40K Online

Main => Art & Fiction => Topic started by: GreaterGoodIreland on July 8, 2010, 05:34:31 PM

Title: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - Arc Finished!
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on July 8, 2010, 05:34:31 PM
This post is for the fluff for the new (http://www.40konline.com/index.php?topic=202929.0) Tau army that I'll be collecting. I've decided to make it a piece of fiction as well, so I can build a narrative around the army itself.

The fluff/story itself will be based around documents from various factions in the 40k universe rather than a straight up novel style piece, because I feel that would give a greater sense of realism in terms of how other armies would view this one (as so how my opponents should view it).

So here is the first document (it's long):
Ordo Xenos Transmission
Astropath ref21004979541
Author: Inquisitor Ferenz Talan
Destination: All Ultima Segmentum Inquisitorial Reference Collectives,
All Planetary Adeptus Administratum Governors; Ultima Segmentum,
Adeptus Mechanicus, Mars,
Adeptus Astartes Chapters Ultramarines, Blood Ravens,
All Adepta Sororitas Orders Militant, Orphelia VII.

Subject: Tau incursion mystery solved, request for troops


Recent incursions by Tau forces of unknown affiliation deep into Imperial territory have been the subject of much concern in the Eastern Fringe since the end of the Damocles Gulf Crusade. Forces aligned not only to the Tau Empire itself, but the Farsight Enclaves and Tau mercenaries, seem to be able to enter Imperial space and land on Imperial worlds at ease. This has allowed not only the so-called "Water Caste" to operate freely on several Imperial worlds, but full military operations by the "Fire Caste" to become increasingly numerous.

Particularly interesting attacks have come over the past three years, the most relevent of which I shall describe in detail, thanks to a patchwork of various sources.

The first occurred deep into Imperial territory, in the Kilarnus system, the events of which you may be aware of.
A remaining splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Kraken of relatively insignificant size had been detected early thanks to a merchant ship encounter and the usual signs of the menace. However, the world was only defended by its PDF due to being behind several heavily defended worlds, and looked to fall easily. Reinforcements were of course requested, but unlikely to arrive before the world was stripped barren and the splinter fleet turned into a much more serious problem.

As the splinter fleet entered the edges of the system, an entire Tau fleet and a small Eldar cruiser entered the system within a short space of time. The Tau fleet, some ships of which had never before been observed by the Imperium and all jet black, soon engaged the Eldar over the moon of Kilarnus V. The conflict was short lived due to the Eldar engines being knocked out early. The Tau and the Eldar soon descended upon the moon together as the splinter fleet began to drop its spores on Kilarnus III, the main inhabited planetary body in the system.

While the Kilarnian PDF fought valiantly for control of their capital, the Tau and Eldar suddenly retreated to the orbit of the furthest planet. The reason for this is that they had awoken a Necron Tomb on the moon of Kilarnus V. Sources conflict as to whether this was deliberate (Imperial sources suggest that it wasn't, secondary sources from the Tau suggest that it was). Regardless, the Necrons descended upon Kilarnus III just as the PDF had stabilised a defence line against the Tyranid threat. The PDF was quickly overwhelmed, caught between wave after wave of gaunts and phalanxes of Necron warriors. We do not have any information on the battles between the Tyranids and the Necrons, only that by the time the Imperial strike force arrived, the tomb on the moon of Kilarnus V had been thoroughly destroyed, and the corpses of the major control Tyranids were missing. Wounds on gaunt corpses and blast marks on Necron tomb spiders suggested heavily that Tau pulse fire had been responsible, though not a single Tau corpse was found. The world was still heavily infested with smaller Tyranids and genestealers however, and was purged by Exterminatus on my authority after the few survivors were rescued and quarantined. It seems likely the majority of the Necrons were destroyed by the Tyranids, with the Tau mopping up the survivors.

While all this is a cause for concern, particularly the very notion of collusion between the deceitful Eldar and the Tau (which is henceforth considered highly classified), the real issue is of the following question: Why were the Tau there in the first place? The answer to this question comes into focus in the second incident report.

The second incursion of note occurred within Tau space, and is only known to us due to extensive interrogations of Rogue Traders operating in Tau space. The veracity of this information seems to be solid, due to the consistency of facts gleaned on the incident, and the confirmation of these facts in the third incident.

As you should be aware, the number of humans residing under the Tau Empire's rule is considerable. An unfortunate fact of repeated Tau expansions and repeated failures on the part of Imperial forces to retake all of the worlds conquered. Imperial forces have even begun to face these traitors on the battlefield, though their numbers and the amount of STC machinery they possess are still modest. The Tau have also seemed to have considerable success in avoiding problems the Imperium faces with regard to the forces of Chaos affecting humans. However, it is clear now that they have also had a few considerable failures.

According to at least seven Rogue Traders who operated in distinct areas of Tau space, a group of humans under the protection of the Tau Empire had fallen to Chaos. Which "sept" they belonged to is unknown (the majority of the traders say Dal'yth). The heretics managed to keep their dark rites a secret from their Tau overlords for two years, gathering supporters from within the human population and generally keeping their heads down. Why the Tau were unable to catch these people is clearly rooted in the inability of the Tau to be swayed by the powers of Chaos (to which some conclude that the Tau have no souls). Clearly this is an advantage to the Tau directly, but a distinct disadvantage if the Tau are to continue to usurp Imperial worlds. It seems the Tau realised this before the incident in question, as I shall explain.

The heretics soon formed the Cult of the Bloody Hand, dedicated to Khorne, and began human sacrifices. Tau alarm bells were immediately tripped when inventories of the population by the Earth caste came up light. Investigating Water caste members also went missing, and the Kroot were drafted in to guard the human settlements. The Cult of the Bloody Hand went on undisturbed however, building greater and greater favour with the Dark Gods. By the time a sweep of the human settlements by Fire Warriors was ordered, a mass human sacrifice had already taken place. The Fire Warriors sweeping the streets were attacked by Chaos Space Marines, summoned from a portal in a desecrated cathedral to the Emperor. Again, reports vary as to what legion of Chaos the cult had summoned, most sources state it was the Alpha Legion.

Regardless, the Fire Warriors sweeping the streets and the Kroot guarding the outskirts were soon slaughtered by a great host of beserkers in blood red armour, and only a quick response by the Fire Caste stopped the Khorne zealots from entering other significant residential areas. These were evacuated quickly before a second assault broke the lines. The Traitor legions were soon joined by minor daemons spawned from the warp, and a whole host of walker vehicles. The attack had seized a two hundred square kilometre area in a week by the time the next phase of the incident occurred.

On the 8th day of the Chaotic attack, a Tau fleet, ships all jet black as during the Kilarnus Incident, dropped into orbit and command of all Fire Caste forces in theatre was ceded to the Commander and Ethereal of the fleet. One of the reports suggest that they were the same person, which while an interesting report, seems highly unlikely given the rigid caste structure of Tau society. It seems the majority of Tau find the arrival of this fleet to be highly irregular as well, as no sept operates a fleet of jet black ships and the military command structure is not flexible, making the sudden change in commander a strange event. Reporting of the event was also "suppressed for the Greater Good", though persistant rumours fly around to this day (to our benefit).

The black-clad Tau descended directly on the portal cathedral with many of their battlesuits, and destroyed it, closing the gate to the warp. The next three weeks were spent annihilating the stranded Chaos forces, sector by sector. Apparently, only the black-clad Tau were permitted to aggressively pursue the remaining Traitor marines, all other Tau forces were made to hold a wide perimeter and saw little action once the portal had been destroyed. By the time they were allowed to clear the area, all Chaos artefacts had "disappeared" along with the forces that had defeated the zealots. The incident now has an almost mythical status in Tau society, despite best efforts to suppress it.

The Tau clad in black who descended to destroy Chaos are generally known as "The Shadows of the Mont'ka" due to their black uniforms and equipment, as well as the tactics they use. The Bloody Hand incident seems to indicate that the "Shadows" operate somewhat like the combined orders of the Inquisition does, though the parallel is not perfect. These Tau do not possess the absolute powers that we who bear the seals do, and we do not engage in the sort of forward incursions on the regular basis that these forces seem to.

The third incident happened very recently on the Fringe border world of Parmenio X.
Like the Bloody Hand incident, a large cult movement had summoned Chaos to the world. Cadian Imperial Guard regiments were on hand to help beat back the heretics, but were unable to defeat them. Bloody fighting continued for weeks until once again, the black Tau fleet dropped into orbit stealthily, and delivered several cadres opposite the focal point of Chaos on the planet. Crossing a large valley soaked in the blood of Imperial citizens, they destroyed the base of the traitors in the system and disappeared with many foul artefacts. The only image in Imperial possession of the ground forces of this force is attached, showing the commander of the force in the midst of battle (though it is of poor quality to say the least).


I suspect that these Shadows are a specialised force to deal with Chaos and other dark powers in the galaxy, most likely to counteract the threat to their growing human population. It would explain their seclusion from the rest of the Tau military, and their consistent appearances where Chaos and the Necron are present.

These three incidents require the utmost attention of the Imperium, lest the method by which these "Shadows" move into Imperial space becomes more widespread amongst the Tau military. I immediately request Adeptus Astartes and Adepta Sororitas Combat teams at Parmenion IX's space station so that an attempt to capture these dangerous xenos can be attempted. As such, all planetary governors in the Segmentum are to be prepared should necessity require them to assist.

Inquisitor Ferenz Talan

Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - Tau Fluff/Fiction
Post by: bluewpc on July 9, 2010, 12:21:09 AM
Hey welcome to the forums and may I say you've made a really good first impression. The dossier is very well written and the images though simple and one blurred nearly beyond recognition add a lot to the speculative nature of the report. Maybe just wishful thinking since these guys seem to deal more with Chaos than anything else but are you planning on perhaps making a report on a border clash with the Imperium? If so sweet! (I'm a diehard IG guy and there's a battle axe been grinding with the empire for a few years now)
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - Tau Fluff/Fiction
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on July 9, 2010, 04:23:09 AM
Well, whether or not they deal with Chaos more or not would depend entirely on the accuracy of the findings of Inquisitor Talan, wouldn't it?  ;)
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - Tau Fluff/Fiction
Post by: bluewpc on July 9, 2010, 11:25:20 AM
Aye I suppose it does
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - Tau Fluff/Fiction
Post by: Gornon on July 16, 2010, 10:35:25 PM
Couple holes, 40k Backgroundwise:

1.Kilarnus III seems overpopulated with different species.  Tau, Eldar, Necrons, Tyranids, and the Imperium all on the same planet?  Sounds like a mini Medusa V or Dark Crusade.  More or less, I find it not probable.  I can see that you wanted to show that a black ops raider type Tau group can come, hit the enemey, and then fade, but having everyone going at once seems silly.  I guess what you are trying to do is say the Eldar are letting them use the Web Way?  Still, I would cut out the Nids and Eldar.  It makes the story more believable.

Also, I'm not really sure the Imperium would nuke the planet. 
The Imperium   usually is very loath to give up a world.  From what you have written, it appears the back of the Nid swarm was broken.  Would not the Inquisitor called for more backup and then proceed to take back the world?  The Imperium has reclaimed worlds in worse condition, after all. 

Also, your Khorne cult summoning Alpha Legion makes no sense.  Perhaps you meant World Eaters?  Alpha Legion prefers to worm their way into power with Xantos Gambits (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosGambit) lasting years rather than outright attacks.  If they do fight, they do so by having cult cells rise up while they attack the enemy from multiple points using indirect warfare.  Raids, sabotage, Trojan Horses, impersonating enemey officers, and forming anti-current enemey alliances.

Also, they don't have Berzerkers.  Frothing madmen have tendency of throwing wretches into carefully wrought secret plans.  They also don't really use daemons.  Daemons are hard to hide and don't last long, especially outside of Warp taitned areas where the Legion tends to operate.

World Eaters though, do have Berzerkes and will use Bloodletters and would cheerfully come though a portal to wreck random destruction.

Also, if your Tau want to fight Chaos, why would include killing Necrons into their MO?  Necrons have nothing to do with Chaos.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - Tau Fluff/Fiction
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on July 17, 2010, 03:13:04 PM
Couple holes, 40k Backgroundwise:

1.Kilarnus III seems overpopulated with different species.  Tau, Eldar, Necrons, Tyranids, and the Imperium all on the same planet?  Sounds like a mini Medusa V or Dark Crusade.  More or less, I find it not probable.  I can see that you wanted to show that a black ops raider type Tau group can come, hit the enemey, and then fade, but having everyone going at once seems silly.  I guess what you are trying to do is say the Eldar are letting them use the Web Way?  Still, I would cut out the Nids and Eldar.  It makes the story more believable.

Also, I'm not really sure the Imperium would nuke the planet. 
The Imperium   usually is very loath to give up a world.  From what you have written, it appears the back of the Nid swarm was broken.  Would not the Inquisitor called for more backup and then proceed to take back the world?  The Imperium has reclaimed worlds in worse condition, after all. 

Also, your Khorne cult summoning Alpha Legion makes no sense.  Perhaps you meant World Eaters?  Alpha Legion prefers to worm their way into power with Xantos Gambits (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosGambit) lasting years rather than outright attacks.  If they do fight, they do so by having cult cells rise up while they attack the enemy from multiple points using indirect warfare.  Raids, sabotage, Trojan Horses, impersonating enemey officers, and forming anti-current enemey alliances.

Also, they don't have Berzerkers.  Frothing madmen have tendency of throwing wretches into carefully wrought secret plans.  They also don't really use daemons.  Daemons are hard to hide and don't last long, especially outside of Warp taitned areas where the Legion tends to operate.

World Eaters though, do have Berzerkes and will use Bloodletters and would cheerfully come though a portal to wreck random destruction.

Also, if your Tau want to fight Chaos, why would include killing Necrons into their MO?  Necrons have nothing to do with Chaos.

Kilarnus would normally only have Imperials and the sleeping Necrons on one of the moons.
The Eldar presence was limited to a single ship, and was there as where the Necron arises, there's a decent chance of the Eldar showing up as well.

The Nids were far from broken. The Tau didn't engage forces on Kilarnus III for very long, instead concentrating on destroying the source of the Necron threat on the moon of Kilarnus V. The reason for their brief presence on Kilarnus III was to cripple the spread of the Nids out of the system rather than destroy them.

Exterminatus was performed as a large proportion of the planet had been stripped bare, there were very few survivors and the infestation of the planet by Nids was still considerable. The risk-benefit ratio meant that attempting to retake the planet was not worth the cost and possible genestealer issues, and the Inquisitor clearly judged that putting the planet to the metaphorical torch was the best course of action. The planet wasn't particularly valuable to begin with, considering its lack of defences and Imperial Guard.

It said "most sources" stated the Alpha Legion, as it is the legion with the most insidious reputation, I figured if ignorant people were going to think of a legion that would plot and test how ready the Tau were, it would be that particular legion.
Of course, the Tau are most likely unaware of the differences between legions, so the information on what legion it was would come from speculation of humans. The whole point about the incident within Tau space is that the information is pieced together from human sources that may be unreliable on certain facts. You are right that I had the World Eaters in mind when it comes to the style of attack though (having read the 3rd Ciaphas Cain novel a few days before writing it).

These Tau aren't just anti-Chaos, which will be explained later.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - Tau Fluff/Fiction
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 4, 2010, 09:46:27 PM
Inquisitor Ferenz Talan brooded as he prodded the food in front of him with his knife. His surroundings would have normally improved his mood, as the luxurious furnishings of a naval captain's state room and the presumably delicious food presented to him not five minutes earlier. Had this been the usual situation with similar company, he would have indulged himself to the fullest extent possible. His philosophy on life consisted only of two parts, duty and pleasure. Life was too short to ignore either of them. Now, he feared that both tenets would be increasingly hard to fulfill over the course of the coming weeks.
The reason for his growing discomfort was the company around the ornate table in front of him.

At the head of the table, inevitably, sat the Captain. An old and rather fat man by the name of Pelton, he had once triumphed in a great space battle and received considerable acclaim. The details of which Talan did not really care for, as it seems the rest of the man's career had been relatively uneventful. The man's most positive trait was that he was quiet, and intervened in conversation only when he had an absolute opinion on something. Furthermore, he did as Talan said without much hesitation, including moving a particularly perverted officer from the room next to Talan's immediately. While that was generally the norm for requests from Talan, there was none of the negativity due to being ordered around that usually came with it.

To the left of the Captain, Inquisitor Alanis White sat, chewing steadily at a rather large piece of steak. He was a thin and tall man, with greying hair and a sneering face that didn't exactly compliment him. Talan didn't particularly like White, and found him to be suspect in every way. White was a member of the Ordo Hereticus, and seemed to enjoy his work a little too much. Talan, being a member of the Ordo Xenos, naturally found his job to be somewhat distasteful, but also acknowledged that dealing with aliens gives one a lot more flexibility than dealing with heretics and cultists. Regardless of his feelings, Talan knew that White's presence was a necessary for the coming operation. The Tau were firmly within the jurisdiction of Talan's area of expertise, but the creatures they took such a keen interest in were most definitely not. White's knowledge of cults and heretics was invaluable. Lastly, he was far from alone.

Beside White, Canoness Birgitta Siena was reposed in her chair, ignoring her food as well. She was as tall as White was, with white hair far too early for a woman of her years and a reasonably attractive face. She had donned the usual dress of the Adepta Sororitas outside of battle, in the form of an Ecclesiarchy robe. She was commander of the battlegroup sent by the Order of the Blooded Rose from Orphelia VII, on Talan's request. Her troops had arrived swiftly, but brought White along to command them. Talan's reputation with the religious hierarchy of the Imperium was not the best, though they could not act against him. She seemed the typical product of the Sororitas; devout, chaste and extremely naive. Like White, she irritated Talan to no end. However, her powers of command were not to be discounted, and she was well known for several successful heretic hunts on industrial and hive worlds. Talan was not the only one to be irritated by her, however.

Directly opposite the Canoness, to the right of the Captain, sat the saving grace of the whole event in Talan's mind. Colonel Artemis Mieza, commander of the 16th Berdam Armoured Regiment. She was relatively new to the command, having only served on two assignments before this one. She was an attractive woman (in Talan's eyes at least). Dressed in her uniform, possessing nicely tanned skin, a shapely body and long black hair, Talan found her interesting from the get-go. She was from Berdam, immediately removing any idea that she was somehow an inferior commander, ideas that seemed to hang around particularly egotistical men of power in the Imperium about most women. Berdam is a system notorious for its wild festivals and its music, so much so that every Berdamian vehicle had large loudspeakers bolted to them, which played whatever form of music was most popular among the people driving it. All Berdamian military units were mixed sex as well, harking back to a time when there were so many male deaths in the system, the women had to fight as well. This egalitarian and bohemian ideal placed Mieza directly in the path of the Canoness' ideals, and as such, they seemed to despise each other.

One particular person was conspicuous in his absence, however. Librarian Stavan, who was commanding the Blood Ravens' detachment, had opted out of the dinner event, without stating his reasons. Talan liked Stavan, having talked to him on many occasions over the course of the three week period of waiting for reinforcements on Parmenion IX's defence station. Aside from his annoying habit of inserting riddles into his dialogue, Talan found him to be a very entertaining person to be around. He didn't act like the quiet pious soldier that many Space Marines were. Stavan was also discreet about any discussions that Talan might have with him, a very useful trait to say the least.

Talan sat opposite the Captain, as they both watched the conversation taking place before them. The subject of the talk was on the operation ahead.

"The heretics must be destroyed immediately, or as soon as we can destroy them, once we are on the planet!" the Canoness said in a raised voice, shifting her weight in her chair. Talan rolled his eyes, at which the Captain cocked his head to the side slightly.

"I was under the impression our job was to capture a Tau force, not purge our only bait," Mieza responded calmly, "If you know about another cult that is so conveniently bordering Tau space, kindly tell me."

"The Tau will surely come anyway, and when they do come, we will purge them as well," continued Siena, "It does not matter that we will eliminate the heretics first."

"The Tau are not blind, they have reliable means of receiving information about these cults," Talan interrupted, "They aren't stupid either, if we purge the uprising as quickly as you suggest, then they may get wind of it before they arrive and then simply not show up."

"Are you suggesting we leave Imperial citizens to the daemon spawn?" White cut-in, still chewing steak.
"That sounded awfully like an accusation," Talan responded, grinning grimly, "Of course I am not suggesting we leave the planet entirely without aid, only that we employ a strategy that doesn't destroy the heretics before the Tau decide to intervene."

"And preferably one that leaves us with enough strength so we can grab us a few of them as well," Mieza added, looking at Talan for agreement, which was given by a nod.

The argument continued along the same lines for several minutes.

"We are only a few hours from Hephaestion now, and you still haven't agreed upon a strategem," the Captain started, "I suggest you hurry."
Talan shared the Captain's concerns, the will of the Hereticus personnel versus the needs of the mission was a battle becoming quite tiresome..

"If I might make a suggestion."
The Blood Ravens Librarian entered the room from the door behind the Captain, and took a seat beside Colonel Mieza.
He was clad in a robe himself, covering the majority of his genetically enhanced muscles, but not quite hiding them.
Everyone agreed to hear his idea almost at once, which caused another grin to appear on Talan's face.

"We land the Imperial Guard and my Blood Ravens to bolster the lines of the Hephaestion PDF, and allow the Sororitas to conduct offensive operations against the heretics until the Tau arrive," Stavan explained quietly, "When the Tau arrive to conduct their business, we allow them to land and then launch a full offensive."

The room went silent, each party thinking upon the plan.
"That is satisfactory," said the Canoness, breaking the silence.
"It is far from perfect, but it will work," agreed Mieza, a look on her face indicated that she wasn't pleased to be agreeing with the Sororita.

"I must attend to my duties, now that we have agreed a solution," White said, rising from his chair and taking a quick last bite of steak, "I will see you when we drop out of the warp." He glanced in Talan's direction before leaving the room.
"I'm afraid I must go also," the Captain said, before drinking from his goblet a last time, "Feel free to finish your meals."

"We shall," Talan said, finally starting to eat his own steak.
Conversation then turned to less relevent matters, such as the movements of Tyranid splinter fleets in the sector, and small talk on the subject of what each person had been doing prior to the mission at hand. Of course, half of the talk from most people present were half-truths and lies.

Eventually, the plates were clean and the goblets were empty, and all parties decided to go to bed, one way or another..

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ____

Talan woke up several hours later to the sound of alarms ringing violently in his ears.
He sat up in bed, massaging his temples, an amasec-produced headache penetrating his head. At least the night before hadn't been a complete loss.
Mieza stirred in the bed beside him, half awake, and mumbled something in her homeworld's dialect of Gothic.

"Duty and Pleasure," he muttered to himself, as he got out of bed to get dressed.
He thought about his asset-building, as he put on his clothing and carapace armour.
Artemis finally woke up properly.

"Ferenz, what's going on?" she asked, suddenly aware of the alarm.
He winced at her using his first name, but was strangely comfortable with it at the same time.
"I don't know, but we better present ourselves in the transport hold quickly," Talan replied, slipping on his boots.
Artemis began to get dressed as Talan admired her back as he strapped his bolt pistol to his waist, but quickly snapped out of it when a banging on the door erupted.

Talan waited until the Colonel was decent, and then went to the door.
Stavan stood there in full power armour, looking slightly amused, but not that anyone who didn't know him could notice it.
The psyker clearly had picked up on the irritation on the other side of the door.
He quickly snapped out of it, however.

"We dropped out of the warp a few minutes ago, the Tau were already in orbit," he explained quickly, glancing into the room.
Mieza soon appeared beside the two men.
"Then I need to get to my troops," she said, taking Talan's hand briefly before rushing off.

The Inquisitor and the Librarian stood silent for a second, and then proceeded to their own transport hold.
"I see you're up to your tricks," Stavan stated as they paced towards a staircase, the corridor bathed in red light and frequented by naval personnel running to their stations.

"I am a member of the Holy Inquisition," Talan replied bluntly, "I need allies everywhere."
"And yet.." Stavan started.
"Don't," Talan interrupted quickly, "We have more pressing matters."
"Quite," the Librarian said after a pause, "The Tau were within range to fire upon us when we dropped back into real space, and could have caused a great amount of damage, but are retreating to the other side of the moon."

The pair reached the bottom of the staircase, and proceeded down a much more wide corridor.

"Strength?" Talan asked.
"They could almost certainly destroy us in space, but it would likely cost them heavily," the Librarian responded, "Their strength on the ground is unknown."
"We need to get down to the planet now then," the Inquisitor said loudly.

They finally made it to the aft transport bay, where the Sororitas battlegroup was readying for deployment.
Stavan's Blood Ravens were already in a shuttle, and he quickly joined them.

Talan approached the Canoness, now wearing full power armour.
"I presume you are ready for combat?" Talan asked, retrieving a melta gun from the rack.
"As the Emperor wills," replied Siena, much to the Inquisitor's discontent.

"We're ready or we're dead," said White, arriving with his entourage.
A sentiment Talan agreed with entirely.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ________

The Hephaestion PDF sargeant stared at the situation in front of him. His unit had held off the cultists in the capital, Batana, for a day now, but they kept coming in their droves. Now, another wave was incoming. Lasbolt fire immediately started from the three platoons around him, as the cultists charged, overwhelmed by fanaticism. The troopers felled many of them, but this wave was twice the size of anything that had previously attacked. The maddened heretics fell upon the PDF lines, and the street turned into a bloodbath.

A great hulking man, daubed in red painted stars, approached the sargeant with a chainsword.
Terror struck, as the man started into a run, but before he could swing his blades, a loud noise followed by a hiss rang out into the evening air.
On top of the buildings around them, strange alien Dreadnoughts hovered. The two groups of humans were stunned, as the alien weapons leveled to fire.
Missiles streamed down onto the pavement, while white hot plasma ignited both heretics and troopers.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - UPDATED 5th August
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 17, 2010, 12:43:04 AM
The alien is not intrinsically evil.
Do not hate him. Pity him his ignorance.
Seek to understand his differences
And acquaint him with his inadequacies.
Only then will he accept his place
in the Greater Good.

Mesme sat legs crossed in her room, tucked away in the aft of the ship. Slowly eating her relatively simple meal, she enjoyed every minute of it as she had learned to do in these dangerous and unpredictable situations. The room itself was large, large enough for several people to live in, but it had been allocated to her out of rank, so she accepted it. Instead of people, the room was filled with machinery of varying purposes. In front of her, the tactical situation floated, projected from a holo-drone that was humming near the ceiling. On tables arranged along the walls, the tools of her trade laid in rest. Sighting equipment, blacksun filters, pulse carbines, deactivated drones, and even a rail rifle were among the clutter around the edges of the space. On the walls, itineraries were placed in a seemingly chaotic fashion, though Mesme never had any trouble finding what she needed.

Despite enjoying her meal, her mood was only picking up from what would be described as increasing depression. She had entered the time in her life that was traditionally one for childbirth and mating. However, the circumstances of her own birth meant that the assignment of a mate was troublesome for the authorities of these matters. Mesme means "combination" in the Tau language. Born to a Fire Caste female and a high ranking Ethereal male, her destiny was never going to be along the same lines tread by so many other Tau. Her lineage was a secret of the Empire, as was her work. Luckily, the most obvious physical characteristics of the Ethereal Caste are inherited via the maternal line, so the vast majority of her peers had no suspicions of caste mixing.

