Hello all-
This is a bit long, so bear with me. Here it is, hope you enjoy it.

Lieutenant Will Brody took one last look with his electro-binoculars over edge of his trench at the ruins of the Tau city. The sweetly curving architecture of the Tau was very inviting if he compared it to the gothic columns and spires of the Imperium. The xenos were very good at making a building look nice, even if it was blasphemy for them to even exist. But now, after the incessant bombardment from air and ground, the city looked as if it glowed red hot, burning and crumbling. The black smoke rose silently from the ghostly visage of the city. If there were still Tau in that city, they weren’t going to be found in the buildings, yet he could see nothing but ruins.
The young Lieutenant turned and leaned against the rough-cut trench that his command squad had been lying in since the siege had begun. Four weeks on this damned world and they still had little to nothing to show for it. That is, except for the body bags full of his troopers. He rubbed the sand and grit from his eyes and kept them closed for a moment remembering the Emperor and his Divine Will. Was it His will that kept them here, isolated from the rest of the Imperium? Was it His will that they die on this xeno world?
The 4th Brimlock Dragoons had been at the forefront the Damocles Crusade…a deep strike into the heart of Tau space. Brody’s company had made great strides for the Imperium, devastating entire regiments of Tau Firewarriors. They had even destroyed a couple of Hammerhead tanks. Now, here, on Dal’yth, a prime Sept world of the Tau, they had been stopped. Completely and totally stopped. The Tau were a cunning and ruthless adversary. They fell back and re-grouped time and again. Brody’s troopers had even rushed after them only to be cut down by hidden stealth suits, a tactic that the men of his company had not easily forgotten. But now, here on this world, the Tau had run out of running room. They were desperate and Will Brody knew it. The three previous counter-attacks this week alone showed that they were determined not to fall back any more.
There weren’t as many in Brody’s command as he had started this week with. He’d lost more than half to the Tau in this siege. The 32nd Brimlock Rifles were at a mere 45 men and only a handful of heavy support weapons. If they didn’t get reinforced soon, they could be wiped out completely by the Tau, who were probably at this very moment regrouping for the last big push to rid their world of the Human plague.
“Sergeant McLeod, get me Command again.? The Lieutenant ordered. Sergeant McLeod was an older man, about 6’2? with dark black hair. He had been a veteran for some time before this campaign started. He had become the fresh-faced Lieutenant’s aide-de-camp for reasons only known to the Emperor. As the sergeant turned to the vox operator, the corporal turned and gave McLeod a head shake that meant that there was only static on the other end.
“El-Tee, we’ve got nuthin but static on this warp-damned thing. They might still be jammin’ us, Sir.? He replied with a shrug of his shoulders.
Brody’s expression broke into a deep scowl, the depths of which were made only deeper looking by the soot and grime on his face. He removed his cap and ran his blackened fingers through his light brown hair in a deep thought provoking way. Sergeant McLeod only watched from the far side of the trench and wondered if he was just as dirty looking. “Sergeant, I have a bad feeling about this. Get me a runner.?
McLeod wasted no time. “Private Jenkins! Front and center on the double!? he roared down the line. The troopers all looked down the line of the trench, diverting their attentions to something a little more comforting than waiting for another assault by the Tau battlesuits. Jenkins ran down the trench toward Lieutenant Brody. His body was lithe and strong. He had been the runner for communiqués for some time. He had learned to run to live. Those who faltered or stumbled, often found their lives cut short by a snipers round or a Khornate chain axe.
“Jenkins,? Brody said, “I need to know what the Devil is going on here. Get your butt down the line to command and get us some fresh orders and a vox that works. Be quick. Those Tau are just begging for a moment to jump us and I need to know what we’ve got to back us up.? He handed him a folded scrap of paper with his orders on it sealed with the Lieutenants personal seal.
“Aye, Sir. I’ll be rot bake.? Jenkins said as he slipped the sling of his lasgun over his head and shoulders so he could run with it out of the way. He slipped off his helmet and cramed the orders into the webbing. Putting it back on his head, he fastened the chin strap and gave the Sergeant a sly smile. “Don cha be a worry en Sarge, I’ve neva let the boys down yet. ‘Sides, Lewis ‘as got me credits and I’m a needin to win ‘em back.?
“Just ya be keepin’ ya head down. These xenos ‘ave got some good shots out there.? McLeod replied.
Jenkins stood up in the trench, looked over each side, and went up and over and ran like a man possessed toward the rear. He soon ran into a misty, smoke and was removed from sight, never to be seen or heard from again.

That night was the quietest in weeks. The eerie silence made every man’s hair stand on end. Typically, the Tau would send gun drones to probe their lines. Or even throw self-guided ordnance into their trenches. But tonight…tonight there was nothing. There were no chirps of the bugs or other sentient life. There was only the occasional rustle of a guardsman changing positions in the trench. Every man was awake. His eyes peered into the inky blackness for any signs of attack. The city still burned and so they had a pretty good outline of anything that might be out there, but there was nothing. The 32nd Brimlock Rifles waited for the worst. Some prayed to the Emperor, some took the time to write letters back home, yet all of them waited…waited for the inevitable strike that would end their pitiful lives.
Will Brody was the most anxious. He desperately wanted to pace back and forth. He could only polish the grime from his chain sword. The attack from the Tau would be quick and close. He knew that the Tau preferred ranged combat, but he had also seen them close up. He had more than once carved up the blue-grey xenos with this very sword. They didn’t like to fight close, but once cornered and faced with it, they would fight as hard as any Ork. There would be a hundred gallons of blood filling this trench by morning and Will Brody knew it.

