Frontier: The Highest Wall

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Kakapo42
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#55 » Jan 08 2017 09:33

Hrrrmmm, I think before I make my vote I'd like a little bit more information. Exactly what kind of capital ship is the First Covenant (and for that matter, what are the picket ships)? And why is there a ground-pounding Fire Caste in charge of it?
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#56 » Jan 08 2017 09:45

No worries:

The First Covenant is a Hero Class Cruiser (like most 40k stories, the specificity of ships isn't always my concern) while the picket ships are two Defender class starships.

As to the Shas'O's command of the vessel, there are instances in canonical lore that have Fire Caste members both crewing and commanding starships (look to Armada). The logic here is that this is an older vessel in a region of space that is not on an active military front.
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Kakapo42
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#57 » Jan 08 2017 11:06

I'm a die-hard Battlefleet Gothic fanatic. Ship specifics are fairly important to me. :P

But here it's actually doubly important since the options for actions vary depending on what types of ships they are, as well as the chances for different outcomes - even with one set of railcannons down, a couple of hits and an enemy presents, with a Lar'shi and two Kir'qaths against one Gothic the odds aren't that terrible.

For the purposes of my vote I'm assuming that the First Covenant is a T'olku configuration Hero class given the mention of side batteries (presumably they'd have said something like 'Juntas side array' or 'Juntas side ion cannons' if it was a Vash'ya or other configuration. I'm also assuming that the ship has taken two hits, and the Juntas batteries are the only critical effect it's suffered. My final assumption is that the Gothic class is facing the First Covenant front-on, given the mentions of it closing and it "Rushing to obliterate the First Covenant"

So, my vote is for EXEMPLAR (or the red option). Like I say, even with some enemy troops on the ship and some critical damage, I like those odds.

Action (Battlefleet Gothic Admiral powers, activate!):

- The First Covenant moves ahead full (not all ahead full, just at it's maximum cruising speed - a full move in Battlefleet Gothic rules terms) on a head-on intercept course that will take it beneath the Gothic; the Imperial ship's main armaments are on broadside arcs, so charging ahead should minimise the amount of firepower it has to face.

- While moving, the repair teams restore the Juntas batteries (with only two hits and just that critical damage that can be repaired, there should be enough manpower to get them back online quickly).

- At the same time, the First Covenant fires its gravitic launcher and scrambles its Mantas for a bombing mission against the Gothic (if it's a configuration that doesn't have launch bays then ignore that last part) to take back the initiative.

- Once in range, the First Covenant fires it's available armaments at the Gothic. It should still be on a head-on approach, so all functioning batteries should be able to fire.

- If by this point the First Covenant is still intact it should have passed the Gothic and be behind it. Bring the ship around for another attack run!

- Meanwhile, the two Defenders fire their gravitic launchers to intercept any torpedoes the Gargoyle might fire before running alongside the Gothic and opening up with their railcannons to distract it.


My apologies if that was too extensive, you will have to excuse my excitement. It is not often that I get to flex my Battlefleet Gothic muscles with a space battle.
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#58 » Jan 09 2017 02:15

Oh- Battlefleet gothic is my favorite game GW has ever made- but I accepted the ambiguity of the 40k universe a long time ago. As much as I'd like to get into the specificity of crew sizes, tech ability ect- I sometimes feel like i'm stepping on people's toes.

But I understand, and one of the reasons why I like this style of group story is that I will modify where the reader needs me too.

You would be correct that it is a T'olku (adjacent) configuration. It has taken several hits from extreme range with a hint that 'something' allowed for borders to get within it (hint hint to those knowing gothic rules).

And your explanation isn't too exensive at all- but your explanations do have some pretty extreme risks including a head on confrontation with a SOTL, depending on if we get many more votes, you'll be seeing some fancy flying to get to a happy ending. I like your style.
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Kakapo42
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#59 » Jan 09 2017 02:39

Calmsword wrote:You would be correct that it is a T'olku (adjacent) configuration. It has taken several hits from extreme range with a hint that 'something' allowed for borders to get within it (hint hint to those knowing gothic rules).

And your explanation isn't too exensive at all- but your explanations do have some pretty extreme risks including a head on confrontation with a SOTL, depending on if we get many more votes, you'll be seeing some fancy flying to get to a happy ending. I like your style.


Ah excellent we won't have to worry about that half-value modifier then. :P

It did occur to me a short while after posting that the smarter move would have probably been to break off and get out of lance range while pelting the Gothic with homing gravitic missiles and Mantas, but oh well - a head on charge like the knights of old would probably make for a more exciting story... and if it all goes horribly wrong then I can smugly blame it all on putting a Fire Caste warrior in charge of a naval engagement. :P
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#60 » Jan 09 2017 07:03

Understood.


I'll leave this voting period open until Wednesday.
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CmdrCASh
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#61 » Jan 10 2017 05:26

I humbly defer to Kakapo's superior BFG experience and command skills. Exemplar it is then! :biggrin:

By the way where was the Tau fleet located? On an equatorial orbit? Are any of the polar defense stations close enough to be of any use in the battle?
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#62 » Jan 10 2017 10:29

The polar station is silent:

"Where is the blasted defense network?" He roared, prioritizing requests for assistance to the nearby orbital that had remained strangely silent.


The Tau 'fleet' is really just a small collection of vessels from Ke'lshan. The Fo'tan do not have a fleet just a series of transports.

That's two for Exemplar!
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#63 » Jan 18 2017 11:52

Shas'O Vra'dath closed his eyes. He had lived a long, long life by the standards of his Caste. He reflected on his youth as an aspirant, his first Trial. It had been the hardest thing he had ever done, marooned on the ravaged mountain of the Worldspine Ridge and ordered to survive the three day journey back to the battle-school.

