The Dark Continent

Mission Summons
Facility-only communication: Status - Secure

Esteemed Battle Brother,

You are forthwith called to serve the Chapter, assigned to the august company Killteam 9901, first of that designation. 2 brothers of equal standing have assigned as your squad-mates. You will leave the Jericho Monastery by shuttle at 0400 hrs on the morrow, and await pickup by the naval sprint-vessel, 'Solar Bolt.' You will then be borne to a classified location for rendezvous with a member of the Ordo Xenos, Inquisitrix Anastasia, who has requested our assistance. There you will be briefed on your mission, the parameters and details of which have not yet been shared with the Deathwatch. It is understood that you may be called upon to operate without support in a hostile environment. Such is the duty and calling of the Chamber Militant. The Inquisitrix has invoked her Rosette on your behalf; your clearance for access to the Chapter armory has been upgraded accordingly.

You are called upon to forge into the void between the stars and serve the Emperor's justice upon the enemies of humanity. This is your holy purpose. You are the hand by which Terra smites it's foes, the sword which cleaves bright and swift into the darkness. You are the Angels of Death, and you shall know no fear.

Watch-Captain Saul

Operation Terrier

Entry 1:

Mission Log: Codicer Serephus. Dark Angels Chapter; Deathwatch Sprint-Vessel 'Solar Bolt'
++Mission Clock Starts++
02:00 As per instructions arrive at 'Solar Bolt' at 02:00 hours and am led by Inquisitorial Serfs to muster area.
02:05 Meet other members of Killteam 9901

  • Member 1: Bearded. Space Wolf Iconography and characteristic totems. Ranged Specialist. Age difficult to determine, estimation 200+ Terran years.
    • Personal Note: Sharp eyes seem to take me in and have a moment of disdain before returning to scanning the room.
  • Member 2: Brother of the Mechanicus. Ultramarine chapter. Carries large Stormbolter with the Inquisitorial 'I' embossed. Introduces self as Tech-Marine Uriel.
  • Member 3: Heavily augmented face and arm. Shoulder pad holds the symbol of the Iron Hands. Scornfully scanning the Chapter Serfs nearby.
  • Member 4: Final member engrossed in discussion with Uriel. Stylised 'U' of the Ultramarines chapter sports non-standard dagger and skull addition. Armour has signs of damage and what appear to be bone trophies, chainsword strapped to hip.

02:06 Exchange comms frequencies and challenge words and sync internal chronos. Other kill-team members are identified in HUD as Brother Halfdan, Brother Quintus, Brother Hasse and Brother Constantine of the Deathwatch.
02:07 Given ancient but commonly used peace offering by the Son of Russ via a clasping of hands.
02:08 Introduced to Inquisitor Anastasia.

  • Physical Analysis: 5'2". 70kgs, primarily muscle. Armaments: Finely crafted human bolter. Power mace. Sidearm. Anti-Personelle Explosives. [Acceptable Combat Preparedness]
    • Sealed carapace worn from use but Inquisitorial Rosette new. Eyes brighten with excitement at the site of the Astartes. Impatience written plainly on face.

02:09 After introductions are made the Inquisitor begins to read off her Data-Slate before calling forward a servitor to do so.

++Accessing Investigation Notes++

« Investigation » Astropathic transmission of apparent Xenos origin has been recorded by the Station Security a mere month ago. Xenographers and linguists have been unable to identify the language being spoken. It was broadcast on all systems and appears to be sent by one Major Sigfried Durregar from an area mapped as 'the Gibraltar System'.

  • Note 1: Major Sigfried Durregar: [Listed as KIA but under review]. If you will forgive me I will forgo the usual paraphrasing of information from on-high and simply present the information as it was presented to me.

Some decades ago a Naval Frigate, “St Henry’s Arrow” stopped here at the shipyards. It remained here for one week to refit, and it’s crew was allowed limited shore leave. During that time the ship’s officers were invited to join the station chiefs for a feast, on the night before the Arrow’s departure. The next morning, members of the station security forces noted with some consternation that their superior - one Antonius Balt – had not appeared for duty. The man had been a respected member of the Imperial Guard before being demoted drastically and posted to the shipyards in 809m41. A search was made but no sign of the man was found. It is clear he had attended the feast the night before. Some hours later a report was filed by a local that a body had been discovered. Perplexingly, this body turned out not to be the missing Sergeant, but Sigfried Durrager an officer of naval intelligence aboard St Henry’s Arrow! (his wrist and back were tattooed with an encrypted identity key). The Arrow had departed some hours earlier, on schedule and - apparently – with a full complement of crewmen. It was reported later that Durrager and Balt were seen to have conversed at the company feast, and that Balt had been insistently questioning the officer about the Arrow’s destination. One year later the Arrow returned to Havenhollow. The matter was raised with the Captain by station security, and he assured them that Durrager had been aboard on departure. Station security was instructed by the Navy to discontinue the investigation. This was nearly 9 years ago.

