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Before I post this story, I just thought I should add some comments about it before you actually read it.
Some points to keep in mind, it is 6 chapters long, so don't make any comments about the story until it is all posted, feel free to criticise/applaud the individual chapter as I put them up.
I've finished it now, but I'll post the chapters like once a day to stop people wading through masses and masses of text. And I know my Tau character is 'contraversial', but please wait until all the story is finished before I get any posts saying 'Your Tau guy was a little unrealistic'. Sure, say that after I've finished and you've read it, not after you've read the first chapter and based your opinion of him off 1/6th of the story.
Anyway, I'll stop babbling, on with the story.
They were in his lines, slaughtering his men. He tried to order the retreat, but no-one was listening any more, the fighting had become a beast with a life of itâ€™s own that he could not extinguish. He lived again the impact of the plasma rifle which hit the side of his suit, severing the power cables and disabling his thrusters. He lay in a ditch and heard the screams of his dying warriors, feeling utterly impotent. How he hated them, that they should take apart his command, the base had been entrusted to his safe keeping. He awoke with both hatred for his enemy, and shame for failing his masters.
â€œYou requested to be woken in 1.5 decs. This is your wake up alarmâ€?
Groggily he stirred, and turned his alarm off. Two Tauâ€™cyr may have passed, but the nightmares endured. He re-affirmed himself as the room took shape about him. He was Shasâ€™o Viorâ€™la Demâ€™lock, or Demâ€™lock (canyon) informally amongst his bonded brothers. He should be above fear of such abominations of the night, he was a mighty warrior, a leader of the fire caste. He remembered why he had set the alarm, it was his meeting with the other Shasâ€™o. It was his chance he had striven for all this time to make amends for his failure. It was his chance to make the Gueâ€™la pay.
He strode down the corridor with his Shasâ€™vre at either side attendant, as he marched to the meeting hall. This base was utilitarian, but that was how he liked it. He liked to add purpose, to keep his people focused. The proposal was nearly accepted, now he just had to clear this one final meeting and it would be good to go. There would be resistance to his plan of course, but he already knew he had sufficient influence to carry the day.
As he entered the room, he saw he was the last to arrive. His attendants waited outside, as he seated himself at the table. He looked about the other commanders contributing to his expedition, there was three of them. There was the first the cautious Shasâ€™el J'kaara Keâ€™lshan, leader of the 4th Keâ€™lshan Reconnaissance Cadre. He would be reluctant to commit his forces, but could be persuaded. Then there was Shasâ€™el Ghodal Saâ€™cea, his close ally and leader of the 17th Saâ€™cea Hunter Cadre. He was a staunch ally, and together they should carry the meeting. Finally there was the silent Aunâ€™o Mâ€™yen Tâ€™olku, who rarely spoke in their meetings. He was the only element in this meeting that could derail his plan. Although Mâ€™yen rarely talked, he made Demâ€™lock nervous that he might choose this occasion to counter Dem'lockâ€™s project.
â€œWell we all know why we are here. Shasâ€™arâ€™tol has given permission for my proposed expedition to occur, and so we are here now to finalise the detailsâ€¦â€? Demâ€™lock began.
â€œThe high command gave provisional permission remember Shasâ€™o Demâ€™lock, depending on whether we can agree on the final detailsâ€? interrupted Jâ€™kaara.
Demâ€™lock nodded courteously at this calculated insult. â€œOf course I would never be so presumptuous to think I did not require your approval. I believe though you will find my idea to be sound. We can do much for the greater good if you follow my planâ€? was his opening.
â€œTell us of details then, give us numbers and figuresâ€? was Ghodalâ€™s comment, trying to gain Demlock some momentum.
â€œListen to me now then as I give you the details of the operation. This is no normal campaign, I propose something of a size and scope unrivalled by any of our previous efforts. I propose not a normal expeditionary campaign, but an armada pushing back the borders of the Gueâ€™la, making real progress expanding the Tau empire. I have a tactical shift that my analysts predict will increase the empire expansion rate by 65%. I predict we can bring 16 new worlds into line within the Tauâ€™cyr.
â€œYou have our attention Shasâ€™o Demâ€™lockâ€? J'kaara replied with raised eyes.
â€œListen to me now then as I lay out the groundwork to my plan. I gained the idea for this plan when I reviewed records of the Gueâ€™laâ€™s Damocles Crusade. I researched the crusade, and then I looked into the principles behind it. I looked into the Gueâ€™laâ€™s plan for Dalyth. In their crusades, they land upon their foe by surprise, capture key points and then exterminate any resistance. In this way worlds are added to their territory of their enfeebled empire in the stars. Strange as it may be, I gained the sparks of inspiration from this most base of actionsâ€?
He looked around at the eyes at the table, filled with a mixture of interest and concern at his opening. All except for Mâ€™yen, whose eyes were as usual devoid of emotion.
â€œLets evaluate our current tactics. What do we do when we contest the Gueâ€™la in a sector? We open negotiations, the Por entreaty them to surrender and join the empire. They refuse, those misguided creatures, and oppose us. We then reluctantly launch our forces, enough to take the planet and no more. We land and capture territory, and then defeat the enemy in combat, giving them opportunity to retreat and regroup. We then fight small scale rearguard actions for years which hampers our advanceâ€?
â€œSuch are the problems we face Shasâ€™o, I find it hard to believe you have some miracle solution to the problemâ€? was Jâ€™Kaaras response.
â€œLet Shasâ€™o Demâ€™lock speak, I have heard him before and I feel there is merit in his planâ€? Ghodal said.
â€œI propose a dynamic tactical shift. I believe we have a unique opportunity now. The foolish Gueâ€™la are busy, distracted, fighting their own traitors in this 'Cadian campaign' we keep hearing of. While they are divided we are united and strong, and with our technological superiority we can drive them before us. I propose we form a massive dedicated strike force, no explorer mission. Instead of calculated offensives, we move aggressively against them. We strike at their most defended worlds first, and take them. Without them the weaker worlds will collapse like a house without foundations.