On those desolate peaks every survivalist technique offered by his teachers had served him and tempered the resolve that would strengthen him against the harsh truths of the Galaxy. The Worldspine had been ravaged by the Swarmfleet of the Y'he and then again by the treachery of the Gue'la. The blackened husks of XV's, immortalized on the field of battle, provided the only refuge against the haunted peaks.

It was there that he had found himself. Found his hate for the alien.

He opened his eyes and was instantly flooded by the neural feeds plugged directly into his nervous system, connecting him to the Mantle of Heroes gifted to him by the finest minds his Sept, the very bleeding edge of battlesuit technology. Waves of multi-spectral light washed over the launch ramp leading out into space, the planet Fo'tan rising out of the left corner.

A distant rumble shook the launch bay. The Gue'la had managed to infiltrate his ship, appearing from exploding green gateways in the heart of the decks closest to the engineering quarters. They had been contained, barely, and at the loss of many Tau'faan but they had been unable to strike at their true target and were now dying to the grim satisfaction of the Shas'O.

Why the communications net were silent or why the orbital's were not reporting to defend their world he could not understand but it would not matter. His duty was to the Empire, to Kel'shan and the Ethereals. The Gue'la would die, or they would.

Vra'dath felt a tug as the power umbilicals unhooked from their moorings. He felt the freezing wind as the atmosphere of the launch deck was vented that would allow the First Covenant's entire flight contingent and XV pilots to launch simultaneously. He knew it was not real, that it was residual feedback from sensor points all over his body, his body that was now a towering machine made only for war.

"Shas'O, the First Covenant closes with the enemy." Kor'Vre Ul'ko spoke softly in his ear. "You may begin ignition."

Vra'dath was confident Ul'ko would direct the First Covenant in its duty better than he could. His place was here, at the forefront of battle, his very soul had been bred for this.

He sent a command to the massive dual thrusters as subconsciously as a sprinter might ready for the race. The heads-up feed notified him that all three squadrons and both Manta dropships, were cycling up. The smaller XV-8 pilots each indicated the 'ready' gold symbols as they locked onto the dropships hide.

The heartbeat his capacitors hit full, he shouted,

"Flight Cadre, launch!"

*


Space was burning.

The Kor'vattra cruiser was rising from the surface of the planet to meet the arrow prow of the Gue'la city-ship. The First Covenant's forward gravitic fields blossomed as they buffeted a brace of torpedoes, each the size of a hab-colony, and responded with coordinated rail fire in return.

The Gargoyle's own void shields could not reflect the heavy rail sabots, moving at near light-speed, but its adamantium reinforced buttresses shrugged such weapons off. Like two great jousting knights of an archaic time, the starships closed within a mere few hundred kilometers of one another so that spotters on both ships could make out their counterparts in viewports and portals.

Ul'ko, a veteran of void combat in the infested Sol'ai Rift, waited for this moment to unleash the First Covenants entire compliment of missiles from the forward accelerator. Hundreds of guided ordinance rushed forward, leaving contrails of gold across the blackness between the starships.

The Gargoyle's roared in response with hundreds of point defense guns and countermeasures, filling the space around it in a hailstorm that the Tau ordinance could not help but fly into.

A new star was briefly wrought into existence as the kles'tak warheads exploded, dazzling both ship's sensor relays and baffling the Tau guns. Exactly according to plan.

It was then that Vra'dath struck, encased within the giant frame of a Riptide battlesuit at the head of his flight cadre that speared into the blinding conflagration, guided by Vra'dath's own spectral filters, unflinching in their faith in the Shas'O to guid them through.

Weaving in and out of baroque towers gilded with howling daemons and frozen pennants, Vra'dath's burst cannon rained plasma fire onto any target of opportunity, rupturing armored glass observation ports and sensor clusters with each pass. The Superiority fighters accelerated around him, their ion cannons belching droplets of negatively charged beams deep into the Gargoyle's hide and unleashing their seeker missiles into markerlit weak points that the Manta's painted for them.

It was a metal storm united in single purpose, ravaging the dorsal spine of the Gue'la ship with such ferocity that they left kilometer long lines of melting hull in their wake. Here and there a deck ruptured, spewing crew out into space, the Gue'la bodies dancing against nothingness as they suffocated or violently decompressed in puffs of flesh and frozen blood. Vra'dath and the Tau had no sympathy for them.

Defensive fire tried to track them, flak cannons slowly rotating to track the Tau fighters. Vra'dath would rise up from his attack runs and place himself in harms way, using his shield generator to deflect the Gue'la fire. Still, a trio of Superiority fighters erupted in silent explosions, unravelling in the zero gravity.

"Break off!" Vra'dath ordered, lurching upward over the mountainside of the Gue'la cruisers bridge. The cadre obeyed, the Manta's rearing upwards and in opposite directions, their rear landing decks open.

And then the XV-8's descended.

They fell like a meteorite storm upon the bridge section, instantly using fusion cannons to surgically open the hull. Each squad had been updated from the First Covenant with strategic hypothesis as to where the Gue'la hierarchy might be. The pilots worked quickly, removing sections of the hull with incandescent beams that burned at the intensity of a sun while using their legs to kick off sections into space behind them. It might have worked had this been an Imperial starship.

The alien-forms uncoiled from the Gargoyle like vipers from beneath the shade of a stone to strike at the foot at the unwary.

Six armed monsters, each twice the size of a Tau, hunched and covered in oily black carapace, wriggled up in the zero gravity as if they had been born to it and engaged the XV-8 teams before the pilots knew what hit them.

