The Shadow of Madness

Watch Fortress Eroich

Their R&R was on Erioch, a huge, aged fortress, badly undermanned. By space marine standards, quite a nice place to be and they settled into their own routines for the next few days. Eventually, they were summoned to the fortresses monitoring station to be briefed on their next mission by Inquisitor Quist. She informed them of reports from Baraban of a hail of black daggers that fell across a battlefield on the planet, which disappeared before a proper analysis could be done. As Erioch is home to the Omega Vault, a source of ancient artifacts, she does not wish to send her own agents to investigate as this could draw unwanted attention, so she hasKroots decided to send the kill team. To help them, she provides some weird black light lanterns and assigns them a new squad member - Brother Astelan, a Techmarine.

The squad swiftly appointed Scipio their commander (again) and equipped, as well as doing basic research on Baraban - a world in the Jericho Reach, forested, backward world with some Tau involvement by use of Kroot and Vespid forces. They set forth to board their transport, the Spear of Fury, accompanied by a fresh-faced recruit called Brother Dane, assigned as their driver and general gofer. After a couple of weeks voyage, they arrived at Baraban and Brother Dane piloted them down in a Thunderhawk, getting low enough for them to grav chute in. As they prepared, Brother Dane advised them that a horde of Kroot were attacking their target, an Imperial outpost.

Spurred on buy this news, they dropped to the planets surface and engaged the enemy, making short work of the ill-equipped Kroot. The outpost commander was pathetically grateful and advised them that the garrison commander, General Caroses, was MIA and that the outpost commander, Colonel Afton, had therefore returned to Garrison, leaving Lieutenant Drayle in command. He gave them a chilling account of the events on the battlefield, as well as directions to get there.

On arrival at the site, they found many bodies, some partially consumed. They also noticed a strange shadow on the ground of an arch, yet there was no corresponding object to cast it. Using the strange lights given to them by Inquisitor Quist, they found that an arch towered over the clearing and started their investigation. Unusually for Space Marines, they also felt a sense of unease about the arch.

The Delerium Trellis

They studied the device more carefully, with Brother Astelan having a sudden revelation - the device was an ancient device known as a Delirium Trellis. As this struck him, the marines had a wave of disconnection and madness sweep across them, which they all shook off. Brother Astelan explained that the device induced insanity and horror and that they had been found on other worlds - although never hidden as this one had been. This lead to another unnerving thought - how many more could exist Tauhidden throughout the empire? They called back to the fort for demolition charges and continued to study the device - as they did so, two streams of energy from pulse rifles whispered through the trees, one slamming into Seigfried.

Seigfried and Sven ran into the trees looking for the source of the bolts as Scipio and Brother Astelan moved into flanking positions, only for more pulse rifle fire to come at them from the trees. After some fruitless searching, they finally found the enemy and eradicated them with swift justice (and bolt rounds).

Once the demo charges arrived, they used them to destroy the device and made their way back to the fort to report in. Questioning of the guard commander lead to another realization - there were more of the devices almost certainly present on the planet.

The Vespid Hive

They considered their options and decided to eradicate the trellises on this planet. With this in mind, they headed off to Epsilon Garrison, the headquarters for the outpost. There they were lead in to see Colonel Afton, a somewhat harassed man, given that his commanding officer had gone missing. He welcomed them and readily met their request for explosives, as well as some basic Vespidtraining in demolitions. Once ready, they set off for the forests of the north to locate the first of the remaining trellises.
As they made their way through the trees to the trellis, they noticed many dead Vespid amongst the trees and hanging half out of the burrows in which they lived. Nearer the trellis, the body count went up. They deployed and Brother Astelan approached the trellis. Suddenly, the ground gave way beneath his feet and he fell into an extensive tunnel system around the trellis. After doing this several times, Seigfried made his way forward and used his jet pack to plot a route to the trellis - unfortunately, this did not help as the entire area was unsafe. Finally, Scipio and Astelan made their way to the trellis and set the charges and the kill team pulled back.

As they did so, Sven saw a mound of rocks that struck him as dubious and investigated, finding a Vespid hatchery. Meanwhile, Bethsemus noticed two Tau corpses and investigated - finding one still alive, he shot both of them just to be sure. A search of the area uncovered some kind of data device which Astelan activated - it showed an image of a trellis with many notes in Tau on it. This was of little use, as none of the brothers had dirtied themselves with such foulness as to learn any languages.