  • Note 2: The Gibraltar System: Suspicion has been raised about an area of space known as the Gibraltar system. After it's discovery 60 years ago by a Rogue Trader Cold [See Inquisitorial Investigation Notes] it was the final destination of a fleet of colonist ships. After the ships failed to make contact the ship 'St Henry's Arrow' was sent to investigate. The investigation team reached the edge of the system but found only "empty space and a black hole" [St Henry's Arrow' duty log 23-410-312]. They detected no trace of the colony or of the recorded Gibraltar system. It was during the time in this system that Major Sigfried Durregar committed suicide via airlock.

The Mission: The suspicious circumstances surrounded the Gibraltar system are closely linked to the investigation into Rogue Trader Cold, against whom our Inquisitor has an ongoing investigations. Futhermore Xenos influence in the dubious circumstances behind the death-disappearance of Major Durregar and Antonius Bolt is suspected. We will be travelling to the Gibraltar system to determine if there is in fact a link between these events.

++Mission Log Renews++
02:30 Complete mission brief. Depart for shuttle bay Beta Aft.
02:45 Arrive at shuttle bay Beta Aft and begin to stow gear in a Caestus pattern Assault Shuttle.
02:46 Uriel leads the killteam in the benediction of our weapons and armour, thanking the Machine Spirit of our weapons for its assistance in any coming battles.
02:50 Shuttle begins to leave hanger bay. Inquisitor Anastasia wisely vac-seals her carapace armour.
02:52 Depart from Solar Bolt in Cerebros lander. Captain
02:53 Begin to review Inquisitor Anastasia's notes on the Cold dynasty.
++Mission Log Ends++

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Personal Log: Codicer Serephus. Deathwatch; Gibraltar System

+We have arrived at the edge of Gibraltar and our equipment confirms the reports of the Imperial scouts; an immense black hole sits at the centre of this system, surrounded by a chasm of empty space. The outer reach of the star's former orbit seems to be the threshold of the holes' pull. Nevertheless, our instruments confirm that the psychic beacon is coming from within minimum safe distance. We take a moment to offer prayer to the God Emperor, then press on into the pull.

+It seems that our equipment has been confounded by some form of environmental interference. Though our scanners continue to show only empty space and a dead star, our naked eyes bear witness to a fertile system of gas giants, asteroids and a large verdant forrest-planet. Radio communication outside a few meters is impossible and scanners are useless; the disruption is considerable. Performing swift evasive action, the Lander avoid a swirling belt of asteroid debris that rings the system. As we draw up [Designation; Gibraltar Prime] the forrested planet we find an Imperial Listening Post in orbit; the squared equivalent of a small town, such satelite stations are used to survey prospective planets for colonisation and play host to scientific teams. Brygeir and Constantine formulate a plan to board the craft by void-drop and we pull up alongside the station. The Inquisitrix accompanies us, sealed inside her carapace.

Investigation: Observation Space Station Gibraltar System

  • Station boarded without incident via side hatch port. Immediate area cleared and secured while Uriel connects to the Machine Spirit of the station.
  • Through his interfacing Uriel discovers that the station reads as entirely absent of life and discerns the location of the central hub command point of the station.
  • Kill-Team advances to the control hub without incident.
  • Note: Every security door is left wide open and signs of combat are absent.
  • Arriving at the central hub the Inquisitor brazenly plugs in her Rosette, ignoring the warnings of the rest of the Kill-Team. This gamble is successful however and she accesses the final logs of the space station.
  • Station abandoned 9 Years earlier via a legitimate evacuation order
  • On the day of the evacuation a environmental contamination alert [Crimson level] was issued.
  • All Salvation Pods were launched without incident.
  • Two days before the evacuation, an Inquisitorial Override was used to access the station logs, much as we have done.
  • Override Signatory: Inquisitor Strauss, Ordo Xenos
  • Station Crew Manifest reads at 20 from commencement, until the day of the override when it jumps to 70. These 50 new crew are registered Imperial Guardsmen.
  • Of these 70 crew, 69 are accounted for aboard the Salvation Pods. A 'Private Murray' remains unaccounted for. Uriel assures us that there are no life-forms remaining on board.
  • Uriel observes that an alert has been issued by the station's systems, warning of unidentified particles in Gibraltar Prime's atmosphere. They behave erratically being potentially deadly to humans. Astartes physiology should be proof against any ill-effect, but we resolve to be careful. This alert has been viewed once by station staff, but no further record or action on the matter is evident before it was deleted.