They killed in the silence of the void without weapon or protective suit, squirming feeder tentacles twitching about their craniums like a nest of snakes. Diamond hard talons clipped and sliced through the fio'tak crystalline alloy of the XV's as if they were tissue paper, revealing sparking nerve bundles and finally the pilots who could only scream before being yanked into the void like a oyster's meat is pulled from its shell.

Vra'dath saw all of this through his feed to his pilots, helpless as he soared above the Gue'la city ship. But of course... they weren't Gue'la. He had read reports of these aliens, had read reports of more and more of the creatures being found in shipping containers or beneath the surface of Gue'la societies still in the Imperium.

"Genestealers." He murmured to no one as he watched thirty of his warriors butchered before his eyes.

*


Captain Zadu giggled to himself as he watched the xeno filth slammed against the bridge viewport, splattering it in its filthy blue blood from gashes all over its voidsuit. The creature's eyes were wide in terror from behind a transparent face mask. For a moment he met its gaze before he turned, a show of how little the thing's life had been worth.

"Damage report?" Zadu called.

An acolyte of the Serrated Cog, decendents of the Mechanicum of the hated Imperium born anew, looked up from a gang of servitors, "The xenos attack has been blunted, their diversionary attacks have caused minimal damage that shall be repaired."

He looked at the holo-lectern showing the blob of heat and radiation signatures that was the Tau ship about to pass under them. It had been a tactful assault, Zadu reflected. First blinding them with a charge and unleashing a small yet potent force to sever the bridge. Had he the resources he would have done the same thing.

Two escorts were finishing their acceleration on their flanks. Zadu gave a little chortle, peering at the descriptions of the gunboats. After the bridge was smashed, these tiny vessels would have pummeled the cruiser in the confusion.

"Lance batteries, acquire targets." He indicated to the escorts.

The decking rumbled as fresh power was fed into the port and starboard lance batteries, each one the size of a Titan. A wash of targeting solutions flared then acknowledged a 'lock'.

"Murder." Was all he said.

Four columns of destructive red light reached out and touched each of the Tau escorts for just a second. They kept flying for a moment before their superheated hulls ruptured and exploded almost simultaneously.

A cheer went up from the bridge crew. Clawed hands holding up the golden sigils of the Sleeping King in supplication. Zadu ignored such victories as the Tau cruiser passed them, peppered by point defense guns all the way. This was his prize, this his prey.

"Enginarium, cut thrusters to forty percent."

"Aye aye, Captain!"

"Helmsman, come to new heading!" He roared.
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#64 » Jan 20 2017 03:18

Na'deem watched in horror as the map before him showed the graphic that was the First Covenant wink from a distressing grey to black as the Gue'la vessel turned and shattered the Kor'vattra vessel with a broadside. There were still Tau signatures out there racing away from the combat zone. Escape craft, fragile specks of light, were not fast enough and were seemingly absorbed by the Gue'la as it passed through them and toward Fo'tan.

"The Commander..." Was all he could mumble but he had had friends on the First Covenant. In little more than two days he had lost everyone he had ever known. His unit, his cadre, the Tau'faan of the starship that had been his first commission.

"Yes, perhaps now you feel as the Fo'tan do." Shas'El Ga'rah closed the map and opened a wide-spectrum communication channel. Ga'rah gestured for Nel to join her. "Perhaps I can offer some reprieve of your grief with the knowledge that we shall kill every single one of those mutant Gue'la before they can even touch the surface of our world."

"I am about to address our world, Pioneer Nel, I would have you stand with me." A small optical drone ejected from a console and hovered before the Shas'El. Nel obeyed but gave a worrying look at Na'deem who was still looking at the spot where the First Covenant had been.

Na'deem saw as the green 'standby' of the planetary network blinked and changed an 'active' gold.

Ga'rah spoke, "I am Shas'El Fo'tan Ga'rah of the Dawnchaser Cadre. I speak to you know as the Commander of all military forces within the Fo'tan star system. Just now, a Gue'la vessel from beyond the Sol'ai Rift has viciously attacked the Empire and has destroyed the Kel'shani capital ship,First Covenant. I have ordered the evacuation of all personnel from our orbitals and am now extending that order to all colonial habitats to prepare for conflict." Ga'rah put a hand on Nel's shoulder. "Our warriors are, even now, readying our defenses to strike the Gue'la down. We will show not only our enemy, but the Empire the will and strength of Fo'tan! That we stand, even in darkness, as one. For the Greater Good!"

The stealth pilots smashed gauntlets over their chests as one making Na'deem to jump. He felt like he was losing his mind, so much death yet it seemed like there was something more. The Shas'El was acting very strange, the entirety of the events that had happened were spinning through his mind. The alien attack, the Sslyth mercenaries, the lack of Fire Caste response on a world under constant attack. And Ga'rah had simply watched as the First Covenant was ambushed by the city-ship, had not looked away as thousands of Tau'faan had perished yet had done nothing to reinforce the engagement. It was as though the Shas'El was deliberate in not assisting the Kel'shani.

Ga'rah pointed to a diode and the image of her and Nel shifted to an image of Firewarriors moving amongst dozens of modified troop-carriers. Na'deem saw ordinance mounted to the hulls of the transports, twice their length and with the same sloping lines as seeker missiles. A Firewarrior, larger than the rest, was directing their efforts next to a mobile command rig surrounded by markerlight arrays.

He pointed towards the horizon and the view shifted as the drone recorder captured the supermassive Gue'la city-ship entering the atmosphere in a flash of reentry.

