Extract from "The Gulf Wars Vol 2: Imperial Clashes on the Tau Border" "....
As the engagements on the surface of Hephaestion continued, Imperial forces were both rewarded and punished in their efforts.
The Imperial Guard held out bravely against the followers of the Ruinous Powers, with the armoured might of the 16th Berdamian Armoured Regiment proving more than a match for the cultists and heretics who sought to drag the entire subsector under their sway. Colonel Mieza, more than aware of this fact, had wisely opted for a strategy of a controlled offensive, retreating after inflicting casualties and then waiting for enemy reinforcements to arrive before repeating the process. Indeed, many thousands of heretics would die by the end of the incident.
In stark contrast, the holy maidens of the Adepta Sororitas had walked into a slaughter. Their offensive against the heretic positions in the capital city ran immediately into a Tau cadre, which they forced back a kilometre, until the intervention of the Tau force commander directly. The shadowy Fire Caste leader, designated Case M by the Inquisition ever since, dropped straight into combat and the Sororitas fell into complete disarray. A counterattack by the remaining troops of the cadre that had previously retreated caused massive casualties, while Canoness Siena died a noble death at the hands of the highly advanced technosorcery available to the xenos.
To add insult to injury, an Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos was captured. The Imperial Guard, under Inquisitional order, were forced into a full offensive against the Tau in order to retrieve the imprisoned servant of the Emperor, and were soon to achieve just that with minimal casualties...."
Note: All superior Tau commanders are given a case designation when being referred to in incident reports, the fact that the commander of the Serra'shan'al was given one is not noteworthy. However, how the author of this extract gathered that information would be of extreme interest to the Inquisition.Inquisitor Ferenz Talan
War is full of false alarms,
hesitate we must not,
for strength of arms alone,
secures the Greater Good.
Mesme landed outside her lieutenant's command post, and exited her battlesuit. Her drones immediately went into guard mode, spreading out in a wider formation as the battlesuit closed itself. Fixing the braid in her hair, she proceeded inside the building in front of her.
The small warehouse was a hive of activity, with mobile monitors and communication drones everywhere. Fire Warriors punctuated the stations where Earth Caste scientists and coordinators laboured feverishly. As she reached the centre of the space, her lieutenant approached. El'Ka was a good decade and a half older than Mesme. He also stood a full foot taller than his superior officer, and was well known as a man of unusual height. He was an excellent defensive commander, which balanced Mesme's own preference for offensive action. His recruitment into the Serra'shan'al was a recent development, which gave him a great knowledge of how to deal with regular Fire Caste officers which Mesme could not match due to her history. Needless to say, Mesme found him incredibly useful.
"We have captured the Inquisitor," El'Ka said, "Do you wish to see him?"
"Yes, thank you commander," Mesme replied, "Is my bodyguard present now?"
"Yes, Shas'O," he replied, tilting his head slightly as if to ask why.
Mesme indicated for him to lead the way, which he did.
They exited the warehouse into the large courtyard behind. The ground was layered with dust, that was kicked up by the activity in the yard.
Large, dull grey walls surrounded the space, which was large enough for five Devilfish to land in comfortably. Two of the vehicles, sleek black with the orange markings of the Serra'shan'al, idled at the back of the compound, rear hatches open and facing the warehouse door. Inside them, Kroot were fidgeting and waiting for orders. Closer to the entrance, two black battlesuits stood like incredible statues, their pilots speaking with one another.
Mesme recognised one immediately.
Kaishi, or "Skillful Victory", was her bodyguard and comrade from the very earliest days of her life.
He was slightly taller than Mesme, which had always irked her in her childhood, and the general build of the male Fire Caste warrior. He was of the most noble blood, being directly related to several high ranking Fire Caste commanders, but he was not particularly proud of this fact. He had suffered from Ho'or-ata-t'chel when his battlesuit's head was taken off by a lascannon, and so was hospitalised as operations on Hephaestion began. Battlesuit technology, however mighty it made the warriors of the Tau Empire, had its drawbacks.
Mesme approached Kaishi, who noticed her and saluted as his fellow pilot did the same.
She saluted back playfully, to El'Ka's amusement, and embraced Kaishi briefly before speaking.
"Back already?" she asked, "I thought you would miss all the fun."
"I didn't get to drop in from forty thousand tor'lek," Kaishi replied, "so as far as you're concerned, I already did miss the fun."
"Vre'Kaishi, go retrieve the prisoner!" El'ka ordered before the conversation could continue.
"Yes, Shas'el!" Kaishi responded after waiting for a nod from Mesme.
The pilots wandered off in the direction of the transports, as an uncomfortable silence drifted over their commanders.
"Your behaviour is strange around that one," El'ka said, breaking the silence, "You soften up in his presence."
"Kaishi is the one person I have known since I was a child," Mesme replied, "I cannot help but be a child around him."
"A word of advice, try to remain sharp in front of the troops," El'Ka continued, "You have a reputation to protect."
Mesme turned to El'Ka and found him grinning, which was something he did when he delivered advice to her.
As such, she found it incredibly disarming. "Very well," she replied, clenching her jaw slightly, "It serves the Greater Good, I suppose."
Such was the behaviour of the commanders away from their subordinates.
Kaishi returned with a tall gue'la and a squad of Fire Warriors.
The Inquisitor was dressed in the standard imperial armour, with the added protection of the primitive shield technology the gue'la possessed.
The seal of the Inquisition was dangling on a necklace, which Mesme grabbed and looked at closely.
"He certainly looks like an Inquisitor," she said, "But is he the right type?"
"Why would any other kind of Inquisitor be here?" El'Ka asks, "Our reason for being here is secret."
"Not as much of a secret as you think," the Inquisitor replied in perfect Tau, to the disconcertment of everyone except Mesme.
Talan was much amused by the reaction of his captors to his knowledge of Tau language.
He thought he might as well have a little fun, before he was deported to some Tau re-education camp or intelligence facility.
The commander, a Tau female, circled him as her colleagues recovered.
"So, you speak our language," she said, continuing to circle, "You are an Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus, correct?"
She had said Inquisitor and Hereticus in Gothic.
Talan frowned to himself for a moment, almost disappointed that Tau intelligence had been unable to determine what section of the Inquisition he belonged to.
"I'll take that as a no," the commander stated, apparently noticing the change in his body language, "And yet you are definitely an Inquisitor.."
"He must be Ordo Xenos," she said to her entourage, turning away from Talan, "Which means he is near useless for our purposes."
"Why are you here?" Talan asked, "You do realise what the heretics are trying to do?"
"Yes, which is precisely why we are here," the commander responded.
The pilot put his hand up to his ear, listening in to an earpiece.
"Mesme, the gue'la are attacking in this direction with armour," he said.
Talan immediately noted the commander's name.
"Prepare to pull out," Mesme ordered after a pause, "Send the stealth teams to delay the enemy."
The alien then turned to Talan.
"Keep this one in cuffs and leave him here," she stated, "Rig the building to blow."
The commander then began to walk away with her entourage.
"You think this world is yours?" Talan shouted at her, "The Imperium will send millions upon millions to stop you if you try and take this sector!"
A statement of frustration, but he was about to be blown up, so Talan did not particularly care.
Mesme turned, grabbed Talan by the scruff of the neck, and brought his face to her eye level.
"The Tau'va asks not how many there are, just where they are," the Shas'O said, "Your armies will join us sooner or later, gue'la."
She then threw him to the ground, and left.