Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

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Posts: 104

Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#1 » Aug 15 2013 03:43

Chapter 1
The two mantas and five orcas floated into formation from the Carrier’s Juntaa bays, picking up speed as they cleared the vessel. El’Sha’nan, allowed himself a smile, excited that their transfer was finally coming to pass. He ran through the Cadre’s assets report again. At his briefing, he was told that he would get auxiliaries assigned and perhaps even a XV-104. The cadre had a compliment of Fo’tan Fio’fann, mechanics and engineers that had come up with special equipment for the cadre. The Fo’tan repair and maintenance crews were particular about whom they let work on the cadre’s vehicles. Fio’Vre’Yen’suam was one of the few engineers that knew how to design and calibrate the DU-78 Rail Rounds, special to Fo’tan cadres. He had volunteered to join them. El’Sha’nan felt warmth knowing that the castes of Fo’tan were supporting his cadre and their mission.
He closed his eyes, trying to rein in his excitement. He could feel that this endeavor would wash the taint of the Seumone campaign from his cadre and honor. In time, perhaps he could even win respect for Fo’tan. A soft snort to his brother, Vre’Shais’ka, pulled him out of his daydream. Vre’Shais’ka was wearing a virtual harness, undoubtedly performing suit simulations. El’Sha’nan was glad to have his brother here but was also thankful that he had chosen to occupy himself with battlesuit simulation. His brother’s fiery temper had been seemingly worse since Seumone. El’Sha’nan could not blame him. It was their cadre that had dealt the killing blow, decisively winning the planet and forcing the Gue’la imperium to surrender. This should have been a moment of great glory for the cadre however during the final assault, the few Gue’ron’sha left had managed to sneak past the other security cadres and kill the Ethereal attached to the mission. The Seumone victory was made hollow, somewhat worthless because of the failure to protect the ethereal. Stranger still, though many wished to hunt down those responsible, Shas’o’Nars’xuan’fa, the tau commander in charge of the campaign, had let the gue’la evacuate the planet. While the shame of the Ethereal’s death fell upon all the cadres that took place in the Seumone Campaign, El’Sha’nan’s cadre had seemingly endured more examination than most. Water Caste interrogators and Shas’ar’tol disciplinary judicators held his cadre for six rotaa. It was declared a debriefing but more resembled a witch-hunt. In the end they were cleared for further duty, without explanation or apology. He rationalized that because he had been mentored by Shas’o’Nars’xuan’fa, high command had required additional scrutiny of his cadre. Many in his cadre, Vre’Shais’ka included, felt otherwise, that it had been because they were from Fo’tan. Their home world had a reputation for being prideful and had in the past questioned of the Code of Fire. Now the death of an ethereal was another stigma they would have to endure.

“24 Rai’kors until until Ta’shiro Station, Resurgent Path, “chimed in from one of the crew in crisp tones.

Many of the firewarriors in the troop compartment stirred, Vre’shais’ka only slightly jerking against his harness, lost in the focus of the simulation.
El’Sha’nan disengaged his safety harness and walked up to the viewing deck to look out the window. Through his tour of duty, he had seen other Ta’shiro stations, but it was always an impressive sight. More impressive still were the hundreds of ships whose engines glowed against its vast bulk. As they got closer he could make out a large carrier, and its warden class escorts. The marshal power visible from the view port alone could be used against a system, and yet it was only part of the conglomerate fleet. The reflection of light from the station caught his eye as they approached, inching toward the station. The ready tone sounded, indicating 16 Rai’kors until deployment. The troop compartment came alive as lights came on, fire warriors grabbed and checked gear methodically as Shas’Ui’s and team leaders barked out commands and reminders to their individual teams. El’Sha’nan walked calmly back to his seat, giving respectful nods to his veterans, and assistance to his new fire warriors. One was having difficulty engaging her clips unto the charge station on her pack. Another was unsure where to place a grenade pack. El’Sha’nan stopped twice more, giving knowledge that only field experience could provide. The last one apologized, El’Sha’nan stopping him short.

“When you are a Shas’Ui, impatient with those nervous new shas’la, remember this moment. I am not the first tau officer to help a young fire warrior, and you are neither the first nor the last Fire warrior to need help, we are strongest together” El’Sha’nan said smiling.

The youthful shas’la looked back nodding somewhat awkwardly. El’Sha’nan continued on to his seat.

“Are you done holding their hands, brother?” asked Vre’Shais’ka. His tone was joking, but there was venom there too.

“They are our brothers and sisters in battle, Shais’ka, and I must lead them. We are only as strong as the cadre is weak. Perhaps we will be less weak now. How did the simulation go?” asked El’Sha’nan.

His brother shot him an annoyed look.

“Maybe I am not made to pilot a suit. I was happiest inside a hammerhead, why did you have them promote me, “questioned Vre’Shais’ka?

“You were already due for battlesuit training since you became a Shas’Ui, and I too like being on the inside of a hammerhead but I cann…,” started El’Sha’nan.

“And why not? Several of the cadres on Fo’tan are led from the inside of one,” challenged Vre’Shais’ka.

El’Sha’nan could feel his face flush, his brother looked at him with defiance.

In an angry whisper of his own, El’Sha’nan leaned close to his brother, “we are not on Fo’tan, brother.”

The two Rai’kor tone sounded as his brother rose angrily, his breathing heavy as if he was restraining himself.

He was about to say something, but El’Sha’nan cut him off, “We will talk more on this later, for now gather your gear, you have two Rai’kors.”

El’Sha’nan slung his pack over his shoulder and walked to the ready line at the back of the compartment. Most of the teams cohesively reached the ready line, in full combat armor, slung rifles or carbines, carrying their possessions in packs or bags over their shoulder. The sound of hydraulics deafened the compartment for a moment, and shook under their feet. Landings were so smooth that El’Sha’nan could never tell when Mantas landed on a deck. The compartment door opened and the descending ramp were his indicators that the craft stopped moving. In drilled order, his cadre deployed off the ramps and manta landing pads. He almost stopped when his hooves left the ramp. The sponge-like material under the Fio’tek was not unbalancing, but unnerving. As he continued forward it was clear that his cadre had little liking for the floor either. The deck was immense and awestruck most of the cadre. Hammerheads, crisis suits, broadsides and ordered lines of fire warriors, in all stages of readiness, formed islands surrounded by the orange-white deck. The armor colors were so varied. El’Sha’nan could make out hues of sand red, desert beige, greens and blues. He looked at the olive green, brown, and grey camouflaged pattern his cadre had adopted. It was not a simple solid color as many of the cadres had. Yet another way that his cadre, the Fo’tan cadre, stood apart.
Vre’shais’ka was one of the first to recover, ordering the cadre to the staging area. Shas’Uis snapped to, ordering their teams to position. Fio’fann filed behind them, carrying crates with special munitions and tools. Drones circled the party as Fio’Vre’Yen’suam lead them to their designated staging markers. The Suit teams were piloting their suits into position, servos whining as they moved. Behind them, his personal suit glided on a drone slaved hover pallet. Finally El’Sha’nan turned as the Cadre’s armor was driven out of the lower bays of the mantas. The four devilfish, two hammerheads, three piranhas, and two skyrays were freshly painted, repaired, and retrofitted. They hummed and whined as they glided out of the mantas and onto designated floor spaces. Already the Fio’vre, his brother, and Vre’Mua’da were converging on him, undoubtedly to give their reports and be dismissed. As soon as each noticed the other, Vre’shais’ka and Fio’vre’Yen’suam quickened pace. It looked as though Vre’Mua’da thought it a game and decided to join in. It resulted in all three attempting to give their report at the same time. El’Sha’nan attempted to keep emotion from his face, but could not take the barrage of confused words. He raised a hand, stopping all three.

“You are fire caste, act like it,” he rounded on his brother and Vre’Mua’da. “Fio’vre’Yen’suam, go ahead with the logistics report. What did you do to my gunships?


They were halfway through Vre’Mua’da’s munitions and supply check when El’Sha’nan noticed two tau fire warriors were seemingly headed toward him. One was in full combat armor and had a holstered Pulse pistol at his hip. The other, the taller of the two, was only in her body suit. El’Sha’nan and his officers stopped and turned to wait for them. He could make out that they were observing his cadre and making comments to each other as they approached.

“You are Shas’El’Sha’nan?” asked the male Tau gruffly. Disdain was clearly in his voice.

“I am Shas’El’Fo’tan’Sha’nan, yes. Who are you?” said El’Sha’nan, trying to keep his tone neutral.

“You will come with me, now,” said the male, again with disdain.

“Where to, and Why? Shas’El’Sha’nan asked you a question. You disrespect his rank and the fire caste,” cut in Vre’Shais’ka loudly.

“I am Shas’El’Bork’an’Aloh’ka, and you disrespect me, shas’vre.” said El’Aloh’ka, puffing out his chest, in a cold dead tone.

El’Sha’nan stepped between them.

“He meant no disrespect. Give me a few moments to organize my cadre,” he said more passively then he felt.

The two looked at each other and nodded as if to confirm some assumption. El’Sha’nan turned and ignored them.
Vre’Shais’ka eyes were dark with wrath. El’Sha’nan pushed him back by his shoulders.

“Why did you…”

“They are goading you, they believe that we are backwards, little better than Be’gel,” El’Sha’nan said in almost a whisper.

Looking at Vre’Shais’ka in the eye, he continued, “do not give them the satisfaction.”

Surprisingly Vre’Shais’ka exhaled and seemed to calm down. He closed his eyes and shook his head.

“I could use a drink,” he started with a smile

Vre’Mua’da came up, “as could I.”

“Finish the munitions report, and find and reserve the rifle range and training dome before you do. I am asking you both to keep a watch on our cadre, do not create more trouble than they already blame us for,” said El’Sha’nan concerned.

He turned and walked toward the waiting officers. They began walking before he could catch up forcing him to walk behind them like a prisoner or an aide. He grit his teeth, but continued his pace, choosing also not to give them the satisfaction of making him run. They took a side port off the deck into a still rather large hallway. Two XV-8s could comfortable stride side by side. Fire caste aides and kor’vesa were moving harmoniously to their destinations. His escort stopped in front of a hatch and waited.

“Where are we going?” El’Sha’nan asked.

The two fire warriors did not even turn. El’Sha’nan could feel his anger rising. He was about to speak when the hatch opened to a lift.

“Get in Shas’El’Sha’nan. Everything will be explained at the briefing,” spoke the female, in a slightly annoyed tone.

He stepped into the lift and the other two followed. El’Aloh’ka activated a sequence on a touch screen and the lift gradually achieve speed, purring as it lifted them to the appropriate level. He felt the smooth stopping motion and the hum of the lift die as the doors opened to another hallway. Again his escort took off without a word. He was more prepared and was only slightly behind them when they came to a larger door. The door opened releasing the glow from a projected image of a world. His escort stepped inside and then separated. As El’Sha’nan stepped in he could see that the darkened room was set up like a small amphitheater. There were ten other fire caste in the room. Most were mingling in smaller quiet groups. El’Aloh’ka had already done so and so had the female as well. He looked for any seemingly friendly faces. None gave him more than a passing glance. He took a seat near the back thinking to get this over with and return to his cadre.
A signal sounded in the room and the soft conversations ceased. From a side door, Shas’El Ke’lshan’Tae'en, resplendent in dress battle gear walked over to the projector. El’Sha’nan recognized him from the images on the Shas’El’s service record. His long scalp lock tapped against his chest plate. His strides were large and quick. Two Shas’Vre and an obviously Kor’fann followed in his wake, ducking as his lithe form passed through the entryway.

“Greetings my fellow Shas’El. I am Shas’El Ke’lshan’Tae'en. I am in charge of security for Resurgent Path and have much that requires my attention. Forgive me for being so be brief,” Shas’El Tae'en said, stress clear in his voice.

“You are currently looking at the colony world of He’pha’n. It is one of the nearby support colonies providing foodstuffs and medical supplies to this great expedition. 11 rotaa ago, we received a report that a small surprise attack was launched at one of our support colonies. Shortly after, the “All clear” had been sounded. There were casualty and missing reports but we had believed the incident to be isolated and a matter for the local security cadre. However it appears as though this was a precursor to a full attack. Last rotaa, the colony activated its distress beacon. We are the closest available military force and I have been authorized to send a relief force of three cadres,” Shas’El Tae'en pausing, staring out over the fire warriors in the amphitheater.

“I will not lie to you, even with this colony being in close proximity, it is likely that the forces we send will not be present when the Resurgent Path makes its first translation jump. Your ten cadres are the last transfers and have not been assigned to a security or reconnaissance detail. I will allow a brief moment for volunteers,” said the Shas’El.

