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Try Again Bragg
20-03-2005, 06:12
Chapter 1
The night sky over Kalator IX was bright with the densely packed stars of the Damocles Gulf. Shas’el Co’vare watched the stars with growing concern. Several of the glowing pricks of light in the darkness were not content to stay where they ought. Aided by the sophisticated sensors built into his Crisis Pattern Battlesuit, Co’vare watched the rebellious stars circle and dance around each other and then begin to drop towards the planet. Their strange actions only confirmed for him what the Air caste sensor technicians had told him a few hours before, the Imperium of Man had come and they meant to take Kalator 9 for themselves.
The Tau commander removed his focus from the sky and gazed at the land around him. His blacksun filter allowed him to observe the plains and rolling terrain as if it was noon and not the wee hours of the morning. He knew little about the art of agriculture, farming was the job of the Earth caste, but what he did know told him that the world he had fought to secure for the Tau Empire was a place that would feed billions. It was a jewel that was coveted by many. With a sigh Co’vare looked back up at the fiery streaks the Imperial drop pods were carving through the sky. They would hit their landing zones within half an hour and then the battle for Kalator IX would begin.
The Shas’el opened a vox-link between his battlesuit and those of his two bodyguards, “It is time to meet these Space Marines, my brothers. Ready the Cadre.”

Three kilometers from where Co’vare peacefully watched the skies, the Tau outpost was a bustling hive of activity. Earth caste mechanics ran final checks on the Hunter Cadre’s battlesuits and tanks. Fire caste warriors loaded up on grenades and extra power cells for their pulse weapons. Inside the base members of the Air caste monitored sensor equipment. Their viewscreens relayed to them information gathered by orbiting satellites. It had been three days since the same screens had revealed an Imperial vessel emerging from warp space into the Kalator system. As it had gotten closer the outpost computer had positively identified it as an Adeptus Astartes Battle Barge, an immensely powerful battleship carrying a complement of the Imperium’s greatest warriors.
Two friends stood on the outpost’s outer wall, literally above the chaos of an army preparing for war. They talked to each other as they watched their comrades ready themselves. One was tall, having nearly a sixty centimeter advantage over the other. He wore crisp fatigues, tall combat boots, and a heavy shoulder-pad on his left side carrying the crest of the Dal'yth sept. His slight companion was fully enclosed by the traditional armor of a Tau fire warrior. His helmeted head was turned upward as he listened to his companion. Unit insignia on his breast as well as the pulse carbine cradled in his arms marked him as a Pathfinder. But no matter their relative heights or manners of dress there was one fundamental difference between the two, one was Tau and the other was human.
“I can’t believe it!” Marcus said as he looked down at his friend. “I can’t believe that the Cadre is going out to fight the Astartes and the Shas’el is leaving us behind! What is it? Doesn’t he think humans are good enough? I knew my men weren’t going to get a fair deal with Co’vare.”
Naisa broke in over his comrade’s tirade, “Marcus! Mind your tone. You should not say such things about the Shas’el.”
“To hell with the -,” Marcus broke off and regained his composure. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I just feel like we’re being treated as if we’re not as good as the others.”
“I seriously doubt that the commander thinks so little of the Gue’vesa’la. He saw you fight the Tyranid when we took this planet did he not?”
Marcus nodded as he grudgingly acknowledged the Pathfinder’s point.
“Besides,” Naisa continued. “The outpost cannot be left unguarded. The other caste members cannot defend themselves.” Naisa suddenly paused cocked his head. After a moment he spoke again. “It’s time my friend. Shas’el Co’vare has given the order. I must assemble my team and get them aboard our devilfish.”
Marcus was still frustrated, but he swallowed his jealousy and held out his hand to the Tau. He began the traditional soldier’s farewell that his father and mother had taught to him as a small child, “Strength and courage.”
“Duty and honor,” Naisa finished as he took Marcus hand. After a moment he released the grip and turned away.
“Good luck.”
Naisa did not stop walking, but gave a response over his shoulder. “How many times do I have to tell you, Marcus? The Tau do not believe in luck.”
Marcus watched his friend leave then turned back to look out over the wall. There was not much to see. Below him, the outpost’s doors opened and the Hunter Cadre began to leave, heading off to face the best the Imperium of Man had to offer. It was maddening. Marcus knew that his men, his gue’vesa’la, had proven themselves against the Tyranids. Why should they be left behind? They had even out-preformed several of the fire warrior teams that would be fighting the Astartes.
The Astartes. Even thinking about the name of the Imperium’s greatest warriors made him shudder. He remembered late nights as a child, sitting around the cook fires with his eyes wide, as his father spun tales about the genetically engineered villains, encased in the strongest of armors and carrying weapons of frightful technology. But that had been before the Tau came. Spending the time since he was eight in the Tau culture had erased many of Marcus’ childhood fears. Now he hungered to meet the Marines in battle. The weapons of the Empire would show the Imperium a thing or two as pulse rifles and burst cannon overpowered boltguns and ceramite.
“Still pissed-off, boss?”
Marcus turned to see who had interrupted his fuming. It was Kathryn, his second in command of the gue’vesa’la. Her dark skin and clothing made her hard to see in the night, even with the lights from inside the courtyard below. She was a good-natured person and definitely the unit’s morale officer.
“Yeah, I’m still mad,” he finally replied. “We get left behind even when the Kroot are going out to fight the Astartes. The Astartes!” Marcus balled his fists and looked for something to pummel.
Kathryn’s easy grin never faded. “You’ve got to relax, chief.”
“I know, I’m sorry. It’s just that we’ve fought the bugs and the greenskins and we’ve proven ourselves time and again. Now the Space Marines show up and we get left out. And it’s not just that. It seems that after all those other enemies the Astartes just seem more…I don’t know.”
“Worthy?”
He nodded, “Exactly. They seem like a worthy enemy.”
“And it’s a chance to pay the Imperium back for what they did to our parents.”
Marcus looked up as his second in surprise. “How’d you read my mind?”
Her grin grew into a full-fledged smile. “No need to read that pile of rocks you call a brain,” she teased. “I just feel the same way you do. How could it be different for anyone who grew up in the 49th?”
Marcus could feel his anger and tension fading away. He was glad that Kathryn had found him and they were having this talk. “I don’t know. It’s just that we never talk about it, y’know. The only childhood we ever care to remember starts on Dal'yth, in the collective.”
“There are a lot of bad memories from before that. This could be our time to get even for some of those memories,”
Now the Gue’vesa’ui was curious. “If you feel that way, why aren’t you as angry as I am.”
Her smile faded and she responded in all seriousness, “Because it’s for the greater good. Shas’el Co’vare was put in charge of this outpost. He commands the Cadre. He has made his plans for battle. His decisions were made with the greater good in mind and as long as that is the chief end, then I am content.
“We all have to contribute to the greater good, or it fails. If sacrificing my need for vengeance fulfills my contribution, then I will gladly make that sacrifice.”
With that she turned and left and Marcus was alone, but he could no longer summon the rage he had been feeling before. He had a lot to think about.