+Using my powers I have located the source of the beacon. It seems this interferences affects only technological means of communication. The squad divides and my unit heads to the genetorum, from whence the signal comes. The source is revealed to be a stasis chamber, emptied of it's normal bacta and filled with some sort of thick pink liquid. The beacon it emits is curiously inhuman in tone. Nearby Brygeir finds a set of abandoned Imperial Guard issue fatigues bearing the name Private Murray. The Inquisitor orders him to track the wearer, but in gruff tones he reports that "Murray" has no traceable scent. Despite some misgivings, we accede to the Inquisitrix' decision to leave the tank undisturbed. Hasse has calculated the flight path taken by the foregoing Inquisitor to the planet. I remain behind to further examine the strange beacon.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Personal Log: Brother Constantine. Deathwatch; Gibraltar System

+We leave the Librarian in the command centre of the accursed station and make our way back to the shuttle. I am glad to be leaving, but wish the Psyker was coming with us. Flying over trackless miles of jungle, we identify the point of planetfall above an ancient, abandoned city. We land in a vast, open square and advance into the central structure to set up a suvey station. We are careful - once again- to ensure full atmospheric seal. Anastasia begins her analysis of the pyramidal architecture, identifying clear signs of Xenos labor. Uriel assists her chemical assay of the stone, determining that it significantly pre-dates the Imperial colonisation of the Galactic North. It has been abandoned for at least a millenia. Within the city's largest pyramid we uncover a pictoral script; heiroglyphicals that describe a somewhat-humanoid race and the civilisation which sprung up around a priesthood. The Inquisitrix identifies a strange pictogram of a snake-like entity inside a cube; allegorically it could represent anything, but she beleives it to refers to a xenos deity. By rough translation, we hear descriptions of an age of prolonged prosperity ending with a solar alignment and the ascension of the snake-sigil. Thereafter the population of the city were plagued by nightmares and civil-war and strife, resulting in the end of civilisation. The final allegory is of tall figures casting the snake into the earth, caged by stars.

+Hasse and Halfdan return from their scouting effort, reporting that an Imperial Drop-Structure has been sighted over a nearbyridge. We quickly collect our gear and advances East. It appears that an STC pattern Drop-Bunker has been deployed from orbit, with an array of secondary bunkers built in defensive works spiralling outwards. The 'bunker-town' is surrounded by earthworks and other defensive structures including heavy-bolter and autocannon turrets. As we approach, we spot bodies, hundreds of corpses in various states of decomposition, some with evident marks of self-mutilation and ritual tattooing. Particularly prevalent are missing lips and sharpened teeth. The more recent bodies have been slain with arrows, the older with turret and rifle munitions. Noticing a strange mercury-like substance spilling from boils in the recent corpses, Anastasia attempts a battlefield autopsy. As we spot movement in the trenches, we quickly move to cover.

+We have made contact with the Gibraltan colonists, who contronted us in full battle regalia and vac-sealed armour. The sight of Astartes and the shock arrival of an Inquisitor cow the men eventually, and they agree to bring us inside the complex. The soldiers inform us that colonists exposed to the air outside have degenerated into sickness, insanity and violence over several months and years. They have reverted to a primitive, tribal state; those colonists who avoided this fate have been besieged in their bunker-complex for several years, running down supplies of solid-munitions, food and energy to dangerous levels. We realise that the turrets outside have long since run dry of ammunition. Due to the radio-disruption and competition over resources, contact with other colonial settlements has been cut off. I am suspicious that some among the men have begun to exhibit the same symptoms, as they keep their faces covered even indoors. We are brought to an underground containment unit and await the arrival of the colonial leaders.

