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It's my honour and privilege to present to the Fluff forum: Unity's Fall. It's a project close to my heart because it represents two weeks worth of creative thinking by the Writers' Cooperative of LO, a group made up of nine terrific people. Who've been and continue to be an absolute pleasure to work with.
The story will be set up in different posts each projecting a different part of the story, written from a different race or character's perspective. But rather than go on about the story itself, I'll just let you read on. It's my distinct privilege to kick off the story with my first post, so here goes. Enjoy. More of the story will be posted at the other writers and my own discretion.
Nota Bene: Please keep any comments, praise or criticism out of this particular thread, SubSocial has set up -this (Unity's Fall Comments)- thread for that specific purpose.
Out of the many buildings piercing the capital city’s skyline, Falchion Tower was easily the most imposing. The massive structure stood one hundred stories high, its’ surface covered in black pains of glass capable of reflecting only part of the sunlight, the rest converted into power. While most of Araman’s criminal organizations kept to the shadows and out of the authority’s magnifying glass, picking safe-houses and headquarters in abandoned buildings or underground lairs, that was not the case with Falchion Corp. The people who ruled the Corporation had become experts in their craft and had long since created a viable way of funneling their illegal operations through a seemingly legal façade for all to see.
It was within Falchion Tower, however, that most of the corporations’ shady deals took place. On the ninety eighth floor of the building was the organizations’ meeting room. A chamber of palatial décor, sporting a great oval table at which sat four distinct people, the primary rulers of the janusian corporation. Two women and two men sat opposite one another, forming a visual cross with their eyes as they regarded one another. These operated every aspect of their criminal organization.
Everything from the simplest acts of fraud, car theft, prostitution, extortion, racketeering and loan-sharking to counterfeiting, money laundering, contract killings, gunrunning, human-trafficking and drug dealing, Falchion Corp. was one of the most feared and most powerful criminal organizations in all of Maljis IV. Most importantly, however, was their ability to remain undetected; a system that functioned by diverting close to seventy percent of their already-considerable earnings into keeping the machine of bribery well oiled.
“So the fields are producing their maximum yield,” remarked Ignacio Tierras, a dark-skinned man wearing a finely cut suit of black silk. “Good, then we’ll expect the merchandise to be prepared by…?”
“Four months, and distribution unto the streets a month after that,” completed Zaria Dever, smiling and casting aside the red bangs that cascaded troublesomely over her eyes.
“There’s bigger problems than your narcotic plantations Zaria,” remarked Mikel Hodges, his eyes narrowing as he stared hard at the flighty woman.
“And what problem might that be?” Ignacio asked him.
“The Council has appointed a new captain in the thirty-fourth precinct; as such… he might cause problems for us if he decides to inspect the warehouses in the spaceport.”
“I suspect you didn’t bring this up unless the good captain had already rejected our generous gift basket,” Ignacio went on.
Mikel nodded grimly.
All three of them turned just then to regard the fourth person sitting at the table, a dark-haired woman of pale complexion wearing a tight-fitting bodice. She fixed each of them with her gaze and nodded in understanding, taking her cue and standing from the table.
“Remember to send the wife, if he has one, the usual gift,” Ignacio put in, stopping the departing Felicia Dor in her tracks.
Felicia turned, “and if he has none?”
“Then send the other gift to the Council steps, that should make certain they get the hint,” the dark-skinned man replied.
“I swear those old bastards are only toying with us. That should at least teach them not to employ men incapable of taking bribes,” joked Mikel, chortling as Felicia walked out.
The group went on to discuss other matters that regarded the corporation, delving into the details of their profit margins and setting the necessary arrangements in place for new schemes. Each of Falchions’ rulers detested one another, but there was no denying their ability to work together. These were beasts hidden by society's varnish, each one capable of taking life if it would mean a monetary gain for their already-oversized pocketbooks. Each one had climbed the ranks of the organization through their own means.
Mikel Hodges was a leg breaker, a man who had ascended through violence and brutality. To any stranger who would cast his eyes on Mikel, he would seem little more than a shaved ape wearing mens' clothing. Still, the brute displayed a level of cunning akin to most predatory animals. When applied to the corporation, he was often tasked with dealing with the skirmishes that often erupted between the lower echelons of Falchion Corp. and the other gangs, families and crime syndicates of Majlis IV.
Being the ham-fisted creature he was, however, he was seldom trusted with delicate matters, the sort that Felicia Dor had just been given. The woman was quiet, silent and especially deadly. As a perfectionist, she handled the office of sending particularly gruesome messages to any who would poke their noses into the corporation’s business. Whenever a reporter or a particularly righteous lawman would uncover one of their ventures, she was also tasked with extracting information to find out how much they knew.
Such distasteful levels of violence, however, were beyond Zaria Dever, who effectively served as a go-between within the organization. It was her job to travel all across the globe to check up on their many ventures, projects and businesses to make sure the wheels of Falchion Corp. continued to turn. She held the books and kept track of the entire groups’ infrastructure as well as their spending and earning. Her intelligence easily surpassed that of Felicia and Mikel but was on par with Ignacio.
The dark-skinned man was, for all intents and purposes, Falchion Corp. itself. Ignacio was the corporations’ mouthpiece, he appeared before the public, passed himself off as the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the organization, leading the legal façade that kept their criminal activities hidden. Often enough Ignacio would donate a portion of the Corporation’s earnings to the impoverished in order to keep the company standing in a positive light.
While his knowledge of criminal activities when he first began serving Falchion Corp was non-existent, the man developed an almost natural ability to employ both subtle and brutal tactics in order to maintain the corporation intact. The four ruled the corporation with an iron fist and not the Council or anyone on the planet would ever be able to dislodge the entrenched group from their position of power.*
The village of Arcus stood hundreds of miles away from Majlis IV’s capital of Araman, a sleepy town with naught but a residential complex and a mineral crystal mine which provided for the two hundred people living there. There was nothing remarkable about the town in the least, except for an odd stone formation that had given the town its name. The stone arc had served as the town’s centre, and was surrounded by a public park. It was near midnight and the entire village was quiet.
“Carrie I just don’t know,” Derek told his girlfriend of two years.
The girl led him towards the bench just in front of the Arc, overlooking the town hall.
“Derek… I only want you to reach your potential… why can’t you give the academy a try?” she asked him earnestly.
“Look… my whole family is made up of miners, and as soon as I finish school that’s where I’ll be going. Maybe you have bigger dreams but I do–”
A rumbling of stone caused the teenager to silence himself. He turned around, gazing over the stone arc as it continued to judder and transfer its’ seismic vibrations through the ground and to his feet.
