Our GM loved references . . . and puns. Both of those very much affected this campaign, both for better and for worse. With that disclaimer out of the way, we begin this tale with a young Novamarine by the name of Caiden Marsten. Caiden was essentially the leader of the group that would be, mainly by virtue of being the straight-laced one in a party of crazy people.
The words that spring to mind when one thinks of the Deathwatch are generally along the lines of “Heroism, Bravery, Determination, Loyalty, etc.” This story isn’t about those Deathwatch teams. Instead, this story concerns a team very much removed from such concepts. These are the tales of Kill-Team Kingfisher, the greatest Deathwatch kill team that ever lived and that the Inquisition wishes they could forget existed. To protect the memories of these astartes, their names have been changed as they are from the record.
****Note: I changed the names back because it was funny. Fuck you. Sincerely: Tantalus.
After a somewhat uncomfortable meeting, Caiden and Saul would be given their first mission. It was essentially an off-the-record milk run. A fairly eccentric Rogue Trader only ever referred to as the “Iron Duke” within our hearing had called in a long-standing favor from the local Inquisitorial forces. His son’s pet alien had escaped into the Lower Hive of one of the main Hive Cities of Maniah I. The world was fairly typical as Hive Worlds go with the only major feature being the fortress monastery of an Imperial Fist successor chapter: The Iron Authority. Deathwatch newbies were being called in to handle it because it was a fairly simple way to break them into xeno-hunting, and because the Iron Duke had no favors to call in from the local astartes forces.
The two marines took some time to gear up for the hunting mission. Caiden grabbed manacles, teleport beacons, heavy duty tranquilizers, and Saul got a melta bomb and thunder hammer. This would be a fairly typical occurrence. After gearing up, the two boarded their shuttle and made their way into orbit over Maniah I in order to meet up with the Rogue Trader’s crew for a pre-mission briefing. Upon arrival, they were met by Deacon Cornelia Ostrum. While neither really knew her very well, she was the on-again off-again missionary for the Iron Duke who had been largely responsible for spreading the Imperial Cult into the Heathen Stars. She was accompanied by her traditional escort of six members of her Faith Squad armed with heavy flamers.
After exchanging pleasantries, in which Caiden complemented the guards on their choice of weapon, Ostrum began explaining to the Astartes what they would be hunting. It was all fairly routine in the beginning: Alien pet of a Rogue Trader had escaped, it needed to be hunted down and brought back ALIVE, and it was an Ork named Frederick.
“Excuse me, could you repeat that last part?” Caiden asked. “His name is Frederick,” replied Ostrum. He’s an Ork the young master “tamed” some time ago. He’ll be armed with a laspistol but likely nothing else.” There was a long silence before Caiden just sighed and picked up his gear. “We’ll get it done then.”
Armed with knowledge of just what they would be trying to capture, and grumbling the whole way, Caiden and Saul made their way to the Lower Hive’s entrance. It was at this point that a third marine joined their team. Enter Tantalus: The Steel Confessor Techmarine. Rather than take a shuttle down, he decided that the most efficient way would be to lock onto their location and drop pod in on top of them. The two had just enough time to get to cover before the drop pod slammed down next to them. As Tantalus stepped out from the drop pod now lodged in the hive, Caiden and Saul got their first look at him. At first glance Tantalus wasn’t really different from an “average” techmarine. Well-cared for armor, far too many metal bits protruding from his body, and an abundance of sensors and gadgets that probably did not strictly need to be on his armor. No, the real oddity was Tantalus’ armor: It was composed of a mark V base, mark IV gauntlets, mark VI greaves, and an honest-to-Emperor mark II helmet dating back to the Great Crusade. No one had any idea where he had gotten the thing, and Tantalus just muttered something about the “Sacred Mysteries of the Omnissiah” whenever he was pressed on it.
After getting over Tantalus’ entrance, the group moved into the Lower Hive. Caiden was quick to fall into the role of leader. Saul didn’t particularly care so long as he could get into a good fight, and while Tantalus grumbled occasionally about Caiden’s “inefficiency” he was content to let Caiden take the lead so long as he didn’t do anything stupid. As they moved deeper into the hive, the kill-team began finding something peculiar: a dead body. Now, admittedly, the Lower Hive is rife with scum so that’s not overly strange, but the corpse in question had been shot from the front with a lasbolt right between the eyes. They got about 20 feet before finding another corpse with the same cause of death. At this point we were beginning to feel nervous that we knew what was killing these people, but kept denying it; refusing to believe that an ORK of all things could be accurate with a gun. Oh Emperor, were we wrong.
We’d been walking for about half an hour before we ran into our first hostile force. Saul was on point, with Tantalus and Caiden backing him up when our auspexes went wild. We readied ourselves for a fight, only to be greeted by a horde of ill-equipped, almost unarmed gretchin. The most fearsome weapon they had between them was what looked like a rusty ork stubber pistol. The astartes grinned at each other before engaging the horde. Saul soared up on his jump pack, and crashed down into the horde swinging his chain sword into as many of the tiny xenos as he could. Caiden was a bit more cautious, picking them off from a distance with his bolter. Tantalus was much the same, using his implants to set up shots before unleashing a spray of bolter fire. Before long the horde had been whittled down to just a few gretchin.