+Anastasia is introduced to Father Patris, dark-skinned bishop of dwindling faith. The colonial governor is a barrel-chested elder called "Old Man Hammer". They relate that the recent troubles appear to have been caused by the first activation of an astropathic beacon at one of the other settlements one year ago. Shortly, thereafter that colony came under sudden, overwhelming attack and lost contact. Thier fate is still not known. Rumors began to circulate of a "Ghoul-King", a creature risen from the ranks of the Lost to lead them to war against the colonies. The ab-humans - "The Lost" as the colonists call them -have become significantly more organised and vicious in recent times. Some weeks after the loss of contact with Colony B, Inquisitor Strauss and his Kill-Team arrived, making brief contact with the colonists of bunkertown, but shortly heading into the jungle in pursuit of a secret mission. They have not been heard from since. The bunker-complex has also come under attack by increasingly intense attacks by the Lost, but managed to hold. Soon, refugees from the attacks elsewhere began arriving at this complex and were eventually decontaminated and allowed inside. Before long though, these refugees turned to sabotage, attempting to poison troops or destroy critical supplies. It is not known why. One such man has been detained in the cells below. It may be relevant that he appears to have no need to eat.

+Despite his unusual biological processes, the detainee appares quite ordinary/ We speak over his head in High Gothic before it becomes apparent that he understands us. He says his name is "John", but we gradually confirm that he is not entirely human. He has knowledge of the Imperium that is by strides incredibly advanced or extremely simplistic. He has knowledge for example, of restricted information pertaining to the genetic origins of the Astrates. By contrast, he has never heard of the Great Heresy. His knowledge of the Eccelsiarchy is anecodtal, but knows details as to the Chapter characteristics and temperaments of Astartes forces in the near systems. We conclude that he has made it his mission to learn as much as he can about Space Marines. Anastasia's consistent, circular questioning on this topic eventually wrong-foots the creature; it employs the possessive pronoun "your" rather than "our" Emperor. It changes tack considerably thereafter, admitting that it is an artificial biological scout-construct, an infiltrator-drone. It refers to its' masters as "Angels". It has no knowledge of the foregoing Xenos society or the Serpent-Cube, but informs us that several other colonies are under the control of his masters, not any "Ghoul King".

+This is a significant discovery. Halfdan relates a recent mission experience, wherein just such a creature was placed as supreme ruler of the Gheist Collective (a rebellious planetary coalition), raised up as a surrogate for Xenos oppressors. That more of these beings are loose in the Imperium is of grave concern. The Inquisitrix Anastasia concurs with my deduction that The Arrow's missing intelligence officer, the Havenhollow's former Security Chief and last survivor of the Listening Station Private Murray are one and the same person - another artificial biological being manufactured by these "Angel" creatures. We will now reframe our mission parameters to deal with the resurgent threat of the Angels, the strange abhuman savages and the as yet unknown factor of the Serpent-Cube.

Entry 2:

Personal Log: Brother Constantine. Deathwatch; Gibraltar System

+Reeling from the discover of the creatures' non-human origins I leave the cell and begin to question Father Patris and Old Man Hammer. We talk for some time before from within the cell we hear the bark of a Bolter firing as the Inquisitrix dispenses her justice. The creature burns and dies just like a human, which makes explaining the situation to the human leaders…inconvenient. Bryngeir takes over after I insult them in some manner.

+Following the realisations of our interrogation the Inquisitrix makes preparations to interrogate the other "refugees" from Colony Theta. Alas the locals misinterpret her intentions and she is forced to question the suspects in the local courtroom, with dozens of officials watching. Perhaps perturbed by this she fails to trick any of the suspects into revealing their guilt and the Old Man Hammer has them released. Nevertheless we gather some information from them of the fate of Colony Theta.

Investigation: Colony Theta Gibraltar System

  • Colony dropped from orbit without incident and a civilisation similar to that of Colony Beta was established.
    • Sketch received from settler of Colony layout [See item 5#454#A]
  • At some point in the last year the power generators that kept the air recycling in the outer habs failed, causing the mind-altering toxins of this planets air to enter the homes of the poorer residents.
    • The military and nobility close the doors of their inner habs and the outer residents with respirators are forced to flee from 'the Lost'.