Lord Balor
20-03-2005, 06:51
TAB, its great to see that your back...i was so annoyed when Portent fell, simply because i would never finish your story (I'm like that, i need to finish something before starting another). You decided how you want the battle to go against the astrates yet?

Try Again Bragg
20-03-2005, 14:30
Yeah, I've written a lot more. When I posted this first chapter last night it came out kinda funny, nut now it looks ok. I will post what I have written now.

I'm still about twenty pages behind in typing up what I have written. :(

Try Again Bragg
20-03-2005, 14:31
Chapter 2
Shas’vre Ka’anuk silently approached his senior officer. The only sound he made as he moved through the lightly wooded terrain was the soft whine of his stealth suit’s servo motors; a sound that could only be heard from inside of the armor. The commander had just finished discussing a detail of the Cadre’s deployment with a Pathfinder Shas’ui named Naisa. Ka’anuk watched their conversation conclude and his eyes followed the diminutive fire warrior as he loped off to rejoin his team. He’ll wear a battlesuit someday. He thought as he observed Naisa with a practiced eye. Doesn’t move right for a stealth suit, it’ll have to be an XV-8. Ka’anuk shook himself out of he reverie and got back to the matter at hand.
Co’vare was alone. It was rare for him to be found without his loyal bodyguards, but they were off doing his bidding. It was the perfect time for the stealth team leader’s planned confrontation. He deliberately put his armored hoof down on a large tree branch. The loud snapping sound was a polite prelude to his hail, allowing the commander to realize his presence without being startled by a sudden voice. Ka’anuk took a secret pleasure knowing that without his courtesy, the younger Tau would have had no idea that he was there.
“Sir,” he called. “A moment?”
Co’vare turned to face his unexpected company. He made the Crisis battlesuit he wore move gracefully, careful not to let the long-barreled burst cannons on his arms brush the surrounding foliage. He took a moment to respond and the suit’s sensor-laden head cocked at an odd angle as it tried to lock on.
“Yes, Shas’vre, what is it?”
Ka’anuk was again slightly amused by the way that his active camouflage system was fouling up the XV-8’s sensors, even though they were just meters apart. For courtesy’s sake he deactivated it. In a serious tone he asked, “May we switch to a private channel, commander?”
“Of course. Go to channel black thirty-three,” The Tau officer’s answer was full of caution and curiosity. He suspected that the stealth team leader must have something important to say to come to him like this.
The Shas’vre wasted no time. “Sir, I have several concerns about your plans for tomorrow’s battle.”
Co’vare was surprised. This was not what he had expected from the older Tau. “If you feel your XV-15 teams are not being used adequately, we may discuss the issue.”
“That is not the issue, Shas’el.” Never one to keep caution from the wind, Ka’anuk continued his breech of etiquette. While such action could anger Co’vare, he knew that no one off of their private channel would hear their words. “Since your briefing I have reviewed the plan several times and I have serious reservations about it.”
There was a long pause and when Co’vare finally spoke, his voice was full of anger and Ka’anuk knew he had bruised the commander’s pride. “My strategies do not require your approval, Shas’vre.”
The emphasis he put on the rank was supposed to sting, but the stealth master took it in stride. “No sir, they do not. But I feel that I would be derelict in my duty if I did not share my apprehensions with you.”
“Ka’anuk I respect you as a warrior, but this is highly inappropriate.”
“Sir you may report my insubordination, but I must be heard.”
The conviction in the Shas’vre’s voice gave the commander pause. He had been ready to turn his back on the elder fire warrior, but he resisted. They were talking on a private channel. He would hear what Ka’anuk had to say then deal with it appropriately. “Very well. What are your,” he paused, “concerns?”
Ka’anuk took a deep breath before beginning. The commander could have exercised the right to not hear him at all. At least my reputation counts for something, he thought. “Sir, this hunter cadre has an impressive record, under your leadership and that of your predecessor. It is the reason we were given the mission of protecting the outpost until the colony fleet arrives. I am proud to be a part of this success.
“But the only enemies we have fought have been the orks, the tyranids, and remnants of the Imperial Guard left behind by the human’s failed crusade.”