The room was silent, not even nervous coughing. All avoided Shas’El Tae'en’s gaze. They all knew that the relief force would miss the prestigious first jump. He could imagine the humiliation of having to catch up with the fleet. Some might even treat them as scavengers looking to capitalize on the struggle, however a thought occurred to El’Sha’nan. He and his cadre already were treated as outsiders, and glorious or not, it was their duty to defend the colony.

“Shas’El Tae'en, I, Shas’El’Fo’tan’Sha’nan, offer my cadre to the relief force,” said El’Sha’nan fiercely.

The entire room looked at him. Several were scowling, but initially Shas’El Tae'en seemed genuinely relieved that someone had come forth. That was until his aid whispered in his ear. Shas’El Tae'en’s expression turned dour.

Shas’El’Tae’en turned, “Are there any others? Surely anyone can match Fo’tan’s sense of duty.”

There were a few soft chuckles, but still no others came forward. El’Sha’nan sat back down.

“Fine, if there no other volunteers, then I will pick,” said El’Tae’en in a scolding tone.

An aid passed him a chip that he plugged into a wrist mounted computer pad. He touched his wrist and scrolled for several Rai’kors, before deciding.

“The relief force will also include Shas’El’…Bork’an’Aloh’ka and Shas’El Tau’n’Ol’savon with Shas’El’Bork’an’Aloh’ka having command authority over the ground mission,” said El’Tae’en flatly.

El’Sha’nan noted that neither was from Au’taal or Ke’lshan. He was already pulling out his wrist pad and looking at El’Aloh’ka and El’Ol’savon service records. His shock was barely containable when he saw that both had just completed their trials. He by far had the most command experience. He thought about objecting, but thought better of it. Challenging the head of security would not get him command authority. He would need to prove himself, and he grimly accepted it.

“Have your cadres ready for deployment by the end of the rotaa. At that time, You and your cadres are to transfer to the Regulant Auspice. You will get your secure codes from the Kor’El, here. Are there any questions?....Then dismissed. Shas’El’Aloh’ka, you will stay a moment, the Kor’El and I have some command level briefing information for you,” said El’Tae’en, staring at El’Sha’nan as he picked up his security codes and exited the room.

El’Sha’nan did not look back, he knew where he stood, all that mattered now was preparing his cadre for the battles to come.
Last edited by knightofthewr on Oct 23 2013 06:42, edited 2 times in total.

Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#2 » Aug 16 2013 12:27

Chapter 2
Vak’sanithar wiped the blue blood from the bottom of his pointed chin as he leaned against the wall of an entryway to the Tau central Dome. He stared in silent frustration at a series of terminals attached to a large view screen. These tau were proving tougher crack then he initially gave them credit. He folded his bare arms, not caring that they were stained blue and covered in wet chunks of grey flesh. Outside he could hear his motley crew of mercenaries, genoscum, and slaves busy tending to their dead, and striping this colony of any valuables. Vak’sanithar was growing impatient waiting for another group of captives. He had been anxious to find any survivor that could (and would) operate the colony main computer, in fact, it was central to his plan. He cocked his head back as two genoscum gangers struggled with a dead Gearak mercenary. Any kabalite force would have meticulously and swiftly striped a place of any valuables after making off with its entire population. He could not count on such a clean haul from this rabble. They were not the caliber of the Twisted Vine, or any lesser kabal for that matter. He and his brother, Gel’thran’vex, were another matter entirely. They had been part of the Twisted Vine Kabal for most of his childhood and all of his adult life. As youths they had handled poisons and chems in Kabal workshops, where many children never live to see their adolescence. Later they served in fighting pits. They slowly honed their skills with each kill, clumsy and struggling at first, but no path in Commorragh is easy or without pain. Together they had earned a reputation fighting side by side, and had gained Archon Kel’sparin’s attention. Vak’sanithar’s quick speed and razor wit and Gel’thran’vex’s physical prowess had uses outside the arena, it seemed. At the archon’s call, they became his butchers, his guard, and his spies. Vak’sanithar on several occasions had given the archon seemingly valuable information. Kabals had been destroyed from that information and the Twisted Vine’s enemies forgotten to the dust. However it seemed that the brothers’ meteoric rise had stagnated, for Vak’sanithar had seen his lessers pass them by. Elevated to higher position because their pedigrees were from more pure houses. Several lieutenants had died before they discovered that. It seemed the archon liked their talents well enough, but he liked them at their current stature, never to rise above “their place” in the lower echelons of the Kabal. So be it, thought Vak’sanithar. He would have his just rewards, but he would take it for himself, even if it was from Kel’sparin’s cold dead form. Betraying the Kabal would have consequences if they were discovered prematurely but if everything worked as he had meticulously planned, the Twisted Vine and Bloody Rose Kabal would destroy each other, leaving the strongest to pick up the pieces. First, he had to find out what the Bloody Rose had been up to. None in the Twisted Vine had even whisperings of the Kabal of the Bloody Rose’s latest machinations. Silent peace in the dark city was usually a precursor to an attack, so naturally Archon Kel’sparin was nervous. He ordered all his agents and spies out to root out the plans of the rival kabal. They had tried the conventional channels, the vulnerable elements of the Kabal of the Bleeding Rose had been tortured or given such pleasures that could be had, yet none had yielded anything of value. Vak’sanithar’s position had at least afforded one unique trait that the purer bloods were too aloof or stupid to think of. He had an ear to the Gutterdark. Denizens of the Gutterdark were the lowest rung in the hierarchy. Slaves and genoscum, their world was the labor force on which the city ran. It was utterly ignored and mainly for good reason. The genoscum gangs that fought each other for petty territorial gain, were little match for the trained killers of a kabal. Many more still lived their whole existence making parts and weapons for masters that they never would speak to or meet. However not all that dwelled there were wholly stupid or completely ignorant. These were Vak’sanithar’s informers, and he, their narcotic salvation. Most were slave workers, whom were just smart enough to remember task masters of rival kabals and what they said in passing. Ship crews needed fuel and food, kabalite warriors needed armor, weapons, and poisons and these were forged and delivered from the slave shops of the Gutterdark.
Whispers had led him on a chase all over the dark city and finally to a cargo ship. Kel’sparin was distracted, planning of his Reverie of Delights, social gathering for the heads of allied Kabals, so Vak’sanithar, Gel’thran’vex, and several hundred of the most desperate of the dark city, slipped out on a secret cutter frigate and made for the open webway. The whispers led him to a nexus city, where eldar from all corners of the galaxy traded with each other. He had almost lost the trail but some physical persuasion from Gel’thran’vex loosened tongues. While far from the whole raider fleet the Kabal of the Bloody Rose commanded, it was the only lead he had. Crates from the cargo ship had been delivered to several dark ships departing for Evening Gate of Sudden Midnight, a real-space portal, leading seemingly to nowhere. There was nothing of significance there. No mon’kiegh outpost, no exodite colony, or world of feral orks to plunder. Only a backwater colony of the weakling tau. Surely this insignificant colony had been beneath three ships of a raider fleet. However this was the only place they could go, so Vak’sanithar went too. His cutter undetected, entered in orbit, he stealthily deployed to the surface. There he felt the sickening after-presence of the Bloody Rose Kabal. Their stink was on the air. It perplexed him at first, for they had brought three ships with kabalite warriors, but a small colony of tau had seemingly repelled them. He could only conclude that they had hidden the size of their forces and significance of the raid. Whatever this colony’s secret was, it was keeping the Kabal of the Bloody Rose occupied, and Vak’sanithar had to know what it was. He observed the colony. They had two fearsome cannons facing skyward, but this was hardly the thing that deterred a kabal, or even the small portion that had come. The tau had erected some form of hydroponics. Contained in bulbous transparent containers, strange plants grew in vertical columns. Beyond that lay the domed buildings that must have housed the hundreds of tau and their equipment. On the other side of the buildings, he found his first clue, huge transports sat idle as tau were loading the bulbs with plants inside onto one of the craft.

“Its food supply, a large food supply, brother,” said Gel’thran’vex.

“Yes, this is an agricultural colony, but whom are they trying to feed?” said Vak’sanithar frowning.

The brothers looked at the colony, both understanding where they need to go. The Bloody Rose kabalites had left the colony intact, now Vak’sanithar just had to finish the job.
To call it a battle would have been mockery. Even his rabble of scum and slaves managed to surprise the isolated sentries the tau had posted. The swiftness of the attack robbed the tau of defense and initiative. While Vak’sanithar’s forces were poorly trained, they had brought many newly made dark lances and splinter cannons, stolen from the Gutterdark. They vastly outnumbered the tau and the sheer numbers and weapons made them formidable. By the time the tau commander realized the true danger, too many of his number had fallen. The colony did manage to hold out longer than he expected, but only just so. Vak’sanithar was currently standing where the last warrior fell. Unfortunately many of the remaining colonists died in the attack, making the slave prize low for when they returned to Commorragh. Vak’sanithar cared not. He needed to know what the colonists knew, and what the Kabal of the Bloody Rose was after.
A looming shadow suddenly covered the sun light and Vek’sanithar heard the shuffling sound of clumsy feet. He turned and was disappointed to see Naga and two of his genoscum lackeys just outside the dome.

Vek’sanithar began a slow walk out the building. Keeping his voice in a bored tone, he asked, “What do you want now, Naga?”

“You ssssee Naga, He is killing the captivesss. Why did we follow thisss fool? All he doesss is kill our quarry,” said lackey on the right.

All three towered even over Vak’sanithar. They had a bulk that would have been just a shade light of the genetically altered monkeigh warriors. It was clear that they were all spliced, most likely with some form of serpent or maybe even the Sslyth. Naga was the closest to Eldar. Unless you were close enough to see his scaly skin or slotted irises, he could have passed for a large kabalite taskdriver or even a pit fighter.
Now outside, Vak’sanithar could see others were standing close by; Sheenar’a and several of her Mavens were looking, along with the bolder slaves.

Naga bellowed waving his arms thematically, marching heavily toward Vak’sanithar. “I don’t sssee how you could explain yourssself, Vak’sssanithar. What of value would you trade for your life?”

Vak’sanithar smiled. In less time than thought possible Vak’sanithar pulled out his pistol, shooting left to right, and shot both of Naga’s lackeys in the face. Simultaneously with his left, Vak’sanithar unsheathed his shard knife and sliced lightly into Naga’s abdomen. The shard knife was a wraithbone weapon that broke off tiny sharp slivers in the flesh of its victims. Naturally, Naga reeled back in pain. Vak’sanithar followed with a swift knee to his stomach. Naga doubled back, clutching his stomach in agony, struggling to breathe. Vak’sanithar was not yet finished as he brought his pommel down on the back of Naga’s neck. Naga fell, writhing on the ground, as were his two dying lackeys, struggling and shaking against the poisoned shards embedded into their faces.

“How fitting that you should be moving like your ancestors, “said Vak’sanithar with a cruel laugh.

Vak’sanithar placed his boot on the Naga’s neck. He cried and whimpered, so craven it filled Vak’sanithar with a temptation to just drive the knife into this ‘snake’s’ throat and be done with him. Instead he kneeled and with his foot on Naga’s neck, moved close.

“Never has the phrase, ‘worm beneath my feet’ been more apt. Now understand the rules, Naga. You challenge me again, you die. Any of your rabble approach me in a way that displeases me, you die. I hear you complain at all, you die,“ Vak’sanithar said pressing his foot slightly harder at the end.

Naga was still jerking involuntarily from pain, but he nodded in fear. Vak’sanithar stood, smiled, and released Naga from under his foot. He instantly crawled away from Vak’sanithar. His fear palpable on the air, Vak’sanithar breathed it in as one smelling a pleasing fragrance. Naga struggled to his feet and pushed his way through the on-looking slaves.

Vak’sanithar scanned the huddled group, and in a voice loud enough to be heard asked, “Do you feel the same? I should think so, for I am killing our prisoners.”

He studied their reactions. Some were upset, others confused, but the Maven leader took him back. Her face almost impassive but he could make out the whisper of a curious smile. He tilted his head in acknowledgement and she returned the gesture.

“I am killing our prize, which is what Naga says. He is right, for my hands and face are colored in proof. However the meager pickings of this colony are hardly the bounty that we can bring back into Commarrgh with any hope of wealth,” said Vak’sanithar.

“But others are coming, in a futile attempt to save these poor wretches from us, and they will have a vessel filled with more of these weaklings. Thousands perhaps,” said Vak’sanithar.

The crowd was growing, he could see a lust in their eyes.

“All that stands between us and them are their worthless soldiers. I told you to follow me and I promised you a wealth of souls, all that I ask is that you be patient and follow me a little longer, the souls come to us!” Vak’sanithar yelled passionately.

