Compassion: A Warhammer 40,000 Fanfiction.
Location: Manta: Aun’s Fury: En Route to K’Si’Myen via Warp Jump
“You WHAT?” Commander Bloodstar’s face paled at the rebuke from the Fire Caste High Command. The holo image of a wrinkled old Tau faded, replaced by another with bionic enhancements on his left eye. “Shas’O Sa’Cea Mont’Yr Shas’Ka… I never thought you would stoop so low as to deploy an ETHEREAL in such a shameful way! And what did his sacrifice gain? A few dozen Gue’La?! This cannot go unpunished, this… treason… We must convene and decide what to do with you. Shas High Command Out…” The holo faded, leaving a disparate angst-ridden Shas’O already half-mad with guilt over losing Aun’Vre Bor’Kan Savon’Tyr to the Tyranid Menace, his only reassurance coming in the form of his Aun Tutor, Aun’O T’au Ro’Va, whom set his worries at ease with but a touch to the shoulder and a nod.
-Conquest without compassion is no better than cold-blooded murder-
Barely a day passed since the destruction of the Genesis Colony, and Ezekiah “Zeke” Rinthus already felt the pangs of home-sickness setting in. Even though the colony only lasted a scant 5 years, it felt more like home to him than the hive world of his birth ever did. The camaraderie shared amongst the colonists made life worth dying for, and in the face of an increasingly bleak Imperium, it stood as a faint glimmer of hope for mankind, proving the Emperor’s light can shine in even the smallest of nooks.
The only souvenir left from that paradise hung around his neck, a tiny gilded Aquila on a steel chain, an heirloom from his family. He remembered with a twinge of bitterness the stern-faced officer who declared Zeke the only one of his family fit for travel, the rest too worn down from years of constant labor, disease, and malnutrition. He wouldn’t forget his family, he declared inwardly, nor his home, his friends, or his Emperor. Then he froze, his heart sinking to the depths of his stomach. He and his fellow colonists sat on board a Xenos ship. How could the Emperor, much less the Imperium, forgive him for that?
-We are to be first amongst equals, not overlords-
Shas’O Sa’Cea Mont’Yr Shas’Ka
“What am I to do, Aun’O?” Within the chambers reserved for the Ethereal caste, Bloodstar sat before a small garden of flora native to Sa’Cea, accentuated with smooth gray stones, his mind roiled with conflict as a white-robed ethereal sat beside him, “The Shas High Command were furious, yet they do not understand. I could not walk away from civilians, even Gue’La, facing those damned Y’he devourers… How different is it from evacuating Earth Caste, or Water Caste? Am I to truly believe that we are to be the first amongst equals on the cusp of a golden age for all life? Or has the Empire become drunk on its own success? All these questions Aun’O… Always resonating through my mind… but now with the death of Aun’Tyr they scream like tortured animals, demanding release! Though I graduated from your tutelage upon my ascension through the ranks many kai-rotaa ago, I come to you again, your eminence. I need your help on this matter!”
The Ethereal sat silent for a minute, his gaze distant, deep in thought and meditative. A smile cracked the edge of his mouth. “You’re ascension to Shas’O was a testament to your abilities, Shaska, but even the great Aun’Va cannot make every decision alone. That is a key strength of the Tau’Va. No matter how great we become, we never stop learning from each other. And no matter how high you ascend, you will never be so mighty as to not need the help of another.”
The Ethereal paused, letting his words sink into his attentive pupil. “Take reassurance in that, my student. The galaxy overflows with difficult decisions, ones which result in pain regardless of the choice made. You made such a decision when you decided to rescue those Gue’La. Had you not acted, you would carry the deaths of innocents on your shoulders, but had you let them die, Aun’Tyr would still be with us. Most of the Empire will rebuke you for this decision, Commander, but know this. Without compassion, the galaxy is little more than a swirling maelstrom of madness and death. Always strive to deliver compassion to the great star-farers, for only then may they stand a chance of submitting to the Tau’Va.”
Though the weight of his position still burdened his heart, listening to the teachings of an Ethereal brought with it a refreshing ease of mind that no other source could match. He silently wished Aun’Ro a long life, for without him, all would be lost. He meditated on his teacher’s words, finding great peace in their meaning underneath.
-None are beyond needing the help of another-
“Zeke? Are you there?” Zeke turned over on his side, ruffling his napsack. “Janine? By the Emperor… You’re alive?” Now excited, Zeke bolted upright, staring into the darkness around him when blinding light suddenly illuminated the hangar bay, a motion-trigger response. After his eyes adjusted, he noticed a brown-haired woman in battered flak armor and PDF fatigues, shortly before her mass crashed into him, wrapping him in a strong embrace only a soldier could muster. She loosened her grip after a minute or two, her smile fading.
“We’ve lost everything, Zeke. The regiment got slaughtered down there. I’m the only sergeant left, and a few guys from Jenkin’s squad survived but that’s it. The most we could do was stall the Tyranids long enough for the Splinter Fleet to pull back and redeploy. Then these Tau came in and swept us up… Governor Merin died in the onslaught along with the entire chain of command. I had to make a call but…. If the Imperium doesn’t…”
“Forgive our cowardice, then what do we do?” Zeke finished, “Let’s not dwell on that. I’ve heard stories about these Tau. When the Damocles Crusade forces got redeployed the Tau just let them go and opened up peace talks even after we wrecked a bunch of their worlds. That’s if you believe the stories passed down from the folks in that war of course. How long has it been? Several generations?”