+After a brief discussion with the Inquisitor we endeavour to investigate Colony Theta. Alleged as it is to be ruled by these 'Angels' we are sure to find more information there. The leaders of Colony Theta are appropriately cooperative, outfitting us with supplies for the journey as well as a Monitor Class amphibious transport. As we ready to leave Uriel assists the PDF in the construction of more barricades for their outer perimeter should the Lost return while we are away. In a ceremony of appropriately little cheer we are farewelled by the leaders of Colony Beta, Father Patris awarding our vehicle a purity seal to protect it in the trials to come. Our killteam aboard, we leave Beta.

+Brother Bryngeir takes the wheel but within a couple of hours I have my suspicion he has led us astray. Despite this we travel through the jungle with little incident and eventually stop, disguising our vehicle with nearby fauna. Continuing on foot we reach Colony Theta, with the Inquisitor taking point despite my vehement advice otherwise, and find a very strange scene. An Imperial class Frigate sits in low orbit above the earthworks and buildings of Colony Theta, it's side holding the stylised 'M' of the Mandragoran Sector Navy. Below troops with the same markings pick through the remains of the colony, signs of a recent battle obvious. Surprisingly they do not wear their respirators. From amongst the troops we spot an officer wearing Xenos weaponry that matches the description of that wielded by the Gheist Collective, its pearlescent hue a sharp contrast to his black uniform. This clear heresy is enough proof to engage for me but Bryngeir speaks in favour of caution, not wanting to "waste innocent lives". We argue for some time, our discussion leading to the inevitable comparison of Fathers, until the Inquisitor brings our attention to the fact the situation has been taken out of our hands. From within the Colony walks a group of pearlescent creatures flanked by Imperial Guard Sentinels. As these creatures approach the guardsmen the men bow down before them in deference. From within Theta a group of green clad PDF troops begin to set up defensive positions before firing on the Guardsmen outside the barricades, their anti-air cannons engaging the Frigate above. Anastasia barks a series of short commands and we begin sprinting towards the PDF, Bryngeir setting up a firing position parallel to the enemy line.

ENGAGEMENT; Destroy hostile ground forces, link up with Theta Colony PDF troops.

Defensive Line Cleared, PDF forces Relieved- (Casualties 6 [Allied], Ammunition Expenditure 10% [Bryn]. Approx 100 Heretical Guardsmen Slain).

Brother Bryngeir Halfdan sets up suppressive fire on the enemy position while the Inquisitor and I advance. I enter into melee with the enemy command squad as she continues to the PDF emplacements. Reaching the lines she leads the men in a counter attack that sees off the last of the enemy forces.

Entry 3:

Personal Log: Brother Constantine. Deathwatch; Gibraltar System

+The remainder of the enemy scatter before our righteous assault, as I cast the ruin of their commander back into the mud. Fist-sized insects have already begun swarming around the piles of shredded flesh and bone, all that remains of the command unit. It is no more than these heretics deserve; I bear deep wounds from their unholy Xenos power-claws. The Inquisitrix emerges from a nearby melee drenched in gore, her powermaul thrumming. The Gibraltans have rallied around her. We are shortly urged into the defensive structure by the calls of the settlers and the advancing forces of the Xenos sympathizers. The structure’s surface-to-air arsenal had driven off the heretic frigate, but as the turbolasers cooled we realized it’s missile battery had been expended. Though damaged, the vessel had not been grounded and would surely return. And while the primary enemy depot still burned from the insurgent’s IEDs, the outlying facilities were disgorging a line of heavy vehicles. As the battlecannon shells begin to fall about the field, I turn to drag a chuckling Bryngier inside the blast doors. We join the retreat and seal ourselves within.

+A sergeant Hawke takes us to his command post inside colony Theta. Uriel and Eisen express their approval; the man has arrayed overlapping fields of defense against the invaders. With great relish, we watch as the tunnel is collapsed behind us, right on the enemy armoured column. We anticipate that the assault will stall for some time. It appears that the surviving colonists have been under siege for some time. Their solid-ammunition has long run out, with heavy reliance on multilaser and lascannon turrets and charges. The Inquisitrix, the Wolf and I accompany Hawke to meet with a Colonel Black, coordinator of the colony’s resistance forces. I leave Hasse and my Chapter-mate to aid in preparing the defenses.

