Into Silence: Sha'draig

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Calmsword
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Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#1 » Nov 25 2015 07:08

Hey everyone,

As you know knightofthewr, T113, TauMan, Kakapo42, Kles'ro and myself have been writing the Into Silence chain of stories for... a while now and behalf of all of them I'd like to say thank you to the readers of our community here at ATT for the many comments, suggestions and support you've given us in that time.

As of now, our many heroes have breached the Zone of Silence, survived against impossible odds and lost companions. In my last post in the "Latchkey" storyline I eluded to the true threat that faces the recolonization fleet of the Path Resurgence; the Dark Eldar.

In the beginning I didn't think this would be the case. I had thought that the Silence would be riddled with 'reaver' type humans feeding off the scraps of a forgotten Empire would be who the Tau would face down- but after stories, ongoing as they are, like Kakapo42's Rosa Vitae http://www.advancedtautactica.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=20865 or knightofthewr's Crossroads http://www.advancedtautactica.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=23367 I quickly became bored with my own 'gue'la' threat and have, myself, become an avid reader of their stories. This is exactly why we wanted to try something new with forum style publishing- to evolve stories around new narratives.

I like to think of this as our own expression of a Greater Good.

And so, I'd like to introduce you to my own new chapter of Into Silence.

Into Silence:Sha'draig


Dramatis Personae

-Kor’O’Yama’nan: Fleetmaster of the Path Resurgence Coalition.
-Por'El'Noh'luun: Speaker for the Ta'ko'cha and Coalition Leader.
-Por'Ui Sol'n: Archivist and historian.
-Aun'Zran'al: Primary Ethereal of the Ta'ko'cha.
-Shas'Ui Jathat: Fo'tan Firewarrior
-In'o'la: A hololith entity, companion to Sol'n.
-Shas'El Tae'n: Security Cadre Leader.

The great arms of the galaxy turn, endlessly falling into the glowing orb of the galactic core. A timeless pattern of life and death erupt and collapse as ancient stars buckle under their own gravity but, in turn, expand outward to form the nebulous cradles for new suns are born. It is this truth of the universe that is imbedded in the sentience that crawls forth from the primordial and seeks fortune amongst the cosmos. Our beginnings and our end are as cyclical as eternity that we are wrought from.

~Analytics of Pilgrimage

Kor'O Yama'nan drifted a meter off the deck of the bridge, his eyes unfocused as they gazed out the viewscreen set in the sloping walls. The crimson haze of the Sol'ai Rift anomaly curled like a painter's stroke across the canvas of stars and darkness. Within it, gold dust sparkled, the remnants of some stellar event that had effected this part of the galaxy eons ago. For the centuries that the Empire had settled the stable systems around it it had been a foreboding place. The heavy elements masking pirates and danger from scans so that those Septs near it built orbital sentries, ready to push back any threat and broadcasting warning messages for any traveller that ventured to close.

Yet. Out here. Beyond the borders of the interdiction zone, there was a beauty to the Rift as its red slashed against the blue nebulas of the now distant Cluster that was home to the Tau and the species of the Commonwealth.

"We are explorers still, are we not, Fleetmaster?" Yama'nan twisted his body effortlessly to look down on the robed person of Por'Ui T'au Sol'n. The archivist had grown, Yama'nan reflected, reading the straight backed archivist and the lean muscle he had worked onto his frame. When Yama'nan had first met Sol'n the youth he had been a stripling, cowering behind his bodyguard. Not so now.

Yama'nan touched a dial on his chest and raised the sphere of anti-gravity around him, descending to the deck until his hooves indented into the Au'taalian style 'softdeck'. Yama'nan still towered over the por'faan who stood at his chest level but Sol'n simply took a respectful step back so as not to crane his neck and regarded the kor'faan.

"Your statement implies that we might have lost such a title." Yama'nan said, gesturing to a drone which quickly delivered a small transplastic cup with warmed water to him.

"I have spent time amongst the Gue'Vesa, Fleetmaster. They drill and train for war, as the shas'faan do. Indeed, I have remarked a great many similarities between the two."

"As is the mark of their Caste and the service to which the Gue'Vesa are obligated to. War is a seeming constant in these times."

Sol'n tilted his head, the pol hat's wide rim casting a shadow over his face. "And my time amongst the Bovul, the Jikita and your brethren of the kor'faan see their own drills and preparations for conflict in the cycle it has taken us to reach this far."

"All must be ready against the enemies of the Greater Good, Por'Ui. You yourself seem to have improved your physic to better survive dangers unknown." Sol'n chuckled, a deep throaty sound that was unlike those first nervous stammerings the Fleetmaster had seen.

"I have, Fleetmaster... And I, like our brothers and sisters and allies would be fools not to beyond the borders of the Septs, yet-" Sol'n looked up and indicated with one hand to the viewscreen. "When I look out unto the wilderness of undiscovered stars and unknown worlds, I remember that we were first explorers, driven by our curiosity to uncover the secrets laid before us. For a singular moment I do not feel the fear, the danger or the strife that is beset upon us."

Yama'nan tilted his head back up, watching the screen with Sol'n. They stood for moments, quiet, appreciated what no Tau eyes had seen for over a century.

"That is why we have returned, Fleetmaster. I understand that now. Aun'Kath believed that the Empire and the Castes needed to be reminded of the past. As I look on at the journey ahead and feel this excitement in my core, I see that we are not only meant for war."

Yama'nan nodded, a rare smile passing for a moment on his all to grim features. "I should have never allowed you full access to my vessel, Archivist, you'll poison us all with such optimism... Why have you come?"

"Shas'Ui Nars, my lifekeeper, has often boasted of the power of the Path Resurgence and it's capabilities and yet I myself am more curious about the being that commands such power. Would you have time for me to inscribe your reflections, Fleetmaster?"

