. Brother Zariel uses his servo-arm to pull the boards aside and with our weapons ready we peer down the shaft and spot what appears to be a Techmarine in Deathwatch colours, his armour decorated with a large wolf pelt, laboriously climbing up the shaft. Brother Siegmund demands that he identify himself and he gives his name as Brother Thorgrim Skalswolf of the Space Wolves, assigned as a Deathwatch bodyguard to Inquisitor Albertine Hoffman several years past. We back off that he might exit the shaft, and he informs us that slightly over one week previously he was set upon by an unknown assailant of incredible strength and thrown down the shaft, where he was forced to spend some time recovering before beginning the miles long climb back up.

We explain that our mission involves investigating the activities of Inquisitor Hoffman on Babel Seventeen, and that we cannot go into any more detail than that. Thorgrim tells us that Inquisitor Hoffman had two main acolytes, an astropathic psyker named Selene and a savant named Althesius, and that shortly before he was assaulted he had expressed his concerns over Inquisitor Hoffman’s researches. He tells us that the Inquisitor spent some time in the art history and musicology sections, some time in the section on ancient history around the time of the Horus Heresy, more time in the sealed vault nearest her quarters, and most of her time in another sealed vault approximately two hours’ travel from her quarters by landspeeder, and that he was required to wait outside while she was in the sealed vaults.

We then continue making plans to ambush “Sister Marian”. The reading room in which Brother Ramiel is due to meet her is a shaft some ten metres wide at the corner of one of the library vaults. There are various entrances and walkways, including several ways in through narrow maintenance tunnels, but given the size of our armour and its hindrance to stealth we decide that the optimum tactical decision is for the rest of us to wait in a nearby store room off the reading room’s antechamber while Brother Ramiel enters and engages “Sister Marian” in conversation, with the rest of us rushing in once the signal is given. Thus we wait for some minutes amongst spare servitor parts and materials for bookbinding, Brother Zariel informing us that his auspex shows another life sign in the reading room as Brother Ramiel enters, yet Brother Ramiel’s vox link remains silent. We are discussing whether to wait any longer before springing the ambush when we hear Brother Ramiel’s scream.

Throwing open the door of the store room, we run for the reading room. Brother Calibos and I arrive first and are confronted by the sight of a female human (clad in the garb of the Sisters of Babel and otherwise unremarkable in appearance) standing near the centre of the room while the lectern burns with pale eldritch fire, as does Brother Ramiel where he writhes in agony on the floor near it. Brother Calibos pauses in the doorway and opens up with a hail of fire from his heavy bolter, but the woman holds up one hand and the bolter shells stop motionless in the air a metre away from her. Drawing my chainsword, I charge the woman (shouldering some of the suspended bolter shells aside to reach her) and deliver a slashing blow across her torso. Viscous ichor flows from the wound, a luminous purplish gold in colour and catching alight with the same pale eldritch fire as it comes into contact with air, but the woman does not appear much troubled by this. Brother Zariel arrives at my side and reaches out with his servo-arm to crush the woman’s skull in its grip, but her head flows like syrup and reforms apparently undamaged. Then Brother Thorgrim arrives alongside us, his servo-arm misses its mark but his hammer deals her a dolorous blow that sends her staggering backwards into a corner of the room. She slumps to the ground, seemingly curled up in pain, but then her flesh flows like liquid and what once appeared to be human rises from the ground in the hideous aspect of a demon. Its legs are fused into a monstrous serpentine tail, wings unfurl from its back, six arms sprout from its heavily scaled torso and each bears a taloned claw, its face is a sickening parody of humanity. A painful buzzing whine begins to clamour in our heads, the sound of reality crying out in rejection of the foul spawn of the Warp.

The demon flings out one arm and a crackling bolt of Warp energy flies out to strike Brother Zariel’s chest, but the Emperor is watching over him and he shrugs off the impact. Brother Siegmund rallies the Kill-Team and invokes the Emperor’s protection to armour us with the steel of our faith as he charges forwards, the demon’s mockery of a face shaping itself into an arrogant smirk as his chainsword carves only a thin furrow in its armoured scales. Brother Ramiel continues to writhe on the ground within an aura of Warpfire as Brother Calibos unleashes another hail of bolter fire, but again the demon throws up a hand and the shells pause in mid air. Yelling imprecations, I attack it with great fervour, but the demon bats my chainsword aside and the blade embeds itself in the wall. Brother Zariel draws his bolt pistol but neither his shots or his servo-arm find their target. Brother Thorgrim manages to get the demon’s torso in the grip of his servo-arm and squeezes, which causes it some discomfort, but is only able to deal it a glancing blow with his hammer. The demon spreads all six of its arms and calls forth a great cloud of pale eldritch fire that washes over the four of us standing close to it. Brother Siegmund’s faith is so strong that the Emperor’s grace keeps the fire from touching him, but Brother Thorgrim, Brother Zariel and myself are not so blessed; the fire passes through our armour and skin as if they were not there, only to burn inside us with unholy agony. Brother Siegmund’s chainsword now finds purchase and tears a gash in the thing’s flesh as he calls on us to strike the Warpspawn down with holy vengeance in the Emperor’s name. Behind us the flames around Brother Ramiel finally burn themselves out and he lapses into unconsciousness. Brother Calibos continues to fire his heavy bolter, but this time instead of holding the shells in mid air the demon’s influence perverts their trajectory, causing most of them to go wide and one of them to severely wound Brother Thorgrim in his right arm. Inspired by Brother Siegmund’s words, I pull my blade from the wall and rain a flurry of blows upon the demon. The first gashes its arms, driven by my righteous fury the next cuts open its belly and spills its guts, the third cuts it in half, and twice more I hack at its form as it shudders and shrinks back to the size and shape of a small dismembered human woman, her eyes the milky white of an astropath and her skin covered with painted writing in some unholy script of the Ruinous Powers. Brother Thorgrim identifies her as Selene, the astropathic psyker in service to Inquisitor Hoffman, whom he last saw shortly before he was assaulted. The corpse gives off a faint scent of lilacs and ozone, which Brother Thorgrim recognises from previous meetings with the psyker and also from the moment of his assault.

