...Through Boldness, Victory... (some intense voting, this is about halfway between the too leaning toward option 1)***
Hu'dai closed his eyes. The physical pain in itself was easy to ignore. His training and his personal awareness of losing a limb kept him from going into shock. It was the loss of his team that raged through his mind, clouding his judgement, bringing everything down to a simple act of defiance against a galaxy populated by creatures that refused to see the light of reason and peace.
Stepping out from the doorway of the ruined homestead, the giant had to bend to fit through. In the light, Hu'dai could see every detail. Strange cursive symbols had been stitched into its arms, each one the size of a greenskin's. But then he saw a third arm, stitched or augmented, sprouting out from its ornate armor. Hu'dai could still not place the race but that would no longer matter. His options were few.
The monster grunted and swung the massive blade effortlessly toward Hu'dai who bent and rolled, screaming as his bleeding stump shot paint through his body. He was up, gripping the demolitions drone in his remaining hand as he eye-swiped his communications channel 'open'.
"Shas'La, I'm transmitting to you a live feed from my helmet. Get out of here."
"I'm almost there, teamleader!" Hu'dai could hear the strain in the only Firewarrior left under his command.
"Xeno sordium!" The alien's shout filled Hu'dai's ears and he ducked, too slow, and was flung across the courtyard by the force of impact from the blade. He found himself looking up into the sky, his optical screen cracked badly and the taste of blood in his mouth. But he was still alive.
"I can see you, Shas'Ui!" The voice seemed far away for being transmitted directly into his ears.
"I said go... Shas'La." Hu'dai groaned, feeling broken teeth with his tongue.
Groggily, he keyed directly into the drone and broadcasted the contents to every channel permitted to him through his own AI. As long as the power pack on his back fueled it it would keep broadcasting. Which meant he had to keep his equipment intact. Which meant he needed to die.
The giant was coming, slowly, purposefully, as though being in the light of day was more difficult for it to move in. Hu'dai could make out the troop transport closing behind the giant, twin fishtails of dust chasing behind its nacelles. There were other aliens out here, in this benighted wasteland, who probably had the means of damaging the transport. The young fool.
"Na'deem, can you hear me?" Hu'dai said softly, attaching the demolitions drone to his power pack on his back and unclipped it, letting it fall away. His helmet vid dimmed at the loss of power so he removed it, breathing in the acrid death of the homestead around him.
"Shas'Ui?" Na'deem, Horizon's Twelfth, could undoubtedly see that Hu'dai was removing vital pieces of armor.
"When there are five there is one and when there is one there is?"
"One... I understand."
"You are the First now, Na'deem." The giant was almost on top of him. Hu'dai didn't bother looking at the alien. All questions about where such a monster could have come from, what its motivations were, why it had mutilated the Tau, they all fell away as his spirit rose watching Na'deem slow the transport and turn away.
"Avenge us." Hu'dai snarled and leapt forward, ignoring the pain in what was left of his arm. His pistol was in his hand and he fired, almost point blank.
The giant moved with impossible speed. Its blade shot upward, deflecting the orbs of plasma with an energy field that snapped into life from the blade. With its other hand, the augmetic one, it reached out and speared Hu'dai through the chestplate. Pain, hot and terrible, throbbed outward from the arm. Some kind of poison.
Hu'dai tried to get another round off but his hand betrayed him, dropping the pistol in a spasm that rushed through his body. The alien brought him close so that Hu'dai was looking directly into its twisted eyes. It pulled its rebreather away, revealing a maw of needle sharp teeth that pierced its own flesh in places, masked in a terrible smile.
It took a long time for Hu'dai to finally die.
Na'deem heard all of it from the cockpit of the transport. The Shas'Ui's recording was static filled with only moments of visual showing the madness that had been the sub levels of the homestead. Na'deem had forced himself to watch it, over and over, as each of his brothers and sisters fell.
He didn't know what had happened to the Shas'Ui. After Hu'dai had removed his helmet and charged the giant Na'deem was long gone, racing across the stratosphere. He hated himself for feeling the anxiety fall away, safe as he was, only to be replaced by the sense he had failed.
When he got high enough to use the transport's antenna to contact a low orbit drone he opened a channel to the Shas'Ar'Tol of the colony thousands of kilometers at the equator.
"Troop transport TX-424, Horizon, this is Benefit"
"Benefit, this is the First, my team has been ambushed at Homestead R-22, Sector Five."
"I am the only survivor."
There was a moment, the time it took to take a single breath. Then the Firewarrior communications officer was back, clearing his throat. "Understood. Enemy designation?"
"Unknown, I have live recordings from the engagement."
"Transmit now, Shas'La Na'deem." A new voice, deeper, female, authoritative had replaced the officer.
"This is Shas'El Fo'tan Soo'nar Ga'rah."
Na'deem glanced at the comms screen. The channel had been intruded upon by Ga'rah. He'd heard of her, a local, probably the highest ranking Fire Caste member on the planet other than his own Shas'O Kel'shan Vra'datha. At the start of this operation, he and the rest of the Kel'shani forces had been given clear orders to divert all new information directly to the office of the Shas'O.
The Kel'shan were supposed to be bringing Fo'tan into the fold as a member colony rather than let it become its own Sept, Fo'tan's not so private aspiration. Such petty differences seemed exactly that; petty, amidst an external threat but a command was a command.
OPTION ONE: Exemplar
There must be unity, ignore the Kel'shani order to report only to Kel'shan Firewarriors.
OPTION TWO: Through Boldness
The Shas'Ar'Tol does not issue commands lightly and the Fire Caste never involves itself with the politics of the Water Caste. Obey the command and report to the Shas'O.
Last edited by Calmsword
on Oct 27 2016 01:40, edited 1 time in total.