“Carrie let’s get out of he–” an explosion of light blinded him and sent both teens tumbling to the ground.
The webway gate flickered to life as the stone that had covered the ancient portal crumbled to dust. With bursts and sparks of energy, the dark-armoured xenos emerged from the black webway, quick and soft as shadows, pouring forth by the pair. Fourty quickly assembled, paying no heed to the blinded, prone forms of the humans just a few feet away from them.
Derek looked up, blinking several times to clear the light spots that still danced before his pupils. Only after a few moments did he see the towering figure before him, extending a black gauntleted hand towards him. Fear froze the teenager in place as he felt the hand reach for his neck, squeezing, palpating. Then he watched as another of the monsters advanced, setting a hand on the first’s shoulder. Immediately Derek was released and he managed to swallow back the pooling saliva within his mouth.
Panic gripped him as his mind traveled to thoughts of Carrie, and he immediately turned to see the girl getting up. The aliens reacted almost instantly, disallowing the girl to even take a bounding step, before a burst of purple energy struck her and sent her tumbling back to the ground.
“N–nnmff!” the young boy tried to scream, but he found his mouth gagged by one of the aliens’ black gauntlets.
He heard the creatures speaking in a tongue he could not understand, then felt numb all over and watched as a wave of violet light surged through his body. Derek blacked out, hitting the grass with a thud.*
Last edited by Adahn; May 6th, 2009 at 23:29.
In the space above Maljis IV, a small warp rift ripped it's way into reality. From the swirling eddies of the Empyrean emerged a sleek black shape which immediately darted toward the planet below. Behind it, the warp rift close in upon itself, sucking back in the tendrils of energy that had begun to creep outward. The entire process took less than fifteen seconds and afterward there was no sign or record of any occurrence save the dim memory of a sleepy orbital security guard, drunk on Valhallan ale.*
"My lord, we have emerged from the warp and taken high orbit above the planet, as per your orders."
Inquisitor Andolaeus Vron looked up from his workbench at the vox grill installed in the wall of the room. He was really an unremarkable man. Of medium height and build, he was neither imposing nor weak, and his short-cropped black hair never stood out in a crowd. Now, as always, he wore a matte black jumpsuit made of plates of carapace armor. It was festooned with pouches cleverly built in so as to be invisible to all but the most observant eye. In addition, his left hand was mechanical, engineered from a strange black metal which never quite seemed to catch the light in the correct way. However, the remarkable thing about Vron was his eyes. They were not one color, but many. In fact, they were every color, but not all at the same time. His eves changed color randomly, and even as one watched, they could turn from blue to purple to yellow and back to blue. Not even he knew which color would come next. This trait had caused him to be labeled as a witch on his home planet at a very young age, but after extensive testing by the residential Imperial station, he was pronounced to be psychically unremarkable and his eyes were written off as a genetic mutation.
He looked back at his work and finished slotting the pieces of what appeared to be a green marble cube together before answering. He had already known that they were out of the Empyrean and had known when they would emerge sooner than any of the crew, save perhaps the Navigator. However, he was not about to disclose this knowledge, especially not to a simple steersman. After all, knowledge is power.
“Tell the captain that I will be on the bridge shortly,” Vron replied. “Oh, and gather the team. They will need their briefing.”*
The bulkhead doors slid open and Vron swept onto the bridge in long strides, coving the ground to the podium quickly. As he reached the front of the bridge he turned to survey his team. Arrayed before him were six men and three women. Only three of the men were normally part of his team, however. The other three were Inquisitorial stormtroopers that he had recruited shortly before his departure. The extra muscle would definitely be useful.
As he began to brief the team, his mind wandered forward, already planning his moves once on the ground. He would have to move quickly and quietly in order to cut the cancer of Chaos from this world. He wondered how the three Sisters of Battle that had journeyed with him were faring. They had been briefed during the trip and their mission had started as soon as the ship dropped out of warp. Even now they were en route to the planet's surface. Once they made their report on planetary conditions he would move out. A ghost pain shot through his left hand. Victory was close. He could practically taste it.
Last edited by Subsocial; May 18th, 2009 at 04:20.
Canoness Odette de Rais was an aging Sister of Battle and the spiritual leader of the battle mission convent of The Handmaidens of the Sacred Chalice on the planet of Maljis IV on the Eastern Fringe of Imperial Space. As such, Inquisitor Vron's retinue of Sisters of Battle arranged to meet with Odette and were restored to the Canoness' command while on the planet.
The Inquisitor's Sisters of Battle numbered three, and they too were of the Handmaidens of the Sacred Chalice, an order of armed battle nuns in service to the Ecclesiarchy, that is, the Cult of the Holy Emperor of Mankind, the worship of God. Once they had served under Canoness Odette directly until the elder woman ordered them to accompany Vron and learn the ways of the Ordo Malleus, the Daemon Hunters. But now, circumstances had brought them back in service of their former mistress.
Tonight the trio of Sisters attended a fiery sermon being given by their spiritual leader in the Convent's meeting hall. For weeks the locals had been bombarded by church staff and converts to come and see the lady preacher from the far off Imperium.
In fact, on Maljis, which had been cut off from the Imperium for many centuries, the Imperium was little more than a memory, and a faded one at that.
Tonight the Canoness was in fine form. She was a tall handsome woman of severe features, like a bird of prey's, and her voice was strong and powerful. Her steely eyes pierced the darkness of the Convent's meeting hall and swept over the excited and agitated audience that was stirred up in a motley of emotions at her hard fire and brimstone words. Her nostril's flared as her breath surged with excitement like a fine thoroughbred mare's, as she shouted out her sermon to the awaiting crowd of ignorant locals. She was dressed in a nun's robes and habits, but beneath was the ornate power armor of a Sister of Battle, and her armored fist cracked like pistol fire as she drummed it on the podium surface.
"People of Maljis! For too long you, who are of the blessed race of man, have been a branch cut off from the tree! Return to your roots! God, the Holy Emperor of humanity, call upon each of you, for your obedience, your taxes, and your worship! Do you not know that it is by His sacrifice alone that humanity is not consumed like kindling in the furnace of Hell?!'
Standing nearby, attending the Canoness on the small stage were Sister Superior Victoria Pernoud, Sister Konstanz Serenzi, and Sister Birghid Wolfe, all decked out in the body hugging powered armor of the Sisters of Battle, and wearing berets and capelets with the insignia of their order; The Handmaidens of the Sacred Grail. Victoria was of an age with the Canoness, that is, middle aged, half a century old at least. Victoria watched with rapt adoration as her beloved Canoness preached the good word to the locals of Majlis.