As Brother Thorgrim engages Brother Calibos in a furious row over his unfortunate bolter wound (with Brother Zariel and Brother Siegmund stepping in to keep the peace) I rush to Brother Ramiel’s side. It is apparent that the unholy fire left his armour and skin unscathed yet burnt his flesh from the inside outwards, and I inject him with the appropriate chemicals and elixirs to aid and speed his body’s healing. Soon enough he comes to, fatigued but conscious, and his first words are to enquire after the fate of the enemy and to express remorse that he was not strong enough to subdue it alone. I reassure him and help him to his feet, and become aware that the conversation has turned from the raking over of ancient feuds between the Dark Angels and the Space Wolves to speculation as to what the omophagea organ might be able to teach us of Selene’s nature and activities. Shocked by the foolishness of such a suggestion, I unlimber my flamer and push Brother Zariel aside from his inspection of the corpse that I might cleanse it with flame until little that is identifiable remains. As I then douse the walls with cleansing flame where they were splashed by the demon’s ichor, Brother Siegmund contacts Sister Superior Winifred over the vox. He tells her that the section must be sealed off until it can be properly examined and cleansed by the Ordos Hereticus and Malleus. Sister Superior Winifred asks for our assistance in finding the missing Sister Nineane, and we ask for the help of the Sisters in locating the savant Althesius. Brother Thorgrim announces that he will attempt to follow back Selene’s distinctive scent to discover where she has been spending her time.

Brother Koris - Journal Entry Eight

Official Journal of Brother Koris, Deathwatch Apothecary, Blood Angels Chapter
Entry Eight – Babel Seventeen Shrine World


Brother Koris - Journal Entry Seven

Official Journal of Brother Koris, Deathwatch Apothecary, Blood Angels Chapter
Entry Seven – Watch Fortress Erioch / Thunder’s Wrath / Babel Seventeen Shrine World

Brother Zariel and I restore the machine spirits and paintwork of Brother Ramiel’s armour to pristine condition while the medical rites are being conducted to revive him from the healing coma induced by his Sus-An Membrane. Soon after our arrival at the Watch Fortress he regains consciousness and is welcomed back by Brother Zariel and myself. Brother Ramiel is quite agitated and in low spirits on waking in the Apothecarion and while undergoing supervised exercise to evaluate his healing and recovery. I then take him to his cell to conduct private rites of penance and these raise his morale a great deal. I am now hopeful that the incident on the Thunder’s Wrath, and some of his more erratic behaviour during the last mission, will not be repeated.

I and the other members of the Kill-Team are all individually pestered by Brother Thorkild of the Space Wolves to reveal the details of our impending mission. I despair at his lack of discipline and honour, particularly disappointing from a veteran of the Deathwatch, and hope that none of the other Marines on the Watch Fortress are so lacking in judgement as to follow his poor example.

We requisition our equipment for the mission, and are informed that we will once again be travelling aboard the Gladius class frigate Thunder’s Wrath. The journey should be rather shorter this time, as the Babel System is only a few days’ warp journey distant. I request, and am granted, permission to devise a heraldic badge for our Kill-Team and to paint this on the outer left cuisse of our armour. Though both Brother Siegmund and Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus argue in favour of their own Chapter colours taking prominence, we eventually agree on a shield-shaped insignia with a background of the wave-ruffled surface of a deep sea coloured in the blue of the Ultramarines Chapter. Against this is set a pair of wings in the design of the Blood Angels and Dark Angels Chapters, the wings coloured in the black of the Black Templars Chapter, and beneath the joint of the wings is set the outline of the Inquisition symbol painted as highly polished silver in which can be seen a subtle reflection of the wearer’s face composed in an attitude of pious prayer.

Brother Siegmund opens a discussion on which of us should lead the Kill-Team. Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus proposes that Brother Siegmund should continue in the role, having performed well during our first mission, this proposal is seconded by myself and carried by acclaim – though Brother Siegmund is commendably modest about wishing to command. We reaffirm our Oath to the Emperor do some preliminary research on Babel Seventeen and the Babel System.

The Babel System has dozens of planets and moons, with a number of modest agri-worlds close to the system’s star and a number of small mining stations on the system’s outer bodies. Babel Seventeen is roughly the size of Mars, lacks a natural atmosphere and has no geographical features. The entire planetary surface is covered in approximately two hundred linked hives, all contained within pressurised atmosphere domes, with the data repositories mostly below the surface and extending deep into the planetary crust. There are a dozen spaceports, fewer than would usually be expected for a planet of this size; planetary defences consist of batteries of planetary defence lasers with overlapping void shields protecting the hives.

Estimated current population of Babel Seventeen is approximately two hundred Sisters of Babel with fifteen thousand lay support staff, five thousand Adeptus Mechanicus personnel and approximately one million servitors, thus each hive will average a shockingly small population of one hundred personnel plus five thousand servitors.