And it was here that the first running joke of the campaign began. Against all reason one of the gretchin, wielding an ork stubber pistol, charged Caiden. For those who don’t know, an ork stubber pistol is one of the weakest of the crude hunks of junk that the orks call weapons. And yet, against all reason, the gretchin fired it off and the bullet pierced right through Caiden’s armor and hit him in the leg. Caiden immediately fell to his knees as the knife somehow found an exposed joint in the armor. Despite our attempts, that particular gretchin was able to get away. Caiden looked up at his squad mates, and right into the lens of a pict recorder attached to Tantalus.
“Please don’t tell me you recorded that.”
“I record everything Sergeant.”
“Then for god’s sake please just stow that away somewhere.”
“I would, but I already sent it to the local astartes chapter.”
Thus were we introduced to the first of Tantalus’ troll moments. Within the day Caiden would become known across the planet as “Gretchin Leg.” But Caiden’s humiliation aside, we still had a job to do. As we moved further down into the Lower Hive, we continued to see corpses with clean, precise holes right between the eyes.
As we were going down the twisting maze towards our target, Tantalus’ auspex started going wid. Saul readied his jump jets, while Tantalus and Caiden readied their firearms. What stormed out of that corridor was nothing that we had expected. A horde of orks, roaring WAGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH as they charged us were supplemented by a small horde of gretchin and TWO Emperor-damned Killa’ Cans. Tantalus and Caiden immediately began firing bolters into the hordes while Saul fired up his jump jets and began slashing at the Cans with dual-wielded chainsword. The orks and gretchin went down easy, they had little to no weapons and we had bolters, but the Killa Cans were another story. Their weapons were shredding through our armor and despite Saul’s earlier success he was getting the shit kicked out of him being in close combat with those things. Needless to say the combat wasn’t going well. Even with Tantalus and Caiden freed to target the Cans, they were just too heavily armored and too well armed for the three of us to take down with just bolters. But just as we were getting overwhelmed, “Flight of the Valkyries” kicked in and drop pods slammed into the area just in time to meet the wave of ork reinforcements.
Emerging from the drop pods were Bryan Danerius and Commander Baut Rollins of the Iron Authority. Rollins was armed with an adamantine briefcase emblazoned with “Bolter in the Bank” and a thunder hammer. The two of them charged in and joined Saul in beating the ever-loving shit out of the orc machines. By the end of the fight, one Killa Can had exploded and the other had been quite literally flattened. Caiden thanked our reinforcements who immediately greeted him not as “Caiden” but as “Gretchin Leg.” Caiden took some time to glare at Tantalus who continually insisted that he hadn’t been laughing, but instead just adjusting his helmet’s vocoder. With the aid of the Iron Authority, our team moved forward and wiped out any remaining pockets of orks between us and our target. And when we found him, it severely tested the sanity of even Astartes.
“Frederick” was of a normal height for his kind, but was dressed in dapper clothes complete with monocle and top hat. He was squaring off against another ork and . . . challenging him to a duel.
“Alright gent, we’ll take ten paces each and on the count of ten we will turn around and each fire a shot.”
The ork apparently had no interest in such a duel and simply charged the oddly verbose ork who proceeded to kill him with a lasbolt between the eyes.
“I say what an uncivilized fellow.”
Taking notice of us, Frederick issued the same challenge to us. Despite our issues with this whole situation, Caiden accepted on our behalf. Frederick turned his back on us and we immediately proceeded to pump him full of as many tranq rounds as we could. We tagged Frederick with a teleport beacon and caught a shuttle back to the Iron Duke’s ship, the Zealot’s Chariot, to report our success. We were ushered back into the same briefing room with Ostrum who was examining an unconscious, bound Frederick. Now we were glad to have gotten the job done, but there were many a pointed question asked dealing with just where in the Warp the other orks had come from. The answer we got from Ostrum was irritatingly vague. Basically Frederick got out and, giving in to the natural instinct that all orks had for battle, began challenging anyone that got in his way to duels. The other orks had somehow grown unnaturally quickly from spores given off by Frederick and constructed their weapons and the Killa Cans on-planet. We declined to ask how long Frederick had been out on his own before we were called in, and realized that we were likely better off not asking some questions.
It was at this point that the Iron Duke’s son, the idiot who had the bright idea to make an ork a pet, came in and loudly began whining about us hurting his pet, do you know who my father is, etc. etc. Ostrum’s response was to burn Frederick alive with her flamer. Ostrum, soon joined by the Iron Duke himself, began to berate this idiot for a good few minutes. We left about halfway through this grilling to return to the Watch Station and report a job well done. After we spent a night fighting alongside the Iron Authority on Monday Night WAR of course.
And that's all for our first session. I don't have anything written for the next session yet, but if people care enough I'll definitely write up some more sessions. Just need to check with my GM and some other players to make sure I'm remembering everything correctly.