Finally, they noted that the Vespid corpses seemed more prevalent in one area and looked as though they had been trying to claw through each other to reach down to something. Investigation uncovered a sealed locked metal box, which Astelan opened. As he did so, the hatchery stirred into life and the Vespid young swarmed them - this proved a bad move as Seigfried had a flame thrower. The box contained crystals which Astelanrecognized as power crystals for Vespid weapons. Confused, they prepared to leave the area before anything bad happened.

They returned to base and decided to head for the South East continent next. After a high altitude drop, they found themselves in a forest, with strange hut like structures in the trees. Almost immediately, they were under attack from Kroot, diving from the forest canopy above. The combat was brief, but difficult, as the Kroot made elusive targets.
They moved on from the scene of the battle to find the trellis with two huge trees grown over it. As Scipio and Bethsemus laid the charges (or more accurately, put a crate next to the trellis), Seigfried moved into the canopy to scout. After some time, he found a branch that would support his weight and reported three things:
  1. a lake to the North
  2. a ship landing to the North West of unknown design
  3. the Kroot huts were full of half eaten corpses, including Vespid and Kroot, as well as human
She returned to the ground as they blew the trellis up, which caused the trees either side of it to crash to the ground as well. As the noise of the explosion rang in their ears, they came under attack from Vespid, sent to investigate the fire they had started during their battle with the Kroot. Since the Vespid were expecting to look at the fire and return to base to report, the battle was somewhat one sided.

Job done, they moved to the lake for pick up, finding a ruined structure of some sort with a few scraps of paper fluttering in the breeze. The manuscript appeared to be the last few words of the last survivors of the planet, warning others of the trellises. The squad left on the skimmer, with Brother Dane the long suffering at the controls. After a brief respite, they set off to the last of the trellises they had identified, to the West.
In the West, they found that the trellis was situated on top of a mountain and began to climb. Halfway up there was a plateau, with men moving about on it. As the kill team came out of the edge of the woods onto the plateau, most of the men retreated to a cave, two continued to filet an animal and three charged, armed with knives. This did not go well for them. Scipio talked to the other two, who leapt to attention and saluted but said little of any use. After ascertaining that the trellis had been removed from the top of the mountain, the squad headed into the cave system, finally scraping through into a large cavern, were many men pointed pulse rifles at them, as the leader had an argument with a servitor in front of the trellis.

Scipio engaged him in conversation and soon discovered he was quite mad and, as he swiftly showed, suicidal. After a brief battle, the kill team were in charge with the survivors of the Imperial garrison (or lunatics as we know them) and pondering their next move.

The General

They moved back to their base at the outpost with the regressed guardsmen and set off the retrieval beacon. Realizing that they had a couple of days before their ship reached them from the Jericho reach, Scipio decided to investigate the missing General by assaulting the Tau base - a bold move! They approached the base on foot, with the guards following and began to survey the base, when they heard approaching footsteps in the trees. Bethsemus went to investigate and shot one of the Tau patrol, alerting the base to their presence. Scipio lead a mad charge to enter the base before it went on to high alert, leading to a pitched battle at the entrance. After a very untidy skirmish, they got inside and began to fight their way in.
They moved deeper into the complex, coming under fire from a couple of sentry guns before finding a corridor with a turbo lift at each end and a heavy blast door in front of them. Astelan used his skills to open the blast door and they began to explore the cargo bay. As they did so, one of the skimmers moved and they came under fire from blast cannon and seeker missiles. It took some time to destroy the vehicle, which Astelan eventually did by hitting it hard with his servo arm.

Scipio moved to examine the turbo lift and used his tech skills to rip the doors open. Astelan quickly moved to the other one before anyone else could help and opened it. The lift was big enough to take two of them at a time and Bethsemus and Sven went up first, to the third floor. The control room was guarded by four Tau warriors with eight technicians cowering in the background - as the others arrived, the skirmish was soon over.

After some exploration, they decided to use the lift in one corner to access the roof, as Astelan heard the unmistakable sound of a ship prepping for lift off. Siegfried and Scipio moved outside to try to bring the ship down as it took off, while the others moved to the roof. On the roof was an orca drop ship, with the general being lead inside, as well as several Tau fire warriors. The fight was brief, as Siegfried used his jump back to join in and Bethsemus used frag grenades to ensure that the ship was not taking off any time soon.

Mission complete, they returned to base for pick up.