The short journey to the Babel System is uneventful. I finish painting the Kill-Team heraldry on our armour and we spend our time in prayer and training to ready ourselves for the mission. On arriving in orbit around Babel Seventeen we observe that hive settlement started at the equatorial belt and then spiralled outwards on both hemispheres, following the direction of the planet’s rotation. We briefly speculate on a possible link with the “vermillion spiral” of which Brother Lexicanium Aemilianus has sometimes spoken, but dismiss these concerns. We contact the Sisters of Babel and are assigned a spaceport at which to meet their delegation. Taking a shuttle down, we are informed that the pilot who nearly curtailed our previous mission at its start is no longer on active duty, and after a brief mid-atmosphere pause in a holding position while the void shields are lowered we arrive at the spaceport.

The spaceport’s design is archaic and the facility appears derelict, the surfaces cracked and covered with plant growth. Brother Zariel determines that it is two years since the proper rites of maintenance were last conducted, and that the spaceport’s machine spirits have mostly been left in slumber since that time. Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus attempts to gauge the psychic condition of the planet, and senses what he terms “a storm of growing tension”.

We spot the welcoming delegation from some distance away as they slowly cross the landing area to meet us. Three Sisters of Babel, their leader a small and lightly built woman, are flanked by four guards in carapace armour wielding lasweapons and wearing power swords, though their equipment appears to be poorly maintained as if it has spent many years receiving only field repairs. The three Sisters wear robes of black and grey in a standard Ecclesiarchy cut, and all three have had their throat, lower jaw and both hands replaced by well maintained augmetics. Their leader welcomes us to the planet, speaking through her artificial voice grill at the level of a whisper. On questioning she gives her name as Sister Superior Winifred and explains that the augmetics are a sacred charge of their order and are designed to protect the books in their care. As a gesture of politeness, most of the Kill-Team lower the volume on our armour’s external address systems.

Sister Superior Winifred announces that she will begin by leading us to our guest quarters. She tells us that her Order is in the process of receiving new texts and amending their storage facilities to accommodate them. These texts are from their contacts in the Battlefleet, some captured Tau texts for study by the Ordo Xenos and others rescued by refugees from planets lost to Xenos assault. She also tells us that the Sisters concentrate their numbers at base camps, from where they send missions to the “deeper stacks”, sometimes visit outposts of the lay community, and find Adeptus Mechanicus personnel when they can.

We arrive at a cage lift in which we are expected to descend to the lower levels, and Sister Winifred tells us that it is normally used for transporting books since the Sisters descend by climbing the bookstacks. Brother Zariel is dubious about the lift’s ability to bear our weight; we cautiously descend in three pairs, Brother Siegmund and Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus going first followed by Brothers Ramiel and Zariel. The lift arrives at a walkway on the edge of a massive cavern. The walkway abuts a wall of bookshelves containing historical texts from the Age of Apostasy, with some books present in multiple copies. The cavern contains hexagonal spires of bookshelves connected by a webbing of ladders, cables, gantries, ropes and bridges, almost none of which look capable of supporting a Marine’s weight. The area is lit by bio-lume globes, many of them weak or burnt out, and a number of servitors can be seen hovering around one of the distant stacks.

We are led up a flight of stairs and through an archway into a corridor lined with stained glass windows and with tattered and peeling murals of various obscure Imperial saints whose portfolios are connected with scholarship. There is also a portrait of Primarch Roboute Guilliman holding aloft a written copy of the Codex Astartes, which Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus briefly pauses to salute. Sister Superior Winifred informs us that the Babel Seventeen archives contain 147 editions of the Codex Astartes along with 238 commentaries. She also states that the Sisters of Babel prefer the physicality of ink and paper to the use of data slates as they believe that a book is a concept given physical form, believing that the written word is “the epitome of order and thus the ultimate refutation of Chaos”. To questions about books written by followers and agents of the Ruinous Powers she replies with some potentially heretical comments about Chaos thus containing “the seeds of its own destruction”. The Sisters of Babel may need to be monitored for Radical beliefs and practices. Finally we arrive at the guest quarters that have been assigned to us, and are informed that Inquisitor Albertine Hoffman’s quarters are just down the corridor and have been left untouched in case she returns.

Brother Koris - Journal Entry Six

Official Journal of Brother Koris, Deathwatch Apothecary, Blood Angels Chapter
Entry Six – Watch Fortress Erioch

Arriving at Watch Fortress Erioch, we are met by Brother Thorkild of the Space Wolves, accompanied by another veteran Deathwatch Marine and some human Inquisition Storm Troopers. They take us to a debriefing conducted by Watch Commander Mordigael and Inquisitor Carmillus, where we give our report and hand over all documentation from Watch Station Andronicus. We are sworn to secrecy about the events of the mission and given permission to depart. I take the still unconscious Brother Ramiel to the Watch Fortress’ Apothecarium facilities while the rest of the Kill-Team head to the chapel, but for Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus who is instructed to go to his cell and await a private interview with Inquisitor Carmillus.

Later that day, while I remain in the Apothecarion with Brother Ramiel the rest of the Kill-Team is called to a joint briefing with Watch Commander Mordigael and Inquisitor Carmillus and given a new mission to continue investigating the threat, starting at the Shrine-World of Babel Seventeen where Inquisitor Hoffman was conducting research.

Primary Objective: Curtail the spread of the psychic virus through the Jericho Reach. Find out how far it has spread, and take whatever steps might be necessary to eradicate it. Propagation of the virus is not countenanced even amongst Xenos and heretics.

Secondary Objective: Determine the nature of the Malleus Entity we fought in Watch Station Andronicus and its relation to the psychic virus. Do not attempt to contact this entity.

Tertiary Objective: No experiments in replicating Laeran sonic tech are to be repeated, nor is information relating to it to be allowed to circulate outside of the Deathwatch and the Ordo Xenos.