Who her partner would be bothered her for these reasons. Of course, given her rank, she could most likely choose her own partner should she wish it, but she was hesitant to do so. She served the Tau'va nonetheless, her problems irrelevent before the immediate demands of the Greater Good.

As she continued to eat, her comms piece buzzed with static for a second, before a voice erupted from the earpiece.

"The Imperials have arrived, Tau'fann," said the voice of an Kor'ui, speaking from space.
"Very well," she replied, continuing to eat despite the task of talking at the same time, "Move the fleet away from their jump zones and behind the moon of the primary target planet. Alert our ground and space forces to start combat operations."
"Yes, Shas'O," came the reply.

Mesme was commander of the Coalition of the Shadows, the Serra'shan'al.
Her full name was Shas'O Tau'n Len'ra Mesme'or'es, literally meaning "Cautious Warrior of the Powerful Combination".
The youngest Shas'O in Tau history, she was destined to never appear in any Tau history lesson, por'hui media report or public record, though Imperial records of her exploits would be poured over by Inquisitors and Warmasters for centuries to come. Where there were rumours of Tau influence spreading deep within the Imperium, her name would inevitably be mentioned in company aware of her existence. Commanding the Tau Empire's covert military units, assembled to conduct deep cover and commando raids, she was the leader of an army of ghosts.

Today, she continued a mission of great importance to the Empire, beyond the considerable significance that might usually be attributed to her unit.
She finished her breakfast quickly, and dressed herself in her jumpsuit. Strapping her pulse pistol to her waist as she left the room, Mesme inhaled deeply before setting off at a strong pace towards the launch bays. The second stage of the plan had begun.
___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________ __________
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - UPDATED 17th August
Post by: Gornon on August 17, 2010, 09:43:16 PM
Hmmm, interesting story.  I like it and want to read more.

I'm not sure about the mixed cast main character, but I don't think it is too far divergent from Tau canon as to be unbelievable.  I think Rummy said something once at that topic amounting "It would be a good idea.  Uncontrolled breeding would be bad, but carefully controlled cross breeding might be good."  I would send him a PM.  He's more or less to Tau as I am to Imperials.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - UPDATED 17th August
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 17, 2010, 10:31:38 PM
Hmmm, interesting story.  I like it and want to read more.

I'm not sure about the mixed cast main character, but I don't think it is too far divergent from Tau canon as to be unbelievable.  I think Rummy said something once at that topic amounting "It would be a good idea.  Uncontrolled breeding would be bad, but carefully controlled cross breeding might be good."  I would send him a PM.  He's more or less to Tau as I am to Imperials.

I wanted to operate on the edge of canon in creating Mesme, because the force she is commanding is so unique, but I didn't want to make her seem ridiculous.
She doesn't have the abilities of an Ethereal for instance, nor will she be any more persuasive than any other Shas'O.

Glad you enjoyed it though, more where that came from.

Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - UPDATED 17th August
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 21, 2010, 10:10:48 AM
No expansion without equilibrium.
No conquest without control.
Pursue success in serenity.
And service to the tau'va.

Mesme was clearing her mind for the battle to come. She had long resigned herself to death on the battlefield, wishing with all her heart to avoid the fate of Puretide. Becoming a hermit after her usefulness had disappeared did not appeal. The acceptance of her inevitable death gave her a serenity in battle that few could match. Despite Mesme's lack of respect for the end to which Puretide came, her battlefield strategy was regarded by the Aun as the closest to the great general's since the two separate schools of Tau military thought had been created. However, this was not because Mesme was a devoted student of the historical master of Tau strategy, but instead because she preferred to act outside orthadoxy. The paths of Kauyon and Mont'ka seemed far too rigid for her liking.

"Geneprint acknowledged, welcome Shas'O Tau'n Mesme," the computer chimed cheerfully, as Mesme activated her battlesuit systems. She allowed the faceplate to drift into position comfortably, and awaited the diagnostics report.

"All systems optimal, full ammunition load," the computer continued.
The drones circling the hold of the dropship beside her repeated similar sentiments, and Mesme smiled, ready for the fight.

"Kor'vre, how many Rai'kor to the target?" she asked.
"Two," replied the pilot in an almost amused tone, as the drop warning lights began to flash, "Prepare for high altitude drop."

Mesme then switched channels to the strategic network.
Things were not going well. The force she had sent to block reinforcements from accessing the target area had held, until elite Imperial forces had arrived on the scene and caused serious casualties. Fanatical gue'la females in power armour tend to do that when they show up unannounced, even to us, she thought to herself as the deck began to split.

"Umbilical separating," Mesme said, and was soon hurtling towards the ground, drones not far behind.
She had always loved this part of her duty, the thrill of the drop. However, it ended quickly, as she activated her suit's engine pods and began to slow her descent. Meanwhile, she listened in on the battle raging below her.

"Shas'el, we are going to be overrun!" shouted a Fire Warrior squad commander to Mesme's lieutenant, "The gue'la are insane!"
The comms band was then suddenly filled with the unmistakeable sound of bolter fire. Mesme immediately redirected her descent towards the source of the transmission.

"Blade Squad, do you read?" the Shas'el said, a hint of desperation in his voice, "Report!"
Silence reigned for several seconds. "I am alone!" said a voice, finally responding, "They are everywhere and I am alone!"

Mesme was approaching the ground fast, and a final burst of power from her engines put her at the correct speed.
She could already see that the trooper was right. "They" were everywhere.

The next few seconds seemed like eons.

"We are never alone," Mesme stated, as her battlesuit landed with a thud amongst the Sisters of the Blooded Rose.
Their astonishment was shortlived, as the Shas'O put her weapons to use, bathing the nearest Sororitas squad in plasma and fusion fire. The remains of the squad refused to retreat, and their boltguns turned on the battlesuit, but they could do nothing to the iridium armour or the shielding protecting it. Mesme's drones arrived, and drowned the aggressors in pulsefire from above as she repositioned behind a building with a quick burst of power from her jets.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - UPDATED 17th August
Post by: Gornon on August 22, 2010, 11:50:24 PM
Well done.  I like the quote at the start.  The scene itself is well done and seems to be a standard story writing tool used to demonstrate to the reader how skilled the main character is.

I do wish to suggest a way to flesh out your main character and make her more interesting.  Your Mesme has some bumps in her road, yes, but to me, at this time, she seems to be more Cursed With Awesome (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CursedWithAwesome) as opposed to being really crippled by her flaws.  In exchange for not really fitting in and never having songs sung about her deeds she gets to be the youngest Shas'O in history, have the genetic advantages of both Aun and Shas, and command an elite fighting force with bleeding edge technology at their disposal.

I would add in a section, perhaps flashback style, and make it seem like being of mixed breed and leading a shadow unit could have downsides.  Giver her enemies in the high command, have her political opponents make slurs about her genetics (its easy for higher ups to be in the know, so to speak), have her struggle to find funding.  In addition, upon rereading your comments with the benefit of being rested I have noticed this

She doesn't have the abilities of an Ethereal for instance, nor will she be any more persuasive than any other Shas'O.

I would take that background and maker her a failure.  Have her be some sort of expensive cross breeding experiment whose goal was to create the ultimate general with the charisma of an Aun and the skill of Shas.  The end result?  A slightly different looking Shas'O.  The big experiment that was so lauded to the movers and shakers of the Tau Empire as the wave of the future despite massive political and ethical controversy has come to what appears to be nothing.  So now our heroine has to deal with other commanders and leaders who think she is some sort of abomination and her own creators turning their backs on her.  Now she has to prove herself.

This is not say what you have is terrible.  Not at all!  It entertained me and I can't ask a work for anything more!  Please don't read the above comments as a scathing review.  They are not in any means.  I have enjoyed your writing.  I only mean to suggest some things that would help to expand Mesme as a character.

(edit: and I realize that my own story needs to show that its not all fun and games being buddies with Nids)  Also, I like your Inquisitor.  The fact that he is more than willing to put pleasure before business actually makes him a rather appealing character.  It makes him seem very realistic.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - UPDATED 17th August
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 23, 2010, 11:25:55 PM
I intend to flesh Mesme's full story out in later chapters.
The story at present is based after she has overcome such obstacles, a point where she is at the pinnacle of her career.
This is because while she is important to the story, she is not the main character at the moment, Inquisitor Talan is.

In future arcs, she will be the subject of much deeper literary inspection, I assure you.
And most of all, thanks for the ideas, they've got me thinking on those arcs already.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - UPDATED 17th August
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 26, 2010, 07:09:55 AM
Inquisitor Ferenz Talan walked down the street at a brisk pace, inquisitorial seal swinging at his neck, with the Berdamian squad and Librarian in tow. The buildings were a shambles, either having their windows broken in by looters and small arms fire, or smashed up by barrages of bigger weapons. The street was suitably littered with bricks, glass and rubble, and every now and then, Talan would have to use his melta to clear a path. Beside him, Stavan walked with far more ease. Luckily, he wasn't the only one stumbling over the bricks, as the rest of the Berdamian squad picked their way through the detrius in their grey and blue urban uniforms.

The squad leader was named Rala (a typical name on Berdam III apparently). She wasn't a particularly attractive woman, but she handled herself well.
Beside her as she walked, the unfortunate radioman had a large crimson flag, emblazoned with the Imperial eagle surrounded by a cogwheel and grain in the top corner, attached to his radio mast. Talan found the Berdamians increasingly strange the more he associated with them, but knew better than to complain that the flag increased their visibility. Tau sensory equipment made such considerations meaningless.

Stavan signalled for the squad to stop. Everyone in the group dropped onto one knee and went dead silent.
"Do you hear that?" he asked the Inquisitor quietly.
Talan strained his ears, but heard nothing.

He was about to remark on it, when a screeching started all around them. Talan recognised it immediately.
The Kroot had surrounded them. Appearing on the rooftops and the alleyways, the humans were outnumbered at least 3 to 1.
"Run! We're only a kilometre from my brothers!" shouted Stavan, beginning to shoot as he followed his own order. The rest of the entourage followed suit, as the Kroot began to jump off the rooftops.

A shaper landed in front of the group, and raised a pulse carbine, but was pushed aside violently by a psychic blast from the Blood Raven, as Talan ended the lives of its brethren with a sweep of his melta. He couldn't help saying "BBQ" in his head when the smell of cooked flesh met his nostrils, but kept moving nonetheless. The Guardsmen were less fortunate. A kroot had landed beside Rala, and swung the blade on his rifle straight through her chin and mouth into her brain. The radio operator shot it on rapid fire as the blood erupted from his squad leader's head, before being confronted with three more of the aliens with an empty magazine in his lasgun.

Talan tripped, not paying attention to the ground as he swept another two kroot into the fire of his melta. Another shaper was quickly on him, and Talan struggled to get his mace to smash the xenos in the head. The Kroot was also reached for a knife to open up Talan's throat. Just as both of them reached for their weapons, a power armoured boot smashed into the shaper's head, pushing it a good ten feet. Stavan finished off the victim of his kick with a burst from his bolt pistol, and helped Talan up.

Unfortunately, the Kroot had closed the distance, and with half the Guardsmen down, they were now utterly without escape.
The clicking and screeching from their enemies was deafening.

"Hold your ground," Stavan said, "No surrender."
Talan pulled his mace from his belt, preparing for the inevitable assault, while the Guardsmen reloaded quickly.
The group began firing, and the Kroot rushed to engage. Lasbolts felled a few Kroot before they spun their massive rifleblades into the bellies and heads of the unfortunate Berdamians. As this was happening, Talan downed one of them with a dull thud as the mace connected to the side of the thing's head, while Stavan shrugged more than three off with a swing of his staff, using his abilities to push them away yet again. It was not enough however, as the squad was now dwindling to nothing. Talan soon found his melta ripped off him before he could respond, and almost received a riflebutt to the face to add insult to injury.

Suddenly, a pair of battlesuits appeared overhead, and the Kroot retreated quickly. Fusion weapons leveled in the direction of the Blood Raven. To say he was incinerated would be an understatement. The Inquisitor was now alone. The battlesuits landed.

Talan prepared for the Kroot to move in again.
A Shaper stepped forward.

"Inquisitor, as you can see, you are outnumbered," it said in the strange clicking accent of the Kroot, "We urge you to lay down your arms."

Talan was confused by this, and became more perplexed when he realised that the battlesuits could have easily destroyed him along with Stavan.
He concluded that the Tau must need or want him alive for Emperor knows what reason.

"Very well," said the Inquisitor, dropping his mace to the ground, "Take me to your commander."
"Consider yourself a prisoner of the Tau Empire," replied the Shaper, picking up the mace as two Kroot put Talan in cuffs.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________ _____________
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka (Sera'Mont'ka) - UPDATED 17th August
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on October 16, 2010, 07:58:14 AM
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.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 16th October
Post by: Gornon on October 17, 2010, 04:17:04 AM
I'll go over your story in greater depth, but one thing caught my eye:

The Inquisitor was dressed in the standard imperial armour, with the added protection of the primitive shield technology the gue'la possessed

Umm, how is Imperial shield technology primitive to Tau's?  If anything, its more advanced.  It provides as good protection in a much smaller package.  Imperial Rosarius are just that, Rosaries.  The entire generator is smaller than a wallet.  Hardly primitive, and the Imperium has other examples of small generators, such as Iron Halos, Belts of Russ, and Refraction Fields (though the Fields are not as strong).  The Tau, meanwhile, need Battlesutes or Drones (at least judging by the pictures) half the size of a man to achieve similar effects.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 16th October
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on October 19, 2010, 09:23:09 AM
I'll go over your story in greater depth, but one thing caught my eye:

The Inquisitor was dressed in the standard imperial armour, with the added protection of the primitive shield technology the gue'la possessed

Umm, how is Imperial shield technology primitive to Tau's?  If anything, its more advanced.  It provides as good protection in a much smaller package.  Imperial Rosarius are just that, Rosaries.  The entire generator is smaller than a wallet.  Hardly primitive, and the Imperium has other examples of small generators, such as Iron Halos, Belts of Russ, and Refraction Fields (though the Fields are not as strong).  The Tau, meanwhile, need Battlesutes or Drones (at least judging by the pictures) half the size of a man to achieve similar effects.

Tau knowledge of these systems has generally been lax in my reading of most Tau fluff, and the Tau have do adopt a superior tone when talking of Imperial technology in my opinion. The general idea is to show the disdain of Mesme for the Imperials and their refusal to accept Tau hegemony.

Also, Tau battlesuit shield gens are about the size of a small shield in reality, and remember, they're built to protect a battlesuit sized area.
It's hardly inconceivable that they can build personnel-sized gens, but all the superior military staff are in battlesuits to begin with and Ethereals can just use drones when on the battlefield.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 16th October
Post by: Gornon on October 19, 2010, 07:06:52 PM
The general idea is to show the disdain of Mesme for the Imperials and their refusal to accept Tau hegemony.

Fair enough.  Also, to outsiders, Imperial aesthetics would make their tech look more primitive then it should.  That Imperial PDA might have ten times the computing power of a modern PC, but its wood and brass finish makes it look more primitive then a Blackberry.

EDIT: Also, very good work so far, the one thing that confuses me is that all the effort to capture the Inquisitor seems to have been thrown out the window.  I suppose he would be bait for a trap.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 16th October
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on November 1, 2010, 03:21:34 AM
Talan pulled at his cuffs which were attached to a railing, as he looked around the empty warehouse. He had calmed down since the xenos left, and was determined to escape to warn his Hereticus colleague of the danger he now faced. It didn't take Talan long to realise that if they were looking for an Inquisitor, but not one of his order, then they must be after Inquisitor White. The information White possessed on the followers of the Dark Gods would be incredibly useful to the Tau Empire, particularly for its expansion into the Imperium.

The immediate problem, however, was that Talan was in a warehouse complex wired to blow up if anyone entered. He began to think on the issue. The Tau commander almost certainly would have allowed the information on his whereabouts to become known to Colonel Mieza, who would almost certainly act upon it. Unfortunately, she would have no way of knowing about the explosives, though she would probably assume it was an ambush. There was certainly enough explosives to cause some damage in the surrounded streets, but hardly enough to stop an armoured regiment. There was something a tad more strange however. The Tau had left his weapons and commbeads on a table at the other side of the room.

Talan hoped briefly that the Colonel would not personally lead the front elements, before suppressing it and pulling at the cuffs violently.
The railing came loose from the wall slightly, and the Inquisitor grinned to himself. He began violent bursts of pulling, until his wrists started to bleed, but he was soon rewarded with the scent of concrete dust as the railing came out of wall entirely. First problem solved.

After retrieving his weapons, he stuck a commbead in his ear just as a loud explosion was heard outside and the distinct sound of Berdamian rock music got slowly louder.

"Oh frak," he said to himself out loud, realising that his lover's competency for military action might just get him killed by accident.
He immediately searched out the command channel.

"This is Inquisitor Talan, to any Imperial forces in the city industrial sector," he said with as much authority as he could muster, "I am trapped in a warehouse rigged with explosives that will detonate if the building perimeter is breached. I do not know my exact position."

"Ferenz?" came the reply from the Colonel as lights on the explosives in the building began to blink.
"Artemis, the place is going to blow!" he said, running around the space looking for some way out.

Static met his ears and he kicked the ground in frustration, removing the dust from the floor, revealing a manhole cover.
Without the time to feel relieved, Talan brought his melta to bear and shot the cover off, and jumped down.
He landed, just when an ear-shattering shockwave hit him. The warehouse was on a moon by now, but rubble blocked his entrance.

After a quick scout around the darkened tunnel which was the top layer of the city's underhive, he found another one that lead to the street, and Talan found himself emerging in the midst of the Colonel's Leman Russ tanks. Mieza was still on the command channel, a hint of panic clearly present in her voice.

"This is Inquisitor Talan, I escaped," he said quickly before the Colonel dispaired further, "Requesting a pickup."
He then gave the unit designation of the unit he was nearby, which by now was staring at him out of various hatches.
The command vehicle was soon pulling around the corner. Mieza had personally lead the attack, though that would have been dictated considering the importance of the mission. The rear hatch opened, and the Colonel stood looking very relieved in the space, with her command squad.

"Honey, we really have to do something about these neighbours," said Talan as he boarded the Chimera, finally calm.
He collapsed into a seat, and took a sip of amasec from a small flask he had in a pocket.
"Emperor save me, I needed that," he said as the Colonel sat down opposite him, the look of immense relief still plastered on her face.

"You worried me," she said after a few seconds, "I thought you were dead."
"I'm sure the Inquisition would not have looked on my death as your fault," Talan said quickly, trying to place the other passengers' impressions in the right place. Artemis leaned in for a brief second.

"You know that's not what I was worried about," she said into his ear quietly.
"Quite," he replied, as she returned to her seat, "What of the Tau?"

"They retreated as fast as they could," Mieza continued, "We hit them pretty hard."
"Good to hear," said Talan, with particular relish at the second part of the statement. He wasn't in a tolerant mood.

"Where is Inquisitor White?" he added, remembering what he had discovered.
"We do not know, he dropped to the surface with his entourage before anyone else," Mieza explained, "Only the Canoness knew where he went."
"Knew?" Talan asked.
"Yes, the Canoness was killed by the Tau commander," Artemis said slowly, "Along with the majority of her sisters."

"Frak me, this is turning into a real nightmare," Talan said after a pause.
"Why do you need to know where Inquisitor White is?" the Colonel asked, not expecting an answer.
"The Tau are looking for an Inquisitor," Talan stated, "An Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor."

"Why?" Mieza continued.
"I can guess," Talan said after a short think, "But I have no solid idea."

"We need to find White," he ordered, "Contact the Blood Ravens and inform them they under my direct command now."
"Yes sir," Mieza replied, regaining her usual air of professionalism.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________ _____________

"Shas'O, the gue'la are moving off to the east now," reported the Shas'vre as he hovered in his battlesuit, protected from detection by a stealth field generator.
"Excellent," the comms replied, "Follow the command vehicle and stay hidden."
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 1st November
Post by: Gornon on November 4, 2010, 12:11:52 AM
Good job on this one!  I really liked it!  Keep up the work!  You have created some sympathy for the Inquisitor and his lover.  It seems that the whole thing was a trap after all.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 1st November
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on November 13, 2010, 07:15:05 AM
The Chimera pulled into the Governor's residence after a long journey through the rubbled capital. Dropships and shuttles littered the once pretty gardens, as soldiers stood on guard at every defensible position around. Supplies were being taxied around on flatbed trucks, ready to be taken to the front lines where the Berdamian armour was fighting the good fight against the heretics. The compound had not been hit by the heretics due to the efforts of the remaining PDF troops, who had their loyalty rewarded by being stationed on defensive duties only. Whether or not one would consider that a sign of distrust or a gesture of mercy was up to the beholder. The driveway to the entrance of the main building was clear however, and the APC made quick time as it approached to deliver Inquisitor Talan and Colonel Mieza to their meeting.

The Governor's residential building was built in the style of Ultramar, with large marble columns rising to hold up the roof like a temple to the Emperor. Its wide facade boasted many large windows, and it stood on a large limestone foundation that raised it half a foot. On each corner of the roof, a bronze statue to one of the four original governors stood, holding a sword in one hand and a set of scales in the other. As the vehicle made its way, the front door came into view. It was a giant thing, the size of cathedral entrance almost, with fine varnished wood decorated with symbols and Gothic text in red paint.

The Chimera lurched to a halt beside the imposing doors, and the passengers disembarked. The Inquisitor brushed himself off, and took a last swig from his amasec flask before moving again. The Colonel followed him in after ordering her lieutenant to return to the Chimera to direct the continuing battle. The servants sprung into action nervously upon seeing the Seal of the Inquisition swinging casually around Talan's neck on a chain, and the massive doors swung open.

The entire entrance hall was covered with beautiful crimson carpet, so beautiful that most people walking upon it might just worry about their unclean boots touching the floor. Not that Talan had such scruples. The entire space was bustling with activity, as adepts and scribes went from one side to the other, on errands of one sort or the other. The residential guards fidgeted at their posts while pretending to observe the area. The reason why was apparent towards the back of the hall. The silent sentinels of the Imperium stood to attention, fully armed, under a massive statue to the Emperor. The staircases to the Governor's office curved around the hall like wings from the back of this giant, making the Blood Ravens tactical marines even more menacing to the inexperienced eye, as the light did not quite reach them fully.

Talan and Mieza ignored them, knowing that the Marine sergeant would be upstairs with the Governor, and so climbed up the stairs step by step, taking in the frescos and the warmth as they went. They reached what seemed to be a smaller version of the front door in shorter time than they might have liked, and Talan strolled into the office like he owned the place. Mieza soon followed after almost gasping at the sheer luxury of the room. To the left, a large fireplace was being put to good use, a large golden dog sleeping beside it. To the right, a bookshelf lined the entire wall, containing innumerable volumes of Imperial history as well as administrative records. Behind the Governor's desk, portraits of the former governors hung. The desk itself was covered with paper, and its occupant sat facing away from the new arrivals, unseen behind the back of the leather chair.

Near the dog, a fully armoured Space Marine stood, the Blood Ravens icon staring Talan and Mieza in the face.
The soldier's head was shaven bald, and his bolter was slung over his shoulder, as if to emphasise his clear wish to leave and cap some enemies of the Emperor.

"Inquisitor, you are late," the Sergeant said impatiently, "I was hoping we could go hunt down the xenos far sooner."
"There is a battle ongoing," Talan replied, aware of the sergeant's tone, "I can be forgiven for being late when heretics are chucking bullets at me."
"We'll see how long that lasts," the governor interrupted, finally swivelling on his chair to face forward.

He was an old man, overweight but not massively so, with a short and tidy grey beard. He wore a governor's uniform that was slightly too tight for a man of his size, and a medal hung off his chest in clear view as if he had earned it. Colonel Mieza looked impressed, so Talan decided to cut the man down to size courtesy of the Inquisition. Talan quickly introduced the Colonel and received the name of the Sergeant in return.

"Governor Catiline, as much as my presence on your planet may annoy you, I clearly have work to do here," Talan started.
"Work that will soon be finished," the Governor again interrupted.
"Yes, we will deal with the heretics and xenos quickly," Talan continued, "We shall also swiftly discover who is responsible for complete incompetence in failing to find a major heretical cult, and in failing to track down xenoist infiltrators."

The Governor turned pale quickly, while Sergeant Lucius looked progressively more irritated.
"However, onto the present," said Talan as he offered Artemis a seat, which she took, "The Tau are looking for Inquisitor White, and I need information."
"What information," the Governor said as Talan took his seat, "We are not informed about the whereabouts of the agents of the Inquisition."
"You should be aware of where this little revolt started however," the Colonel cut in, "Which is what we need to know."

"The exact position is not really determined," the Governor explained, "Nor would it really be helpful..."
"I'll be the one making the judgments on what is useful here," Talan said, adding more hostility to his voice, "Particularly on the subject of personnel."
"I will send for what we know straight away," said the Governor getting out of his chair and making his way to the door.
"We better get it soon too," Talan continued, "Or Colonel Mieza here will be declared Governor-Militant and you'll spend the rest of your life on an asteroid penal colony."

The man left the room, and Talan grinned at Artemis as he got up from his chair and sat on the table edge instead.
"That should get us the information," he declared, clearly pleased with himself.
"It better," said Lucius, "There is a matter of vengeance for my blood brother."
"Yes, Stavan was a great soldier," Talan replied, sobering slightly.

"It is fine, my troops will deal out plenty of revenge for your brother," Artemis said confidently, "If we can rescue White while we're at it, it's a bonus."
"Indeed," said Talan, "I think I have scared the Governor enough to get the intelligence quickly."
"I must see to my troops," said Lucius, leaving the room, "I will meet you outside when you have what we need."
It was clear that the Space Marine did not like Talan, but luckily, it wasn't a necessary factor anyway.

The Colonel got up quickly and kissed the Inquisitor passionately for about a minute, before sitting down again.
"What was that for?" Talan asked, a bit surprised but again pleased with himself.
"Earlier," she said, "And in case I lose you today."

Talan rolled his eyes, and attempted to explain that his entire capability as an Inquisitor was based on his incredible good luck, until the Governor returned with the necessary documents.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 13th November
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on November 14, 2010, 04:48:41 AM
Semerkhet wandered around the ex-Cathedral of Saints, as the cultists chanted before the desecrated statue of the Corpse God. The vaulted ceilings and massive stone pillars were covered with the dark symbols of Tzeentch, and the stain glass windows were smashed to pieces and replaced with purple cloth. The cultists themselves were clad in their usual garments, but sported deep purple armbands identifying them as slaves. The altar had been split in two, and the symbol of the Changer thrust into the crack, for all to see.

Semerkhet's satisfaction with this world was disappearing fast. When he came to the planet a decade earlier, he found a world corrupt and full of ambitious men to exploit and shape. The local Arbites were incompetent and the world had never before been invaded by an alien power. The world was far from any significant Imperial military forces due to the Tyranids presence elsewhere. In other words, it was a perfect place for a rogue Sorcerer such as himself to build a fiefdom.

Things had turned sour quickly. First of all, his cats-paws in the nearby system of Parmenion had fallen, without word on who or what was responsible for their downfall. Next, a Tau fleet appears in orbit overhead, and forces the cultists to reveal themselves or be slaughtered. To put the icing on the proverbial cake, an Imperial fleet soon lands an Armoured Regiment of the Imperial Guard, Space Marines and Sororitas. Hephaestion changed from a system ripe for the plucking into a nightmare for any Chaotic activity. Furthermore, the aliens seemed to be taking a greater than normal amount of interest in such activity, as the main brunt of the combat was not against the Imperials at this point.

