Hey everyone, just a little something I whipped together while bored on duty. C&C welcome, as always, since narrative fiction on my part is few and far between (I need more practice, haha!).
Please forgive minor grammatical or spelling mistakes (though don't hesitate to point them out!). I'm going on 24 hours with no sleep, so I may be a tiny bit off!
Hope you all enjoy.
by Shas'el Vior'la Mont'va
Audio Transcript K'V-DC T'V-1C52//6-10056[Audio Recording Begins]
The fighting has been raging for a kai'rotaa.
The first of them landed on the crystal coastline to the north. Our air power was formidable, but it wasn't enough to stop their heavy landers and drop craft from assaulting low over the por'ol'kai ocean to the east.
Moving on land in a sweeping arc southwest from their deployment zone and then back to the east, the gue'la invasion force thought to trap us against the sea. An enormous gue'la front fights to break through the suburb of Gal'he'shase, but their momentum is sapped, and we retain the initiative - breaking their organized assault piecemeal into three easily countered portions. We have halted them at the por'eio'kio river, launching raids under the cover of darkness. Aun guide them, the Kor and their Mantas are giving the gue'la war machines a beating. One of the large ones is a smoking immobile wreck - I can see its hunched figure from my run'al five tor'kans away, just across the river.
The inhabitants of Gel'bryn are almost evacuated. We need only defend the city for a few more rotaa before it is safe for us to take to the offensive, but we are taking casualties. Many more than expected. I have already lost four of my bond brothers and sisters - La'Y'ufa died in my arms as I fought to save her life...
[Pause - Subject releases a sigh or deep breath]
Despite the odds, we are confident and resolute.
Shas'O Ta'pur himself is here, as are his lieutenants. O'Shaserra, stoic and proud, leads her tau and kroot forces in stealth raids against gue'la light infantry units to the southwest. O'Aloh'sha'is, all measured fury, commands the mechanized cadre that presently helps keep the enemy walkers at bay in the center.
But perhaps the most fearsome, O'Shovah, commands his Vior'lan battlesuits on the northeastern section of the defensive line, alongside my own Cadre.
We are preparing for the worst of the gue'la assault; that of the or'es'gue'la, the 'Space Marines'.
They are coming, we know this much. Pathfinder units are marking targets already, and many are suddenly falling off the battle net. Comms-chatter is roaring and subsequently going silent in sporadic waves. They are either going silent to disguise their locations or dying - we are unsure.
But we are ready.
Dal'yth Prime will not fall...
[Digital Signature - T'V-1C52//6-10056]
[Audio Recording Ends]
Gel'bryn, Dal'yth Prime
Alone atop one of the many tork'an-tall, glittering spires of Gel'bryn stands a tau, looking over the once-verdant agricultural plains of the settlement to the northwest. He is obviously of the honorable Fire Caste, his muscular bulk fitted with the black fio'dr battledress and grey fio'tak armor of a Line Warrior and his posture is proud and erect. A weathered pulse rifle is slung over his shoulder, and he watches the distant smoke of gue'la war machines waft silently into the twilight sky.
He has just attained Shas'la mere kai'rotaa ago, and yet his face exhibits the fresh clench-jawed expression that comes with his first true account of battle. In his eyes an onlooker can see the glint of painful wisdom gained far beyond his years, and the wetness of barely contained tears. His demeanor is that of an exhausted old man, on the verge of letting go, but can't.
War ages you, it is said. Those who do not succumb to the iur'tae'mont - burnout, shellshock, the Madness - succumb to other afflictions, all of which are just as undesirable without the stigma of honor attached to them. It is the Way of the Warrior, and every Shas'la in the Empire dispassionately accepts that their ultimate fate will only be one of a select few terrible fates; a painful death in the service of the Tau'va, a battle- or stress-induced lifetime of insanity, or the peaceful death of an old, aged Shas.
Most, if not all Shas would opt for the former. A painful death in the service of the Tau'va is a death well honored by the Aun-proclaimed Guardians of the Tau Empire. A death in battle is what any Shas in their right mind would most accept, as they would be making the ultimate sacrifice in the name of the Greater Good.
War madness is next, and many Shas will pass into memory with little conscious recollection of their last moments, though they will be passing away secure in their knowledge that they gave everything - to include their very sanity - in the line of duty to and in service of the Tau'va.