Inquisitor Albertine Hoffman: Not currently considered heretical, any evidence that may indicate otherwise should be brought to the attention of Watch Commander Mordigael and Inquisitor Carmillus. Inquisitor Hoffman should not be permitted to spread knowledge of Laeran technology or conduct any experiments concerning it.

Psykers: Anyone with psychic ability should be considered at risk of becoming infected with the psychic virus, and should be monitored closely. This includes Marine Librarians.

The Babel Seventeen Shrine World is managed by an external convent of the Ordo Dialogus, scholars in the service of the Ecclesiarchy.

Brother Koris - Journal Entry Five

Official Journal of Brother Koris, Deathwatch Apothecary, Blood Angels Chapter
Entry Five – Watch Station Andronicus / Thunder’s Wrath

According to our plans of the facility the Librarium is three storeys high, the central area filled with cogitator banks and shelves of books, the walls lined with individual meditation cells on several levels. Brother Zariel attempts to remotely access the Librarium’s cogitator banks, and discovers that the Omega-Epsilon protocol has been activated before tens or hundreds of years ago. Brother Zariel and I ask Brother Siegmund to join us for a private discussion in one of the cells lining this corridor, where we relay our concerns about Brother Ramiel’s mental stability and vulnerability, and he agrees to assign Brother Ramiel to a rearguard position for the assault on the Librarium.

We take up position in front of the Librarium door, and in preparation for potentially confronting a servant of the Ruinous Power Which Thirsts I lead the Kill-Team in a short prayer to reaffirm our faith and resolve. Brother Siegmund opens the door, steps through and breaks left a short distance along the Librarium’s outer wall wall, I follow him and break a short distance to the right along the wall. We immediately notice a deep and unsettling bass vibration in the air and a pillar of eldritch violet fire occupying the centre of the room, with violet lightning dancing over the cogitator banks (though less than was present on the central cogitator arrays) and a weird phosphorescence radiating from the books. Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus extends his psychic senses and tells us that there is danger present, the vibration is our perception of a psychic ward which we have now tripped, and that an unclear psychic resonance from within the pillar of fire indicates either one entity or two entities with overlapping presences.

Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus then follows us in, breaking left to join Brother Siegmund, and Brother Zariel follows and breaks right to join me, with Brother Calibos moving up to occupy the doorway and Brother Ramiel remaining in the corridor behind us covering the lift shaft. Brother Zariel moves into the room and overturns some of the bookshelves to provide us with cover, the rest of us move up to take advantage of the makeshift barricade, and as we stand firm against the barricade Brother Zariel picks out a vague form within the pillar of fire and we begin the assault.

My initial burst of automatic bolter fire scores only a couple of glancing hits and seems merely to annoy whatever occupies the fiery pillar. In response a ghostly humanoid shape with wings, horns and tail, limned in violet flame, rushes out of the pillar impossibly fast, washes over us and dissolves into a rippling ball of purple flame, several of my Brothers dodge to the side and the rest of us stand firm and let it wash over us to no effect, the corrupt psychic assault powerless against the bastion of our faith. Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus attempts to take a shot but his bolter jams, so he simply blasts the pillar with bolts of psychic lightning. Brother Siegmund leaves cover and moves up towards the pillar, as he does so letting off a hurried burst of automatic fire to little effect. Brother Zariel then opens up with his own burst of automatic bolter fire and scores four solid hits, at which point the flame gutters to reveal the from of former Brother-Codicier Ardashir, his armour visibly and sickeningly defaced in the same manner as the walls of his cell. Ardashir dodges aside with unnatural speed as Brother Calibos releases two bursts of cleansing flame and I unleash another burst of automatic fire, this time scoring five solid hits. Ardashir begins striding towards us, wielding a fearsome blade surrounded by a nimbus of purple lightning, and uttering heresy in an eerily doubled voice – his own speech echoed by a strange female tone. Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus charges forth to meet him, plunges his force sword between the joints of Ardashir’s armour and channels the full force of his psychic might through the blade into Ardashir’s body. Such is his fury at seeing this corrupt remnant of a former Librarian that Ardashir is utterly destroyed in the blast of psychic energy that results, exploding in a coruscating blaze of multicoloured light that leaves only a charred suit of armour containing a small amount of ash. As the violet fire, lightning and phosphorescence around us begins to fade Brother Calibos moves up to cleanse the armour with intense gouts of flame, not relenting until the metal begins to soften and melt.

Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus admits to us that in the moment of Ardashir’s death he was spoken to by the voice of the possessing entity. The entity apparently stated that, since Ardashir was an astropath, it has “already won”. With an attitude of awkward contrition Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus then admits that he challenged the entity to a contest of Skull-Aquila-Throne, but the entity declined, tempted him to follow Ardashir’s example, and retorted that it offered a “better game”: to work out where it has now gone.

We explore the rest of the Watch Station, roughly half the remaining areas of the facility have been desecrated and so we cleanse them with flame. We find the five gun-servitors with most of their organic components burnt away and their machine components fused into a strange sculpture, with their brains entirely shut down except for the neurological reward centres, and they too are cleansed. Most of the Watch Station’s other servitors have their brains largely intact despite their exterior modifications, and so Brother Zariel sets to work on restoring them.

Once the Omega-Epsilon protocol has run its course the violet sparks and lightning vanish from the cogitator arrays. However, when Brother Zariel inspects the cogitators afterwards he finds a strange afterimage scarred into the physical structure of the organic tissues. This afterimage appears to represent a language of some kind, which is downloaded onto a data slate for further investigation. After some study Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus reports that the language rejects standard subject-object relations and the notion of liner time, is composed as a poem in a fractal meter, describes alternative laws of physics and logic that cannot exist in this universe, and also contains a name.

