The group’s “Year of Hell” is 4712. The PCs are part of squad 7 (which may have had a catchy nickname) and were working for Sergeant Bengmar. The Crashing Horde has a secure underground settlement and often goes hunting in the jungle, clashing with charau-ka and other surface people.
The most recent operation was a dinosaur hunt. It was a difficult task for a squad of rookies, but would provide some great steaks for a feast if successful. The group got past some Mwangi humans who had set an ambush for them, killed the dinosaur, and were on their way back home carrying the food and their injured, when they came upon a lone individual.
The sergeant told everyone to brace themselves, because this was Royce Rue, someone he’d met before. Brimming with confidence when there were twenty recruits and a sergeant facing a single skinny fellow, you smirked a little at Bengmar’s warning. Then Royce Rue walked toward you and the screaming began.
Your greatest fear began manifesting in the jungle around you. The entire squad broke and ran, scattering in all directions. When you finally recovered your courage you realized that you had just flunked out of your Year of Hell. Recalling the story of Gortus Svard, a hobgoblin who became a leader of human pirates, you set out for the coast in hopes of commandeering a ship and crew and leading them to sufficient glory that you’d be permitted to redo your Year of Hell.
In Port Peril you encountered several other members of your squad. Somehow, you ended up talking to each other in spite of what had happened, and while you were enjoyed some drinks in a local human establishment you failed to notice that you had been poisoned.