Dying a peaceful death due to old age or infirmity comes last, as it is the general consensus - at least by the tau hailing from Tash'var and other more war-exposed cultures - that a Shas dying of old age is a Shas that has not given every ounce of himself to his duty for the Empire. He will die with the realization that his life was spent fruitless and unproductive - the ultimate dishonor for any Tau regardless of Sept.
It is contemplating these facts of life that our young Shas'la finds himself, watching the setting sun of Dal'yth creep ever lower in the sky over the scorched battlefield. Soon it will be the next light-rotaa, and his Cadre will deploy in support of O'Shovah's task force as the sun once again rises from the east, over the ocean, masking their approach into Gal'he'shase.
Shas'la Tash'var 10056 tightens the sling on the pulse rifle hung over his shoulder and turns, his mind a torrent of thought.
The Por'eio'kio River - Thirty Tor'kans Northwest of Gel'bryn, Dal'yth Prime
Da'rotaa // 6.34 decs
Shas'la Tash'var 10056 crept slowly up the treacherous rocky embankment of the por'eio'kio river, named after its broad north-south 'trunk' and branching northern delta where its estuaries meet the por'or'kai ocean. Traversing the uneven terrain in the darkness was tough, but not impossible, requiring a level of focus that only one of the plains-running Shas could attain. Blacksun filters engaged, the casualty-reduced eight-tau la'rua approached the top of the riverbank overlooking Gal'he'shase, their worlds awash of bright yellow and green.
He heard the distant rumble of explosions and felt the split-second waves of overpressure deep in his chest, though they were far from his position, and exhaled slowly to calm his nerves. With the water of the wide river behind them, and the entirety of the gue'la defensive line in front of them, it made the fire warrior somewhat uncomfortable to know that an easy route of escape did not exist.
La'Fliyo halted the team and crawled to the lip of the river bank, peering across the vast hilled plains of Dal'yth. Shas'la Fliyo was the la'rua's ad-hoc squad leader after the unexpected death of Ui'Dem'lok only three rotaa-cycles ago. He was competent and charismatic, a natural leader well on his way to Shas'ui.
"La'Var, get up here."
He was talking to Shas'la 10056. Never having earned a name in 'Saal training, Shas'la Tash'var 10056 was nicknamed Var as a temporary stopgap until he earned a proper name. He didn't like it, and every time he heard his squad members say it, he felt a twinge of dishonor at never having done anything notable in 'Saal training to deserve recognition.
Now coated entirely in the clinging dirt after their trip across the river, La'Var lay in the darkness listening to the distant sounds of sporadic gunfire and the chirping of insects. Through his blacksun filter, Gal'he'shase, the City of Infinite Starfarers, was a shimmering white oasis in a jade wasteland, its silver spires throwing distorted reflections through his optical cluster and striped by long diagonal trails of black smoke rising from fires and wrecks. Just above the city, a curious emerald blob rose lazily from the ground.
"There," La'Var marked on his squad leader's HUD with a mental nudge, "dust clouds beyond Gal'he'shase. Sure signs of tracked vehicles."
"I see them. Let's do something about those, shall we?" La'Fliyo replied, adjusting a dial on a small box mounted atop his pulse rifle. "Shas'el, this is La'rua Fliyo, requesting standoff target acquisition authorization."
"La'rua Fliyo, standoff authorization granted. Stay out of sight." El'Yu'rea commanded. He and the other five squads of the Sixty-Second Tash'varan Main Line Cadre were still in the process of crossing the river. La'rua Fliyo was the spearhead and scouting element, calling targets and engaging combat elements ahead of the main Cadre to give it room to maneuver and shape the battlefield.
The Shas'la team leader brought his markerlight to bear and acquired the base of the dust cloud, sending a quick telemetry packet to a nearby flight of Barracudas whose positions were marked on his wrist display, in an orbit seven tork'ans to the east. The markerlight's hyperspectral mor'tek-tor'il-wave radiation sensor analyzed the shape and chemical traces of the dust cloud, and combining it with current local meteorological data drawn from the battle net, estimated the existence of a column of four tracked vehicles moving along a narrow dirt-road on the outskirts of Gal'he'shase. Though specific intelligence, model references, and chemical samples were still being collected by the Fio for integration into the battle net's intelligence database, the markerlight estimated that the vehicles were almost certainly gue'la troop transports; Chimera-class.