Maljis IV was a world recently having had contact re-established with the Imperium of Mankind. In many ways it was a world like any other human populated world. But it had been cut off from direct Imperial control for some centuries. When the Imperials arrived recently, they surveyed the thriving planet, with it's growing populace of potential citizens and great resources, and pronounced it good.
Debates were going on even as Canoness Odette began to paint a verbal picture of the hell that is life in our universe and the need for our Holy Savior the Emperor. Some said Maljis IV should be taken by force, recommending military invasion, while others counseled that Maljis could easily be brought back to the Imperial fold through propaganda, diplomacy, and threat of extermination. Canoness Odette didn't really care which was chosen.
The night air was humid and sultry in the gathering room full of natives and Sisters of Battle. Impassioned pleas and lashing condemnations sprung from Odettes thin lipped but harsh mouth.
'Everywhere in the universe is danger! Danger without! Danger within! The enemies of mankind are legion, but the worst danger is the one growing in your own hearts!" Odette pointed a long gnarled finger accusingly at the audience. 'For centuries you were ignorant. You did not know any better. So you had no sin. But now I tell you, you must worship the Emperor, return to His flock! I bring you a hard choice, like the edge of a sword!"
"Oh my brethren! The Emperor, so long ago, He appeared to master humanity! To bring us from barbarism and to raise us from animals to becoming sentient, human beings! He gave you the very souls in your hearts and the means to know good and evil! Choose good! Choose the Emperor! The Emperor who was wounded for your sakes, the Emperor who suffers to give you your very lives, the Emperor who saves you from damnation!'
As Odette ended her speech, she met with a mixed reaction. This did not bother Odette like it once did. You had to plant a lot of seeds, and pull a lot of weeds to get an meager harvest. But it was worth the effort. Some applauded, some jeered, many simply left in bands. But a few stayed behind, eager to hear more.
When the meeting was over, Odette retired to her chambers, leaving it to the three sisters to attend to the needs of those who lingered. It was not age or frailty that caused the Canoness to withdraw, but a certain canny understanding of a need for mystery and drama surrounding the leader of a church.
Now, Sister Superior Victoria Pernoud stood in the crowd with her dearest comrades, Sister Konstanz Serenzi and Sister Birghid Wolfe as they spoke, preached and debated with a group of teenaged natives. Victoria smiled affectionately at her young sisters, the expression causing the fleur de lys tatoo on her crows footed cheek to rise beneath her bright eyes.
'Wherever we go, whether we try to or not, we always cause a stir.' she thought wryly. And it was true. There was a mystique about her kind, the Adeptus Sororitas Sisters of Battle, that intrigued, inspired, amused, aroused, offended, but always provoked a reaction. Victoria noted that as usual, the young men had gravitated towards willowy and graceful Konstanz, while the females, miffed at the loss of the total attentions of their escorts, took to chatting with Birghid, a large and powerful, almost mannish woman. 'Wherever we go, some things never change' Victoria noted.
Konstanz smiled serenely. She looked a perfect angel as usual. Well, if an angel shaved half her head and left long bleached silver locks on the other side. Konstanz had a natural beauty and grace, but more than that, she radiated peace and serenity. She had once been a hospitaller, that is, a non-combatant healer of her order. But out of a need to be at the side of her sisters, she had taken up a weapon and donned the body armor of a warrior.
The boy talking to her was very handsome, and very, very loud. His breath smelled of liquor, and Konstanz patiently endured the bravado and rakishness of the smug young men who thought the world revolved around them, and that they would live forever and never get old. "Is it true that you nuns never remove your armor?" the boy, his name was Tauk, asked. Theatrically he sniffed the air. "That can't be true. You smell like flowers....look like one too.' Tauk's court of young boys giggled and hooted at the successful flirtation.
"Thank you young Tauk. Of course we are very concerned about our hygiene. Cleanliness of body is a reflection of cleanliness of the soul.' Konstanz sighed warmly like a summer's breeze.
"I would like to get to know you...body and soul...Sister Konstanz!' Tauk boasted. Nearby Sister Birghid bristled, as did the young local girls who were outraged at this betrayal of affections.
Sister Birghid was tall and plain. But strong, very strong. Her violet eyes flashed with annoyance, like thunder in the clouds, and she set her jaw and grunted through clenched teeth "Mind yer words boy! We be Sisters of Battle, sworn to chastity! We give ourselves to no one but God!" Why was it that sex always ruined everything? Birghid scowled, and Tauk and the locals drew back in visible fear. Which placated the big warrioress a bit, so she relented. "Boy, be good! Have ye listened to the good Canoness all night and yet forgotten it all for Sister Konstanz' pretty face?"
There was among the young men, a small dark fellow. His eyes were black as night, his skin pale as the marble on a graveyard headstone, and wherever he stood, he always seemed to be in shadow. "The Imperium you preach is bondage. Where is this darkness you speak of? For centuries your God Emperor has been little more than a memory. Yet, as you have no doubt seen in your time here on our home planet of Maljis, we do all right."
"Speak plainly youngster." Victoria interjected. "You are a malcontent?"
The boy seemed to see Victoria for the first time, having previously ignored her as too old to be of sexual interest. Now he had a clue to her position among the women, he turned to Victoria and continued fearlessly.
"Malcontent? No, I am content. It is the Imperium that would shackle us to imagined sins, place us in the bondage of guilt and blind us with hysteria. We of Maljis have our problems, surely. Our goverment is corrupt, the strong prey on the weak, we are taxed to poverty...'
'...But we live. We are young. We love, and dream, and we will not be ground down.'
Victoria spoke candidly. 'Boy, fear the daemon! It is already whispering to your heart.'
One of the local girls timidly cut in 'My aunt was possessed by a dybbuk once. Yazar, there -are- things we don't understand! Maybe the old lady is right?'
The dark boy, Yazar, snorted. "I would give my soul to see a dybbuk. Because then I would know once and for all there is more to life than working, suffering, and fading away...If there is a devil, there might be a God...'
'Boy, there -are- daemons. We've seen them.' Birghid spat.
Yazar's eyes looked haunted now. "I myself have not."
"Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe." Konstanz said gently.
Last edited by Jahi; May 6th, 2009 at 10:00.