"They, like so many others, believe us to be weak. Believe Fo'tan must rely on the strength of Ke'lshan, Au'taal or Dal'yth. I say no. You look upon the Spear Fields now, designed by our Water Caste, wrought by the Fo'tan Earth Caste and, now, directed against those who would harm us by Fo'tan warriors." Ga'rah said, her voice brimming with pride even behind her helmet.

Na'deem saw lines of Firewarriors hunkering down as the 'Spear Field' transports hovered into position, tracking each missile at the growing comet of the Gue'la starship.

"We strike them down with the power of our communality..."

*


Shas'Nel Kay'lak smiled in anticipation from the buttress of the rig. The Shas'El, no, the Commander's voice was echoing through every single networked drone speaker system and in the comms helmet of every warrior. This was the moment for Fo'tan to become a true Sept, not just a disregarded colony to be squabbled over by the Second Sphere. To prove this by destroying the perverted descendents of the creatures that had created the Zone of Silence and brought his own ancestors low was justice.

"Shas'Nel, we're registering a disturbance on the western perimeter." A Shas'Ui said from behind Kay'lak.

"Dispatch security drones and move unit two to overwatch." He said, never taking his eyes of the city-ship. He had protested to Commander Ga'rah that allowing the vanguard units of Gue'la and Sslyth to remain active was a risk but when that survivor of the Kel'shan Firewarrior team had broadcasted the attack on Homestead R-22 she had determined they could not risk the Shas'O from discovering their plans. It was no matter, after they destroyed the Gue'la city-ship the Fo'tan Fire Caste would rejoice in cleansing the planet of such scouts and survivors.

It had taken no less than six cycles after the Ranghon treasure seekers had uncovered the Artifact in the Zone of Silence to draw the mutants Gue'la out. Ga'rah had spent campaigns in the Rift to secure hard evidence of the so called 'Dynasty'. This empire of Gue'la had, centuries ago, been infiltrated by the Genestealer sub-strain of Y'he vanguard species, perverting their genes and making them something... different. Secret trade agreements between shadow brokers and the Dynasty's rulers had lead the Fo'tan Water Caste to discover their obsession with remnants of the Y'he swarmfleets that died on Kel'shan.

Careful plans had been laid, by Kay'lak himself in many cases, to draw this enemy from their fortified borders and risk the Sol'ai Rift. Like a hunting predator, the city-ship seemed to gain a scent making all haste to Fo'tan, just as the Stranger had said it would.

"Enemy starship entering extreme range, Shas'Nel." An operator next to one of the markerlight rigs called.

Kay'lack watched the Gue'la vessel nearly complete in breaching the upper atmosphere and beginning to slow. Kilometers long, it did not seem possible for such a leviathan to not be dragged into the gravity well. Perhaps the Earth Caste would be able to recover such powerful anti-gravitic technology after the Spear Fields killed it and add to Fo'tan's contributions to the Empire.

"Prepare to fire-" Something pinched Kay'lak's neck, stealing the words from his mouth. He raised a hand and it came away, slick with blood. "What?" He sank to his knees.

"Shas'Nel?" The Shas'Ui's domed helmet turned to regard him before exploding in a wave of gore.

Firewarriors died without knowing what hit them, struck down by hissing ballistics that seemed to come from everywhere. Kay'lak's mouth opened to warn his cadre but no words came out. Fire was coursing through his veins, pain like nothing he had felt in a lifetime of anguish, reduced him to little more than a corpse.

Ambush was all he could think as darkness took him.

*


Captain Zadu was not a psyker. He had been born marked for greatness, his third arm and the chitinous growths across his body all signs of blessing but he did not have the gifts of etheric communion. Yet, like all of the children of the Sleeping King, he could innately feel the actions of his brothers and sisters just as he might feel his way across a familiar room in the dark.

That was why he wasn't surprised when his communications officer reported that Valax had uncovered the Tau anti-orbital weapons and overrun its position with the help of the Sslyth.

Valax was a great warrior, a hero of the Dynasty, but monstrous in both his appetites and his persecution of any and all enemies of the Sleeping King. When Valax had been told by the Tetrarchy that Valax would be going with him, his crew had both quailed and cheered his addition.

Zadu pitied the Tau who relied on their toys and false-faith. Neither would save them against Valax.

But now, now it was his turn. The scryers claimed that the Holy was hidden somewhere on the planet... But where?

The Blood of Heretics
The Gargoyle is a mighty warship filled with thousands of Dynasty soldiers. A direct invasion of the Fo'tan colony center will smash the Tau aside and allow for further investigation for where the Holy has been secreted.

A War of Shadows
The Tau were surprised before, doubly so at the loss of their anti-orbital weapon but this time they'll be ready. The Gargoyle is damaged, despite the victory in orbit, instead of another full on charge, Zadu may choose to launch an invasion in the wilderness and slowly move to strangle the many homesteads and colonies like a snake unleashed on a nest of helpless children.
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CmdrCASh
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#65 » Jan 21 2017 10:38

:eek: I... didn't expect this...

Uh, I'm going to pick "The Blood of Heretics" here. With the Tau on the backfoot, time to take advantage of the confusion and bring down the centralized command and resistance, further demoralizing the defenders before they can recover. However, there should still be covert ops going around gathering potential information that could help uncover the location of the Holy.
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#66 » Jan 22 2017 11:32

I concur with CmdrCASh and go with the Blood of the Heretics.

There's no purpose in a slow strangulation of the Tau, Valax has enough resources to finish off the main resistance quickly. He will however be looking not to kill all the Tau as he still needs information from them. He orders the scout/reoon teams to switch to taking prisoners and seizing the most important information centers. This is possible because all the Tau forces are focused on meeting the main threat, and won't be guarding those secondary targets.

