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Is’Shi sat motionless, his smoldering gaze fixed on the aquamarine horizon visible through a nearby window. His jaw tightened, and his hand began to tremble as his grip tightened around the glass he had been sipping from. Suddenly, the crystal buckled with a pop, leaving its former contents to mix freely with the blood dripping across his now lacerated hand. His mind barely registered the sting of the broken glass in his tightly clenched fist, his grim visage never changed. To the casual observer, it would appear that he took no notice, save to shake pieces of the glass from his punctured skin.
“Tau’Va!” Exclaimed Su’Von. ”Look what you’ve done!”
Is’Shi was roused from his morose; the simmering violence swimming just beneath the surface of his face subsided.
“I….” he stammered.
“I know” Su’Von whispered. “We are all worried. We will find them.”
Is’Shi relented as Su’Von gently took his hand. She gingerly removed the remaining shards and wrapped his palm in a piece of gauze-like medicated dressing she retrieved from the backpack at her feet. As she worked she looked up to find his gaze now fixed on her.
“Stop looking at me like that.” she chided as she brushed away a lock of hair that had fallen across her beautiful face. Is’shi looked away quickly, suddenly focused intently on the mysterious complexities of a salt dispenser. Su’Von was amused that such a fearsome Firewarrior could at times be so clumsy around her, but she was used to these reactions. Even Gue’la males were often struck by the beauty of her radiant eyes, their soft glow a rare genetic gift among Tau females. Countless enemies had beheld the seemingly endless depth found in the sparkling blues and grays of those eyes as they drew their last breath. Su’Von, you see, was an accomplished Tau assassin of sorts, a proud descendant of the acclaimed Ka’Doran stealth cadre. It was whispered throughout the Empire that the Ka’Doran could make their way into an opposing command camp undetected, and transmit enemy plans for weeks without being discovered. Be this fact or fiction was classified information, but one thing was crystal clear... Shas’Ui Fal’Shia Ol’Soo Su’Von was as fearless as she was alluring, and twice as deadly. As usual, Is’shi found himself captivated by her touch.
The mix of Gue and Tau patrons who bothered to notice the pair returned to their drinks. The breaking glass had not drawn much interest above the din of the crowded makeshift tavern. Apathy was common on the newly assimilated outpost planet of Ol’Por, named for its magnificent luminous turquoise waters. Over 99% of the oceanic planet was covered by this water, its vast oceans interrupted only by hundreds of smallish islands dotting the southern hemisphere, all interconnected by various walkways, bridges and in some cases tunnels. The binary suns of Ol’Por bathed these islands constantly, nighttime descended upon these shores for just over three to four decs per rotaa.* For untold millennia, the planet had been a well-known refuge for the affluent, a secluded getaway enjoyed by races far older than man or Tau.
A recent acquisition in the Tau Empire, many openly questioned the wisdom of establishing a colony with so very little in the way of natural resource or military purpose, especially one so far from the hub of the new expansion. The assimilation of Ol’Por seemed to be an afterthought, perhaps the product of the natural strain on bureaucratic efficiency due to the growing pains of a rapidly expanding empire. The islands were home to hundreds of human trading outposts and once luxurious resorts from various cultures and eras, most now in ruin. The shipping lanes that made this planet a coveted location for weary soldiers and traders were all but shut down. Though the Tau had great intent to bring harmony to this corner of frontier space, the northern section of the Empire was at present an increasingly hostile environment. Having migrated north through Ke’lshan due to an increased fleet presence in the Tash’Var region, rampant piratical activity and an escalating Ork population plagued both Fi’Rios and Ksi’m’yen. The possibility of a reconsolidation of the Be’Gel driven from Fio’vash was also a growing concern. It was strongly recommended by many Fio commanders that the Empire ignore this world for now, but in the end, the powers that made these decisions were swayed by the passionate arguments of one Aun’Karra. Although the world appeared to be little more than a simple vacation destination, Karra swayed Commander Shadowsun herself to commit the small amount of force necessary to secure this world, if only to pad the majestic 3rd expansion of the empire.
Is’Shi flexed his freshly-dressed hand and grimaced. “I don’t know what has come over me…what is happening to me”
Yes, I too can feel the winds. Su’Von said quietly. The men are restless. There is much fear. You must lead them. They look to you for guidance.
“Guidance” he thought grimly. The word seemed heavy to him. He was but a simple Firewarrior. Born of Vior'lan blood, he was raised among the rigid disciplinarians of Sa’Cea where his mother was a munitions instructor. Like most Fio, he was raised within the caste, but his mother did take pride in watching his development from afar. Shas’ui Ta’Kunas Is’Shi was named for his father, a great warrior whom fought and died battling the Be’gel menace on the frozen tundra of Sha’is. Although the individualistic nature of a heralded lineage is downplayed among the Tau culture, the family histories of young Firewarriors could still be accessed while growing up in the caste academies. Is’Shi was always proud to know he had descended from a long line of noted Firewarriors. His father, whom he never met, had won acclaim during the conflict of Taros while his twin great-uncles both died in the defense of Nimbosa. However, the one figure that intrigued him most was the from over twenty-five generations past. A nameless firewarrior erased from all record, the only blank space in his line pre-dating the age of the first expansion. No information could be found, and when he asked about the omission, the terse explanation was a possible glitch in the database. Is’shi knew better. It was commonly speculated among the faithful Tau that all who followed the hallowed Shas'O Vior'la Shovah Kaius Mont'yr were erased from all Tau histories.