The tearing shrieks of two Barracudas throttling up in the distance confirmed their presence long before they were seen. Moments later, the shrieks turned into throaty roars, as the air superiority fighters picked up their final attack headings and swept in low over the town, ion cannons and missile pods strafing the soft ground beyond the domed rooftops and tall towers of Gal'he'shase. Anti-air fire, hidden somewhere within the city, spat out in strobing bursts of flak shells at the two Kor aircraft as they passed overhead, but they were traveling too fast and too low for the gue'la's rudimentary tracking systems to get a proper lock, and the Barracudas egressed to safety.++Reconnaissance Cadre ARC-77 dispersed throughout objective. Reporting three tio've-sized elements of gue'la, coordinates attached. No sightings of or'es'gue'la thus far. Objective prepared and marked for attack.++++Hunter Cadres MLC-23, 53, and 62, and RIF-1, 11, 13, and 15 are in position.++
The battle net operator transmitted.
Then the comm net came alive with a familiar voice. Shas'O Vior'la Shovah.
"Shas'fann, all Cadres are in position. It is time to strike out in Mont'ka at these wretched gue'la invaders. Be on your guard, warriors. Fight not for Dal'yth Prime, but for the Fire Caste brethren at your side, and we shall emerge from the coming battle victorious.
"To'Tau'va, warriors. I shall see you on the other side of Gal'he'shase. O'Shovah out."
The deep, bass voice of Commander Farsight faded from La'Var's earpiece, and he shivered away the gooseflesh it gave him to fight alongside the brutally infamous Shas'O.
Green ready-lights flashed twice on Shas'la 10056's heads-up display. He took a cleansing breath, and recited a Sio't meditation on the value of clarity of mind in combat.
It was time.
Gal'he'shase, Thirty-Five Tor'kans Northwest of Gel'bryn, Dal'yth Prime
Ol'rotaa // 0.63 decs
As the sun began to break over the eastern horizon, Shas'la 10056 was feeling much better. Whether it was adrenaline or just a budding confidence after the previous rotaas' operational defeats, he was finally beginning to calm a bit despite the increasing volume of gunfire in the area.
Dutifully, La'Var advanced through the curved alleyways of Gal'he'shase on point. Running from cover to cover ahead of his la'rua, peering carefully around corners, and calling targets for his squad to engage, La'Var eased himself into a series of well-oiled, almost meditative motions; a comforting routine learned over the course of twelve tau'cyrs of drill after drill in the Tash'varan battle domes.++MLC-62, be advised, RIF-13 redeploying away from your sphere of influence in response to increasing threats to MLC-53. XV-8 support is not guaranteed.++
"Bloodfire," La'Fliyo cursed. "Let's take this slow then. I don't want to run headfirst into something we won't have the firepower to take down."
The la'rua nodded their agreement. The Sixty-Second Tash'varan Main Line Cadre was as tough as they came, the Sept breeding some of the hardiest Fire Warriors in the Empire, but without battlesuit support, their infantry-level weaponry wasn't going to be enough to take down heavy vehicles and hardened fortifications, if encountered.
La'Var, back against a ceramic wall, turned from the corner to address the squad.
"Tally ten gue'la, lasguns, patrolling the main thoroughfare toward the Unity Plaza. If we hurry, we can hit them there at the corner of fourteen and three before the trailing patrols can reinforce." La'Var mentally placed a waypoint on the HUDs of his squad, "Hit and run. Easy."
"A sound plan, little brother," Shas'la Dyan added with a headbob, the combat-expressive of a smirk, "You might just earn the name Var after all with all the raiding plans you've been formulating lately!"
La'Var felt a knot in the pit of his stomach. He knew La'Dyan was just jesting, but to think that he'd earn the one name that he didn't want, he'd never even considered. La'Dyan let out a muffled laugh at the masked but no doubt present expression of consternation on La'Var's face.
"Focus, Shas'la," La'Fliyo chastened, just finishing up notifying the Shas'el of the gue'la presence, "If your thoughts are elsewhere, it will be impossible to set your minds to the work required of us, and we will surely fail our mission."