As the Sorcerer paced, he pondered his next move. The summoning process had begun, but would take at least a day to complete to bring forth the minor daemons necessary to hold off the enemy. With the time bought, more forces and favour with Tzeentch could be bought in order to achieve victory.

The gates of the dark chapel swung open, and an ex-PDF soldier rushed in, clearly distraught.
"They're here!" he screamed.

Semerkhet became irritated, and shot the offending man with his pistol. As the body dropped to the floor, figures were becoming visible through the black smoke outside and the purple and blue incense inside.

"Astartes" he said dryly, before calling for reinforcements. The hulking forms of nine Blood Ravens approached slowly, with another figure that Semerkhet assumed must have been an Inquisitor of some description. Behind them, Guardsmen followed far more cautiously.

"Attack," he said to his followers, who were far from earshot, but were well within range for psychic command. They did as they were ordered.
The cultists immediately picked up scattered weapons and quite literally threw themselves at the Space Marines outside.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ____________

Inquisitor Ferenz Talan approached the cathedral slowly, the Blood Ravens spread out to either side of him. The outside of the building had been utterly desecrated with symbols and bodies. It had been remarkably easy to get to the centre of heretical resistance, which he had put down to Tau interference and Berdamian armoured might. Regardless, he needed to find Inquisitor White quickly, and this was the easiest way.

As that thought entered his mind, a hail of fire erupted from the entrance of the church, and was soon followed by a wave of fanatical heretics.
The Blood Ravens immediately sprung into action. They continued to march forwards, pouring bolter fire onto the enemy. Where the heretics reached their lines, they dealt with the unarmoured humans with a rifle butt or a stomp with their heavily armoured boots. It did not go entirely the Imperials' way however. As the line came within ten yards of the doors, a heretic threw himself at the sergeant, and exploded. The force of the explosion knocked down Talan, but Lucius was far less lucky, and his large form fell backwards with a gaping bloody hole in his chest.

Talan recovered quickly, sweeping his melta over two heretics that were attempting to disembowel him with bayonets. He ordered the Blood Ravens into the cathedral and followed them in. Coughing through the incense, he waited near the entrance while his eyes adjusted to the darker list conditions. The inside was typical heretical decor, nothing he hadn't seen before. However, there was a clear purpose to the layout of the symbols and bodies; A summoning.
Luckily, it was clear that the ritual was interrupted early.

There was a sharp crack, and the Sorcerer appeared before the altar. The Space Marines immediately opened fire to no effect, and ceased after about a minute.
"Is that any way to welcome a brother?" Semerkhet said, his voice layered with hatred.
"We are not your brothers, traitor," a Marine replied, and so began a rather inconsequential argument between the two that bought the Inquisitor time.

Talan continued to inspect the area to look for the secret of the Sorcerer's defences. His eyes fell on something far more disturbing.
Upon the statue of the Emperor, Inquisitor White lay crucified, a massive spike pinning him by the chest to the stone, his hands folded on top of it and his face in an paused state of agony. Talan winced then turned away briefly. At least the Tau wouldn't be capturing him anytime soon.

"I see you're admiring my work," Semerkhet said, noticing Talan's discomfort, "He was a foolish one, thinking he could enter this holy place undetected."
"He died in service to the Emperor, he will be rewarded," Talan said, unusually resorting to faith, "It is your soul that will be tormented for eternity."
The traitor cackled for a moment, and then with another deafening crack was gone.

Talan ordered the Blood Ravens to return to orbit, and continued to inspect the place for a moment as they left to proceed to their waiting shuttle.
He climbed up the ruined statue of the Emperor, and removed the spike holding White to the rock. The body dropped and Talan landed with a thud beside it.
Closing the man's eyes, he said a few words of peace as he knew White would appreciate them even if he didn't. Inquisitors do not exactly have a low risk job, so respect in death is a given even if respect in life isn't.

"Ferenz, the Tau are retreating," Artemis interrupted via his commbead, "I can't explain it, their forces are packing it in!"
The Inquisitor didn't have time to ponder this when several Tau stealthsuits de-cloaked around him, one of the burst cannons barely two feet from his face.
With his meltagun on his back, he had no choice other than to put up his hands.

The female Tau commander O'Mesme decloaked in front of him.
"It appears both our objectives were ruined by the third party," she said in Tau, appearing to be far more kind than their last encounter.
"As if you would have treated this man any differently once you were done with him," Talan replied dryly, trying to avoid provoking the alien.
"On the contrary, we reward those who serve the Greater Good," she said in decent Gothic this time, "One way or another."
"He would not have cooperated," Talan stated, "Nor will I."

"This world is yours for now gue'la," she said, returning to Tau, "Your knowledge would have been useful."
"Then why aren't you taking me?" said Talan, surprised that he wasn't about to be hauled off.
"It is more useful for the basic knowledge that we exist to spread amongst your elite," Mesme explained, "That we can drop out of the heavens and kill whom we like."

The aliens activated their stealth fields once again.

"Oh, and here is a present," said the commander's voice, its source invisible.
The Sorcerer's head dropped to the floor about a metre in front of Talan, having materialised from nowhere.
___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________ _______________

Talan sat on the terrace of the Governor's residence, a full breakfast in front of him on a metalwork table and a beautiful woman beside him.
The Colonel's company was something that he had become highly accustomed to in the two weeks since the death of White and the reclaiming of the Cathedral of Saints. There was still much work to do, as heretic pockets and cultists fought on desperately all over the planet. The capital however had been tamed.

The Inquisitor sipped his tea, admiring the view of the destroyed gardens with amusement.
"Ferenz, why did the Tau want White so badly and yet not take you?" Artemis asked.

Talan turned to her, wondering about that very question as he had done many times since Semerkhet's head was delivered to him.
"I know they told you that you were to spread word about them," said Artemis, seeming to take the look as some sign of annoyance, "But it doesn't make any sense."

The Inquisitor grinned. "I did tell you I was lucky," he said, having no other explanation to give.

Quote from: GreaterGoodIreland
There is the Hephaestion Arc completed! I wish to write much more about these characters as time goes on, with flashback arcs for both Inquisitor Ferenz Talan and Shas'O Mesme. The next arc I will get stuck into right away, I hope you guys enjoyed this one.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 13th November
Post by: Gornon on November 14, 2010, 02:54:53 PM
I did indeed enjoy it!  Good work!  Overall good characters.  Though your Shas could use some more weakpoints, character-wise.  However, because she is a secondary character here, I would not expect those to have much opportunity to come out.  I also like the bit where you had the two Marines  argue pointlessly in the middle of a battle.  Big damn heroes seem to like to do that, eh?
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 13th November
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on November 16, 2010, 03:02:20 AM
Ordo Xenos Transmission
Astropath ref21004979541
Author: Inquisitor Ferenz Talan
Destination: All Ultima Segmentum Inquisitorial Reference Collectives,
All Ultima Segmentum Ordo Xenos Agents with Terran-level clearance.

Subject: Falasten system conflict coming to a head


Anti-Imperial sentiment in the Falasten system has been increasing in recent years, as some of you who have been reading my reports over the past six months will be aware. Continued support for the Governor's regime by the Adeptus Administratum has caused resentment among the pre-colonial population, and the system has been the subject of many Inquisitorial investigations over the past eight centuries.

For those of you who are unaware of the conflict, its origins are as old as the Horus Heresy, when Imperial power waned considerably in the region.
Human population in the system had been present for about a millenia at the time of Heresy, and had been only recently integrated into the Imperium when the traitor Marines struck. Imperial administration soon broke down as more pressing concerns turned eyes elsewhere, and the system soon became completely independent. Much STC technology remained on Falasten, and was continually developed by the population there, giving the system much trading weight with other local systems in much the same situation.

This state of affairs continued, until an Adeptus Mechanicus Explorator fleet visited the Damocles sector in M35. The population were extremely happy to be briefly reunited with the Imperium, believing that prosperity would follow. The same fleet would later discover the Tau homeworld.

After the brief visit, Falasten continued as an independent system, as the cogs of the Imperium turned as slowly as ever with regard to dealing with such worlds. By the time that Imperial forces re-took control of the region, six millenia had passed and the story of the Explorator fleet was legendary.

The reunion was a happy one for the first century of M41, when Administratum, Mechanicus and Eccleisarchy officials finally reached the system to evaluate it for tithing and to investigate the system generally. Unfortunately for the Falastians, the Imperium's religion had moved on a completely different path over ten thousand years, and the Eccleisarchy found the system bordering on heretical. The Adeptus Mechanicus officials found the lack of proper devotion to the Ommissiah an abomination in its own right, as Falastian technology had twisted the STC into technosorcery. The Administratum on the other hand, particularly the Munitorum, found a system full of willing soldiers for the Imperium, with an advanced military culture due to proximity to Ork-held space.

Obviously, with large disagreements between the various governing wings of Imperial power, a compromise had to be made. It was decided that the native  system of government would be replaced with an Imperial governorship. All non-STC technology in Falasten was to be sampled by the Mechanicus, and the remainder destroyed. Imperial colonists, with appropriate numbers of missionaries, were to be dispatched to the system under the direct supervision of the Eccleisarchy. Lastly, tithing to the world would be heavy.

First Uprising, 216.M41

Needless to say, such changes effectively ruined the native human population over the course of a decade, causing great resentment. Due to the technological downgrade, the productivity and trade profile of the entire system dropped massively. Heavy tithing left the system vulnerable to Ork attacks for several years. However, the greatest source of animosity came from the new wave of colonists, who the Eccleisarchy saw fit to settle on plantation lands directly seized from native areas deemed near-heretical.

Second Uprising, 241.M41

This set of events caused a wave of rebellions that continues to this day, with almost every generation rising up in arms against the colonists due to some fresh outrage, as the colonists continue to slowly take more land from the Falastians. Rural and urban guerilla warfare, terrorism, assassinations and mass protest movements are now cultural norms in many parts of the system. Normally, this would be a problem for the Arbites, and would not warrant the attention of the Inquisition beyond some investigations of heresy.

However, with the arrival of the Hive Fleets, Ork probing, and the proximity of Falasten to the Tau Empire, the opportunity for xenos interference and exploitation of the current situation is far too great for us to ignore. Reports of possible xenoist activity in the system started to pile up as I finish the pacification of Hephaestion. Up until now, the rebellions have not advocated leaving the Imperium, merely the removal of colonial rule and the restoration of full rights for the native population, but whispers of full independence have surfaced.

As such, I will be heading to Falasten in secret in my usual cover as the lieutenant of a rogue trader to oversee peace negotiations between the main factions.

Investigating whether or not alien hands played a part in the most recent uprising, which has been the most serious since the first one, will be a top priority. I have requisitioned the 16th Berdam Armoured Regiment and made appropriate arrangements to have them deployed to Falasten's primary planet as a peacekeeping force while negotiations are ongoing.

Inquisitor Ferenz Talan
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 16th November
Post by: Gornon on November 18, 2010, 09:20:26 PM
Ahh, interesting.  Looks like you have several arcs planned.  Neat!
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 16th November
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on November 20, 2010, 05:12:18 PM
Inquisitor Ferenz Talan walked along the street, hood of his cloak up in the local style, checkered scarf around his neck identifying him as an anti-colonial. On one side of the street, eight metre high rockcrete slabs were lined up in a massive wall, punctuated with an observation bunker every hundred yards or so. The wall was covered with graffiti, and the lower viewports on the bunkers were sprayed over with black ink. On the other side of the street, the native refugee town of Ramlas sat, a slum populated entirely by people displaced by the Eccleisarchy's colonists. The smell of sulphur was heavy in the air, but then, bombs were detonating near the wall all the time according to his contact's reports. Rubbish was strewn about the street, for reasons Ferenz didn't understand. No one was about, but it was a warzone by every definition of the word, so Talan guessed people could be forgiven.

Just in front of him, his comrade stepped alongside him. She had neck-length blonde hair, and was wearing green combat fatigues under some carapace armour, bolt pistol swinging at her hip. Roxana Bactriana was a rogue trader by profession, and had known Talan for a very long time, ever since a Genestealer cult in her home hiveworld was nicely annihilated courtesy of the Inquisition. It was the same organisation that she owed her current success, and so held official status of agent. Furthermore, her dominating personality meant that Talan could hide behind her presence in any room quite easily, eavesdropping being far more simple when everyone is distracted by the beautiful loud lady.

The pair had landed on Falasten Prime after it was confirmed the Berdamians had arrived. Roxana had immediately got in contact with the local merchant guilds, as she always did, while Talan visited Colonel Mieza briefly before voxing his contact in Ramlas. A pleasant ride by groundcar until the barrier wall had been completely ruined thanks to the "border praetors", who demanded that they enter the native area on foot. Talan's patience for the colonial administration was already wearing thin thanks to the incident, as well as the fact the frakkers didn't let rubbish disposal trucks enter either. As he reflected on these matters while stepping over bags of refuse, they made good time away from the border area further into the refugee town.

Roxana and Talan finally reached their destination after a half hour hike from the gates, a bar named in one of the three proto-Gothic languages present in the system. The bar itself was surprisingly clean for its exterior filth, but then, all the booths and tables were filled with armed men and women, demanding customers to say the least. Music stopped briefly, then restarted as most people turned back to their own business. Roxana grinned, as Talan moaned to himself quietly, and approached the bar.

"Two amasecs, straight," she ordered, then leaned against the bar as Talan discovered he was getting glances from practically every table.
"Why are they staring?" he asked Roxana quietly, trying not to let the nearby man on a stool eavesdrop.
"No idea," she said shoving a glass into his hand, "But I'll tell you what will help!"

They then downed the cheap alcohol, and slammed the glasses down so hard they almost broke.

"Maybe it's because you're not from here, but you barge in here in FLC gear like you own the place," a deep voice muttered in Talan's ear.
Turning around slowly, he discovered that the voice belonged to his contact, Aelian. Talan was immediately cheered up, and shook the man's hand.
"Oh, found him have we?" Roxana muttered, as she ordered another round for the group.

Aelian directed the group to an empty booth well away from the rest of the bar population, and the group sat down with their drinks.
"The Falasten Liberation Coalition have been pretty successful lately," said Aelian, getting straight down to business, "The barrier walls have been breached on every planet in several places, and they have a skeleton government set up."

"Not in this area though?" Talan half-asked, sipping on his amasec, "We passed through a checkpoint that seemed relatively unharmed."
"What do you think all these fine ladies and gentlemen are here to do?" Roxana interrupted.
"Your lady friend is right, the FLC are massing for an attack here and the colonials know it," Aelian continued, "Mortarbomb attacks on airbases within range have taken airpower off the table."

"So if there is a xenos presence in the system, it'll be here," Talan concluded, "That makes things a bit easier."
"Depends what aliens you're talking about," Roxana stated. Both Talan and Aelian turned to her in puzzlement.
"I mean, Orks would draw hostility from all humans in the system, right?" she explained after rolling her eyes.

Talan started to see where she was going.

"If the natives take the capital, execute the governor, do what rebels generally do afterwards, then whoever makes that happen will lead the next regime," she continued, "I can see genestealers or the Tau exploiting that sort of leadership change."
"I see you're no novice to violent politics," Aelian replied with a shake of his head.

"All politics are violent," Roxana replied with a smile.

"Regardless, with the Berdamian 16th Armoured here, the FLC will find it much harder to take the capital," Talan said, "Unless the aliens do intervene."
"So what do we do?" Aelian asked.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ _____________

Fear is an irrationality,
But it can also serve reason,
Master it Shas'la,
The Greater Good requires it.

Mesme ran through the forest, Kaishi barely keeping up, as they fled the massacre of their team. The floor was coated in leaf-needles from the tall evergreen trees around them. It was cold enough for frost to coat surfaces, but it felt like the surface of a star inside the Fire Warriors' helmets, their minds burning with the images they witnessed. Their camouflaged transport was still a long way off, and only when they were inside it would they be safe.

Thankfully, their destination was covered by trees, so the anti-grav bikes that had snatched so many of their comrades lost any sort of great speed.
As Mesme started to climb up an incline, a spray of splintered crystal slammed into the tree beside her. Clearly the tree cover didn't stop the pursuers  shooting. She tripped on a root out of shock and surprise, and fell to the ground. Kaishi immediately stopped, turning on the spot and seeking a target.
Three "Reavers" appeared behind, weaving in and out of the trees as if their pilots had been born to perform such aerial acrobatics. The Dark Eldar soon surrounded the couple, flashing around them.

Mesme raised her own pulse rifle, and went back-to-back with Kaishi, preparing herself for the assault to come. Trees began to fall as the chains and hooks  underneath the jetbikes slammed into them with force. This allowed them to go faster and faster as time went on, trapping the two Tau within a circle of flying death.

"Kaishi, when I say, shoot to your left at the height they're flying at," Mesme said, panicking in her head.
Her friend nodded, and checked his rifle blindly while keeping his helmet lens (and so his eyes) firmly on the enemy.
"Now!" shouted Mesme, turning to her right to shoot at the same place as Kaishi.

A torrent of fire erupted rapidly from their rifles, in the direction of the circle that the jetbikes had cleared.
The bikers had no time to respond, and one ploughed into the river of superheated plasma pulses. The bike spun out of control as its rider's head was split apart, and the crash caused a large enough explosion to divert the other bikers for a second.

They wouldn't be falling for that trick a second time, however, and Mesme knew it.
She reloaded, wondering how to deal with the problem when her communications came online again.
"The dead biker must have had a jammer!" shouted Kaishi, before asking frantically for aid as the bikers started shooting again.

"This is Devilfish Shi, moving to your position," said the pilot of the transport.

A minute later, missiles flew out of the trees and struck another Reaver, which simply dropped and gouged a channel in the soil.
The last one fled as the camouflaged transport appeared overhead.

A sense of immense relief struck the two young soldiers, as their APC began to land.
A sense that was quickly destroyed, as a bolt of what can only be described as darkness struck the back of the vehicle as it descended.
The Devilfish fell, its weapons useless, and clearly unable to move.

Mesme wretched in horror as a dark blue skimmer glided towards them, sails acting as a backdrop to the squad of Kabalite warriors riding on it.
Anger swelled up inside her, and she immediately started shooting. Kaishi followed suit after recovering. The Dark Eldar firing back did not hit anything but the side of the downed Devilfish, redoubling Mesme's resolve with the hope that she might make it out alive if she could just take down this flying monster.

Some of the pulses penetrated the armour of the enemy, and the skimmer began to wobble. The pilot was clearly struggling for control, as the skimmer flew by the Tau quickly, turning slowly. The Fire Warriors kept up their fire, despite starting to run low on ammunition. The cannon on the prow of the Raider finally exploded, and the gliding horror came down, bashing through the treeline. Kaishi cheered loudly, embracing Mesme in the victory, who was grinning behind the featureless helmet on her head. The two broke cover swiftly, to check the fruit of their mutual destructive might.

Suddenly, a burst of splinters struck them, knocking them down. Toxins flooded their systems, and they struggled to stay conscious.
The enemy had survived the attack, and were striding towards the struggling Tau on the forest floor. Kaishi grabbed his rifle shakily, and shot off his last magazine on full auto, catching two of the approaching enemies in the chest.

The rest of them simply walked past, except one who was clearly a leader.
She cackled briefly, before kicking Mesme in the face.


Mesme woke up in her cluttered quarters, breathing heavily. She shuddered as she realised she had experienced another nightmare about her first and last assignment as a line Fire Warrior. She got up slowly, and fetched a drink to cool herself down, thankful that she had woken up when she did. The commander had no desire to relive the events that lead to her promotion to Shas'ui. Luckily, Tau did not require much sleep.

"Shas'O, we are entering the halo of the Falasten system now," said El'Ka via a drone that always hovered around Mesme's room, "Your orders?"
"Keep out of patrols' sight and maintain position on the edge of the system," she replied, finding her work a relief, "They're expecting visitors, and we wouldn't want to interrupt our neighbours' meeting."

"Yes, Shas'O," El'ka stated flatly, and the comms went silent.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 20th November
Post by: Gornon on November 24, 2010, 02:45:59 PM
I like what you have so far.  You've caught my attention, to be sure.  Your Inquistior character continues to be an interesting character.  As I've said before, the Inquisitor is much more fun to follow than Meseme.  If Meseme is going to have scenes cut to her alone fairly often, I would give her some development. 
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 20th November
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on November 27, 2010, 01:23:17 AM
Development for Mesme coming right up..
___________________ ________________

The outward face of the Empire is mighty and just,
But there is another face to the Tau'va,
That of the sword in the dark,
Thrust between the shoulders of its enemies.

Lament for those lost to the shadow,
For I am the one who wielded it.

Personal Meditations of Shas'O Tau'n Len'ra Mesme'or'es
Bequeathed to her grandchildren,
Public distribution suppressed for the Greater Good.

Aun'chiagor is the Tau Empire's most sacred ceremony, and most practical decisionmaking tool. Rooted in a time when the Ethereal caste saved the species from its own self destruction, it is a meeting between the castes to decide upon major issues. Each caste, Fire, Water, Earth and Air, has their speaker at a round table, with an Ethereal presiding over the entire affair. Typically, every major military force in the Tau Empire had an Ethereal guiding it, using the ancient tool to smooth the differences between the castes, for the benefit of all. Its success is evident, as the species' rapid technological advances showed, despite those attempting to destroy it.

The Aun'chiagor held on the flagship of O'Mesme's fleet was unique across the entirety of Tau existence to date. In the elegant halls of the Serra, Aun'chiagor was held without a presiding Ethereal in the traditional sense. Mesme, with the appropriate mix of blood in her veins, sat where the Ethereal would usually in the middle of table. She reported directly to the highest authority in the Empire, the Aun't'au'retha, and to none besides. This state of affairs was earned in blood, and the trust placed in Mesme weighed on her heavily despite how hard she had fought for it. The memory of the betrayal of Farsight was still fresh in everyone's minds.

The conference room of the Serra was a far more simple affair than usual, as Mesme had ordered its immediate readiness for use as an emergency sickbay as soon as she had received command. None of the usual decorations designated to the castes here, save for some lighting which did not get in the way of the wounded. Mesme did not see the purpose in having a large room for talking only, in line with the practical attitude that many Fire Caste Tau developed naturally. Not that the other castes seemed to mind, except perhaps the Water Caste.

To the left of the commander, the Water Caste representative Por'el Vral sat in flowing blue robes, looking pleased with himself and demonstrating so by boasting somewhat to his attending por'vre. As the chief diplomat in the fleet, Vral enjoyed a much wider span of travel than the average Water caste member, traversing a large corner of the galaxy. It was something which all Por'la aspired to, and so one could say Vral was living the dream. Mesme personally found him ridiculous because of it, mainly due to the fact he didn't have to slog it out with a pulse rifle and get shot at by mentally deranged aliens. Speaking to them was obviously far easier work, in her opinion. Regardless, Vral was effective when called upon, and this was one such occasion in which he performed admirably.

To the right of Vral, El'Ka sat representing the Fire Caste in Mesme's stead, dressed in his uniform and quietly thinking to himself. Beside him, Vre'Kaishi stood at attention, grinning when Mesme caught his eye. She frowned back at him each time with a shake of her head, which simply made him grin wider. Mesme herself was in a battlesuit jump-uniform, which she donned to insure that the idea she wanted to put forward was reinforced. The same had already been agreed between El'Ka and the commander, so she did not expect problems.

Beside the Shas'el, the delegates for the Earth Caste sat. Fio'O Karra, flanked by two fio'vre, was busying herself with some piece of electronics that she had brought with her, while munching on some snack. Karra was the chief engineer and scientist of the coalition, and as such, was wearing her piercing-white laboratory uniform. Mesme enjoyed her company, being by far the most pragmatic Tau she had ever met outside the Fire Caste. She was also a tad eccentric, which is saying something where Tau are concerned, in an endearing manner. She was from Au'Taal, a sept generally regarded as lazy, though clearly Karra had made good use of her system's beautiful greenspaces to study the ways of technology.

Finally, seated furthest to the right, was the fleet commander, Kor'O Quan. The almost impossibly thin physique of the Air Caste was covered in the standard uniform. Quan seemed to be the only one impatient to get started, aside from Mesme herself. The kor'ui beside the admiral were kept busy, as he busied himself in ship reports, which were flowing in at a steady rate given the circumstances. The fleet was still in the halo, the belt of debris left over from the creation of the system, hiding from its enemies.

Mesme herself was flanked by two Aun'vre, clerks sent directly from T'au to record her actions for later scrutiny, and to prevent a repeat of the O'Shovah incident. The commander herself only barely felt the sense of awe that the Ethereals seemed to cast on most other Tau, though it was far more potent in her childhood. Regardless, the two hovered at her shoulder.

This particular meeting was to discuss the developing situation in the system called "Falasten" by the gue'la. Given the circumstances in which it found itself, Mesme failed to comprehend why the empire hadn't taken it before. Regardless, she turned her thoughts to the task at hand, and called the meeting to order.

"Honoured tau'fann, we all know why we have come to this system," Mesme started, "And I know we have made excellent progress so far, but the situation can easily turn on us."

The room stared at her, being brought back to full attention at last.

"Por'el, if you would explain the progress made in full please," Mesme asked, returning to her seat.
"Our por'vre have made contact with our sympathisers on every major planet in the system," Vral explained, "They currently hold some key leadership positions in the anti-colonial resistance, and have galvanised others to fight for them."

The room filled with general acknowledgement and interest, before Mesme raised her hand.

"What news on how the rebels are faring, given the recent ... development," she asked.
"The problem you refer to seems to only be affecting the colonial held sectors," Vral continued, "Making it easier for us to rally more to the cause."

"There is still a small problem," El'Ka started, "Most of the people fighting are not fighting for their liberation by us."
"Once the rebels have triumphed, there will be no problem convincing them that the One Path is truly better," Vral stated, "After all, they will not be able to trade readily with the Imperium if they do succeed."

El'Ka then added his doubts on whether or not the rebel gue'la would succeed or not, sparking a polite argument on the subject between the castes, save the Earth Caste delegates.

"The problem with the situation, is that there is no physical element to swing the rebellion towards the Greater Good," Karra interrupted after a while, "When one wants to create a reaction in a difficult environment, one uses a catalyst."

Mesme smiled, knowing that Karra had come to the same conclusion she herself had.

"Indeed," she said, "But what to use as a catalyst?"
"My por'vre can do the job," Vral said confidently.
"I suggest we send some Gue'vasa advisors," mused El'Ka in response to Vral's evidently non-military solution, "With plenty of weapons."
Mesme thought over these options, and then remembered that the Kor'O had yet to speak.
"Kor'O, can you get our fleet to orbit over the capital planet quick enough to get past their defences?" Mesme asked.
Quan looked at her briefly from his quiet ordering about of his acolytes, and nodded before continuing.

"Then I propose we enter orbit over 'Falasten Prime', and offload our entire compliment of Gue'vasa, with full air support," Mesme announced, "The por'el will prepare the appropriate arrangements."

There were no objections, though Mesme carried the authority of the highest offices in the Tau Empire, so there rarely were.
"What about the other problem?" asked Vral.