The crowd satisfied, began to disperse, with Sheenar’a leaving only after giving him a lingering look. Approaching somewhat confused was Gel’thran’vex and two other former kabalites, with a group of short tau between them.

Gel’thran’vex had a bulk that was strange for their kind. While not as large as Naga, it was still enough to tell that he was not “pure.” He was a fraction slower, but strong and wielded his shoulder slung dark lance like other kabalites handled splinter rifles.
The tau froze when they saw Vak’sanithar covered in tau viscera and soaked in cobalt, that is until Gel’thran’vex cracked his whip behind them. They cried and bleated like cattle, the noise making the dark eldar annoyed, the tau’s fear however was like a feint ghost of wine. He smiled slowly as they struggled toward him.

“Trouble, brother?” asked Gel’thran’vex, his tone amused.

“None that required your aid, little brother. Now what have you brought me?” said Vak’sanithar smiling.

It was easy to see that they all feared him. They shook as they cowered in front of him. He made a feint to scare them and instinctively the largest one put itself between the others and Vak’sanithar.

“Ah, Gel’thran’vex, you always know just the right thing to get me. A family of my very own,” he said with an ever- widening smile.

He pointed to the protector in front and without a word; the two ex-kabalites yanked it violently away from the rest. The other tau screamed trying to grab for it, until Gel’thran’vex let his whip drop to the ground. The larger tau struggled as they pinned it to the ground and slapped a thought converter onto the side of its head. It had taken them several victims to figure where to place the device, as the 18 thumb length needles had to be punched through the skull. It was hardly painless and the tau writhed on the ground as they installed the device.
Instantly they could feel the tau’s torment. They understood that it was a male and could feel his screams as he struggled to reign in the pain. While not a true translator, they could understand the intention of his words, and surface feelings, and visa versa. His family was crying and yelling in the background, but the dark eldar were drawn to the energy rising from the tau’s pain. Blood oozed from the edges of the converter and the tau gripped the device on the side of his head.

“Don’t do that or you will die in a few minutes of painful bleed out. Do you know how to work the central Terminal, you grey skinless rat?” asked Vak’sanithar.

“I would rather die, than help you! You are the anathema to me,” said the tau struggling to his feet defiantly.

Vak’sanithar moved with a cat’s speed, snarling over the Tau. The tau’s seeming brave face vanished, but he did not cower as expected.

“Tau’va! Tau’va!,” screamed one of the other tau now huddled together.

Suddenly Vaksanithar smiled, and began moving toward them.
“No, stay away from them, they cannot help you, they do not have the computer access you want,” said the Tau.

Vak’sanithar continued his slow pace and said, “What I am not hearing is how you have access and that for the safety of your family, you will help me with the terminal.”
The tau looked desperate, torn.

“Tau’va!,” repeated the other tau.

Vak’sanither performed a sweeping kick taking the yelling tau off of its feet and onto its stomach. He put his knee on its back and put his shard Knife to its cheek, slicing a hair’s thickness into it. It instantly started screaming and struggled futilely against Vak’sanithar’s weight. He moved the knife near its throat.

“No! don’t hurt her,” yelled the tau, wrestling against Gel’thran’vex.

“Then do as I ask! Choose tau, your family or your “Tau’va,” yelled Vak’sanithar, pressing the knife against the pinned tau’s throat.

The tau looked desperately left and right. Vak’sanithar could feel his struggle, building like a pressure cooker overloading.

“You promise on your honor as a warrior, that you will let them go, if I help you?” asked the tau.

“Oh yes, if you help me you and your family will be free of us, I promise on my honor, “said Vak’sanithar, pulling back his blade and sheathing it as a show of good faith.

He stood letting the female tau up, who was shaking from the pain of the shards left in her cheek.

“To the terminal then, but know that the instant you displease me, your family and all the tau on this pathetic planet die,” said Vak’sanithar in a solemn serious tone.

They walked into the dome building, Vak’sanithar shoving the Tau onto the terminal.

“Now, my first question, where are those transports bound for?” asked Vak’sanithar

Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#3 » Aug 24 2013 08:47

Note: I have corrected some "misuse" of time terms. Please let me know what you think.

Chapter 3
“Did you even question him on why you were not selected to command?” asked Vre’Shais’ka angrily.

El’Sha’nan sighed. He had foreseen that his brother was going to be upset with whom had been placed in charge of the mission. It did not help that most of his scattered cadre, including Vre’Shais’Ka, had just started enjoying drinks in the cantinas several decks below when the kor’vessas he sent interrupted them with priority orders. El’Sha’nan had spent most of the Rotaa on the same spongy orange white deck they had staged earlier; filling out munitions requests, briefing his Shas’Uis and Vres, and acquiring transports to Regulant Auspice, onto which his cadre was still loading. His brother’s complaint was the last thing he needed at the moment.

“There was no time to argue. We had less than a Rotaa,” said El’Sha’nan.

“This whelp is barely higher rank than me! You have served as Shas’El, with distinction, for two tau’cyr. How does this make any since? When do Shas’El command a mission without ever having a wiser Shas’O to guide them, especially one that has never led a cadre before?” said Vre’Shais’ka, his voice loud enough that several of other cadres nearby turned, obviously listening.

“That whelp is the mission commander and, no matter how many tau’cyr experience, still your superior officer, as am I, Vre’Shais’ka. Do not forget that you owe him your respect,” said El’Sha’nan, hotly but low.

He was cognizant of the scene they were creating and did his best to keep his voice soft. It seemed that Vre’Shais’ka did not care.

“and he owes you his. By the way Shas’El’Aloh’ka acts, I doubt he looked past your name,” said Vre’Shais’ka.

“Is that truly important right now? You should focus on the mission, not on petty politics or insults. We are not Shas‘saal anymore. There are Tau’fann that need us, save your anger for our enemies,” said El’Sha’nan.

He made to move up the ramp of the manta, but his brother moved into his path.

“This is important. How can we save a colony when we have a commander with no experience? If you wanted to save the colony, you should have challenged for command, but instead you are…you are ashamed, and you have no reason to be? They do not and will not respect you. Fo’tan must fight for everything, to be treated as brothers, as equals. Is your birthing such a shame, that you acknowledge that you are a lesser?” asked Vre’Shais’ka, almost yelling.

El’Sha’nan could feel his anger rise and turned to stare at the obvious onlookers from other cadres. Suddenly they all appeared to be busy with gear or weapons. One seemed to be keenly interested in the loading mechanisms of his rifle, sliding a charge cartridge in and out repeatedly. El’Sha’nan was about to yell, but forced back his anger and took a clearing breath.

“I too want great things for Fo’tan, for the empire. We cannot fight our own and expect to win their admiration. I want to earn respect for myself, for you, for Fo’tan. I have never been ashamed of Fo’tan, but many misunderstand us. If we are to be treated as equals as you say, then we must first prove that we are equals. You are right, brother. They do not respect us and we cannot force them to. We can only ever earn respect,” said El’Sha’nan.

Vre’Shais’ka only looked angrily at him, shaking his head as he walked up the ramp. El’Sha’nan was about to follow.

“Excuse me Shas’El’Sha’nan,” said Fio’Vre’Yen’suam somewhat absently.

El’Sha’nan turned. The portly Fio’Vre had the sturdy build of his caste, with a pair of fabricator drones circling around him.

“Fio’Vre, was there any trouble loading your personnel?” asked El’Sha’nan.

“No Shas’El. We are all situated. Before we depart, I wanted to tell you about the limited number of DU-87 shells,” said Fio’Vre’Yen’suam.

“but the munitions log stated that we had several hundred shells.” said El’Sha’nan.

“Most of those do not have the G12 coating, 291 of the shells to be precise. Without the protective coating, the railguns’ linear accelerators will excite the bare casing which will most certainly result in premature detonation. I had expected a longer stay on the Resurgent Path where I had planned to finish the shells, but the Regulant Auspice does not have the necessary facilities for us to complete the shell coat and calibration,” said Fio’Vre’Yen’suam.

El’Sha’nan squeezed his hands into a fist.

“So how many working shells do we have, Fio’Vre?” asked El’Sha’nan.

“Eight,” said Fio’Vre’Yen’suam flatly, as if he had been prepared to answer.

El’Sha’nan grit his teeth, internally cursing his luck. He shook his head and bitterly laughed.

“We will have to make do, thank you Fio’Vre. Please get to your transport,” said El’Sha’nan.

It had been a long Rotaa, and he had a feeling the next few were going to be as well.


Their 2nd transfer was uneventful but mood of his cadre was melancholy. Unloading onto the emissary class vessel was rather dull, and though the bay which they staged was large enough to accommodate all three cadres, it was nothing compared to the vast military deck of the Resurgent Path. El’Sha’nan felt his morale drop and saw it in faces across all three cadres. It was worse as they translated away from the fleet. El’Sha’nan’s earlier feelings of hope vanished as they witnessed the hyper-speed burst of their FTL tearing them away from the gigantic Ta’shiro station. To ease his mood, he began combat checks with the cadre when Vre’Mua’da noticed that the other cadre commanders were not present on the bay. El’Sha’nan was about to investigate when a drone approached.

“SHAS’EL’SHA’NAN PLEASE REPORT TO THE BRIDGE IMMEDIATELY,” blurted out the drone, repeating its message as it flew past them.

El’Sha’nan turned and nodded to Vre’Mua’da and Vre’Shais’ka. They knew what to do without a word. He started walking quickly out of the bay moving from bulkhead to bulkhead. He had the feeling he was late to something that he had never been formally invited to. He scrambled to the correct lift but was forced to wait as a large group of Kor’fann packed in ahead of him. The second time he managed to squeeze into the crowded lift. Several of the other occupants coughed uncomfortably, but he was out soon enough. He left the lift at a well-lit hall. It was devoid of any movement and silent, his hoof falls echoing seemingly louder than he had ever noticed. He quickly found the door, and walked into the dark room. The buzz and din from the circular room was not overly loud but contrasted the silent hall he entered from. Kor Aides and drones passed through several doorways on his level. Several ringed levels had manned terminals, monitored by Kor technicians. El’Sha’nan saw staircases leading down to these levels. They ended at the center where he could see the Shas’Els and Kor’el already in a deep discussion around a holo-table.

“…seems to be a better choice to deploy on the ground, whether you like them is not relevant,” said the Kor’El, in an airy but factual tone.

“I cannot trust them. Their insubordination is borderline Mont’tau, from my sources,” said from a scowling El’Aloh’ka.

A female Shas he did not recognize said, “They have not broken allegiance, they are not like the enclaves. Kor’El’U’ten is right. Besides I am better suited to establishing security for the Regulant Auspice.”

El’Sha’nan walked up, politely coughing to make his presence known. All three stiffened, shocked by his sudden presence. El’Aloh’ka was scowling at him as he approached. The Kor’El was staring at him passively. El’Sha’nan focused momentarily on the new female Shas’El. While she must have been at the briefing, he did not recognize her. She was slender for Fire caste, more exotic looking then beautiful. She looked to be studying him as well.

“Good of you to finally join the briefing, Shas’El’Sha’nan,” said El’Aloh’ka.

“I came as soon as I received the message. I was preparing for the decent,” said El’Sha’nan, refusing to let his anger rise.

“Now that we are all assembled, I will lay out the final deployment,” said El’Aloh’ka.

The holo-table sprang to life, showing the same image of the He’pha’n they had been shown in the Ta’shiro station briefing. Suddenly it rotated, with a marker appearing over a portion of the northern hemisphere. The marker expanded and the image of the world was replaced with a three dimensional holo projection of the colony, its several large sections of its walls butting up against dense forest. They stuck out immediately as ambush sites in El’Sha’nan’s mind.

“El’Sha’nan’s and my Cadre will deploy in a rapid Mont’ka strike maneuver. The drop window is precisely 1.2 Rai’kors,” said El’Aloh’ka, seemingly pleased with himself.

The screen played out what looked like the death blossom deployment pattern. The Kor’El seemed visibly impressed, probably never having taken part in a combat drop. This was classic use of Mont’ka, well detailed in the code of fire to achieve surprise and disorient an enemy. However Aloh’ka had left out a key principle, knowing where the enemy “heart” was. They could not kill an enemy they knew nothing about.

“El’Ol’savon will stay on board, providing security and will deploy with a reserve force, ready to assist should we require it,” he continued, nodding to the female.

She nodded back, pulling up her wrist display, most likely studying the ship’s schematics.

“What do we know of the enemy and their position?” pondered El’Sha’nan.

“We have not been able to scan the system. It would seem that the planet’s Sat-drone network is down,” said the Kor’El lightly.