"Aye, Shas'la," the two said in unison. They knew the Sio't of Concentration well - it was probably the most recited Sio't of every young tau in the Empire - and the battlefield was back at the forefront of their minds in a tidal wave of awareness.
"Let's move," La'Fliyo ordered.
At a combat jog, the la'rua advanced down street eleven parallel to the gue'la. The clatter of their armor was loud, but Gal'he'shase had become a torrent of gunfire and energy weapons discharge, masking the sound of their advance. Turning onto avenue three, the la'rua took up firing positions behind whatever they could find; low walls, gue'la drop-crates, and wrecks of tau civil vehicles. Smell just as important to a pointman as sight and sound, La'Var gently sniffed the air through his helmet's scrubbers, his heightened senses detecting faint and subtle traces of gue'la sweat, deodorants, chemical propellant, and even the sweet aroma of spilled rations.
"They're close," La'Var subvocalized, his armor's electronics suite relaying the message through the earpieces of his squad.
The first gue'la rounded the corner, lasgun at the ready. With his free hand the gue'la shielded his eyes from Dal'yth's bright sun, levitating just over the horizon of geodesic rooftops of the city, and squinted into the plaza for any sign of movement. After what seemed like an eternity, the guardsman was finally convinced that the area was clear and advanced into the orange-bathed concourse. Gesturing silently for the rest of his squad to come forward, they started down the fourteen street thoroughfare down the center of the plaza at a run.
Once the last gue'la had crossed the line of fire into the plaza, La'Var rose from his firing point.
Bright blue plasma from eight rapid-firing pulse rifles flashed through the court like lightning. Four gue'la were knocked from their feet, their torsos a mess of charred flesh and sizzling flak. Others had limbs blown clear of their bodies, writhing out in pain and leaking fluids onto the pristine, silvered ground from wounds that had not completely cauterized. Two survived unscathed, for the moment, taking cover and returning fire in futility. What little protection they could attain was soon melted away by the tremendous flash-heat of the tau pulse weapons and the two gue'la were neutralized at leisure.
The screaming, sobbing ones who hadn't yet realized they were dead were put out of their misery by La'Dyan's pulse pistol.
Then a moment's quiet, but for the sizzling, popping exhaust vents of the tau rifles.
"Good work, Shas'la," La'Fliyo praised. "Injuries?"
"Minor laser burn, La'Fliyo," La'Rena replied, bandaging his forearm with a wince.
"Let's get out of here, now. We don't want to be here when the follow-on patrols arrive," La'Var reminded.
Just as the squad leader nodded his assent, and the team rounded to leave, a tremendous, deafening explosion knocked them from their feet. La'Var was thrown bodily into one of the sleek vehicles a Por'el would normally use to traverse the city's airways, a stab of pain erupting from his flank, and the communications channels for MLC-62 erupted with confused chatter.
"-need a SITREP, La'Fliyo, I repeat, situation report!"
Shaking his head from side to side to rid his skull of the ear-splitting buzzing, Shas'la 10056 pulled himself trembling to his feet, his vision groggy and blurred. Three of the eight squad members' status lights shone a bright cyan - dead
. One was Shas'la Fliyo.
Clutching his side from the stabbing pain of breathing, he grasped with the other for his pulse rifle and crawled behind the civil skimmer, looking toward the source of the explosion through cracked optical lenses.
A breach in one of the plaza's walls billowed with smoke and fire. La'Var removed his now-useless helmet hesitantly to get a better look.
Shas'la Tash'var 10056's eyes went wide.
Out from the wisping smoke stepped a giant, clad in powered armor of black and yellow.
An Or'es'gue'la.A Space Marine.
Gal'he'shase, Thirty-Five Tor'kans Northwest of Gel'bryn, Dal'yth Prime
Ol'rotaa // 1.11 decs
Didactic implants chirping information into La'Var's brain faster than he could process it, La'Var opted to mentally suppress the influx of tactical information before he froze up and instead squeezed the trigger of his pulse rifle as rapidly as he could.
