The tau Commander sat between his two sleeping team mates, watching the flickering light of the shop display hololith spray the darkened corridor with advertisements for cleaning solutions or the latest domestic drone. It only dawned on TauMan that they were on a commercial deck and the abandoned shops and service bays were still somehow online, at least the annoying adverts were.
“And the damn Necrons couldn't have at least shut down those eye sores?” he thought to himself.
From down the corridor he thought he saw some movement, a slow moving figure like an old tau man was approaching the Commander's position. The corridor would have easily been pitch dark to a gue'la's eyes, but to the tau Commander there was plenty of light to see by. Unsure if indeed there was some one there in the dim light, the Commander held his pulse pistol at the ready and waited.
“Hallo, I am announcing my presence! Hallo, please do not shoot...”
“Move into the light and identify yourself! NOW!” said the Commander levelling his pistol at the intruder.
“My son, I do think you know who I am?” said the elderly male voice as the figure hobbled into the light of the hololith.
“T'ahh...” gasped the Commander and lowered his weapon slightly. “Aun'Shi? Can that be you, your immanence?”
“Well, I believe it is me? I don't think I have any metal parts?” laughed the Tau Ethereal as he stood leaning on his honour blade.
“By-the-Eternal-Blue-Sky! I-I-I...” said the Commander holstering his pistol and running to the side of the old tau Ethereal. “Sorry, how did you...wait I caught a communiqué that you'd had been found? How did you get lost? Are you aright...” the Commander took a knee and bowed to the Ethereal, something he had never ever done in his life.
“Stand up young man, I can't see that well any more and you're too far away from my old eyes!”
“Sorry, let me help you to our 'encampment'. It's just an alcove in the wall of the corridor...”
“It'll be fine...excuse me are you from Vior'la?”
“The Enclaves, sorry about the brogue?”
“AH-HA! Someone told me that the firewarriors of the Vi'Qqan – Red Chieftain were here! You know young man I was O'Shova's tutor in the Tau'Va? Use to yank his top knot quite a bit when he was young!” smiled the old tau. “Aye, and I speek a wee bit 'o the brogue myself. As ye most knae I'm Vior'lan!”
“No sir problem sir! T'oh pardon my manners I'm...”
“I know O'T'au'Man, such an odd name for one like yourself, xhmm?”
The Commander helped the old Ethereal to a spot between the two other sleeping firewarriors. He cracked open a heating unit and put a pot of red tisan on to boil. The Commander notice the old Ethereal never let go of his honour blade, as it were his child. “I'm making tisan, but are you hungry sir?”
“Not hungry, but I will take the tisan? Red or White?”
“Red tisan sir?”
“Xhmm...” the old tau sat was quiet. The Commander didn't trouble him with anymore questions. Aun'Shi looked just like all the iconography the Commander had seen of him growing up. The old Ethereal seemed tired and about to fall asleep, when the Commander handed him his vi'tisan. “Not too hot your immanence ?” he asked.
“No, no...it's fine!”
They sat a while drinking their tisan when Aun'Shi asked, “Tell me about your ta'lissera blade?”
“T'eh? It's a mont'ta'lissera – a bonding war knife, it's what we carry in the Enclaves. A longer and heavier combat knife that's also a bonding knife. Our blades are never just ceremonial...they spill blood one way or another!” The Commander found himself more enthusiastic than he should be, like a young firewarrior just out of the academy. He wondered why?
“Xhmm, what else is different about your knife?” asked the Ethereal pointing at the pommel.
“T'oh, that's the Tos't'shas – Anvil of the Sun, the emblem of the Enclaves. But you must know that already? You've been to the Enclaves haven't you?”
“Yes, but what else is different from any other ta'lissera'nan? From those of the Empire?” asked Aun'Shi leaning in and smiling, his eyes twinkling.
“T'ahh, well they say that there is...” The Commander picked up his blade and held it upright on his knee with one hand and pointed with the other. “That there is a sliver of the Dawn Blade embedded in the tang of the pommel,” said the Commander lowering his voice to a whisper.
“T'ah I see...”
“Well not a sliver, more like a piece of foil as wide as my thumb, but only a few microns thick. It's said the Dawn Blade gives up hundreds of pieces of itself every tau'cyr. But is always the same dimensions, it never gets smaller...”
“How do you know the Dawn Blade is there firewarrior?”
“Well I don't know...”
“WHAT?!” exclaimed Aun'Shi.
“I do know, but not in my head…” he said pointing at his head, “...but in here.” The Commander pointed at his chest.
Now the Commander looked at his blade and laying it across his knees said, “I know it also when I place my hand on the blade, I think even every Shas'La squad leader to Shas'O knows this! I mean I can feel it...” He put his hand on the hilt, but stopped in mid sentence. The Commander froze in place staring down at the blade in his lap. For in that instant that his hand touched the pommel, the Commander became aware of something ancient and powerful sitting across from him. Something that made every cell in his body afraid. So terrified was he, that he could not look up to see what it was. All he knew was that it sublime and terrible, and that it was very, very old. “Sir, you are not who you say you are!” he whispered.
Drawing the mont'ta'lissera'nan in a flash the Commander leapt at the thing across from him, but it was gone. He found himself with the drawn weapon pointing at immense tree as big around as the centre of an Orca lander. And below his hooves was a wide rough hewn stone platform, half covered in deep green vines and surrounded by undergrowth. There were trees all about, and each one was a tall and wide as the one in front of him. Above vines carrying blue, yellow and red flowers, that wound they way up the trees as far as the eye could see. Flying creatures of metallic green and blue, radiant orange and golden red flew in and around the trees. Then dropping his weapon the Commander saw the creature standing before him.
She was taller but not by much, and her reptilian skin was of the purest turquoise colour that he had ever seen, like the skies of ancient T'au! She had stripes of various colour painted on her scales: red, blue, green, yellow and white. And large copper triangles dangled from piercing of the wide head crest. Cooper also adorned her arms in multiple rings, and copper hung from a leather chain around her neck. She looked at him with wide and beautiful yellow eyes.
He felt an overwhelming sense of impossible and totally unconditional love.
“Yiyi – Granny?” he asked in a the voice of a little tau boy.
“Yiyi?! That's what little Temu'jin calls me!” She clapped her clawed hands together, but somehow the words didn't come from any language she spoke; but none the less he heard them anyway. “You know, You know, You know who that Temu'jin is don't you? He's the leader O'Shova. He use be sit like in my lap lots of time! And he be all questions, all of the time!”
The commander was crying now but he didn't know why.
“Ahh, little hatchling he get excited to see his Grandma!” The turquoise yiyi now grabbed him up in her arms and hugged him fiercely. Letting go she leaned over to talk to the Commander, seemed to be a very small tau boy at the moment. “Hey little Temur – Iron, you want to pin that metal man to the ground?”
“Yeah,” he answered in his little boy voice.
“Well that blade can do it!”
“Sir? Sir, who are you talking to?” asked Lhas'kirsaa.
The commander found himself staring into the face of his ta'lissera sister and wondering why he was holding his blade down at his side. “I don't know...I think I'm asleep on my hooves?”
“I got up for my watch and you were standing there talking?”
“Don't know Shas'Vre...I think I'll turn in now. I'm tired and I need to sleep. Good-night,” he said handing her the blade. “Keep that close by, you may need it!” and with that he sat down, lay back and went to sleep.