As the morning sun broke over the crushed city, several of the boys down the line shouted out a warning. “Hey, there’s one of them. He’s got a flag…a white flag!? Brody woke with a shudder from his broken slumber. He had managed to catch a moment of rest during the night, but the shouts of his men brought him back to realm of dirt, blood and screams. The Lieutenant turned and raised his binoculars. Yes, there was one of them. The bright yellow armor glistened in the golden morning sunlight. It was carrying a white flag. Will dropped his glasses for a moment to rub the sleep from his eyes to make sure he was really seeing what he was seeing. A second glance through the powerful binoculars proved it to him. The Tau had stopped about half way between the city and their lines and was just waiting.
“Now whatcha gonna do El-Tee?? the aged sergeant asked. Brody turned to him, lowering his binoculars. McLeod was also looking through some binoculars trying to find the ruse in the Tau’s plan.
Brody waited a moment to think about the situation. There were two possible scenarios: they had broken the Tau’s will to fight and they were surrendering, or they were coming out to see if the Imperial Guardsmen would surrender. Neither sounded like a good fate. If the Tau were surrendering, there would be a wholesale slaughter of the xenos as the Inquisition burned them alive. If they were asking the guard to surrender, the only possible reaction would be the wholesale slaughter of humans. But these Tau were far different than the Chaos forces the Lieutenant was used to fighting. He had never seen them destroy on the scale of those foul beasts.
“I think I’ll go talk to them. If they are surrendering we’ll take them prisoner.?
“And if they aren’t, Sir?? McLeod asked, facing him.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there, Sergeant.?

The walk across the bomb scarred battlefield was one of the most frightening things Will Brody had ever done. His men watched him from their lines. Their eyes were like stinging needles in his back. The chainsword hung lazily from his hip and banged against his thigh with a jingle as he walked. The sound of crunching stone under his feet and the heavy breath from his lungs were all he could hear as he approached the Firewarrior.
The Tau stood not completely 5 feet tall. His single eyed helmet had been watching him all the way across the battlefield. A knife was at his hip and a pulse carbine across his back. A large green shield adorned his left shoulder. In the center, the symbol of T’au, the homeworld of the race, was emblazoned in black and white. The rest of his armor, scarred and pitted in places, was a bright, vibrant yellow with a dark, nearly black suit of clothing underneath.
As Lieutenant Brody came to a stop directly across from the Firewarrior, the Tau removed his helmet. The black eyes blinked as they took in the muddy and tired commander of the human forces. “I am Shas’el Dal’yth Shi’or’es.? He said in the tongue of the Emperor. “I have wanted to talk to you for some time now, Gue’la.?
Brody stood in shocked amazement. The xeno could speak his language. A slight smile crossed his face as he replied, “I am Lieutenant Will Brody, commander of the 32nd Brimlock Rifles, 4th Brimlock Dragoons. What is it you would like to talk about Tau? Your surrender, I suppose.? He said with an aire of confidence.
“No, Gue’la…I am here to talk about yours.? The Shas’el said. “Don’t look so surprised, Lieutenant. You have not had any contact with your superiors for days. It is not because you are having equipment problems. It is because they are not here. Your forces have left our world. Your forces have left you here…with us.?
Brody said nothing. He wanted to tell the xeno that he was lying and this was only a ruse to get them to come out of their hiding places. He wanted to tell the xeno that he would never give up to them. He wanted to believe that his commanders would never leave an entire regiment behind, even an under strength one. But for some reason he knew it to be true. Brody looked up at the sky, wishing he could still see the Navy fighters flying over head, or even the cruisers that had brought him and his men to this world. He knew the Firewarrior had told him the truth. He knew that there was no escape for them. They must surrender…or die for something that the Emperor himself had given up on.
“What do we do now, Tau? What will you do with us?? he asked sincerely. A slight wind blew in the smell of burnt wreckage and the sickly taint of death.
“If you fight us, Gue’la, you will be destroyed. If you surrender, you will be taken care of. It is not in pursuit of the Greater Good that your lives are wasted. We wish only for all to contribute to the Greater Good of Society. If you were to surrender, you must adhere to this, or be destroyed.? The Shas’el stated.
“You want us to join you??
“For the Greater Good…yes.?
“How can you do that? We have spent the last year burning and destroying your civilization. Why wouldn’t you just destroy us now? How can I trust that you will keep your word?? Brody said exasperated. He threw his hands up and ended with them on his hips. His lips were pursed and his eyes focused on those of the Firewarrior.
“It is not up to me, Gue’la. I too have superiors. They have told us of how all can be a part of the machine of the Tau. You too can be a part of that machine. We have many worlds where you could live in peace and harmony. You could become a vanguard for other Gue’la. There are many others who have already given their lives to the Greater Good. You worship your Emperor. That is fine. We would not keep you from your worship. We only wish that your lives stop being wasted on this battle which can be easily avoided. There is no honor in defeat, only honor in life.?
Brody took a step back, and rubbed his chin. “There is a chance that not all of my men will surrender. What will become of them?? he asked.
“They will be destroyed.? He said matter of factly.
There was no chance of surviving this encounter now without surrendering. There was no honor in defeat, only in life. The xeno spoke the truth. Lieutenant Will Brody unhooked the chainsword from his belt, turned to his lines and lifted it with both hands over his head. He then turned toward the Tau, who had readied himself for an attack, and knelt in the dirt. His head lowered and he held out the sword to the Tau.
“As commander of the 32nd Brimlock Rifles, I surrender to your mercy, Shas’el.?