The hounds growled and chirped their warnings. The techno-shaman lowered his head-quills as he adjusted the comms device until a familiar gravelly voice could be made out “What is it K’rak?”
“Honoured one, the Tau do not answer our signals and are trying to jam our communications. They activate their tidewall and I think they wish to fight.” The half-metal kroot shaman replied.
“Ah.” There was a pause so long it seemed the signal had been lost again “Aun’Do has decided to show you the error of my ways. Do not fire the first shot but if he chooses bloodshed then you must fire the last. He will understand the horror at the end.” The distant voice murmured “Activate your homing beacon, I will send help”
“Yes, honoured one” replied the kroot as he switched the device over. He turned to his kindred and set out his plan.
The foremost hunters had almost started circling around the huddled Tau defenses when the pulse fire started scything through their lithe bodies, they took what cover they could but the pulse carbines and burst cannon took a heavy toll and the gunrig punched a hole in their line with its flechettes. The Tau confidently moved forward against their outnumbered opponents but too soon, the last four hunters focussed their rage into their rifles and their shooting cut down two of the stealth team that had closed in for the kill. One group of meatfinders lit up the enemy pathfinders with markerlights and the other fired their own gunrig, when the mist of blood drifted away nothing alive could be seen of the Tau that had manned their railgun platform.
Still the Tau came forwards with a Riptide at the tip of the spear, it poured fire into the cobbled together Broadside shattering one of its drones but the heavy pulse rounds could not penetrate its thick armour. The remaining stealth suit killed the last few hunters as it withdrew. Then the techno-shaman pounced, leading his masses of kroot and krootox he came out behind the shield line and the kindred laid waste to the Fire Warriors with pulse fire. Aun’Do had a look of shock on his face as the heavy kroot gun shells tore him apart. A kroot suit dropped from the sky with a shriek of jets perfectly positioned to torch the second stealth team but the flames glanced off their armour and only one succumbed to the heat, their Shas’Vre fired back and cut the newly arrived suit in half with his fusion blaster. From the seemingly abandoned gunrig another deafening crack of sound as sub-munitions cut through the triumphant kroot; so shocked by this unexpected attack that they failed to get their leader to the ground before the needles of metal tore him apart. Hovering above the fortification was the pulse accelerator drone interfaced to the gun controls – somehow it had gone unseen and survived the carnage that killed the pathfinders. The riptide began shooting into the kroot while they engaged in a running gunfight with the surviving stealth suits; in reply the heavy support line of skyray, ghostkroot and gunrig began hammering chunks out of the isolated monstrous battlesuit.
Another kroot suit dropped from the sky, its flamers alight even before it landed cremating the dead pathfinders and burning out the circuits of the pulse accelerator drone. It activated its jets again and jumped into the now empty gunrig, grabbing the controls and turning it towards the Riptide. With reactor fuel leaking down its side and chunks of armour hanging off it the pilot of the giant suit did the only thing he could, he gave the order to retreat and blasted away out of the deadly crossfire with a wild uncontrolled blast from the jump-jets.
The tattered surviving kroot looked around. Only three Tau had escaped to take the lesson back to their cosy septs. Aun’Kurtz was right, only those who welcome the horrors of war truly belong there. They loaded the reactor cells they had been seeking onto the Skyray and the bodies of their fallen brothers onto the Oxen for the heroes feast they would hold that night. Then they slipped back into the forests and were gone, leaving only shell craters and corpses to show they had ever been there.