“Perhaps then we should consider a more prudent deployment. We could be walking into a trap,” stated El’Sha’nan.

El’Aloh’ka looked stunned, then angrily at him. El’Ol’savon made a scolding noise and was also looking at him. Only Kor’El’U’ten remained detached.

“Do you think that I had not considered that? We have our best chance to surprise our enemy, rob them of initiative. I did not think that Fo’tanians were so meek,” spat Aloh’ka.

El’Sha’nan rose, his face flushing and anger rising to his head.

“My courage is not in question, your plan is. Yes we might surprise the enemy, but at what cost? If they quickly recover and have better field position or, worse, are prepared for us, you will have sent many Shas’fann to their deaths,” said El’Sha’nan.

He had expected support but was disappointed to see El’Ol’savon looking irritably at him and Kor’El’U’tan seemingly focused on the wall.

“You see, it is as they say, Fo'tanians sow descent,” said El’Aloh’ka

“He is the mission commander, it is our duty to obey,” said El’Ol’savon in a scolding tone.

“It is our duty to advise and lead, we are all Shas’El,” said El’Sha’nan hotly.

“But in the end it is my decision, and you are trying to undermine that,” said El’Aloh’ka icily.

“I am not trying to cause discord, I am merely pointing out potential weaknesses our enemies may exploit,” said El’Sha’nan.

“I may be out of my element, but I normally do not allow debate with those under my charge. Perhaps you need to understand the situation Shas’El’Sha’nan, only Shas’El’Aloh’ka bears the burden of command and he must shoulder that responsibility,” Kor’el’U’ten said as though he were talking to a child.

“Well said Kor’El, the deployment stays as is. That is all. Dismissed,” said El’Aloh’ka crisply before turning and climbing the stairs.

The others made to go, but El’Sha’nan stayed behind. He wanted to shout, roar, and perform another hundred futile gestures. He shut his eyes, beginning the calming meditations that Shas’O’Nars’xuan’fa had taught him. As his breathing steadied, he opened his eyes, the bright green-blue colony projection filling his field of view. He walked up to it, feeling it teem with enemies lying in wait to ambush them. He was still calming down. He felt anger towards his fellow Shas’Els, but also at himself for failing to show them the flaw. He exhaled, more than half hoping he was wrong. El’Sha’nan realized he would find out soon enough.

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Posts: 1515

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#4 » Aug 25 2013 04:03

Looking good so far, the time term change is working. I'm interested to read more about Fo'tan and it's relationship to the Empire.
~Good Hunting

Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#5 » Sep 01 2013 10:57

Calmsword wrote:Looking good so far, the time term change is working. I'm interested to read more about Fo'tan and it's relationship to the Empire.

Thanks Calmsword. I am loving Into Silence Latchkey and am having a blast writing along side all the authors Chapter 4 is coming up.

Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#6 » Sep 01 2013 11:16

Chapter 4
It had been eighteen kai’rotaa since El’Sha’nan had actually performed a high altitude drop. He had only performed a death blossom maneuver once after receiving combat suit certification more than 10 tau’cyr ago. In principle, the maneuver was simple. Multiple crisis and stealth suit teams perform a high altitude drop around the desired target in a large rough circle. It is hoped that the enemy, surprised, will quickly spread out to take defensive positions to engage all threats. With the drop complete and defenders beginning to engage, the suits simultaneously bypass the defenders positions by engaging their jet packs toward the designated target of the initial circle. This step is called the fold or petal fold. They converge on target, destroying with repeated fire from suit team after suit team. Naturally the defenders will fold back inwards, but that is when death blossom is activated as suit teams expand back outward, shooting at the exposed enemy, no longer behind cover. It had met with great success in the rift, believed to be pioneered by O’Shovah. Not all its applications were victorious however. Several Shas’Els and Shas’O’s had lost their lives performing death blossom. Its precise timing and drop precision made it a difficult maneuver to perform. Any delay or miss drop would allow for enemies to overwhelm or escape the ring. Gue’ron’sha, with their superior armor and speed, had quickly turned the tables on Shas’O’Vior’ka, killing him, his bondmates and crisis suit teams in under two Rai’kors. Shas’O’Nars’xuan’fa had instilled in him that this tactic required careful thought and understanding of the enemy before use. Yet they had no target, just the colony. He could feel his lingering frustration surface. He was losing focus. He needed to concentrate on surviving the drop. El’Sha’nan shook his head, his suit mimicking the act. The orca flying them had just broken atmosphere as the din of brushing air suddenly reverberated in the cabin. He was suddenly thankful that his brother had requested to be assigned to the cadre’s command tank. As nervous as El’Sha’nan was about the drop, it might have killed Vre’Shais’ka. His HUD lit up with a ready marker and status markers for Vre’Mua’da and his two suit teams. He activated his slaved drones. The markers all flashed ready.
“I will see you all on the ground, good hunting,” said El’Sha’nan on his comms channel.
The orca’s rear ramp opened, the rush of air drowning out even his voice. The ‘go’ icon appeared on his screen and he moved his suit forward falling off the open edge of the ramp. His suit’s stabilizer computer auto-fired thrusters to keep his suit oriented. He felt a giddy rush when free-falling. Only a few moments had passed when his screen blinked angrily at him as he was already off his mark.

He could hear Vre’Mua’da chortle, “El’Sha’nan, you are almost as bad as your brother.”

She was clearly amused. He on the other hand was too busy struggling to right his position. He kept swaying in and out of position.

“Quit fighting your controls,” said Vre’Mua’da calmly.

Her voice and tone reminded him of his former mentor. Though nostalgic, he listened and his HUD turned a affirmed blue.

“Thank you, Vre’Mua’da. I need to practice these drops more often,” said El’Sha’nan.

“Yes you do. I am just glad you let Vre’Shais’ka deploy in a hammerhead,” she said lightly, echoing his earlier thought.

Both of them relied on their HUDs to guide them into positions, making slight course corrections as the ground rapidly approached, El’Sha’nan getting more comfortable as they fell. He kept his eye fixed to his counter thrust timer. They would wait until the last possible moment before activating their jet packs to counter gravity. One rai’kan too late and they could die, too early and they could arrive moments behind the others, giving the defenders precious time to react.
The warning signal sounded, El’Sha’nan fired his thrusters to maximum as his suit fought the gravity trying to smash it against the ground. For an instant, it felt as though his insides were sinking into his legs before his suit suddenly crashed against the ground. His suit status flashed normal and he turned his attention to his target reticles sweeping left with his fusion blaster. Vre’Mua’da swept right charging her plasma rifle. They both focused on the dense dark tree line, expecting the enemy, whoever they were, to be charging out of the forest. However no enemies appeared or revealed themselves on his sensors. The cracked Fio’tek and scarred burnt walls told a story of heavy fighting long since passed. It was utterly silent, no wind, wild animal, or insects could be heard. Even the trees were still. Naked tau bodies lay strewn everywhere. Some had implants savagely removed. Close to El’Sha’nan, near the outskirts of the colony was what appeared to be a family of Fio’fann. The female bond-mate and the two children all were laying facedown, several puncture wounds visible from their backs. The male was lying on his back, also with several puncture wounds protruding from his torso. However the male had another massive wound on his head. His head sat in a dark pool of cyan. It was though 18 pins had been pushed past his skull. The poor earth caste must have died from blood loss, but the dead tau’s face haunted El’Sha’nan. It seemed to be fixed in a mixture of pain, fear, and betrayal.

“We are too late,” said Vre’Mua’da solemnly.

El’Sha’nan felt sick, not from the savage carnage from the colony, his tour of duty had shown him the horrors of death over and over again. It was their failure to arrive sooner. He felt his blood boil with anger. A crazy sudden thought took hold; if only enemies would suddenly appear so that he might purge their evil forever. His HUD indicated that El’Aloh’ka signaled the second wave. He quickly designated a deployment zone for the remainder of his cadre.

“Sword seven, cover the landing pad. The rest of you, move to the domes and spread out. Look for survivors,” El’Sha’nan said, using the cardre’s codenames. He tried to keep his voice in a calm commanding tone.

The suits’ servos sounded much louder against the backdrop of utter silence. He felt exposed, sweeping left to right as they crossed the colony grounds, careful to avoid the dead. Hammerhead and Skyray transponders activated on his tactical display followed by devilfish and piranhas, designating that his cadre was deployed.

“Vre’Shais’ka, move all your lances into defensive position, I want Sword three & four deployed at the colony’s outer wall facing those trees. Two and five will assist us in searching the domes and transports. Sword seven regroup, “said El’Sha’nan.

His cadre responded fluidly. Devilfish carrying fire warriors (sword three) and pathfinders (sword four) moved up to the broken walls of the colony, unloading their passengers in time that few other cadres could match. At the same time, the hammerheads and skyrays (lances) moved into a staggered line, with the hammerheads closest to the encroaching forest. The other two devilfish rolled alongside him as they also disgorged their occupants. Two more fire warrior teams jogged, besides El’Sha’nan and the other lumbering crisis suits, their guns held at the ready as they moved into the first of the domes. Across the way, El’Sha’nan saw the first of El’Aloh’ka’s now forest green cadre.

“Well it looks as though the deployment was not so bad after all, wouldn’t you agree, Shas’El?” asked El’Aloh’ka, sounding superior even over the comm.

“As you say Shas’El,” said El’Sha’nan, trying but failing to keep the bitterness out of his voice.

“It looks like we are too late,” said El’Aloh’ka, his suit finally coming into view, the words suddenly bitter-sounding.

“All the colonists are dead, and the attackers are long gone after they have desecrated our dead,” he continued.

“With all due respect and honor, commander, it is ….do you not think it premature to assume the enemy is gone,” said El’Sha’nan struggling to keep his voice from anger.

“Look around you, Shas’El, they are gone. I know that you wish discord, but do you deny what your basic senses show you,” said El’Aloh’ka

El’Sha’nan bit back an angry retort. He wanted to yell at El’Aloh’ka. His attitude, his naivety, his…his arrogance were sickening to El’Sha’nan.

“I am just…,”started El’Sha’nan.

His HUD chimed, interrupting his train of thought, alerting him that the fleet comms channel was activated.

“Kor’O’Yama'nan has just announced the departing of the fleet, We only have a 15 rai’kan lag. I thought you would all like to hear. I am patching it through now,” said Kor’El’U’ten, sounding somewhat sad.
The Comm hummed for a moment before El’Sha’nan heard another airy voice, similar to the Kor’El but deeper, richer. This voice carried age and wisdom.

“Tau’faan, gentle beings, citizens of the Empire...We now embark on a great quest. To traverse the darkness, the Silence, beyond the veil of safety and into the unknown. We go into this void not to uncover new worlds and be graced by the light of strange suns, but to reclaim that which was taken, to find what was lost. Sha'draig, overrun by the Y'he, is out there and we will, we must, reclaim it and all her worlds."

There was a pause, though he could not see it, he imagined that they must be broadcasting images as well. The voice continued, but he drifted toward his scanner, still showing stillness, but then it faded ever so briefly before coming back. He frowned, turning toward the forest, his servos whining perceptively, but saw nothing. He sighed and refocused on the continued message.

“… who will sleep, and wait, for our discovery... I now turn to to Por'El T'au Noh'luun who will speak on behalf of the honored Ethereal Council..."

There was another pause. The next voice was melodic as well but it seemed to El'Sha'nan that it was more animated, full of vigor.

"On behalf of the Ethereal Council, I formally accept the honor of shepherding this grand Coalition. We will, together, bring light where there has been only darkness and shatter the Silence with the words of Truth. All of us, be we of the Cluster or beyond, Tau or Gue'vesa, Tallarian or Jikita, we will all play a hand in the reclamation of the Sha'draig Colony systems. Together, with the Tau'va as our guide, we will act as a bulwark against those who would foolishly imagine our ruin. We shall prosper, as T'au shall."

The voice finished dramatically. Though the speech was hopeful and serene, it was a bitter note here on the ground of He’pha’n. They had left this great moment, seemingly to rescue the colony, only for their mission to be a failure before it had even begun. He had wanted to hear the speech, but also hated it as it served as a reminder of the consequences of choosing to come here.

His mind continued to wander, until his scanner faded momentarily again.

“My scanner module may be failing. It is reading clear but I keep getting temporary fades in the display,” said El’Sha’nan over the open comm channel.

“I am getting the same on the Lance 1’s scanner,” said Vre’Shais’ka

“As am I, Shas’El” said Vre’Mua’da

“It is most likely atmospherics,” said El’Aloh’ka.

“Or something interfering with the scanner systems,” said El’Sha’nan.