Rather than our announced attacks, I propose massive a offensive against each world from an armada we encroach. A large force of capital ships concentrated against their spread out naval forces will be hard to stop. We make a surprise attack against them, using much more force than is necessary to capture the planet. We will demoralise them, convince and shock them in our battle prowess, with several cadres combined. And we will awe them with our superior technology, and drive from them the will to fight. We will not give them the chance to retreat or flee until the planet has surrendered. We will be relentless against them, expanding with our armada against the key worlds. And once they have surrendered? We will order them to leave the world on transport ships, and so we will be rid of any belligerent Gueâ€™la fighting our occupationâ€?
Jâ€™kaara sat speechless for a second before he found his words.
â€œThis is savagery, and un Tau-like, I do not see where this serves the greater good. What are you thinking Demâ€™lock? Not letting them surrender? Join our glorious empire? We would stir up a hornets nest with such actions. The response would be dangerous. Besides, our casualties would be massiveâ€?
â€œI have thought long about this. We have a limited window where the Imperium is distracted, we must capitalise on it. While we would have increased initial casualties through attacking the most heavily defended worlds, I predict that casualties will be significantly lower than if he had attacked them normally. And a lot lower if we had moved through a sector normally for example. The figure Iâ€™m quoted is a 50% drop in casualty rate by sectorâ€?
â€œ50% less dead from unprovoked assaults?â€? asked Jâ€™Kaara questioningly. Ghodal smiled, and knew this is where the crux of Demâ€™lockâ€™s argument came.
â€œThink about it, through these tactics we apply massive amounts of firepower at their most developed worlds. We lose less firewarriors in such assaults than we would normally. Through such overwhelming assaults we convince them that they have only one choice, surrender or die fighting us. The drop in casualties comes when we fight the remaining worlds. Seeing how we have swept them before us, they tremble at the approaching Tao and our superior technology. Shocked and awed, the sectorâ€™s lighter worlds surrender at our approach, and so we lose less firewarriors in other places.
You ask me of letting them surrender, and where is the worth making them evacuate the world? I put this to you. When they are worthy of joining us, instead of evacuating they will ask to join to join our empire. And then we will accept them, as new citizens and not belligerent Gueâ€™la hoping for liberation. You ask me of a the Imperial response? I say against our forces, any response will be met by our superior technology. The Imperial navy is distracted, they will flounder in the face of task force. I say one more time, we will gain from this. My analysts tell me our expansion rate will increase at 65 percent. What would take us years to accomplish we will do in months. We are already an expansionist species, perhaps the time demands we are an aggressive expansionist speciesâ€?
Demâ€™lock concluded his argument with a smile, and looked at the face of Ghodal.
â€œI say we send the force today, the more time we waste the more this opportunity slips our graspâ€? said Ghodal, his voice clear with finality.
â€œHow long till the task force can leave?â€? asked Jâ€™kaara, the tone in his voice telling the group he had resigned himself to the mission.
â€œThe task force is assembled, the troops are gathered, I estimate under 2 rotaa. We have the ground forces gathered from our respective cadre, and the new 1st Gueâ€™vesa Hunter Cadre. The Kor have gathered a massive fleet, I have 2 Explorer class leading over two dozen Emissary and Merchant class vessels. We have sufficient landing craft and drop-ships to land all our forces. Truly we are formidable. I ask you now to give me your final decision on my proposalâ€?
â€œI am for task force Demâ€™lock leaving immediatelyâ€? said Ghodal.
â€œI will concede to your proposal Demâ€™lockâ€? was Jâ€™kaaraâ€™s comment.
They turned to the hitherto silent Mâ€™yen. The Ethereal had not spoken yet, but opened his mouth now, and the table awaited his response.
â€œThe decision is made, the Aun will not oppose itâ€? was Mâ€™yenâ€™s only contribution to the meeting. The group nodded amongst themselves.
â€œGoodbye then, we have much work to doâ€? Jâ€™kaara told the group, and left the room, closely followed by the grinning Ghodal.
Demâ€™lock felt elated, his plan had been finally approved. The task force would leave as soon as possible, and he would gain much glory for the empire in command of it. He wouldâ€¦..he became aware a shadow loomed over him. He looked up.
It was Mâ€™yen.
â€œI say this now to you alone Shasâ€™o. This path of yours is questionable. I will allow you to carry it out, but I find it dangerous as I question your motivation. I allow you to see it out as I am not sure as to whether or not you do this truly as part of your Tauâ€™va. You may have decided on this course in a true desire for redemption, to aid the greater good and this is why I do not oppose you. However I know you Shasâ€™o Demâ€™lock. I cannot say you do not do this for a more baser reason â€“ revenge. That a Shasâ€™o such as you might plan an operation around such a primitive desire, I would have problems believing. I will go with you, and watch you at every step of the way. If at any point I see you chose this cause not for the greater goodâ€¦â€¦â€¦..I will have you relieved. You will be Shasâ€™laâ€?
At this he turned upon his heel, and left the speechless Demâ€™lock sitting alone in the room.
Unperturbed by lack of feedback, our hero ploughed on relentlessly....
Captain Vilac smiled at the skill of his crew as they worked away at their stations. Another day, another patrol, another repetitive drone up and down the system fringe.
The Freedomâ€™s Fail was a Dauntless class light cruiser and so was committed to tedious scouting actions like this one, she had never actually seen any real action apart from being part of the gathered battle-groups. Even then, she had been committed to a scouting role, gathering intel, shadowing enemy fleet movements. He could count on one hand the number of times he had fired his weapons in anger.
â€œSir, augurs are detecting something aheadâ€¦.â€?, was the only warning they started to receive as the three Warden class escorts attacked without warning. Opening fire with full salvos, the small Imperial Cruiser in front of them was crippled in an instant. As the rest of the Tau expeditionary force arrived, Demâ€™lock smiled as he watched the uneven combat from the vidscreen on his flagship. The small vessel ahead of them was pathetic to his gathered fleet. The small Gueâ€™la ship fired torpedoes at the incoming Tau fleet, ignoring the escorts. The Nicassar Dhows at the front of the of the task force avoided the incoming warheads with incredible manoeuvrability. As the torpedoes streaked towards his Explorer class flagship, he smiled as they entered the tracking bubble. The turrets on his flagship swivelled and spat death at the torpedoes. With contemptuous ease, they were destroyed with seconds.
â€œFireâ€? he barked at his subordinate, and watched torpedoes streak towards the Gueâ€™la ship in answer. There would be no stopping the advanced Tau torpedoes, and he smiled as they impacted upon his small adversary, reducing it to a pitiful hulk. The long lines of Tau ships swept past this wreck without breaking formation.
