Hey ATT, how're things going??? Anyways, this post is two things. Primarily, it is a posting of the first and currently only chapter of my new Tau Story
. This story is the sequel to my previous Tau Story Life, Death and the Greater Good. Both of the stories are hosted on Fanfiction.net, but I'm starting a habit of posting the intial chapters here to get the approval of Tau fans. However, the titled reason, and the second important thing is a notice that I will be on a pretty big hiatus for the next two years. In 2018 and throughout all of 2019, I will be doing some pretty time-intensive stuff. It's mainly personal, and I'm not going to spill anything to you guys. One of the great things that I hope survives the death of Net Neutrality (see the thread on the Fire Caste Academy general board) is anomynity, and I;d glad that this site upholds that. Anyway, back to the topic of me going on a tour of the Damocles Gulf.
Fellow Shas'la, I have been reassigned to the battlegrounds of the Damocles Gulf. I will be away for two years, fighting the forces of Work and Personal Life. I will probably be back, so keep my bunk open, and don't eat all the happy Tau sushi. I will be back to participate in next year's April Fools celebration, but I will be quite busy fighting for the Tau'va. Unless I am killed or lost in action, you will see my return to further the Greater Good.
Anyway, here is the first chapter of Life, Loyalty and Eternal War, along with the link to it's fanfiction page.
Author’s preface: I’ll make this simple: Read ‘Life, Death and the Greater Good’ before reading this. It will introduce you to Oni’ci and his team, as well as provide a description of the events preceding this story. Thank you.
Planet Hyros, Damocles Gulf. 034.002.M42
I sat in the cockpit cradle of my Crisis suit as the Manta’s lower transport hold rumbled from the stress of re-entry. Although I knew that the Fio’tak armour could stand up to the fire of a dozen Gue’la cannons, I still felt trepidation as the massive spacecraft soared towards the surface of what would be my first engagement with Shaserra’s personal cadre. As the massive craft began to slow, I began running through my prebattle checklist, running quick diagnostics on my Crisis battlesuit systems, checking my laser-link with my la’rua, and generally trying not to worry about anything. This was not my first engagement, but it was my first time arriving as part of the first wave. As I ran through my last few system checks, I thought back to how I’d gotten here after that fateful battle a long time ago.
After my team had completed our mission, losing one of our teammates to the forces of chaos in the process, we had been given our trial-by-fire and promoted. As I was the Shas’ui, I had gained the rank of Shas’vre, while my fellow teammates had been all promoted to Shas’ui. Immediately afterwards, we were assigned to Shaserra’s personal cadre, a force I had always wanted to be part of. ‘Shaserra’saran’ or ‘Shadowsun’s Firecore’ was a unit known for unorthodox methods of combat, and for fiercely individualistic members. Despite this, they still followed the teachings of the Greater Good. Their leader was no less than Shadowsun, supreme commander of the Fire Caste, and famed leader of the Third Sphere Expansion. However, even in my happiness, I did not forget that one of our team would never be joining our team again. Kles’ro was gone, and his loss was heavy on my mind. I had been responsible for my team’s safety, and I had failed him on his first op.
As I thought through this, I noticed that the Manta had slowed considerably. A amplified voice boomed over the Manta’s internal comms network:
“One minute till drop. All units, prepare for drop. Repeat, One minute till drop.”
I primed my suit’s gravimetric motors, and disengaged the external cradle frame. Simultaneously, the suit’s glowing green eye lit up, and it stood tall. The maintenance cradle that had held the armour steady through transit retracted into the floor, panels closing over their hidden compartments. Finally, I fired up the Neural Link. I closed my eyes, and experienced a whirlwind of colour behind my closed eyes. When I ‘opened’ my oni, I was seeing from the perspective of my Xar’vesa. I flexed the suit’s motors, my own body’s muscle impulses sending commands to the suit. Standing the suit fully upright, I powered the twin Cyclic Ion Blasters that were equipped to the suit…to my arms, their triple barrels spinning briefly and beginning to glow. As I powered up the battlesuit’s communications array, the other members of my La’rua began reporting in via the team’s encrypted laser-link.
“Shas’ui’vre Sa’cea Kais Shas’sha Mont’yr reporting in. Crisis suit online. Ready for Combat”
Kais was my Terigun, and was unusual for a member of the Fire Caste. She had a natural affinity for machines, and tended to sheer away from high-intensity combat. When she received her Crisis suit, she had (without informing me) converted the suit into a battlefield support unit, which could repair the Crisis Units of our team during operations. After receiving some heat from me, I agreed to send in a application to our immediate superior, Commander Jadesword, to have Kais assigned as our Shas’sha (or combat engineer). Shas’sha were usually Earth Caste auxiliaries who were given the role on a temporary basis. However, there were other Fire Caste warriors who performed such duties. Despite having some reservations about the role change, Commander Jadesword agreed to field Kais as a combat engineer. So, Kais had earned the title Shas’sha, usually a honorary name given to Earth Caste. Her suit only carried a single weapon: a Plasma Rifle that she rarely used. Her other usable hardpoints were dedicated to repair equipment for her new role.