"The Orks are taking care of some of our enemies for us," Mesme said, shrugging, "Let them feast on war for a little while."
___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________

Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 20th November
Post by: Gornon on November 28, 2010, 11:35:11 PM
I like the concept of the Aun'chiagor.  Very Tauish and fits with their character.

You do a good job with this line
The memory of the betrayal of Farsight was still fresh in everyone's minds

I would think that Farsight left a gaping hole in the psych of the Tau.

I like how the Tau would be wary of such a creature as Mesme.  Too much power in one being.  The very idea of such a thing existing taps at the cast system and pings at the balance of power between the casts!  For good reason, too!  The Imperium had a leader who was both a secular and clerical leader.  His name was Vandire.
Mesme herself was flanked by two Aun'vre, clerks sent directly from T'au to record her actions for later scrutiny, and to prevent a repeat of the O'Shovah incident. The commander herself only barely felt the sense of awe that the Ethereals seemed to cast on most other Tau, though it was far more potent in her childhood. Regardless, the two hovered at her shoulder.

I like how Mesme is not enthralled by the Aun.  But why?  Do her genetics shield her?  Or is it willpower?  Courage and Honor seems to indicate a psychic ability, so both answers could work.  I also like how High Command is looking at her like a predatory beast that's caged.  It makes sense, too.  A powerful military leader who does not hold the Aun in awe?  That's not good.  Is it wrong to think that they are waiting for her to fail, as opposed to succeed?

There were no objections, though Mesme carried the authority of the highest offices in the Tau Empire, so there rarely were.

Hmm, I would add an undercurrent of discontent here.  Their authority figure is a strange freak, and the Aun clearly don't trust her fully.  Wouldn't the other Tau be naturally worried or resistant to the thought of being governed by such a Tau?  Though it could be argued that Tau 'fold up' any disagreements once a meeting has been settled and then work towards the goal irregardless of their personal feelings.

Fio'O Karra, flanked by two fio'vre, was busying herself with some piece of electronics that she had brought with her, while munching on some snack.

I admit, I smiled a bit at this part.  Karra reminds me a lot of one of a friend's character in one of my best roleplaying groups.  Ditzy inventors are always fun and, combined with the nostalgia this one invokes, makes me wish to see more of this character.

Overall, very good so far.  I like it!
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 20th November
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on December 17, 2010, 07:04:18 PM
Mesme sat in her quarters, having returned to her quarters, after being briefed on how exactly the fleet was to drop into orbit over Falasten Prime. The room’s central space had been cleared, to allow for a communal meal to be had shortly. The commander had invited her bodyguard, her lieutenant and Fio’O’Karra to discuss the coming operation over a last meal before battle.

The admiral, despite invitation, refused due to a large workload. His plan to get the ships to orbit quickly was genius. The Tau were incapable of making long trips into the Warp, an incapability that prevented highly rapid annexation of large areas of human-held space. However, the Tau were capable of skimming the edge of the Immaterium. Using this, the admiral would perform a micro-jump, placing the fleet in orbit from the edge of the system in the same time it took to blink.

Drinking some warm ky’husa with energy, Mesme registered the entry of the two Aun’vre with a frown and a slight shifting of her weight on the ground. She motioned for the two to sit, which they did as her drone buzzed around the room. They obeyed, sitting opposite her across the table played host to a projection of the strategic situation on the capital planet.

These clerks from the ethereal caste had not informed Mesme of their names, and did not seem to have any intention of doing so. One was thin and short, the other was taller and more built, but both displayed the raised bone in the centre of their face typical of their caste. Mesme could still remember her father’s own.

“Why do you enter my quarters?” she asked plainly, “What business do you have?”
“We are here to express concern about your continued refusal of summons for the Propagation Department,” the thin one said, “Your genetics are considered essential to the Empire and the Greater Good.”

Mesme looked up from her work, amused by the audacity of the pair. The Aun taking an interest in her apparent indecision on choosing a mate, and a complete lack of cooperation with the Earth Caste geneticists who would choose for her, was far from a new event. Their attempt to mix the castes to create new traits had resulted in failure, but bore them fruit in the form of Mesme’s apparent natural ability to be calm in even the most dire military situation. Now they were looking to experiment further.

“I recognise your concerns,” Mesme said, barely able to contain her irritation, “However, the Empire has more pressing concerns for my attention, I am young, there will be plenty of opportunity for propagation once I have fulfilled my duty.”

“We have been instructed to inform you that T’au is unsure that you will live long enough for that to be true,” the tall Ethereal stated, “Your continued insistence on frontline command poses a great risk to your life.”

Mesme laughed for a moment.
“How would you evaluate my continued progress if I did not insist upon it?”

“Regardless, we must insist that you choose a mate now,” said the thin one, placing a data card on the table, presumably with a list of names deemed suitable by the Fio’O geneticists on Tau‘n. Mesme eyes widened, shocked by this sudden move. She was speechless.

“For the Greater Good, Shas‘O.”

___________________ ___________________ __________-

Vre’Kaishi stood in his jumpsuit in the launch bay of the Serra, overseeing the gue’vasa troops preparing for battle. They had donned the grey-blue Sacea-pattern camouflage for their fateful mission to the surface of Falasten Prime. The troops would be making history as the first majority-gue’la strike force in the empire’s history. As Kaishi pondered on whether this was a sign of the future or just the result of the unique nature of the Serra’shan’al, he couldn’t help but notice the smells of the humans.

They were nervous, or so the bodyguard guessed. Not that they could tell that amongst themselves, but the Tau had a far more potent sense of smell. The ability to sense mood vaguely but wordlessly was something natural to all Tau, and Kaishi’s extensive experience with gue’la made him an educated guesser.

The launch bay was a massive cavernous space, with Orca dropships lining an entire wall. Their sleek black paintjobs made them look something like massive whales, with deadly cargos piling into their mouths. Some were troop carriers, others were the highly modified versions for carrying gravtanks.
Air and Earth caste engineers were making their last minute checks on them, as the gue’vasa started taking their seats inside.

El’Ka entered his battlesuit as Kaishi finished his last look at the scene before him, and took a step towards his own death-dealing second skin. He stopped dead in his tracks as the doors from the main corridor opened, and Mesme walked swiftly past him.

Kaishi greeted her casually as usual, but she completely ignored him, stepping into her battle suit quickly. The two Aun’vre appeared at the doors soon afterwards, observing as Kaishi had been not a moment earlier. The meal had been cancelled, and now he knew why. Clearly the Aun had made some demands that Mesme found highly irritant, her face reminding Kaishi of their youth when he saw that expression many times. The bodyguard finally reached his wargear and continued his thoughts as the faceplate connected and his commander began to speak.

“Gue’vasa of the Serra’shan’al,” Mesme said, addressing the humans,
“Almost two hundred and fifty tau’cyr have passed since your ancestors found themselves abandoned by the Imperium. In those dark days, after fighting nobly against us, your relatives found themselves without a home, without hope. Thrown away into a mindless war against the Greater Good, they found that they were thrown away even more readily as the Y’he appeared to scourge the galaxy. But they were not alone.

The Empire accepted them, gave them a home, a real one. Far from the cramped slums of the gue’la slum worlds of their birth, they found a comfortable place. However, the descendants of their cousins  remain in servitude, remain under tyranny. We go to battle today to liberate them from their overlords, their poverty and their ignorance. Today, you will fight alongside those of your cousins who have seen the light of the Greater Good, and bring their planet to a new age of prosperity and greatness!”

A great cheer went up among the gue’vasa, thoroughly encouraged by the speech as Kaishi knew they would. The descendants of the first generation of human colonies were slowly integrated in the Empire proper, and these were the first to speak the Tau language as their mother tongue. Their knowledge of the native language was retained however, which was extremely useful. They were recruited for their loyalty and their skills. All of which was about to be put to the test. The ship lurched briefly, and Kaishi knew they were now in orbit above the planet.
The invasion had begun.


Inquisitor Ferenz Talan stood over the corpse of the Warboss Nekchoka, breathing deeply. The smell of sizzled Ork flesh, while unpleasant, signalled the end of the foul creature’s life, as its head had dissolved in a wave of superheated gas. The boss’ personal entourage of assorted Orks stood in stunned silence, amazed at the result of the duel.

The infighting came only when Roxana jumped down from the hole in the roof, bolt pistol and chainsword at the ready. The biggest Orks immediately began a fistfight worthy of any hiver-gang bar brawl. Talan grinned, and immediately jumped in, mace swinging, as the lesser Orks fled. Roxana shot them in the backs, and joined the close quarters fight.


In the end, any Ork that could have plausibly commanded the attack force had been eliminated from the equation. Aelian returned to his information gathering, while Roxana and Talan returned to the capital‘s high class district. The social was going ahead now that the enemy presence had been reduced to low level fighting, as the Governor had refused to believe that more xenos could be present in the system. The man liked parties a little too much, which would not bode well if it endangered Imperial interests. Of course, it would be Talan who decided where those interests lay.

“I can’t believe you went toe-to-toe with a warboss,” Roxana said flatly as they entered their hotel room, “Who do you think you are, Commissar Cain?”

Talan found himself amused at the reference to a hero of the Imperium, who had famously duelled a war boss during the Siege of Perlia among other numerous achievements. Talan found something off with him, but then, as one of Inquisitor Vail’s acolytes, that wasn’t unusual. Only the Emperor only knew what she needed him for. Regardless, the decision to fight the warboss personally had been necessary, in order to avoid a withering counterattack.

Talan inspected the room as he shed his bloodstained armour. The blue carpet and wood panelling gave off a low sort of luxury, and the closet was empty. The drinks cabinet was respectably full however, to the Inquisitor’s relief. His heart almost stopped after he noticed the double bed in the middle of the room.

“Something wrong?” said Roxana, taking off her own bloodied fatigues to reveal a white undershirt that hugged her features in ways that astounded male senses. Talan was almost embarrassed at the woman’s not-so-subtle actions. Almost.

“Nothing,” he said, sitting on the bed, “Just wondering what your intentions are exactly with this?”
He thumbed at the bed.

“All in good time,” Roxana replied, undressing herself further behind the Inquisitor‘s back, “Remember the first time we met?”
“It’s a bit hard to forget when a genestealer tries to eat you on your first cult discovery as an Inquisitor,” Talan said, re-examining his memory in his head.
“Good,” said the rogue trader, and inspected herself in the mirror.

Talan grabbed his own formalwear and changed in the bathroom. He exited wearing a black casual suit with Roxana’s trade logo on the jacket, under his highly decorated combat webbing, which contained his meltagun and mace. Rogue traders were armed at all times where possible, after all.

The sight when he left the bathroom would be the envy of many. Roxana had changed into a deep red dress, which hugged her form somewhat, but left enough to the imagination to be considered highly respectable. Strategically placed rubies studded the material, giving it a rigidity in places, and the cloth reached the floor easily. All in all, it complimented the rogue trader’s natural beauty very well.

“How do I look?” she asked.
Talan decided not to play her game, despite his instincts stirring strongly against his decision, and simply shrugged.

___________________ __________________

The trip to the reception hall was quiet, as both the Inquisitor and the Rogue Trader lost themselves in thought. The groundcar finally pulled up to the doors, and the two stepped inside. The high glass ceiling was supported by elaborately decorated metal pillars, which seemed to pierce the wooden floor like stalagmites. The walls were draped with the heraldry and colours of the colonial noble class, and the party was in full swing, as there was much chatter that almost drowned out the music.

Talan walked a step or two behind Roxana in keeping with their cover, until they reached the chief servant.

“Captain Bactriana and escort,” the chief announced, which caused many heads to turn in the direction of the pair. Among them was Colonel Mieza, who immediately dropped her jaw at the sight of two newcomers.

“Oh frak,” Talan muttered to himself, which earned him a glance from Roxana.
“I’ll see you later then,” she said, in a tone that could have been either hostility or impatience.

Talan wandered over to Mieza‘s position near the wine table, negotiating the gaps between talkative noblemen with practiced ease. She was wearing full dress uniform, which enhanced her beauty a tad more than a dress would have in Talan’s opinion. The bolt pistol at her side was ornate as usual.

“Who is that?” Artemis asked.
“An agent of mine,” he replied, “Have you talked to the governor?”
“He hasn’t shown up yet, but sent word ahead to start regardless,” she said, noticing the clear change of subject, “What’s she do?”

“She distracts noblemen while I eavesdrop,” Talan whispered into her ear, and then kissed her on the cheek. The Colonel seemed to relax afterwards, though not by much, keeping her eyes firmly on the rogue trader.

Talan retrieved a glass of wine, and sipped it casually as he waited for the Governor to show up.
He turned away, and eavesdropped on two Administratum adepts for a few minutes, pretending to speak to Artemis. They were talking about the administration of the native areas, which Talan found amusing for a little while until he received a tap on the shoulder.

Roxana was behind him, some sycophants and/or admirers in tow. Artemis seemed to be just as ambushed as Talan was.

“Darling, aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” Roxana started, two fingers touching Talan on the shoulder.

“Eh, certainly,” Talan said slowly, “Artemis, this is Roxana Bactriana, captain of a fringe trade ship with the Lue Trading Guild. Roxana, this is Colonel Artemis Mieza of the 16th Berdamian Armoured Regiment, his Majesty’s Imperial Guard.”

The two women made to shake hands, but were interrupted as one of the adepts suddenly swung a sword between them. The pair dodged it admirably. Talan immediately struck with his mace, forcing the traitor back. The rogue trader and the colonel, their hands already at their weapons before the attack, instantly gunned the man down with twin barks of their bolt pistols. Panic erupted as nobles and waiters alike rushed the doors to get out.

The three glanced between each other, and then around the room. Against the tide of escaping civilians, a few people were making directly for Talan, melee weapons in hand.

“I suspect our cover is blown,” he said.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 18th December
Post by: Gornon on December 18, 2010, 04:02:53 PM
Looks good so far.  I must admit, though, the part about fighting the Orks seemed to be from a different Chapter.  I don't understand what was going on there.  Last we saw the Inquisitor, he was nowhere near the front lines.  Then, suddenly, he's battling a Warboss?  It seemed a sudden shift, though the actual content, as with the rest of the story, was fine.

Also, you know that saying about buying a red car and seeing red cars?  I just finished reading that scene in Duty Calls, never having read that story before, when I read your post.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 18th December
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on December 18, 2010, 10:58:56 PM
The Ork scene is just to show what Talan had gotten up to while the Tau were planning/preparing etc.

What's all this about red cars lol
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 18th December
Post by: Gornon on December 19, 2010, 01:23:05 AM
"When you buy a red car, all you see on the road are red cars".  I literally just finish reading about Cain's fight with a Warboss and then you reference it.  I found it strange and that saying popped into my head.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 18th December
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on January 11, 2011, 10:03:58 PM
The ballroom was a complete shambles. The corpses of about a dozen or so traitors lay strewn about the wooden floor or slumped against the massive metal pillars, all dressed in formal wear now soaked in blood and torn to shreds. The smell was not pleasant either, due to liberal use of a meltagun minutes earlier. The guests had all escaped, which was something to be pleased about.

Inquisitor Ferenz Talan crouched over the nearest body, another Adeptus Administratum official who was dressed appropriately in ink-stained robes, pondering on the latest twist in this incredibly annoying situation. Behind him, Roxana sighed, examining her dress, which now fell only to her thighs after she had ripped it to gain more mobility. She shrugged, then examined her bolt pistol, clearly in the mood for some vengeance.

Beside her, Colonel Mieza busied herself on the comm network, brushing back her long hair as she placed a finger on her earpiece, calling up a Chimera to transport the Inquisitor back to the hotel. Her eyes remained fixed on Roxana, in an expression that Talan couldn't quite place.

Rifling through the adept's pockets, he found nothing unusual, which was unexpected.
"If these men are xenoist infiltrators, they aren't showing it," he concluded aloud, standing up and brushing himself off, "They don't appear to be 'stealer hybrids, though I can't be sure without a gene check."

"And here I was thinking the Tau were our biggest problem," Talan said, pacing to inspect another corpse.
"Why aren't they?" Roxana asked, as Artemis finished her commlink and started listening in.
"There is no way these people would know what our names are, nor have we met them before," Talan explained, "So in order to verify our identity with their masters, and to know when to strike, they should have some sort of communicator."
"Surely they just acted on their own?" Artemis asked, "Why do they need to be in contact with xenos in order to kill you?"

"Because the Tau don't frak without a plan," Talan stated, "They are masters of control that would put psykers to shame."
"Then how do you explain this?" said Roxana, waving her pistol around the room.
Talan shrugged, and turned to Artemis to ask her something, but found her looking shocked.

She was clearly listening to something on her commbead.
"What?" asked Roxana, noticing the Colonel's behaviour.

"Three Tau battleships just appeared out of nowhere, with a large escort fleet," she said quickly, continuing to listen,
"The SDF are being overwhelmed, and the xenos are making their way towards low orbit."
Talan immediately understood why Artemis was shocked, the Tau had executed a masterstroke.

"How long until they're in range to launch landing craft to our position?" Talan asked Roxana, who was in contact with her own ship in orbit as soon as she had heard the word 'fleet'. "They're in range already, but they won't reach optimal for another 2 hours," she said, "They have detected my ship, it's fleeing."
"They probably won't land forces here until it's destroyed," Talan thought aloud, "They'll take the outer regions first to starve us out."
"What about orbital strikes?" Artemis asked, "They could just eliminate our entire force in minutes!"
"They want the planet intact," Talan stated, "Or at least, they should."

"We have time then," Artemis said, "Let's go."
The trio exited the building, into a waiting Chimera, which soon took off at maximum speed.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ __________--

Aelian had returned to Ramlas, and went immediately to the bar where he had met Inquisitor Talan and Captain Bactriana. The weather outside was very wet and very windy, and the agent of the Inquisition was glad to be inside. The usual characters were there, mostly FLC guerrillas and the local people who tolerated them. Aelian ordered a drink from the waiter, and sat down in an empty booth amongst the crowded section of the floor. When his drink arrived, he drank deeply, finishing off with a refreshed gasp. His mental exhaustion seemed to evaporate immediately.

The Inquisitor was exactly as he expected. Aelian had found him eccentric the first time he had met him, but seeing his behaviour on the job confirmed his every perception and rumour about Inquisitors. Their dedication bordered on insanity. Talan's acolyte, the beautiful Roxana, had been different though. She enjoyed combat greatly, relishing every swing of her chainsword and every shot of her pistol. Aelian greatly suspected she had been a gang member in some city or another when Talan must have come along.

The agent had also met Colonel Mieza briefly, and could sense the chemistry between the Inquisitor and herself.
"Bastard," Aelian muttered to himself, "Is mad the latest trend with women?"

Aelian was attempting to signal for another drink, but was interrupted by the shriek of aircraft engines outside, which disappeared as suddenly as they had come. The entire bar went brutally silent for a minute, waiting for the sound of explosions or gunfire. Colonial aircraft would often launch airstrikes against the city, on targeted assassination runs, often flying low for accuracy. When the only sound to be heard was continued rainfall, the bar went back to its business, though with somewhat less vigour than before.

His drink arrived soon afterwards, and Aelian flirted with the waitress to take his mind off the ridiculous amount of Ork killing he had done in the day.
Her name was Leila, and apparently she was an FLC fighter, but worked in the bar for money. After her shift ended, she sat down and continued talking with Aelian, who was well pleased with himself as a result. The flirting ended after an hour with a kiss and an address, reminding the agent exactly why he had taken the job in the first place: ninety percent of it was sitting around in bars, talking to people and flirting with younger women.

One of his informants walked into the bar, and sat down beside him.

"Well, what's the damage?" asked Aelian, his mood considerably dampened.
"How long have you been here?" the informant replied, "Do you not know what is going on?"
"...What is going on?" Aelian asked, dreading the answer.

"Dropships have been landing on the outskir.." the man started.
"Ah, I heard them!" Aelian interrupted, "So the colonials are making a move at last?"

The bar was informed of the front door swinging open by a massive gust of wind, and every head turned in that direction. Hooded men and women, with their faces covered with the white and black patterned scarf of the FLC, entered the room. Most of the drinkers continued about their business, but Aelian had noticed something, and he began to panic in his mind, struggling to remain calm on the outside.

The newcomers were all armed with pulse rifles.

Their leader got the attention of the entire establishment, pulling her scarf off her face and putting down her hood.
She was quite short, with black hair framing a decent face. Her body was definitely armoured underneath her rain fatigues that were a strange dark blue, but she was quite attractive to behold. Aelian recognised a honeypot when he saw one.

"Our leader, Comrade Yafa, was assassinated by colonial forces this morning, on the orders of the Imperial Guard and the Eccleisarchy!" the woman said,
"All patriots of Falasten are ordered to take up arms immediately!"

A massive uproar began at the news, with many of the armed people coaxing as many metallic sounds out of their weapons as possible to indicate their wish for revenge. People were shouting, extremely angry at the latest development. Aelian started to become very uncomfortable indeed, and his informant left his table for the bathroom.

"Some doubt our strength to defeat the colonial forces, particularly as they have received reinforcements from the tyrants in the Imperium, but know this:
Our comrades from the Tau Empire have arrived, and we shall liberate our system from the tyrannical rule of the colonials forever!"

A great chant went up:
"One, Two, Three, Four, Occupation No More!
Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Frak the Imperial Fascist State!"
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 12th January
Post by: Gornon on January 18, 2011, 09:19:59 PM
Well, now things start to get interesting!  I'll have to wait and see how the action develops, but it looks interesting.  You have the Tau doing Communist 20th century infiltration tactics, which matches how I think they operate if they want to take a more direct approach to invading a world.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 12th January
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on February 16, 2011, 03:38:46 AM
The PDF command bunker was a hive of activity. Various subordinates of the systems' numerous military forces flew around the room, dodging their superiors, the communication equipment lining the walls and the large holoprojector in the centre of the room. Techpriests stood around it, chanting in their ancient technological tongue, the mechanical augmentations that had been grafted onto their bodies making them look as much as part of the projector as human. The PDF commanders stood to the side. These men seemed to have gained their posts once they reached a certain weight, though the scars they displayed indicated that they were not entirely without experience. Most of them wore the colourful uniform of the Mordian style, which probably explained the current situation.

Colonel Artemis Mieza of the 16th Berdam Armoured Regiment, stared intently past the clutter of techpriests into the hard eyes of her counterpart. Like the PDF commanders, he too had donned dress uniform, but kept his cap on so that his shaved head remained hidden. Mieza found her green eyes locked firmly on the deep blue, ragged irises of this person.

Prelate-Colonel Jerwalt, commander of the 77th Mordian Iron Guard, returned the Berdamian's stare with freezing contempt.

The two colonels could not have come from a more opposing set of cultures. Berdam coped with the horrors of unending war by engaging in pleasure and fun wherever possible, its cathedrals playing host to massive night celebrations and revelry, as the citizens dedicated their unending festivals to the Emperor himself. Berdam wanted for nothing either, having many resources to sustain its population. Mordian, on the other hand, was dominated by autocratic rulers that ruled through steel-like discipline, cracking down on the slightest infraction with the highest penalties available. The planet itself, tide-locked towards its star, was not prosperous beyond the highly-coordinated troops it provided.

It was apparent that the Eccleisarchy had called in this man through their Administratum contacts, as soon as the Falasten Liberation Coalition had started to fight the colonial governor's rule, and so gave the Tau a perfect opportunity.

"Colonel, the governor placed military affairs of this system in my hands several months ago," Jerwalt began, pre-empting Mieza's start,
"My regiment have been here, training the local PDF and fighting these heretics on a daily basis. I am in command."

"As I have said, I have the authorisation of the Inquisition to be here," Mieza responded, "I am not subject to your authority."
"Yes, and where is the good Inquisitor?" the Prelate-Colonel asked, "He has not graced us with his presence, I am beginning to wonder whether he exists or not."

Mieza suddenly burst out laughing, much to the Mordian's disconcertment.

"You'll meet him soon enough," she replied, wondering how Talan would execute the pompous fool, "I suggest you treat me with a little more respect in the mean time."

"Your regiment deserves whatever respect I choose to give it," Jerwalt replied, "Given your clear lack of discipline, and the mannerisms of your planet, I'm surprised the Munitorum saw fit to tithe from your system at all."

"Bark all you want about my planet, we will be counterattacking against the xenos immediately," said Mieza, a wolf's grin plastered to her face.
"If you can get there in time," replied the Mordian.

"What do you mean by that?" Mieza asked, her grin disappearing.
"The Tau offered battle relatively easily," replied Jerwalt, "The PDF will engage them within minutes."

Just then, the techpriests finally managed to get the holoprojector working, which immediately started displaying the open fields to the north of Ramlas, along with many icons displaying the positions of the Imperial troops and the enemy.

"We'll see if your Inquisitor is in any position to act on your behalf when I steal victory from under your feet," stated Jerwalt blandly as he started to inspect the positions of his troops.

___________________ ___________________ __________________

The railgun is a fine weapon, but the strength of the Tau Empire is in the Fire Warrior and their pulse rifle.
Personal Meditations of Shas'O Tau'n Len'ra Mesme'or'es

The rain beat the ground like Demuirg drummers during a parade, heavily and rapidly, creating a beating noise as it struck the grass and mud. The open field, usually calm and empty, had become a staging ground. The last Orca dropships were dusting off, having delivered their deadly cargo to the outskirts of Ramlas. Squads of human troopers, speaking in Tau and carrying their pulse rifles, secured the perimeter with efficiency, creating killzones in the areas most likely to see enemy action. Hammerhead tanks, hovering off the ground and bearing ion cannons, hummed slowly as they manoeuvred into supporting positions.

Shas'O Mesme, her battlesuit landing softly after another enjoyable high altitude jump, turned to her bodyguard and nodded, the exoskeletal suit repeating her movements exactly. After receiving a nod back, she listened to the comms network, receiving reports from her Pathfinders.

"Shas'O, the guerrillas are taking the city," reported El'ka via the relay, "Ramlas is now ours."
Mesme turned in the direction of the fighting, and did indeed see the blue flashes of pulse rifle fire dying down significantly.
The decision to arm the sympathetic population had paid handsome dividends.

"Mesme, I'm receiving reports of a large military force approaching from the direction of the capital," Kaishi said,
"Consisting mostly of infantry with some heavy weapons support."

"No tanks?" Mesme asked, "Reports indicated that the Imperial Guard had landed armour."
"They appear to be colonial troops," Kaishi explained, "We have a video link now."

Mesme opened the video link and her vision was soon filled with that of a Pathfinder's camera footage.

The humans were uniformed colourfully, banners and flags waving in the wind, seemingly ignoring the rain as if it wasn't there. They marched in columns in tight formation, as if they were on parade. Alongside them, teams carrying lascannons marched in similar manner. However, the number of troops approaching was quite overwhelming; The entire continental infantry seemed to have been mustered for this attack.

The Tau commander was amused at the sight of it. She had expected that the arrival of Imperial Guard forces would have put some sense into the system's commanders, but clearly there were some internal divisions within the human tyrants' command structure.

"Shas'vre, the gue'la wish to go muzzle to muzzle with us in an open field," Mesme said calmly, "Let's indulge them."
"Yes, Shas'O," replied Kaishi.[/font]
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 16th February
Post by: Gornon on February 16, 2011, 09:52:57 PM
Ahh, a big battle.  Fair enough.  Let's see how badly the PDF get mauled.