On the world of Vireron ahead, an alert due to the mysterious fleet entering the system went out. Many torpedoes were hastily blessed in a matter of minutes as the Imperial Navy took off to meet this presumed Ork/Chaos incursion. First to meet the Tau armada was two squadrons of Cobra class destroyers, they wheeled rapidly to face the incoming threat. As they raced forward, they were met by a force of incoming Tau Messenger and Wardens many times their size. The squadrons tried to act decisively, but were outnumbered and cut to pieces by a cloud of foes before they reached any suitable targets.
The Agri-world of Vireron lay ahead now, as the oncoming Tau armada advanced relentlessly. The last line of defence lay ahead now, the venerable defence monitors and system ships advancing slowly in an attempt to bring their short ranged weapons against the Tau armada. The Tau fleet responded by pulling their escorts back, and putting their capital ships to the front. As the lumbering defence monitors tried to bring their weapons to bear, the Tau capital ships unleashed a volley of torpedoes that broke the monitors apart before they came anywhere near getting inside their weapon range. The world of Vireronâ€™s defences were open, she was now vulnerable to invasion. The landing had begun. The planet prepared itself hurriedly.
On the ground the Imperial Guard soldiers looked up as streaks entered the atmosphere. Massive amounts of landing craft saturated the atmosphere above them. Tau flyers were entering the atmosphere unopposed. Around the capital, Manticore AA vehicles removed their coverings and tried to bring their weapons to bear on the flyers. They were the first targets to die, as the Manta Missile Destroyer squadrons dedicated to their destruction fired their railguns as they entered orbit, most were destroyed without firing a shot.
In the spaceport the Imperial Navy tried to scramble and intercept reported incoming Barracuda fighters, Imperial Lightning fighters filled the runways. It was too littel, too late, as above them their destruction was sewn by Tiger Shark drone carriers, each deploying 2 drone squadrons. Multiplied by 5 Tiger sharks, the air was seeded with drones. As the saturated spaceport defences tried to cope, the defenceless pilots and planes were smashed.
Flames from burning structures lit the smoke as bodies and planes burned. The unchallenged now Barracudas closed and added their weight of fire against the already collapsing defences. The wreckage of smashed planes was strewn across the runways, rendering the air forces useless. There would be no air support for the forces on this planet. The battered survivors looked up at the hearing of the sound of anti-grav engines. Above them, a myriad of Tau flyers began landing troops. Orcas began landing, edploying Firewarriors by several squads at a time. Above them, reels of Crisis suits deployed by the dozen, descending in formation firing their burst cannon into the hapless guardsmen
Elsewhere on the planet, the PDF scrambled to fight the landing. In trenches around the capital, the guardsmen dug in, hoping their dug in tanks and defences would stop the enemy. They too faced the onslaught. Their dug in armour proved to be easy targets for Tau railguns, and burst into flames without cue. Submunition warheads started to rain upon them, killing any who raised their heads. Further back, the Imperial artillery tried to support their comrades, when out of nowhere hidden Tau forces fired upon them. The crews were cut down by the stealth teamâ€™s burst cannon.
When the enemy Devilfishes did appear, few remained alive to oppose them. Most that did had already fled. The trenches were quickly identified and swept with burst cannon fire. When the Tau finally reached them, they resembled charnel houses. The Imperial Defence lines broke, and the Tau occupied them. A last desperate counter attack was made by a force of sentinels and armoured fist squadronx. Met head on by Hammerheads and air support, it was quickly swept aside. No survivors were allowed to escape in uniform, the Tau would not allow soldiers to escape them, as per Demlock's orders. The advance would have continued but:
â€œWe are receiving a message from the Gueâ€™la, Shasâ€™o. Their planetary governor offers surrender, and asks you to name your termsâ€?
Demâ€™lock smiled and gave his answer â€œOrder them to unconditionally surrender, and then soon they will find out one of their condition will be they must leave this placeâ€?
â€œThey agree to surrender sirâ€? his Shasâ€™ui Jokith had relayed that he wish to hear.
He opened a communication to the other commanders, and informed them.
â€œThe Gueâ€™la surrender. Here is the vindication of this task force. We have done in a day what was projected would take us months. We have hardly lost a warrior, besides some Korâ€™vesa. Surely this is a campaign outside the size and scope of anything we have seen before! We fought our war in the field of their morale, and it collapsed. Those who doubted me, see that we increase our empire, this is truly for the greater good. They cannot stand before the power of our technology, we are almighty. Ready your men for embarkation. For we leave only a garrison force here, Task Force Demlock has other worlds to conquer!â€?
The room had no name, but it was where all the important decisions were made. In the centre of the fortress monastery, it had seen discussion, conference and debate for thousands of years. Around it, the fortress monastery of Delphan protected this core. Mighty void shields more powerful that those on battleships, numerous defence laser batteries, missile silos, she was a place only an incredibly foolish or courageous enemy would think of attacking. Coated in adamanatium and blessed by the priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the planet would break asunder beneath the monastery before she would break. However the monastery itself was only a base for something even more dangerous, a full marine chapter, the Angels of Atonement.
Saul strode down the corridor, he would have to walk fast to avoid being late. It was not his fault, the Hammer of Woes had only just docked, but that was no excuse for tardiness before his chapter master. The walls were decorated with fine art, symbols of faith, reminders of acts the chapter had carried out for their Emperor. He had not time to admire the stonework, he had been summoned by Addoran himself to meeting. He arrived at the requisite door, nodded to the guards on duty, and entered the room.
At the table there was three others already. At the left of him was Galebrin, Captain of the 4th company, Stalkers of the Xenos. At the right was captain Haemos, Captain of the illustrious 1st company, Warriors of Delphan. On the other side of the table was the Chapter master himself Addoran, the bearer of the Shining Blade, presented to him by the leader of the Dark Angels and Unforgiven chapters, Azrael himself. The holy relic of the great crusade was in itâ€™s ornate scabbard at his side. Saul was aware Captain Gamiel of the 2nd was still involved in the Kertzia campaign, so this gathering all they could expect to attend.
â€œAh you are here. Sit Saul, Captain of the 3rd company, Watchers of the Shadowsâ€? he beckoned him to the empty chair. We have much to talk about.