A Kor'La motioned from her station on the edge of the vast atrium that was the interstellar city's bridge. Carved from a single Au'taalian Tox'o pearl, the 'Apex' contained nearly two hundred Air Caste crew that worked in shifts day and night to maintain the Path Resurgence's systems. Yama'nan eye-flicked an acknowledgment, his communicator patching directly into the Kor'La's station so that he 'saw' her data in his mind's eye.

"Patrol ship Sandspar is translating back into real space, Fleetmaster."

"Open a channel to them, Kor'La."

"I obey." There was a moment as sensor towers aligned and fixated on the distant starship and contact was made.

Yama'nan looked back at Sol'n, "Another time, Archivist, history must still be made before there is time to write it down."

Sol'n bowed, turning on one hoof and began to walk on the coherent light-bridge that connected the suspended Apex to the entry portal. As Yama'nan opened the channel to the Sandspar a burst of static filled the chamber followed by a groan of pain.

"Path Resurgence! By the Path, we made it!" Sol'n turned, looking at a large two-dimensional holo-screen that had winked on next to Yama'nan.

Yama'nan leaned in, "Where is Shipmaster Ka'lyl?" Yama'nan searched the screen. It was dark, the picture going in and out as static distorted any detail.

"Dead, Fleetmaster, I am Kor'Vre Na'tu'vo. We are under attack!"

Yama'nan raised a hand, instantly causing the lights in the Apex to dim. All eyes were on him as the threat level was raised on board a hundred vessels by Yama'nan's single gesture. The Coalition of the Path Resurgence had learned much since their departure from the Septs.

"Find calm, Vre Na'tu'vo." Yama'nan commanded.

"Scans indicate a single vessel, Fleetmaster." A crewmember shouted from across the rows of stations.

"Order the fleet into phalanx-black-four pattern," Yama'nan said flatly, not breaking contact with the screen."

Sol'n walked back quickly as the light-bridge dissipated as security protocols took over. He kept to the side of the nearest row of kor'faan and observed.

"There was no ship, Fleetmaster, our attacker is already inside!"

"Where are the Shas?"

"Dead! All of them! It killed them first-"

"What is 'it', Kor'Vre-" A screech of metal cut off Yama'nan's question. Some of the Apex's bridge crew put protective hands over their ears in pain.

"You must let us dock, Fleetmaster, it is coming through the doors!" There were screams from other Tau on the Sandspar.

"Docking bay thirty-two, outer ring." Yama'nan ordered. In the same moment, a red cube was projected out from a console next to him.

"Ethereal's mercy, thank you Fleetmaster!"

Sol'n recognized it as Ca'dak, the Path Resurgence's Hololith dedicated to security. When it spoke, angry red lightning sparked from around it's edges. "I caution such a risk, Fleetmaster, the unknown element could infiltrate the ship."

"That is why I'm sending it to the construction quadrant. Have three security teams take position around the dock and a network of kor'vesa with integrated shield generators for quarantine."

"Better to confine the ship beyond our risk area-"

"I'll not lose another vessel, Hololith. Once the Sandspar is within range, override the piloting and direct it into a landing pattern."

"I obey." Ca'dak disappeared with a strobe of angry light.

"I would go as well, Fleetmaster." Sol'n spoke up.

Yama'nan did not turn to face the Sol'n. "Why, Por'Ui, you are not a part of Shas'El Tae'n's Cadres..."

"I am not, Fleetmaster, but Shas'Ui Nars is and he was on board the Sandspar."

Yama'nan nodded slowly before waving a hand and bringing the light-bridge back online. "Go then, Por'La Sol'n, and be cautious for this universe is far too dangerous a place for explorers anymore."
Last edited by Calmsword on Jan 20 2016 11:24, edited 1 time in total.
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knightofthewr
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Re: Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#2 » Nov 29 2015 09:09

As always you leave us wanting more sir. An excellent entry.

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Re: Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#3 » Jan 18 2016 09:23

Sol'n arrived at the hangar with two full squads of Fleet Security Firewarriors. As they hurried to positions around cargo crates and pods, Sol'n could not take his eyes off the approaching transport ship as it left a comet trail of debris. A growing hum to his left announced the presence of the heavy tractor beam as it aimed and gently plucked the transport into a trajectory that seemed to be directly aimed at Sol'n.

He didn't flinch. He had seen things in his ongoing meditation sessions with Threespeaker and had felt the Greater Good. He no longer questioned the will of his people around him. He trusted in the Earth Caste's expertise and construction of the device just as he trusted the Air Caste Operator to safely draw the hurtling, burning, ship safely onto the landing pad. Sol'n had had a revelation and could not doubt those who served the Ethereals as he might have done when he had been a frightened Por'La.

The transport fell through the atmospheric shielding and was instantly attacked by a swarm of emergency drones who covered it with flame retardant foam; blanketing the fires. The tractor beam hummed louder as it intensified, slowing the ship and bringing it to rest on the hangar bays central platform. The Firewarriors settled into a defensive pattern, almost one hundred pulse rifles aimed at every portal and hatch on the vessel. Sol'n stayed where he was, looking up at the main hatch. About the same size as a Manta Dropship, the transport was of the newer designs that had a mico-jump drive, capable of interplanetary travel only. The Sandspar must have been apart of the surveyor squadrons probing deeper into the Zone of Silence.

Shas'El Tae'n appeared next to Sol'n, his battle helm now fastened to his heavier carapace armor, a pistol in his hands.

"Por'Ui, step back." He ordered. The Sub-Commander was in charge of fleet security with hundreds of Firewarriors under his direct command. An event like this coming to the Path Resurgence was a chance for him to work with his teams directly in the field and Sol'n knew that this operation would be executed perfectly; as long as he stayed out of their way.

"Yes. Of course." He said, taking a step behind a towering Shas'La. The Shas'El walked to a few steps in front of the craft, waving his left hand that had a fist sized device on the palm that whirred and beeped. What few lights remained on the transport sputtered out before returning to a strong 'gold' color that matched the device's own pilot light. Then Tae'n put a hand to his earpiece and spoke, his voice amplified through every speaker of on the Firewarrior's helmets.