White-hot flares of energy leapt from the twin barrels of his rifle, tiny particles being propelled at hypersonic velocities through a pulsed induction field. Connecting with the or'es'gue'la's scythe-stenciled shoulder pauldron, the high-energy plasma burst blew it clean off, spinning the creature around. In shock, the Shas'la realized that it wasn't the strength of the pulse that spun the or'es'gue'la around - it was sighting in with its weapon!
Ducking back behind the skimmer only a split-second before a burst of three small explosions slammed into it, La'Var only narrowly escaped death, feeling an almost uncontrollable fear of this new threat, pumping adrenaline masking the pain of his injury for the moment.
"Shas'el, this is La'Var of La'rua Fliyo - Contact one or'es'gue'la, request immediate support!"
"We'll be right there, Shas'la! Hold tight!"
Distracted by fire from its other side, the jet-black and bright-yellow Space Marine turned on its unseen assailant, Shas'la Rena, and cut him down in a muffled spattering of miniature concussions and a bright spray of arterial cyan blood.
From across the court, behind a parapet of gue'la sandbags, La'Dyan tossed a kles'tak explosive bundle at the feet of the human abomination, detonating in a bright flash and suffocating whump
that knocked the or'es'gue'la back against the wall, his armor flayed and exposing its charred skin. It lay unmoving, but the victory was short-lived.
Four more Space Marines stepped through the gap, unfamiliar weapons roaring out and cutting down the dazed, crawling members of La'rua La'Fliyo as they struggled to escape.
La'Var let his didactic implant tell him enough to know that these weapons were Bolters; gyrojet weapons that fired rocket-propelled armor-piercing proximity-fused fragmentation explosives, and didn't care to make himself out as a target.
From the east came the five squads of the Main Line Cadre, stampeding through the city streets with pounding hooffalls, Shas'el Yu'rea gently landing at the forefront of the charge in his coal-colored XV-8 Battlesuit, burst cannon roaring off a quick strobe of pulse fire before rocketing back into the air. The or'es'gue'la took cover of their own, firing back at the Battlesuit with their bolters, shells detonating ineffectually against the heavy Crisis armor. The forty newly arrived Shas'la took up disciplined, second-nature firing positions along the outside edge of the Unity Plaza and sighted in on the Marines.
In a feat of adaptation, coordination, and agility that La'Var couldn't have imagined unless he had seen it firsthand, the or'es'gue'la simultaneously split up and sprinted across the Plaza in the blink of an eye. One tossed two fragmentation grenades into a dense cluster of Fire Warriors sending tau bodies flying, another pulled out a tor'lek-long blade and cut headfirst into the ranks of Shas'la in violent arcs of blood, another provided covering fire with dozens of rocket-propelled grenades, and the last, an unhelmeted warrior with more extravagant livery, drew a shimmering blue blade and charged to where Shas'el Yu'rea was about to land.
"Shas'el! Watch out!" La'Var called, but it was too late.
Before the Shas'el could adjust his suit's descent, the or'es'gue'la maneuvered around the towering walker as it slammed into the ground. Getting inside its guard and sweeping its sword in a long, electric slash, the or'es'gue'la cut the XV-8's three-toed feet out from underneath it as if its legs had been made of paper. With a crash of fio'tak, El'Yu'rea's torso crashed into the ground, buckling the lustrous surface of the concourse, and the or'es'gue'la mounted the torso in one fluid motion, sword held high in both hands, tip pointed down toward the vulnerable crew compartment.
One swift thrust, and it was over. The Space Marine buried the energy sword to the hilt in fio'tak armor, withdrawing it covered in the sizzling, steaming stench of burning blood.
In a cry of rage, La'Var clambered to the top of the skimmer and fired on the Space Marine that stood atop his former Commander's XV-8 in an unrelenting barrage, striking the unhelmeted warrior square in the face, vaporizing his head. There were only a handful of Shas'la left alive, the battle now reduced to a barbaric, swirling melee. From his vantage point atop the tau skimmer, he could see that two of the other or'es'gue'la had gone down to mass concentrated pulse fire and silently thanked the Fio for their diligence in arming the Shas with the best technology the Empire could muster.
The last of the or'es'gue'la was on one knee, his powerpack a burning wreckage and his chestplate slowly melting away to close-range pulse rounds flash-heating the external layers of ceramic armor into toxic gases, energy bursts exploding and dissipating off the heavy armor with determined symbolism. The two remaining Tau, having thought the Space Marine beaten, were deliberately aiming at the thickest portion of the gue'la's armor instead of the weaker joint armor.