“Maybe,” Janine laughed through silent tears, taking a deep breath, “well we need to at least try and speak to these xenos, as much as I hate the idea… But we’re at their mercy and they haven’t caged us, killed us, or sold us off...” She paused, her gaze shifting to the other colonists, “We should wake the others up; see who survived, y’know?”
-Find your courage on the front lines, lest it leave you in its wake-
Shas’Vre Ran’Ta, Broadside Pilot
Bloodstar snapped out of his dreamy reflection, interrupted by an alert from his comm. Closing his hand around the antennae on the right side of his head, he patched the Manta’s pilot through. “Kor’Vre? What is it? … I see. I shall tend to them immediately.” He rose, now concerned for the Gue’La bunking in the Manta’s hangar. “What must I do, Teacher? I want to prove that Aun’Tyr’s death was not in vain and clear my conscience of the guilt this conflict has visited upon me.” His teacher rose to meet his gaze.
“Offer those who wish to return to their Imperium a chance to go back. Should any wish to stay, train those who can fight as you would train your Fire Warriors. Those who leave may carry our example across the stars. Those who stay will help ensure its survival. Do these things in Aun’Tyr’s name, and you will find peace.”
The most contact his soldiers had with these Gue’La had been when several Shas handed out blankets and rations to last them the week’s jump to K'Si'M'Yen. He intended to meet with them, but duty called and sucked him away into an endless nightmare of rebuttal for his actions. Hopefully these humans will prove less hostile, he thought, making his way toward the hangar bay. Only time would tell.
-I have taken great pains not to laugh at the actions of aliens, nor to weep at them or to hate them, but to understand them-
The surviving colonists, now all awake, moved about, talking with each other, trying to grasp their minds around the calamitous turn of events. Some huddled under the single Devilfish that occupied the room, muttering frantic prayers begging the Emperor’s forgiveness, while others held each other, sobbing over the loss of family and friends. The only contact from the Tau, Zeke noticed, was a hover cart filled to the brim with a chalky but filling ration bar accompanied by two soldiers in what appeared to be carapace armor. They assured the survivors that someone called “Shas’O” would meet with them shortly. Coincidentally, the opening of a large blast door interrupted Zeke’s ponderings, revealing a Tau dressed in a ceremonial breastplate that displayed the Tau Empire’s circular markings under a blue-gray cloak with orange trim. He noticed this Tau had an authoritative, but troubled air about him. This must be the “Shas’O”.
“I apologize for leaving you all in the hangar bay,” the Tau said in fluent Gothic, “But there were 63 of you when we completed the evacuation and there are no rooms large enough on this craft to accommodate all of you. My name is Shas’O Sa’Cea Mont’Yr Shas’Ka, but in your tongue I would be called Commander Bloodstar. Is your leader still among you?”
“That would be me, Alien,” a disheveled looking woman stepped forward, her flak armor battered and dirty, “I am Sergeant Janine Grey. I made the decision to accept your help, and this is the last of the Genesis colony. What do you want with us?”
Commander Bloodstar eyed the Sergeant for a moment, his face blank. “I have come to offer you a choice. The planet we now travel to has a captured Imperial Shuttle docked in its primary space station. If you all wish to leave, I will arrange for your departure. However, I am aware of how unforgiving your Imperium can be, and would be more than happy to welcome you into the Tau Empire as a courtesy of our people and a haven from the predations of yours.” Worried looks and frantic whispers flew like bullets through the collected mass as those words settled in. Once the commotion settled, Commander Bloodstar continued.
“I apologize for not meeting with you all sooner, but I had… business to attend to, but ultimately the choice is yours. I have trusted you Gue’La thus far and I trust you now to make the decision that’s best for all of you.”
“I will never turn my back on the Imperium!!” A bald colonist in the back glared defiantly. Bloodstar just looked at him. “Then you will leave with the others on the imperial shuttle. Do you see armed guards here, human? I’m not forcing you to do anything.” “What happens if we stay?” Zeke asked. Several people looked at him, shocked that one of their own would consider such an idea. Zeke, nervous, kept his gaze on Bloodstar.
“We’ll assess your strongest talents and assign you to a mentor under the appropriate Caste. Your health and basic needs will all be looked after and you will be given a place to live with others of your kind. We will not prevent the worship of your emperor and, should your skills grow, you will be given a position of power. The only condition is that you submit to the truth of the Greater Good, as told by the Ethereals…”
The bulletstorm of whispers started again, this time with looks of excitement and anger alike streaking like lightning across the crowd. Just then, a noise crackled from an antenna on the side of the alien’s head, the Tau placing his hand over it, talking in an alien dialect. He placed a foot back as if to leave.
“Excuse me,” He added, handing a handheld device to Janine, “I have further business to attend to. That device is a communications array liked directly to my personal channel. Once you have made your decision, let me know.”
And with that, the Tau strode off, the blast doors closing behind him.
-My heart aches for the Imperium of Man, for underneath its barbarism lays the tang of tragedy-
Aun’O T’au Ro’Va
*Broadside walks in*-"I am heavy weapons guy"
Last edited by O'Shaska on Mar 30 2012 01:43, edited 3 times in total.