Shambling down the begotten streets of a dusty road, the loosely garbed man shuffled his way towards the great spire amongst the teeming populace. His limp brown hair stuck plastered to his pasty sweat covered forehead as he pushed his way down the busy avenue. In his fumbling weary hands bubbled a pile of books and papers. His deft fingers, strong from many toiling hours of penwork, clung tightly to his precious bundle. Pressing past hurried crowds of dishevelled citizens, Fire Warriors of the Gue’vesa; honoured human veterans of the armed forces, dogs of the military as some called them, marched in careful time behind their leathery faced Shas‘O.
Each of them bore the same admired emblem of the caste. Set off in the opposite direction of the balancing act of a man, he bore on forward, nearly toppling into a mass of bodies before him. The street was lined with perfect iron spires along with the beautiful architecture of one thousand different cultures. The precise scrawl of ink smelt of stale books and dark rooms, and the two great suns beat down upon his beading crumpled brow. He darted quickly into a dark passage into the looming earth where lanterns and torches lined the iron wrought foyer of tunnel. Scuffling down the ruined steps, the wearied Iterator shuffled through the dark dank halls of the Sarcophagus, the underground centre of meeting and discussion.
A pictographer blink-clicked the sweaty robed man as he came near. His slick blonde hair was perfectly combed into a neat wave to the left side, which framed his boyish face and accented his tight fitted pantaloons of grey and his leather vest covered shirt. Lined with pretty little polished silver buttons, he looked more of a poet than what the pictograph told him to be. He flashed his bright grin to the hurried man and spoke as he was finally just a few meters away.
“Ah, Nathanial running a little late are we?” A joking tone on his slick tongue.
Nathanial scowled at the youth as he ran past, “Now’s not the time to bother with me Jasper. If you wish to pick a fight, it’ll have to wait until after my speech.” Panting, he jogged onward, further and further into the labyrinth.
His sagging tired eyes were ragged in their ravaged sleep deprived sockets. Pattering down the looming passages, he carried with him an old and tattered book, its pages a yellowish brown with age. He scurried past countless of writers and colleagues that he had known for many years. A few of them gave weak hearted gestures of good luck and will. His aging bones ached with the constant effort of pace as he finally turned into a massive theatre room packed with a stirring and impatient audience.
Standing and speaking at the podium stood a man well known in the realm of Iterators. Segil Monterion, spoke in strong bursts of emotion, perfectly quoting a many paged epoch he had written himself. He was adorned in a fluttering silky black cloak which covered his carefully trimmed sparkling black velour. “Thankfully, he kept them occupied while I made it here…” thought Nathanial as he caught his breath and dusted himself off. Segil spoke on:
“…An early dawn breaks over the distant horizon,
The midnight eclipse extinguished with the twilight,
The sliver of moon is gone and replaced with a new one.
The opaque visions of yesterdays tomorrow loom in the distant future.
Lazing in an empty field I ponder on the scattered clouds that bore prosperous rain.
I wonder on the philosophies of men long dead from battle scars and broken hearts.
I gaze up at the distant sky, questioning the purpose of life and death.
Life is given to grant the honour of having endured it.
Death is known to make certain that having endured life meant something in the end.
To make sure that what we have done in our lives was worth living for.
To encourage us to live out a full life.
For those who see not these simple truths, I lie in the brightening sunlight and pity them.
The flare of enlightening heaven rises to the centre of the sky, as a drying corpse in a plain dry valley is feasted on by wandering filchers...”
The crowd erupted into an uproarious applause as Segil gave an over exaggerated bow in response to his praise. He beamed out at the sea of faces and raised a quieting hand. Once all was still he lowered his fingers to stroke at his moustache and spoke forth again. “Now everyone, that I have kept you all at ease until our dear old friend has arrived, here is the one you have been truly waiting for, Nathanial Anuk Brevochki!” Again the volume soared with the rise of hoots, hollers, and claps. The wearied Nathaniel made his way smiling and waving towards the centred podium and plopped down his pile onto it.
Shaking hands with Nathaniel, Segil made his swift exit from the stage. The rows of seats stretched back for more than a hundred meters, men leaned over balcony rails and sat in the dusty rafters to hear the great words of the brilliant Brevochki. Smiling he flipped through papers and books to organize himself for his oration. Clearing his dry throat, he dipped his hand into the ruffles of his robes to pull out a right little flask. He popped the lid and took a quick swig of cool sparkling liquorice spirit before slipping back into its little crevice. Then he began.* * * * *
“Friends. Brothers. Thank you all for coming to hear my words, but that is not why you are here. You are here on behalf of the fallacitical truth that has been forced upon our unwilling ears. Our city is not in peace. Ravaged death roams the streets with drugs and filth and propaganda. Such monstrosities of our generation are the downfall of society.” The air was stiff will silence, all ears strained to hear the broadcasted words. His voice was fierce as thousands of more listeners tuned in on their receiving units in their offices, homes, and businesses.
“The time is now! We the people must retake this city! The corruption is too deep to weed, but with our struggle for survival, we have learned how to live! We-” the speaker paused. Above even the cheer of the people and his booming voice pervaded another sound. It was a strange and pounding thing that penetrated everything. All was silent again. The rigor and ferocity of the assembly was dead, and what was left was a chilled fear. What was it? The same question drilled through everyone’s mind. From the far back of the chamber, a thick door boomed open. All eyes turned in a honed and the panting individual in the doorway.
“It’s an invasion!” And all was chaos.* * * * *
The atmosphere above ground was madness. A cacophony of screams tore through the sky, as torrents of violet rays and blasts suffocated the stifling air as Nathanial bustled through the rampaging fleeing crowd of desperate souls. Flailing corpses flew in a folly, blasts flinging them airborne. Sleek black-armoured warriors in careful lines paraded the streets, volley after volley into the teeming mass of fleeing citizens. Among the mass was the leathery faced Tau and humans alike. Slaughtered in streams of lavender amethyst bursts. Nathaniel’s mouth fell agape at the carnage and brutality of it all.
“Surely, this is the end…”
In the dimmed cool-white light of the briefing room, Shas’o Sa’cea Tol’vah hurriedly absorbed the information flickering across his holographic data-plate, sifting through each and every point, measuring its tactical value, and memorising it as he saw fit.
The facts and figures before him had been carefully assembled by several of his comrades in this same room, intelligence specialists and researchers from the Earth and Water Castes. O’Tol’vah stole a brief glance at the team of Fio’el Ultis, Fio’el Ranis, Por’el Hahlis and Por’el Khessan, noticing them deep in discussion. He knew there was a veritable army of workers, investigators, negotiators and diplomats behind this four-strong team, and O’Tol’vah was most grateful for their work. With the data they had already collected, and continued to collate, would make an invasion of the planet a much easier task.