â€œ I gather you this day due to the current Tau offensive on our fringes. This offensive is something new, it very is out of character for the Tau to be so aggressive. Already the agriworld of Vireron has fallen, and our estimations indicate their next projected target, the naval depot on Adies will fall before our response can be prepared. We must prepare our counter to this now. The Tau fleet is large, and has a disproportionately large amount of well armed capital ships. If we meet the Tau head on in battle, we will be outnumbered many times over. I have formulated a tactic that will allow us a counter attack to the Tau. It is going to be difficult however, this is no normal Tau offensive.
â€œWe have faith in the Emperorâ€? Haemos responded quickly.
â€œIndeed, our faith must be strong. This occasion calls for a scalpel, not a hammer. We must be cunning to defeat the Xenosâ€?
â€œTell us what he must do Masterâ€? replied Haemos.
â€œAs I have said, this attack is atypical of normal Tau strategy. These attacks are on the outskirts of this very chapters control. I think the actual purpose behind them is a challenge to our authority. The enemy anticipates this is something we can not possibly allow to occur There is some force at work here that wants us to meet this massive Tau force in battle, and allow ourselves to be ground down against it. There is almost a malevolence behind these Tau attacksâ€?
â€œOur strategy then Master? Command usâ€? asked Galebrin.
â€œWe will not be drawn, we will fight exactly as we choose, not how they would choose. The exact dispositions I will tell of you soon, but we must leave to stop them immediately. I have roles prepared for each of your forces. Haemos, your company will be my anvil. Galebrin, your company will be my hammer. Saul, I have decided your company will be my scalpel.
Go to your ships captains, I will avail more information of you laterâ€?
The three company commanders nodded and stood up. They were walking towards the door, when behind them Saul heard Addoran call him back. He sat again at the table.
â€œYou were silent in the meeting Saul?â€?
He considered his words carefully, before he made his reply.
â€œYes, I was thinking I might know this foe. Long ago I spared one of these xenos. I wonder if my gentleness has been repaid in another mannerâ€?
â€œI already know of what you speak Saul. I also know the identity of the commander of this Tau armada. I tell you this Saul, this is the reason you have been chosen for the main role in our counter-offensive. It is your right to lead it, even if I also know Haemos is somewhat disappointed, he feels it is his right. Leave now, but remember this, these aliens for all their technology can never understand the base of our power. We have faith, and we have our Emperorâ€?
â€œFor the Emperorâ€? was Saulâ€™s reply. He bowed, and made his way back to his ship.
wheres chapter 3?
thats good mate, though i agree its very out of chrachter. The tau are ususlly not that aggressive and as to blast an opponent mercilessly like that, its not their way. However it could be Der'locks way. If you can bring into the story the reasons behind this madness hes put forward then it will certaintly be entertaining.
Your dialogue is good, and so is your narrative, but your description is poor, you have condensed into two chapters what would easily fit into five. My book which also concerns planet wide invasions between the tau and Imperium is over forty pages long and hasnt had a single major battle yet just small skirmishes.
However post chapter 3 the story has intrigued me.
WELL SAID, NO MORE SQUATS THEY ARE DEAD GET OVER ITOriginally Posted by artificer
I don't know about his descriptions being poor. This story is very character driven. The pacing of the action is second to the machinations of the main characters. While yes, he could describe the battles in much more detail, I think the pacing fits the theme of the story so far. The Tau are using tactics which would garner them quick, desicive victories and the descriptions give you the feel of an overwhelming tidal wave of force bearing down on the opposition. I like it very much thus far and I'm very eager to see the next chapter.
My only critizism is that it's only going to be 6 chapters long. I can already tell I'll want more .
Gyauayuayuayua! Ja! Ve vill crush da little girly men in deir little girl men awrmor! Ve vill see owur enemies driven befowur us, und hear da lahmentaytions of deir wemen. Und from owur home planet, de stayte uf Califowurnia, ve vill lawunch owur mighty offensive. Even if you kill us, ve'll be bach!! Gyauayauyauyauyau!
-Arnoldunit Schwarzenecronegger; when questioned about the impending doom he would rain down upon the heads of his doomed enemies.
Yes, Chapter 2 is very condensed......it got 3000 words long and then I said 'no this is getting ridiculous' and then went through it very cruelly and got it back under 2000 words. So I tried to balance out the lack of detail and definition by making it very fast paced. I agree it lacks description relative even to the other chapters, but none of the other chapters are cut down as badly, so don't expect more of the same. Anyway, here we go...
The verdant green world of Aleiâ€™s Folly has been settled comparatively recently in Imperial history. All of her landmass lying on a single continent, apart from those small areas scoured by the small settler population, she was notable for being covered with thick jungle, comparable to Miral, or Catachan. The colony had only been settled by Explorators about 800 years before, humanity was not as deeply entrenched here as at Vireron. Apart from the hab zones of half a dozen cities, she was mainly pristine jungle. What she did share with Vireron though was that her fate had brought her into contact with the Tau armada.
Lacking the defending destroyer squadrons or the system monitors of more heavily defended Imperial worlds, she relied upon a network of orbital torpedo defences. It was this line of defences that Demlock observed before him, from his flagship's viewscreen. He decided to start the proceedings right away.
â€œOpen fire from all vessels, I want full salvos. Those turrets must be destroyed Korâ€™uiâ€? The vessel crew nodded, and at the bottom of his vidscreen encroached the flumes of Tau torpedoes, streaking their way towards the defence platforms by the dozen. The dozens of torpedoes smashed the defence platforms asunder, distant outbreaks of flame among the stars to the viewing Tau. The few remaining surprised platforms opened fire with their torpedoes into the bulk of the Tau fleet. The returning Imperial torpedoes began to loom larger upon the vidscreen as they closed, until they were effortless removed by Tau interceptor turrets firing with superlative accuracy.
The desperation of the Gueâ€™la commanders on the ground was hungrily imagined by Demâ€™lock. They must be seeing their defences disappearing their screens with alarming rapidity. The numerous Tau ships filling their scopes must tell them this world will soon be ours, they will not be able to stand before us.
â€œAll defence platforms destroyed Shasâ€™oâ€?
Jokithâ€™s voice broke into his thoughts.