So, the PDF is Mordian trained, if I am reading it correct?  If that is the case, I expect the PDF and Mordians to get mauled.  Mordians are great against zerg rushers, like Tyranids, Orks, angry mobs, or Daemons (who the fight a lot in the background or background images).  Rank and file tactics are great against those armies.  Against Tau?  Not so much.  I.G. need mass armored/mobile or artillery forces there.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 16th February
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on February 17, 2011, 04:54:18 AM
Ahh, a big battle.  Fair enough.  Let's see how badly the PDF get mauled.

So, the PDF is Mordian trained, if I am reading it correct?  If that is the case, I expect the PDF and Mordians to get mauled.  Mordians are great against zerg rushers, like Tyranids, Orks, angry mobs, or Daemons (who the fight a lot in the background or background images).  Rank and file tactics are great against those armies.  Against Tau?  Not so much.  I.G. need mass armored/mobile or artillery forces there.

I'm not even sure there has ever been mention of Mordian guard facing Tau before.
Probably for good reason.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 16th February
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on April 9, 2011, 01:23:33 PM
Mieza watched the scene unfold on the holoprojector, fixated on a field located several hundred kilometres away. Jerwalt, the arrogant Prelate-Colonel, did the same, though was considerably more chatty, issuing orders almost constantly and punctuating them with predictions of massacring both heretic and xenos alike. The droning of the techpriests had died down significantly, the machine spirits calmed and appeased with little difficulty, though there was an occasional outburst of babbling when the image became fuzzy.

The Berdamian was apprehensive, having ordered her regiment to stay in the capital city so that it wouldn't be defenceless against a Tau orbital drop. Her confidence in the Mordians and the colonials was minimal, considering the way they operated. The battle was a mere moment away from raging with ferocity unseen, and she was sitting in a bunker with fat idiots, rather than a tank on the front line.

The double metal doors opened violently, slamming against the walls and sending attendants scattering away. Inquisitor Ferenz Talan of the Ordo Xenos, Mieza's lover and longstanding opponent of Tau interests, stood in the doorway looking very unamused. The powermace that would normally be found swinging at his hip was in his hand, crackling with energy. Jerwalt, a man usually unperturbed by violence, looked genuinely surprised. The Inquisitor marched over to the Mordian and stood about an inch from the man's face.

"What in the name of the Emperor have you been doing?" he growled, "You have jeopardised the entire system."
"Inquisitor Talan, I presume?" Jerwalt replied, recovering well from his initial shock.
"I might as well be Lord Macharius himself, as far as you're concerned," Talan replied sharply, "Explain the situation. Now."
Jerwalt nodded, clearing wanting to defuse the situation.

The pair turned towards the holoprojector.
Mieza's wolf-grin had returned, to Jerwalt's great discomfort and Talan's amusement.

The Mordian quickly started explaining.

"Our forces have met the enemy in the open field around Ramlas," Jerwalt said reluctantly,
"Our battle lines are drawn and the enemy has responded by moving their infantry into a similar formation parallel to ours. Reports indicate that there are minimal Tau forces present and that the vast majority of the enemy are xeno-sympathisers. We outnumber the enemy significantly to boot. I predict a swift victory after which we can clear Ramlas and purge it of any Xenos we do find."

Jerwalt's confidence seemed to be building, considering the great advantageous position he thought he found himself in.

"Retreat immediately, Ramlas is lost and you've left the entire continent with only one Imperial Guard regiment as a defence," Talan ordered.
"But we can smash the guerrillas and the Tau here!" Jerwalt protested loudly, "Are you a coward?!"
"I ordered you to retreat!" Talan shouted.

The Prelate-Colonel drew his laspistol and pointed it towards the Inquisitor, who responded by pointing his meltagun in the opposite direction.
"Cowards die in shame," Jerwalt said, "I will not yield to a coward and let heresy take this planet!"
The various attendants of the room soon got their own weapons ready, with the Berdamian contingent facing off against the Mordians with everything from a sniper rifle to stools.

"Quite the Necromundian standoff we have here," said Talan, his hands steadying his meltagun.
Using his free hand to press down a comms button, Jerwalt gave his order.
"All units, attack."

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________

The Second Battle of Ramlas was so decisive in deciding the first part of the war, that the Imperials' tactics had to shift completely to even begin to deal with the popular uprising. All I can say is that I'm happy we won and served the Greater Good.
- Gue'vesa'vre Mont'yr Leila Badel

The sky had lightened slightly as the rain stopped over the open fields, but the low hanging clouds still made the spacious environment seem almost claustrophobic. Luckily, the drainage in the fields was excellent, or this battle would have been a lot more complicated than it needed to be.

Shas'O Mesme inspected her forces via recon drone link. She had sent her heavy support away, so that they would be fresh for when the Imperial armour eventually came to seek battle.

Directly in front of her however, stood the gue'vesa'la, the human soldiers of the Tau Empire. They were mostly locals, armed with lasguns and some pulse weapons given to them by the liberation army. These warriors had formed loose lines, inciting the enemy to attack.  They were out for blood this day, vengeance for generations of occupation. Their flag, a black, white and red tricolour, could be seen with each unit, as could the distinctive patterned scarf around each trooper's neck. Alongside them, the troops of the Serra'shan'al, dressed in deep blue urban camouflage, bearing the most advanced weaponry and body armour, stood in disciplined columns, ready for the order to attack. They fought for the Greater Good, rather than vengeance, and would form the military backbone of the coming assault.

"We're ready," Kaishi reported, landing beside his commander.
Mesme nodded, satisfied with the situation and glad to away from politics on the flagship.

In the distance, the enemy was arranged in firing ranks, reminding Mesme of the ancient depictions of Fire Caste warriors in the wars during the Mont'au, the time before the Ethereals came to save the Tau race. She couldn't help but think that they were truly fighting against the evils of division and stagnation.

Her comms buzzed to life in her head.
"Shas'O, we have intercepted a message, the enemy are proceeding to attack," stated a Pathfinder hidden somewhere ahead.
"All La'rua, advance!" she ordered in reply.

The entire line began to advance, the ancient battle songs of Falasten beginning to be sung as the pace picked up. The enemy too had begun their attack, moving up at a slower pace to put their weapons at optimum range. Soon, the shooting started. The Tau shot first, with the locals firing continuously and the more disciplined Tau-born squads advancing as another fired to cover them.

"Mesme, the gue'la are going to be in range soon," Kaishi reminded his friend.
"Y'eldi, now!" Mesme ordered, taking heed of the advice.

Suddenly, a flight of Tiger Sharks appeared overhead, dropping out of the low clouds. These jet black birds of death swooped over the enemy lines, burst cannons chattering, dropping a particularly deadly cargo. The first few aircraft had dropped marker drones, which hovered above the enemy, designating enemy officers, heavy weapons teams and specialists. The rest of the Sharks dropped kles'tak drones, mini-drones containing high explosives with tracking systems.

The explosions were timed to coincide exactly, and the many hundreds of detonations combined to crack open the PDF and Mordian units like an Ork chomping on a Squig's head. All the enemy heavy weapons were turned into scrap metal, the enemy command structure shattered and at least one in three of the soldiers being blown apart.  A great roar went up from the Falasten natives, and the order to charge was given. From a march, the entire Tau line went into a sprint, a torrent of lasfire and pulsefire pouring from it.

Mesme and Kaishi, their battlesuits being much more mobile than the footsloggers, activated their suits' jetpacks and jumped straight into the middle of the enemy.
Their flamethrowers were immediately burning up entire squads of the enemy, while their missile pods fired repeatedly at enemy guardsmen at a distance. After a minute of sheer slaughter, the PDF started to flee.

"All la'rua, do not pursue, return to," Mesme ordered, fending off a priest with a swipe of her armoured arm, "Y'eldi, destroy what's left of them."
Confirmation of the orders came as the fire from the ground ceased and the fire from the air started in earnest. The rest of the Serra'shan'al fighter-bomber wing swooped in like Kroot after a decent meal, tearing the retreating colonials to pieces.

A victory which would go down as one of the finest Mon'wern'a, or deceptive assaults, in Tau military history.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 9th April
Post by: Sheepz on April 9, 2011, 07:35:51 PM
It's good. I admit, I have not given it the due attention it deserves, only reading some of the more recent entires - which kind of undermines the point I'm about to make, I suppose.

My only concern is the number of PoV's coming in. You've got Chaos characters, Imperial ones, and Tau ones, which can lead to a bit of a confusing picture for the reader. Remember, we don't know the characters as well as you, their motivations or final place in the story. Having a lot going on is fine, but you don't want it getting too confusing.

Anyway, it's an interesting story and I really enjoyed the bits I've read. Looking forward to how it pans out.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 9th April
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on April 9, 2011, 10:04:28 PM
Cheers for the advice, and thanks for reading :D
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 9th April
Post by: Gornon on April 9, 2011, 11:36:22 PM
It's a nice add on.  I like the play out between the different human factions.  Only one thing.  I didn't feel the Tau were truly threatened by the PDF.  They were just there to be brushed aside.  The Imperials just didn't feel like a real adversary.  They were simply running around holding the Idiot Ball (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IdiotBall).
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 9th April
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on April 9, 2011, 11:42:46 PM
It's a nice add on.  I like the play out between the different human factions.  Only one thing.  I didn't feel the Tau were truly threatened by the PDF.  They were just there to be brushed aside.  The Imperials just didn't feel like a real adversary.  They were simply running around holding the Idiot Ball (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IdiotBall).

That was sorta the idea...
An army that fights against the Tau using columned troops is going to get owned: Fact.

It'll become clear in the next part why this sequence took place.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 9th April
Post by: Gornon on April 10, 2011, 12:21:23 AM
It'll become clear in the next part why this sequence took place.

Ok, fair enough. I can wait.  As it is now, I just didn't feel 'invested', so to speak, in the battle.  I felt the PDF were just there so the Tau could look good by killing them.  Thus, there was little dramatic tension.  It does, however, look like the rest of the Guard know what they are doing when facing Tau, so I will assume that this fight is not only to make the Tau look good, but the I.G. as well.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 9th April
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on April 13, 2011, 07:51:25 PM
Prelate-Colonel Jerwalt was showing Talan his number one grim face, in an attempt to get the Inquisitor to see reason and realise that he was outmatched. He knew the Eccleisarchy and the Hereticus purists would protect him from the Inquisitor's wrath, so it was just a matter of talking the man down before the meltagun went off.

"Inquisitor, we will defeat the enemy," Jerwalt said, "And you will see that cowardice before the enemy bears no fruit for the Emperor's cause."
"Cowardice?" Talan chuckled, "I wonder why you aren't out there with your troops?"
"I am charged with the defence of the entire planet," Jerwalt growled, "I have to coordinate all our forces."
"No, you're charged with heresy," Mieza interrupted, "You're pointing a weapon at the head of an Inquisitor!"
"And you're pointing a weapon at the head of a warmaster," Jerwalt replied coldly, "What of your heresy?"

The room went silent for a brief moment, the air pregnant with enough tension to make the air seem as if it was solid. A Mordian aide, his hands shaking, could contain himself no longer, and shot a single lasbolt into the Berdamian nearest to him. The man fell down as if in slow motion, the eyes of the entire room focused on the spot for a split second. It was the spark that set the promethium on fire.

Colonel Mieza, enraged at the death of her comrade, shot Jerwalt with her bolt pistol, screaming insults. The bolts hit him, one in the side, one in the right arm that had been beside the comms link and another in the wrist of the hand that was holding the laspistol. The Prelate-Colonel collapsed on himself as if his legs had been pulled out from under him. The general firefight began as his body thumped onto the floor.

Mieza's compatriots dealt death to the rest of the Prelate-Colonel's staff, who having lost their officers, were in a state of shock. Many shot wildly however, causing casualties on the more composed Berdamians, who were in a state of cold vengeance-seeking as each person who hadn't been hit already dived for cover.

Talan, spinning on his feet, slammed his mace into the side of a Mordian lieutenant's face before bringing his meltagun to bear on two more. An aide, armed with a shotgun and about the only person left who seemed calm aside from the Inquisitor, shot him in the chest. Falling on his back, but saved by his carapace armour, Talan's eyes opened to the sight of the shotgun barrel. The aide, seeming unperturbed by the carnage around him, smiled. It was a smile that remained on his face when Mieza, hopping over the holoprojector, sliced the top of his head clean off with her chainsword. While it saved the Inquisitor's life, the shotgun drifted and went off, emptying its shrapnel shot into Talan's shoulder. At point blank range, the carapace armour couldn't stop the force entirely.

"Frak me!" Talan shouted, putting a hand to his shoulder as it started bleeding.
"We need to get out of here!" Mieza said, offering her hand while firing at the nearest Mordian.
"No, we don't," replied Talan, taking the hand and getting to his feet, giving the corpse of the dead aide a kick for good measure.

"CEASE FIRE!" the Inquisitor roared, waving his meltagun around, "CEASE FIRE IN THE NAME OF THE EMPEROR!"

The shooting took about ten seconds to die down, but every head was soon cautiously peeking out to look at Talan.

"By order of the Inquisition, the system of Falasten is now under martial law," Talan shouted, "Anyone who wants to live, put down your arms and stand up."

With a few seconds of consideration, all complied. After all, who wouldn't comply with an Inquisitor without backing from above? With a few minutes, the Mordians were escorted to a holding cell and the command centre returned to operation. They were too untrustworthy to be involved any longer. However, it took another half an hour to get the comms and holoprojector working again, and the picture they painted was just as Talan expected. The Tau had won by exploiting their airpower, and hadn't even committed their heavy weapons on the ground.

It was time for the counterattack.

"Colonel, does your regiment have anti-aircraft weaponry?" Talan asked.
"Some, not much," Mieza replied, but grinning as she got the idea immediately, "But we can requisition the PDF's Hydras from the spaceport."
"Excellent," Talan said, "Do it."

Mieza saluted, then left.

Talan then turned his commbead to the Inquisitorial channel.
"Roxana, are you in position?"

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ______________

Roxana and Aelian sat by a window on the top floor of a Mechanicus shrine on the outskirts of Ramlas, overlooking the battlefield about a kilometre away.

"We're ready," replied Roxana, hefting her Exitus rifle into position.
"You know what to do," Talan stated.

"You think this'll work?" Aelian asked, loading a krak missile into a launcher.
"Yep," replied Roxana, "Ferenz's plans always work."
"For you, maybe," Aelian replied, getting into position himself.

In front of them, the xenoists were regrouping after the battle. The troops below were hugging, shouting to each other, waving flags and singing.
It wouldn't be long before the target arrived.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ __________

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.
- Aun'el Vior'la Shi 

Mesme landed her battlesuit, to the cheers of the gue'vesa'la around her, with Kaishi on the outer limits of Ramlas. The entire street was alive with celebration.

"See how they congratulate us?" Kaishi said, half-laughing, "We must truly have liberated them if this is our welcome."
"I was under the impression that every planet we landed on was liberated for the Greater Good," said Mesme, pretending to not be pleased but not fooling her friend for a second.

"That aside, we've achieved a great victory," Kaishi continued, "Not that anyone will ever hear about it."
"Well, the Shas'O from Dal'yth is en route now," Mesme replied, "Our glory will be displayed when this system is added to the Empire."

"That's..." started Kaishi, but stopped when he heard the shot.

Something had hit Mesme's battlesuit, and her shield generator was overloading.
"Kaishi, order everyone away now!" Mesme said, just as her friend spotted Aelian pop over the parapet of the Mechanicus shrine.
By the time he brought his weapons to bear, it was too late. A krak missile swung down, striking Mesme's suit on the shoulder, cracking the armour and sending it crashing down to the ground. The crowds dispersed, firing at any windows incoherantly and generally moving into cover.

Kaishi immediately activated his suit jetpack, and jumped to the top of the shrine, only to see the attacker slide down a pole to the bottom.
Jumping back down, he fired his missile pods into the building's support beams. The structure lurched and groaned, crashing down upon itself, the symbol of the Adeptus Mechanicus making a massive racket as it clattered onto concrete. His wish for revenge satisfied, the Shas'vre returned to his commander's side.

"Kaishi," she said weakly, her comms evidentally still working.
Kaishi's heart nearly leapt out of his chest, so glad he was that she was still alive.
However, he couldn't guarantee it would stay that way, and so called for help immediately.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 14th April
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on April 16, 2011, 10:56:51 PM
I'll have to take a break on this for about a month, RL stuff happens I'm afraid.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 14th April
Post by: Gornon on April 17, 2011, 03:05:23 AM
Reality can be a pain, I know.  Too bad, though.  I like the way you have all the different characters bouncing off of each other in the command center.  It's very good and as always, you make Talan an interesting character to follow.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 14th April
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on April 18, 2011, 05:07:12 AM
I'm already finding this break very hard to deal with  ;D ;D

Might update it after all, as I have ideas on how to develop the two characters independently once this arc finishes :P
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 14th April
Post by: Daken on April 24, 2011, 11:42:11 PM
Whew! Just got finished reading that. Impressive story so far! I've never seen so many different viewpoints in one story. The Inquisitor is certainly an interesting man...and very lucky indeed.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 14th April
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on May 29, 2011, 04:35:09 AM
Small update

The tunnel was filled with dust and smoke, the entire environment seeming as if underwater in a swamp, as the green light from the service luminators reflected off the particles in the air. Metal beams, having crashed through the roof, pierced the floor, blocking the exit route. Rats scurried away, recovering from the shock of not only their homes being nearly crushed by the collapse of the building above, but of the sudden presence of intruders.

Roxana coughed and spluttered, swearing in a most unladylike manner, getting herself up from the floor by grabbing onto the rusty railing along the wall, visible only by the black line of its shadow in the midst of green. Aelian had apparently landed on his feet, though was also wretching because of the dust, as he stood leaning against a service box of some kind or another.

"You alright?" Roxana asked, pulling the top of her fatigues over her mouth, "That bodyguard was quick."
"Bodyguards are usually the close kin of the commander," Aelian explained, dusting himself off, "At least that's what Talan once told me."
"Great," replied Roxana, "We just ended the xenos' brother."
"Or sister," grinned Aelian, discarding the missile launcher and unslinging his lasrifle.

The pair inspected the rubble blocking their way out, finding the metal beams far too deeply stuck to move and the spaces inbetween them either too small or filled with concrete slabs and broken equipment. Wordlessly, they turned and headed in the opposite direction; they both knew that they would need to go around.

At the first junction they reached, they opened a manhole enough to allow a transmission.

"This is Roxana, can you hear me Ferenz?"
"Somewhat, you're a little fuzzy," came the reply, "I presume the mission was successful?"
"There's been a complication in terms of our escape, but the deed is done," Aelian stated, "We're going to need a pickup."
"Not possible, the Tau have domination of the airspace around Ramlas, we could get a ship in but not out," Talan said after a pause, "You're walking it."

The sound of heavy footfalls started to echo through the tunnels joining the junction, which was far from a good sign.
"I think the Tau are monitoring this channel, we've got heretics closing in," Roxana said.
A buzzing noise started blaring through their earpieces for a moment, then silence for another.

"This is Shas'el'Ka of the Tau Empire, in the name of the Greater Good, surrender and you shall not be harmed," stated the Tau,
"Resist and you will be neutralised with the utmost efficiency."

"Dump the commbeads, get to the rallypoint and I'll meet you there, Talan out!" said the Inquisitor.
As the acolytes pulled the communications equipment out of their ears, the muzzle flashes of pulserifles filled the room with light, followed by the strobing of the pulse bursts themselves detonating against the floor and walls.

The xenoists had found the Inquisitor's servants.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 14th April
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on February 11, 2014, 09:30:45 AM
So, nearly three years later I return to this. Why not sure! Reckon I'd finish off the arc before I got stuck into a separate arc for Mesme and a separation fiction for Talan. Or vice versa.


Inquisitorial Reference Collective Archive: Ordo Xenos, Ultima Segmentum, Damocles Sector

File Reference: Case M732 Summary: Tau Fire Caste Commander Shas'O Tau'n Mesme ("mezz-may" translation: combination)

Personal Record: Birthdate unknown, exact age likely greater than biological age due to Tau cyro-freezing process for transportation over long distances, unlikely to be older than 25 Terran years old (note: Tau life expectancy is lower on average than humans by about 33%, even with juvenat treatments, making the commander relatively older to a similarly aged human - Talan). "Bonded" with another, name unknown: designated M-BG1732, another Fire Caste high command figure. Small in stature. Less stoic than other encountered xenos of her species and caste, subject to unusual behaviour.

Known Military Record:
Inferred experience of extensive combat against Imperial forces from 970.M41 onwards, evidenced by extreme familiarity with Guard and Astartes tactica. Commands highly specialised Tau military formation, involved in deep incursions into Imperial space as well as border skirmishes in the northern subsector of Sector Damocles. First confirmed command against Imperial forces in Hephaestion Incident. Subsequent encounters highly damaging to Imperial interests.

Recommended Course of Action:
Capture for interrogation not recommended: subject likely to be conditioned against torture.
Elimination with extreme prejudice not recommended: subject will insure greatest possible collatoral damage
Degradation of accompanying military formation recommended: subject personally formidable, but not impossible to eliminate once her accompanying unit is degraded sufficiently.

Recommend Astartes Request Intervention Level SIGMA if subject is encountered.

The engines of the Aquila shuttle droned loudly, their vibrations transmitted through the armour of the hull, giving Talan a numb sensation throughout his body. Rubbing his hands together for a moment to attempt to regain sensation, the Inquisitor checked his weapons while he waited. He had ditched his melta and powermace for equipment that wouldn't immediately mark him out as an Imperial: A Tau pulse carbine, an autopistol, a blacksun filter he got his hands via Roxana's contacts, a bag of varied grenades, and a large dirk. Satisfied that these things would suffice, he activated his vox.

"This is Talan, how is progress?" he said, keeping details to a minimum in case the Tau were intercepting the relayed transmission.
"We're on the move," replied Colonel Mieza, raising her voice over the sound of her own engine noise, "Should be in position by dawn." The Inquisitor nodded in approval, despite no one being around to see it. "Excellent," he stated as a beep in his ear indicated another comms request, "See you on the other side."

Switching channels, Talan knew what the new message was. "Two minutes," the PDF pilot said clearly, "The Tau have spotted us on auspex, we have a bogey on an intercept course, but they shouldn't be in weapons range in time."
"Pedal faster," Talan joked to the man nervously. What he was about to do was a duty, not a pleasure.

The Inquisitor secured his equipment, put on the blacksun filter and needlessly checked his pulse carbine again.
"One minute."

The Aquila's engine tone changed as the aircraft started its hover sequence, and its noise was soon joined by the loud whine of the exit ramp descending. The cold night air flooded into the inside of the shuttle, causing the occupant to shudder for a moment.

"I really don't like this bit," Talan muttered to himself, before jumping out of the plane, hoping to the Emperor that his grav-chute would work.
___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ________________

Roxana and Aelian ran along through the undercity, as they had been for hours now, choking down the stale air, making good time towards the rallypoint. They had been discovered a number of times, first immediately after assassinating the Tau commander, the second time in the street as they abandoned the tunnels, and lastly by a xeno drone that they managed to dispatch quickly. They had quickly made their way back underground as it became apparent that the Tau would find them if they stayed on the streets.

"Do you think the safehouse is still safe?" Roxana gasped as they stopped for a moment, leaning against a pipe.
"I don't think they ID'ed us," Aelian replied, "So they shouldn't have found it. They would need to check colonial records to find it properly anyway, and that's a week's worth of work."
"How far now?" Roxana asked, "We're going to be found out if we stick around."
"We're close now," the agent replied, "But I failed to mention something."
"We can't get in from down here..." guessed Roxana, accurately.

Wordlessly, the two slapped fresh clips into their respective weapons. After some searching, they found an access stairwell to a masonry building. The door at the top was locked, but Roxana solved that problem with a bark of her bolt pistol. Aelian grimaced at the noise, afraid to draw attention, but he soon realised that they had little time to fuss. Thankfully, the front door of the building wasn't locked, and they quietly made their way onto the deserted street.

"This looks familiar," said Roxana looking around, "We're near the bar. Reckon we could get a drink?"
"Are you mad?" Aelian growled, "It's probably swarming with them."
"I'm not mad, I'm thirsty," she replied, "Besides, staying around here seems like a bad idea."

As if to place emphasis on this point, a squad of human janissaries rounded the corner seconds later, and called out to the pair of them. Roxana didn't hesitate, swinging around and emptying her bolt pistol in the direction of the enemy, causing her targets to scatter. Aelian then dragged her behind a groundcar before snapping off shots with his lasgun.

"Did I get any?" Roxana asked, reloading and preparing a frag grenade.
"Not a single one!" Aelian roared, shooting at a group of two that was attempting to move along the other side of the street, "Why didn't you aim?"
"I wanted them to run," she replied, tossing the frag grenade over the car in the direction of a cluster of opponents, "I'm fairly sure I hit at least one."
"We're going to get boxed in here, and they want us alive," Aelian said ducking down again, as the grenade exploded and blew up another groundcar, "Call the good Inquisitor."

Before Roxana could do so, several loud flashes erupted in the street. The two acolytes were in immediate pain, their eyes blinded by the contrast from the flashes and their ears ringing from the noise. There was only one explanation.
___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________

Talan rushed into the street, knowing that he had very little time to act. He had counted ten human traitors left, but luckily he had used the photon grenade launcher while they were all wearing blacksun filters. The Inquisitor knew from experience that the filters amplified the effect of the grenade tenfold. Pulling his own filter over his eyes, he quickly went to make havoc.

The two traitors closest to him, he stabbed quickly with his dirk. The next three, he shot with his autopistol, walking among them as they were trying to recover. He quickly switched to the pulse carbine when the next managed to get off a shot of his own that was too close for comfort, and he plastered three more in plasma fire from beside a broken lamppost. The last man rushed him, pushing him to the ground. They wrestled on the ground, trading blows, but Talan managed to get to his dirk and put out the man's eye with a clean strike.

The much relieved Inquisitor pushed the man's body off of him, and was about to get up when he saw two familiar figures standing over him.

"Couldn't have given us a warning?" Roxana said rather loudly, rubbing her ear, "I can still hear ringing."
"I needed the full element of surprise," said Talan, making an excuse, "Besides, I'm not sure if the Tau can intercept our vox yet."
"Here." Aelian said, holding out his hand to help the Inquisitor up, which he gladly accepted.
"By the Emperor, Ferenz," exclaimed Roxana, rolling over a dead janissary with her foot, "You really did a number on this lot."
"Yes, well, there's more of that to do," he replied, throwing Roxana a florn cake, "Here, I've already been to the safehouse."

"So, no rest for the weary servants of the Emperor tonight?" Aelian asked rhetorically, taking a small bag of food.
"No rest," Talan replied, "An all-night hike."
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 11th Feb
Post by: Sheepz on February 25, 2014, 03:52:52 PM
So glad you restarted this! Welcome back. I'ma read it again, but your characterisation looks very promising from what's posted on this page. It's engaging. Stay with it and get it done.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 11th Feb
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on March 24, 2014, 10:23:14 PM
Part 1 of this update! I can't seem to post the entire update due to both character limits and this forum's seemingly absolute prohibition on posting more than once on the same thread without a reply in between. So, if someone would kindly reply quickly so I can post the rest, it would be appreciated  ;D

The Emperor points, and we obey,
Through the warp and far away!