O’Tol’vah was of the Fire caste, a veteran of many battles. He had commanded and personally led three minor planetary occupations, and thus had been granted the honour of preparing the military response to the planned occupation of the Gue’la planet of Maljis IV.
He had assembled his own team for the task, a hand-picked selection of decorated Firewarriors to complement his personal skills. He knew his method of command was effective, but it was not particularly emotive; O’Tol’vah was a calm, reserved commander, relying on logic and efficiency to carry the day.
El’Falchis, on the other hand, was bold, charismatic and fiery, a perfect inspiration for the many thousands of Firewarriors who would be tasked with taking Maljis IV. El’Falchis was relatively young to have attained such a notable rank, but O’Tol’vah had personally observed the younger Firewarrior on many occasions, both in battle and in training simulations, and was assured of his skill and bravery.
Almost the complete opposite of El’Falchis, El’Ryntor had found his place on this team for his proven infiltration and covert operations work. Many times El’Ryntor had been called upon to strike behind enemy lines and run extended skirmishes for months on end, completely without support or hope of rescue should anything go awry. He and his cadre ranked among the best infiltrators the Tau Empire had to offer, and O’Tol’vah knew the scarred, gruff veteran would be vital in the coming campaign.
And then there was El’Shaaseth. Though not as charismatic and confident as El’Falchis or as hardy as El’Ryntor, El’Shaaseth was vital in her own way. Her tactical acumen was second to none in the commanders he had worked with, and her ability to plan ahead and prepare for any eventuality exceeded even his considerable skill. Her promptness, however, was not her strong point; her data-plate remained untouched in her unoccupied chair.
Scant minutes before the briefing was due to formally begin, O’Tol’vah heard the chamber door cycle behind him. He did not look up as El’Shaaseth drifted to her chair, sweeping up her data-plate and seating herself in one fluid motion.
Only when he had finished reviewing his notes did O’Tol’vah glance, remaining carefully expressionless, towards El’Shaaseth. She was clad in her near-black coveralls trimmed with orange along the sleeves and legs as opposed to the more formal dress uniform O’Tol’vah, El’Falchis and El’Ryntor had donned for the briefing, and had obviously come from the training halls.
Keeping his voice stern he matched her midnight gaze, “Shas’el Sa’cea Shaaseth, you are late. Again.”
A hint of a smile played across her features, “Shas’o Tol’vah, I must respectfully disagree. I am carefully organising my time so as to be as efficient as possible.”
“By almost missing a briefing?”
Now her smile did break through, “You wound me, O’Tol’vah. I was honing my skills in the simulators, knowing that my commander would have already been through our intelligence and would be ready to brief me upon my arrival.”
O’Tol’vah shook his head but couldn’t hide his smile, “You will do your own reading, El’Shaaseth. In your own time. And I would appreciate it if you made such efforts in the future.”
Knowing when she should not make light of their task El’Shaaseth smoothed her expression and dipped her head in a curt nod, sending her scalp-lock sweeping back and forth over her face, “I apologise commander. I will not be so lax in the future.”
As Fio’el Ultis, and Por’el Khessan stood to begin the briefing, O’Tol’vah leaned a fraction closer to the young commander by his side, unable to keep the humour from his lowered voice, “I highly doubt that, El’Shaaseth.”
To her credit she hid her smile well, and turned her attention to the intelligence team.
It took scant moments for all their humour to be lost as Por’el Khessan rose and began to speak. The Water Caste Emissaries’ manner already suggested an unfortunate turn of events, and his words only confirmed this.
“As I am sure you are all aware, my brothers and sisters, our tentative first steps on to Maljis IV have been most fruitful. The Gue’la on this world have responded well to our offers of trade, protection and unity, and many have taken our words and begun preaching them to others. Some have even been enlightened enough to welcome our Fire Warriors, our Workers and our Envoys to their world, speeding the spread of our influence.”
“But…” at this, Por’Khessan gave a gentle sigh and shook his head, “we have received word of an attack. A meeting of many of the like-minded individuals on Maljis IV was interrupted by an armed assault.”
There was silence in the room as they all digested the severity of this news. O’Tol’vah felt a strange fear settle within him, a fear for those warriors already on the surface. They had volunteered to be the first to step on to the foreign planet, but they had not been equipped to respond to a dedicated attack against them. To have died so far from home, so far from your brothers and sisters… if they had suffered this, it was a truly terrible fate.
But they may yet have survived. O’Tol’vah returned his attention to the Water Caste emissary to hear if there was word of his comrades.
Por’Khessan, still clearly shaken from the recent news he was now divulging, took a few moments to gather his thoughts, “As yet, unfortunately, we have little news regarding the perpetrators of the attack. We have little word on survivors other than knowing there must be some. Our message drone bearing this news would not have arrived if without the authorisation of at least one of the Tau serving on Maljis.”
“Unfortunately the sender did not identify themselves. They were brief and very general. Their message has all the hallmarks of a military mind stranded in a hostile situation in that they give no information that would identify them if the drone were intercepted. Thankfully it was not, and we know enough that we can help them.”
His arms sweeping wide, Por’Khessan appealed to those in the room, turning directly to face the two Ethereals seated unobtrusively to the side of the main parties, “Though regretful that we must resort to such a response, I feel we must act decisively. We have been promising the people of Maljis a place in our empire. We have been promising them protection. Though the majority of the populace are not ready to hear our words, we must show those loyal to us that we honour our words, that we deliver on our promises.”
“I recommend that we begin the deployment of military forces to Maljis IV.”
The two Ethereals, Aun’o Dathin and Aun’o Cahthis, conferred amongst themselves for a moment before O’Tol’vah felt their gaze fall on him, “Shas’o Tol’vah. When can your forces be ready?”
O’Tol’vah stood, placing a clenched fist across his breast and feeling martial pride swell within him, “The Air caste and my Fire Warriors are prepared to move at a moment’s notice. Kor’o Rheav assures me we can be on our way to Maljis IV in under a Dec. We wait only on your word to deploy.”
O’Dathin and O’Cahthis each gave a single nod, “Then begin. We will make our presence know above our new world. For the Greater Good of our Empire, and of our new world!”
* * * * *
Obsidian-coloured gauntlets reached up to his neck setting off the intricate locking mechanisms designed within the ornate, gruesome helm. A faint hiss broke the silence as it came off, causing a long white mane of hair to instantly tumble over his shoulders and down his back. A sharp intake of breath filled the Highborne’s lungs as he revelled in their arrival, tasting the scent and texture of Maljis IV’s air.
