Watch Captain Hyzeron stands before a number of pict screens in one Erioch’s many briefing chambers. Several of the larger glass-paneled displays show orbital captures of an unfamiliar hive city. The place looks to be in complete chaos, hungry flames and clouds of smoke forever frozen in the moment the recorder was active.
“This,” begins Hyzeron, turning to face you in full battle armor, “is the hive city of Taurinum on the world of Argoth.” Hyzeron punches a rune tablet in his gauntleted hand and the pict-captures begin to change. The city is slowly revealed from a number of angles and distances, all of which show a level of destruction wrought by widespread war or revolt.
“The planet Argoth lies in the Canis Salient, an effort lead by Lord Commander Ebongrave.” Hyzeron’s usually stoic features break into a deep scowl. “Argoth and its sister systems Rheelas and Kaggeran have been quarantined by the Commander for quite some time. It would seem that Ebongrave believes the three systems have been thoroughly subverted by the Tau.” Hyzeron’s scowl only deepens.
“A Deathwatch Kill-team lead by Captain Servais was dispatched to Hive Taurinum to determine the validity of Ebongrave’s claims but it has been months since their last report. Servais hails from the Raven Guard and it is not unusual for our Battle-brother to achieve his objectives over long periods of time using careful and stealthy observation. However, something about this entire affair does not rest well with me.”
Hyzeron looks back to the scrolling pict-captures for a brief moment. “I would accompany you personally but other matters demand my immediate attention.” The uncharacteristic scowl that has marred the Watch Captain’s features twice already suddenly returns.
“Your objectives are clear, investigate the purity of the hive on Argoth, make contact with Watch Captain Servais and his Kill-team, and throw off any corruption encountered in the process. I will require a full report upon your return. Lord Commander Ebongrave is one of the Lord Militant’s most trusted commanders and if the Deathwatch is to approach him requesting termination of Ebongrave’s orders, we need as much evidence supporting our cause as possible. The goal is to lift the quarantine, a task not easily accomplished considering Taurinum’s current state.”
Hyzeron punches another rune and the pict screens suddenly flash a number of bios: Argoth’s governor, several commanding Imperial Guard officers and even more of the hive’s politically influential nobles.
“It should be clear to you from the orbital captures displayed here that conditions within the hive are poor. Riots rip through the streets and apocalyptic cults have likely sprung into existence – preaching about an end that surely will come at the purging fires of orbital bombardment or simple starvation. Ebongrave’s hounds, the 14th Mortressan Highlanders’ presence has already been confirmed by one of Servais’s earliest communications.”
Another manipulation of the hand-held tablet in Hyzeron’s possession brings to life a pict of a thick naval blockade. “To clear this action with the Watch Commander would waste valuable time. Thus, your usual method of insertion, Captain Gelius’s Vindex, will be unavailable. Your arrival must be in secret, which will require you to run the blockade orbiting Argoth.” The pict displays change again to portray a middle-aged man with caramel colored skin, a jet-black beard and elegantly greased hair. “This is Emile Zin, a Rogue Trader that has experience running the Crusade’s many blockades. I am trusting your delivery to Argoth’s surface to him. The Vindex will take you well beyond Erioch’s borders where you will transfer to Zin’s vessel, Mahzooz Yawm.”
The Captain deactivates the pict screens. “If you find yourselves returned to Erioch and I am not present, defer to Watch Captain Ramiel’s command. He is a trusted Battle-brother.”
Primary Objective I– Break the blockade around the planet Argoth without alerting Imperial forces of your Deathwatch identities.
Primary Objective II – Locate and capture evidence revealing the extent (or lack thereof) of Tau influence in Hive Taurinum.
Primary Objective III – Locate Watch Captain Servais and his Kill-team or determine their fates.
Secondary Objective – Excise as much corruption (in any form) as possible from the hive.
Tertiary Objective – Eliminate any seditious leaders encountered in Hive Taurinum.
Requisition: (70) per Space Marine
Debriefing – Part I:
The Kill-team arrived aboard Zin’s vessel (Mahzooz Yawm) and made haste towards the quarantined world of Argoth. While aboard the ship, the team discovered that Zin had an interest in the events that occurred on the planet of Pellor III. Brother Waechter bargained with the Rogue Trader, exchanging personal knowledge of the incident on Pellor III’s surface for a future meeting between Zin and an unnamed Inquisitor.
