Friday, July 21, 2017
Letters From The Front
The Supreme Commander of the T'au, Aun'Va of the Undying Spirit himself, on the battlefield? Awe inspiring. It has been since my Fire Knife ritual since I felt such closeness to my brethren. The sense of oneness in his presence was on a whole other scale.
I looked to my left, into the eyes of my Shas'ui and it was as if I looked at myself in that moment. For he and I were not singular, but of one mind, one purpose and one spirit. The entirety of the battlefield was filled with the rightness of this. Aun'Va, the fulfillment of many prayers set next to me quietly, as if he weren't bothered by the whipping winds that cast his banners into disarray. His Honor Guard payed equally little heed.
Clustered behind a ruin were the Harlequin forces. All eyes were there as they slid into our range. The eyes of Aun'Va flicked to the Gun Rigs and the air tore itself apart to make way for the Railgun shots that fired. It was as if the Supremacy Railguns had been waiting for the near imperceptible motion for decades. With its shot followed the chorus of rail rifles, Rocket launchers, and the mighty Pulse Blastcannon far above from the mammoth Stormsurge battlesuit in whose shadow the Aun nestled comfortably and unafraid.
The explosions that shattered the Harlequin bike unit, the initial focal point of the Aun's contempt, echoed from across the battlefield and were the signal that all would be well. The glorious pyrotechnics were transmitted in muted form through my helmet and it was the sweetest cacophony I had heard all day.
The Harlequins, realizing their stealthy approach was finally discovered, streaked forth towards my brethren with speed that might have put Pirahna's to shame. In mere seconds, another attack bike unit was on the right flank, approaching an objective the Kroot Hounds were baying to protect. No matter. The Aun's calm was my calm. The Venom-like vehicles that bore their elite was within a nose cilia of the Gunrigs and their malevolent intent was clear.
I lifted my rail rifle and with the power of Aun'Va unleashed war upon them. I could feel the pulse rifle bucking with force but it was as if it were a simple math problem in my head. for with Aun'Va near, my clarity of thought allowed me to exactly predict the strength and direction of its reaction, my musculature naturally responded to the calmly delivered information, adjusting to allow me to fire even more rapidly and accurately than I ever could have thought possible. The result? Obliterated Skyweavers and their unhappy combatants spilled onto the battlefield as if vomited their in distaste.
The Sniper Drones on the huge machinery behind me unleashed on the strangely dressed Harlequin leaders who hid like cowards behind their previous hiding place. The Sniper Drone teams were guided further by the presence of their Firesight Marksman and the Drone Controller on the Stormsurge battle suit. They took a heavy toll before the Kroot Hounds closed in...
Enemy jet fighters that screamed overhead exploded the head of all four of my squad mates with some arcane weapon, leaving only me alive. I felt some kind of force over me, as if it emanated from the Aun himself, and I was safe, barely. as if he had chosen me for a purpose. My brothers had done an excellent job of interposing themselves between the Aun and the jets, saving him for the Greater good and so it was time to return the favor.
I threw my rifle up over my shoulder, and ran towards the Harlequins as their pistols tore the Gun Rigs to pieces. Some sort of dark sorcery was upon their weapons for they were but mere pistols, yet destroyed Gun Rigs like Lascannons might. No time for worry. Time for sacrifice. I threw myself into the fray with other brave fire warriors and butt-struck them until they were dead. Though their technology might be as terrifying as ours, they were no match for Tau Empire ferocity.
There wasn't much left when the battle ended. The remaining jet, its wings barely remaining attached retreated at what speed it could muster. Two of their leaders who had cowered from our Sniper Drones ran away and the jetbike Squadron that we had left alive hid among the rubble of the battle, then shot off into the distance. They had slowed us down far too much unfortunately and Aun'Va's reassuring gaze told us it was wiser t oaccept their narrow escape and prepare for the next assault than to over extend and pursue. He never said thsoe words, but I could somehow...feel the meaning of his thoughts. The Fire Warriors of the Arctic Corps remained where once enemies had stood. The death of my brothers will be celebrated for serving such noble purpose.
The artifacts we seek clearly have value. More have come. The Blood Angels Sept is well known to T'au, their madness noted frequently.
My reinforcements came, and I was named Shas'ui for my charge into danger and the honor brought me by my squad mates sacrifice. I felt no pride, for there should be none in duty. I humbly accepted the commission and the responsibility that came with it.
The enemy brought a Prophyrion titan with it to our left, multiple Death Company near it, and then their Razorbacks and other soldiers to the right.
I deployed my Fire Warriors further from the Titan, while a lone Gun Rig and its Pathfinder crew bravely acted independently over there with some Kroot Hounds to try and get shots on the monster. Aun'Va commanded the StormSurge to cast its shadow onto a building where the Aun might view his conquest comfortably with the Sniper Drones, fire Warriors inside it. The other Gun rigs were to my right.