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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#67 » Jan 23 2017 11:01

agh! ... my beautiful Fo'tan...alas though I hope the world rights itself, I guess I'll vote "Blood of the Heretics"

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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#68 » Jan 26 2017 07:36

Na'deem was pushed out of the outpost by one of Ga'rah's pilots and into a snow drift. Ga'rah was leading the way to a de-cloaked transport who's nacelles were already glowing as it prepared an emergency launch. Nel was behind them, clutching Bra'ka's lead who, clearly, did not want to go toward the transport.

"Up, Kel'shani!" The XV-15 pilot pointed at the transport. Na'deem rose, brushing off the snow and wincing as his many wounds flared with pain.

The Fo'tan had been forced to watch as the Sslyth and Gue'la had cut through their allies camp, using brutal close quarters weapons that Na'deem knew all to well. Ga'rah had shouted to the Shas'Nel and had watched him bleed to death. Together, the room had witnessed the Gue'la war-leader walk pick up the recorder and look into it with all black alien eyes that protruded out from a ventilating face mask.

"Now... diiiieeee" Was all it had said in a horrid, broken, Tau'sia before crushing the recorder.

Ga'rah had responded instantly and with the voice of command. Half of the XV-15's had disappeared behind cloaking fields while Ga'rah, Na'deem and Nel with two remaining pilots headed to the transport.

It dusted off, lurching at a near 90* degree angle into the sky.

Na'deem had been strapped into an empty seat, Ga'rah having disappeared toward the cockpit. He looked over at Nel who was trying to calm Bra'ka.

"The Shas'El's plan failed." He said to Nel once they had leveled off. "She meant to lure the Gue'la into a trap."

"Yes." Nel responded with a whisper. "Mind your tongue." She gestured; caution then pointed to the two pilots. They had mag-locked their hooves to the deck at the other end of the transport, their free gauntlets cradling the burst cannon mounts on their arms.

Na'deem dropped his voice to match her whisper, "What has happened? The Shas'El, she could have warned the First Covenant-"

"Yes." Nel's brow furrowed. the beads in her many braids clacked as she shook her head. "I don't want to talk about it now. We're likely headed into a combat zone."

Na'deem massaged his forehead. He was a warrior, war was life, but intelligently entering a combat zone was as much a part of his training as the operation of a pulse rifle. "Nel." He used her prime name for the first time without any title. She looked at him, surprised. He said it again, "Nel, I know you Fo'tani want independence. But... I am witness to the Shas'El watch as Tau died. I believe that she is guilty of mon'kau'shi."

One of the XV-15 pilots spun on his heel and marched across the transport deck and grab Na'deem by the collar of his breastplate so hard it scratched the lacquer off. "How dare you!" He slammed Na'deem into his seat.

"Stop it, brother!" Nel shouted. Bra'ka growled but the XV-15 pilot didn't let go.

"The Shas'El is the finest warrior I have ever seen and you dare to accuse her of avarice? We do not merely seek victory and honors, Shas'La, we strive for independence for meddling Sept's like yours and you will not sully the name of our Commander by-"

There was a whoosh of air and the scream of torn alloy as a finger sized fragment shot through the transport. It caught the XV-15 pilot holding Na'deem in the gut, passing through his jumpack, before lodging itself into the far compartment. The pilot's grip slackened as he fell away, blood and suit fluids gushing out from his armor. The transport began to corkscrew, warning klaxons blaring. The cockpit's hatch opened, revealing Ga'rah, filling the entire opening in her bulbous armor. In her free hand she was holding the mutilated corpse of the transport pilot.

"You are a pilot are you not, First of Horizon?" She gingerly let the dead Tau on the transport deck.

Na'deem nodded, unstrapping himself and walking quickly into the cockpit.

There was blood everywhere and he could see where the same shrapnel had burst through, the holes instantly filling with nano-foam. Some of the instruments were dead so he quickly rerouted them as he eased into the chair.

"Ground forces with anti-aircraft weapons." Ga'rah said over the transport's comms.

Na'deem fed more power into the nacelles, bringing them higher into the atmosphere. "I could have told you that, Shas'El. I was shot down by the Gue'la only yesterday."

"Your tone, Shas'La." Ga'rah said. Na'deem did not respond. He was saving the life of an officer he was sure had let his people die for her own gains. Such crimes were rare amongst the Empire, but,

Glancing at the scanners, Na'deem highlighted the threat. "The enemy matches the enemy that shot down the Horizon transport, I will attempt to evade."

"And you will fail." Ga'rah said matter of factly.

*


Nel held onto Bra'ka. He was pawing the deck, terrified. She looked at the Shas'El who was merely standing, as if in contemplation, as the wind howled through the fist sized hole.

"I have done all this for Fo'tan, Pioneer." Ga'rah said through her helmet's speakers. "Yet, I was foolish to invite such such a threat to our world."

"I do not understand, Commander."

Ga'rah chuckled, pained, "The Shas'O was a great warrior. He understood the politics of the Empire more than any and yet when we found him... poisoned as he was. We believed that we could no longer rely on Ke'lshan or Au'taal for our safety."

"The Shas'O was poisoned?" Ga'rah turned her battlesuit's frame at Nel.

"There is too much to understand, too many lies and secrets that endanger us, Nel. How I dream to be a Pioneer again, free, astride Yua'to." She gestured and the rear hatch slowly opened with a scream of escaping atmosphere and a rush of wind. She walked past Nel, passing her a data stick that extended from a panel in her gauntlet. "All citizens were already evacuated by caravans heading into the wilderness, just in case fallout from the city-ship endangered the population centers. But the caravans are large and slow. Shas'Vre Dra'mu will be in command of the retreat, bring him this."

