Cristus' After Action Report - Jokaero/Necron Engagement

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Cristus' After Action Report - Jokaero/Necron Engagement

Post  chrispcarter on Wed May 25, 2011 10:32 pm

His chin resting on one closed hand and the data slate held in the other, the Ultramarine stared at the illuminated text on the data slate with the same attention he normally reserved for tactical assessment of an enemy position; an approach that was perhaps not entirely without merit.

+++ After the appearance of the Necron construct and the abortive void battle, my Kill-Team was charged by Captain Helikaon to obtain a nano-virus from Jokaero weapon-smiths which had settled in the nearby Karmen system. We were assured that the weapon would destroy the living metal material which made up the device. +++

Cristus almost chuckled to himself as he re-read the first paragraph of the report. How he missed the simplicity of eliminating the enemy or defending a position against innumerable odds.

+++ On arrival in the system, we made uneventful planet fall via a Storm Raven which I piloted. Upon our arrival at the only apparent settlement we were immediately challenged by the inhabitants - Jokaero wearing some form of powered armour armed with integrated weapons. As I was aware of the ongoing damage the Necron “Star Killer” was causing, I attempted to negotiate quickly with the Xenos leader on the promise of trade goods in order to most quickly obtain the nanovirus. +++

The Jokaero had been of an unusual aspect. Deathwatch hypno-conditioning had imparted him with knowledge of the species, but those encountered on this planet had been a breed apart; though still lacking true civilisation, they were far above the idiot savant archetype which made up the majority of their species, seeming to have a far greater grasp of what was going on around them and engaging in true trade (albeit with complications), and being much more territorial in nature than the usual nomadic existence of their kind would imply. Their leader had showed the greatest spark of intelligence, at odd with his primitive appearance and simplistic grasp of the gothic language.

+++ However, before we could reach an agreement with the Xenos, we received word that other forces were landing on the planet (designation “Kann”). A drop ship landed a few dozen metres from our location and deployed a small force of mercenary troops as well as a Baneblade-pattern super-heavy tank (a clear show of overwhelming force), under the control of the Rogue Trader Maximillian Roth. It seems Roth had come to extort the Xenos for what he believed he was "owed", and had already kidnapped some of the Kann Jokaero tribe as part of his bargaining technique. He tried to bribe our force into helping him extort the xenos, claiming that the Xenos he had in captivity could create what we needed if we assisted him - a claim we were unable to validate. +++

Roth. Cristus inwardly cursed the obstinate trader. His lack of concern for the lives in the nearby systems was apparent from the moment he began speaking, and his refusal to be cowed by agents acting at the behest of the Inquisition was a staggering display of arrogance. It was a proud or stupid man who would place his requirement for his pound of flesh above the needs of the Ordos, especially when faced with a Kill-Team of Astartes.

+++ As the mission was of a time critical nature I ordered Roth to stand down, however he refused to accede, simply insisting that we help him destroy the Jokaero, causing both sides to grow increasingly belligerent. I asked the Jokaero to submit temporarily so that we could resolve the matter, and though the leader attempted to strike me, I avoided the blow and his attack was not sustained. It was at this point that Brother Errata decided to use his powers to attack Trader Roth. He was unsuccessful, but the attempted attack left us with no further option as the Trader ordered his forces to open fire, and we found ourselves forced to defend ourselves and fighting on the side of the Xenos. +++

The Ultramarine involuntarily clenched the hand that was not holding the slate into a fist as he recalled the moment everything had fallen apart. He remembered tasting the tang of ozone as the Blood Angel had gathered his powers, but he had reacted too slowly to stop him before the damage was done. To make matters worse the attack had not even killed Roth, merely serving to end any attempt to resolve the issue quickly.

He stared at the slate as if willing more words to appear. He was not sure if he should put more. In truth, he was appalled at the lack of discipline and patience shown by the psyker - but he also felt he was to blame – he had not ordered the Kill-Team to await his signal, simply assuming they would wait for his orders, as his previous squad would have done without pause. He had thought of them as Ultramarines, and that was his failure to bear.

The psyker still concerned him though. The Librarians he had encountered among his Chapter were elemental forces once their fury was unleashed, but always in control and never too quick to draw on the power of the immaterium. The Blood Angel seemed short of reservation and quick to anger, with an almost flagrant disregard of the perils he risked by so casually harnessing such witchcraft.

+++ The mercenary troops posed little challenge, one group fodder for the guns of the xenos and Brothers Memnon and Aslan, the other dispatched by my chainsword with assistance from the Xenos’ leader. The Baneblade was a more serious threat; however we were too close for it to accurately target us with its primary armament. Brother Haakon managed to force the top hatch and Trader Roth reappeared. He took Haakon by surprise with a digital weapon, however the Kill-Team fired upon Roth, overloading his personal shield, whereupon he was killed by Brother Memnon. The Baneblade was then disabled through the combined efforts of Brothers Haakon and Errata (once he had recovered from the debilitation he suffered as a result of his psychic attack on Roth) by dropping an armed melta bomb into the tank's interior. +++

Cristus had taken no pleasure in dispatching the Trader’s retinue; they had damned themselves by association, but killing men who were still part of the Imperium – no matter how loosely – sat ill with him. The Trader’s death was well deserved however, as his capitulation could have avoided the whole mess. Haakon’s courage had impressed him during the engagement, and whilst it lacked finesse, his relentlessness in engaging the super heavy tank matched the tales he had heard of the sons of Russ. Dropping an armed melta bomb into the tank without setting the charge correctly, on the other hand, had been a huge risk – Haakon and Errata had been lucky that the device had not gone off in their faces, or cooked off the Baneblade’s magazine. As it was, Cristus simply thanked the Emperor that they had come out of the engagement relatively unscathed.