â€œGood Shasâ€™ui, we will begin landing forces immediatelyâ€?.
In well rehearsed manoeuvres, dozens of Tau flyers began to detach themselves from the fleet and headed for the planet below. In dozens of Orcas, Tau steeled themselves for the coming fight, a scene multiplied many times in many craft. Entering the atmosphere, the ships converged upon the spaceport. They prepared themselves to overcome the Gueâ€™la defenders for the greater good.
Another familiar scene occurred, the giant Tigershark drone deployers seeded the air with dozens of drones. The cloud wheeled down through the atmosphere to the spaceport, already seeking targets. Down and down they descended until they reached their goal.
The spaceport lay deserted, devoid or both life and movement. The drones scoured the area, greedy for targets that fulfilled their pre-programmed parameters, eager to satiate their hunt/kill subroutines. There were none. All they found was a deserted spaceport. Blastmarks on the ferrocrete showed signs of a hurried departure, the long hangars lay empty of aircraft, moved from their berths to some new home.
The impact of dozens of Orcas was timed to precision, all landing at their assigned target with a precision that would be the envy of many commanders in the Imperial Guard. The firewarriors disgorged from their landers by squad, weapons held ready to assault those foes awaiting them. All that answered the landing was their own echoey footsteps.
â€œShasâ€™o, the landing forces report their landing unopposed. The Gueâ€™la have evacuated from the spaceport ahead of our landingâ€? Jokith informed Demâ€™lock.
â€œExcellent. Clearly my ideas are already paying dividend. They know they cannot withstand our assault and flee before us. Monitor their communications, what are their plans?â€?
â€œJudging by the density of their communications, and from recorded vid imagery gathered by our ships, the Gueâ€™la intend to make their stand at their capitalâ€?
Looking at the recorded sensor imagery, Demâ€™lock quickly grasped why.
â€œTheir city lies in a natural fortification. It lies at the base of a narrow valley, recessed into the bedrock and covered from above by the thick jungle. The very terrain therefore rules out an aerial assault. We shall need to descend into the jungle and assault the city on the same level. Bring me the other Shasâ€™o and Shasâ€™el on vidâ€?
The familiar faces of Jâ€™kaara and Ghodal appeared on the vidscreen before him.
â€œThe nature of this world slows our advance slightly. They seek to defend their capital and think the jungle of this world protects them. Foolish Gueâ€™la, if they had attacked our landing craft as they landed they had their only chance of disrupting our operationâ€?
â€œWhat do you desire us to do?â€? asked Ghodal.
â€œPut together an expeditionary force to capture the capital. I have our engineers already constructing a command bunker at the spaceport, this is where I shall locate.
Take all the warriors you need from the hunter cadres and take their city, I will hold the spaceport with my bodyguard and the Gueâ€™vesa. I will direct operations from thereâ€?
â€œIf these are your orders Demâ€™lock, I will carry them out, but I am concerned about fighting in this terrain. Our advance will be slow to avoid the Devilfish crashing, and we will be unable to use suits due to the dense foliageâ€? Jâ€™kaara expressed his opinion openly.
â€œThe crisis suits will return to the Orcas and perform â€˜call onâ€™ support if they are needed. You forget Shasâ€™el, we are many, even if an entire regiment of Imperial Guard arrived, we would outnumber them many times over. We are mighty, with our technology they will never be able to withstand us. Go Shas, and take this world in our grasp.â€?
Great stuff. I'm really enjoying this as it doesn't have the repitive nature of some amateur writing (they shot some guys, then some more guys, then some slightly bigger guys). It remains fresh and interesting and I can see the motivation of the Shas'o. Keep it up.
I like the story, but you really need to flesh out your characters more. Also, the dialogue is short...you need something like a grand speech that Demlock delivers over the torn trenchfield to his dispirited warriors after the battle is won. Something very long.
Nice twist in chapter 3. Beautiful change of application. I'm also impressed with your inclusion of Gue'vesa forces. Hopefully more will surrender.
2H - LEGIO HYDRA
Hmm, before posting this I re-read my earlier chapters and slapped myself. Glaringly obvious typos and grammatical errors have now been removed (those that I have noticed).
â€œTimes like these, I would not mind the support of some of those Krootâ€?
Ghodal thought to himself as he stared at the monotonous passing scenery. Their fieldcraft and jungle skills would be much suited to such a mission. Demâ€™lock was in command however and he disliked the Kroot. He felt they lacked the focus required for his operations, and that Tau technology made up for any shortcoming they might have physically. Ghodal hoped he was right.
Ghodal considered Demâ€™lock, he was a strange Tau, he could be analytical, but sometimes Ghodal felt he lacked the perspective a Shasâ€™o should have gained from years of combat. They shared a sense of honour together though, and Ghodal had seen the merits of his ideas. He could say that Demâ€™lockâ€™s plans would certainly increase the expansion of the empire. However he also had to admit that Demâ€™lockâ€™s methods made him uneasy, such as not giving the enemy time to surrender, or ruthless unprovoked attack. He had to question the honour is using such methods. We wondered if Demlock had another agenda, stemming perhaps from his old injury.
Non-specific damage to the nervous system the file had said. He wondered if this actually meant Demâ€™lock had simply lost his nerve. Either way he had been unable to wear a crisis suit since that day, instead he directed operations from a safe comfortable command bunker. And he Shasâ€™el Ghodal Saâ€™cea got the dirty work of fighting Gueâ€™la in this muck. Anyway back to the mission, they should arrive at the target in about three or four dec. The infuriating trees slowed their movement and made his skimmers vulnerable. He was glad Jâ€™Kaaraâ€™s recon cadre was providing the advance guard, and Tetra outriders for his column. All he wanted to do was get out of this infernal jungle.
Demâ€™lock admired the size of the icon indicating the Tau force heading for the capital. It was easily large enough to overcome any projected defence. Pleased, he looked up and around his command bunker to see if it was reciprocated. Mâ€™yen was as usual silent in his chair. Even silent and emotionless he projected a presence to the room. His bodyguards at the door stood rigid at attention. Not that they were needed, the fortifications were almost finished. Everything was going exactly according to plan.
Skimming ahead of the column, Jâ€™Kaara was nervous. His advance guard of Piranhas sped through the jungle, effortlessly avoiding any outgrowths that threatened to slow him. The enemy was at their capital, but he was troubled. Had the enemy been so demoralised that they had relinquished the spaceport so easily? He wanted to believe so, but something nagged at him.