+Colonel Black is a stern and capable woman. By her efforts, the settlers of the middle and lower hive have been preserved against the enemy. The topmost levels – less well-defended and occupied by the poorest colonists, were lost in the early stages of the assault. She also related that a mass of fighting men have sided with the nobleborn, barricading themselves within the lowest and safest reaches of the city and denying their supplies and resources to the wider resistance effort. Outraged by the cowardice, Bryngier immediately sets out into the depths. The rest of the squad hurry after him.
Below the reactor-room lies ann immense set of elevators and auto-defense systems. Ana deftly disarms the turrets with her Rosette and we descend to find a massive blast door. Our challenges go unmet, with the Vox to the city within remaining silent. Losing patience, Hasse attempts to guess the passcode, re-arming the multilasers and sending us scattering under heavy fire. Both he and the Space Wolf suffer superficial armor damage and moderate las-burns as we retreat. Both are forced to employ their armours’ onboard poly-cement and coagulants to seal the breaches. We return with one of the colony’s melta-cutters and force our way within.

+To our surprise, the inner city appears largely abandoned. Only the weak signatures of hazard-lighting and broken electrical equipment register on Uriel’s auspex. Life signs are absent for several levels. As we advance through the militarized zone we begin to see signs of battle; large-calbre shell casings, las-burns and even some partially decomposed bodies. Running firefights swept through the lower levels, and it appears that the defenders were engaged by-and-large with the element of surprise. We soon discover piles of bodies that are partially decomposed and appear to have been partially eaten. The squads halts to discuss options and speculation. The wholesale nature of the violence suggests the involvement of Orks, but no sign of glyphs, droppings or spore- sacs are in evidence. The Wolf picks up signs of clawed prints in the dust, but we quickly discount the possibility of Tyranids. We progress though the better and lesser catalogued breeds of Xenos before the mystery is resolved for us.

+Scant moments before the decent platform arrives at the rec-reserve level, Uriel’s scanner picks up a flurry of movement and heat. From beneath the overgrowth, piles of rancid corpses and disused structures hideous, slouching lifeforms were swarming. Masses of the abhuman Lost emerged, skin extensively self-mutilated and bursting with coarse metallic scales. Among them came swollen brutes twice the size of an Astartes and finally, scuttling Rak’Gol herds. As we descended into the chittering mass, the Inquisitrix urgently recorded her analyses; from the degree of radiation evident in the biosphere, the “Gibraltar Effect” appears to emanate up from the centre of the planet through the soil. The creatures swarming here were the remnants of the city’s noble-born, turned to madness and cannibalism. Great cracks in the walls show where the Rak’Gol burrowed in to butcher the populace. Many of the creatures wear plas-flesh collars; it appears that even these mindless beasts are not beyond the manipulations of the so-called “Angels”. At the last comes a truly immense creature, an Abomination of the breed and the pack-master of this horde. A desperate battle is joined.

ENGAGEMENT; Ambush Rak-Gol swarm, abhuman hordes in Rec-Reserve, Sub-level II Drop-Colony Theta
Park and Outlying Structures Cleared Moderate / Severe Injuries incurred, Monition Expenditure Moderate 1 Rak’Gol Abomination, Approx 50 Rak-Gol ‘Marauders’ Approx 70 abhuman “Lost” slain

+Our initial ambush was beaten back viciously as we came under sustained fire from Rak-Gol Razor-Cannons. Anastasia was mobbed and wounded by a tide of deformed humans; though she felled many she was forced to retreat to the platform suffering blood-loss. Bryngier rained torrents of death onto the heads of the enemy, carving swathes through the horde as Uriel guarded his back. Hasse and I pressed the attack with bolter and grenades, combining our strength to fell the shrieking mother-beast.
The final leg of our journey led us to the lower reaches of the planet. The tunnels of the Rak’Gol linked up with the abandoned excavation digs of the first colonists. Stretching for miles beneath the surface, the dank structures of the indigent Xenos breed were extensive. Their pictoral script became less refined at the lowest levels, degenerating into chicken-scratch as the centuries wore on and the progress downward continued. The Inquisitrix insisted on frequent stops to examine the histo-graphs, concluding in a leap of inspiration that the forerunner lifeforms that build these structures ,may indeed have been a pre-degenerated ancestor of the Rak’Gol. This thesis is significant. As the warmth from the planet’s core began to test the endurance of our armour, we finally arrived at the epicenter of the Gibraltar Effect.