"This is Shas'El Tae'n, I have taken control of the drone network of the transport. If any servants of the Tau'Va remain alive, give us a sign."

Silence. Nothing. Shas'El flicked a switch on his pistol which was matched in a brief cacophony as the Firewarriors turned of their safety's. Sol'n placed a hand on his own belt and the shield generator he now kept there. The addition to his wardrobe had been necessary, instructed by the Por'El himself that if he were to walk amongst the aliens he would do so safely.

Thirty heartbeats passed before Tae'n gave the word. "Direct Engagement teams, go." He gestured to the main hatch and two teams of Firewarriors rushed forward. They arrived as the door hit the deck, revealing a darkened interior. Sol'n could make out bent floor and wall panels, ruptured surfaces and cabling sparking in the blackness.

The Firewarriors did not flinch, advancing with pulse rifles raised. One by one they disappeared. Tae'n raised his hand and beckoned another wave of Firewarriors forward who set up around the hatch. Sol'n walked toward him.

"Can you raise Shas'Ui Nars, Shas'El?"

Tae'n turned, looking down at Sol'n. Whether it was contempt or exasperation, Sol'n did not care. Before Tae'n could answer, pulse fire suddenly exploded out from transport. The Firewarriors outside reacted immediately, forming a living wall around the entrance, weapons aimed forward.

"Report!" Tae'n bellowed. Sol'n touched his Pol hat, changing the frequency so that he was on the Security Cadre's channel.

He patched in halfway through a Firewarrior's response, the sound of pulse fire muffled through his helmet.

"- out of nowhere! Scans indicate a single unknown biological-" The Firewarrior began to scream.

"Engagement teams fall back, seal this room, nothing leaves the Sandspar." Further volleys of pulse fire echoed from the ship, interrupted by the screams of Tau dying.

A Firewarrior with the markings of the Sandspar his body covered in blood, his armor ruptured in a dozen places, emerged from the hatch. Stumbling into the Firewarriors, they broke ranks and arms reached out to catch him before he fell, drawing him to the rear of their lines. Tae'n stepped forward, holstering his pistol.

"Shas'La, what happened?" Tae'n bent over the warrior.

Sol'n watched as the stricken Firewarrior pulled himself up and looked at the Sub-commander, his helmet's optics cracked and fused.

"Are you their chief then, savage?" The Firewarrior chuckled before his armor seemed to erupt in smoke, coalescing into the crouched form of an alien. It was a motley of colors, sections of tight fighting armor mixed with silks and flowing fabrics. A mask with the jeering visage of a monster was over its face.

The Firewarriors let go of it and went for their rifles but it moved with such speed that Sol'n did not see how the needle like straight blade flashed from the alien's scabbard and beheading two Shas'La. It was up, kicking backwards with such force that the Firewarrior behind its chest cavity caved in and she was launched into the line of warriors covering the hatch.

"Contact! Contact!" Someone was yelling. The Cadre was reacting but as if in slow motion, the alien seeming more like a dancer as it cartwheeled and spun in a growing circle of havoc. Shas'La lost hands, legs, had their throats opened before they could even get a round off.

Tae'n went for his pistol then screamed over the shared comms as the alien pinned his hand to his thigh with its needle blade, spinning in a seemingly theatrical bow, another blade in its hand at Tae'n throat. In the same instant, the rear defensive teams finally got a bead on the alien.

"Stop!" Sol'n shouted.

The alien's masked face twitched in his direction, the smile carved into the metal perverse amidst the piled dead all around. The Firewarriors did not lower their weapons but they obeyed Sol'n's command.

"A stand off it seems." The alien chuckled.
Last edited by Calmsword on Jan 20 2016 09:25, edited 1 time in total.
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knightofthewr
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Re: Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#4 » Jan 20 2016 10:18

ha ha the plot thickens. As always sir, excellent job.

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Re: Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#5 » Jan 20 2016 09:23

Thanks! Trying to get a better schedule of submissions done and I've desperately got to do spellcheck/grammar.
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Re: Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#6 » Jan 20 2016 11:50

"Why are you waiting, Shas'La, put this creature down!" Tae'n grumbled, blood staining his pant leg from his hand still pinned against his holster by the alien's sword. The Firewarriors didn't move, their instincts to save their leader and to obey his will conflicting. Sol'n knew he didn't have much time before they listened to Tae'n and atomized both he and the alien in a flash of plasma.

"My name is Por'Ui T'au Sol'n, I bid you greetings, stranger, on behalf of the Tau."

Now the alien turned his full attention on Sol'n who could now see that beyond the mask were two blue eyes that seemed to catch the overhead hangar's lights. Sol'n could also make out pale, almost ivory white skin on the edges of the mask just before thick black hair grew back into a topknot not unlike a Tau's.

"You're one of those diplomats, aren't you, worm." The alien spoke a strange version of Tau'sia, not able to hit the proper tones to convey the full meaning of his words but Sol'n didn't need them to understand the disgust it felt. "I suppose you'll do since this brute here just wants a fiery end." The alien twisted the blade in its other hand and forced the Shas'El closer to itself defensively.

"You speak our language, have you encountered others of our kind?"

"Well, that flotsam you call a ship was filled with your "kind" wasn't it. I became aquatinted with them thoroughly I can assure you."

Sol'n felt the hot sensation of pain and anger swell angrily in his stomach but he pushed it away, his sensibilities and training for conflict resolution taking over. "Are you of the Ar'cea? I recognize your stature as one, our peoples have had dealings before, many times honoring trade pacts that have brought us closer." Sol'n guessed. The Ar'cea were a species of wanderers but sometimes swelled in numbers to conduct raids in random patterns and had been harrowing to the Expansion since the end of the Second Sphere; just another of the countless threats beyond the Damocles Gulf.

"Do not count me amongst the fools huddled within the Craftworlds, savage." Sol'n bowed, finding it easier to ignore the alien's insults as they thickened.