Ahead he was alerted to a new feature in the terrain, a small clearing. The 4 skimmers leading wheeled and turned to investigate. The sensors aboard the Piranha had just alerted him to a presence ahead. Any warning he might have tried to give died in his throat. Four streaks passed from the jungle fringes and impacted upon their allotted skimmer. At such short range the impact was inevitable, despite the multitudes of disruption pods festooning the skimmers. Shasâ€™el Jâ€™Kaara Keâ€™lshan never did become Shasâ€™o, but his death was at least instantaneous.
The four burning hulks lay alone in the clearing.
â€œThe xenos are so efficient, they arrived exactly on time. Send the word to our brothers, strike the alien downâ€?, Captain Haemos commanded of his subordinate.
â€œShasâ€™o, I am receiving contact reportsâ€? Jokith broke the silence in the bunker.
â€œWhere? And what strength and disposition?â€? Demâ€™lock asked.
â€œUnknown. Reports incoming. A pair of pathfinder Devilfish shot down ahead of the column. Attackers unknown. The advance guard reports ambush. I am unable to raise Shasâ€™el Gâ€™Kaara. Attackers unknown. Column outriders report they are under attack, several Tetras destroyed. Attackers unknownâ€?
â€œWhat is this attackers unknown? The Gueâ€™la are obviously not just at their capital, why is it so hard to report who is attacking them? They are not exactly the most stealthy species, with their great crude tanks and primitive weapons. Contact Ghodalâ€?
Ghodalâ€™s face returned to the vidscreen before them.
â€œWhat do you desire me to do Demâ€™lock?â€?
â€œDismount from your troop carriers and engage the enemy, with the warriors and vehicles available to you it should not be a problem. Advance and lay down a high rate of suppressive fireâ€?
â€œDemâ€™lock should we not..â€?
â€œAdvance and lay down a high rate of suppressive fire, kill them and get on with itâ€? he cut in, and clicked the vidscreen off.
Shasâ€™ui Knovah led his patrol with in drill order with pride. Their perimeter was established and secure, the fortifications were finished. This world though seemed bathed in perpetual gloom, it dampened the spirits. Light levels were much lower than those he was used to on his native Vior'la. His mind truly though was not here anyway, it was out with the warriors who were out in the damnable jungle. He paid for his distraction when the shadow before him seemed to take life, and reach out for him. A whirring chainsword hit his midriff, as the patrol was swiftly taken apart by the 4 black daubed shapes. On the edge of the spaceport, scout Brother-Sergeant Elemiah smiled with bright white teeth. His men would win much glory today.
Jokith hesitated before relaying his communications to Demâ€™lock, but relayed them anyway.
â€œMore reports Shasâ€™o. The expeditionary force reports taking more casualties They report the situation confused, and are unable to draw the enemy to battleâ€?
â€œI told him to advance and lay down suppressive fire. What is going on out there?â€?
â€œShasâ€™o, we are receiving reports of an attack on the spaceport perimeter. It appears to have been repulsed. Shasâ€™vre Firan reports that from the sight of some of the assailantâ€™s dead, they are space marine scouts. He reports the loss of seventeen warriors. He estimates of the size of the enemy force to have been less that tenâ€?
Demlock was stunned at the mention of the Gueâ€™la warrior elite. Clearly he had not anticipated such a fast response by those devils. He decided quickly the important thing to do is to respond quickly, and brush over the marine presence. It should change nothing he told himself.
â€œSeventeen dead? We cannot afford such exchange rates, what a mess. Strengthen the perimeter, move as many of the firewarriors to the fringes of the spaceport as necessaryâ€?
â€œShasâ€™o, Firan reports that the enemy infiltrators meltabombed the communications tower and booster stations before they withdrew. We lack sufficient signal strength to contact the fleetâ€?
â€œSo you mean we can no longer order the Orcas back to deploy the crisis teams? And we can no longer order an evacuation? And that we are dependant for air support on those aircraft we have already landed?â€? he asked, trying to stop his voice sound incredulous.
â€œOrder repair teams out their immediatelyâ€? was his only reply. Demâ€™lock was concerned. While the situation was not out of control, the presence of the space marines worried him above itâ€™s capacity. He realised he was sweating heavily.
The sound of ferrocrete cracking probably would have been heard easily by any passing Tau patrol, had they not been withdrawn from the perimeter due to the scout's attack. Addoran had been spot on with his tactical analysis yet again. The hangar was non-descript, dark, gloomy and empty, similiar to any one of dozens like it at the space port. However, as the patch of floor within cracked, and a power armoured fist within came through, it became clear this hangar contained something the others didnâ€™t. The squad of marines climbed out of their pit and into the hangar.
â€œOur time is now, we are within their perimeter, prepare to fall upon them brothersâ€? Brother-Sergeant Kutiel ordered, and passed the melta bombs out to his brethren.
â€œWhat is the situation now Shasâ€™ui?â€? asked Demâ€™lock, trying to make his voice sound firm and in control.
â€œReports still confused and conflicting. Still no more contact from the Keâ€™lshan Reconnaissance Cadreâ€™s command. Individual units report they are scattered. Tactical analysis indicates we lack a cohesive strategy to our response and our battleplan needs modifying. We must stabilise the fighting into a front line to gather our firepower.â€?
Demâ€™lock looked over his shoulder at Mâ€™yen, hoping for the first time he could remember that he would say something. He did not oblige.
Running across the runways they encountered few Tau. Many of those they did encounter were air caste ground crew and pilots, and so resistance was light. They did not care if it had been heavy, they heeded only Kutielâ€™s commands, and he told them their objective neared. Here and there a pulse rifle blast would be heard as the squad contacted a Tau firewarrior or two. The next sound was usually the whining of chainswords as the somewhat annoyed marine closed in on the unfortunate offending Tau.
Such considerations were forgotten to them as their objective loomed, the Tau fighters. The Barracudas were lined up in neat rows, typical Tau efficiency forconserving space. The parking efficiency aided too in the finding of them, and the efficiency of festooning them with melta-bombs. Marines hurriedly clamped boxy melta-bombs to every aircraft in sight. They then started to pull back and set their detonators.