Nel took it, turning over the black piece of reactive crystal before putting it in her sleeve. "I obey, Commander."

With that, Ga'rah picked up speed and leapt out of the rear of the transport, her remaining pilot following her out.

*


The Gargoyle anchored above the Tau colony, dwarfed the city with its own vastness, blocking out the sun. Dozens of haulers peeled out of the main dorsal hangar bay, spilling out Dynasty troopers by the legion into the streets.

They found little save automated defenses. Squadrons of gun drones surprised the vanguard units, mowing them down in splintering fields of pulse fire, but soon the Dynasty army adapted and, without Tau handlers, the drones were quickly out maneuvered and destroyed.

The Tau leader had been smart, Captain Zadu reflected as he toured the center building of the colony. There were trinkets and memorabilia of the decadent species. His personal bodyguard, three giant ogroids from the Dynasty's mines on Kethel V, smashed everything in his wake.

"This is a holy place of their theocrats." The gravely voice of Valax crept up from the shadows ahead of Zadu. The captain watched as the muscled, three armed warrior seemed to materialize out of the darkness. A giant sword was strapped to his back that was as tall as one of the ogroids. One of them stepped forward now, slabshield pointed at Valax.

The Dynasty was not without its intrigues and vying families would sometimes spill a little blood to ween out those deemed weak. Valax was a part of no family but from the untold billions of slaves the Dynasty used for cheap labor in the Underhives.

Valax didn't seem to even notice the ogroid and instead studied the towering sculpture that stood between them. "Expression through all forms shows their devotion to their leaders. I have often thought it a pity we do not do the same for the Primogenitor." Valax's voice was muffled through the life feeding mask he wore. Zadu touched the trigger of the detonator on his belt, comforting him that he could lay the mighty warrior low should he ever need to.

He sidestepped the ogroid but kept his finger on the detonator, just in case.

"What of the totems? And the standards of our legions?"

Valax touched the string of crudely shaped iron ingots, each of them a curving serpent in the visage of the Silent King. "These are an expression of faith... This," he gestured to another art piece, some kind of sand sculpture suspended in a gravity field depicting a cloying bird, "This is the expression of culture by the artist. We have no artists."

"You skirt heresy, Valax..." Zadu said, smiling.

Valax turned his all black eyes to regard Zadu's pink stained ones. In a blue or motion his sword was out, slashing the statue to his left and obliterating the gravity well generator in the sand sculpture to his right in a shower of sparks.

The ogroids moaned and stepped forward but Zadu raised his gift-hand, the claws extended and they stopped in their tracks.

"I do not merely wish to see the death of the xenos, Captain of the Gargoyle, I wish to see their absolute destruction and replaced with the visage of the Primogenitor, his children to pave the way for the Gods. To bring forth the wonders of the Silent King unto the Galaxy until the Maw devours us all. Do not question my musing for heresy again or I will leave you on a spit for the children to gnaw upon."

Zadu let the warrior's words echo out into the empty tower before offering a little, mocking, bow. "Noted, Valax. Then let us go about discussing such goals in detail."

Valax followed Zadu as he exited the tower.

The horizon was burning now as the Dynasty soldiers first set fire then pulverized the very stone of the Tau city. A squad of Tau warriors were being lead, hands raised in defeat, by a squad of heavy stormtroopers who prodded them with bayonets. The xenos wore light armor and reactive cloth that shimmered as it matched the white dust of the doomed cityscape.

They stopped before Zadu and Valax, the unit's leader a fourth generation neophyte pushed one of the Tau forward and forced it to its knees.

"I want to see its face." Zadu said lazily, putting his blessed hand on his sword hilt.

The neophyte yanked the helmet off the Tau's face, revealing a face without nose and dark blue skin Zadu found instantly repulsive.

"I was told the city; abandoned." Zadu said to the neophyte.

The stormtrooper leader, his head to bulbous to fit a helmet, craned his neck in open supplication and respect for Zadu before speaking. "These we found in the hamlet across the river. I believe them to be observers or a rear guard for the population as we saw many trails leading away from the city. They fought until surrounded."

Cowards, Zadu thought. Humanity alone had been the dominant species in the Galaxy for tens of thousands of years and while Zadu hated the weakness of those genes within him, there was a measure of pride to that pedigree. After all, had not the Silent King chosen the human world of Phaesolob to begin the slow conquest of the Imperial sector? To see such upstarts as the Tau even resist the Dynasty's manifest destiny was almost enough to cause him to gag.

He looked at the Tau, "Where is it?"

The alien warrior looked at him, then the neophyte, brow wrinkled and head cocked in apparent confusion.

"Cut off its hand."

The neophyte responded instantly, a curved dagger appearing in a heavy gauntlet. He stooped and grabbed the Tau's arm. There was a scream of pain and satisfying anguish, a spurt of blue blood that pooled on the dusty ground.

Zadu bent over the hunched form of the Tau as it cradled its stump. "I know you speak our language. I've killed hundreds of your kind, you can form our words."

The Tau whimpered in the dust, "Ye-es."

Zadu smiled, looked at Valax. "You see? Deception as contrived as a child's play, we do not need to understand them more than the pain that forces truth." He looked back at the Tau. "Now, where is it?"

"This-one does not understand-what you-speak." The Tau pushed itself off the ground, cradling its mutilated arm to its breastplate. The 'Y' nasal slit had a clear fluid running from it. It looked into Zadu's eyes, unflinching.

"The Holy. Where is it? Your kind stole it from the Macharia, I would know where it is on this benighted world." Zadu insisted, getting impatient.

The Tau shook its head, "This-one does not understand-what you-speak." It repeated.