When he straightened he raised his arms out in greeting, "Perhaps it is our savage customs, but you still have not given me your name nor the reason you have visited such violence on my kin." The Ar'cea actually laughed, a high pitched sound that echoed across the hangar. Sol'n noticed as the Firewarriors gripped their weapons tighter, he would not have much more time.

"You may call me Olarion, child. The hubris you express as to asking "why" I have crushed these insects around me only proves the naivety you primitives exude." Olarion straightened, standing a full head taller than Tae'n. The rifles of half the Firewarriors rose, zeroing on the Ar'cea's head. It didn't bother the alien. "More importantly. You have transgressed our ancestral boundaries, Tau, and the blood I have spilt here shall only be the beginning of the tithe you will pay should you and this swollen carcass and the maggots within it continue on its path."

A chime sounded in Sol'n's ear from the communicator in his Pol hat, it was In'o'la, her presence filling the simple cogitators of the hat so that they whirred to process the fraction of her 'self' transmitted through the Path Resurgence's data network. Although she was a fragment of In'o'hui, the hololith digital sentience that served High Ethereal Aun'O Kath'lan, she had become an impressive intelligence in her time aboard the Path Resurgence, absorbing more and more information even as she had experienced the strange sessions with Sol'n and the Threespeaker that defied explanation.

"Sol'n." The hololith spoke in his ear, "I am with you."

Sol'n was grateful but said and showed now difference in his expression lest it risk Olarion. Instead he eye-flicked the "honored thanks" icon that his Pol hat offered through the service-link between his brain and itself, a helpful tool most aliens did not perceive in the ceremonial headpiece.

"I am communicating with Por'El Noh'luun through Ca'dak, he seems to want to use a drone-sniper that as taken position somewhere on the ceiling to destroy the Ar'cea. We do not know the capabilities of such a creature so I have cautioned the negative."

Sol'n eye-flicked his agreement even as he continued to speak to Olarion, "There has been some confusion then for it is the mission of this fleet to recolonize worlds once included in the realms of our Commonwealth."

Olarion scoffed, "Who are you to make claims on worlds you merely discovered when it was we Eldar who nurtured them to life! You trespass and are too stupid to conceive your crimes."

Sol'n bowed, respectfully, "Then let me petition a council where my masters can speak to yours, surely we can find the light of reason amidst the darkness of ignorance. Surely there can be peace between our peoples."

"I'm detecting something... strange." In'o'la whispered.

Olarion's voice dropped in tone, each word measured and edged with malice, "There can be no peace, not in such times. Turn your vessels from the stars of Tirathain or next time the Starborne will tear you apart as the falcon shreds the fowl."

Olarion pushed Tae'n to the deck and flicked the blood from his swords before sheathing them with a twirl of the blades.

"Kill it!" Tae'n screamed.

The Firewarriors fired in the same moment, hundreds of rounds flashing at nearly the speed of light across the hangar.

Olarion's laugh grew in volume so that it was almost deafening, the plasma rounds flashing through him, colliding with the ship behind him or, horribly, hitting those Firewarriors too close, exploding within their armor. Olarion raised his hands and there was a flash of brightest light behind him. There was a rush of wind, sweet smelling and powerful as it blew across the hangar.

"Get Tae'n!" In'o'la yelled and Sol'n was moving before he realized it. He reached Tae'n who had yanked his pistol out and was firing at Olarion to no effect as the alien backed into the yawning gate. Grabbing the burly Firewarrior leader he began dragging him back.

"Return to your borrowed planets, children of T'au, lest the darkness unveil itself to you!" Olarion's voice called out from the gate over the snap-whine reports from pulse wepons. His body fully enveloped, the gate suddenly closed with a BOOM!

The bodies and debris strewn closer to the gate were picked up and tossed wildly about as if caught in a hurricane. Something hit Sol'n and Tae'n, picking both Tau up and throttling them across the hangar. Sol'n screamed and In'o'la said something but he couldn't understand. There was pain, he went blind, then the lights of the hangar went black.
~Good Hunting

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Re: Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#7 » Mar 20 2016 04:41

The fleet recovered. The Tau are a species of constant adaptation and they do not remain in any one state for long. Fleet Command responded to the anomalous attack without the enflamed outrage that other races might exhibit and instead began investigating the individual who had not only slaughtered its way through a Kor'vattra scout ship but had unleashed a temporal weapon aboard the Path Resurgence that had unleashed extra dimensional properties.

Earth Caste scientists went in first enclosed in hardened suits not unlike the Fire Caste's XV Broadside class armor. Instead of weapons they deployed sensors and equipment so sensitive they could detect the events occurring at the sub-atomic level. What they found would baffle those scientist for the rest of their careers and be passed on to future generations of Fio as one of the greatest mysteries of the Third Sphere all the more so by the survival of a handful of Tau, despite their exposure.

Por'Ui Sol'n had protected Shas'El Tae'n by the grace of his shield generator while the Firewarriors around them had either been turned to ash or had been dragged into the portal the alien had used to transport itself out of the Path Resurgence. A handful of Kor'La crew on board the scout ship were discovered locked within an unjettisoned escape pod. Shas'Ui Nars was found pinned against the pod's hatch by bladed disks so sharp that they ruined the Earth Caste probe-gauntlet was breached while trying to get Nars free. The Fio tried, but the Shas'Ui would pass after massive organ failure. He died with another warrior's name on his lips and begging for forgiveness.

All the while, Por'Ui Sol'n dreamed.

He stood on the edges of a great, red, mountain that rose over a black, rolling, storm just below his hooves. No stars shined in the sky yet he could somehow see. Jagged lightning made from negative light snaked around him like a swarm of insects. He saw the Path Resurgence, no bigger than a speeder car, rise up from the storm like a cresting T'no whale. The dark lightning curled around it, a sentient tornado. The Path Resurgence held the lightning at bay, shining brighter and brighter as it rose higher into the sky before it exploded into three fragments, spinning uncontrollably toward three worlds that spun into view up above.

Sol'n opened his eyes.