Is’Shi was heavily muscled for a Tau, a product of his propensity for studying the sublime arts of bladed combat on Sa’cea. The Tau did not often practice hand-to-hand as melee, but did refine the mastery of some edged weapons for exhibition and cultural ceremonies. Not nearly as skilled with a blade as an Aun, he was quite proficient for a Fio, and worked diligently to master the use the Soo’nan’al, a decorative shortsword used in Tau art and theatre. Shi took to the southern Sa’cean custom of eschewing the upper portion of his under suit, and having been fitted with an optical implant after his eye was damaged in an engagement with the Dark Kin, he was quite an imposing figure.
Shas’ui Ta’Kunas Is’Shi
Although he was a natural leader, well liked by his cadre mates, Is’Shi struggled with the concept of being in a position of authority. He had always been loner, a dreamer constantly looking to the next horizon. As a young cadet, he was often admonished for his lack of attention, and constantly reminded of the dangers of allowing his personal desires interfere with the execution of the Tau’va. His hot-blooded temperament and restless mind never fit in with the highly regimented students of Sa’cea. His closest friend was actually a krootling from the T’Pel kindred, vicious mercenaries normally shunned even by the Tau Empire due to their vile temperament, and voracious appetites. This particular tribe evolved from a century-long diet of the respected T’pel sharks found on their adopted home planet of S’eewl II.
Sent to Sa’cea to be groomed as an emissary for his warband, Sh’ar Kreeth was shunned by other pupils and was ostracized by all. All save one. Is’Shi considered Sh’Ar as a kindred spirit, and grew to love and respect him as a brother. The two were inseparable, and while they were cast as outsiders, the brawny Shi and his foul-tempered comrade were treated with deference. Any brave soul who made the mistake of openly ridiculing the pair usually made that error only once. They kept in touch as they began their military careers, and when all but a handful of the T’pel tribe were wiped out in an ill-advised attack on an Ork position, Kreeth convinced the survivors to pledge their allegiance to the Sa’cea Sept, under the direct supervision of Is’shi’s commanding officer Shas’el Vior'la Mont’re He’ra.
Seeing the distracted look on the face of her battle brother, Su’Von decided that sitting in a decrepit gu’la tavern was not helping matters. “Let us leave, now. There is much to discuss” pressed Su’Von. “Perhaps some fresh air will clear your troubled mind”
Su’Von smiled playfully at the scrawny young gue’la serving boy who stood by gawking at her, and tossed several credits on the table. She joined Is’shi and together they strode out into the street, greeted by the reddish hues of the beautiful Ol’por sunset, the second sun just beginning to peek over the opposite horizon. They walked north along the row of what once was a bustling entertainment sector, now dirty and littered with images of a glorious past. Most buildings were crumbling, and the ones that did stand were dirty empty shells. Here and there activity could be seen through dusty windows, but the population was sparse. The Gue’la inhabitants of Ol’por were largely ambivalent to the change in planetary ownership, the hardened trade folk accustomed to serving a wide range of species.
The pair made their way to silence to an elaborate drawbridge that connected this island to the next which housed their base camp. He walked slowly; he was reluctant to look into the eyes of his comrades. Is’Shi did not want to command the sparse forces of OlPor, but conditions were poor on and quickly getting worse. Mont’re He’ra was dead, as were nearly all of the cadre commanders who landed on this world. He’ra, the misled, was an impulsive leader, determined to shed his title. He had performed poorly in his first stint of command, having gained infamy for misinterpreting a battle order and leaving the rear flank of his sept unprotected. Fortunately, his mistake cost no lives, but as customary in the Tau culture, his most famous exploit had come to define him. Taking advantage of his aggressive tendencies, he had been assigned to the knife's edge of the 3rd expansion, the Sa'Cean front, where he was met and advised by Aun’el Karra.
Shas’el Vior'la Mont’re He’ra
Karra was a bit of an arrogant soul, though well-meaning. Is’Shi shivered whenever he remembered the aloof Ethereal, the horrific sound of his head being ripped from its shoulders haunted his dreams. The sage Aun was mildly disappointed by his assignment to such a remote area, uncharacteristic of an Aun, and he was eager to represent himself well among his peers. The troops dared not question his authority and wisdom, but Karra was not a God, and not immune to simple emotion. The Aun’s ambitions would have been harmless in most instances, but paired with the fiery temperament of the young Vior'lan cadre commander, they proved deadly. Their particular command was marked by its propensity for extreme risk; they were always the first to volunteer for the most dangerous of Commander Shaodowsuns’s initiatives. The pair won much acclaim for their daring; however, this habit of poor decision making came to an end of sorts here on the sandy shores of Ol' Por, where the thousands of villages of human traders weren’t the only inhabitants…
Last edited by McCoy; October 31st, 2006 at 10:04.
Great storyline, great models, great setting. It's bloody awesome!
rep for you!
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