- Chorus, Traditional Imperial Guard warrior song

Mieza sat atop her tank, legs crossed with a cup of recaff, watching the scene before her with grim satisfaction. Columns of Leman Russ battle tanks and Chimeras were warming up their engines. Whines and shouting erupted together across the farmland behind the colonial buffer wall, as the last checks were made. The Colonel breathed in the smell of promethium, which mixed with the smell of her beverage, as she reflected on the battle to come. Once upon a time, her guts would have been tied with apprehension, but she had served on enough campaigns by now. The madness of the Orks, the corruptions of the Ruinous Powers, the sadism of the piratical Eldar, the technosorcery of the Tau, she had faced all of these and won. She commanded one of the Emperor's own mailed fists, and was satisfied to unleash yet another vicious punch upon the enemies of Humanity.

Such reflections always allowed her to put aside her fear with ease, along with a quiet prayer to the Emperor. Such is how a humble Berdamian prepared for battle.

The grey and green mountains of metal were almost ready, as the support company's guardsmen began to give their superiors thumbs up along the column. A night's advance across the continent had sapped the troops as well as the vehicles, and so Mieza had ordered a four hour halt for rest at the colonial barrier wall, that also gave the opportunity for reconaissance. The Tau fought far more effectively at night, due to their technosorcerous optics, and the colonel had no intention of finding out about it personally. Those who had slept were only now waking, as the machine spirits of the tanks and troop carriers were placated for the coming battle.

A knocking came from the armour below her, and the colonel looked to find her support company commander, Captain Sinon Girad, standing with his aide, Lieutenant McCuan. The former's uniform was disordered, as more so than usual, while his subordinate's was less prim and proper than her ordinary attention to detail should have allowed. Clearly, they had been hard at work for hours.

"Sinon," she yawned, unable to suppress the urge, "I presume we're ready to go?"
"All 129 Leman Russes and 20 Demolishers prepped for combat, all 50 Hydras including PDF compliment ready, all 40 Chimeras with weapons teams ready," stated the lieutenant before her captain could answer, "The entire ground force capability is ready for combat deployment."

"What she said," added Sinon, poaching his amasec flash out of his pocket, "Never let it be said that I was poor at my job."
Mieza nodded, satisfied with the efficiency of her quartermaster as the man in question took a quick sip.
"What about the Air Assault Company?" she asked.

"Major Kasky voxed that he would be ready when we were, and asked would we please drive faster," Sinon said, rolling his eyes, "You know how he is, always eager to die in a new and interesting manner." Mieza grinned back, her second in command's thrillseeking was legendary in the regiment to the point where betting on his actions was commonplace. Attempts by the commissars to suppress such activity were unsuccessful, and thankfully none of the attached political officers were zealous enough to execute people for such behaviour.

"Any word from the Inquisitor?" Mieza asked.
"None," replied Sinon after a glance to his lieutenant. The Colonel frowned at the glance. She was fast becoming legendary in the regiment for an entirely different reason to the Major. There seemed to be both an increase in admiration and something akin to fear once word had spread about her liasons with Talan. Sinon's assumption that the question was of a personal nature was another symptom of an annoying trend. Finally, she took a deep gulp of recaff to rid herself of the annoyance, and then dumped the rest over the side of her tank onto the ground, perilously close to Sinon's feet.

"We're ready, let's go kill the Emperor's enemies," Mieza commanded, putting on her tank helmet emblazoned with the Imperial Aquila, "All columns advance, inform the Major to begin combat operations and the SDF to put all their fighters in the air as agreed."

"Yes, Colonel!" the support commanders replied, standing to attention and saluting as they did so, before running off.

"Alright Alica, start it up," Mieza said with enthusiasm into the vox attached to her helmet, and was obeyed immediately. The tank thundered to life, shuddering with the first exertion of the engine. The colonel patted the side of the turret, fond of her personal machine. She looked out at her regiment. The roar from her tank was joined by more than three hundred more. She switched her vox to the regiment-wide channel.

"Scythes of Berdam, FORWARD!" she shouted. The colonial barrier wall, which had stood for a century, detonated along a mile wide section. The concrete slabs oliberated, the path to Ramlas lay open.

The loudspeakers on each tank then joined the din of tracks and roar of engines, and the march song of the 16th Berdam Armoured cried out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn9C1vKd7Gc) into the damp air of Falasten. Mieza's tank lurched forward, joining her column as the air assault company finally appeared overhead.

And so, Colonel Artemis Mieza set out on her mission, having every reason to believe that Death herself was coming for the heretic and alien alike.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ _______

Even when broken, a sword may still cut. - Aun'ko'vash to La'Kais on Dolumar IV

Mesme woke up in the medical bay of the Serra, aches all over her body causing her to wince immediately upon regaining consciousness. She sat up to look at her surroundings. Her bed was walled off with floating dividers of clouded glass, the monitoring equipment was flashing, and the sanitised smell was overwhelming.

Karra crunched into her purple apple, watching her commander intently and putting down the data-tablet she had with her.
"Welcome back," she said.

"How long was I out?" Mesme asked, putting her hand on her head as she tried to provoke her headache into leaving.
"You almost didn't make it," Karra replied, "The nanites are working well though."
"Nanites?" Mesme inquired, "What do you mean?"
"Your injuries were extremely severe," Karra stated, taking another bite of her apple, "Without my nanites, you would have taken months to recover. I had to reprogramme them from ones I designed to repair microfractures in battlesuit armour, but luckily for you, I was bored during our transit here and so was the head surgeon. Biology isn't really my..."

"Answer the question," Mesme commanded, interrupting the explanation, not particularly caring about the exact process of her recovery.

"Perhaps a day," Karra said, beginning to sulk, "Which is work bordering on miraculous if I do say so myself."
Mesme's eyes opened wide in surprise. She had thought she was dying back in the city, but she seemed very much intact now, barring the throbbing pains throughout her side. The entirety of the left side of her body looked like it had been sliced in a thousand places by a shallow knife, but there appeared to be no lasting damage.

At that point, Kaishi burst into the room. He looked positively joyous, deciding to run across the room as fast as he could and immediately embraced his bondmate.
"I thought you were dead," he said, regaining his composure and standing up from the bed quickly.
"Not yet, apparently," Mesme replied, very happy to see him.

The bodyguard turned to Karra. "Thank you," he said warmly.
"You're welcome," Karra grinned back, "See, he knows who to give credit to."
"What are things like down there," Mesme asked, wanting to get back to the business of winning the system for the Tau'va as soon as possible.

"Under control," Kaishi replied, "The gue'la are moving on Ral'a again in force, this time with tanks."

He continued more forcefully; "El'Ka has deployed all of our own tanks and the pathfinders, the aliens will die in droves." The last sentence was said with particular emphasis. "They may die," Mesme said carefully, "But they shouldn't die simply because they tried to kill me, they should die because they oppose the Greater Good." Mesme took his hand, and he calmed down. "Apologies," he said finally, "Revenge isn't a good motive."
"No apology necessary," she said, "You understand."

Karra crunched into her apple for the third time, causing both of them to look her way in bemusement.
"You'll be combat capable in about two days," Karra said to divert the looks, "By then you'll be able to do plenty of smiting yourself." The Earth Caste scientist stood up, throwing her apple in the air and catching it as she did so. "In the mean time, let that old tau El'ka do the fighting while you rest."

"Agreed," Mesme said with some reluctance, "But can you fetch a data-tab, I'd like to follow the progress of the campaign myself." Karra smiled and handed her the slate from her chair, as a holo-drone glided quietly into the room.

"I knew you would ask."
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 11th Feb
Post by: The GrimSqueaker on March 24, 2014, 10:55:58 PM
Part 1 of this update! I can't seem to post the entire update due to both character limits and this forum's seemingly absolute prohibition on posting more than once on the same thread without a reply in between. So, if someone would kindly reply quickly so I can post the rest, it would be appreciated  ;D

If you hit the character limit and it won't let you post, make a new thread with the second part and hit report to moderator for your own (2nd) thread. We'll come in (often quickly) and merge it for you into the original thread so you don't lose time waiting for others.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 24th March
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on March 24, 2014, 11:08:54 PM
Well, here's the rest of the update, if you can merge it?
Or maybe just delete your own post haha

Part 2 of this update, Part 1 above

Death is the servant of the righteous. - Thought for the Day

The Inquisitor's party was fatigued and dirty; almost ready to keel over and quit. The exhaustive trip through the tunnels and streets of Ramlas, avoiding Tau patrols as well as their human sympathisers, had drained much of the spirit of his companions. Talan however, remained utterly determined to accomplish his objective, if only to see the Berdamian Colonel again. Fulfilling his duty was becoming increasingly difficult however.

Drones had flooded much of the tunnel network at dawn, forcing them onto the surface. Progress had been very slow and mind-wrecking since then, but they had finally made it out of Ramlas and into the farmlands. A low morning mist hovered over the ground, covering their escape.

Roxana, clearly feeling the need for silence had passed for the moment, asked the inevitable question, "Where are we going and what are we going to do?"

Talan looked around for a moment, glanced at Roxana, and then turned towards her.
"Artemis is coming to frak up the xenos' day, in force," Talan said, "With everything she has."
"And we're walking to meet her?" Aelian asked, "No offence Ferenz, but that sounds like a terrible plan."
"The goal isn't to reach her unit," Talan replied, "But rather to support her advance."

The two acolytes looked at each other.
"How?" Roxana asked, "We dumped our heavy weapons."
"Well, for starters, we do have the demo charges," Talan replied, patting his bag, "But more importantly, we need to disrupt the enemy artillery spotters or else the Berdamians are going to be ripped to shreds."
"Except we don't know where they are!" Aelian complained as Talan began walking.

"It's alright, I know where they are," the Inquisitor replied with some cheer, "They'll never see us coming."
Rolling her eyes, Roxana fell into line behind Talan, leaving Aelian to plod along at the back.

Fifteen to twenty minutes later, they were making good time towards wherever Talan thought the Tau pathfinders would be stationed, across fallow fields and ploughed mud-grounds. The planet seemed able to support a population far higher than was present, at least in Talan's mind. There would have to be a reckoning in the Eccleisarchy after this was all over, he decided, for giving the Tau an opportunity to take the planet by stirring pointless conflict. He was distracting himself happily with the thought of having the Cardinal responsible assassinated, when Roxana froze.

"Do you hear that?" she said, cocking her pulse carbine in the direction of the noise to her left, "Scratching or something?"
"Tyranids?" Aelian said, "I've heard something like that noise before."
"We're getting close," Talan replied, his face turning grave, "Look."

The mist was beginning to break up, and in the field beside them were bodies. Thousands of bodies. The remains of the PDF forces and their Mordian mentors, stripped of weapons but left to rot in the morning sun. Or rather, would have been left to rot, if it weren't for the locals. Thousands of carrion birds of some local peculiarity were feasting on the corpses, not making a sound save for the ripping of flesh and knocking of bone. Disgust swept into the minds and faces of the group, as a number of the scavengers became fixated on them, afraid of losing their meals.

"Slaughtered without a chance," Roxana said finally, taking the ident-tags of the closest corpse, "If only we could have saved them."
"The Emperor asks only that you hate," Aelian quoted, visibly angry at the scene before them.
"Wrong my friend," Talan replied, "The Emperor asks only that you obey. We must keep moving to prevent another massacre."
The Inquisitor got his acolytes moving again, and fatigue was replaced with a burning hatred for the aliens that pushed the group on without complaint as the pseudovultures stared on.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ___________________ __________

Another hour of marching, and Talan found the position he was looking for: Exactly where he would have put an observation team against an armoured enemy, had he been the commander of the defence. Sure enough, the Tau pathfinders were diligently if not obsessively observing the pass in front of their post, paying no heed to their rear. The group had almost blundered into them, due to their camo-cloak equivalents, but thankfully one was asleep and had snorred loudly. Talan put a contagious and deathly smile on his face, which his companions soon caught themselves.

The Tau were perfectly positioned to stop the column advancing through a two mile gap in some rather marshy terrain that bordered the farmlands. No doubt there were other teams in the area, but Talan had an idea.

The Inquisitor strutted straight out of the hiding place he had been observing the group from, and towards the enemy, without warning either Roxana or Aelian. Stunned, the two looked at each other and simply copied him, placing their faith in the man's momentary bravado. Talan flashed his smile back at them once more, and they got the jist of his plan.

The aliens turned out not to be alien at all, as became apparently when they stood up; feet rather than the hoove-like ones of the Tau, and five fingers.

It took all of Talan's discipline to remain calm. First of all, the open presentation of heretics in front of him in light of his discovery further back towards Ramlas was breaking him inside with rage. Secondly, this was the first time he had ever encountered or heard of human auxiliaries being given such strategically important roles in the Tau military, to the point where the Inquisitorial command would have to be informed of the development immediately. And lastly, he wasn't sure whether they'd just shoot him for presenting himself or not.

The sergeant of the group approached, and spoke in heavily accented but grammatically perfect Low Gothic: "I don't recall ordering any auxiliaries to this part of the killzone, please return to your rallypoint."

"Our homes are that way," Talan lied, "We're concerned about our families, please let us through."
"I'm afraid I can't," the sergeant stated loudly, clearly losing patience, "Now back to your rallypoint!"

"Screw this," Roxana said, losing her own far more delicate patience, "Die, heretic."
She leveled her pulse carbine off her hip and sprayed the man down with plasma. He collapsed in a smoking heap of holes. The other heretics, some half-asleep, others looking around from the wrong direction, were stunned.

"And the rest of you," said Talan levelling his own weapon at his shoulder. The small enemy squad had no time to respond, as he joined his acolyte in firing. Most of them died without even being able to get a few shots off. Aelian didn't either, as Talan and Roxana slaughtered them mercilessly, pumping pulse after pulse into the Pathfinders.

When it was over, the smell of burned flesh was very pungent indeed.

"Guess we won't be needing these anymore," Roxana said, ripping off her xenoist sympathiser symbols from her stolen uniform. Talan did the same, albeit slowly, and dumped them onto the nearest body as he placed his Inquisitorial seal around his neck openly.

"Feel better?" Aelian asked, inspecting the scene.
"Much," Roxana answered, before Talan could get a word in, "Can we get on with the 'saving the Guard' plan now?"
"Look around for anything that looks like a dataslate, comms device or optics equipment," Talan said, rolling over a corpse with his foot.

The search turned up a number of such devices, which they all piled up in the middle of the rocky outcrop.

"This one appears to be a vox booster, while this one is a long range optics device and blacksun filter," Talan thought aloud, "I'm not sure I can use any of those to help us though, let me think..." The Inquisitor began fiddling with the bino equipment, flicking buttons and switches, while Aelian messed around with the vox and Roxana picked through the dead for ammunition.

This went on for a few minutes of complaining, when the sound of music could be heard. The Berdamians were closing in, and the ambush would soon strike them. As Talan and Aelian looked down the valley, as the first of the tank column swung into view a few miles down the road, Roxana picked up one of the Pathfinder's carbines, accidentally activating the markerlight laser, flashing across the Inquisitor's chest.

He looked at her, at the gun, and then back at the column.
"Right, I have it!" Talan said excitedly, "Give me that."
The rogue trader handed him the carbine, cocking one eyebrow above the other in confusion.

Aiming down the sights, Talan scanned areas from where someone or something could see the pass clearly while remaining unseen themselves, and sure enough, Tau glyphs appeared on the sighting equipment of the carbine. Count on the Tau to have a safeguard against friendly fire, Talan thought to himself with great satisfaction as he completed his scan.

"I have their positions," Talan said finally, with great relief, "We're breaking vox silence."

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ______________

"In the Eastern Fringe, contrary to the rest of the Imperium, mixed gender and all-female regiments and formations have been increasingly commonplace for a number of decades. The reason for this is due to the heavy tithing on the systems dating from the emergence of the Tyranids, but continuing on an uninterrupted basis due to the rise of the Tau Empire, the emergence of Hive Fleet Kraken, the stripping of eastern defences in favour of defences around the Maelstrom and the Eye of Terror, among other manpower needs. Immediate manpower needs in the Fringe are massive compared to the available pool, yet priority for sectors like Damocles and Eastern sectors beyond Ultramar is now trumped by other concerns except where a situation devolves into an utter crisis. Governors and PDF high commands alike have had to be adaptive in their approach to recruitment, and as such, ignoring half the populace when said persons are perfectly capable of combat duties seems like stupidity to them, no matter how many times the Administratum urges the opposite policy for reasons it laid out millenia ago. Considering that being able to pull the trigger on a lasgun is the basic requirement for service, something that Cadian four year olds do on a regular basis, it may be wise to remind our Administratum colleagues of their folly in this regard. Doing so now may force a change of policy on an Imperium-wide basis within a century, slowly relieving the burden on our own sectors." - Extract from 'Inquiry into the Military Disposition of the Imperium in the Eastern Fringe Sectors': 995.M41, Ordo Xenos Report, Ultima Segmentum, Damocles Sector

The march music droned on over the rumble of the engines, the columns advanced in good order, as Mieza expected and demanded that they would. The Leman Russes were in front, both twin-linked lascannons and battlecannons ready to engage the enemy armour. The Chimeras and Hydras behind were keeping pace with ease, and the skies remained empty. The Colonel wondered why no aerial attack had yet been made on them, as the PDF screen could not have possibly held the attention of the entire Tau air contingent. The Salamanders had not seen anything up until the pass near Ramlas, and the Valkyries, Vendettas and Vulture gunships holding in a protection formation above had reported no enemy activity either.

Over the music and tanks, a series of explosions boomed.
"Forward column, report!" Mieza ordered, fearing the worst.

"We're taking fire, unable to find the enemy," the platoon lieutenant reported, "Two tanks tracked and immobilised, another's lost their main weapon."
The colonel had heard of this favourite tactic of the Tau, and responded accordingly.
"All columns, halt advance, spread out into a firing line and shoot anything that looks suspicious," she said into her vox, "Major Kasky, take your birds forward and find the enemy."

"It would be my pleasure," Kasky said, as another three missiles slammed into tanks in front. The air assault company, finally unleashed, screeched forwards from their position behind the advance, and made their way deafeningly towards the pass. Missiles continued to hit the tanks with alarming regularity, and a few even streaked towards the Vultures.

The vox crackled, as a new set joined the frequency.
"This is Inquisitor Talan, Colonel, can you hear me?" said Talan from his position behind the enemy line.
"Yes, we can," Mieza replied, very happy to hear from him, "We thought you were stuck in the city."
"Not quite," Talan said, equally pleased to hear her voice, "I've found the enemy spotters, relaying the coordinates now."
About five sets of map coordinates soon appeared in the advanced vox screen of the tank.

"Kasky, are you getting these?" Mieza said quickly.
"Yes, sir," the Major replied, "Vectoring onto targets now."
"Mop them up so we can go do our job," she replied, "Happy hunting."

The low grumble of assault cannons started punctuating the continuous engine noise, as the Vultures and Vendettas made short work of the Tau forward positions.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ____________

Talan, Roxana and Aelian watched with satisfaction as two Vultures turned onto the nearest Tau Pathfinder position, and tore it to shreds with repeated attack runs. They cheered as a Valkyrie joined in the fun, sending a Hellstrike missile into the skimmer transport attempting to flee the area, which burst into flame but somehow remained afloat as a burning wreck.

"Alright, we've done our part for now," Talan said, "Time to get out of here."
"Agreed," Aelian said with considerable enthusiasm, "I don't want to be mistaken for a Tau pathfinder."

"I don't think there's any danger of that, gue'la..." came a voice from behind; accented, filtered through a speaker and hostile.

The group turned, raising their weapons, but upon seeing their opponent, they lowered them quickly.

Instead of human auxiliaries, which they might have expected, stealth battlesuits were decloaking around Talan and his acolytes, burst cannons leveled at the Inquisitor in particular. There were six, and the closest was clearly the leader, the fact made obvious by the knife icon painted on his armour.

"Consider yourself a prisoner of the Tau Empire," the shas'vre stated, clearly unamused at the humans' handiwork, which was obvious despite the fact his face was hidden behind armoured plate and a sensor array.
"Emperor's bowels, not again," Talan replied, as a Devilfish came into view, racing to the scene to take them away.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ____________
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 24th March
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on April 14, 2014, 08:24:17 PM
Right, update for all those who are interested.

1. I'm half way to completing the last update for this arc. Have another 5-6 thousand words complete, and I'm not finished by any stretch of the imagination. I don't want to put it up until I'm entirely done.

2. Once this arc is done, I have two planned.

One will be Mesme's origin story; how she came to be who she is in these stories, how her unit formed, its purpose and the first time it went into combat. It involves Chaos, but another faction will feature heavily as well. These arcs have been mostly about Talan, with Mesme acting as his foil. I don't think I can develop her properly if I continue with the format I have been using, I could almost have written her out of the story and it would still work (almost, showing the Tau mindset was important I think). So, the new arc will look at her, and the Tau attitude to Chaos.

Obviously, the other story will be about Talan, Mieza and the 16th Berdam Armoured. The Tau won't feature in it at all. It will follow on directly from this story, and it'll explore Talan and Mieza's characters in greater detail. I've used this story to introduce some of the characters from that story (Roxana, Major Kasky, Captain Girad and his lieutenant) as well.

I have the beginning, middle, and end of both of these planned. If enough people respond, I could give a "blurb" of sorts for both, but I'll resolve to play my cards close to my chest for the moment. Whether or not I'll post these in a thread or simply put them up in some other way and then link it here isn't something I've decided upon yet, because I plan to make these stories much more lengthy than the two previous.

3. As Orwell said, the first reason writers do what they do is egotism. I agree with that assessment. So....

If you like my fiction, or just like watching this Irish lad embarrass himself, COMMENT. I know people are reading it because the view count ticks ever upwards. I also do this to improve my writing overall, and feedback is generally a good thing. I'll probably start putting this fiction up in more places once I'm done with it (and have edited it) for that reason, but this site is near and dear, so it would be good to get community feedback!

That's all folks.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 24th March
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on May 10, 2014, 11:04:42 AM
Part 1 of this update.

We don't want the Governor condemned...we want him dead! -  Marshal General of Berdam Eamon de Danton, speaking to a gathering of generals, colonels and Sororitas during the Berdamian Reclamation 868.M41

With the enemy spotters eliminated, Colonel Mieza was finally able to order her tanks forward once again. As she watched the first tank section of fifty tanks follow their smaller cousins of the recon company pass by, the loudspeakers blared the venerable battle song "Storm's Wind" as her own tank advanced with the column. Her heart fluttered with a certain sense of pride as the lyrics continued, although she had heard it many times over the years, so she took a deep breath of the damp atmosphere to regain her concentration. There would be time for pride later.

Mieza opened the recon channel with a stab of her finger on the vox panel near her waist. "Lieutenant Magnini, recon report," she said quickly, adjusting the microphone on her tanker helmet as she did so.

"Nothing so far," came the reply, "Stand by."
Some shuffling could be heard through the vox, followed by a groan.
"The third recon squadron has just gone silent," the lieutenant finally said, in a tone that made it obvious what he thought the fate of the men and women in the Salamanders ahead was, "Relaying their last known coordinates."

The coordinates soon were sent from the command-Chimera to the data-sscreen in front of the colonel. The outskirts of Ramlas, the centre of rebel resistance, glowed with a contact icon on an orbital-pict map of the area. The recon team had obviously blundered into the main Tau force to have been eliminated so quickly without being able to so much as scream a warning.

“First and second sections, enemy force identified,” Mieza said, sending the information on, “Engage at maximum range.” A chorus of affirmatives from the platoon lieutenants came through the vox. The xenos had caught the lightly armoured scouts by surprise, but Mieza was sure she could overwhelm them with recon-in-force. If the Tau were going to skulk about in the buildings of the city, she would see they paid for that choice of tactic.

The tank rumbled forwards, roughly in the middle of the formation, as the city finally came into view over the crest of a hill. Sprawling rather than rising, the urban area seemed to squat in its valley as if it were a creature at rest. The colonel observed this for a moment, as the sun illuminated it through the broken cloud cover, and thought it would be a decent place to visit. She grinned to herself, remembering that she was visiting it; to kill heretics.

The grin was wiped away as the air ignited in a straight line, a hyper-velocity slug booming past missing the tank seemingly by inches. The colonel felt her heart jump out of her chest, and she quickly buttoned up in her tank, shutting the hatch quickly before asking where the railgun shot had come from via her vox. The platoon directly in front responded, “Behind the buildings, but we can't make out much from here.”

“They're probably using some disruption technosorcery,” Mieza muttered to herself, thinking of a countermeasure, “Alright, advance until you're in range of the buildings and level them, roll your fire forward so there isn't anywhere to hide.” Another chorus of approval answered the order, as more incoming fire started.

“Alica, take us forward,” the colonel said, “We need to get our platoon into the game.”
“Yes madame,” replied her driver, as a burst of acceleration started which was answer enough by itself. Mieza steadied herself in her seat, and began watching through the observation port.

The tau were beginning to reap a rich crop of hits on the Imperials. As Mieza's platoon advanced to join the fight, the platoon in front was shaken by no less than three explosions, as the ammunition of three battle-cannon bearing tanks exploded thanks to well placed shots. The colonel swore profusely, recognising that the aliens had already figured out her countermeasure to their camouflage. The tanks with twin-lascannons were being largely left alone, as they were unable to destroy the covered positions from which the enemy was firing.

However, to the relief of the Imperials, the fight wasn't going all the xenos' way. The colonel's platoon soon laid low one of the gravtanks designated “hammerheads” with a lucky lascannon shot, the camo-sorcery flickering as the victim spun in the air before crashing into the rubbled remains of a manufactorum it was hiding in. Her own tank fired at the target just beside it.

“Frakking warp Greta, you missed!” Mieza shouted, just after the shell burst through the wall of a building just to the left of the target. Her gunner grumbled back something about shooting at mirages and bloody aliens. “Try again,” the colonel ordered.

The next shot from the Vanquisher cannon was dead on, as the enemy gravtank in question popped into visual clarity for the briefest of moments before exploding spectacularly, debris flying skyward like a volcano erupting.

“Much better,” Mieza stated after a short laugh.
“Was just getting my bearings, ma'am,” Greta replied.


The initiative was definitely on the Imperial side as the battle continued. The second tank section soon moved up behind the first to support the slugging match, with the Tau increasingly unable to hide. The determination to hold ground was unusual for these particular aliens. Mieza voxed her immediate subordinate to discuss the next move, as he held his air assault company back in reserve.

“There doesn't seem to be many of them,” Major Kasky said quickly after being asked for an assessment of enemy numbers, “We're hanging back in case they have more spotters, but it seems like there can't be more than twenty gravtanks left.”

Mieza frowned while the tank fired again, Greta putting another round downrange with appropriate zeal. What were the Tau playing at, she wondered, when they could have lured her forces into the urban sprawl, where they could use their infantry effectively. Were they delaying to evacuate their followers? Or did they have something else in mind?

Not wanting to find out, and her next move practically dictated to her by all the correct rules of war, she ordered the first section to close with the enemy. If the estimate of enemy numbers were correct, her eighty-something tanks would overwhelm the enemy with ease. The order went out and was received with some enthusiasm.

The platoons made directly for the city in a great wave of steel, while Mieza continued to watch from the safety of the fields. The Tau stopped firing almost immediately, and Mieza grinned once more. She had struck fear into them, now all that was left was to corner and kill them. Her tanks were in the middle of crippling a number of the enemy, when Major Kasky voxed her.