+++


Aun'Zran'al watched as Por'Ui Sol'n floated in the recovery chamber, his eyes glazed over as he wakened from the coma. The Earth Caste physician explained, in their Caste's endless manner, that low-level gravitic fields in the hyperbaric room would assist the Water Caste archivist in healing at ten times the natural speed. Zran'al glanced at the screens that pulsed with information, absorbing each factor and data point effortlessly while fully comprehending the physicians explanations until he had completed his report.

"And we still cannot understand the abnormal brain activity?" Zran'al asked, directing the question more to Noh'luun who stood behind him.

"No, Excellency." Noh'luun said, his facial and body control barely kept in check. Something was bothering the leader of the colonization fleet.

"I want to speak with him."

"Excellency?" Zran'al knew that the Por'El had felt that Sol'n had been sent by the Aun'O Kath'lan as a way of ensuring his influence be maintained in the fleet's mission. He had worked hard, going so far as to ignore the warning signs that enemies were encroaching on the fleet from two different sides. The Ta'ko'cha had observed the decisions made and the execution of a bold plan that had tested the Path Resurgence's capabilities and had cemented the thousands of beings into a cohesive entity as despite the hundreds that had died.

But all that was irrelevant now. The enemy had been bested and now a stranger one had been revealed. Zran'al knew as much about the Ar'cea, the El'dar, as much as any high ranking Ethereal. An enigmatic bipedal race that had colonized the Galaxy even before humanity. They had fallen from their dominance in the same way all species would without the Greater Good, fracturing under their own successes. Their technology was advanced to the point it appeared as magic and they had, wholeheartedly, rejected any inclusion to the Empire in spite of a handful of mercenary contracts. To see one out here, in the Silence, declaring some kind of ownership. It did not bode well.

"Open the doors." Zran'al said, moving with such speed that the layers of her robes swirled behind her.
~Good Hunting

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Re: Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#8 » Mar 20 2016 06:26

Nnnnnnnnnnaaaaarrrrrrrrrrssssssssssssssss!!

Great post mate, I sense some impending doom on the horizon.
The Future is uncertain. To stagnate is to die!

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Re: Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#9 » Mar 21 2016 05:07

Sol'n's eyes tracked Aun'Zran'al as she walked into his medical suite. He tried to bend his body in a stance of obeisance but the gravitic field that he floated in. She was not tall, the cream colored robes draped around her were plain and she was ancient. Despite this she carried within her an energy that was infectious, that bolstered his own flagging reserves.

Her eyes flashed in the overhead lights, the bone crest at the center of her forehead had the stenciled symbol of her Caste set in silver so that it seemed to glow. "Greetings, Por'Ui." She said, her voice comforting but edged with something that made Sol'n agitated.

"Your Excellency." He murmured.

She asked him about his health and told him that Shas'El Tae'n had returned to service. She explained that Nars had been found protecting the lives of the Kor and that his funeral services would be held when the fleet reached Sha'draig as part of an honoring ceremony for all those that had fallen before. She told him that In'o'la had transferred herself out of the blast radius and would be reunited with him soon. She asked him about the Ar'cea.

"I have seen the vid captured leading to the explosion, Por'Ui. What we do not understand is the relationship between you and extra dimensional activities." She opened her hand and a series of holographic images leapt forward from a pinprick of light.

"Since your arrival here, the records of the Earth Caste show that something is happening to your mind that cannot be easily explained." A vid capture of Sol'n's eyes dilating wildly during the Path Resurgence's first launch rotated into Sol'n's view. "We have chosen to merely observe this phenomenon." The Aun's brow furrowed, "After a second incident and an exaggerated results, I have chosen we must question you directly."

Aun'Zran'al smiled and opened her hands in a gesture of request. "What is happening to you, Por'Ui Sol'n?"

It was a question he had asked himself when In'o'la had brought him to the Threespeaker. He had asked it again when she had melded her mind with his, allowing him to experience the world through the eyes of a human. He had felt her life, remembered her father, his father, a world of polluted skies and death around every corner. He had loved the Emperor and the Sacrifice he had made for the benefit of the Galaxy.

"I see things, Excellency. When I sleep. I see places and people."

"Humans call it dreaming. We are aware of the phenomenon."

"Yes... It has been described to me as a communion with the deeper dimensions known to the humans as the Immaterium."

"The alien known as Threespeaker." Aun'Zran'al folded her hands together. "We have taken her into custody after the explosion."

Sol'n felt hot blood rush to his face, "Your Excellency, please, the Threespeaker is defenseless-"

Aun'Zran'al raised a hand and Sol'n felt the words die in his mouth. "She collapsed, some kind of attack that caused a hundred paces around her to flash freeze and hospitalize several citizens. We are aware of such anomalous beings but these mutations are unknown amongst our own." Aun'Zran'al peered closer at Sol'n through the glass of the pod. "Save now... perhaps... What is it that you see?"

Sol'n's lips became dry and he licked them uselessly. "I see a world, a place of ancient sadness. A place we are trespassing too to reach Sha'draig. We are breaking ancient laws."

Aun'Zran'al watched Sol'n without blinking. "The only law is that which serves the greater purpose. If the Ar'cea were civilized-"

Something was happening, something hot and painful in his brain, he snarled cutting the Ethereal off. "They were civilized a rotation of the Great Wheel before we even crept up from the shallows of primordium!"

Sol'n could feel his heartbeat in his ears. He closed his eyes, but could still see as Aun'Zran'al was joined by a coterie of Earth Caste orderlies and a physician. Their lips moved but Sol'n couldn't understand them. Aun'Zran'al made a gesture and he sank down to his hooves. They were turning off the field. They were moving him, why?

"We transgress the law of gods!" He wasn't speaking anymore, something was using his body. He thrashed but the orderlies held him. Aun'Zran'al was next to him, touching his face. The thing inside him receded. Its fire doused by the calm of the Ethereal as Aun'Zran'al spoke words he did not understand into him, redirecting the rage that was not his own to the reason he had learned as a crechling.