We send an astropathic communication to Inquisitor Albertine Hoffman requesting reinforcements, but are informed that she left the Shrine World of Babel Seventeen (an extensive archive containing texts of the Imperial creed) several days ago on a fast Rogue Trader ship. We then send an astropathic communication to Inquisitor Duquesne who is stationed with the Battlefleet, but are informed that he is busy in high level negotiations with another Inquisitor. We then send a brief astropathic report to Watch Fortress Erioch, and are somewhat alarmed to receive a reply from Watch Commander Mordigael asking what we are doing at Watch Station Andronicus and who sent us. Further discussion indicates that Brother-Epistolary Axineton is currently “indisposed”, we report that Brother-Codicier Ardashir has been lost in the process of dealing with a threat Malleus Majoris, and we are ordered to return to Watch Fortress Erioch to report in person to Watch Commander Mordigael. Pausing only to excise the corrupted cogitator banks and requisition enough temporary replacement cogitators from the stores of the Thunder’s Wrath to leave Watch Station Andronicus functional with a skeleton staff of EnginSeers and Chapter Serfs from the ship, we board the frigate and depart for Watch Fortress Erioch after receiving reassurances from Interrogator Salander (Inquisitor Duquesne’s second in command) that a ship is being despatched from the Battlefleet to reinforce and secure the Watch Station.

I spend the first half of the trip secluded in my cell engaged in solitary prayer and meditation while practicing a careful regimen of minimal sensory stimulation, in order to purify me of whatever Warp-taint may have touched me during the mission’s preparatory Chapter rites and during our time on the planet. As my period of seclusion is coming to an end I am visited by Brother Siegmund, who bears the unconscious form of Brother Ramiel. It appears that Brother Ramiel has so severely damaged himself with self-inflicted chainsword wounds that his Sus-An Membrane has activated and put him into a healing coma, and so I spend much of the rest of the trip tending to him in the frigate’s Apothecarium.

Meanwhile Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus and Brother Zariel have been studying Ardashir’s personal logs. It appears that he went back through Watch Station Andronicus’ archives and discovered the Watch Station’s original use as a weapons research facility for the Deathwatch and the Ordo Xenos. Specifically, the facility was researching the techniques of sonic weaponry used by the Laer, a race of Xenos who worshipped the Ruinous Power of Lust and were wiped out by the Third Legion (prior to their Fall) during the Great Crusade ten millennia past. Brother Calibos notes that Ardashir’s defaced armour did bear some resemblance to a Traitor faction of the Third Legion known as “Noise Marines”.

Ardashir then begin correspondence with a female Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos who was also researching Laeran techniques and was looking for a “fatal sound”. At this point his notes start displaying sections written in the language found scarred into the cogitator tissue, and we speculate that the cogitator corruption may have been an artifact of the research into Laeran weaponry (from before the Omega-Epsilon protocol reset that attempted to clear the cogitators before repurposing the Watch Station as a listening post) and lying dormant since then.

Ardashir reached an arrangement whereby he would continue communicating with the Inquisitor but the Inquisitor would cease speaking to him. His later correspondence is tainted with the influence of the Ruinous Power of Lust, the Inquisitor apparently gaining his slavish loyalty and attention in a corrupt and perverted manner. The Inquisitor was in an archive where the bibliolators would not under any circumstances destroy a book. Ardashir begins conflating the Inquisitor with the entity whose name recurs in the language, his talk of this entity increases and he begins talking of “Her” emergence to walk in this universe and reshape it to “Her” liking.

We emerge from the Warp and approach Watch Fortress Erioch, as we draw close Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus is concerned to note that he would normally expect to sense half a dozen psykers aboard the Watch Fortress but currently all of them appear to be either suppressed or absent.

Brother Koris - Journal Entry Four

Official Journal of Brother Koris, Deathwatch Apothecary, Blood Angels Chapter
Entry Four – Watch Station Andronicus

We enter the Watch Station’s hangar bay aboard the stripped down Aquila lander to find the walls and ceilings covered in dozens of the multilimbed modified servitors. They start moving towards us and the Aquila with uncertain intent, and Brother Siegmund orders the Kill-Team to head for the hangar’s main exit (the only exit suitable for use by Battle- Brothers, the others being smaller ducts designed for use by servitors). Brother Siegmund leads the way and most of us swiftly follow, but Brother Calibos and Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus are still aboard the Aquila when the horde of servitors reaches them. Brother Calibos comfortably fends off their initial assault, while Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus finds several wrenching painfully at his arm, then Brother Calibos’ heavy flamer renders fully half of the servitors inactive. As Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus strikes down a couple more with his force-blade I charge back with Brothers Ramiel and Zariel to lend assistance. Several more servitors fall to our blows as the last few make a concerted effort to wrench off Brother Calibos’ head, then a final gout from his heavy flamer leave those too as charred wrecks – though Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus and Brother Ramiel are caught in the backwash and sustain burns. I am able to remedy the minor wounds suffered by Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus and Brother Calibos, but Brother Ramiel refuses to stand still while being tended and somehow his twisting around activates the drill on my reductor, doing further damage to his black carapace that will require more than field treatment.