+An immense, arched cavern had been in some way ‘sculpted’ by an incredibly sophisticated –likely alien- terraforming engine. Beneath the domed ceiling, fluorescent lakes teeming with reptilian, millipede-like forms, boiled. Bloated, sickly flora blooms in rotting sprawls broken by outcrops of blueish crystal. A dull yellow-green light was given off by a vast cube of clear wraithbone, and within a device of clearly human manufacture. Upon it’s side is printed a serpent sigil, the oldest human symbol for ‘poison’. Almost imperceptibly to the auspex, the wraith-glass is spiderwebbed with monomolecular cracks. The radiation here is intense. Our examination of the artifact is interrupted. From the weird, cloying jungle comes a shuffling group of figures; here at last we discover, to our horror, the fate of Inquisitor Strauss and his Kill-Team. Stretched and deformed, their armor pockmarked and rotting, the former Astartes exhibited signs of significant bone-growth and the development of heavy scales. Strauss himself had bloated grossly, his head and neck bulging to form a snout and jaws, beady lizardlike eyes glinting beneath his psychic hood. Cringing in his wake, the heavily mutated Lost, ruled over by the fallen Inquisitor from his confected throne, 'The Ghoul King' revealed. Strauss had come in search of an STC weapon of heretofore unimagined power, a prototype device of the Dark Age of Technology which caused the devolution and oblivion of any life-form it affected, a slug-pellet against sapience. It’s range was immense, evidently encompassing the whole of Gibraltar, despite the wraithglass container placed upon it by the ancient elder. The psychic deadzone it produced reached out to encompass the entire system. Now producing only monsters, it had clearly malfunctioned, constituting an intolerable threat to the Imperium. Clearly mad despite extensive anti-psychotropic self-medication, the cell was beyond salvage. Strauss ranted and raved, urging us to join his effort to liberate the device. With it, he declared, he could end the threat of the Xenos against man. Imagine, he prompted, a device such as this fired into the heart of the Octavian Ork Empire, or the Eye of Terror. Unlike Strauss, Anastasia found this notion greatly discomforting. We had no choice; as Strauss declared he would never let us leave to reveal his secret to the Xenos, with great reluctance and sorrow for these fallen comrades, we engaged in battle.

FINAL ENGAGEMENT The execution of the heretic Inquisitor Strauss and his mutated Deathwatch detachment.
Containment Facility/Biosphere cleared. Severe //Injuries Incurred, //Severe Munitions Depletion Incurred. 4 Berserker Deathwatch traitors, Delta-Level Heretic Psyker Strauss, 3 Heavy-Weapon Servitors destroyed.

+The battle sprawled across the ‘facility’, as the two forces clashed across natural arches, tangling jungle and frothing flurescent lakes. Destabilized by the explosive battle, the fragile biochamber began to collapse. The rabid Astartes destroyed and Strauss blown apart with sustained fire, the Kill-Team made a rapid retreat into the tunnels. Though severely wounded and bearing the unconscious form of Inquisitrix Anastasia we managed to escape the immediate collapses and made our way back to the surface over a number of hours. Battling unconsciousness from Strauss’ overwhelming psychic assaults, we finally collapsed after hours of flight. To a man we succumbed to our Sus-an Implants, only awakening some weeks later in the Colony Theta med-bay. The chemical therapies required to rouse suspended Astartes are not common to human practitioners, so we were not surprised to meet Watch Captain Saul upon recovery. The collapse of the biosphere appears to have disrupted the deadzone – at least momentarily, drawing up the veil and enabling Librarian Secundus to summon the aid of a nearby Imperial flotilla. The Angel frigate was engaged and destroyed, with several more of their artificial ‘Golems’ detected in key roles aboard. No sign of the Angel Warsuits was found aboard; extensive scanning of the surface is being undertaken while the deadzone is down. After extensive genetic testing, those colonists free of impurity are to be evacuated at the Crown’s cost; Anastasia has been insistent on this. I understand an order of Exterminatus will be signed thereafter – planetcracker missiles cannot be employed for fear of exposing the Serpent Device once more; instead cyclonic warheads will be used to torture the atmosphere into uninhabitability, and the surface scoured. Though discomfited to lose the opportunity of learning more of the Rak’Gol’s origins, the Inquisitrix concurs with the view of the Deathwatch on the urgency of ending the threat of the Serpent Device.

In summary I would like to add my concurrence to that of the first contact team, Kill-Cell 6464 and Inquisitors Anastasia and (posthumously) Strauss; that a) the Angels constitute a Xenos Horribillus threat to the Imperium, both militarily and morally; and b) Should be placed back on the watchlist despite the apparent destruction of their centre of influence in the Gheist Stars.


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