"There is only Tau'Va and those that walk its many paths." Aun'Zran'al intoned. "Together, we shall banish the darkness, Por'Ui.

***


Shas'Ui Jathat shouldered the pulse blaster to his back and exited the turbo lift on the outer crescent of the Path Resurgence. He took stock of the curved atrium. It had remained empty since the terrorist attack but the damage did not look significant. Jathat knew that the Earth Caste designed most of the molecular structures of their constructs to be self-repairing. He'd seen an outpost shelled from orbit actually rebuild itself in the time of his tour there.

But there was nothing, no trace of any explosion, just the empty docking bay and the tattered hull of a scout ship. A lone figure stood waiting for him. He cleared his throat and marched toward the figure. When he saw that she was a superior, a Shas'Vre from T'au in full battle plate he stood at attention and saluted, fist over the symbol of his own world on his chest.

She turned and saluted. She wore no helmet, revealing crimson red hair bound in an intricate topknot. A scar ran from her left eye down to her chin. "Your file says you are Kel'shani." She said in the way of greeting.

"Sept Kel'shan, yes, Shas'Vre." When she didn't respond he elaborated. "I am of the planet Fo'tan."

There was no reaction he could gauge on her part. "I am Shas'Vre T'au Han'avrak An'yr. That symbol on your armor is not regulation. You did it yourself?"

"You will recognize a similarity between it and the service symbol of this fleet." He gestured toward the scout ship. An'yr looked at the half-moon insignia painted on the side.

"Sha'draig..." She said, realizing.

"My world Fo'tan was a part of the original Sha'draig Sept systems."

"Sha'draig never achieved such a status."

"The Sha'draig Sept that should have been." Jathat felt his ire rise against his own self control. His grandfather had been a warrior of Sha'draig who had been resettled on Fo'tan as part of a population. In those cycles, after the Y'he swarmfleet had broken through the defense lines, thousands if not millions of refugees had been resettled all over the eastern empire. There had been talks to reclaim the Sha'draig colonies after the victory on Kel'shan but as the human threat became resurgent, the creation of the Zone of Silence was all that could be considered.

Ke'lshan had absorbed Fo'tan into its territories to support its own reconstruction and to persecute the campaigns against the Gue'la insurgency. Those of Fo'tan had not welcomed the grim, xenophobic overseers of that Sept for their lineage had been one of trade and the commerce between species. Sha'draig had connections to dozens of systems within the Rift and the rimward expanse with trade connections that had rivaled even Dal'yth. Its people had, and continued to have, nothing in common with the Ke'lshani.

"I see. Do many share your beliefs, Shas'Ui?"

"Those from the world Fo'tan, Shas'Vre."

She smiled, the scar twisting along her face. "I had wondered why the number of volunteers from Kel'shan were so high." She indicated to the space behind her. "Do you know what happened here?"

"Human infiltrators used a high yield plasma explosive, we've tightened security in our quadrant, Shas'Vre-"

"This isn't about patrols, Shas'Ui, and that's not what happened."

She walked to the center of the docking bay raising her hand and pointing to a space above her head. "The Imperium and greenskins alike have mastered teleportation technologies to a degree our own scientists have failed to replicate. We know this and until this attack we assumed the Ar'cea raiders did some version of the same. Now we know different."

The words hung in the air. Jathat looked at the scout ship, then the decking. On closer inspection it had been stripped of paint in a perfect concentric circle. "It wasn't a bomb." Jathat stated.

An'yr reached down to her command gauntlet and activated a holo projector and laid a schematic on the space that looked like a whirlpool. "They use something else, a kind of pan-quantum network, the Earth Caste have their theories but..." She touched a button that caused the vortex to blossom into a world. "We know now that it covers the Zone of Silence."

Jathat felt his heart rate quicken. He took off his helmet to see the world of his ancestry. Sha'draig hung above them, a projection, but unmistakable. He had grown up with images of the planet in every home, every work collective and training dome and despite the fact that what he saw now was yellowed and brown, the shaped of the continents was unmistakable.

"It's dead... the planet died?"

"The Y'he consume biological matter in the extreme to feed their nest vessels. This would have been the fate of the Empire had Kel'shan not drawn the threat to itself, something you might want to take into consideration when you speak of that Sept."

"What is the point of this mission then?" He felt his hopes, his desperation to return to Sha'draig, die just like the planet had.

"Vid captures taken from Shas'El Noh'luuns optical implant show that the Ar'cean assassin opened a portal that seems to have been to Sha'draig itself. We only have this glimpse before the backwash of the gate closing fried everything with an electrical current, but it was enough to do two things."

Another button moved the image so that it zoomed toward the planet, filling the extent of the projection and showed that beneath the dead skies and swirling debris clouds to reveal a patch of green reaching trees rising toward him.

"Sha'draig lives, Shas'Ui. And not only that, but we believe we might have a chance to send a team through the gate the Ar'cean believed he closed."
~Good Hunting

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Re: Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#10 » Mar 30 2016 04:08

Whoa, my brain is spinning...correction my brain hurts! :eek: And the intrigue continues...
Viro’los gu brath!
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Re: Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#11 » Oct 16 2016 10:17

Shas'La Se'mal held his breath as he peered through the uplink feed from his markerlight. A thousand meters from him the prey-beast nibbled from a patch of grey, twisted, grass. Covered in fur with scales running down its spine leading to a crown of solid bone atop its head, it was an animal right out of the children's programs he had watched as a crechling. The Earth Caste had brought them to life from DNA from a quadruped that had once roamed T'au and then had set them loose all over the planet, tagged so that Firewarriors like himself could track them.

"Skyfall Five, report." His teamleader said over the unit comms. Se'mal didn't know where the veteran was, the older male had an uncanny gift of materializing right behind you with a blade at your throat along with some ancient adage about 'watching the shadows'. Se'mal had stopped trying to worry about Shas'Ui Jathat and accepted that he was everywhere and nowhere at once.