Archon Sorn smiled a warm, catlike grin, and then subsequently turned to face his two subordinates.
“Nalfein, remove your helm,” the Archon told one of them, though his tone did not hold the timbre of an order, but rather that of a suggestion.
“I do not wish to breathe this filth,” the one named Nalfein replied.
A distinct hiss echoed throughout as the eldar standing next to Nalfein removed his own helm. The Archon’s eyes narrowed, a gesture that many of Cormer Tokath sought, a gesture that meant the Archon was pleased.
“It is clean of impurities,” that one remarked.
“We are far from any city or industrial area, Lledrith,” the Kabal leader answered.
“I still do not understand what possible reason we have to being here my Lord,” Nalfein went on, his voice still amplified and distorted by the caster within his helm.
“Because this world is ripe,” the Highborne replied, taking another deep breath.
Nalfein ultimately removed his helm, and he considered his Archons’ words for the longest time. Archon Sorn was an opportunist, first and foremost. Their shrewd leader had a way with things, a way with life and those around him. Gifted with extraordinary wit, Sorn had always managed to extract gain from any and all situations he found himself in. Commorragh loved leaders like Sorn, rewarded them accordingly when their plans yielded fruit. Still, the Dracon did not know why he placed such high value in sparing the lives of the Mon-Keigh living on the planet.
“Then we should simply take it,” Nalfein said, matter-of-factly.
Archon Sorn was shaking his head long before Nalfein finished his sentence.
“Cormer Tokath is powerful, but our greatest strength is our secrecy, as such, we will infiltrate these humans and… acquire that which suits Commorragh best,” explained Sorn.
“But why use mon-keigh?” pressed Nalfein, and he nearly choked on the words as if pronouncing them brought him disgust.
“There are ways for us to disguise our true identity by means of soul essence my Lord,” offered Lledrith.
“No,” answered the Highborn, and that time his tone was one that left no room for argument. “These humans will prove useful. Their knowledge of the planet and its’ resources is invaluable.”
Cormer Tokath had sent out its infiltrator slaves, and in the days following their arrival through the Webway Gate, the slaves had garnered the information their masters required. The group known as the Falchion Corporation would prove the perfect front for the Dark Eldar Kabal, and like a great leech on the Maljis IV, they would bleed the mon-keigh dry of all that they saw fit. Forty of Cormer Tokath had arrived on the planet and while the number was insignificant by comparison to the possible enemies they would face if discovered, none of the eldar were worried.
After all, these were just humans.*
Lledrith fitted the spider-like machine over the right side of the human’s skull, tilting his own head to watch at a different angle as the construct’s legs clamped down against the human’s scalp. Without losing a moment, the Haemonculus locked a syringe filled with a gray, homogenous liquid into the centre of the machine, watching as it automatically scanned the subjects’ head and proceeded to drill through the skull. With cold detachment, Lledrith oversaw the procedure to erase the subjects’ memory as per Archon Sorn’s orders.
Every now and again his eyes took note of his other patient, the female specimen laying on another improvised table. He sighed at the unfortunate fact that he wasn’t allowed to play with them, but it was again, Archon Sorn’s wishes that no harm befall them. It took only a few seconds, and the machine released its hold on the boy’s head, dropping to the ground and skittering away. Lledrith reached upwards, rubbing his shaven head with the black, textureless glove covering his hand.
The Haemonculus had served Archon Jhulis, Sorn’s predecessor and late father. The leadership of Cormer Tokath had come to an abrupt change when the elder Archon had been killed through his son’s obvious plotting. Though in truth there had been no physical evidence of undeniable significance that could link Sorn to his father’s demise. Killings such as those merited quiet praise, however, so it hadn’t been anyone’s place to question Sorn’s ascension. Still, there were voices, whispers in dark corners and behind closed doors about the Archon’s leadership style.
Cormer Tokath, the Black Scorpion Kabal, had no place among the stronger, more powerful Kabals, but ever had it survived by Archon Jhulis’ ferocity. Rather than challenge the more notable groups of Commorragh, Jhulis has earned all of their respect by proving himself useful to them. The apple, unfortunately, had fallen far from the tree, for though Sorn was cunning and equally ferocious, he ventured outward, away from Commorragh, where he could carve a name of his own to bring back to the Dark City.
It was his thought that above killing, above butchery, Commorragh respected profit; souls above all, but also luxuries and commodities of other persuasions.
Lledrith saw plainly that many of the Kabalists were ill-at-ease, though he also understood that these would never voice their opinions openly. As part of the Haemonculi sect, Lledrith had no place in Cormer Tokath’s internal politics and he reserved his opinion for himself. Often enough, though, Sorn would ask his advice, something the Haemonculus gave freely. He swallowed down his anger as he made his way towards exit of the abandoned mill’s chief office, knocking at the door to alert the warriors outside that his task was done.
Hopefully there will be pain to be caused, thought Lledrith, those silent anaesthetic procedures bored him profoundly.*
“My lord I am loathe to spend another day in such… squalor,” Dracon Nalfein admitted.
“None of us enjoy this, but preparations must be in place before we begin our operation,” answered Sorn.
While the powerful Archon was leaning comfortably against a tree overlooking the city on the horizon, the Dracon paced incessantly back and forth before him. Ever patient, ever calm, Sorn did little to dissuade the antipathic eldar except for offer a smile or a shrug whenever Nalfein would turn to regard him. The two had once held the same station when his father ruled Cormer Tokath, and as such, Nalfein was both supportive as well as jealous of his former counterpart’s position.
“First,” reiterated Sorn for the third time, “we take the Falchion Corporation by surprise. Second, we hollow out its human core, and last we sit back and reap the benefits as we explore possibilities for new ventures on this rock.”
When Nalfein didn’t answer, the Archon continued.
“Have the two humans been released?”
That statement froze the Dracon in his steps and he turned to regard the Archon. His gaze inevitably went to the ground when he realized the intensity with which he was staring at his superior and gave a curt nod instead.
“Very good,” replied Sorn, smirking and shaking his head.
The Archon narrowed his eyes and stared off into the distance, enjoying the breeze that blew through the grassy hills and made his long white hair flutter against the bark of the tree behind him. Nalfein’s hair fluttered as well, though it was shorter and cropped on either side of his head. Still, it was bleached white, same as all the eldar of Cormer Tokath.
Nalfein fixed Sorn in his sight once more, taking measure of the man and especially of the black-tinted scarification that covered his right cheekbone. Among Cormer Tokath, only those who became Archon, were allowed to mark their flesh with the Kabal’s symbol.