"Fire! Fire!" La'Var called to the Shas'la, pumping pulse after pulse into the ornate golden breastplate of the or'es'gue'la who taunted them with his defiant posture. La'Var had too thought that the battle was surely won.
But in yet another feat of strength and resilience thought nigh-impossible by the young tau, the Space Marine rose to his feet, despite the weight of his unpowered armor, raised his Bolter and fired into the two Shas'la, killing them instantly.
Gasping in awe, alone and in the open atop the battered, gutted civilian skimmer, La'Var watched unmoving as the Space Marine aimed his Bolter and pulled the trigger.click.
Shas'la 10056 looked into the grim, red-eyed face of death in shocked bewilderment. His Bolter wasn't able to feed him its ammunition count without power.
The Space Marine didn't so much as hesitate. As soon as it registered that he was out of ammunition, the adamantium-clad super soldier simply tossed his weapon aside, began a steady combat advance, and clenched his fists in anger. The or'es'gue'la removed his helmet.+Come and meet your doom, little tau.+
The didactic language implants recently installed obviously worked...
Still shocked into inaction, it was all La'Var could do to raise his pulse rifle and attempt to pull the trigger, but the Space Marine was already on top of him, chestplate molten and dripping gobbets of metal. Rearing across his body with one tree trunk of an arm, the or'es'gue'la backhanded the Shas'la in a bonecrushing blow that sent him flying ten tor'leks into the side of El'Yu'rea's dormant Crisis suit, and quickly reminding him of the lung-piercing pain in his side.
Unmoving, head spinning once again, La'Var opened his eyes to find that he was looking into the open, lifeless eyes of Shas'la Dyan, his brother. His real
brother. It wasn't just a turn of phrase when they said it to one another, it was a real bond of flesh and blood, they shared the same father. His entire faceplate had been ripped apart by a bolter shell, his jaw's flesh ripped and torn, with shards of bone sticking every which way and a pool of blood collecting beneath him.
A single tear of understanding ran down La'Var's cheek as he took in the full bitterness of the galaxy, turned into a tear of hatred for those who would strike down his own flesh and blood, his own brethren, for little other reason than because they existed.
Struggling even to roll over, La'Var propped himself against the hull of the immense Crisis battlesuit with a grunt and made eye contact with the or'es'gue'la across the courtyard, who seemed impressed that the tau was even alive at all. The booming, resonant voice roared again.+Hmph. Another one of your kind that doesn't know when to lay down and die. Very well. I'll make this quick, xeno. You have fought well.+
Slowly advancing, footfalls crunching and clanking against the ground and ceramic decking, the Space Marine drew a combat blade from a sheath on his thigh, wiping it down with a perfumed, oiled cloth produced from a satchel on his belt.
Focusing on preparing the combat blade for the Mercy Strike and muttering his incessant, arrogant monologue, the or'es'gue'la didn't notice Shas'la 10056 reaching for the closest weapon he could find.
The or'es'gue'ui's energy sword, fallen from atop the XV-8...
Grasping the hilt with a four-fingered hand, concealing it partially behind his body, and getting his cloven feet partially underneath him, La'Var readied himself.
The Space Marine stopped just above La'Var, holding the tor'lek-long combat blade high for the decapitating strike.+Your species will naught be more than ashes when we are done with this world. Goodbye, little tau.+
"Goodbye." La'Var said, thumbing the activation stud while simultaneously making a leaping thrust with the large and unwieldy blade. Electric-fire shot through the blade a split-second before it entered the still molten hole in the Space Marine's armor, the enormous super soldier only a hair's breadth too slow while carrying the full burden of his armor to react in time to save himself. The power sword shot lightning arcs of energy through the or'es'gue'la, severing his spine, piercing a number of internal organs, and burning his insides to cinders.
When La'Var finally pulled the sword free, the or'es'gue'la's flesh was beginning to combust.
There was but one thing on his mind as he watched the or'es'gue'la burn.
He would seek retribution for his brother's death. If the gue'la wanted to slaughter all tau for merely existing, they would get such similarly uncompromising treatment in return.