Meanwhile, Brother Caleb diligently questioned the ship’s machine spirits, who had been carefully protected against even surface intrusion. Caleb’s technical talents proved to be the better, at least for a time, as he was able to access the Mahzooz Yawm’s recent flight history. Oddly enough, the logs showed that Zin’s ship was in orbit of the doomed Necron tomb world while the Kill-team was on its surface. When confronted with the information, Zin denied the accusation. Afterward, the Mahzooz Yawm’s machine spirits grew stubbornly quiet.
Though mysterious and odd, Zin proved to be quite adept at breaking the Imperial blockade in orbit of Argoth. Not one of the Imperial ships reacted to the Mahzooz Yawm’s presence, though Zin encouraged the Kill-team to be hasty in their decision about where to land and their actual deployment. The Kill-team quickly decided to make for Hive Taurinum’s Ecclesiarchal Holdings rather than the area outside of the Hive known as the Boneyard.
When the drop pod from the Yawm smashed to Argoth’s surface, the Kill-team found themselves surrounded by the ruins of countless chapels, shrines, churches and cathedrals. Some members of the Kill-team spotted graffiti praising the glory of the Emperor and an unfamiliar saint, Scythus. Almost immediately after investigating the area, the Marines encountered a group of Scythus’s adherents and their leader, a man calling himself Epidimus the Unworthy.
Epidimus hailed the Battle-Brothers as Angels of Scythus; brought to them for an event he called “The Final Harvest.” The cleric encouraged the Kill-team to follow him to a place he named “Everend” and they reluctantly followed. There, Epidimus was convinced to square off against Brother Ordo in a solo Harvest. Epidimus proved to be an unexpectedly difficult opponent. Every wound caused by Ordo seemed to close almost before it bled, and the man’s massive (and oddly intricate) scythe bypassed the Imperium’s most advanced power armor! Ordo quickly realized that there would be little he could accomplish alone against the so-called “Unworthy” aside from disarming him and relying on the support of his Battle-Brothers.
The rest of the Kill-team opened fire upon Epidimus and he decried them as false angels before being struck down into hundreds of bloody chunks. A massacre ensued within the cathedral of Everend as the followers of Saint Scythus turned on the Kill-team. They were promptly slaughtered.
After the battle was over, the Kill-team noticed that the remains of Epidimus attempted to reconnect, but what the Kill-team could do to prevent the man’s rise was deemed unimportant. The remains were left in the burning husk of Everend and the team moved on towards the palace.
On their approach to the palace, the Kill-team was met by a man calling himself “Jump.” Jump claimed to be the Governor’s personal proxy and seneschal and stated that the Governor had been aware of the Kill-team’s presence on the planet for some time. The Governor, it seemed, was in need of aid and requested the Kill-team follow Jump to where they could meet.
Jump delivered the Kill-team to the palace, where they met with the Governor. The Kill-team promised to investigate the siege and see if they could put an end to the battle. When they made to leave, they found that the door that Jump had led them through was left wide open. Karl sprinted outside to catch a flash of movement on the roof and alerted the rest of the team of a hostile presence.
After a series of cryptic vox communications between somebody claiming to be Watch Captain Servais and Brother Ordo, the Kill-team finally fell into line with the apparent Captain’s requests for them to stand down. Servais decried the Governor as a heretic, but would give no justification or even hint at his Kill-team’s objectives. The Kill-team was forced to watch as Servais’ Marines, including Brother Noctis, removed something from a heavily fortified vault below the palace. A chance shelling of the palace loosened the mysterious object’s covering for a moment, revealing a coffin-like box bearing a the ancient symbol for infinity.
The Governor protested loudly against the Marines’ actions and called them heretics. Once Servais and his Kill-team extracted themselves from the palace, the Kill-team decided to end the Governor’s life. His head was removed from his body but oddly enough, the tissues, arteries and bones desperately tried to reform – recalling the team’s earlier encounter with Epidimus.
The Kill-team now stands ready to investigate the 14th Mortressan Highlanders who lay siege to the palace in an attempt to root out more heresy.