+++ After the Trader force was neutralised, the remaining Kann Jokaero provided us with the nano-viral weapon we required in short order. The Rogue Trader's ship had left the Karmen system after the death of their leader and had taken no further aggressive action. We left the surface and returned to the Agamemnon, which made best speed for the Cathis system. +++

If he had truly believed in luck, Cristus would have thought they had it in abundance when the Trader’s ship had left without further action. Perhaps it was just good sense, or hopefully a greater sense of loyalty to the Imperium in the part of Roth’s successor, but it had been highly possible that the Kill-Team and the Jokaero could have ended up reduced to their constituent atoms by an orbital strike. The outcome had assuaged his doubts somewhat, as it seemed that Roth’s actions were that of a particularly obstinate individual, perhaps recognised by his inheritor as foolish.

In comparison, it had been easy to deal with the Jokaero, and they had been both welcoming and accommodating – something which almost bothered the Ultramarine more than the conflict with the Rogue Trader. It should not be easier to engage with Xenos that to cooperate with a loosely Imperial citizen.

+++ Upon our return to the Cathis system we immediately deployed to the surface of the Star Killer via Storm Raven once more, armed with injector tools carrying the weaponised nanites. Our access to the bare "skin" of the planetoid was initially blocked by some form of impenetrable force fields, requiring, somewhat bizarrely, the completion of puzzles to bring them down. Incorrect attempts to complete the accursed xenos games had brought forth Necrontyr guardians of varying types; however we were able to defeat them individually and eventually managed to deliver the nano virus into the bare living metal of the construct. +++

Already sour from the first half of their mission, Cristus had felt far happier going into a more straightforward, if strange, tactical engagement. He had also managed to get more of a grip on commanding the Kill-Team, and managing to get them to move as a squad, establish kill-zones and fight as a team had been very encouraging.
The Necron puzzles had been simply bizarre, but Cristus did not want to understand the motivation of the Xenos in protecting their construct with such games. He had relished the chance to take employ his bolter and blade against the xenos automata, a foe far preferable to the trader’s mercenaries. They had reaped an impressive tally as they completed their mission and delivered the virus as instructed – the first part of the mission that had gone to plan, as far as he had been concerned.

+++ After we delivered the last dose the surface began to lose stability, rapidly becoming less solid. This coincided with the appearance of a small Necron force blocking our escape, and a huge army of them which was approaching our somewhat tenuous beachhead. We quickly fought our way to the Storm Raven and dispatched the Necrons in the immediate area, though during this fight Brother Errata seemed to vanish after drawing too deeply on his powers, but thankfully he reappeared (it seems he was merely lost to sight) in time for Brother Memnon to pull him aboard as I took off. +++

The Librarian’s apparent disappearance could not have happened at a worse time, nearly forcing Cristus to choose to try to save the life of one Brother by risking those of the entire squad as the ground had turned to sand around them, but thankfully his timely reappearance had saved Cristus the choice.
He had not mentioned the whispering he had heard during the psyker’s exploits; the insidious trickery of the warp was well known, and Cristus had bore witness to enough of it during the onslaught of the Iron Warriors and their Daemonic allies against the worlds of Ultramar. He would be watching the psyker though, as it seemed to Cristus that he was treading a fine line between being a powerful asset and a liability.

+++ Upon our return to the Battle Barge we discovered that the Star Killer had been severely damaged but not destroyed by the nano-virus, and it appeared that it was beginning to self repair. We also found that the Cathis star had already been drained to a degree where it would soon degrade and render the system uninhabitable. As well as this information, sensors detected huge amounts of drifting stellar matter in a cloud around the construct, forming a trail back to the star.
Watch-Captain Helikaon asked for suggestions and I and Brother Memnon both suggested that we open fire on the cloud of matter surrounding the Necron planetoid, to attempt to ignite it and destroy the device. The Captain agreed and we opened fire, and as hoped the lance batteries ignited the cloud of matter. This destroyed the construct as we had hoped; however the event also caused a further eruption from the damaged star, causing the destruction of Persephone and the other inhabited worlds in the system and throwing the Agamemnon a significant distance in its wake. The destruction of the Necron Star Killer was complete however, and it will threaten no further Imperial systems or lives. +++

Reading the words again had brought back the conflicting emotions that committing them to the slate had done. It sat ill with Cristus that billions of Imperial lives had been lost in the destruction of the Necron weapon. He had reassured himself as many ways as he could: the Necron weapon had to be destroyed; The Administratum would never have organised an evacuation in time to save the people of the system from freezing to death in the wan light of their dying star; it was Helikaon’s decision, not his.
They were all true, and yet scant consolation to the young Ultramarine. He had gone from commanding four of his battle brothers and carrying out the orders of his squad sergeant to giving counsel that had ended the lives of billions. It was a huge culture shock for Cristus and he hoped it would not become a regular occurrence.

Rising from his desk (and having a desk had been just another addition to the absurdity of his secondment so far); Cristus stored the text to the slate and signed and encrypted it with his Deathwatch cipher.
It would have to do; he had already delayed filing the report for several days, and thought no one had chased up the request, he knew Helikaon would be taking note as Cristus had worked over the words in private as he had worked over his conflicting feelings in the battle simulators and training cages.
He decided he would deliver the report by Helikaon by hand. He was unsure why the Captain had even required the report – he had been very aware of everything that had gone on, and had battle-recorder footage from his armour to review at his leisure if he had so wished.
Either the Minotaur Captain was going out of his way to inconvenience Cristus, or he had some other aim which had as of yet not become apparent. He just hoped that the games would stop sooner rather than later.

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