“You Fo’tanians cannot let something go. Fine, let us settle this. Kor’El, what does your ship scanner suite show?” asked El’Aloh’ka confidently.

“Why nothing of course, Shas’El, however I too am experiencing a …glitch in our scanner systems. Our scans did show that about 98 percent of the atmospheric drones are still operational. If you were to repair the sat-drone network control tower, we could correct for any atmospherics in our scans,” said the Kor’El.

“So be it. I know just who to send…,”started El’Aloh’ka.

“We should not split up Commander. At least allow me to reconnoiter the area first before…,” said El’Sha’nan.

“I am growing tired of your paranoia and defiance Shas’El. I am ordering you to that control tower. Secure the site and assess damage to the tower. Do as I command, or I promise there will be consequences,” said El’Aloh’ka, raising his voice.

“As you command, Fo’tan obeys,” said El’Sha’nan angrily.

He turned and walked away from El’Aloh’ka.

“This is Sword actual, all swords and lances form up on me. We will immediately proceed to grid location LV-125. Lance three you have point,” said El’Sha’nan in a crisp commanding tone.

As his cadre formed up and began heading out beyond the colony, he could not help but give one last look at the surrounding forest. It was as still as ever but he could feel eyes watching and waiting like some predator eager for the hunt.

Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#7 » Sep 23 2013 04:15

Chapter 5
Vak’sanithar had been in a foul mood since the discovery of the enormous colonization fleet. Even though he now knew the prize, he had no idea where it was. The colony computer did not have the coordinates, nor did the tau family. He needed the fleet’s location to enact his plan. His brother’s humor and laughter had not helped but rather annoyed Vak’sanithar.

“Did you really think that they would not have better security, brother? Cheer up, maybe the rescue party will have these coordinates,” Gel’thran’vex had said laughingly.

Even killing the entire tau family had not eased his brooding. He had only momentarily enjoyed the Tau feeling of pain and shock when he and his brother had opened fire on them. Before they had yanked the translator from his head, the tau technician called out his honor, labeling him craven and other childish words. Honor was for the weakling mon’kiegh, and Vak’sanithar had vowed never to be weak.

They had moved into the forests around the ruins of the colony. He ordered Gel’thran’vex and half their forces to another part of the tree line, as Gel’thran’vex had continued to vex him with jests. Vak’sanithar had brought with him shroud generators to hide them from enemy sensors. Though the tau boasted sophisticated technology, they still could not defeat the stealth devices of the eldar. He dare not contact the cutter for risk of being found. He tried not to even move and had ordered his forces to remain as still as possible as it would tax the generators. The wait was tormenting and he had to shift from time to time to keep from going stiff. This was the most dangerous part of his plan. If they were discovered now they would all be destroyed from orbital bombardment. He needed them to land their ground forces and lure the relief vessels in.

The hard thunderous drop of the tau walkers had surprised him and at first he thought they were discovered. Like him, many were readying their weapons, but fortunately no one fired. Most likely from fear, thought Vak’sanithar as he looked around. Some were shaking, working through their nerves as Vak’sanithar turned back to the tau walkers. At least 20, by his count, several of the closest ones were panning weapons in his general direction, but others had slowly started toward the center of the colony. Soon he heard a high tone whistle, indicating landing craft. As soon as they touched the ground, vehicles poured from their bays, some moving to the broken colony wall. From these teams of tau foot soldiers came and pointed their weapons at the tree line.

In a hard loud whisper he turned and risked speech, “Do nothing.”

Behind the line of tau warriors came other vehicles with fearsome looking turret weapons. As quickly as they moved into position, they had stopped, panning the surround. Vak’sanithar breathed a relieved sigh. They could not sense them, but it had seemed that at least some of the tau were not going to let their guard down as they held position against the tree line.

“I thought you had been discovered, brother,” communicated Gel’thran’vex, slightly worried.

“I did too. We should not be transmitting, little brother,” said Vak’sanithar
“Just tell me what you are thinking, I think we can risk a few moments of planning. That is too many for this throng to take. Especially those multi-painted ones, they are not relaxed,” said Gel’thran’vex.

“Calm yourself, we will wait. You are right. We cannot attack them at the moment, “said Vak’sanithar

It seemed a long while but still the tau would not ease their tense guard. Impatient, Vak’sanithar had begun to formulating ideas. Maybe a sacrificial element could move off, but it would risk exposing them all. Maybe the cutter could sweep in and perform a quick strike, but no, it would never survive the tau counter attack, and then they would be stranded.

“Look, some of them are moving off,” transmitted Gel’thran’vex.

True enough, tau warriors pulled away from the tree line, though plenty were keeping their guns facing the trees until they loading into transports. The vehicles facing them slowly started to turn, gliding. He had noted with a smile that these were the tau that seemed to be on guard. Luck was apparently with him, delivering him exactly what he needed to destroy these retched creatures, at least he hoped it was only luck. He observed the remaining tau soldiers. Together they could form a line of defense that would be difficult to break, perhaps impossible. However their foolish leader had spread them out, isolating the small groups that moved in patrols. He was sorely tempted to attack, as killing had always eased his mood. He decided to wait however to make sure that the other tau could not have enough time to return. The wait was agony, made nerve wracking as several of his band could not remain still. He frightened two slaves into compliance, but the third died before he could apologize, with the silent shard knife opening the slave’s throat and larynx. The tau remained unaware, much to Vak’sanithar’s relief. For seemingly half the day, they waited, did nothing but watch. Finally group of Tau were passing close to Gel’thran’vex, and Vak’sanithar decided that it was time.


Without another word, eleven of the twelve tau were slain with burned dark wounds or fell clutching their throats, sides or legs. Some were already convulsing from the poison before they hit the floor. A lone warrior stood seemingly shocked, but it put its strange hand to the side of a small antenna on its head. Only a few moments passed as it put its hand down, before it joined with its dying brethren on the floor.

“Excellent Gel’thran’vex, now displace, “said Vak’sanithar

“Not so excellent brother, for I used 22 of our little army to kill that many. I am already moving,” transmitted Gel’thran’vex.

The tau had started moving to investigate, several groups rushing across the colony grounds to reach them. Yet as they did so they left a weak rear guard. Only ten this time. Already his motley band were taking aim.

“Leave the one at the back alive,” said Vak’sanithar

They fired, but three survivors stood this time. Vak’sanithar took aim, quickly finishing off two but again left the last until the fool had communicated. The tau’s head snapped back the instant it had took its hand from that aerial. His meager warriors were already moving again, though they were clumsy and loud still compared to kabalites. Combined with the shroud generators, they were quick and quiet enough however and evaded the tau walkers already moving toward them. Vak’sanithar stole a glance back as he vaulted over a rock. As he predicted, the tau soldiers that had moved off to investigate, were racing back to where his group had felled the second group of soldiers, this time some of the walkers were moving slowly near them.

“Brother, you are not going to believe this,” whispered Gel’thran’vex.

His tone told of humor or excitement even over the transmitter.

“They left a group behind again,” said Gel’thran’vex louder this time almost laughing.

“Do it, brother, but do not bother fading back or leaving one alive. I believe we have squeezed these fools with this trick over long. Bring your forces up on their rear, maybe we are blessed and the fool will not fall back into a defensive formation, “said Vak’sanithar with a small smile.

He turned to his own, to the slaves and genoscum that surrounded him. Naga was licking his lips, warily eying between the approaching tau and his own.

“Take cover and be ready kill these weak fools, “whispered Vak’sanithar.

As he saw them move behind trees and mounds, he turned and leveled his own pistol at one of the few tau moving into the edge of the forest.

“FIRE!,” snarled Vak’sanithar, dropping the tau he aimed at.

The tau also took positions behind trees and broken colony walls. At first, the surprise worked in Vak’sanithar’s favor, but the tau fired disciplined bursts into his lines, picking off parts of his host piece by piece, that was until Gel’thran’vex fired into their flanks. At first, he thought they might break, but as much of a fool as their commander had been, it seemed their leader was holding the tau force together, Vak’sanithar could not quite tell if he was bemused or annoyed as he saw the tau adjust, forming a “v” formation that faced them both. It was enough to make Gel’thran’vex and his half of their forces to seek cover, as steady tau fire came at them. He told his rabble to move and they took new positions, yet the tau adjusted again, but slowly. The tau took losses every time Vak’sanithar or Gel’thran’vex shifted their forces around the tau. It was only a matter of bodies. The walkers weathered the small arms, but against the dark lances even they fell. At the center of the tau formation, Vak’sanithar saw a shimmer as a beam of darkness dissipated off the armor of one of the walkers as it gestured. Not the motion of a aiming, but of pointing. This was their commander, thought Vak’sanithar.

Gel’thran’vex had again repositioned, forcing the Tau against central dome of the colony, leaving a train of dead or dying tau in their wake. They were mainly focused on his little brother, and so Vak’sanithar fired a shot into the torso of the walker. The shot sailed true but ricocheted of the walker’s armor, causing it to turn. The rotary cannon on its shoulder spun and fired on the spot where Vak’sanithar had just been, chewing up the hard ground as it fired. Vak’sanithar rolled away behind a pile of tau containers. Two of slaves were huddled there as well, one crying, the other breathing hard. He shot both in disgust before holstering his pistol. Rising, he kicked up the dead slave’s splinter rifle and took aim again. The tau walker turned to face him, its cannon spooling up again. Vak’sanithar was the faster however and fired first, this time the armor of the walker failed to stop the shard. The walker dropped onto a knee, unsteady. A signal sound brought him back down behind cover. It meant that the cutter was trying to communicate with him.

“What is it? We are engaged, “said Vak’sanithar mildly annoyed.

“We have spotted several tau craft coming into low orbit over the colony. They may try and bomb the area from orbit,” said a slave meekly.

“I will handle it, do not engage those craft, if you do, you will be destroyed,” said Vak’sanithar.

He slid farther down behind a container, his back facing away from the tau. He peered up skyward, but the craft were still too high for his naked eyes to see. From his back, he grabbed the wrist device he had taken from the dead tau technician. He pressed against the cracked glass, and the device activated a display. Suddenly the two tau defense cannons spurred to life as their tracking systems looked skyward. Their telescopic eyes found what he could not, the tau vessels. The large ship was hiding behind two of its smaller escorts and had begun deploying boxy shuttle craft. He moved the targeting cursor over the smaller ship on the right, just as the technician had instructed him, and pressed the screen, the icon changing from green to red. The cannon across the yard, turned and fired a beam of blinding light skyward, moving only slightly, but drawing a line that rent the first vessel in two. The debris and cascading explosions rocked the remaining ships and destroyed several of the smaller shuttles. Some escaped the expanding field moving closer to the other escort, but Vak’sanithar was not done, and an instant later the other cannon killed the remaining escort. The few shuttles that survived were scrambling to correct themselves. Most likely these were reinforcements, coming down to aid their beleaguered brethren, thought Vak’sanithar.

“Well we can’t have that,” said Vak’sanithar smiling to no one.

The cannons’ light stitched the sky as the shuttles finally began righting themselves. Already the bigger vessel was moving off. The shuttles however did not head toward it but rather proceeded planet side. It was brave but foolish, thought Vak’sanithar as he continued to target the remaining shuttles, until only two were left. These proved more difficult but he had finally managed to clip both, sending them crashing a great distance from the colony.

Vak’sanithar laughed as he rose, unsheathing his shard knife and pistol as he began to close the distance to the nearest tau. Several of genoscum followed suit, yelling challenges and roaring as the tau fired into them. Vak’sanithar ran headlong into them. Dancing swiftly out of clumsy slow strokes. Each slash of his shard knife incapacitated a tau combatant. Already the dwindling bands of tau soldiers were backing away from the melee. Vak’sanithar smiled a predatory grin, as he looked out among the remaining tau. He tasted their fear and the word that came to mind as his eyes locked on to them was “prey.”

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Posts: 1515

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#8 » Oct 02 2013 06:05

I'm reminded of the first bit of Tau fluff ever to hit the books. A Shas'Ui leading a fire team in conjunction with some Kroot ambush a Dark Eldar raiding party.

I guess some revenge was in order... A thousand times over.

Good work, I'm really interested in seeing how this branch develops.
~Good Hunting

Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#9 » Oct 09 2013 03:40

I am honored Calmsword. thanks I hope everyone is enjoying the stories as much as I am

Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#10 » Oct 09 2013 04:01

Chapter 6
El’Sha’nan had made his jumps in silence, falling into a steady rhythm as they made the short bursts to keep up with the cruising vehicles. It had been soothing, and aided in calming his frayed nerves. He had to divide his attention and still could not completely be at ease. Normally his piranha team would be ranging ahead, alerting them to any danger but he had opted to leave them on the Regulant Auspice. Instead his slaved drones were sent ahead to give him vantage of the muddy grasslands that lay beyond. It was small wonder the colony had not attracted more settlers. The humid rainy low grasslands would be uncomfortable. Still these worlds and the colonies were what fed the empire. He turned aside from thoughts of He’pha’n’s climate and took a look at the divisions of his HUD, displaying what his drones saw. Other than the approaching tower, nothing seemed to be moving on the fields that were between them and their destination.