As had happened the previous encounter, Aun'Va took the initiative and the GunRigs and StormSurge fired into the enormous beast, shearing half its fortitude away in one go. the Kroot took to the middle and Kroot Hounds advanced along the flanks as they were wont to do. The rest of our guns trained themselves on the maddened Death Company whose nature we knew well. We eliminated an entire group of them at one time i nthe center of their line to make a statement: erasure protocols would be in effect. The enemy surged to the center and none other but Gabriel Seth and his men bound from their Razorback and smashed into the Kroot Carnivore lines, but they held just barely.
I could see the Kroot struggling with the power armored Demi-Gods in the ruins and ordered my men forward along with the two Gun Rigs. We would not forsake them and we would take those objectives. Seeing us, the Kroot Shaper ordered his Mercenaries to back away from the melee and allowed my squad to spray the enemy with our rapid firing guns. They fell like wheat, thundrous concussions smashing in their armor and sending them tumbling among the wreckage to BECOME wreckage. Gabriel Seth remained and I ordered my men to pursue them further, Sniper Drones blasting him from overhead. As we surged I heard a sound like a Agonwood tree splitting and falling, only when I looked, it was the Prophyrion being cut down the middle by the Supremacy Railguns. A cheer went up in my helmets audial circuits and it was played back to me as well. I could see far on my right the Kroot Hounds had reached a Rhino and were clawing and digging at it, smelling the prey within. The Kroot on the left near the Prophyrion had no one to oppose them for the Death Company there had been shattered by the Stormsurge and the Pathfinders.
The enemy bravely attempted to come to the aid of their Rhino to my right and their Priest rushed to Gabriels side to try and keep him safe. The Sniper Drones tagged the commander, almost killing him. the Stormsurge turned around after being hammered by the Razorbacks and prepared to return fire, nearly destroying a transport and further injuring the Priest who was now its closest target.
I took all of this in through my overhead display and kept my men moving into position. I ordered them to stop and fire. The chatter of our pulse blasts was followed by the explosion of the hull of the Razorback we sought to finish, but we were sure to nod to the pilots of the Stormsurge for they had done the real work. We let loose with everything we had to finish the damaged thing.
In moments, the battlefield was empty, with nothing to oppose us in sight. As swiftly as the enormous prophyrion has stomped forward, the battle was over with nary a member of mankind to speak sense into. Supreme victory was ours.
The Space Wolves as well? Surely this planets secrets were beyond measure or value. The sound of them flying was our first indicator, but of course the Imperial Knight heading straight for us from its forest camouflage was the first we saw. As it broke cover, so did two Devastator Squads far from us. The jets were faster and they screamed overhead...like directly overhead. in no time the enemy was upon us and would be rappelling down ropes to kill us.
Aun'Va swept his hands wide, one hand pointing to the Kroot Shaper, the other to the Supremacy Railgun wielding Gunrigs. Then he said simply "Be done with what must be done".
A tear trickled down my cheak and alighted on my chin strap. To hear his actual voice...there are no words. I put my rifle to my shoulder and found my squad had done the same in perfect synchronicity. We fired, and fired and fried. The entire sky lit up and burned for the amusement of Aun'Va, as tears and then outright rents appeared in the ceramite armor flying above us. Markerlights formed a crazy spotlight circus on the hulls and everywhere they went followed Tau firepower. The Kroot Hounds ran forward and literally circled the landing zone of the planes, giving the occupants nowhere to go if it crashed...and crash they did. Our entire Tau force had focused down the two birds with precision no other army could match and the people inside the dying planes screamed as their wreckage plummeted to earth, killing them all. All hands were lost and the precious few capable of crawling from it were quickly beset by hounds.
The reckless Imperial Knight was relatively untouched, sustaining only minor attention, and charged into the side of the Stormsurge to try and kill it, Aun'Va's look of consternation was all the army needed as a reminder of their duty and as one I began to fire into the oncoming behemoth. We struck blow after hammering blow into the thing and it took a mass of damage from us. After all the Stormsurge was essentially surrounded by its friends and our unity was devastating. The Knight sparked and sprang leaks everywhere but struck out with its mighty blows, bashing the Stormsurge. but it too was a titan. The Stormsurge backed away as its auto-reloaders worked to prepare it for its purpose.
The Kroot Hounds streaked full speed forward towards the Devastators who were doing serious damage, having killed two of the Gunrigs. That left the decisive blow to come from us against the Knight.
I looked to my brothers and asked simply: "If not us, then who?" and I moved towards the Knight rifle up and firing. Despite almost engulfing our entire fussilade the thing would not go down and we were closing fast. The Knight took notice and turned towards its final tormentors as if to squash me and my squad to end the argument. We were unafraid and our weapons bucked i nour hands, stopping it in its tracks. It came crashing to the ground at our very feet. The Shaper howled in victory and encouragement as the Hounds attacked and swamped the Devastators in the final fight they would ever be in.
I took a moment to adjust my helmet, and take in the sight. They say one soldier in the Fire Caste can do anything. Before me was proof that even the smallest things, a kroot Hound or a Fire Warrior, could topple titans or build empires. The Imperium of man would do well to remember that.