"Skyfall Five to Teamleader, I've tracked the prey-beast for three decs now. Nothing new to report."

"Continue with mission."

Se'mal heard the channel die and refocused on the animal that was his duty to trail. It continued eating the strange, dead looking foliage, intermittently defecating as it made its way through the brush. It was endlessly grueling work.

When he and the contingent from Fo'tan had been notified of the mission by Jathat they had, at first, been ecstatic. Morale had been down since the confrontation with the Gue'la but when news of some secret mission that would put them within the Sha'draig system had been explained, every single Fo'tanith had know

Then its head shot up, ears fanning out, sweeping back and forth. It looked back in his direction, one ear pointed directly at Se'mal.

Se'mal's eyes widened and he tensed, not wanting to give his position away. The light suit of combat armor was painted in a camo-reactive layer so that he more or less blended with his surroundings when he was still while a nano-mesh cloak covered his shoulders to further mask him. This, coupled with a lifetime of training aboard the Path Resurgence, he effectively didn't exist to anyone that didn't have his recognition codes and a scanner.

The prey-beast was reacting to something else.

It raised a padded foot and stamped the ground. It was old behavior, a leftover trait to when the animal was part of a herd, the action of thumping the ground was to warn its herd. The herd was not there. Only Skyfall Pathfinder team and Se'mal.

Se'mal could see its breath quickening, its large orange eyes darting back and forth. He flicked between the visible light spectrums and into the more exotic radiation ones through the blacksun filter sitting over his visor.

Nothing.

But the instinctual sense, Se'mal had learned, could often be relied upon to bear fruit despite the technological advantages Firewarriors were trained to rely on. Because of this he primed the carbine nestled in his gloved hands and bent his knees, digging his hooves into the soft bark of the tree he was waiting in.

A twig snapped. The prey-beast swung left and gave a throat hoot, an almost avian warble, and it turned to run. It wouldn't get far.

It was a simple hunting technique, one that had served the predators of the galaxy for eternity. When the prey-beast broke into the higher tree line, a six-limbed being fell from the trees in front of its path. The prey-beast seemed to run straight into the alien's many arms.

Se'mal watched, as he had done so before, as the pink and purple colored monster wrestled the animal to the ground and proceed to violate it with its tongue. Se'mal knew the genestealer was delivering its DNA directly into the prey-beast's blood through the thick tongue analogue within its maw of pointed teeth.

Everything in Se'mal's body wanted to shoot the alien and kill this parasitic abomination, but his duty demanded otherwise. He tilted the carbine away from the genestealer and touched his blacksun filter, recording the events as they unfolded.

The sun travelled across the tinged blue sky as N'vais's moons rose and fell and still Se'mal watched the genestealer until it was done, slinking off into the forest. Se'mal waited a full dec, the red sun reaching its apex at noontide before he broke cover and made his way to the prey-beast.

As he neared, the prey-beast craned its long neck toward him. For a moment, as Se'mal looked into its eyes, he felt a pang of guilt for what would happen next. It was a foolish emotion. The Por'Vre had told them that the prey-beasts had been cloned without any sentience, only biological reactions to simple things like fight-or-flight and feeding. They couldn't even breed as their reproductive organs had been left undeveloped in order to keep the project secure.

But when he looked into the animal's eyes, he saw something. Anger.

"There now." He unhooked the pistol from his combat webbing and slowly aim it at the prey-beast. "It's all over-" Then ever sense screamed at him to run.

Standing between two twisted trees was the genestealer. Se'mal had studied them for a cycle now and this close he recognized this one was IX-8. 'He', for they did not have a sex, must have doubled back to ensure the infection had proceeded in the prey-beast. Se'mal had made a grave error.

Hunched as their species were, IX-8's mouth was at about visor level giving the Firewarrior a chance to see the many rows of teeth flexing outward as IX-8 tasted the air. The genestealers on this planet had never encountered Se'mal or the other Tau as they were observed in their environment.

It took a step forward, taloned feet silent.

"Hold." Se'mal said, trying to sound as confident as possible. The Genestealers were as yet to be proven wholly sentient by the Earth Caste, unlike the larger bio-forms that directed the Y'he swarms. A display of dominance might avoid conflict.

Se'mal aimed the pistol straight at the prey-beast, threatening the impregnated animal. Genestealers were said to care for the infected host for its DNA as a mother would defend its offspring. Se'mal pointing a gun at the prey-beast was going to be the closest thing to a 'threat' the monster might understand.

It stopped, its small eyes looking at the gun, Se'mal and back down to the prey-beast.

"Alright, IX-8, this one's mine." Se'mal whispered, not lowering the pistol.

IX-8's rigid upper lift quivered in a none-verbal growl for Genestealers made no sound, then raised its domed head as if to call.

"Back off, IX-8." Se'mal said with more confidence. The Genestealer took a tentative step back.

Se'mal smiled behind his visor, ignoring the cold sweat covering his skin. "That's right-"

The prey-beast lunged at him, bone crown slamming into his chest dead center and cracking the armor. Se'mal cursed, firing blindly with the pistol. The shots went wide, crackling over IX-8's head. The prey-beast kicked him, launching him back off of his hooves and into a nearby tree which he crashed against painfully.

The mutated, dead, branches bent and folded under his weight. He cracked an elbow hard enough to make him shout but he pushed the pain away and lifted his carbine and fired. The prey-beast's underbelly exploded in a flash of plasma.

The Genestealer charged, three-taloned upper limbs pointing right at Se'mal while the lower ones picked through underbrush. It would be on him in seconds, mouth open and ready to maul him.

Was it rage? Could these parasites feel emotion? Se'mal didn't care, he aimed his carbine from his position and fired a spray of pulsefire at IX-8.

Impossibly, the alien dodged, leapt and evaded as it closed the space between it and Se'mal, rebounding off a nearby tree and landing within slashing distance. Se'mal cursed, trying to push backwards through the foliage. He wouldn't make it, he realized. He would die, on this benighted world, to a monster they had no business letting live.