“Colonel, I hope we have the Hydras to the rear,” he said with clear urgency in his voice, “The enemy flyers are inbound.” Mieza turned her attention to the sky, searching for the enemy on the horizon behind her position, and sure enough, the small silhouettes of fighters and bombers could be seen. The Tau plan was revealed.


“Here, you have it” - Inquisitor Talan to Ork Warboss Skamork the Bigga (referring to his overloading plasma rifle)

The Devilfish brought Talan, Roxana and Aelian to the Ramlas shuttleport, and the group was manhandled onto an Orca transport for the trip into orbit, accompanied by a full troop of human janissaries. As the flight into space continued, the Inquisitor's companions were not taking the presence of their travelling partners in stride.

“Look at these ones,” Aelian said loudly to Roxana, as if the rest of the transport couldn't hear, “Traitors and slaves playing dress up as soldiers.”
“I wonder how much boot-licking they had to do to get this cushy escort mission?” Roxana said equally as loudly, “Or worse.”

The conversation went on like that for some time, and while surprisingly few of the traitors reacted, those that did were not pleased. Talan guessed it was because the majority of them did not speak Gothic, given the number of barely perceptible scars present on most of their throats. His suspicion was further boosted when a number of them began a conversation of their own in what he could only describe as perfect flowing Tau, while his own companions continued their attempts to rattle their guards.

Finally, the shas'ui stood up, striking an impressive figure as he did so, being nearly two metres tall by Talan's estimation. He first reprimanded his squad, ending their babbling immediately, and then spoke up in Gothic.
“Gue'la, we were not born under the rule of your Emperor,” he asked Aelian, “How can one be a traitor to a cause we have never known?”

Aelian looked somewhat flabbergasted at this point, not knowing what to say to that. Roxana, by contrast and to her credit, contrived to look even more defiant than before.

“That makes it worse,” Roxana replied with a certain growling viciousness in her tone, “It means you're the same as the aliens who are your masters. Better to be dead than to be chained.”
“So says the slave to the free man,” replied the shas'ui, sitting down once again, “We are part of something greater than the empire of a tyrant.” Roxana made some noise in response, but the man simply ignored her while Talan brooded. Roxana was right of course, but he wondered if hostility was the best approach to get them out of this situation. He didn't have much more time to think on it however, as the vox-speakers announced in tau that the Orca was entering the landing bay of a ship.

A soft thump confirmed what the vox had presaged, and the traitors dragged the Inquisitor to his feet with his acolytes as the ramp descended. The huge dock of a Tau carrier loomed over them as they walked rows of sleek black Orcas sitting on elegant lifts being worked on by drones and techpriests (or the tau equivalent), and a number of battlesuits clearly ready for deployment. A quick shove of the butt of a pulse rifle however, and the group was marching at a good pace away from these sights, and into the equally elegant corridors.

Talan looked, but could find no identifying marker for what sept the ship was from, and the human auxiliaries offered no clue on that either. The group soon entered what could only be described as a brig, and with yet another judicious use of pulse rifle-butt, they were deposited in the main cell and sealed in by armourcrys. Roxana immediately kicked the transparent barrier as hard as she could, obviously hoping it was mere glass. The guards looked on in amusement as she continued to try it for another minute or so. Not so much as a dent was put in it, and she finally gave up.

“Can't blame a girl for trying,” Roxana said shrugging. The beautiful acolyte quickly made an obscene gesture to the audience, and then made her way to lie down on the bedding. Both Aelian and Talan couldn't help but laugh, as if infected by some madness. At least the trip to the re-education camp wouldn't be boring.[/font]
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 10th May
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 5, 2014, 04:07:15 AM
What I cannot crush with words I will crush with the tanks of the Imperial Guard! - Lord Commander Solar Macharius

The Hydra squadrons spat flak rounds into the sky towards the circling birds of prey, as the tanks formed into a defensive ring, themselves adding to the exchange with their heavy stubbers. The flyers were giving as good as they got however, with fusion bombs, ion cannons and missiles hitting home at an alarming rate.

Mieza had just enough time to disembark the infantry from both the mechanised company and the air assault company before the flyers arrived, and these were now pushing into the city in support of the first tank section that had attacked originally. Major Kasky had then ordered his own flyers to escape, which they had done without difficulty as the enemy seemed far more concerned by the concentration of armour.

As she watched the Hydras rip into an enemy formation, Mieza listened to their crews sounding off targets on their auspexes and also to the reports of damage. The xenos were targeting only the tanks, not the anti-aircraft weapons. Mieza frowned, thinking aloud that the Tau weren't done with their tricks yet. She wasn't wrong.

Inexplicably, three of the Hydras covering the combined armoured-infantry assault towards the city proper exploded. Mieza demanded a report from the AA battery in question, and the spooked lieutenant replied that they weren't under fire. “Enemy infiltration teams,” Mieza replied sternly, “Major, deploy the Stormtroopers to Hydra Battery Omega, we have enemy stealth teams moving in our formation.”

“Yes ma'am,” Kasky said, as Mieza ordered her own tank platoon to the scene.

Her unit soon arrived, and encircled the remaining Hydras as best they could as the autocannons  continued firing into the sky. “Check your auspexes, fire at anything that isn't ours,” Mieza ordered, “Glitches, ghosts, shadows, anything.” Deciding to take her own advice, she quickly checked her own equipment, and almost had a heart attack once she comprehended what she saw. A collection of at least twelve weak contacts were directly in front of her tank.

“Contact front!” Mieza shouted to her crew, “Fire!”
It was too late.

As she returned her gaze to the observation slit from the auspex, the blinding flash of multiple meltas lanced out from in front of them, turning the Vanquisher cannon to molten slag along with both of her tracks. “Request assistance, enemy infiltrators directly in front of my position,” Mieza said into her vox, taking a breath between sentences. Alica immediately opened up with her heavy bolter, and scored a hit on one of the enemy, which flickered into clear sight much like the enemy tanks had before when downed. The bulky suit of xenos power armour fell to the ground with a light thud. In response, another round of melta shots erupted from the vicinity of the corpse, turning the front armour of the tank into candle wax running in drips to the ground, the bolter along with it.

“Bail out!” Mieza shouted to her crew, preparing her lascarbine as the vox buzzed with reports of more infiltrators.

“No need to tell me!” Greta replied, scrambling out of the ammunition door, obviously hoping the remains of the turret would protect her from incoming fire. Thinking that a good idea, Mieza watched her gunner's backside disappear out of the tank and followed it, as Alica and Fran, the loader, bailed out of the right side of the tank, where there was also some protection from the infiltrators.

Plasma fire began bouncing off the tank, as the crew regrouped behind it. “Hydra 32, cease fire on aerial targets, and target enemy infiltrators in front of the wreck of the command tank.”
“Yes ma'am,” came the gruff reply, as the Hydra that had been behind Mieza's tank began moving its guns towards the stealth suits.

Greta slapped a powercell into her lascarbine with a little too much force, and turned to her commander. “Artemis, they're going to close with us,” she said. Mieza nodded, and ordered the others to get ready as the quad-autocannons began firing. The plasma shots hissing into the armour plate around them halted, and a curious mix of buzzing and wooshing started.

Mieza had just attached her bayonet, when with a soft wet thud, a visitor landed in front of them, facing towards the Hydra. The battlesuit could be seen relatively clearly now despite its transparency, light seeming to bend around its details. The rounded carapace of the helmet, its jump-pack and the blocky weapon it carried were visible only as a distortion of sight, but that was enough.

The tank crew and their leader immediately sprayed the alien with lasbolts on full auto in a panic, causing the suit's stealth field to flicker, the sharp cracks of ionised air filling their ears as a veritable rash of holes and dents were punched in the back of the hulking form. The thing staggered, as if it was attempting to turn on them.

“Chin the be-atch!” shouted Mieza in the proto-Gothic dialect of Berdam, and her crew responded immediately. Shoving the stunned alien over with some difficulty, they fell upon it with bayonets, stabbing any part that looked vulnerable and smashing the sensor cluster where the eyes of the thing would have been. The alien struggled, swiping at the women with a strength of powered armour that could have folded their bodies in two with ease. Finally, Greta hopped on top of the thing, drove her bayonet into a lasbolt hole on the armoured head of the thing, and put her full weight on it. With a screech, the bayonet drove home all the way to the hilt and barrel.

The battlesuit finally stopped moving, but the retaliation came. When the group stood up, Fran was riddled instantly by a barrage of plasma bolts. Mieza received a nasty burn on her left arm from a shot that came too close, as she staggered to the other side of the tank for cover with Greta and Alica. Plasma blots chased them as they went, as another melta shot slammed into the Hydra beside the scene, which had been unable to provide support due to the proximity of the colonel and her crew. The tank stopped firing, clearly knocked out, as two battlesuits decloaked in front of Mieza. The long multi-barrel burst cannons caught Mieza's attention first.

“Surrender, gue'la,” ordered a vox-filtered voice, in accented Gothic, from the battlesuit nearest. Mieza immediately slapped down Greta's lascarbine as she was bringing it to bear, and shook her head at her subordinate. Her heart was in overdrive now, pumping blood into her head so hard she could feel each beat distinctly. She took a breath to steady herself, and ordered her crew to drop their weapons. As they did so, she slowly raised her hands.

A grunt of satisfaction came from the aliens, as the rest of the crew stepped forward into line with their commander. The alien's satisfaction was cut short, however.

No sooner than the tau had finished his grunt, thick lasbolts detonated all along the side of his suit and that of his comrade. They both fell, quite obviously dead or incapacitated, as a group of stormtroopers charged around from the front of the wrecked tank, hellguns levelled. The rest of the stealth suits scattered, their exact positions revealed only by the force of their jets brushing the ground and grass. The stormtroopers chased the tell of each armoured warrior with a flurry of hellgun shots, but the enemy largely got away. The stormtroopers soon put a couple of bursts into the wrecked shells of the enemy for good measure, Greta joining in on that particular action with her own lascarbine. A few moments of searching later, and it was clear that the aliens had fled, as no plasmafire had appeared again.

“We heard you were in need of assistance ma'am,” he said loudly over the continuing sound of autocannon and stubber fire, without a trace of amusement.
“Thank you Matthias,” Mieza replied, straightening her uniform, “Your timely response is much appreciated.”

“You require some medical assistance ma'am, we will escort you to the command Chimera,” he said, saluting once more before holding his arm out, “After you.” Mieza nodded, and ordered her crew to see to the remains of Fran before returning behind the lines. There wasn't much left, but Mieza felt it unfitting to leave the half-destroyed corpse in the open like that. “We'll do our best,” Greta said grimly, and both her and Alica saluted wearily.

Mieza made her way into the middle of the tank formation quickly with her escort around her, and soon arrived at the Command Chimera where medicae were waiting. She dismissed the stormtroopers and thanked them again, ordering them to return to the city fight. As they trotted away, a medicae from the PDF fussed over her arm, rubbing some salve onto it before wrapping it in bandage and putting it in a sling. After taking some painkillers, the colonel dismissed them and climbed into the IFV with its sprouting antennae.

Mieza turned her attention to the auspex and tactical data, and was pleasantly surprised.

“The xenos appear to be retreating!” Major Kasky proclaimed over the vox, and sure enough, the enemy flyers who had survived the beating doled out by the Hydras began to move away from the area. The enemy forces in the city suburbs were also moving off, and the mechanised units requesting to push further in. The entirety of the Tau armoured force had been eliminated, along with some grav-speeders being shot to pieces before they could get into the open. The cost was dear however, as a third of the armoured company's tanks had been shattered or slagged, though much of the personnel had survived.

“Major, get the air assault troops back in their transports,” Mieza ordered, “And halt the advance into the city.”
“Ma'am?” said Kasky, somewhat confused, “We've got the initiative.”
“It's a trap,” replied Mieza, “They want us to advance quickly into the city in our weakened state.”
“What are your orders?” Kasky asked.

“Pull all units out of the city, and bring up the Demolisher platoons,” the Colonel replied, “We're going to level the city block by block.”
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 5th August
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 7, 2014, 08:55:28 AM
Every soldier of the Tau Empire is prepared for death, but as an intelligence officer I was ordered to conduct covert warfare and not to die. I was a Fire Warrior and I received an order. - Fireblade Shas'el On'da, Memoirs, referring to many tau'cyr spent behind Imperial lines conducting sabotage operations in the jungle, after the moon he was on was reclaimed by the Tau Empire after thirty Terran years.

Many hours had passed since they were put in the cell, and with little to do, the Inquisitor's group finally fell to their fatigue. They all collapsed onto the seemingly floating beds, utterly exhausted. Talan groaned with pleasure as he hit the mattress made of a strange substance that deformed itself to fit the shape of his body. “Holy Throne, I haven't felt something as comfortable outside an aristocratic palace,” he thought aloud, remembering the examples fondly and omitting the tyranids and orks from the memories. Aelian exhaled as he landed on his own bed, “Bit too soft for me.”
“A plasteel bulkhead is too soft for you,” muttered Roxana, “And you'd sleep on one like a baby.”

“Not true,” Aelian said immediately, “I've tried before.”
“What, like on Sherbrooke?” said Roxana in reply, and began a speech on how her counterpart needed to lighten up.

Talan rolled back towards the cell wall, trying to listen to the conversation but failing. He lost consciousness very quickly.

Soon, he was fighting desperately for his own life with Lord Inquisitor Bukulov in his schola once again, as eldar slavers attempted to overrun it, the rest of the planet facing similar circumstances. It was an old and repeated dream, a reminder. It seemed never ending, just as the fighting had when he had experienced it in reality. The aliens had appeared very close to the schola's grounds, where Talan had been training as an Arbites cadet, and the Inquisitor had been investigating the possibility of a webway gate in the area. The attack came swiftly, with many being carried off unconscious before a defence could be mounted. It was a furious fight. Every swing of his stun baton, every bark of his bolt pistol, every cry of pain and every movement playing in slow motion. Just as he had entered the courtyard, the moment of his escape. The rest of his mentor's entourage were rippled with splinter weapons. As Talan and the Lord Inquisitor attempted to board the shuttle to escape, he was shaken gently.

Talan opened his eyes slightly, the flow of the dream utterly broken. Roxana was standing over him, and as she moved away, the light screeched into his retinas, hurting badly. He sat up, and blinked.

“How long was I out?” he asked.
“We were all out about twelve hours,” Aelian said, somewhat reluctantly.
“Twelve hours?!” Talan said, sitting up quickly and rubbing his temples as a headache erupted.
“We were drugged!”

“I guess they reckon that being awake is a negative trait in prisoners” Roxana said, clearly annoyed at the prospect of being unconscious all the way to brainwashing camp, “But at least they don't seem to want to spill our guts.”

“Maybe the xeno in charge is smarter than that,” Aelian said quietly, glancing to the Inquisitor.

“Something's up,” said Talan quickly, taking Aelian's meaning and looking out the armourcrys wall to the brig's security detail.

“Huh,” said Roxana, noticing what the Inquisitor had, “There are a lot more guards now.”

The large round doors swivelled into the walls, and in the opening, two tau appeared, both in flowing robes. The taller but thinner one wore restrained blue, while the more stout sported a green gilded set. Talan immediately knew which one was in charge; the short one had the crest of an Ethereal.

“When this alien talks to us,” Talan growled, “You may find yourself agreeing with him despite yourself. How each person is affected seems to vary, so regard anything out of his mouth as about as reliable as a heretic's oath, and let me do the talking.”

The Ethereal continued talking to what was presumably a Water Caste diplomat, and stepped into the room abruptly. The other civilian left, in a hurry as he paced the room talking to the guards. Talan made his way to the sink, filling it up as the xenos approached the cell. The guards, human and tau, looked somewhat uneasy as their leader strolled up to the transparent barrier. He stared at the group for a moment, and the glass barrier slid into the ceiling.

Roxana immediately rushed the nearest guard, grabbing at a pulse carbine, but it appears the xenos had planned for it. As the acolyte brought her stolen weapon to bear on the next guard, Aelian began to move as well but froze at a half step. Roxana's weapon had clicked, and nothing happened. The intended target produced a pulse pistol and made it clear that it was loaded. Wry amusement seemed to fill the faces of the others, while the alien leader seemed to be calmly ignoring the situation as the pair of prisoners stepped back into the cell.

“I am Aun'el Run'a Dal'yth,” the Ethereal stated calmly in excellent Gothic, “Leader of this coalition to relieve the Falasten system.”

Talan splashed his face with water, as the Ethereal waited patiently. Drying it with a towel as equally luxurious as the bedding of the cell, he strolled casually to a point directly across from the alien. He held up his Inquisitorial seal in his left hand, and held his right palm up at shoulder height, flashing his electoo as he did so.

“Ferenz Talan, his Imperial Majesty's Holy Inquisition,” Talan stated clearly, “Your presence here is a violation of several treaties, I must demand that you release me and leave the system immediately.”

“Our forward monitoring fleet reported this world was in turmoil, under attack from the greenskins and suffering from serious civil unrest,” the alien said with quiet confidence evident in his voice, “It would take far too long for you to respond to the crisis, and we cannot tolerate such a situation on our borders.”

Talan almost groaned at the inevitability of the response. The Tau regarded the breakdown of law and order in the same way a human might regard a daemonic incursion; with utter horror. The invasion wasn't surprising in that context, and the fact they planned the whole thing made little difference in their mindset. A world riddled with a serious civil conflict on the edge of their space was a threat.

“Our newly arrived forces have the situation well in hand,” the Ethereal stated, “I would like you to use your authority to order all those who would interfere in the restoration of good government to withdraw from the planet, for the Greater Good. We wish for no further bloodshed.”

“You mean anyone with even a remotely loyal point of view,” Talan said, resisting an impulse to agree with the xeno with a little difficulty. “What do you mean newly arrived forces?” he continued, deflecting away from the request to betray humanity.

“The forces you were fighting until now were merely a deep space reconnaissance fleet and its Fire caste contingent,” the Ethereal said flatly, “A coalition from my own sept has arrived to relieve them.”

Talan glared, annoyed at the open confirmation that the whole thing had to have been planned, as the Tau fleet would have had to set out before the crisis in order to arrive by now.

“I cannot simply order the Emperor's forces to leave,” Talan stated flatly, tired of the conversation, “Our own relief forces are on the way.”

The Ethereal opened his mouth to speak, but to Talan's gratification, was interrupted by a commotion at the door. A number of tau had entered, seemingly with a purpose. The diplomat who was talking with the Ethereal when he had entered was now back, with an engineer or techpriest of some sort in the equivalent of a white labcoat, and the most interesting newcomer of all: a familiar if unwelcome face.

Mesme walked slowly through the room, her companions in tow, directly towards the Inquisitor's cell. The Ethereal seemed genuinely confused, and as the group arrived beside him, the water caste representative handed him the equivalent of a data-slate. Grabbing it, he walked through the newcomers whom made way cleanly as he did, back turned to the cell, inspecting what was given to him with an air of outrage.

Roxana nudged Talan, and mouthed the question “What's going on?”, to which he just shrugged and returned his attention to the scene before them. He was glad he did. The Ethereal turned around, and stared at Mesme. His face painted a picture somewhere equally between disgust and anger, as far as any of the humans could tell. How intriguing, thought Talan. What could cause such a reaction? It went far beyond a mere clash of authority. Many more questions rushed through his head, but he was interrupted.

“I'll leave you to your duty then,” the Ethereal said finally in Tau, “For the Tau'va”
“For the Greater Good,” Mesme replied in Gothic, turning quickly to Talan and his acolytes as the Ethereal marched out of the brig swiftly with his entourage of guards.

“What are you?” Talan asked, sticking to Gothic himself.
The diplomat mumbled something, but Mesme held her hand up to silence him, and he complied.

The two stood watching each other, a staring match as they sized each other up once again.
“It's not very polite to stare,” Talan said with a smile, hoping to disconcert her into revealing more.

“Neither is an assassination,” Mesme said in a tone that clearly demonstrated that she didn't care to be polite, “Though you failed at that, gue'la.”

“Failed, did I?” Talan said, turning to Roxana and Aelian for a moment.
“Don't look at me, we hit their commander with a krak round,” Roxana protested, “She should be dead.”

“I had no idea you were in command here,” Talan said as if it would have made a difference, “I presume you're not just going to release us, as you did at our last encounter?”
“No, I'm no longer in control,” Mesme replied, flowing into tau now as she paced the perimeter of the cell, “The Aun seems quite determined to have you order the remaining Imperials out of the system.”

Talan grimaced at the thought of having to do so, as Roxana stared at Karra, who paid little heed. Aelian by contrast, sat back down on his bedding.

“Does he now?” Talan replied, “I'm afraid I can't oblige.”
“I wanted to simply eliminate your forces, and as your shattered first attempt to stop me shows, I came close,” said Mesme, stopping her pacing for the moment, “It seems that Ru'na is playing it safe.”

“Hardly a safe option,” Talan said, raising an eyebrow, “I have no intention of ordering loyal subjects of the Emperor to leave while we have strength to fight, your superior should know that.”

“Yes, well, after the utter mauling your tanks gave us, he's going to force your hand another way,” Mesme said, clearly unhappy, “Ingloriously.”

Talan looked at his companions worriedly, wondering what the damned alien meant by that.
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 7th August
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 9, 2014, 06:37:45 PM
All roads lead to Terra, but our antagonists think we should choose different paths. - Eccleisarch Fontaine, Against the Heretics Volume I, Chapter I.

The tanks of the 16th Berdam Armoured rolled into the city centre, subdued civilians carrying belongings looking on as the vox-speakers screamed the venerable victory song Lake of Fire into the twilight air. Resistance from infantry ambushes had been near constant all day, but Demolisher cannons splitting buildings apart and flamers following up on any resistance after that tended to put to bed any notions of the advance stopping. However, sniping with miniature railguns and drone swarms had caused serious delays.

The Tau, understanding that they were outmatched, began pulling out their troops and the armed human auxiliaries in shuttles and gravtanks as evening set in, collapsing buildings into the streets in such a way as to stop a swift attack to prevent their escape. The auspex readings seemed to suggest they were evacuated to a smaller continent to the south, which was a strange place to choose considering it was still swarming with Orks.

The enemy may have gotten away, but they had paid an extremely heavy price for their interference on a world of the God-Emperor. Colonel Mieza was pleased, particularly that she had been the one to kick the damn aliens out and not the Mordians. The Imperial Aquila was raised over the city, and order restored.

As she left Captain Girad to set up the headquarters, Mieza made her way to a standing chapel of the Emperor to give a quiet thanks for her success, before finally going to meet her staff to plan the defence. Having won the city, the colonel wanted to set about preparing to defend it until reinforcements arrived.

A Salamander brought her to the newly established command building, seemingly positioned inside a bar. As she stepped down off the scout vehicle, she chuckled, startling the guards. “At ease, gentlemen,” she said quickly, realising they didn't quite know the logistics captain as well as she did. The women dropped their tension as quickly as they gained it, and stood in crisp parade order as their colonel entered the building.

She pushed through the doors, and found the equipment well established along the wall, where presumably the booths had stood before the arrival of Girad and his efficient lieutenant. The support company troopers seemed to be working diligently at them as well. The tactical holo-map floated in the middle of the room, shaking as usual as a tech-priest attended to it.

Mieza finally entered, the room stood to attention, saluted and then cheered her. She took it with good grace, and simply waved it off, before walking towards her staff whom had chosen to line themselves along the bar on the stools in front of the map.

Major Kasky, her second in command, and Captain Girad, the support company officer, were sat together with a glass of amasec each, looking rather miserable. The mechanised company commander Captain Machel was talking quietly with her lieutenant.

“You better not let the commissars see you doing that,” Mieza said quietly, indicating to both Kasky and Girad, “They might frown upon drinking on duty.”

“Which is why I requested they go see to all the boys and girls,” Kasky replied, taking a sip, “Not that it's necessary given their confidence in you, but the new information might send a few people into despair.”

“The Inquisitor's ship was kind enough to send us warning,” Machel said, pointing to the holo-map flickering, “We're trying to get the display working now.”

Mieza turned to the techpriest fiddling with the controls. “Have you tried this?” she asked, before smacking the instrument with the flat of her chainsword rather violently two or three times. The machine spirit of the thing must have understood she meant business, because it steadied the image immediately and the holo-pict changed from a two dimensional map of the city and its environs to a three dimensional representation of the planetary system. “Colonel, it appears you know much of the Omnissiah's bounty,” droned the techpriest without the slightest hint of sarcasm. “The Enperor protects,” she replied by rote.

Mieza looked up at the image. The ball representing the planet was there, as was its moon. Around them, a rash of contact icons with the standard rune for the Tau hung ominously.

“Another Tau fleet arrived in orbit,” Girad said, gulping his own drink down, “Much larger than the one we had on our plate before. The enemy now have significant reinforcements.”

“Are they deploying troops?” Mieza asked, taking a barstool herself.
“No, they seem content to sit up there,” said Kasky, “Flashing their blue arses at us where we can see them but do nothing about it.”
“And the PDF have no silo-based anti-ship missiles...” Mieza said, putting her palm on her forehead, “Looks like we'll be in for hell of a fight.”

“And sooner rather than later,” Machel said, before pointing to the holo-map.

Smaller contact icons were spawning from the belly of a couple of the larger ones, and were making their way to lower orbit.

“What are they?” Mieza asked.
A corporal piped up from the comms lectern.
“Incoming transmission from the Inquisitor's ship, standby,” he replied, across the holo-map to the officers, fiddling with controls as he did so, “Enemy titan-landers and transports deploying, trajectories places them on a course to your position. None heading for planetary capital. Message ends.”

“Well then, let's get cracking,” Mieza said, turning to her officers, “And someone find me the damn Inquisitor!”
Title: Re: Shadows of the Mont'ka Tau Fiction - UPDATED 9th August
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 16, 2014, 03:20:57 PM
The Manta is a flying titan that pukes flying dreadnoughts, if you can imagine such a thing. When you see them in the sky, you know you're in for a world of hurt. Except more often than not, they come out of the clouds right on top of you, so you have no time to think about it, you just have to shoot. - Former Gunnery-Sergeant Hadrian, 37th Lyenna Air Defence Regiment, Lyenna PDF

Talan, Roxana and Aelian were packed onto a Devilfish soon after their encounter with the quietly arrogant Ethereal and their mutual acquaintance. Along with a squad of human auxiliaries, a different set than on the way up, they were sealed in as before, and swayed as the tank moved about before it settled.

“What in the name of Terra is going on?” Aelian asked, “These things can't operate in space, can they?”

“They can operate in a vacuum,” Talan said, turning his head as he thought, “But they're not exactly great at the job of space travel.”
“So we're not transferring to another ship.” said Roxana, “We can't land in this thing from orbit, so what's their game?”

A terrifying thought occurred to Talan, but before he could vocalise it, it was confirmed. A light hum began, followed by a brief burst of acceleration that the inertial system didn't entirely suppress. The direction of the force then abruptly changed direction, continuing for several minutes before slipping away.

“We're going back to the planet,” Roxana said, “Good.”
“Perhaps we're not doomed after all,” said Aelian with a smile.
“I am less confident,” Talan said, “There are very few reasons why we should be brought back to the ground, and the one I think most likely makes me sick to my stomach.”

“So, what do we do?” Aelian asked, shaking his cuffs in front of him.