Thankfully Vre’Shais’ka and Vre’Mua’da had decided to give him space. The voyage had been mostly silent, and even with the speed of the suits and vehicles they were well into their third dec of travel. Slowly the tall comms tower loomed into view, inching closer with every tor’kan.

“The structure must be at least a 200 hundred tor’leks high,” ventured Vre’Mua’da.

“More like 120,” corrected Vre’Shais’ka

“You are a cheat, Vre’Shais’ka, you used your ship’s range finder,” said Vre’Mua’da playfully.

El’Sha’nan decided to stop this behavior early. The calm of the last three decs was threating to evaporate.

“Shas’Vre Mua’da and Shais’ka, keep the comm channel clear, unless this is official or critical intel. You are senior officers of the cadre not kna’saal. What has gotten into you two?,” asked El’Sha’nan in a scolding tone.

Silence followed for several moments. He could see their stunned faces. He imagined Vre’Shais’ka getting ready to explode, but the silence was heavy and uncomfortable.

“We are sorry, Shas’El. You are right,” said Vre’Mua’da somberly.

El’Sha’nan sighed, his anger washing away.

“I am too. I am not angry with you two,” said El’Sha’nan

“Yes, we understand that El’Sha’nan. Our field commander is a Va’vral,” said Vre’Shais’ka.

El’Sha’nan felt a flash of anger, but let It pass for he knew his brother was right. He allowed himself to realize that and as he did, the pressure that had been building in his head since the start of the mission disappeared.

“You are right Vre’Shais’ka, but nevertheless he is in command,” said El’Sha’nan

“You are in your rights to contest his command, it is clear in the Code of Fire,” suggested Vre’Shais’ka.

His voice seemed calm enough, but El’Sha’nan could feel his brother’s anger. El’Sha’nan refused to get angry this time.

“For one who fights against the tenants of the Code of Fire, you seem to know quite a bit of them, “ said El’Sha’nan, keeping his voice light and jokingly.

“So when one challenges me I am prepared, “said Vre’Shais’ka, slightly defensive.

“You have too much Vior’la blood. Always seeing challenges and slights. So be it. Who would have backed my claim on Command? Would it be Kor’El’U’ten, who believes that command is a sacred duty and that subordinates should only speak when directed or asked. Maybe El’Ol’Savon, who never questioned El’Aloh’ka and scolded me for doing so. Do you think that El’Aloh’ka would step down, simply because I, a senior Shas’El, demanded it. No my brother, I did not see victory in any of those paths. Our path is not the path of the glory, but of honor, of protection, of service. That is how we must achieve victory here and for Fo’tan,” finished El’Sha’nan , more calmly then even he thought possible.

His two officers were seemingly stunned into silence. It was several rai’kors before Vre’Skais’ka broke the silence.

“I…I will think on what you say…br…Shas’El,” said Vre’Shais’ka.

It was another 22 rai’kors before they reached the outskirts of the tower. It rose above them, its white fio’tek walls greying from the constant wind and rain. At its base were two small domed buildings most likely storage and repair facilities. At first, it had seemed that it was untouched but as his cadre dismounted and moved in, along a wall they saw the classic burn patterns of pulse rounds, and in the courtyard of the tower lay several disabled drones. Immediately he had the cadre perform a full reconnaissance sweep. His fire warrior teams and path finders moved cautiously as they approached the storage buildings. In the first, they found it gutted of all items save a few spare drone parts and cabling. At the second however, the door seemed stuck. It was inspected for damage and traps, but they had uncovered no sign on the exterior of the door. Drone scan had revealed that something was on the other side, but it contained no signals or active electronics. Sword 1 and 3 had pry tools out and slowly the door started to give way. When they had the door a quarter of the way down, it suddenly dropped. Attached to the other side on a crude counter weight was crate swinging past the door and into a surprised Shas’la. The crate knocked the warrior clean off of his hooves and the pathfinder behind him too. Drones in the yard simultaneously spurred to life, activating fusion torches and cutters as they approached the cadre. Disciplined fire kept the renegade drones from getting close. El’Sha’nan was about to give an order to enter when two Fio’fann clumsily charged out of the building, screaming like a pack of wild Ui’t, waving pulse carbines as they ran. Luckily two of his Shas’Ui’s expertly disarmed the duo. None were seriously injured, though the fire warrior that had taken the brunt of the crate was constantly rubbing his cracked chest armor. The Shas’ui’s were not gentle with the two Fio’s as they dragged them to El’Sha’nan. The struggle became worse as suddenly, three fio’saal were wrestling with one of the Shas’Uis, attempting to free their father and mother. El’Sha’nan moved toward them and disengaged the entry hatch of his suit. It stood lifeless as he stepped out. Vre’Mua’da did the same. The five Fio’fann were subdued before El’Sha’nan walked up to them

“Shas’Ui, you must release them. They are citizens of the empire, not enemies,” said El’Sha’nan smiling.

“But they attacked us, Shas’El,” said the Shas’Ui

“ They defended themselves, and none were hurt. “ said El’Sha’nan.

“as you command, Shas’El,” said the Shas’Ui.

El’Sha’nan studied them. The male was a fit but slightly aging. He turned to the Earth caste female. Despite her age, he found her beautiful all the same. The lines of her features and kept scalp lock were in contrast to her dirty hands and work suit. Both had a slew of auto tools, spanners and hand welders, strapped on belts or hanging out of pouches on their legs. The children were definitely from their union, sharing his set jaw and almond shaped cheeks and scalp spots. They looked frightened, but both Vre’Mua’da and El’Sha’nan smiled sadly. El’Sha’nan turned back to the adults. The both were frowning, their brows knotted in seemingly frustration.

“Why do you look at us with such contempt,..uh, and what are your names? “said El’Sha’nan, somewhat awkwardly.

“I am Fio’Ui’Au’taal’Po’nash, this is Fio’Ui’Fel’shia’Ke’ma, my bond-mate. She , our children and I escaped from the last attack. We called for rescue but none came, just those dark creatures, hunting and killing our friends and family,” said the male.

His voice was deep and baritone, and filled with bitterness.

“We came as soon as we were able,” said Vre’Mua’da soothingly as she could.

“It doesn’t matter now, the colony is gone, isn’t it?” asked Ui’Ke’ma, her face twisted in anguish.

El’Sha’nan paused. He understood their pain and fear and felt helpless to ease it. Tau of the fire caste were warriors, but also protectors. These poor tau’fann had lost trust in that. Try as he might the words would not come. He had to continue the mission, and get at least these few survivors to the Path Resurgence. Maybe even the majesty of the Ta’shiro station would rekindle their troubled hearts.

“I am only a humble Shas’El, but on behalf of my caste, I apologize for our failure to protect you. We can only hope to one day make you again feel safe,” said El’Sha’nan, kneeling and bowing apologetically.

Vre’Mua’da followed him and so did all the surrounding Fire Warriors of the Cadre.

It was a few rai’kors before Ui’ Po’nash spoke.

“We humbly accept your apology, Shas’El. Please rise,” said Ui’Po’nash.

“We will take you back with us to the Path Resurgence, but first we need to find out what damage is preventing the tower from relaying drone information, “said El’Sha’nan

Ui’Po’nash looked at his bondmate. She grinned and chuckled as if they were sharing some private joke.

“That is easy to resolve, Shas’El. I deactivated the transponder array,” said Ui’Ke’ma smiling.

“Why would you deactivate the array?” responded El’Sha’nan.

“We were afraid to return to the colony, but we also not dare risk using the communications equipment, in case our attackers were listening. So my Ui’Ke’ma had the idea that if we shut off the transponder array eventually the rescue would have to come and repair it and then find us,” said Ui’Po’nash.

“Can it be repaired?” asked El’Sha’nan.

“I will have the tower fully functional in a few Rai’kors,” Ui’Ke’ma

While the two Fio’uis set to work El’Sha’nan’s cadre loaded the few possessions the family owned into one of the devilfish. The tower had begun humming, first slightly, but now it was a very audible whirr and he and others had to raise their voices to be heard above it.

“We are ready to leave Shas’El,” said Ui’Ke’ma.

They were escorted into one of the Devilfish and the armored column took off. With the network feeding him additional telemetry, he recalculated their route.

“All Swords and lances, this is Sword actual. Proceed on the heading I am uploading. This should cut our return time by more than a dec,” said El’Sha’nan.

At first the return was as silent as their arrival. He felt hope creep back in. At least they had saved one family, he thought.

His personal drones ranged far ahead of the column scanning the area. They were past the first dec of travel when they glimpsed the wreck. It was an orca, its paint scheme that of T’au. White paneling indicated that it was a VIP shuttle. As soon as he saw it, El’Sha’nan ordered the column towards it at top speed. He and the suits moved to investigate while the hammerheads and skyrays kept roving parameter.

The wreck had cracked in half so that only the top of the craft was in one piece. Several of the hatches were missing and the cockpit window was busted in. The orca looked as though it had scrapped against the ground well past the parameter, indicating that it had hit at a shallow angle.

“It seemed to have landed well enough,” said Vre’Mua’da

“They were trying to force it down. They wanted captives or just the right captive,” said El’Sha’nan with sickening realization.

“I need to speak to Fio’Ui’’Po’nash or Fio’Ui’Ke’ma,” ordered El’Sha’nan over the open comm.

The line stayed silent for a few moments.

“Yes Shas’el,” said the deep voice of Ui’Po’nash.

“Did you have a sacred Aun, here at your colony?” asked El’Sha’nan, panic clear in his voice.

“Yes Shas’el, one was visiting during the first attack. He was touring the outlying colonies that were supplying the Path Resurgence. You need not worry, we made sure that his shuttle escaped during the fighting,” said Ui’Po’nash.

“Was this his shuttle?” asked El’Sha’nan feeding his drones visuals through the line.

The fio’ui sucked in a hard breath.

“We need…,” started El’Sha’nan but he was cut off by the emergency tone.

“This is…El’Aloh’ka, You must re..return immediately. We are under heavy attack. Hurry…..Please,” spoke El’Aloh’ka, his voice thick with pain even over the comm channel.

“Move! Full Speed!,” barked El’Sha’nan.

Despite the whine and strain on his vehicles’ engines, El’Sha’nan could hear his heart pounding. There were still enemies on He’pha’n and they had fallen into the trap. He was angry and anxious at himself, but shook off the self-rebuke. He could again hear his mentor’s words.
“Focus on the mission, on the now, reflect later,” Shas’O’Nars’xuan’fa voice echoed in his head.

“To all Sword and Lance units, let us break this trap.”

Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#11 » Oct 21 2013 02:20

Chapter 7
The quiet hum of engines told Vak’sanithar that it was almost time to go. The twenty some tau they had captured were being herded or forced onto raider decks, four onto his personal barge. The other tau lay dead or dying, and the remaining genoscum and slaves were still picking at them looking for items of worth. After sending Gel’thran’vex ahead and calling for the raiders, he had joined the scavengers, looking over the fallen command walker as several of gutterdark slaves struggled to pull open the hatch. It had fallen on its backside lying face up. Tools broke, tempers were fraying and long moments had passed before they even had managed to move the hatch a little. It took longer still to open it enough to see inside. Finally they managed to pry it back, one of the slaves kneeled on top, loosing a blade as the other two heaved back the lid. Vak’sanithar kicked the slave off, pulling his knife and pistol in challenge as he leaped onto the fallen walker. All three slinked away in fear, the one that had been kicked, not even picking up his knife as he fled. The tau was pale for one of its race, dark veins almost black were tightening across the surface of its skin. A trickle of cobalt was streaming from its leg, but a steady stream was pouring from a wound in the alien’s abdomen. The tau’s breathing was shallow but rapid. It seemed to Vak’sanithar that it was fighting to stay conscious. The tau’s eyes, even strange as they were, spoke of hatred, seething hatred. Death was slow, but it had already claimed this one.

“You look as though you are in pain,” said Vak’sanithar, mockingly.

If the tau commander had understood, it made no indication. Vak’sanithar lifted the tau out, sitting it up, just enough to show the loaded raiders. The tau struggled but was too weak to resist. The tau’s eyes widened as he saw his fellow warriors and Vak’sanithar tasted the delicious despair.