â€œThe time is now Captain Saulâ€? Sergeant Kutiel intoned into his vox as his men retreated to regroup. His squad was satisfied as the detonators started to ignite, and the Tau barracudas exploded, one by one brewing up with delightful bursts of flame and wrath. The squad would not have to regroup for long,was Kutielâ€™s glad thought, soon they would be rejoined by their brethren.
â€œThe fighter dispersal reports it is under attack. Heavy casualty reports incoming and increasingâ€? Jokith read out with a weary voice.
â€œThe fighter dispersal? That is inside the spaceport perimeter! Get Firan to scramble his firewarriors out there, I want this mess cleared up fast. What has been destroyed?â€? was Dem'lock's hurried response.
â€œAll Barracudas, all airborne detection gear, many Korâ€™la ground crew are dead. All we have left is the Manta Missile Destroyer at the landing padâ€?
Demâ€™lock felt the situation creeping beyond his control, he was aware he was fighting to keep his nightmares returning to him in the daylight.
â€œScramble that lone Manta, get it airborne, get it safeâ€? was his reply.
â€œSir, Ghodal requests reinforcements and assistance from usâ€?
â€œHe requests help from us?â€? Demâ€™lock no longer tried to keep the incredulity out of his voice.
â€œOrder him to return here, we need the assistance of his forcesâ€?
Demâ€™lock knew now things were expanding beyond his control.
Shasâ€™la Viorâ€™la Pilam waved as the Korâ€™la crew entered the vast craft. He and the small figures we waved to both must know the current situation was a mess, they needed all the help they could get. He was mulling over who's role he would rather undertake in this fight when he heard the faint sound of engines.
It was at that moment the incoming Turbo-Laser blasts struck the Tau flyer in itâ€™s rear arc and penetrated itâ€™s weaker rear armour. The shots were well aimed, the shields of the manta being down in itâ€™s landed state, and they impacted largely against sites of munitions storage. The vast vessel, several times larger than any of itâ€™s attackers, was helpless and blew apart in several fiery explosions as itâ€™s ammo bunkers cooked off. Not that this mattered to Pilam, his head was removed by a piece of shrapnel from the initial impact.
The three Thunderhawks wheeled searching for further prey before they made their landing. The lead vessel discharged captain Saul, chaplain Nathaniel, and their command squad. Together with the contents of the other Thunderhawks, the entire 3rd Company was in attendance.
Their timing had been perfect, Sergeants Kutiels attack had allowed them to fly here undetected from their concealed position.
â€œForward Angels of Death, bring your fury to the Xenos. Show them the righteousness of man!â€? Saul bellowed, and at his behest the company charged towards the bewildered Tau reeling from the explosions of the Manta.
They sang battle hymns as they slew.
And it was glorious.
Continuing with the latest installment:
There was an ancient Gueâ€™la turn of phrase that aptly described the console in front of him. Although the words were long forgotten, and it had been many long thousands of years before his birth that the last Christmas tree had been uprooted, the console was verily â€˜lit up like a Christmas treeâ€™
This helpless feeling was an old visitor to him, for it had been two Tauâ€™Cyr ago this feeling had visited itself upon him. The beast had returned, the fighting once again slipped beyond his control. He would fight the beast every step of the way.
â€œReports coming from everywhere of marines killing everyone they come across. At this close range our weapons are ineffective against their armour, our warriors donâ€™t have any time before they are upon them.â€? Jokith relayed.
â€œOrder all Firewarriors to withdraw to the inner perimeter and create a firebase around the bunker. Nothing must get through. Scramble the Gueâ€™vesa cadre and order them to the perimeterâ€? he ordered, taking a sharp hand to the situation.
â€œSir, the Gueâ€™vesa refuse to fightâ€?
â€œWhat?â€? Demâ€™lock was unamused.
â€œThey say they recognise the forces attacking them as their space marines of legend. They say they still worship their Emperor, and refuse to fight his servants. Our soldiers report they are desertingâ€?.
â€œFools. When we accepted them into our empire we should never have allowed them to continue worshipping their primitive deity. Order them to fight or have them killedâ€?
A voice intercepted his order.
â€œShasâ€™o, have you become so blinded that you cannot see we when are caught within an enemy Kau'yon, even as itâ€™s jaws close upon us? Order our remaining forces to hold. Even if Jâ€™kaara and Ghodal succeed in disengaging right away, it will take them several dec to return. Stand firm Shasâ€™o, we ourselves are our only hopeâ€?
The voice was Mâ€™yenâ€™s. He had destroyed any remaining illusions Demâ€™lock was in control.
Saul had just smashed apart a weeping firewarrior when he became aware of the developments. Visibly the Tau were attempting to pull back to their inner perimeter about their HQ. His command squad had caught this squad deploying and had wiped them out to a man. Vox reports from various squads around the spaceport told him all was well, the Tau were struggling with his warriors scattered among their lines. A defended attack on a prepared Tau position would be far more of a challenge.
â€œGather the brethrenâ€? he commanded of Nathaniel. Nathaniel nodded and started gathering individual squad sergeants.
â€œWe attack now the head of the snakeâ€?
Far away, on board the Battlebarge Birthright of Caliban, a figure paced back and forth inside her bridge, pondering as to the events unfolding on the ground. Everything so far was going to plan, however if events started to become derailed, this fleet was here as the back-up. A back-up, he reminded himself as he admired the lights of a nearby strike cruiser against the dark. This plan may not be the most conventional, but clearly it was the most prudent. All that was left to chance now was the attitude of the alien.
Addoran smiled as he saw the other Battlebarge in his squadron holding station with them. Ideally though, there would be no opportunity for Captain Galebrin to win his spurs.
â€œShasâ€™o, all remaining forces have retreated within the inner perimeterâ€?
â€œGood, now we shall hold them. My engineers assure me the inner perimeter is a deathtrap. All we do now is sit tight and wait for our forces to return. The amount of firepower brought to bear against these marines will ensure they stand no chance.â€?
Demâ€™lock said the words and realised how foolish he had been to be so concerned. Casualties were high, and this turn of events unforeseen, but their enemy was contained. He just hoped now for the Shasâ€™el to disengage and return with their troop carriers.