Hatred for the Imperium burning bright, Shas'la Tash'var 10056 walked, limping and clutching his side, the four tor'kans to the rendezvous site along the bank of the por'eio'kio river, his right hand clenched around the power sword, never letting go.
Gel'bryn, Dal'yth Prime
Ol'rotaa // 5.74 decs
Shas'el Vior'la R'ar'ka, esteemed advisor to Shas'O Vior'la Shovah, walked briskly to the Run'al'chia'gor where the various Commanders and Leaders of the Defense of Dal'yth Prime met, deliberated, and strategized on the campaign effort. Passing into the primary chamber, an enormous vaulted dome dominated on all sides by vast viewscreens displaying the locations of various Cadres operating in the city and their logistical, tactical, and operational support charts, El'R'ar'ka turned towards the central dais where the Chia'gor was in session. Drones swooped and weaved in swarms through the chamber's airspace, and it was bustling with murmered activity with representatives of all Castes present he'fann
; dozens of Fio logisticians, Por administrators, Shas tacticians, and Kor wing commanders bumping into each other coordinating and commanding their sections in the field.
Stepping up the floating stairs slowly and deliberately so as not to barge in on the chia'gor, El'R'ar'ka could see from his position that Shas'O Ta'pur, on the far side of the display, was in the process of coordinating a considerably complex plan involving the withdrawal of all tau forces to within the city of Gel'bryn on the holo-dome.
O'Shovah, nearest to the mouth of the staircase, clad in his crimson Vior'lan tunic, turned and eyed the Shas'el with grave curiousity, earning an ired look from that ui't, Shas'O Shaserra.
"What is it, Shas'el?" O'Shovah asked, in a hushed whisper so as not to disturb O'Ta'pur's briefing of the senior leadership of Dal'yth Prime.
"I have a tau here that you might be interested in. A Tash'varan. His file is right here. Quite the story, I can assure you." El'R'ar'ka explained with a wry smile, handing O'Shovah a small datacard. "He'd make quite the addition to our Cadre, and pending your approval, I have already arranged all the administrative measures in order to make it so."
"What's his story? How did you find him?" O'Shovah inquired.
"He limped his way all the way to the rendezvous site outside Gal'he'shase with three broken ribs and a punctured lung after his Cadre encountered an or'es'gue'la ambush within the city. Wiped out to a tau, literally, due to some unfortunate deployment issues. They were experiencing extremely heavy fighting near the main objective and couldn't spare a Rapid Insertion Force to assist MLC-62. The Cadre was lost in sacrifice to the Tau'va."
"I was there," O'Shovah said dryly. "It was an unfortunate but necessary choice that we had to recall RIF-13..."
"Understood, Shas'O," a pause, "about the Tash'varan, this Shas'la has never done anything notable in his entire career, even as a Shas'saal, and now he claims to have killed a Space Marine with one of their own weapons. The story sounds suspicious, I know, but recovery teams on-site confirm the existence of evidence on fourteen and three at Unity Plaza. Evidence suggests that this Shas'la accounted for two
of them, alone!" El'R'ar'ka was beginning to get animated.
"Keep it down, Shas'el," O'Shovah scolded, "What did he kill them with?"
"My apologies, Shas'O. He got the first with his pulse rifle - clean headshot on one of the idiotically arrogant ones we've seen in theater refusing to wear their helmets. The second he killed with the or'es'gue'ui's power sword; an energized blade used to cut through thick armor with little to no resistance. He still has the damn thing, wouldn't let it go during his delirium on the ride back. Suffered quite a bit of blood loss, but he's stable now."
"What is this Shas'la's name?" O'Shovah asked, interested but clearly impatient to get back to the battle plans unfolding before him.
"Never had one. Everyone just called him La'Var because he's from Tash'var and hadn't even earned
a name yet. Rumors have spread quickly though, about the tau who killed two
Space Marines on his own, one of them in hand-to-hand combat. Seems he finally has a name, among the Shas'ui of our Cadre." El'R'ar'ka paused for dramatic effect, waiting for the inevitable prompt.
O'Shovah sighed. "What are they calling him?"
El'R'ar'ka was absolutely ecstatic to answer.
O'Shovah couldn't help but smile,