“Oh, do not worry, I will take excellent care of them. Damaged slaves make horrible profits after all,” said Vak’sanithar.

Whether through pain or as a last act of defiance, the tau furrowed his brow. Vak’sanithar lowered the tau back down and leveled his knife, preparing to take a grizzly trophy from the defeated, dying commander.

“Your death approaches but that does not mean I need to make it pleasa…,” started Vak’sanithar.

A beam of ignited air passed by, whipping his head up as an explosion rocked nearby, engulfing several of his slave warriors. One of the raiders shook from impacts as several bursts of energy struck its night fields. He gave one last half bemused look at the dying tau.

“I guess it is time to go,” said Vak’sanithar, before vaulting off the back of the fallen walker.

He ran as explosions continued to boom around him. His raider was already turning as he leapt on. It’s sudden burst of speed made him take a slight pause to steady himself before looking back. The tau reinforcements were moving fast. Supported teams moved up on the fleeing raiders. One was lagging and smoking, tau beams firing into it, until finally it crashed and slid against the ground. The few slaves and genoscum clambered out, clumsily pointing weapons before being cut down. The foot soldiers moved passed taking positions against ruined walls or buildings. Several tau tanks moved into view firing around Vak’sanithar and the other fleeing raiders but the craft were light and swift and they took little damage.

Vak’sanithar though about turning and finishing off what he presumed were the last of the tau defenders. He still had numbers, but the damned green armored ones had fought hard and now his band’s dead now outnumbered the living. Moreover he had observed that these were the real threat. They were cautious and seasoned. For them, Vak’sanithar would need to be more devious, more cunning.

In the days leading up to their initial attack on the colony, they had spied a shallow valley connected to the flat land on which the colony and its surrounding forest sat. Near the center of the valley was a crater of raw earth and little puddles of muddy water. It was here that Vak’sanithar had established a small makeshift base. It was here they had spare arms and kept their meager bounty of slaves and trinkets. At the heart of his camp was the whisper field generator. Its application was somewhat different from the smaller shroud generators which baffled and clouded sensor reads. The whisper field absorbed quantum and vox frequency emissions for half a planet. It ruined coordination and communications between ground and space. It however released enough heat and energy that even the more powerful shrouds could not even hope to hide it. So it required defense, powerful cannons he could not have smuggled out of Commorragh. That the tau had ‘lent’ him two was again proof that the fates smiled upon him. Once activated, the remaining tau would charge forward towards the generator. It was there that they would die. Gel’thran’vex and he had been preparing the crater making sure that all approaches bristled with dark lances and splinter cannons. The vengeful charge would become their death.

“How are you coming brother? Are you almost done?,” asked Vak’sanithar.

“We are ready here, I have but one concern,” returned Gel’thran’vex.

“just the one?”

“I have been tallying what remains and…,” started Gel’thran’vex.

“we have more than sufficient to defeat the remaining tau and capture the ship,” said Vak’sanithar slightly annoyed.

“it is not that, I have noticed that the Mavens and Naga’s crew are almost half of what remains of our little army,” transmitted Gel’thran’vex.

The implication was unspoken but clear. Vak’sanithar peered up looking at the speeding raiders, more than half were filled with Mavens or Naga’s snakes. They were not so stupid as to share raiders, but he continued to scan, until he saw that the leader of the mavens had pulled her raider close to Naga’s.

“Well let us remedy that now,” he said scowling.

“Naga, this is Vak’sanithar,” said Vak’sanithar.

“eh’yess, how may I assssist you,” spat back Naga, his tone still insolent.

The Maven’s raider veered away from Naga’s. Very clumsily, thought Vak’sanithar. There was no subtlety in the gesture. It was clear that he had interrupted some plan.

“You did well and many, including my brother, witnessed your prowess. I would like to smooth out the waters between us and offer you the position of first ambush. Before the ridgeline there are some natural crevices deep enough for you and yours to hide in. It will give you the choice of slaves after they are defeated, “said Vak’sanithar, doing his best to make his voice sound meek and scared.

For a moment he was concerned that the fool would see right through his ruse, but he saw the other snake raiders slow, and then stop as they came to the spot Vak’sanithar described, Naga’s genoscum gangers pouring over the sides.

“Consssider it done, Vak’sanithar, but I think when thisss is done we mussst talk again,” said Naga.

“If you say so, Naga,” said Vak’sanithar, again feigning a fearful tone.

Without the support of the other exkabalites and slaves, the fool and his ilk had little in the way of heavy weapons or discipline. The tau would fall upon them and destroy them utterly. It might even help bring the tau into the head long rush that would end in their utter defeat. His raider blurred past them, Vak’sanithar only barely able to suppress his laughter.

“Thank you for the warning, brother, I am loathe to admit it but I had not noticed their plot,” said Vak’sanithar soberly.

“We are brothers,” said Gel’thran’vex

Vak’sanithar could sense that he had more to say and sighed.

“Out with it, Gel’thran’vex.”

“Who do you think is running operations for the Bloody Rose Kabal?” asked Gel’thran’vex.
Vak’sanithar was perplexed by the question, unsure of what his brother was after. He frowned, for while he knew of the faces of the Bloody Rose, he had considered them as one entity, one monster to slay.

“To be honest brother, I had not considered it closely, most likely Merrighan’s pet, Seth'ia'vex,” said Vak’sanithar.

Her name had rolled out off his tongue, laced with hatred. In the other times when the two kabals had not been bitter foes, they had once met Merrighan’s famed lieutenant. They had yet to discover that they were never going to advance under Kel’sparin’s rule and were sailing on the euphoric tide of success, advancement, and good fortune. Her stare alone had unsettled him. It was as though some scion of ‘She Who Thirsts” was staring at him. When he forced himself to look past that, he saw her distain, she had already dismissed him as unimportant, as unworthy of her attention. She had seemingly hated them for just being. When Vak’sanithar’s plan came to fruition she would be among the dead. She was a fearsome warrior and smart but it would only be a matter of time before she plotted a coup and their deaths.

He shook himself from the thought and asked” why do you care?”

“When our plan is enacted, when we make our final strikes, I want her, she will be mine to hurt and then kill in the slowest cruelest way,” seethed Gel’thran’vex.

Most denizens of the dark city knew of and loathed Seth'ia'vex. Gel’thran’vex was obsessed with her death. During their one meeting, she had made it clear that she abhorred Gel’thran’vex, and went out of her way to ensure that he was thoroughly embarrassed. Since then, Gel’thran’vex had made two attempts on her life, but she had managed to escape unscathed. Vak’sanithar was always ready to obfuscate the trail so that retaliation was visited on others, and if Seth’ia’vex was attacked, someone always payed.

“Of course, dear brother, of course. However first we must hurry to finish off these unworthy rats before Kel’sparin or the Bloody Rose catch us unprepared.” said Vak’sanithar.

“Surely they do not know we are here,” said Gel’thran’vex, exasperated.

“Make no mistake brother, Kel’sparin knows. Fool he may seem, but he is an archon and by now others realize we have left Commoragh. As to the Kabal of the Bloody Rose, I only suspect and hope that they know.”

“Hope?! How can you ‘hope’ that they know?” said Gel’thran’vex.

“After we capture it, I plan to let the Bloody Rose take the tau vessel and most of our genoscum and slaves with them. They will of course try to fight back, but I will bet that they will not last long against the Bloody Rose on an unfamiliar alien ship. While this is going on, you, I, and 20 or so of the tau higher-ups will slip away on the cutter,” said Vak’sanithar

“When we have ripped the intel from the tau, we will inform Kel’sparin of the plans of the Bloody Rose. This attack from the Bloody Rose will convince him that he must amass his fleet, and we will ensure Merrighan is told why. She will have no choice but to attack, all the while you and I are waiting to remove the final pieces from the war and there you have it, our path to ascension,” said Vak’sanithar.

As he looked out, he saw that they were entering the camp. Slaves and ex-kabalites moved aside to let the last raiders past. He turned at last to the Tau prisoners on deck. All of them were wounded and in pain.

“Now to see to our volunteers,” he sneered as he loomed over them.
Last edited by knightofthewr on Oct 27 2015 03:16, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#12 » Oct 21 2013 03:36

Chapter 8
With several teams and armored vehicles lining the wall, the remainder of the cadre began fanning out to look among the fallen warriors of the colony. All were ashen, poisoned, and dying. They deserved better deaths, thought El’Sha’nan solemnly.

Among the destroyed suits and dead aliens and fire warriors, was El’Aloh’ka’s suit, the canopy opened. El’Sha’nan detached himself from his suit, preparing to find the Shas’el gone, but it was worse still. Half the cockpit was pooled in El’Aloh’ka’s life blood. That the commander was still breathing was miraculous. His skin was almost ice white, covered in a thin beading of sweat. In contrast dark veins pulses out across his entire body. Gone was the contempt, his eyes only showed sadness or perhaps regret.

He was whispering softly, too softly to hear. El’Sha’nan leaned in closer.

“Sav…save them….pl…please….,” whispered El’Aloh’ka and then he was gone.

“Regulant Auspice, this is El’Sha’nan. I am requesting medvac orca drop now! And where are the reinforcements from El’Ol’savon’s cadre?” asked El’Sha’nan.

“I cannot send shuttles to the surface until you have either regained control of the defense guns or disabled them. We have lost much already. My two Kir’qath escorts are gone. Shas’el’Ol’savon and most of her cadre were shot down attempting to make planetfall. I will risk no more vessels until …..” started Kor’el’U’ten.

“Kor’el’U’ten? Kor’el’U’ten? Are you there?

The Kor'el's voice had been strained. Undoubtedly he was upset about how badly things had gone. Such was the way of a first combat. Nothing prepares you for the shock of the atrocities, or the paralyzing fear, the pumping of hot blood. Kor’el’U’ten was not of the fire caste, but he had a trial by fire all the same.

“Shas’el, excuse me but something strange is going on. My readings indicate I am only receiving return data stream from drones seven hundred tor’leks up in the atmosphere. It is as though all the other atmospheric drones ceased transmission,” said Ui’Ke’ma over the comms line.

“Or they are being jammed. We need to warn the Regulant Auspice, to warn the Resurgent Path. Fio’ui’Ke’ma have your drones focus any unusual heat or energy sources however small or tiny they may be. They may seem unimpor…,

“Found it, Shas’el,” she interrupted.

“Already? How? Surely the Var Sin'da, have hidden it better than that,” said El’Sha’nan.

“Perhaps they cannot. The signal is bright and fluctuating. They may not be able to,” said Ui’Ke’ma.

“Vre’Mua’da do you have any survivors?” asked El’Sha’nan.

“None, they are all dead, Shas’el,” she said clearly pained.

“I feel sadness too, but right now we have to get the warning out. It is all that matters. Gather the foot teams and reform behind lance 4.

“Yes Shas’el.”

He was already climbing back into his suit. He started the motion system and wheeled to face the reforming cadre.

Fio’ ui’Po’nash had transmitted the location of the energy source on his HUD. He studied the surround for a moment, before his mind shifted to the two defense cannons. They could destroy them with the weapons from the tanks, but the platforms were built to withstand orbital strikes.

“Fio’fann, I have one more task for you before we leave,” said El’Sha’nan

The two tails of plasma discharge from the colony reached high over the surrounding forest and ruins. They had left the Fio’fann behind with sword five. The rest of his cadre moved swiftly across the plains in a Tide Strike formation. With the added intel from the atmospheric drones, he had a clear understanding of the terrain before them. It was through them that he had espied the ridge defenders. His cadre had slowed as he was at first uncertain of how to proceed. That was until he observed them. They were careless, undisciplined savages, truly little better than be’gel. He said the word his cadre had been trained for.

“Tide Strike,“ he ordered.

The cadre went into formation, two hammerheads and two skyrays formed an arrowhead, blazing a trail for the more vulnerable armor to follow. They held fire until the foot were deployed. All four vehicles opened up launching blast and smart missile out to enemy positions. El’Sha’nan, Vre’Mua’da, and the other XV-8 suit teams formed up and leaped into one of the larger crevices. Burst cannons and flamers killed most of the occupants. After the first wave of armor peeled off, teams of fire warriors and pathfinders came forward, quickly overwhelming most of the shell shocked defenders. The speed and continued unrelenting wave upon wave of fire caused the few survivors to flee. All accept one, the largest. His form was odd for a Var Sin'da, for he was bulky where most were slender. It was clear he was healing from a gash on his exposed abdomen and had at least taken one pulse round to his blackened shoulder. He must have been crazed from the pain as he futilely charged the advancing teams of fire warriors. Together they cut the crazed warrior down with volleys before he could even get close enough to fire his pistol. The battle fury was on El’Sha’nan. He could feel it and see it in the tanks and teams chasing after the few warriors fleeing the crevices. He had been about to follow.