One day, Nalfein hoped to bear that very mark.*
“Malik, what’s tha’?”
The two guards leaned against the eastern wall of Falchion Tower, watching over the rear entrance in a dark alley during the graveyard shift. Malik and Reven were well trained, and often enough found themselves chasing off drunks and vagrants looking to huddle themselves from the cold nights in the city. The sound of sirens, vehicles backfiring and the usual chatter of passersby made up the nightly cacophony they were accustomed to. It was odd, however, when a violet glow began to burn an opening into the solid wall of the building infront of them.
“I don’t know… but I gotta stop drinkin’ tha’ cheap beer ye keep treatin’ me to,” joked Reven.
“I’m serious mate, just… look,” Malik went on, taking a step forward and reaching toward the swirling vortex.
“Don’t ye touch it!” Reven called out.
“It’s just… beautiful,” muttered the guard, touching his hand against the wall only to feel it go through.
Malik jerked just then, and he turned around slowly, his face white and drained of it’s blood as he pulled back a stump where his forearm used to be. His blood sprayed with the rhythmic beat of his heart, causing Reven to nearly fall over from the sight. The scream barely left Malik’s mouth as a long, sinuous blade pierced through the violet miasma and decapitated him, sending the head and body falling in opposite directions.
Reven reached for his communications’ link, struggling to turn it on and relay what was happening when a blast shot from the vortex, riddling his body in tiny star-shaped crystals. The man fell to the ground, spasming wildly as blood poured from a thousand cuts and wounds, pooling around him in a matter of seconds. The last thing he saw were dark shapes piercing through what he now understood was a doorway of somekind.
He watched through his death throes as one of them, seeming to wear the most ornamented and decorated armour, advanced towards him. He breathed his last, when a long blade carved him from shoulder to thigh.*
Last edited by Adahn; May 11th, 2009 at 16:37.
Vron's voice boomed out across the bridge, amplified by vox units installed on the front of the podium.
"My friends and comrades," he began. "As you are all aware, our mission here is a critical one. The Chaos Cult of the Red Eye has been a tumor on our glorious Imperium, and after years of searching, we have finally discovered it's source."
He gestured with his right hand in a sweeping motion and a hologram appeared next to him displaying a map of the Maljis solar system. He pointed to the fourth planet and it magnified to fill the display. Diagrams with planetary statistics such as population counts and concentrations as well as natural resources and space docks appeared. All of the planetary information was at the same time being downloaded to each team member's data-slate.
"Maljis IV. This planet has, for it's entire history, been independent of the Imperium. It is governed by a Council who each rule various parts of the planet, and convene in order to make planetary decisions. Two hundred years ago, it was discovered by exploratory fleets probing the eastern fringe, who attempted to bring it back into the Imperium's fold, but the fleet was driven back by the unexpected strength of the planet's militia and orbital defenses. A reclamation fleet was assembled but was diverted when war broke out with the Tau Empire. Ever since, records of the Maljis system have collected dust. Until now, that is."
Another sweep of the inquisitor's arm changed the display to that of an imperial fleet.
"By pulling a few strings here and there, and leaving a few records in opportune locations, I have managed to... Convince Segmentum command to assemble a new reclamation fleet in order to bring Maljis under heel. Though the planet is not our concern, this could prove to be a very useful distraction during our investigation. Which brings me to your orders."
He turned to face the three men sitting together. Tyrell was by far the largest, with a height of 6"11' and weighing in at 300 lbs of pure muscle, he was nearly Ogryn-sized. Vron had rescued him from a Chaos-operated slave gladiator ring and, after determining that Tyrell was not tainted, had allowed him to join his retinue. The second largest of the group, Marcell was about six feet tall and was of medium built. He was a brawler that Vron had found on the same investigation as Tyrell. Mercell had been very unpopular in his home town, and not only because he picked fights at least once a week. There was something odd about Marcell that set people off when they were near him. As soon as Vron met him, he knew why. Marcell was a blank. This means that he, in effect, has no presence in the warp and is thus an antithesis to anything and everything warp-related. However, this also leads to a feeling of discomfort and resentment for everyone near him. For this reason, he wore an inhibitor at the base of his skull that suppressed this ability but could be tuned off at will. His dubious gift had proven extremely useful to Vron on many occasions. Last but certainly not least was Cyril. He was nearly as unremarkable as Vron on the outside, yet he contained a mind not to be underestimated. Cyril had a photographic memory, and was able to make calculations more advanced and faster than any cogitator Vron had ever come across. He was not a bad shot with a lascarbine either.
"Cyril, Tyrell, and Marcell, you will proceed to the planet's surface. Once there, you will locate the slums and see what you can find out about the gangs on this planet. If my sources are correct, there is a very large criminal underworld that is largely unmolested by the planetary police."
The three men nodded acknowledgment and Vron turned to the rest of the group.
"The rest of you will accompany me. We will be going to meet with the Council. That means full dress uniforms with all of the accessories. I want full equipment pouches and as many obvious and subtle weapons as you can carry. Intimidation will probably be one of our greatest assets.
"That's it for now. Planetary data and status has been sent to your dataslates. Good luck to and I'll see you on the ride down. Dismissed."
As the rest of the team stood up and filed out of the doors, Vron turned to the hologram and pulled up all of the known info on the Council. The size of the files would have shocked even the Council members themselves. Vron grinned. There are many things that the inquisition knows about people that they themselves don't even know.
I remember the first time I saw her. She wore beautiful robes. They were blue, a gentle shade of cobalt that complimented her skin tone nicely, and the trimmings were an elegant pearly white silk. It appeared so soft, as did her skin. Her skin seemed so smooth when I looked down at my own rough callused hands. She had an air about her; I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It is similar to the way one feels when an ethereal is around; you are drawn to their presence for some mysterious reason, willing to throw everything you know to the wind and listen and obey their every command.
This was different though… it was a woman, not an Ethereal of great stature and power but a woman of elegance and grace.
I know that it is not strange, a man being attracted to a woman, but this was different. By the Greater Good this was different. She was Por, of the Water Caste, and I was Shas, of the Fire Caste. This attraction was forbidden! It would compromise the Greater Good! Destroy everything we had ever worked for! This is what we all were told but… would it really?
Could something as small as this oppose something that not even the Imperium of Man could stand against?
I was assigned to be her bodyguard, and by that I mean I was on her team of guards for her next mission of diplomacy with the Imperium of Man. The day after we were assigned this duty I went to the embassy and was directed to the conference room. She greeted our squad with the upmost formality and addressed us all.