“So now we will add the Adeptus Astartes to our list of victories.”
Ka’anuk's voice rose to the edge of courtesy, angered by the commander’s condescending tone, “Sir, all of our experience comes from fighting inferior enemies!”
“You believe these space marines to be superior to the Tau?” Co’vare asked incredulously.
“Of course not, but I believe that in combat they could be our equal. And treating our equals as we would the orks or the tyranids will spell our defeat. That is why I think your plan is flawed.”
As they argued back and forth, their volume and vehemence had grown. Now the commander nearly shouted as he spoke. ”No, Shas’vre, it is your thinking that is flawed. The Imperium is old and feeble. It is the time of the Tau. We will show these Astartes that we are superior and they will know that to us, they are no more than the other vile aliens we have destroyed!”
“Is that why you left the Gue’vesa’la behind?”
The question caught Co’vare off guard. “What?”
“Did you leave the humans behind only so you could show the space marines the superiority of the Tau? You are letting your pride harm the cadre!”
Even as he said it, Ka’anuk knew that he had crossed the line of Co’vare’s patience and toleration. The commander cut their private link and addressed him over the general frequency. His voice was civil but Ka’anuk sensed his barely restrained anger. “Go about your business, Shas’vre. We will discuss your actions after we defeat the enemy.” Then he turned his back on the stealth team leader.
Ka’anuk made his way back to his men. He moved just as silently as when he had approached the Shas’el, but he could feel the attention he was getting from the other warriors around him. They may have been arguing on a private channel, but anyone who heard the commander’s final transmission would know that they had had a major disagreement. He had known that things could end badly when he went to Co’vare, but he’d lost control of himself and now the cadre would be in danger.
The problem was that many of the Tau warriors trusted him more than they trusted Co’vare. He had been offered command of the cadre after the Shas’o had given his life to kill the ork warboss. Ka’anuk had refused the honor, knowing that he would have to quit the stealth teams and trade his XV-15 suit for an XV-8. Two years had passed without a thought toward what might have been. Now he regretted his decision more than any he had ever made.
Once more he ran the plans through his mind. Co’vare’s strategy called for a quick and decisive strike at the heart of the Space Marines’ deployment. Satellite reconnaissance had shown that the Astartes were leaving their landing zone very slowly, sending out scouts before making significant moves in any direction. Ka’anuk and his stealth teams had the job of scouting ahead of the Cadre on the way in, making certain that the Tau force was not discovered by the enemy until they were ready to attack.
He appreciated the plan to that point. A quick strike at the head could leave the enemy disoriented and easy to clean up. The problem was tactics the Shas’el was employing once the battle was engaged. Static firing lines were standard operating procedure against hordes whose masses broke themselves upon the wall of pulse-fire. The Astartes would not attack in the near mindless manner as did the orks or the tyranids. Also, Co’vare was not making use of the full range of Tau weaponry. Burst cannons, while quick-firing and perfect for chewing through large groups of enemies, were not suited for fighting armored individuals. Ka’anuk would have liked to see more plasma rifles and fusion blasters among the crisis suit teams.
Finally, the commander had ordered that the Gue’vesa’la be left behind. The human warriors had shown their quality in battle and their knowledge of the Space Marines could be useful. The Gue’vesa’ui, had he been Tau instead of human, would be wearing a crisis battlesuit, well on his way to commanding his own cadre. Although only a few human fighters had qualified to be issued pulse weapons, the gue’vesa’la had a tenacity that more than compensated for the difference between a lasgun and Tau technology.
Ka’anuk sighed but held his head high as he continued through the forest. His helmet contained the sound and he would not allow his body language to spread his attitude to others. There was nothing else to be done. He would follow the Shas’el’s orders and fight with all of his strength and cunning. He may not agree with Co’vare’s analysis or plans, but he would give his best for the greater good.