Saul surveyed the fortifications ahead, as Palmatus consulted his auspex at his side. There were several angled redoubts, and the long rifles emerging from them told him they were occupied with firewarriors. Formidable, but surely not enough for the Tau to be sure of keeping them out. No there must be some other unseen element, he was sure.
Nathaniel at his side informed him with a nod that their forces were deployed.
â€œAny readings Palmatus?â€? he inquired hopefully of the techmarine.
â€œNo, the xenos block my auguriesâ€?
â€œWe know our role anyway, we must attack. You hear me brothers?â€? he shouted to the warriors behind him.
â€œWe attack!â€? and he raised his sword and led them into the teeth of the Tau defences.
Forward they ran, they would do their captain's bidding until death, and beyond it if they could. Not a single marine hesitated
Fire spat out from the redoubts ahead, as the Tau fired upon their advance. He had to bring all their strength to bear, so many bodies would dilute incoming fire enough to allow them to sweep over their opponents.
At this moment Demâ€™lock played his last card. Seeing the floor move in front of them, Saul anticipated the ambush and shouted for brethren to get down. The marines about him were mostly unaware of what was happening but battlehardened warriors they were, simply unthinkingly obliged. Only the front trio of marines were too slow, as the Tau turrets rose out of their recesses and brought their plasma rifles to bear. The brethren were caught out in the open as the superheated plasma made a mockery of their power armour and blew them to pieces.
The company had gone to ground, hiding behind any cover they could find. Behind low walls, slabs of ferrocrete, or anything, marines kept themselves away from the waiting Tau guns. Cautiously looking over the low escarpment he was using for cover, Saul sought a way out of this killing ground. A plasma bolt came inwards and smashed into the ferrocrete before him, blowing shards of rock and dust about him. His attack was stalled, he had to regain the initiative again.
â€œSee Jokith? I told you, a deathtrap. Now they are within our Kauyon, Ghodalâ€™s and Jâ€™kaaraâ€™s cadres when they return should be more than enough to crush themâ€?.
Demâ€™lock cursed himself for allowing himself to be caught off guard, but he was glad the danger had passed. This bunker had been fortified with Tau technology, truly she was impregnable. He observed the vidscreen before him, showing him the large collection of marine icons bogged down in the face of his perimeter.
Sergeant Kutiel lay on the ground and surveyed the angry fortifications ahead. Any attempt to attack those turrets head on would surely result in heavy casualties, and then they would have to attack the Tau in those redoubts. No, the turrets were key, without them an organised attack could roll up the Tau line. With nowhere to run to, the Tau ahead would be caught in a vice. The inkling of an idea came to him.
â€œPass me your melta-bombs brotherâ€?, he whispered to the marine behind him. The marine reached to his belt and unclipped a meltabomb and passed it to Kutiel.
Kutiel jumped up and he ran.
He ran faster than he had known it possible for him to ran, clutching a meltabomb in each hand. The turrets turned to start tracking Kutiel, he changed course and ran diagonally, a zig zagging streak. The turrets tracking opened fireâ€¦â€¦â€¦
The bolts impacted half a second behind the sprinting marine. He neared his target, clicked the detonators, and dived.
Flying through the air, time seemed to slow to Kutiel, as he flew into the turret line. Then from his wrists a light emerged, and Kutiel knew no more.
The explosion was cataclysmic, white hot, as the heart was blown out of the turret line. Shards of fiery metal and alloy flew in all directions. The explosion had rendered a hole in the centre of the defending guns, only the outermost guns still fired.
â€œNow brothers!â€? Saul heard himself shouting and launched himself over the escarpment. With a roar, the marines as one leapt up and followed him towards the Tau. One of the turrets still firing hit a marine ahead of him, carving a a bloody hole through the centre of his chest.
â€œDevastators, destroy themâ€? he ordered over vox. From somewhere behind him a missile streaked into the turret that had fired and blew it to pieces. Closer now, a melta arced out and smashed another apart. Joyous was Saul when he realised the line was broken.
The explosion rocked even the occupants of the bunker.
â€œWhat was that Jokith?â€? asked Demâ€™lock, hiding his concern.
â€œMassive explosion registered in the turret line. Turrets now operating at 23% capacityâ€? Jokith said, not in his usual tone of voice.
â€œHow..?!â€? Demâ€™lockâ€™s words broke off as he saw the marine icon on his screen move. It closed rapidly with the Tau icons. Words failed him.
The fire coming from the redoubts slackened as his marines got among the Tau pillboxes. They were too close now to be shot easily, as the Tau tried to fight an enemy that was right up to their gunslits.
â€œTake them brethrenâ€? he shouted. He unclipped a frag grenade from his belt and tossed it into the mouth of a Tau redoubt. The muffled boom inside echoed with Tau screams. No more fire would come out of that Tau positon.
Unable to hit them to close, his marines had the Tau line rolled up.
â€œContact Firan for meâ€?
â€œFiran does not respondâ€? came Jokithâ€™s response.
He stared at the vidscreen, as Tau icons contacted the marine icons and vanished. Marine icons were almost to the bunker. He was not responsible for this disaster, he had done everything correctly. He mentally began to wash his hands of the situation. It had been Jâ€™Kaara and Ghodalâ€™s fault, there was no sign of their return. It had been Firanâ€™s fault, he had been ordered to hold the perimeter.
As Saul cut down a fleeing Tau with his sword, he saw Nathaniel again for the first time since their attack, hacking apart another Tau with his blessed Crozius. He was pleased, they were nearly through. He looked ahead and saw the sunken recess that was the entrance to the Tau bunker. He was almost at his goal, he smiled wit the thought.
â€œCome Nathaniel, we have work to doâ€?
Demâ€™lock shuddered to think of the slaughter that must be taking place not far from where he was standing. He stared at the screen, the few remaining Tau icons were vanishing with alarming rapidity. His forces were being very efficiently mopped up. Soon not a single Tau would be left alive out of the bunker.
â€œThis is a bad day, but worry not, we are secure here. All we need to do is wait them out, until our forces returnâ€?
He comforted the remaining Tau inside the bunker. He knew they needed re-assurance of their status, there were many nervous stares amongst his command staff.
â€œThis bunker is completely secure, I am quite sure. My engineers assure me they have applied the highest ballistic protection our technology has devised to that door. They tested it by firing ion cannons at it. Not even their meltabombs will breach that door. We are quite impregnableâ€?