“Shas’ui’la Sa’cea Xumxa Mont’yr online. All systems go Shas’vre Oni’ci.”
Xumxa was one of the younger members of my team. He had been Kles’ro’s Kou’to’vesa, and therefore felt the most pain from his loss. Xumxa was the fastest among us on foot, and had been given permission to equip his basic XV8 with a Vectored Retro Thruster unit, better enhancing his flight capabilities. His suit was also equipped with a pair of burst cannons, and he had stripped most of the non-critical armour off with Kais’s help to further increase his speed. This had made him one of the more fragile units in the field, as his suit had significantly less armour than even the most basic crisis. However, he had increased his battlefield performance to the point where he was unhittable in the simulators, getting almost perfect survivability ratings in combat simulations. However, he was still finding it hard to get over the loss of his best friend, even through slightly more than two years had passed.
“Shas’ui’la Sa’cea R’alai’tadie Mont’yr ready for combat. On your order Shas’vre.”
R’alai’tadie (or simply ‘R’alai’ to us, her La’rua) was one of the most volatile Fire Caste soldiers I had had the pleasure of meeting. She was very temperamental, and at the same time was a very caring person when it came to her friends and allies. During the two years that had passed, she had been assigned by roster to a mating partner, and had spent a year looking after the baby. She had come back a changed person, but had quickly changed back to her usual self. As usual, her mate had stayed after the first year to raise the baby, before the infant was either sent to the Fire Caste Training Domes, or was indoctrinated into a non-combat peacekeeping role like a planetary Tai’quaz’dan. Either way, she had been reassigned back to my la’rua as was normal. She piloted our team’s XV8-02 Iridium battlesuit, a bulkier and better armoured version of the standard Crisis. She bore a full loadout of Fusion Blasters, fulfilling a anti-tank role on the battlefield.
“Shas’ui Daly’th Shi R’ka’sha Mont’yr ready and waiting. XV87 reporting all systems check.”
Shi was the black sheep in our la’rua. He was not from the sept world of Sa’cea like the rest of the team, instead originating from the world of Daly’th, a planet known for producing hardy Fire Warriors. In addition, he was the sole member of our team to pilot a experimental battlesuit, the XV87 Crisis Sniper. The XV87 was developed for the current Fifth-Sphere Expansion, and was a crisis suit retrofitted to carry a stripped-down version of the Heavy Rail Rifle that XV88 Broadside battlesuits carry as standard wargear. The new rail weapon was called the Heavy Rail Carbine, in reference to the experimental weapon I once carried. This experimental battlesuit weapons sacrificed some power and range for sheer volume of fire and a lighter construction. This was then combined with noticeably boosted accuracy from the improved targeting systems that were to permeate into the production-model Crisis over the next few Tau’cyr. In addition to the targeting systems and Heavy Rail Carbine, the suit featured a pair of twin Smart Missile System units mounted on the shoulders. However, due to these upgrades, the suit could not achieve flight, and couldn’t move as fast as a normal suit. To remedy this, Earth Caste engineers modified the initial prototype so that it could perform short rocket jumps. They then sacrificed some armour to allow it to move as fast as the standard crisis on foot. This model was then given limited production time, before the completed units were shipped to Shadowsun’s armies on the frontier of Tau Space.
I acknowledged all the pings, and waited for the craft to begin hovering. As it did, the massive bay door opened up, lowering as a ramp. Fire from the masses of Gue’la soldiers on the ground began bouncing off the shields protecting the bay doors. The two Devilfish transports containing the initial wave began skimming down the ramp as the two TX7-02 Fire Support Hammerheads began pumping heavy burst cannon fire into the massed gue’la infantry. Then, it was time for my team to deploy. I gave a signal over the signal link, and we bounded across the reinforced floor-plating of the Manta, before rocket jumping off the lip of the bay door, and landing in formation in front of the two Strike Teams pinned down by Gue’la fire. I immediately concentrated my fusion blasters on a nearby tank, a outdated hunk of armour with ancient Treads moving it along. It took five direct hits, causing it’s ammunition supply (outlined on my HUD overlay by my suit’s target lock module) to detonate. The tank blew it’s turret high into the sky, the warped piece of metal crashing down on top of a small squad of human soldiers. The smoke from the blazing wreckage made the already darkening sky cast shadows across our grey-painted suits. To my sides and my rear, my friends fanned out in a diamond formation, their individual weapon loads raking the gue’la ranks with fire. I took a volley of ineffectual laser fire from my right, my refractive armour coating diffusing the beams with incredible efficiency. Before I could react, a group of Fire Warriors took out the unit with their pulse rifles. I sent a acknowledgment ping to their Shas’ui. He sent another back, along with the markerlight data for a armoured walker unit approaching from the east. I signalled my team, and we headed towards the designated target, running serpentine across the scarred earth. As we did, four Tetra Scout Speeders fell in alongside us, their pathfinder pilots keeping pace easily.