“Wait!” echoed Shas’O’Nars’xuan’fa voice in his head.

“All Stop, all stop, Halt all sword and Lance units,” commanded El’Sha’nan.

“We have them on the run, Shas’el,”said Vre’Shais’ka.

“That is what bothers me. This was too easy,” he looked at the casualty reports, only two had died and one injured from twisting his ankle.

He called down atmospherics but the signals around the energy source were still baffled. He could send scouts, but he knew that the foe they faced was clever and relied greatly on traps and tricks. Any scouts would most likely be shot before they could accurately assess the enemy base. He had to send his Kor’vesa. He made sure to record their feed as they speed up to the ridge. As they approached the edge and over, the sounds of fire and beams of darkness escaped before the two drones were destroyed. They had only lasted 1.2 rai’kan, but it had been more than enough.

The recorders showed that the enemy had taken cover behind a shallow crater; behind its rocky walls the defenders wielded many of the deadly weapons that could destroy armor or shred infantry alike. If they had continued, the cadre would have run headlong into a devastating gunline. El’Sha’nan whispered thanks to his mentor where ever she was.

A frontal assault would be suicide and there was not enough room to perform an adequate tide strike. He could try and wait them out like the patient hunter, but they needed to move soon, every moment put the Resurgent Path at greater risk. He needed a mont’ka maneuver, and suddenly sighed, the irony not lost on him; Death blossom. He need not survive to achieve victory, only destroy the energy source and pass the warning on to the Regulant Auspice.

He ordered the remainder of the cadre to attack and fade from the ridgeline, shifting to cause the Var sin’da to shift.

“There must be another ploy, a tide strike variant we can use,” said Vre’Shais’ka, almost pleading.

“Nothing that will work in the time frame we need. The Resurgent path must be warned,” said El’Sha’nan reserved.

Every one of his suit pilots knew the cost. They could not overwhelm the enemy with so few, but they also knew the stakes and it was bitter sweet that they were going to meet their fate so bravely, all for an empire that had treated them as unworthy. The suit teams swung wide as to not alert the enemy of their movements. Vre’Shais’ka would wait until they were in jump position.

As they moved into position, El’Sha’nan stopped and breathed in.

“Vre’Shais’ka, you have command, goodbye brother,” said El’Sha’nan.

He activated the signal and could see the first of the tanks move, fire and fade. As he had hoped, the shift and fade made the tau vehicles hard targets.

“For the glory of Fo’tan and the Greater good!” yelled El’Sha’nan.

“For the greater good,” Vre’Mua’da and the other pilots returned.

They charged their jetpacks for the long distance jump while moving to the ridge, El’Sha’nan at their head. Finally the group of suits fired their packs, leaping into the air, plasma trails burning off behind them. As one the suits landed in a rough circle around the energy source and fanned out. The device was shaped like a black diamond, taller and wider than three XV=8s. It hummed and a sick pink-purple light was escaping from every seam and vent. El’Sha’nan fired on instinct with his fusion blaster. The device exploded and bathed all the suits in crackling light. El ‘Sha’nan wasted no time.

“This is acting commander El’Sha’nan, Regulant Auspice can you hear me? The cannons are disabled and I hope by the greater good I have destroyed the jamming device,” said El’Sha’nan

“Shas’el, we are receiving y…,” started Kor’el’U’ten

“there is no time to lose,” said El’Sha’nan forcefully.

The suit team called the dragons had already engaged firing into swathes of enemy combatants with flamers and burst cannons. Vre’Mua’da and the other team were firing as well.

“As acting commander, I am using command override authority to order you to send the following data stream immediately to the Resurgent Path. It follows. ‘The Resurgent Path is in impending danger. The Var sin’da have captured an ethereal and most likely are aware of the fleet’s disposition, location, and route. A Var sin’da attack is imminent. Proceed with extreme alert and caution. End message’ Did you get all of that?”asked El’Sha’nan.

“Yes, Shas’El, and it is sent, it will take a dec to reach them,” said the airy voiced Kor’el.

El’Sha’nan had stopped listening after confirmation however as the fire fight had intensified. The enemy dead were mounted in heaps but they continued to pour in. The suit teams activated jet packs until they were back to back. The trap they had willing walked into was about to close. El’Sha’nan hardened his resolve until an explosion rang from the enemy rear and then another. From his vantage point, El’Sha’nan could see his tanks and fire warriors coming over the ridge. His stubborn brother was going to get them killed he thought at first, until he realized that no one was firing back. These where not the disciplined defenders of a Var sin’da attack party. They had sent everything they had at his suits and now with no one to defend the ridge, they had doomed themselves.
He turned his guns on the closest combatants, hope restored. The battle turned into a dozen fire fights and already some of the enemy fled hoping to escape the confusion. He thought that for a moment they might just live through this until he saw the armored eldar warriors cut through the dragons. The clumsy suits sprayed flame and pulse shot but these were the few true warriors the enemy had and they dodged or leapt through so fast that they were hardly touched. Their leader moved with an uncanny grace and the larger one at his side fired his dark beam weapon expertly. Within seconds the melee was over, with rents in the torsos of the three XV-8s as they fell. El’Sha’nan and Vre’Mua’da opened fire. Both had years of experience and training that made them fine marksmen. Together they rained a fusillade and the band of eldar was cut down until only the leader and the tall eldar with the beam weapon remained. El’Sha’nan was training his fusion blaster on the leader as suddenly Vre’Mua’da crashed into him.

“Look out, Shas’el,” screamed Vre’Mua’da as she rammed her suit into El’Sha’nan. She had been firing wildly as she came on and the energy blasts had knocked the tall Var sin’da off his feet, spoiling his aim. Still the shot hit Vre’Mua’da, her suit losing power.

“Vre’Mua’da, respond!” said El’Sha’nan.

Suddenly he felt a sharp pain in his thigh. A small hole of light peered through where the shard had pierced his armor and leg.

He turned and fired, but the leader was already rolling away. El’Sha’nan jumped away trying to gain some distance. The tall eldar was shaken and dazed, struggling to rise. The leader however came on, laughing, running to close the distance, and firing as he went. Most of the shards stopped by the armor, but another punched through to the right of this head. He had to end this before the tall eldar could rejoin. He fired with both weapons, but again the lithe leader leapt aside. They repeated their dance of jump, shoot, dodge for several moments but as the firefight continued, El’Sha’nan began to feel slightly dizzy. He looked at the leg and realized he must have been poisoned. The leader was toying with him until it could kill or incapacitate him. Only one desperate chance remained.

He dropped to one knee. It felt good and his lids began to become heavy. He shook off sleep as the leader began another charge toward him. He did not move until the last possible moment. He saw surprise on the leader’s angular face as he leveled the fusion blaster at his chest. The beam passed straight through the eldar leader, opening a cauterized hole large enough to stick a hand through. The leader’s dead form crashed against El’Sha’nan and slumped to the ground like a broke rag doll. El’Sha’nan struggled to rise but as he did so, he heard the cry of pain from the tall eldar. The tall one was bleeding from a dozen superficial wounds, but nothing serious. Already he had picked up the fallen beam weapon. El’Sha’nan tried to fire but the poison clouded his movements, his arms were leaden and he could barely keep his eyes open. A shot from his fusion blaster sailed wide, but it seemed to trouble the tall eldar not at all.

The eldar roared as he leveled the beam weapon, fired, and El’Sha’nan’s world faded to black.

User avatar
Didi et Gogo
Posts: 520

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#13 » Oct 28 2013 02:56

A thunderous conclusion. Bravo.

(I think you mean perimeter, not parameter?)

Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#14 » Oct 29 2013 09:36

Didi et Gogo wrote:A thunderous conclusion. Bravo.

(I think you mean perimeter, not parameter?)

thank you so much. I am glad you enjoyed it. I am not done with the Fo'tanians just yet. The epilogue will be coming up shortly

Posts: 104

Re: Into Silence: Brothers in Arms

Post#15 » Oct 30 2013 06:34

Vre’Muada walked down the corridor in her sleeveless jumpsuit. Though still toned, her arms were more slender than her days as a line warrior, and it made her feel meek and small. She had avoided eye contact and had nearly bumped into two kor’fann on their way out of the medical bay. Normally she walked with a proud gait or light playful beat but today she could not. She had survived the battle unscathed, not even scarred but many others had not. It was mere luck that her suit had saved her life. The dark beam had been boring through the armor, but a lucky angle made the shot veer and instead it shorted out her entire electronics suite. For several agonizing rai’kor, she heard the sounds of fusion blaster and burst cannon as her commander fought on, but a booming hum had silenced it. She screamed, frightened for El’Sha’nan. She had struggled in futility against the weight of the lifeless suit until she was sore and bruised. It had been Vre’Shais’ka that had found her, saved her from the cloying darkness of her cockpit prison. They had found El’Sha’nan together, unconscious. She had cried when she saw the blackened flesh of his arm and the dark cobalt still soaking through the cloth on his thigh. His face was very pale and dark veins stitched his face. He was barely breathing. Vre’Shais’ka called down shuttles and organized the remainder of the cadre, while she had flown up with their dying commander and the other wounded on the first orca. The Fio’medics took over as soon as they were on board. One came up to her and had submitted her to a batch of tests and forced her to lay down. It was so hazy afterward, bits of jumbled conversations and talks of anti-toxins. When she again awoke, she was in a private sleeping cell wearing a sleeping gown. As she rose, a kor’vesa drone activated, introducing itself as medical care monitor 45-RA12. The drone prattled on about her protein intakes, life organ rhythms, breathing patterns. She stopped listening as she searched for clothing and found her pack with her standard undersuit and spare jumpsuit. She stripped and pulled on the jumpsuilt only stopping when the drone revealed how long she had slept.

“Kor’vesa 45-RA12, Stop. Repeat last data line,” she said shocked.

“Yes honored Vre’Mua’da. You have been unconscious for 4.53 rotaa,” said the drone in a light even tone.

The drone continued on, giving her all sorts of unnecessary medical information. It had ended its prattle by saying that she was requested in the medical bay for further examination.

The transparent doors opened silently as she passed into the sonic cleaner station preceding the entrance to the medical bay. The pulse made her skin tingle and itch, but it was over as quickly as it had begun. A second set of doors opened allowing her into the hall with medical cubes on either side. A medical fio’fann came up to her and smiled. She was young and had an eagerness, that reminded her of herself when she had performed her first trial. They walked to an empty cube in the middle of the hall. Medical examinations made most fire caste uneasy and Vre’Mua’da was no exception. Thankfully the girl was gentle enough as she ran her inspection of Vre’Mua’da. Abruptly she was cleared for duty and the young Fio left her. She was leaving as she heard Vre’Shais’ka’s voice coming from a cube further down the hall.

“Only 16 survivors, though psychologically I would argue only 12 are fit for duty. We could fold them in, that would reduce our losses to two,” he said.

“They are not Fo’tanians, it would take half a Tau’cyr to get them used to working with our armor and deployments. Besides I imagine the Shas’Ar’Tol will most likely reform their cadre,” said a voice she recognized.

Vre’Mua’da’s eyes widened. She peered inside, and saw, beyond hope, El’Sha’nan sitting up on a medical rest pad. Vre’Shais’ka was standing across from him, wearing his ceremonial armor. She felt excitement and smiled until she saw El’Sha’nan’s right side. Where his shoulder and ribcage should have been was a curved gleaming metallic plate. In line with his left arm, instead of a right arm was a radial vent port and a central hole. A slight glow poured from the hole. She wanted to march right in and hug both of them but something held her back. She pulled back before they could see her at the door. She felt the knot of shame form in her stomach.

Her commander had been grievously wounded, but here she was untouched. She could not dare face him or Vre’Shais’ka. She moved away leaving the brothers to their talk.

“What of Vre’Mua’da? Is she one of the eighteen that we lost?” asked El’Sha’nan, worried.

“No, you already asked that. I am starting to think that you have more than a commander’s concern for a soldier,” teased Vre’Shais’ka.

El’Sha’nan furrowed his brow, but he blushed too.

“It is this damned var’sin’da poison. The medical fio’ui told me that in a few more rotaa, all traces will be gone from my systems. “

“You know, she saved your life. I saw the recovery feeds from her XV-8’s recorder,” said Vre’Shais’ka.

“I know, I wish to thank her, I felt sick when I saw her drop,” said El’Sha’nan solemnly.

“She is fine, she had a concussion and is resting in her quarters. Speaking of rest, you should be getting some as well. I have a feeling you are going to need it, ….acting commander.

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