Try Again Bragg
20-03-2005, 14:33
Chapter 3
Brother Sergeant Claudius grimaced at the sound of enemy fire impacting against the armor of his Vindicator tank. None of the shots penetrated, but whatever weapon the Tau were shooting made an uncomfortable screeching sound when it ricocheted. He patted the trigger mechanism of the Vindicator’s demolisher cannon and felt reassured. He was about to make some uncomfortable noises of his own.
The auspex servitor’s voice croaked from the grille speaker that served as its mouth, “Sir, Tau Devilfish approaching from three points east.”
Claudius glanced at a monitor. He knew the Devilfish was a transport craft and not a battle tank like his Vindicator, but its weapons could still find a weak spot.
“Kylem,” he called to the tank’s driver, “Give me a shot!”
The Vindicator was a huge machine. It had to be to accommodate the demolisher cannon and a supply of shells. Kylem swung the steering yoke around and the tank began a ponderous turn to the right. The sergeant locked his eyes on his targeting monitor, waiting for the xeno vehicle to come into range. The Vindicator had no turret. The cannon grew out of the front like a gaping off-center mouth. The barrel could swivel a little, but not enough to give the gunner independence from the driver. A Vindicator crew learned to cooperate quickly or they died.
Claudius saw the Devilfish at the edge of his screen and knew he would be able to fire in another second, but the maneuverable hovercraft danced off his display as quickly as it had appeared.
The servitor croaked again, “Sir, Tau infantry are moving up on our left flank.”
“Kylem, stay on the tank,” he ordered then glanced at his left viewscreen. Tau fire warriors in navy blue armor were running towards him. He watched as several fired their long rifles from the hip. Instead of the bright blue pulse-fire he expected, puffs of smoke emerged from each of their barrels.
“Grenade attack,” Claudius yelled. “Brace yourself!”
Having no previous battle experience against the Tau, Claudius did not know what to expect. The grenades could be powerful enough to tear through the armor of his tank, or they could be chaff bombs meant to obscure his vision and scanners. He certainly never imagined the bright white light that flooded his monitors and the arching electrical discharges that burst from his sensitive equipment and burned his hands as he shielded his face. It was over in an instant and the inside of the Vindicator was quiet and dark.
“What was that?”
“EMP I think,” Kylem replied. His voice was quieter than usual. Claudius realized that his headphone were no longer working and pulled the off.
“Have we got any power?”
“Negative, sir. I’m going to try a hard restart. It may reset the systems.”
“Affirmative,” Claudius unbuckled his restraint harness and reached above his head to open the top hatch. “I’ll keep them off of us until you can get us moving again.”
The EMP blast had overloaded the automatic cycling mechanism for the hatch so Claudius had to open it manually. It hurt to use his hands, but almost as soon as he felt the pain it left him. His armor’s medical equipment pumped painkillers into his bloodstream, keeping his fully functional. Climbing half-out of the tank, Claudius grabbed the butterfly triggers of the pintle-mounted stormbolter and swung it around to target the fire warriors. The Tau had moved closer to the dead tank and had seemed to forget about it. Claudius screamed a battlecry as he clamped down on the double triggers.
Two armored figures were blown apart by the explosive bolts before the rest dove for cover and began to return fire. The space marine felt no fear as hot pulsed plasma rounds burned past him. He thought he heard Kylem yell something to him and was about to ask the other marine to repeat himself when a burst from the fire warriors hit the stormbolter. The explosion was tremendous, nearly throwing the tank commander out of the vehicle. Shrapnel pitted his chestplate and a fragment had torn away his left eye and most of his face. Again his armor worked to keep him fighting. Artificial adrenaline filled his blood along with a heavier dose of pain medication. What finally shocked him back to action was when the Vindicator rumbled to life around him, Kylem had gotten the tank started again. He straightened up, feeling oddly disembodied due to the drugs coursing through his system. He tried to yell congratulations to his driver, but his jaw hung open, the left side no longer connected to the rest of his skull. All that came out was an unarticulated howl.
Just as he was about to drop back into his tank there was a jolt behind him. Turning toward the rear of the vehicle Claudius found himself confronted by a heavily armored figure. The xeno was wearing black armor with navy blue highlights and it carried a large multi-barreled weapon. There was a faint whine as the barrels began to spin. Claudius went for his gun just as the Tau began to level his burst cannon. The sergeants lightning reflexes were even faster than usual due to the adrenaline in his blood. His bolt pistol cleared the holster faster than ever before, but even as his thumb clicked off the safety he knew he was not going to be fast enough.
For the Emperor! He thought as the first of the Tau’s bullets streaked through his armor, followed by many more.