Hearing more servitors approaching, we grab a couple of canisters of promethium (with which to refuel Brother Ramiel’s jump pack when we get the chance) and exit the hangar bay. The corridor ends in a heavy door with security measures that administer a strong electric shock when Brother Ramiel tries to open it, though not one sufficient to harm an armoured Battle-Brother. The lock is likewise trapped and the current fuses its circuits, so Brother Zariel resorts to tearing the door out with his servo-arm. As the door is wrenched free air gushes from the formerly pressurised section beyond, a room containing workbenches (which it is clear have not been used in some time), a monitoring station and a hololith filled with a scrolling mass of apparently random mixed Low Gothic and Techna-Lingua. Two further exits lead on from the room, one lift and one service corridor. While the rest of us take up defensive positions Brother Zariel and Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus inspect the hololith and discover it to be an interface system for the main cogitator banks. The cogitator banks appear to be convinced that a number of conflicting situations are simultaneously true, including:

  • Everything is fine.
  • Holy Terra has fallen and the galaxy has become a grim wasteland of terror and despair.
  • Brother-Codicier Ardashir is dead.
  • Brother-Codicier Ardashir is the only person who can be trusted.
  • The Deathwatch are to be trusted.
  • The Deathwatch do not exist.
  • Brother-Codicier Ardashir is the whole of the Deathwatch.

Since the cogitator banks are obviously in some disarray Brother Zariel pulls the Watch Station’s recent logs to his data-slate and initiates emergency protocol Omega-Epsilon, which will (over the course of the next four to five hours) back up as much of the system’s data as possible to machine memory and then mindscrub the cogitator banks to reset status. The hololith’s display screen immediately reverts to a regular flow of Techna-Lingua.

Consulting our plans of the Watch Station, we see that this level also contains a servitor maintenance facility, quarters for Techmarines and Adeptus Mechanicus personnel, and a manual entrance to the main cogitator banks. Brother Zariel manages to access the level’s security subsystems and change the settings so that the doors are no longer electrified, the locks are operational and the internal autoguns are deactivated. We proceed down the service corridors, and a long curving corridor bringing us to the T-junction and autogun emplacements that give access to the cogitator banks at the tower’s core. On opening the door we are confronted with a horrifying sight – tiny lines of eldritch purple lightning crawl over the organic components of the cogitator banks, bathing the room in the eerie violet glow of obvious Warp energy. Briefly switching to preysense sight, I observe that this has raised the temperature of the cogitator banks to a much higher level than is usual. Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus conducts a psychic scan of the cogitator banks and starts talking about “the vermilion spiral” – on being questioned about this he appears confused, speaking in tautologies and stating that it feels like “something which has been with [him] for [his] whole life” but admitting that he cannot remember encountering the concept before scanning me just after I had the unsettling vision while observing a group of the Watch Station’s servitors through magnoculars. I begin to suspect that what I took to be the blessing of Sanguinius during the preparatory Chapter rites may have been the first insidious touch of whatever Warp-taint has infected the Watch Station. May the Emperor grant myself and Brother Zariel, and all of the Kill-Team, His holy strength against the perils of the Warp. The Emperor protects!

We decide to leave the cogitator banks as they are in the hope that the Omega-Epsilon protocol will purge them of whatever this Warp-infection, and we move on to the servitor maintenance facility. Several of the charred servitors from the hangar bay have already been recovered and are undergoing repairs here, so with the help of Brother Ramiel and his chainsword Brother Zariel ensures that they will be out of operation for at least the next few hours. We then return to the monitoring station and prepare to take the lift up to the next floor, which according to our plans contains the quarters for Battle-Brothers and Librarians.

One floor up the lift opens onto a hallway lined with the doors to Battle-Brothers’ sleeping cells, where ceiling mounted autoguns repeatedly sight on us then twitch away. Brother Ramiel boldly leaves the lift and strides down the corridor to draw any potential hostile fire, Brother Zariel follows after him and is able to access and deactivate this level’s security subsystems. We go down the corridor systematically investigating the sleeping cells – the first five are empty, containing only sleeping pallets, armour stands, weapon racks and shelves, but the sixth cell is a disturbing sight. The walls are covered in a haphazard mass of High Gothic text and painted images, with many swirls and spirals and diagrams in bright vivid colours. The room is crisscrossed with threads and wires, strung with an assortment of small items and with pages torn from books. Brother Calibos is reminded of attempts by Navigators to describe the Warp, particularly the swirls and spirals of colour as attempts to visually represent Warp currents. Brother Ramiel pronounces it similar to the work of a small and deeply heretical cult purged from the Calixis Sector by the Inquisition a century past for worship of the Ruinous Power of Lust. Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus analyses the language used and concludes that it concentrates around the use of verbs and the communication of intensities of feeling, with one single name repeated over and over – a name he thinks it wisest not to speak. Brother Calibos thoroughly torches the room and its contents with his heavy flamer and then we prepare to open the Librarium door at the end of the corridor..

Brother Koris - Journal Entry Three

Official Journal of Brother Koris, Deathwatch Apothecary, Blood Angels Chapter
Entry Three – Andronicus planetary surface

Moments after launch it is apparent that the serf has cut the power to the shuttle’s engines far too soon, giving us insufficient forward momentum and reducing our planned glide to a steep fall. Brother Zariel tears the shuttle’s fuselage to provide additional lift surfaces, but the planet’s thin atmosphere (mostly comprised of nitrogen and ammonia) offers them too little purchase to make a significant difference. Giving new orders to the serf, we open the shuttle’s hatch and gather round Brother Ramiel – once the shuttle is near the ground, Brother Ramiel uses his jump pack to blast away from the shuttle while the rest of us cling to his limbs. The serf immediately powers up the engines and attempts to return to the frigate. Brother Ramiel’s jump pack, not designed to provide enough lift to support six fully armoured Battle-Brothers, still gives us a little more control over our impact on the planetary surface; the Kill-Team leave a long furrow in the ground, crashing through several rocky outcrops and tearing a long swathe from the sensor-net, but we receive only minor injuries.