Zadu rolled his eyes and lurched forward, using the claws in his blessed hands to hook deep into the exposed flesh of the Tau warrior and yank out a handful of arteries that spilled lifeblood all over his boots.

He whirled on Valax, "It is on this planet, Valax, I can feel it!"

"We all can, Zadu."

"Hunt down where the city's population went, capture them, and I will force the truth from their leader's mouths even if I have to kill every last filthy xenos on this planet with my own hands!"

"I will need more than my infiltration forces and the Sslyth mercenaries."

"Take whomever you will to get the job done. There are more of them out there," He pointed into the sky, "I will not abandon this place until the Holy is returned to its rightful place aboard my ship!"

"For the Dynasty." Valax barely offered a bow before turning and disappearing into the still burning city.
~Good Hunting

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Calmsword
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#69 » Feb 14 2017 08:00

Chapter 3

Na'deem bent down and took a corner of the still rising ta'li bread from the synthesizer plate and took a bite. With only a few molecules of yeast and gluten, the synthesizers could keep a dozen Tau fed for a season. No one, however, could ignore the chemical taste of rapidly fabricated bread.

He made his way around Tau of every Caste and rank, many of them taking full advantage of the break under a knot of trees that grew up like an oasis. There were several thousand Tau citizens and a assortment of aliens, all refugees from the central population centers, all marching east as fast as they could with baggage lifters and converted troop carriers carrying so much that they left drag marks across the dirt fields of the wastelands. Everyone of them were exhausted.

Na'deem and Nel had arrived three days after the Fo'tani Shas'El had disappeared with her pilots. High skimming gunships had escorted them in, their hulls pitted with near misses and combat damage.

Shas'Vre Dra'mu, the highest ranking surviving Tau, had welcomed them in an archaic looking XV-8 battlesuit. He explained that survivors were trickling in from all over the continent while those on the less populated islands and mountain regions were going dark rather than attract the enemy.

War had come to the fringe colony. Not the organized conflict zone of a Fire Caste strategy with clear objectives and the cohesion of a command structure. No. Whatever machinations the Shas'El and her officers had devised had clearly failed when her "Spear fields" had been destroyed. Now, the Gue'la "Dynasty", some kind of sub-sect as Na'deem understood it, was systematically eliminating any and all opposition before them.

Na'deem had felt lucky that he had managed to sleep a few decs and eat the bread in his mouth. It was likely both would be in less supply as time went on.

Fo'tan Firewarriors to his left nodded to him or made gestures of fellowship which he matched one handed as he made his way through the camp. On his right were his brethren from Ke'lshan, barely two dozen left from his entire cadre. They offered him no greeting and he did not making eye contact. They were sullen, especially the groups leader, Shas'Ui Go'bodo, who had survived the destruction of the First Covenant in an escape pod.

"They abandoned us. I was there. I saw the Fo'tan Air Caste make planetfall and strip the orbitals. They are as bad as the Gue'la, as duplicitous as the Kroot." Go'bodo had said. When Na'deem had defended Nel the Ke'lshani had rejected him.

Honestly, Na'deem didn't care, he was starting to feel comfortable around the savage Pioneer and her fearsome companion. He stepped over Bra'ka's tail and joined Nel who was sitting in the shade of a stripling. He handed her half the bread and sat. She took it and touched the bread to her forehead in thanks.

"Enjoying the view?" He asked, looking out at the endless expanse of the wastland.

"When I was a crechling we used to sneak out here to try and catch ilobids."

"Ilobids?"

"Yes." She pointed. "Watch."

Na'deem followed Nel's finger but saw nothing until a mound of earth pushed upward a hundred meters off. The blocky head of a creature covered in wiry hair broke out and raised three ear like appendages up, pointing them in every direction before diving back down into the dirt.

"Strange. I didn't think anything could live out here." Na'deem remarked, swallowing the last of his share of the bread and wishing he had some water to wash it all down.

"They look for worms or surface insects. When the first explorers landed on Fo'tan they believed as you do, that this was a waste land and named it as such. But a few cycles ago the Ilobids showed up, proving that life can exist anywhere. I would wager you believed the same thing when you looked at Fo'tan for the first time."

"You would be correct."

They both laughed and for a time both warriors forgot the encroaching danger.

"Nel!" Both Na'deem and Nel turned, recognizing the voice of Juu'oh, a massive Pioneer that had allowed his beard to fill out so that it looked like the big male was wearing a thick black scarf.

Since arriving at the refugee convoy, Na'deem had met several of Nel's unit. They had no designation other than a string of numbers and, even here, they stayed apart from one another despite obviously being life long comrades.

"Yes, Juu'oh." Nel stood, clasping arms with Juu'oh and touching each others foreheads. It was an old custom, one for those bonded in the holy Ta'lissera yet Na'deem had never seen any fellowship scars. Just another oddity of the Fo'tani, a people he was coming to appreciate more and more.

"We are planning a reconnoissance to moisture farm T-08. The Wastelands end a days ride west, two days for the convoy, we must find a place to hold the enemy and buy the civilians more time." Juu'oh pointed to the east. "A'du'mo reports enemy vehicles will be on us tonight. Shas'Vre Dra'mu thinks a small, mobile, team could hold T-08 long enough for the convoy to escape. Will you come?"

Nel looked down at Na'deem and he realized she was waiting for him to answer. He stood, brushing dust off his uniform and wiping his mouth before the burly Pioneer.

Exemplar of the Selfless Cause: Na'deem has just been accepted into the Pioneers, an unusual honor, he can join them to T-08.