* * *
Brother-Captain Tritan Pallas, force commander of the Scarlet Talons Eighth Battle Group watched a holographic projection of Sergeant Claudius being torn apart by a stealth suited figure. The left side of his closed mouth twitched downward in a frown. He had known Claudius no better or worse than any other sergeant under his command, but he respected his battle-brother’s sacrifice. The valiant tank commander would be missed, but his geneseed would be harvested and he would fight on through a future marine.
Standing next to him, Brother-Techmarine Darius was expressionless as he watched the same scene. His own face showed disapproval as the Tau warrior dropped an object through the Vindicator’s open hatch then leapt away. A moment later the battle tank exploded brilliantly. Darius grunted and a servo arm growing out of his tech harness snapped open and shut in response to a mental impulse.
Pallas glanced at his old friend, “You still think I have committed too many vehicles to this ruse?”
Darius’ voice had a mechanical quality gifted to him by vocal-enhancing cybernetics. “The decision was yours, Captain. But in certain combat environments, they make better targets than weapons platforms.”
The force commander nodded, appreciating the observation, but it had no effect on what he believed to be the right course of action. “Tactical data map.”
The servitor controlling the holotable responded to Pallas’ orders. The image of the burning Vindicator was replaced by an overview of the land surrounding the marine’s temporary headquarters, stretching for kilometers. To the south of the fortress was a long white beach. Surrounding the huge building to the north, east, west was a vast coastal plain ending in a forest at the foothills of a mountain chain beginning just outside the picture. Blue symbols representing the Tau hunter cadre were streaming out of the forest and clashing with the red symbols representing the Astartes forces. It seamed that a sea of blue was about to engulf the points of red and wash them away.
Pallas watched their advance for a moment then activated a vox-link to his men, “Eighth Talons vehicles, fall back slowly to the tertiary defensive positions. Devastators, move out to cover the withdrawal.”
Huge gates in the wall surrounding the fortress opened and two large squads of heavy weapons marines stormed out. Their armored boots churned the soft soil into mud as they ran flat out for their pre-set fire points. Brother-Sergeant Baccus, a bull of a man with a thick black beard, was the first to his squad’s position. He waved them forward with his plasma pistol.
“Lascannons on the right! Be looking for tanks, brothers. Tristan, cover that Predator’s retreat with your heavy bolter!” He smiled broadly as a squad of fire warriors scattered and died under his men’s attention. “By the Emperor,” He cried. “We are death incarnate!” His yell was met with deafening battle cries from his squad and the cacophony of their weapons-fire.
Squad Io got to their place just after Squad Baccus. A retreating tank halted next to them and added its own frightening firepower to theirs. Suddenly the marines were showered by pulse-fire. Tau combat drones swooped down from high in the sky, their double pulse carbines spitting blue death. Brother Leo raised his bolter, but fell at a drone stitched him fro hip to shoulder, blowing a series of holes trough his armor. Other marines fired back, but the sheer mass of pulsed plasma drove them into what sparse cover they could find. Sergeant Io courageously rose and burned off half a magazine of shells from his stormbolter and two drones fell. Three others focused on him. The disc-shaped machines raced in and Io stumbled as he took a round in the thigh. He fell on his back and watched as the xeno robots closed in for the kill. “I shall no know fear!” he screamed in defiance.
Just then one of the three exploded, followed by the other two. The drone squadron faltered, their interconnected robot brains trying to cope with the sudden loss of their companions. Encouraged by the drones’ inactivity, Squad Io leapt up and within moments over half of the remaining robots were dead. The squadron immediately turned and flew back to the xenos lines.