Assessing the situation, we find ourselves some twenty miles from the Watch Station with Brother Zariel’s combat servitors and Brother Calibos’ heavy bolter and missile launcher having been left on the shuttle. I tend to the Kill-Team’s wounds (Brother Ramiel has sustained minor damage to his black carapace that will require either extended rest or treatment in a surgical facility) while Brother Zariel checks the Kill-Team’s armour and finds that the fuel supply of Brother Ramiel’s jump pack has been almost exhausted by our landing. Brother Siegmund attempts to contact the Thunder’s Wrath but finds the channel blanketed by heavy white noise interference reminiscent of an active jamming attempt. Once Brother Zariel boosts the signal Brother Siegmund is able to make patchy contact, learning that the decoy shuttle was shot down by the Watch Station’s lance battery while our own shuttle avoided the lance battery’s arc of fire and was able to return to the frigate.

Examining the damaged portion of the sensor net, we ascertain that the cables are arranged in a spiderweb pattern centred on the Watch Station with roughly one hundred yard intervals between them. We decide to circle around the Watch Station to an intact portion of the sensor net and dig down to one of the main arterial spokes so that Brother Zariel can attempt to access it. The planet’s low gravity gives us a choice between travelling with a slow shuffle or a long bouncing lope, thus the profile of our movement is higher than optimum. Once we have moved a couple of miles from our landing site Brother Zariel selects a spot for a trench to be dug and we set to work. We have made a considerable trench by the time a modified Aquila lander is spotted, approaching us from the direction of the Watch Station. The lander has had its bulkheads and most other appurtenances stripped away, leaving only the chassis, engines, two autocannon and a sealed cockpit – rendering it a lightweight scout / gun platform with exceptional speed and manoeuvrability. The lander is conducting a sweep-pattern search from the Watch Station towards our landing site, wide enough to cover our current location. We take cover in the trench we have dug while Brother Zariel’s auspex scan detects a minimal heat signature from within the cockpit, indicating a probable servitor; which probability is confirmed by a vox link to the Watch Station that is communicating in Techna-Lingua. Brother Zariel is able to hack the servitor’s systems via this vox link and convince it to ignore our presence.

As the Aquila moves on the keen eyes of Brother Calibos spot movement near our landing site, but at a slightly greater distance from the Watch Station. Brother Ramiel’s magnoculars reveal a group of five to ten small multilegged Xenos, moving in a purposeful fashion and scouring their local area. The magnoculars are passed around the Kill-Team. Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus theorises that the Xenos may be a hybrid of Tau humanoids and Tyranid gaunts. The touch of Sanguinius that I first felt during the pre-mission Chapter rites returns to me, and the Xenos appear in my sight as crystalline insectoid creatures with mirrored carapaces that reflect the light in myriad mesmerising colours. Suddenly the vision expands and I see the planet’s entire surface covered in a heaving swarm of these insectoid creatures, rushing forth to cover my feet. I am momentarily overcome with alarm, and while I recover myself and attempt to communicate what I saw of the Xenos to my Battle-Brothers I volunteer to have my mind scanned for external psychic influences by Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus. After a few seconds of distraction he pronounces me free of influences but seems himself to be strangely affected – during the Kill-Team’s subsequent discussion he substitutes the word “vermilion” for the word “plan” while speaking, appears unaware of having made this substitution, and refuses to believe that he might have done so. Brother Zariel communicates over a private vox channel with myself and Brother Ramiel and we share concerns over this behaviour.

Meanwhile the Xenos have fanned out over our landing site and begin moving over it in a methodical manner. Brother Zariel uses the auspex to more precisely locate the conduit we are looking for, at which point we move our digging and soon uncover our target. Brother Zariel is able to use this physical link to hack into the Watch Station’s systems. What we had taken for Xenos are discovered to be the Watch Station’s heavily modified servitors, all limbs removed from the basic human torso and replaced with a multitude of mechadendrites. Though this is highly unusual, Brother Zariel opines that the procedure appears to be within the bounds of acceptable Adeptus Mechanicus praxis. It is also discovered that the Watch Station is placed on lockdown pending expected orbital assault, as the result of a manual override by verbal order to the cogitator systems. This order was given approximately three weeks ago, which matches the date of the astropathic communication received by Brother-Lexicanium Origen. This manual override has instructed the system to flag all incoming signals as hostile, has classed the Thunder’s Wrath as a hostile vessel, and has overridden all of the standard Deathwatch access codes. The next closest threats registered by the system are some Tau installations two planetary systems over, which were flagged up automatically by the system’s programs.

Brother Zariel persuades the system to log our Kill-Team’s access codes as being those of Watch Station Andronicus personnel, then we cover our access point and start moving closer to the Watch Station. Once we are approximately one mile away we wait for the next Aquila lander to be sent out on patrol, at which point Brother Zariel once again hacks into its vox link and persuades the pilot servitor that the craft is suffering from engine problems. The craft lands near our location, and while the servitor leaves the cockpit to inspect the engines we rush over and climb aboard the chassis. The servitor matches the description obtained from the Watch Station’s cogitator systems, but while the modifications to both the servitor and the Aquila are distinctly non-Codex there do not appear to be any overt indicators of Heretech. With the additional weight of the Kill-Team aboard the Aquila’s lift and handling match the symptoms of the suggested engine fault, so the pilot returns to the hangar bay – midway up the Watch Station’s central tower – with us aboard.

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.