“Show offs,” said Kais across the communications net, keeping pace alongside my armour. Xumxa was to my right, with R’alai and Shi following to the rear. We formed a rough pentagon, our grey armour proudly displaying a stripe of deep red. While our armour was in the standard Sa’cean grey scheme, our orange sept colours decorating our heads and shoulders (with the exception of Shi, as his sept colour was not orange, but the green of Daly’th), the red stripe along the centre of our chest marked our secondment to the Shaserra’saran, and was the colour of Vior’la, Shadowsun’s home sept. We felt unstoppable. Then, one of the speeders was destroyed by a lance of bright red light. Then another, followed by the rest of the four-man team. My targeting vesa tracked the source back to our intended target, a grouping of ten two-legged walkers, strutting with a unsteady gait towards us. Gue’la machines. They were tall, and had a long-barrelled laser weapon under each of their angular noses. Their canopies were armoured, and they flew the flags of their regiment- the bright colours fluttering in the wind.
“Onyx La’rua, prepare to break off to engage the targets. Kais, you come with me. Shi, stay back and disable their primitive locomotion systems. Xumxa, keep them busy. I’ll damage them further, and R’alai will finish them off.”
My team and I sprung into action, Shi anchoring his battlesuit for stability, and laying down several highly accurate shots into the midsections of the leading walkers. I charged forewards, as Xumxa engaged his flight systems, and flew close to the ground in a wide arc around the cluster of walkers, keeping them penned and distracted with his burst cannons. As he did this, I began moving counter clockwise at a slower pace and pounding the suits with highly accurate fire from my ion blasters, the pulses turning the outer armour of the walkers to mush, all while shedding high-energy ionised particles that would inflict their unshielded users with mild cancers. As I disabled each one, R’alai pounded the damaged walkers with fusion fire, blowing their cockpits into molten slag. Three tried to retreat, but were quickly taken down by Shi. Just as I was about to take down another of the primitive machines, my battlesuit’s leg was caught on the wreckage of a downed walker.
I tumbled out of control, my suit flashing warnings as my suit tumbled across the grassy terrain, eventually slamming into a rocky outcrop. I felt a wincing pain, as my suit’s biofeedback system failed to dull the pain of impact fully. As I was linked to the battlesuit fully, the unfortunate side affect of use was that damage to the systems of the suit would cause feedback through my nervous system, something the biofeedback systems were meant to dampen. Unfortunately, every system has it’s limits, and the pain leaked through. I looked down, and saw that the leg that had been caught was still intact. However, when I clambered to my feet, the battlesuit was limping. In addition, my jetpack had been damaged, and was no longer flightworthy.
“Shas’vre!!! Are you alright??”
I winced as a new stab of pain crested through the neural link. I gave the command to open communication frequencies. “I’m fine Shi. Are the walker’s destroyed???”
“Yes Oni’ci. I do have some good news though,”
“What would that be Shas’ui??” I said, limping back over to the others. Shi and the rest of my la’rua did not fail to notice my obvious limp, but they said nothing.
“The Gue’la forces are retreating. We managed to create a foothold, and our forces have captured over 76% of the planet’s surface. We are to return to the drop point where a field operations centre has already been set up. At first light tomorrow we depart for the Gue’la city centre to begin securing it fully.”
“Good news indeed,” I responded. “However, my suit’s locomotion is heavily impaired, and my flight systems are broken. Can we call in a Orca to our position???”
I heard a snort of laughter over the comms channel: “With your history with dropships, I’m surprised you want to ride in one again Oni’ci!!” deadpanned Kais. “I mean, you could easily bump your head with your new size!!”
“Watch it Shas’ui,” I mocked over the laser-link. “You just might be sent to see the company Ethereal. Or worse, you might have to deal with Subcommander Spirit-Blade and his heavy-handed attitude.”
“Duly noted. To’tau’vau Shas’vre.”
With that, Kais cut the channel. We waited around in the fields for a little while longer, before a Orca dropship descended to the ground, allowing my crippled suit to board alongside the rest of the team. Once all the team were onboard the specialised Crisis Dropship, the bay door closed, and the vehicle departed, heading back the way we came. What we didn’t know was that the next few weeks would be ones filled with revelations. Revelations that would further convince me that the Empire was not as open as it seemed.