In Communality, Purpose: Na'deem can rejoin his own Ke'lshani team and be part of the efforts with Shas'Vre Dra'mu to get as many civilians out of the Wastelands.
~Good Hunting

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CmdrCASh
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#70 » Feb 15 2017 06:38

At this point, Na'deem's skills are probably better off for the Greater Good at T-08... so Exemplar of the Selfless Cause.
Though as standard Tau are a stickler for an ordered chain of command, he'd probably want to check and confirm with the Shas'vre before accepting fully.
Ka'ash Sept

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SniperTau
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#71 » Jul 10 2017 10:17

I would say Exemplar of the Selfless Cause. the Kel'shan cadre obviously has rejected him and so he will be better served going with the pioneers.

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Calmsword
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Re: Frontier: The Highest Wall

Post#72 » Jul 20 2017 10:45

It's been a while- happy to continue:

Commander Ga'rah was a student of Kauyon, the Patient Hunter, and had spent her youth in the battledomes enmeshed in the Shadowsun engram nexus. There, the ghostly image of the famed leader of the Fire Caste had appeared in her mind's eye where she spent countless sessions teaching Ga'rah her way of war. Ga'rah persecuted that war against the Gue'la reavers with maximum prejudice.

The shadow of the Gargoyle hung above the burned remains of each colony hub it drifted over. Any Tau forces that attempted to engage the crawling armies of the Dynasty were brushed aside, so Ga'rah ordered her cadres to scatter in constant fall-back strategies that lead them away from the positions of the civilian caravans.

Without any substantial air support, Ga'rah commanded the orbital satellite AI's still in orbit to enter suicide courses directly over muster sites the Dynasty were using as they crawled across the planet. Without such orbitals the Fo'tan would be sending its own development back almost a century, but the resulting fusion detonations amidst the Gue'la ranks made it a worthy sacrifice.

In response the Dynasty would do the unexpected. Unlike the Imperium, Captain Valax responded against the guerrilla tactics with a brand of his own.

Tau prisoners were used to lure daring rescue missions which, after only heavy fighting, were allowed to recover their quarry only to be surprised with surgically implanted explosives and homing beacons. The Tau would lose dozens before Ga'rah ordered such missions to be cancelled. In response to this those remaining prisoners were then publicly tortured, their death screams echoing through the vox and communication networks.

Tortuously mutated and hyper violent canids were unleashed in packs ahead of the columns of tanks and Dynasty stormtroopers. Their senses heightened by generations of forced breeding and tainted gene-splicing, the creatures quickly turned the odds in Valax's favor as they sniffed out waiting Pathfinder squads and even cloaked XV-15 teams.

With death rates soaring, Ga'rah gave the order to unveil her last weapon...

* * *


Na'deem looked up at the dropship, half sunk in the middle of a swamp that was at odds with the dry wasteland that defined the region. The dropship's landing struts had sunk into the marsh while ropes of vines had wrapped around its wingspan, further pulling it down into the muck.

Strange, purplish stained trees, grew in a thick canopy above, bringing an early sense of night as Juu'oh lead the pioneers toward the downed ship. Na'deem had spent the journey away from the convoy listening to the other members of the group.

Lo'kuus, who road a Yo'shi with rounded spikes protruding along her spine, was a marksman of sorts who sported a heavily augmented rail rifle. S'tha, who's mount was dappled green setting it apart from the more gold hued mounts, was also a foreigner like Na'deem but he had never heard of her colony. Kemr'a was Juu'oh's bondmate and, Na'deem suspected, his lover based on their proximity and body language. All of them had served together under the 'Commander' spending cycles deep in the Perdus Rift disrupting potential threats to Fo'tan long before they entered solar orbit.

Na'deem learned that Gah'ra had served as Shas'El, spearheading many actions that Juu'oh's team had served in. Despite the sense of awe that Na'deem was beginning to feel for such a proud warrior, he also listened to their tales of defeating greenskin warbands and routing nests of Hr'uud across the Perdus Rift, he also began to sense a deep sadness as Nel spoke of the Commander's poisoning and Gah'ra's sudden seclusion from the Cadre as though she were speaking of the tragic estrangement of a sibling or a parent.

The loss of the Commander had changed not only Gah'ra, or Juu'oh's team or Nel herself, but had altered the Fo'tan colony itself. Na'deem wondered if his own leaders had ever considered the trauma the population had experienced before annexing the defensive responsibility of the colony.

Na'deem sidled off of Bra'ka and looked at Juu'oh who was already pressing into the swamp on hoof. Nel motioned him to follow as the rest hunkered down to form a loose perimeter.

"I thought you said we were going to a moisture farm?" Na'deem questioned, looking around and stepping into the soft ground cover.

"It is a moisture farm." Juu'oh nodded toward a twenty meter tower that seemed to grow out of a knot of trees, wrapped with purple roots.

Na'deem looked closer and made out scratched and moss covered signage, "A worldshaper?"

"Hush, Na'deem." Nel said and walked into the shadow of the dropship with Juu'oh. Na'deem followed, holding his carbine close to his chest.

Thick moss covered the outer hull but Na'deem could make out every entry panel and tech port had been welded shut with fusion beams yet Juu'oh moved with purpose often looking down at a handheld sensor paddle.

"How long has this been here?" Na'deem wondered out loud.

"Three standard cycles, or just about." Juu'oh said, stepping over a thick cluster of overgrowth. "The worldshaper was put here to alter the region, hide the dropship."

"Why?" They stopped where the front of the dropship disappeared into the sludge of a lake.

"The Commander brought something back with him when he crossed the Perdus Rift."

Nel and Juu'oh took a breath and sank into the water. Na'deem wrinkled his brow, watched the silt and bio filth stir before holding his breath and followed them in.
~Good Hunting

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