Try Again Bragg
20-03-2005, 14:34
Far behind the devastators, standing on the headquarters wall, Scout-Sergeant Jacobus methodically switched on the safety and closed the sniper rifle’s lens cap before handing it back to the scout he had grabbed it from in the heat of the moment.
“Excellent shots, sir,” the lightly armored marine said as he accepted the weapon.
“Praise the Emperor, not me,” Jacobus replied. He put a hand to his ear, listening to his vox-link, and then pointed to the northeast. “Scouts, our brothers need support in sector forty-three. Will we let the line fall?”
“Never!” came the yell from his squad and many of the other scout squads around him. The marines leveled their sniper rifles and began cracking off shots as quickly as they had targets. Nearly two kilometers away, Tau soldiers began to fall.
Inside the fortress command center a soft tone alerted Pallas that Captain Sisyphus wished to speak to him. Striding across the room, he activated the receiver that connected him to the orbiting battle-barge. “Pallas here.”
“Brother-Captain,” came the captain’s synthesized voice. “I wished to inform you that the drop pods have just been launched. They will make planet-fall in nine minutes.”
“Very well. And the transports?”
“Eleven minutes, my lord.”
“Excellent. Inform the thunderhawk chiefs that I will be leading them in. Pallas out.” He deactivated the vox unit and turned on his own transmitter, once again keyed so all of his forces would hear his orders. “Brothers, you have preformed beyond my expectations. Captain Sisyphus has just informed me that the rest of our comrades will be joining us soon. Plan Emperor’s Hammer is a go, execute.”
As soon as they heard their commander’s order, every Scarlet Talon marine and vehicle on the field began a rapid retreat. Since joining the fight the devastator marines had held a static line at the third of five defensive zones reaching out from the headquarters. Now they fell back across the forth and fifth zones and the Tau surged forward. The last of the astartes forces passed through the fortress gates just as the hunter cadre crossed the forth defensive line. In response to their encroachment, automated turrets emerged from concealment on the walls and began pounding the aliens to a standstill.
Pallas watched it all unfold on the holographic tactical display. Nodding with satisfaction he contacted Sergeant Baccus on a private channel. “Brother Baccus, I will be leaving shortly to join our tactical teams. I am turning command of the defense over to you. Will you have any trouble holding for,” he glanced at a chronometer displayed in the lower corner of the holo-projection, “five minutes?”
“No, sir!” Emperor be with you.”
“May he be with all of us, sergeant. Out.” Pallas turned to his techmarine companion. “I believe it is time for us to join this battle, Darius.”
“Agreed,” Darius replied heartily. He allowed the force commander to precede him out of the room. Once en route to the hangar area he sent a mental order to his combat servitors and they fell into step beside him. One was a quadruped, pieced together from multiple former human bodies. Four legs made it a steady firing platform for the huge multimelta grafted to its torso. The other grotesque being was designed for close combat. Its right hand wore a powerfist while its left arm ended in a long vicious blade rather than a hand. They were loyal companions made slaves to his will via augmetic implants. They would fight along side him and protect him while he made repairs.
They entered the hangar and the storm of activity running through it. A Thunderhawk gunship dominated the scene. Gifted to the Adeptus Astartes by the forge masters of Mars, Thunderhawks were the ultimate form of rapid armored transport. This one was the Brother-Captain’s personal craft and sported an awe inspiring scarlet, black, and gold color scheme. Eternal Terra christened its sides in huge letters. Technical servitors surrounded the huge machine, making last minute checks and loading weapons.
Off to one side of the cavernous room the marines of Pallas’ honor guard readied themselves for battle. Decorated heroes all, they sharpened knives and chainswords, loaded bolters and ran diagnostics on their armor. Brother Dionysus was the first to notice their commander and at his direction all seven members of the squad snapped to attention. Pallas gave them a salute.
“Report, Brother Dio.”
At only sixty-seven Dionysus was young for a space marine, a third as old as Pallas and a drop in the bucket compared to Darius. The force commander must have seen something in him to pluck him out of a tactical squad and make him part of his honor guard. Pallas had personally trained him until he was ready to fight at the level of the others, but he still lacked experience. Regardless of the special treatment Dionysus was well liked by his more veteran brothers.
“Sir,” he said. “We are ready to serve. Weapon prep and armor check is complete and the squad is operating at ninety-nine point eight percent efficiency.”
“Excellent.”
“Brother-Captain?” the marine continued. “If I may ask, how goes the battle?” Confined to the hangar as they were, the honor guard had been getting little or no information about the fighting.
Pallas grinned, “The battle goes perfectly. Our losses have been slight and the xenos are falling into the trap. Now we leave to join our brothers, who are making atmospheric entry as we speak. You have one minute to don jump packs and board Eternal Terra.”
A mighty cheer went up from the honor guard. The marines ran to the walls of the chamber and removed the bulky jump packs from the equipment racks, helping each other attach them to the backs of their armor. Darius plucked one up with his servo arm and held it for Pallas. The techmarine was one of the very few who the Brother-Captain trusted in this way. He pulled off his ceremonial cloak and Darius lowered the jump pack onto the contact points. There was a loud clicking sound then an electronic voice, audible only to the force commander, whispered, “Jump pack locked and powered.” There was a soft hum as the anti-gravity generators charged.
Pallas nodded his thanks to Darius then upholstered his bolt pistol. Though he knew that he would find a full magazine, he checked it anyway. Satisfied, he uttered a soft prayer and slid it back into place. He worked the action, chambering the first consecrated shell. He put it away then called out, “Brother Dio, my weapon if you please.”
Dionysus knelt next to an ornate chest and opened it with great reverence. Reaching inside he removed Pallas’ primary weapon. The scarlet talon was the greatest symbol of valor in the entire chapter, gifted only once every two hundred years. It had been given to the Brother-Captain by the Chapter Master himself. Dio held it and Pallas slid his right hand into it. Sleeker than the younger marine’s powerfist, the armored gauntlet’s fingers ended in long claws which emitted powerful disruption fields that could rend the strongest armors. In battle the scarlet talon gave Pallas even greater strength with none hindrance of a powerfist.
The cuff locked around his wrist and power from his suit’s reactor flowed into it. Pallas held the master-crafted weapon above his head. It was shining gold and each claw was the same scarlet that covered the marines’ armor. A glowing red energy field sprung into place around each talon, crackling with life.
“My brothers!” he cried. “For the glory of the Emperor, Holy Terra, and the Scarlet Talons!” He turned and charged up the ramp of the waiting gunship, Darius next to him and the cheering members of his honor guard behind.
Moments later the roof of the hangar opened and Eternal Terra roared away into the sky.