A voice in Tau began droning, and a blue alarm light flashed through the compartment. The heretic troopers began to straighten their own restraints.

“What the hell is that?” Roxana asked, copying her captors' actions, grabbing at the belts with her cuffed hands with every sign of urgency. “Alert, suborbital drop commencing in one minute,” Talan translated, “Prepare for heightened gravitational forces.”

“Oh frak,” Aelian said loudly, hurrying to follow Roxana's lead on making sure he wouldn't fall out of the chair and be thrown to the wall.

“My thoughts exactly,” said Talan, who immediately recalled his own jump into occupied territory, “And to answer your previous question, we do what we can.”

Talan nodded to Roxana, and said “Sherbrooke”. She got his meaning immediately.

___________________ ___________________ ___________________ ______________
I have followed the myriad potential futures of the Tau with great interest. Though barely even striplings compared to us, I feel a strange protectiveness towards them. In time I believe they will exceed even our greatest feats and master the darkness within their souls. - Eldrad Ulthran, Farseer of Ulthwé Craftworld

Mesme waded amongst the elite of her unit clad in her Crisis suit in the main hanger of the Manta, moving to the front of the group, just in front of the rear doors of the two Devilfish that were to be deployed ahead. The alarm lights continued to flash, their glare reduced by the artificial filtering built into her suit's sensory equipment, and the warning command began a countdown from a rai'kor. She jumped around a little, appearing to be checking her suit's systems but in fact trying to contain the excitement of yet another high altitude jump and make sure she was intact enough to actually fight when she landed.

“You seem happy,” her bodyguard said via vox on a private channel, “You're practically skipping.”
“It is good to be back where I belong, Kai,” Mesme said, turning to look, “Sitting in a medical bay is torture.”
“Just make sure you're not overdoing it,” Kaishi replied, “We can't afford to lose you at this point.”
“I have every confidence in Fio'O'Karra's scientific expertise,” said Mesme in a commanding tone, “As well as in my own capabilities, Shas'vre.”
“As you say, Shas'O,” the fire warrior replied quickly, before standing to attention in his suit, “Looks like we're going.”

The doors of the bay opened, and a wave of air shook everything inside.

“Cadre, commence suborbital drop!” Mesme commanded.

The pair of Devilfish screamed out of their positions and dived immediately towards the planet. The commander and her bodyguard were right behind them, running in their suits and jumping off. Behind them, another four squads of Crisis suits followed.

The ground filled Mesme's vision as she fell, as well as drop overlays provided by the computers. It was night now, but the blacksun filters had kicked in immediately, and the city below appeared to be an ants' nest of white points. No sound but rushing air could she hear, as she manoeuvred with quick bursts from her suit's jets into position to the rear of the armoured transports. Her heart pumping faster, she felt the rush of the drop gather almost around her as the formation fell.

Just as she began to enjoy herself, a burst of flak exploded to her right. The enemy had made the formation, but seemed to be aiming poorly.

“Begin deceleration,” said Mesme, turning her suit into landing position as she did so.
The suit kicked as she fired the jets to slow her descent, as the Devilfish did the same and activated their anti-grav system.

“Watch your target zones,” she said as the flak got closer, “There are a lot of obstacles.”
“We'll try not to smash into any light-posts,” Kai said, straining comic relief at this point as another burst of flak flowered just above him.

The cadre continued to slow towards the ground, and the flak stopped suddenly. “Their commander is no fool, he understands that the flak artillery should concentrate on the Mantas,” Mesme said, “Combat landings, tau'fann, they'll try to swarm our position.”

Individual buildings were now distinguishable, and Mesme redirected her fall onto the top of a large terraced building. The lead Devilfish appeared to be doing the same, and the commander didn't want to let it out of her sight.

The landing was light, as Mesme had plenty of time to decelerate properly. The Devilfish had already landed, but wasn't moving.

The back door opened, and out stepped the Inquisitor, now seemingly armed with a pulse carbine. His followers did so as well, though they raised their weapons towards her suit.

“Inquisitor, how pleasant of you to join us,” Mesme said as the sounds of battle grew around them, “I'm sure you're wondering why I brought you back here.”

The human looked like he was thinking about it, and then signalled to the others to lower their weapons.

“Good that you have sense to talk,” she continued, “It wouldn't have ended well for you.”
Mesme laughed, and pointed towards the front of the gravtank. The humans soon caught sight of Kaishi's battlesuit pointing a flamer at them from beside the engines, as he walked towards them to get a better shot.

“Well, that's just not crickball,” said the Inquistor, swinging the pulse carbine over his shoulder by the strap.

“All units, use the buildings and keep the enemy busy,” Mesme said into her vox, to insure they wouldn't be interrupted.

“Why are we here?” asked the female human in Gothic, still holding her weapon to fire, though a little lower than at first.

“To see a display of force,” said Mesme, “To make you accept the Aun's offer.”
“I've seen all of this before,” Talan said, his voice raised with anger, “I'm not giving you this world and I told your master on the ship the same thing!”

“This isn't the display,” Mesme said, and pointed to the horizon, “Watch.”
The humans looked to one another, but didn't comply.

“Mesme, third la'rua is under pressure,” said Kaishi, “We need to go.”
“Very well,” she replied, and activated her jets.

The battlesuits bounced away, and the Devilfish followed, leaving the humans alone on the rooftop.

As she landed on the next building, the kor'vre who commanded her manta chimed in.

“Shas'O, the Dal'yth coalition's orbital bombardment of the enemy capital has begun.”
Flashes of light filled the sky, as the commander made her way towards the target.
Title: Merge into Shadows
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 18, 2014, 02:59:56 PM
A good soldier obeys without question. A good officer commands without doubt. - Tactica Imperium

The enemy's bombardment seemed to pause time as great beams of light lashed down from the sky, clearly visible even from a distance of dozens of miles, striking the capital city of Sallem repeatedly. Even the Tau seemed to be entranced, as their lightning fast skirmishing halted on all fronts. Soon, bubbles of white light unfolded on the edge of the horizon, fusion bombings having been added to the ion cannon barrage.

Mieza sat in the turret of her tank, out of the cupola, watching the scene in astonishment. The plaza where her platoon was stationed was filled with flashing light. The Inquisitor had insisted that the Tau didn't tend to use this sort of tactic except against the Tyranids, as their strategic thinking required the taking of “garden worlds” without significant damage to infrastructure or ecology. He had clearly been wrong in this case, and fears swole up in the colonel's throat that she and her troops would be obliterated from orbit, unable to fire a single shot in retaliation.

She quickly suppressed this, consciously making herself ignore the possibility. The Tau wouldn't dare fire at her regiment with their own forces so close at hand, and at any rate, the fate of a trooper of the Imperial Guard was to die standing.

“Situation report!” she said into her vox, bringing her amplivisor to her eyes to search for the enemy dreadnoughts that had been advancing before the fireworks show.

“Enemy has eliminated the entire PDF garrison positions at the capital,” reported Captain Klingberg, “Almost the entire city has been levelled, except for the administrative quarter.”

“Xenos bastards probably don't want to blow up the records,” said Girad, cutting in, “The jump infantry fighting on all sectors have broken off and are now headed in the direction of headquarters.”

“All except one group,” Major Kasky corrected, “They seem to be headed straight for you, Colonel.”

Mieza's mind raced. The battle until now had been one of distraction and manoeuvre, but now the xenos were on the attack. One push towards the nerve centre of the regiment and another towards its leader could mean only one thing.

“They're trying to cut the head off the snake,” Mieza said, “Kasky, get your troops in the air, and split them between Girad in HQ and my position. They're going to try very hard to decapitate our leadership. And make sure you aren't with the group that comes to me.”

“Yes, ma'am,” the major replied.

“Mechanised company, get in the way of the enemy forces and collapse the buildings,” said Mieza as she cocked the pintle-mounted heavy stubber beside her, “We need time.”

“Understood,” came the reply from Captain Machel.

The light from the bombardment stopped suddenly, and the streetlights also dimmed to nothing as well. The searchlights of the tanks fired up soon after, but their commanders were spooked, and began requesting information via vox. Mieza peered into the punctuated gloom in front of her.

“The frakkers are already here,” she said, “All of you look sharp, and Kasky, get those troops here now.”

As if to answer the order, a series of hunter-killer missiles screamed over the rooftops and slammed into the sides of two tanks directly ahead of the colonel's position. They impacted with dull metallic thuds before exploding inside, the wrecks of the tanks acting as torches now. Mieza turned her attention past these, and sure enough, the barely discernable silhouettes of a dozen or so battlesuits could be made out, their jet black paint scheme making it very difficult to pick them out. Alongside them were a brace of drones hovering, evidently of the spotter variety.

“Contact front!” Mieza said into her vox, “Far end of the plaza, in between the buildings to the west. All units advance to reliable visual range and engage with all weapons!”

The tanks roared into life, as they moved in a great wave along the kilometre and a half long strip of tiled concrete. Mieza took hold of the stubber, and looked down the sights, searching for a target with the attached spotlight.

She didn't have to wait long. The line of tanks soon opened up with lascannons and heavy bolters, as the darting forms of the battlesuits became more and more visible. They had begun their standard  fire and movement.

Mieza put the nearest into her sights and triggered the weapon, which rattled the rounds off with satisfactory vigour. The bullets seemed to bounce off the target however, and it soon repositioned.

“Enemy has shielding,” reported Sergeant Reynolds in the lead tank, “Getting closer.”
“All tanks, continue advance,” Mieza replied, pausing her fire to do so before opening up, “Keep shooting, we need to keep them suppressed.”

Another round of missiles boomed past, striking the rear tanks and disabling them. Mieza barely registered their existence, as Greta triggered the dual lascannons, catching a xeno dreadnought dead on. The flying thing fell to the ground as a shell, smoking and fizzing. The aliens took notice and began to retreat.

“They're running, the cowards!” said Reynolds, “Following them in.”
Mieza began to suspect it was a ruse, but if she retreated, the column would be hit again with the seeker missile attacks that had already crippled a third of the platoon.

“Advance cautiously,” she said finally, “Kasky, I need those Valkyries.”
“We're loaded up and en route now, ma'am,” the Major said, the engines of his vehicle clearly audible through the vox feed, “What are we dealing with?”
“Crisis suits,” Mieza replied, as she riddled the back of a battlesuit with a burst from her stubber, striking it in the back and causing it to fall hard. It started to get back up, but Greta put any idea of that to rest with the main guns soon after.

“Got the frakker, ma'am,” the gunner said cheerily, swinging the turret right to fire at another enemy skulking behind a derelict groundcar.

“Three minutes out,” Kasky reported.

The tanks halted near the edge of the plaza, unwilling to get into the narrow streets in front of them to get to knife fight distances with the Tau but still close enough to see a decent distance into them. The battlesuits were beginning to disappear around corners though, and the instinct to call for a retreat was getting very strong indeed. Mieza continued to resist though, knowing that the reinforcements were only minutes away. Or so she thought.

As the Colonel ordered blind fire into the buildings to collapse them, two huge shadows flew overhead. The Mantas hummed past quickly, seemingly ignoring the battle below them.

“Major, you've got two big ones heading for you,” Mieza said, making the connection, “Break off immediately and divert to the headquarters, the AA there should discourage them.”

“What about you?” said Kasky, realising that he was being ordered to abandon them, “They'll swing your way when they realise they can't punch through the defences easily.”

“We'll deal with it,” Mieza said loudly over her stubber's barking, “You have your orders.”
“Yes, ma'am,” came the answer.

The buildings in front were in a bad way now, but the enemy had completely disappeared and so the firing trickled to a stop as the searchlights swept through the rubbled streets for targets. The tank commanders sounded off that none of them had anything to shoot at, and requested orders.

“Circle the wagons,” Mieza said as she ducked into the turret and closed the hatch, “They're going to assault us directly.”

The tanks on the edge of the formation began to reverse and swing in behind those in the middle, but the Tau seemed to have been waiting for this moment, and the battlesuits cleared the buildings entirely and landed amongst the flanks of the platoon. Most were too close for the tanks to swing their turrets low enough to fire.

The tanks and suits mingled now in utter chaos. Xeno melta weapons triggered, turning weapons, tracks and hulls to slag as the neighbouring tanks sprayed bolt rounds into the suits attacking them. Some of the xenos were even using their power-armoured gauntlets to batter down the thinner armour on the rear of the tanks.

The alien who assaulted Mieza's tank was not so lucky however. Landing directly in front of Greta's aiming reticle, its shield didn't protect against the power of twin lascannons at close range. The middle of the suit practically disintegrated, and the thing fell on its rear sharply.

“Yeah!” said Greta, once again swinging the turret around to hit another target.

“Another one!” Mieza shouted, as an orange and gold headed battlesuit landed uncomfortable close to the left side of the tank, “Alica, left!” The tank lurched as the driver span the vehicle in place, smacking into the battlesuit as the turret swung the same direction to get an angle on the target. Mieza then did the unthinkable, and began to clamber up onto the heavy stubber, fearing that the gun wouldn't move fast enough to catch the bastard.

The enemy reacted first however, and fired its melta into the tracks of the metal beast before it. The tracks melted off the guide wheels, which screeched onto the concrete. Mieza brought her stubber to bear on the assailant in retaliation, and fired. Most of the rounds impacted the shields, and the rest off the hardened armour of the suit causing deep scars in the plates, but the xeno reacted strangely. Instead of opening up with its own array of weapons, it jumped to the other side of the tank.

“It's on the right!” Mieza said, hoping Greta would reverse the turret's direction while she swung the stubber, but the main guns fired at another target that was bearing down on a neighbouring tank.

The alien triggered their melta again, and the second set of tracks were gone along with a sizeable portion of the engine compartment.

“We're on approach Colonel,” said Captain Machel, as Mieza again got a bead on the enemy just as it jumped away.

“Hurry!” she replied, turning her attention to the other targets now, reaping a respectable toll on them at last. Sergeant Reynolds tank swung in beside them, heavy bolter chattering loudly as it reversed into a xeno with a crack. It appeared all the other tanks had been tracked or immobilised by engine damage.

“Reynolds, Machel's Chimeras are nearby, get their attention,” said Mieza, her voice rising in pitch from the effort of dissuading a suit from aiming a missile pod at her with another burst of rounds, “Don't care how.”

The order was redundant, as the surviving aliens jumped away with the precision of professional dancers, and back behind the buildings. Firing stopped once again, and now the sound of approaching tanks could be heard. Captain Machel had arrived with her mechanised company, and Chimeras began to spill troops into the streets.

“Excellent timing Captain,” Mieza said, sighing with relief, “It was a shambles there for a moment.”

“Very happy to assist, ma'am,” Machel replied, “Our troops are conducting sweeps as we speak.”
A squad of troopers ran up to the tank platoon, checking corners and pulling crew out of the disabled vehicles.

“Casualties seem remarkably light,” said Reynolds, exaggerating somewhat but not by much, as the tank crews sounded off on damage and crew condition, “I wonder why.”

The answer came quickly. A flight of Mantas bore down on the plaza from the east, their wings filling the sky above the buildings, coming to a halt above Mieza's original position where the platoon was initially attacked.

The spacecrafts' main weapons opened up, targeting the now-empty Chimeras, which responded as best they could with heavy bolters and autocannons. The infantry scattered into the buildings, as they were targeted by the rotary cannons bristling all over the surface of the enemy ships.

“Disperse!” Mieza said, before hopping out of the cupola to the ground as her crew bailed out for the second time of the campaign, “Concentrate fire on the nearest target!”

The troops did as she commanded, and the nearest ship began to take real damage. The cannons on its left side were crippled by an autocannon barrage, and it flew off quickly to avoid further damage.

The remaining ships however were scything through the tanks, and with the AA still defending the headquarters and unable to get line of sight from there, there wasn't a hope of stopping them.

Mieza banged her fist against the side of her crippled tank, and gave the order.
“Retreat,” she said, unfolding her lascarbine, “Split into squads and get into the streets.”

The troops and tank crews began to comply, fleeing the carnage with enthusiasm. Not all of the groups made it, as they were targeted by ion cannons and pulse weaponry. By the time most of the survivors made it to the buildings, the battlesuits had made a reappearance, attempting to hunt the groups down.

Mieza and her crew ran to the nearest building and hunkered down.
“Major, get an astropath,” she ordered, “We need...”

The Mantas interrupted the order by ceasing their fire. The battlesuits also disengaged, hopping effortlessly from building to building in the direction of their hovering protectors.

“Wait one,” Mieza said into her vox piece, “Enemy retreating.”
“Colonel, you'll want to hear this,” Girad said in response from headquarters, “Switch to the commissarial frequency.”

The vox crackled as Mieza changed channels, but soon a clear voice could be heard.

“This is Inquisitor Talan, to all Imperial forces. By order of the Holy Inquisition, combat operations against the Tau and their native allies are to cease, pending negotiations on the status of the Falasten system. A formal truce is now declared.”
Title: Shadows Arc Finale
Post by: GreaterGoodIreland on August 20, 2014, 12:53:47 AM
"If you defend everything, you defend nothing." - Commander Puretide

Talan threw the vox piece to the floor of the lounge forcibly, returning to a standing position. Dust swirled around the room as he did so, causing a round of coughs as the three agents cleared their throats. The poor bastard carrying the equipment didn't help the atmosphere, having apparently caught a bolter round edgeways, his corpse slumped forward against what would have been a very tasteful couch before the top of the hotel had been reduced to cinders.

The Inquisitor patted the dead young man on the helmet, and slouched into a position beside the body, opening his flask.

“So, it's over,” Aelian said, almost to himself.
“For now,” said Roxana, with some possibly fake conviction, “Thing about the Tau is that they can take a planet but abandon it the next month.”

“Somehow, I don't think they'll be letting us take this place back without a fight,” said Talan, sipping water, “That warp-damned alien is here for something, and now we know both why the Orks redirected here and that there is something important to the Tau here.”

“It seemed rather standard stuff to me,” said Roxana, “They wanted a decently productive planet so they took it.”

“You weren't there when I met her,” Talan replied, standing up again, “The xeno, I mean. She is … unusual.”

“I'm personally very glad I wasn't there,” said Aelian, “Warpcraft and fallen Astartes are not what I signed up to deal with.”

“Nor I,” said Talan, with a pat on the shoulder, “But the evidence is mounting that it is what these aliens are interested in.”
“You think there are warp-frakking heretics here?” Roxana said, palming her pulsecarbine slightly as she did so.

“All I know is that this planet has been a royal pain in the arse of every agent in the Emperor's service since it was brought back into Terra's control. To the point that no one but the Eccleisarchy were interested in touching it with anything other than an orbital obliteration. The Administratum let them have it, as uneasy tithes are better than no tithes. Unusual for a world as productive as this. It isn't genestealers, as they would have called down a hive fleet long before now. The only subversions I can think of that would work in this way are Tau infiltrators or a certain kind of Chaotic subversion.”

“Yet there's no evidence of any cults,” Aelian said.
“Except the assassins at the governor's reception,” said Roxana, “But we'll never know the whole story of that now. The Arbites and the local justicars are probably all dead.”

“The Governor too,” said Talan, “And in the midst of this near constant unrest, these xenos show up.”
“The real authority seems to be the other one,” said Aelian, “And he was very displeased at being turned down by you.”

Talan paused.
“I may have cost many people their lives with that decision, unnecessarily.”

“Hold on, there was no way you could have said yes until now,” said Roxana, “We would have been hauled off for interrogations, or purged by our own. You did the right thing and the only thing you could have done.”

Talan straightened up at this.
“Thank you,” he said, “No doubt I still have an interrogation and a reprimand waiting when we get out of here, but we'll probably escape the firing squad.”

“The real problem is aliens frakking around with the warp,” said Aelian, “Who knows what they'll call out of the abyss if that's the real reason they're here.”

“We'll have to stop them,” Talan agreed.

Roxana smiled, putting her hand on her hip.
“We're coming back here, aren't we?”

“I know a few friends who'll be eager to help,” said Talan, the smile contagiously spreading to him, “And it makes me feel better knowing we'll try.”

The roar of jet engines began and grew progressively louder. An Aquila lander was approaching.
“Let's get off this rock,” said Aelian.

The three left the building, leaving its remaining occupant to his fate.

___________________ ___________________ _________________
"There is nothing here but war, where the murdering cannons roar, and I wish I was at home in dear old Berdam." - From "A Guardsman's Lament", mourning song of Berdamian units.

“We lost, it is that simple,” said Talan, as he stared out of the armourcrys window which was filled by the planet below, “They played the game better, and we weren't in a position to win from the start.”

Colonel Mieza stood beside him, having endured her first real defeat in battle, shifting her weight from side to side and fiddling with her chainsword's pommel. Her entire regiment was in the process of being shuttled up to the Inquisitor's ship. Their vehicles had to be scuttled, though the techpriests insisted on taking just enough equipment from them to make the space available to the troops uncomfortable. Casualties had not been so heavy as to worry the Administratum, but probably would require reinfocements to be dispatched from Berdam. The regiment's morale was low, and the commissars as well as Talan's crew had to deal with some incidents, particularly involving alcohol. Thankfully, no one had been shot yet.

“We can't just let the Tau take a world of the Emperor!” said Mieza, turning to Talan from the window, “It makes me physically ill to see this.”

“Your death wouldn't save this world, and it isn't even worth this world,” Talan said, not returning her gaze, “Or the deaths of your troops, for that matter. The Tau practically cleansed it of loyalists from orbit. There's barely anyone left to defend, and those who are still alive will be evacuated.”

“Except when we return to Coronus, I'll more than likely be courtmartialed as a formality,” Mieza continued, “No one will be found guilty, but I'll still be disgraced for not standing our ground.”

“No such thing will happen while I draw breath,” said Talan, turning to her, “Besides, if you think that is bad, I will need to have a Lord Inquisitor's personal spook go through my head to make sure I didn't make this decision under the influence of the Tau leaders. They have ways of frakking with people's minds, so it's the only way to be sure. That is a lot less pleasant than a dressing down by a general, let me assure you.”

Mieza turned back to the window, unsure of what to say to the notion of her mind being searched forcibly by a psyker.

“If it's any consolation, I have no intention of letting the matter rest,” Talan said, putting his hand on her shoulder, “Why that commander and her unit were there is a matter of great interest, and more than that, I'm just as unhappy about this as you are.”

“It's just easy to feel better about it when I can call Astartes in to frak the Tau over later,” he added a moment later.

Mieza smiled at that, grabbing his hand.
“When you come back, I want to be there,” she said, “Honour demands we get revenge for our dead, and I want to kill as many of them as possible for the insult.”

“You have my word,” Talan said, “Though it will be years from now, and I can't exactly requisition your regiment until then. I have to call in quite a number of favours, normally I'd just call for an Exterminatus but I can't with the Tau fleet skulking around.” And so many questions in need of answers, he thought.

“I'll just have to get myself promoted then,” said Mieza, visibly cheering up, “That way, you won't have to.”

Talan burst out laughing, remembering exactly what attracted him to the woman in the first place.
“We should drink to that, Artemis,” he said.

“I'd like that." she said.

___________________ ___________________ __________________
"What, there's no such thing as daemons!" - Por'el Bork'an T'jo, shortly before being carved in half by a minor daemon of Khorne.

Mesme arrived in the reception hall, still in her combat jumpsuit, picking through the floor covered with glass shards and ragged banners that had fallen or been torn from the walls to reach her subordinates. The now smashed ceiling was supported by huge columns of rusting metal, and from the detritus lying around, it was clear the space was used for social gatherings primarily. The orbital bombardment had destroyed most of the city, but this section had been deliberately avoided by request. As soon as word that the Imperials had left the system came, the Water caste contingent of her coalition insisted on making their way to this place immediately.

Por'el Vral stood in the middle of the ballroom floor, making notes quietly to himself as his underlings mobbed the place, tearing up floorboards and recording everything. Beside him, Karra stood munching something as usual and waving a scanner around while El'Ka shifted on the spot looking bored, while two fire warriors stood to attention beside him. Kaishi was also there, but looked less bored now that his commander had arrived.

Mesme approached the group, and the Fire caste contingent saluted.

“So, we have the prize,” said Mesme, “Was it worth it?”
“Yet to be determined,” Karra replied, flicking her attention between the equipment and a bar of synthetic protein more normally found in human combat rations, “The main complex is below and we haven't found the entrance yet.”

“Our experts are more confident,” Vral said, exuding the supposed confidence he mentioned, “The layout above ground that we have surveyed so far is very promising. Particularly the columns.”

“Well, we best move what we can off-planet soon,” El'Ka said, “Aun'el Ru'na is displeased at our continued presence.”
“I'm afraid that will be impossible,” Vral stated firmly, “The structures are too large to move, and doing so would be noticed by many.”
“The Por'el is right,” said Karra, “We'll need to set up permanent facilities at all the sites, including the one on the other continent.”
“Which is currently swarming with Orks,” Kai chimed in, “We still have work to do there.”
“Nothing you cannot handle,” Vral said, passing his data to an aide.

“Spoken with the conviction of a tau who has never had the close company of an ork before,” said Mesme, “But not an inaccurate assessment.”

“So can we presume that the Aun'el will cooperate in the construction of these permanent facilities?” El'Ka asked, before Vral could open his mouth on the subject of his studies of the Ork.

“He will cooperate,” Mesme said, “After all, he knows the threat exists.”

“So, the temples will be requisitioned by our coalition as well as the land around them,” said Karra, “Their examination is crucial to our further understanding of subspace and the aliens from that dimension.”

“Particularly this one,” Vral continued, “This seems to be the main cathedral of the nine shrines, and we've been finding symbols related to the alien deity named Tzeentch behind some of the floorboards already.”

“I suggest keeping the gue'la as far away as possible,” El'Ka said, “Given their tendency to go insane when exposed to this sort of thing.”

“Every joined species seems vulnerable on some level,” Vral said, “But gue'la in particular, yes.”
“We've taken precautions, the facilities will be Tau-only and personnel will be rotated and screened regularly by some Aun'vre that T'au is sending,” Karra added, “And security will be drone based.”

“A win for the tau'va then,” Kai said as he saluted, before walking away evidently to look for something to eat. Karra's snacking had gotten to him.

“With any luck,” Mesme thought aloud.

“We also found some bodies when we were making a sweep of the building,” said El'Ka, “Looked like adminstration workers, other government officials, a couple of sanitary staff. Killed by gue'la bolts and fusion weapons. The places they fell were marked with tape.”

“Unusual, any idea why?” Mesme asked.
“None as to why they were killed, but it's clear the natives thought it was worth investigating, we have their reports and one or two of their water caste equivalents alive,” replied El'Ka, “The bodies been disposed of appropriately.”

“And the reports?”

“A lot of talk about fringe religious groups operating in various places, looks like they were killed after they started a terrorist action during a social gathering. Could be related to our work, so we handed the reports and our guests to Vral's agents.”

“Have you found anything interesting?” Mesme asked Vral.

“Well, it seems to have been the Inquisitor and his agents who shot them. The physical description matches as well as his known choice of weapon.” Vral said, wincing at the thought, as he glanced at large burnt section of flooring with an accompanying bloodstain that was too close for comfort.

Mesme froze immediately, her mind racing. Did the human know?

“Ru'na insisted that the gue'la be allowed to leave and I agreed on principle,” said Mesme, as her two watchers entered the hall, their adorned robes making them stand out clearly for what they were.

“That was a mistake.”