“Greetings, I am Por’ui T’au Kais Ta, you may address me as Kais Ta if it is urgent. Otherwise you will address me as Por’ui T’au Kais Ta.”
Her voice was angelic, the lyrical words seemed to flow off of her tongue and fill the room around her. Clearly this was the gift of the Water Caste. She was graced with poise. I could now see why the Imperium feared their diplomacy. They made you listen.
“Now you all may have some specific questions related to the nature of your assignment here…”
From the corner of my eye I made out the blurry raising of two fingers, a very arcane yet formal way of requesting permission to speak without words. She graciously nodded in acceptance.
“What exactly is the nature of your diplomatic mission Por’ui T’au Kais Ta?”
I immediately felt the need to assert my authority and spare her from the foolishness of these Shas’la.
“Do not interrupt her. I am sure you would find the answer to your question if you merely listened and waited patiently instead of pestering her, and if you didn’t then it is not necessary for you to know the answer. Did they teach you nothing as a Shas’saal?”
To my surprise she defended him.
“No it is quite alright, the specifics of our mission have not been disclosed yet but we will most likely be renegotiating our borders with the Gue’la. You will find that you all have separate rooms provided for you by the embassy. Go to the front desk and ask the clerk for the keys to your rooms. You all are dismissed.”
I immediately began to make my way towards the exit when she looked up from the documents on her desk and addressed me directly.
“Except for you Nem Mont'da, you will stay.”
I stood at attention and watched as the others left the room, the tender light of the setting sun filtered through the blinds and dispersed through the window as the sun sank out of the sky beyond the horizon. When they were all gone there was a silence. There was a tension between her and me. I’m not sure if she felt it to, but it existed. I could hear her breathing as she sat behind her desk and looked at me. I was lost in her eyes, her big beautiful eyes. When she finally spoke her voice was soft and melodic.
“Why did you do that? Why did you correct that Shas’la?”
“Forgive me but I thought that I would set an example early on as to the nature of how you were to be addressed.”
“And how exactly am I to be addressed?”
She got up from her chair and began to walk towards me; I couldn’t help but be drawn to her legs, her graceful stride showed them off, I took a deep breath as she examined me. I managed to redirect my gaze to her face but suddenly a burst of emotion escaped my mouth.
“You are more beautiful than any T’roi I have ever encountered in my life.”
I did not know why I said that. It was something that I only needed to think about. No one needed to hear that except for me. I didn’t even need to think about that. No one, not even I needed to hear that.
But she did hear it. And her composure immediately changed.
She appeared to be taken aback, though she quickly regained her composure and began to engage in witty match of verbal sparring with me, though it was more in likeness to a very one sided massacre since I was not as proficient in the art as she was, if I was considered proficient in it at all.
“Ahh, I didn’t know that your tours had ever taken you to T’au.”
She seemed to smirk, a warm, playful smile. A smile that conveyed that she already knew the answer. A smile that said she was playing with me, for her own amusement or some other reason. I took a deep breath and then exhaled.
“Then you couldn’t have seen that many of them could you? Pick a different flower next time.”
“But I don’t know of any that’s bloom is comparable to your beauty.”
“Then maybe you should concentrate less on trying to woo me and more on your duties.”
“I never said that I was trying to woo you it’s just that…”
“Ahh but you didn’t need to say it, you were.”
“Nonsense, such is forbidden by the Aun.”
At this she examined me thoroughly and began to walk away, but she turned to look at me over her shoulder after a few steps.
“This conversation is taking place. Doesn’t that mean something?”
“I don’t know what it means.”
She approached me and took my hand. Closing her eyes as her face drew closer to mine until our lips met for a brief moment.
“Care to find out?”
That was then.
That was before they separated us. That was before they sent her away without me. That was before I learned that that the Greater Good was maintained at the expense of the love and happiness of those who you care about. That was before she never came back, and before the Ta'lissera and the scar across my chest, and before my heart became cold and bitter. That was before the Ethereals sent me on every mission they could to make sure I didn’t come back as well.
That was then.
I checked the status of my pulse carbine one last time before we landed. I traced my hands along the jet black metal, moving my finger alongside the cold grooves etched into the barrel. I brought it up to my face and stared at the murky reflection of 2 dim crimson spheres on it's surface. My breath poured over the gun as I adjusted the switches and cycled through the different scopes and targeting reticules. Pale green, yellow, red and blue light flooded my helmet.
I aimed the gun down and cocked the underslung grenade launcher. It opened up and hissed as it vented out some compressed gas, it's Photon Core glimmered as I reached into a pouch on my hip and pulled out several small cylinders the size of my thumb and inserted them one by one into an opening on the side, shutting with a loud click when the last one left my fingers.
Next I flipped a switch and tested my marker light, the symbol illuminating a small part of the wall as I waited for a matching symbol to emerge on my HUD. I then entered a combination of buttons on the underside of my wrist and observed an indicator confirming that 2 gun drones were awaiting commands in covert operations mode. After that I checked all of my straps and belts, fastening the holster on my thigh to make sure the pulse pistol was securely in place.
Finally I looked to my left, then to my right. I took a deep breath. We were all ready.
The cold interior of the Devilfish echoed with the sound of fastening bands, the click of firearms being loaded and the occasional static of the codec in our helmets. I stood up and made my way over to the cockpit and spotted the LZ on the horizon in the far distance. I turned around and examined my men.
That was then. This was now.
PLEASE SELECT OPERATION
COMMUNICATIONS ARRAY ACTIVATED
MESSAGE 35 SELECTED
PARSING DATA SECTORS 134-738
COMMENCE DECRYPTION ROUTINE ALPHA ALPHA 12 ZETA
I have bad news Shas’o Tol’vah ,3 dec ago a communications base on FTRIOS was attacked. The damage to the base was minimal and while casualties were high there were no fatalities. Thank the Greater Good for that. I send this message for another reason the base mainframe was compromised and eyewitnesses report at least five black painted Imperial marines with different heraldries were to blame. I have more grave news Earth Caste technicians believe they were able to obtain all information through the relay for the past six months. I cannot begin to fathom the damage this will mean to the Tau, but I know this your operation is compromised expect the Imperium to retaliate swiftly and harshly. May the Greater Good Prosper. Shas'O N'DRAS Kais.
We stand at the gates of sacrifice ever ready to go through.What do we want? To die only once our goal is complete! What do we ask? That we may only serve!Who are you?We are the Last Remnants,the unfettered soldiers!