The Measure of Man


Part III: Planetfall

You descend on wings of fire, to the tormented earth of a dying world.

Inside the thunderous, claustrophobic hold of your drop pod, the agonies of crushing G-forces enough to kill an ordinary man assault you, while outside the armoured ceramite burns like a falling star. But you are no ordinary men who endure this fiery trial — you are Space Marines, the Emperor’s chosen Angels of Death.

Within your mind you recall the mission briefing, replaying it with perfect clarity. The world below is Tantalus, a resource moon on the edge of the Castobel system, a system around which the jaws of the Great Devourer are tightening shut. Your minds focus on the goal of the mission, and you recall the last broadcast from the planet’s surface — an icy, harsh voice barking from the vox-net through howling static:

Attention Deathwatch vessel Thunder’s Word. This is Magos Biologis Zardos Vyakai. My conveyance has been fatally damaged and forced to crash-land-en-route to rendezvous zone. I survive, the datacore survives. I require immediate extraction from this location. The swarm approaches, crash site unsafe. I will seek shelter nearby until your arrival. The datacore must survive and be retrieved. Location Encarta follows. I will set this message to repeat as long as the anima endures.” Message ends.

The voice cut off and was followed by a rapid chatter of sacred binary code, before beginning again:

The swarm, five hours and counting, five hours until the whole area is swept clear of life under an unholy tide of fang, venom, and claw. Five hours. Five hours and counting.

The retro-thrusters hammer into you like a blow from an enraged god. The drop pod doors blast open and you spring forth from your crash harnesses, power armour systems already engaged, auto senses tracking, weapons in hand. The daylight wanes, and through your suits filters you detect two pervading scents on the bitterly cold air: burning chemicals and human blood.

Players choose a Drop Location on the Map to begin.


Brother Ganicus looks over the coordinates provided by the Techmarine. ‘I concur with Brother Gravius. An ideal drop point. If there aren’t any objections, I’ll process the drop coordinates and lead us in prayer.’

(Players decide their squad’s Leader and Oath. See [[Oathtaking]].


Brother Blainius nods his acknowledgement, and begins whispering a personal prayer whilst touching the aquila emblem on his hulking chest piece.


Ingram grins to himself and slowly shakes his head in Brother Blainius’ general direction.

“Praying,” he mutters, in a low, patronizing tone, “praying as if the Emperor were some sort of divinity. You belie his true greatness with such thoughts, you know.” Ingram sighs, and slowly rises to his feet. As he clears his throat, his eyes lose their playful sarcasm and regain the steely glare only seen during or just before battle.

“For the echoes of your power that flow in our veins, I devote the achievement of the following goals, and the absolute obliteration of the enemies that stand in our way, to you- the one true Emperor. May this fragment of your greatness inside us all be used, wisely and justly, to punish the wicked and further the goals of Mankind in the stead of your utmost regality.”


Brother Ganicus looks up from his calculations, “Well said brother, for the Emperor.”
Balling his gauntlet into a fist, he thrusts it to his chest with a dull clang. Brother Blainius appears not to listen, mumbling his litanies in a tone so quiet it can barely be heard.


Brother Gravius frowns at Brother Ingram. "Do not belittle or deride our brothers for the manner in which they revere and honor our fathers and the Emperor.” Gravius flexed the muscles of his back inside his power armor, feeling the recent brand press up against the ceramite. “And while obliteration of the xenos threat we face is a noble ideal, logic must dictate our actions. We can not afford to waste time hunting down and fighting every creature we find, we must quickly locate and extract the honored Magos Biologis. His life is currently more important that our lives, and every death we could possibly inflict on the planet below.” Gravius lets out a mechanical wheeze of a sigh as he locks his helmet into place. “Also brothers, let us not forget that one of the fragments that the Emperor blessed us with is Humanity.”


Brother Blainius looks up from his introspection and fixes the Salamander with his snarling helm. Though he says nothing, he gives a slow measured nod before turning his eye-lenses to the Reviler who has busied himself securing the straps of his drop-harness.
“What is he then brother?” His voice is low and distant, like coming thunder. “If not a God.”
Before Brother Ingram can respond, the retro thruster hammer into the small space like an artillery shell. Tantalus awaits.


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