Brother Koris - Deathwatch Journal - #1

Official Journal of Brother Koris, Deathwatch Apothecary, Blood Angels Chapter
Entry One – Watch Fortress Erioch

Assigned to the Deathwatch and sent to Watch Fortress Erioch for training, along with my dear Chapter Brothers Ramiel and Zariel. On arrival I am reunited with Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus of the Ultramarines, whom I have not seen since the Scouring of Ultramar. Emperor be praised, truly this is a favourable omen that bodes well for my term of service with the Deathwatch!

Along with many other Battle-Brothers we begin months of Deathwatch training, hypno-induction and teamwork exercises. We are taught how to spot the subversive heresies of the Tau, we study the weaknesses of the foul Tyranid creatures, we learn much about the other contemptible Xenos races of this sector, and we hone our skills and synergies to new levels of perfection. Every day here makes me a stronger weapon in the service of the Emperor, yet cannot compare to the joy of doing His work on the battlefield.

Three months after arrival, we four and Brother Siegmund of the Black Templars are called to a mission briefing by Brother-Epistolary Axineton of the White Consuls. Also present is Brother-Lexicanium Origen. Brother-Epistolary Axineton briefs us on Watch Station Andronicus, a surface installation on a dwarf planet approximately 2,500km in diameter. The planet is composed of sand and rock, is a lifeless world with an unbreathable atmosphere, and has a craggy terrain of rocky outcroppings, low mountains and asteroid impact craters. The Watch Station’s sensor net extends over much of the planetary surface. The Watch Station itself is defended against aerial assault by a close range lance battery, with an internal layout designed to enable a single Battle-Brother to hold it effectively against superior numbers of capable foes.

Records indicate that the station was established long ago, was left inactive for a long period of time, was then occupied intermittently for several centuries, was then left inactive for a further hundred years, and was then reactivated ten years ago when other Watch Stations in the area were lost to Tau actions and other incidents. In all this time there are no records of any anomalous incident at Watch Station Andronicus.

Brother-Codicier Ardashir of the Fire Lords (a small and consistently loyal Ultramarines successor Chapter specialising in orbital assault) was sent to reactivate the Watch Station after the Inquisition requested monitoring of several nearby worlds, in particular a Shrine World in the Babel System and the Tau-occupied world of Iphigenia (where those Xenos are using brainwashing techniques to corrupt Imperial citizens). A skilled Brother-Codicier was selected for the post so that he could use astropathic communication to deliver regular reports to the Deathwatch and to relay information to the nearby Imperial Fleet.

After over nine years of successful operation, contact with Brother-Codicier Ardashir and with Watch Station Andronicus was lost six months ago. An automated drone ship was despatched to the location but was lost without transmitting any useful data. Other matters took priority until one day ago Brother-Lexicanium Origen received an astropathic message that appears to be from Brother-Codicier Ardashir. At this point Brother-Epistolary Axineton asks Brother-Lexicanium Origen to repeat the message to us. Brother-Lexicanium Origen proceeds to relate a stream of surreal nightmarish nonsense, primarily composed of violent and highly symbolic visual imagery, and as his recitation continues he appears to be increasingly distressed. Eventually his distress forces him to curtail his recitation of the message, and when I ask if he wishes medical assistance he reacts with mild alarm and backs away to spend the rest of the briefing sat off to one side, visibly suffering from acute unease and probable cranial pain.

Brother-Epistolary Axineton is rather alarmed by these events and can offer no explanation for them, as neither he nor Brother-Lexicanium Aemilianus can detect any psychic activity. Brother-Epistolary Axineton informs us that on first receiving the message Brother-Lexicanium Origen reported it differently; at our request Brother-Epistolary Axineton reads out a transcript that is similarly nonsensical but is of a considerably more metaphysical and philosophical nature. At our further request he then reads out the transcript again, and though it starts off identical to his previous utterances and remains of a similar nature, subtle changes begin to emerge as the recitation continues.

Following a brief discussion of these matters, Brother-Epistolary Axineton gives us our mission objectives:

Primary Objective: Locate and return Brother-Codicier Ardashir. If we do not believe we can safely return him, terminate him and recover his geneseed. If we believe his geneseed has been corrupted, destroy it.

Secondary Objective: Recover all unreported data from Watch Station Andronicus.

Tertiary Objective: Ensure that Watch Station Andronicus will remain secure after our departure. If unable to assure security in our absence, contact Inquisitor Albertine Hoffman in the Babel System to request assistance. If unable to contact Inquisitor Hoffman, contact an Inquisitor with the local Imperial Fleet. If we do not believe that these measures will suffice to ensure the Watch Station’s security, destroy it.

Brother-Epistolary Axineton informs us that we are to be transported from Watch Fortress Erioch to Watch Station Andronicus aboard the Gladius class frigate Thunder’s Wrath, with an astropath on board to facilitate communications, and gives us our requisition allocations. After a brief discussion of approach tactics, Brother-Epistolary Axineton authorises the use of an orbital drop aboard a Rhino transport so that we may avoid the Watch Station’s aerial defences and make a rapid surface approach. We are also authorised to requisition combat servitors as required. The Kill-Team is given the designation Claritas Pennata.

Once the briefing ends we convene for a debate over squad leadership and tactics. Following some discussion we select Brother Siegmund as leader of our Kill-Team, for his zeal and tactical flexibility. It is decided that we shall swear an Oath to the Emperor, that the discipline of prayer and the strength of our faith in His Light shall strengthen our wills against whatever corruption assails Watch Station Andronicus. We then repair to the Watch Fortress armoury to present our requisition requests to Brother Tabiblik.


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