"Ko'vash Tau'va." Se'mal prayed.

"Tau'va ko'vek." Shas'Ui Jathat said over his ear-mic.

The Shas'Ui stepped over Se'mal and fired a photon grenade from his carbine at point-blank range. The superheated ordinance struck IX-8 just above his thick chest carapace and below his neck, sizzling pink flesh in a gout of steam before it detonated in a blinding flash that momentarily overloaded Se'mal's visor.

Jathat hauled Se'mal to his hooves as his screen cleared. He saw that IX-8 was slumped over, decapitated, his legs still spasming and kicking up clouts of dirt from the forest floor but he was dead.

"I-" Se'mal began.

"Silence, Shas'La. There could be more. We're getting out of here." Jathat said something on a private channel before sweeping the clearing with his carbine.

Moments later a blast of wind from above made Se'mal to look up. A Devilfish troop carrier descended above them even as its cloaking hexagonal cells deactivated. Three Line-Warriors repelled on black fibre ropes from the rear hatch. One grabbed Se'mal as another collected Jathat and the last quickly tied a grapple to the corpse of the prey-beast.

The Devilfish didn't wait for them to ascend before climbing into the sky and away from the hostile forest floor. Se'mal held on tightly to the Firewarrior who remained silent as they were pulled back in.

"The Por'Vre isn't going to be happy, Shas'La." Jathat growled through his helmet.
~Good Hunting

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Re: Into Silence: Sha'draig

Post#12 » Feb 20 2017 01:36

Por'Vre Sol'n sipped from the root tea out of a bowl while he watched the jungle canopy below. Bitter, but not unpleasant, the root had only a rudimentary data entry number from the Fio'La that had discovered it. Sol'n was thinking of what he would call it when a troop carrier decloaked and quickly hovered over the landing pad connected to the base's hub.

The rear hatch opened and several Firewarriors descended on black tether lines. The last thing to be deposited was a sealed body bag which the warriors quickly unhooked and dragged clear of the Devilfish's backwash. The transport then turned and flew off, it's cloaking panels reactivating in a rash of electricity.

"Is that Skyfall team?" He asked through the communicator in his Pol hat.

"That's them, and it looks like they killed IX-8." This was from In'o'la, no longer his companion but the central managing intelligence of the N'vai forward outpost.

He closed his eyes and calmed his growing ire. "What happened?"

"Shas'Ui Jathat had to save Shas'La Se'mal after he engaged in a direct confrontation with the genestealer."

"Shas'La Se'mal... He's been involved in the killing of two other Genestealers in the past season."

"Fact. But in his defense, studying the most lethal predator ever encountered requires additional patience."

"I'll meet with them."

"Shas'Ui Jathat has been notified."

Sol'n turned away from the observation window and made his way onto the walkway leading toward the landing pad. He passed several Tau'faan of each Caste, each bowed deeply and made way for him.

Command had been an unusual change for him and one that he still did not know suited him. The markings on his robes carried with them the responsibility of two hundred Tau and, for past standard cycle, he had managed to keep each one alive despite having discovered the collection of genestealer aliens on the planet.

Sol'n stepped out of an airlock with a hiss of equalizing atmosphere. A drone, twin pulse carbines whining with pent up energy, hovered above him and then followed him down the walkway.

The weather was cool, floral notes on the wind. N'vai was a paradise world, rich with hundreds of different plant based species yet not a single complex organism other than the genestealers. Sol'n had agreed with the Earth Caste's assessment that the aliens must have killed everything when they arrived, yet, the fact that there was life at all on a world that had been slated for colonization before the Y'he arrived in Tau space was a mystery unto itself.

"You'll go easy on him, right?" In'o'la asked.

"These Fo'tani are... rash, In'o'la. There are only twelve genestealer subjects left."

"We could always let a prey-beast come to term."

Sol'n grimaced. When the Tau expedition had first arrived on N'vai before their portal to the Path Resurgence had collapsed, the concept of allowing even preybeasts to be allowed to be infected with the genestealer's spore was grotesque. But, as the parameters of the mission had expanded and cut off from the rest of the Empire, the Earth Caste had allowed several generations of the prey-beasts to bring infected offspring to term.

The offspring were horribly mutated, all the more so with latter generations that Sol'n had ordered euthanized when a genestealer itself had been born.

"No. We know their gestation cycle already, we just have to be cautious studying those that are left."

He reached the landing pad where the Firewarriors waited, the dead prey-beast set before them like an offering. Sol'n put on his most disdainful face and grimaced at Shas'La Se'mal.

"This," he pointed at the prey-beast, "Is not an infinite resource. Each prey-beast is carefully grown in a vat that requires power, power that is drawn from our only generator-"

"My sincere apologies, Por'Vre-"

"Do not interrupt me, Shas'La!" Sol'n barked. A wind picked up and rain began to patter across the Tau on the landing pad. Sol'n let the patter against the Firewarrior's armor echo for a time before continuing, this time with a level voice.

"Shas'La. A prey-beast is a sophisticated animal that must be fed with resources it is difficult to procure and then raised by staff who's time is priceless. The death of one is a waste, pure and simple."

Sol'n turned to regard the Shas'Ui. Jathat was an invaluable officer and his warriors obeyed every word out of his mouth. "This is the third transgression of your warrior, Shas'Ui."

"Yes, Project Leader." Jathat confirmed.

"If he believes his station somehow greater than the resources of this facility, he will replace it."

"Project Leader?"

"He will assist the Fio'la in the growing of a new prey-beast."

The Shas'Ui's helmet slowly turned on Se'mal who seemed to diminish before him. "Go now, Shas'La."

Se'mal looked at Jathat, then Sol'n, then exhaled heavily and picked up the corpse before leading to the airlock. The other Firewarriors followed him. When it was just Sol'n and Jathat, Sol'n raised a hand.

"Jathat, can we talk? In the communication hub out of this rain."
~Good Hunting

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