Try Again Bragg
20-03-2005, 14:34
Chapter 4
On the fortress walls the devastators saluted as their commander’s Thunderhawk rocketed towards the edge of space. Baccus quickly refocused his men on the enemy, who were drawing ever nearer. He scanned the Tau forces with his eyes. Their hovering transports were braving horrendous fire to drop squads of pathfinders in close. Each squad had with them some type of drone that projected a powerful energy field. The fields screened them until they could find natural cover and good points from which to fire back. Once these scouts found a position their suppressive fire allowed Tau foot soldiers to move up and reinforce.
What was becoming very frustrating to the sergeant was that the foot soldiers’ rifles had a longer range than a bolter. Baccus had a good number of marines unable to fight because they could not reach the enemy. Many shouted encouragement to their brothers, calling out targets and taking shots when opportunities presented themselves.
Another irritating problem was the Tau stealth battlesuits, and he cursed their existence. Their holographic camouflage was unmatched by anything in his arsenal and their maneuverability made them hard to destroy even when they could be found. They would sneak around the base of the wall, the automated weapon systems ignoring them and the marines too hard-pressed to take the time to search them out. When they had a clear shot, more often than not at a battle-brother manning a heavy weapon, they would announce their presence with sustained fire then jump away before their fire could be returned. Baccus glanced at his chronometer, one minute to go.
He raised his voice to rally his men, “Keep it up, brothers! The dirty xenos won’t-“
Even with his advanced vocal abilities Baccus’ words were drowned out by a scream. A battle cannon turret twenty meters away from him disappeared in a brilliant explosion, killing two marines standing next to it and wounding several others. There was another scream, this one followed by the rumble of submunitions. The entire top of the wall ten meters away on Baccus’ left side was covered in smoke and fire. Three marines were thrown off of their perch, landing in crumpled heaps far below. Tau warriors raked their broken bodies with pulse-fire, just to be sure.
The devastator sergeant had been knocked off his feet by the shock. As he shook his head to clear it, Scout-sergeant Jacobus’ voice came through on his vox-link.
“Sergeant Baccus, there are Tau Hammerhead battle tanks approaching from the north, approximately three klicks away.”
He glanced once more at his timepiece, forty-three seconds to go. He cleared his throat then responded, “Thank you, brother. We have nothing that can reach them. I am initiating a tactical withdrawal. Clear the walls!” This last part was a yell to the marines around him. “Let the auto-weapons deal with the scum for now! Form up behind the gates for another assault. The rest of the eighth will be here soon.”
Without hesitation the marines left the walls. Many simply turned and leapt the fifteen meters to the ground, trusting their genetically enhanced muscles and the shock absorbs ion of their ceramite plated boots. Those lugging heavy weapons or their wounded companions used staircases and ladders. More railgun rounds screamed in, but only one other marine lost his life to them.
Once on the ground Baccus organized a defensive deployment, but also one they would be able to assault from. He was directing a Predator tank into position when Jacobus found him.
“There were Crisis pattern battlesuits moving up with those tanks.”
“Very good,” Baccus said with a laugh. “The more forces they commit, the more we will destroy.”
Just then a battle-brother from Squad Io pointed into the sky. “Drop pods!” he cried. A cheer went up from the assembled marines that shook the fortress’ armored walls.
Outside the automated defenses were not coping well with the onrushing Tau. Railguns mounted on the Hammerhead battle tanks blasted turrets with pinpoint accuracy. Second by second, fire warriors and battlesuits drew closer, freed from the hampering defensive fire. With no marines on the walls and gaping holes in the auto-weapons’ fields of fire Kroot warriors began scaling the walls, carrying gear that would allow their Tau companions to follow them into the base.
One Tau soldier suddenly pointed up at the sky. He shouts of alarm drew the attention of his comrades and more and more followed his gaze. Then the entire assault paused as the drop pods crashed into the dirt of Kalator IX.

The temperature inside the pod had gone to both extremes. First it had been frigid during the short time it traveled through the vacuum of space, and then it was as hot as a blast furnace during re-entry. But the vast temperature swings did not harm or bother the vehicle’s only passenger. Brother Telemecus no longer felt hot or cold, or even pain. Now injuries taken in battle were logged as system errors and his body was equipped to bypass all but the most gratuitous damage.
When he was thirty seconds from impact he armed the mighty assault cannon that now formed his right arm. The multiple barrels rotated as they ran through a diagnostic check, all was ready. Though emotions were a rare thing for him, Telemecus looked forward to the coming battle. He had been asleep for fifty years, resting with his five other dreadnaught brothers aboard the eight battle group’s warship. Now the force commander had awakened four of them to do battle with the Tau. He hoped that he would find Dreadnaught-Brother Matteo in the fighting. It had been over a hundred years since they had warred together, and nearly a thousand since they had known one another in life and not the half-death provided by the dreadnaught sarcophagus.
There was a hard jolt as the braking thruster kicked in. Telemecus knew that there were only seconds of travel left. Moments later there was a great shock as the pod hit the ground. Conditioned through experiencing hundreds of drops as both a marine and a living machine he flexed his thick mechanical legs and rode out the impact. Explosive bolts blew the doors off of the pod and Telemecus scanned the surface of an alien world, locking fifty hostile targets in three seconds.
Without hesitation he thrust his left arm forward and loosed the heavy flamer housed under his huge power weapon. Promethium flooded out of the flamer’s nozzle where the pilot light ignited it and turned it into a wave of liquid fire. Tau warriors went up like torches, unable to smother the flames. One threw a follow soldier to the ground and tried to beat out his burning clothing only to have the fire spread to his gloves. Telemecus took advantage of the surprise his devastation had caused and strode out of the drop pod, swiveling his torso to the right to hose another group of xenos with his flamethrower.
Return fire was sparse and what did hit him barely scorched the hundred of kilos of adamantium which protected his few vital areas. Wading through the burning pools he had created, Telemecus climbed out of the crater made by the drop pod. He was receiving tactical data from the headquarters command center. The powerful cogitator built into his dreadnaught body pumped the information directly into his brain. He instinctively knew that he had landed on target and where his skills were needed most.
To his left another pod made planet-fall. The fifty ton delivery vehicle made a crater in the soft soil and the servitor controlled storm bolter at the top began blasting at a nearby squad of fire warriors. A railgun round screamed in and hit the pod, shearing off the upper third of it and dumping it on its side. Telemecus saw the explosive bolts fire, but due to the damage, only one of the four doors opened. He could see that it would take some time for the trapped and dazed tactical squad to extricate themselves from the wreck, time they did not have as the Tau leveled their weapons. Rage burned within him and the first battle-cry he had uttered in half a century exploded from his external speakers.
The Dreadnaught-Brother barreled into the Tau, washing them first in flame from just meters away. Disdainful of close combat and lacking any weapons strong enough to penetrate his armor the fire warriors were helpless. Telemecus swung his massive left fist, connecting with three small aliens. The distortion fields tore them apart and the force of the hit blasted their pieces into the air.
Knowing that they could no win, the Tau squad quickly broke and ran. Telemecus grabbed one as he tried to flee and crushed his body with manipulators of enormous power. He threw the body after the retreating aliens. ”Cowards!” boomed his synthesized voice. “Face me! Face me you xeno scum!”
Boltguns opened up around him and Telemecus saw the marines he had saved pouring fire into the Tau. “Yes my brothers! Suffer not the xeno to live!” He added his assault cannon to their fusillades and watched as every enemy warrior in the squad perished.

Sephiroth
21-03-2005, 16:21
Seems a tad biased towards the Space Marines. :p

Try Again Bragg
25-03-2005, 07:32
Seems a tad biased towards the Space Marines. :p


It's just a bad day for the Tau, they'll get their revenge. ;)

Hideous Loon
05-04-2005, 16:20
Damn. That was good. By saying that I understand you don't receive much constructive critisism, but I actually thought that 'twas good. Especially that little part about the Gue'vesa'ui and his Pathfinder pal.

Try Again Bragg
12-04-2005, 04:34
Damn. That was good. By saying that I understand you don't receive much constructive critisism, but I actually thought that 'twas good. Especially that little part about the Gue'vesa'ui and his Pathfinder pal.


Thanks a lot. There will be more about Marcus and Naisa in the future. I am glad you liked it so far.

Hideous Loon
13-04-2005, 08:34
Righty... I wish I could write...

anarchistica
22-04-2005, 00:06
Aside from the part where the Dreadnought shouts about "xeno scum", it was freaking awesome. Hell, you likely have more talent than Bill King.

DrumrbaxJ
25-04-2005, 12:32
Dude you really know what your writing about don't you? It's mad.