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Old 01 Sep 2008, 12:52   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Default Entry J - Fire and Fury: A Warrior's first Ride

Fire and Fury: A Warrior’s first Ride
- From Commander Oi Nan’s first speech to the first class of Shas’saal to attend the Fi’Rios Fire Warrior Academy

The hum of exited young Shas’saal filled the Fi’rios Fire Warrior Academy auditorium. The freshman Tau had been engaged in rigorous devilfish combat debarkation drills every rotaa for the better part of a kai’rotaa. They were battered and tired, yet no less enthusiastic about their training and chattered away with youthful vigor in the absence of their instructors.

Shas’O’Dal’yth Oi Nan’Cae’Mont’yr looked one more time in the mirror, ensuring his uniform was impeccable before entering the auditorium. He wore white robes, the uniform of a dignitary and an instructor at the newly founded fire caste academy on Fi’rios. The billet of academy Commandant was one he gladly accepted rather than retire altogether and he felt that perhaps his experience could benefit the next generation of warriors. As he stepped out onto the walkway that would bring him to the lectern, a single student rose to his feet and shouted “Attention on deck, Shas'O'Dal'yth Oi Nan'Cae'Mont'yr on deck!”

With that, the entire auditorium rose to their feet in unison and remained still and silent with their heels together, head and eyes straight to the front. The commander’s footsteps were the only sound in the once noisy auditorium as he took the podium. Oi Nan looked out over the crowd. Their eyes reflected the innocence and wonder of those who had yet to bear witness to the horrors of the battlefield.

“Take your seats, Shas’saal,” the old veteran said softly. With the same discipline that brought them to their feet, the students sat down without taking their eyes off their commandant.

“For some time now, you recruits have studied and applied combat debarkation with mixed results. We have pushed you through the maneuvers in small steps at first and recently introduced combat simulation drones, programmed to behave as the enemy. You have been forced to debark under rigorous conditions without support and to fight against odds you lack the tactical knowledge to face,” he looked at the crowd of students through the stoic bearing of a blooded veteran. “Many of you may wonder why we have not simulated pathfinder or XV8 support during our drills, but not everything goes as planned on the battlefield and I would rather you learn how to operate on your own before I introduce another element to the training.”

“My first combat mission upon graduation from the academy on Dal’yth was in response to a Necron incursion on a Dal’yth trade city,” The commander explained while surveying the crowd. “I was with the cadre for less than a full kai’rotaa, when we were called to action, and like many of my peers, I was nervous.”

“Our devil fish detached from the cadre’s manta in sub-orbit upon receiving word from forward-operating pathfinders that the time to strike was at hand,” the commander paused. “As we approached the battlefield, I remember that while most of us were looking around at each other in anxiety, Shas’Ui Lar’Nars held his weapon and looked only to the hatch which we would debark from.”

“I tried to emulate the Ui’s calm demeanor, but I could not stop myself from shaking,” Oi Nan admitted. “We could hear the sounds of battle erupting and enemy ordnance striking the earth around us. I could also hear the devil fish crew coordinating their movement with the team of XV8 which we were escorting and with the pathfinders who would provide marklight support once we were in position.”

“Lar’Nars stood and gave the order to make ready, at which point we busied ourselves taking weapons from the racks beside us and powering up our helmet mounted communications,” the commander spoke the words as his arms went through the motions of enabling a Fire Caste helmet. “As soon as my comm link was up, we heard the thrashing sound of gauss weapons as the pathfinder Ui relayed that they were taking incoming fire.”

“The end of the pathfinder’s transmission was punctuated by the dull crunch of an impact on our port side,” the commander’s voice echoed throughout the chamber, he was one of the few instructors who could speak to the entire auditorium without the aid of audio amplifiers. “Several of the Shas’la fell from their seats as the fish banked in reaction to the blast. There was panic in the cockpit as Lar’Nars shouted ‘get back in your seats and prepare for debarkation!’ At his command, the panic receded and the crew regained their composure. The fish banked heavily and the hatch growled loudly, attempting to open.”

“The hatch had been damaged from the impact and already the crew chief turned to the Ui and told him we would have to abort debarkation,” Oi Nan now drew away from the lectern, half-reliving the events which took place nearly 40 Tau’cyr ago. “The Ui didn’t even acknowledge the crew chief’s remarks as he drew his pulse rifle into his shoulder and placed a round into the edge of the faulty hatch. As it blew open, he ran forward shouting ‘DEBARK NOW! ENGAGE TARGETS WITH RAPID FIRE!’"

“Many of the veteran Shas’La aboard were already through the opening by the time my disbelief had worn off,” Oi Nan admitted without a trace of embarrassment. “As I exited the transport another gauss blast sent the devil fish to the ground, immobilized. We had disembarked in the middle of an enemy volley which had laid waste to our XV8 team and exacted a heavy toll on the pathfinders and our own devil fish. Through the smoke and dust, I could see dark shapes with glowing, empty eyes filled with unnatural light approaching us, making ready to fire upon our position. I drew my weapon to my shoulder along with my brothers, and fired into the oncoming menace.”

“Without markerlight support, many pulse rounds failed to find their targets and to our horror, some of the machine creatures who were hit, began to rise and continued to march as their gauss weaponry lit up and tore into our squad,” the commander paused, looking down toward his balled fists. He took a deep breathe and moved back to the lectern. His composure renewed he continued.

“The enemy’s weapons took the left arm and much of the torso from the La to my right and reduced the La to my left to ash. He had been a close friend since the academy,” Oi Nan looked up from the lectern and for a moment thought he could see the faces of his lost friends in the crowd, but continued his story in a low tone. “The squad had suffered four casualties and several of us had taken minor wounds. A thick smoke had risen, obscuring everything that wasn’t within arms reach. In that instant, I found myself in a private hell, unable to function and I hoped that our Ui would give the call to retreat to cover. I could hear the screams of the dying over my comm set and nearly lost my nerve. I thought for sure I would die immediatley.”

“After that unforgiving moment, the smoke drifted and I could see that Shas’Ui Lar’Nars stood, in the same position he took when we debarked, his rifle in his shoulder, his eyes on the enemy, which had closed within two rifle lengths of the Ui. I began to regain my senses at the sight of his stance, his discipline and the blade secured to his thigh, a symbol of our bond as warriors.” Oi Nan looked into the lights of the auditorium. “My comm link clicked on and I heard Lar’Nars, in a voice of stone call ‘Mark Ready.’ A reply came back from the pathfinder team, ‘Marking targets.’"

“As soon as the markerlights illuminated the display within our helmets, Lar’Nars called ‘FIRE!’ I fired into the incoming enemy with a renewed sense of calm, moving from one lighted target to the next and when it seemed that the last of them would fall upon the Shas’Ui, a missile volley smashed the remaining enemy ranks with marklight-guided precision.” The commander’s eyes left the overhead lights and without blinking, he gazed back over the crowd of Shas’saal, who were leaning forward in their seats, enthralled by the story, though they could only imagine what he and his battle-brothers had actually lived.

“We had held our position long enough for the Manta to deliver the rest of our cadre, including the Deathrains which had protected us from close combat with the enemy,” the commander straightened, his chin held high. “I watched as XV8 Helios pattern suits landed behind the enemy’s strange vehicle structure and brought it to the ground in a pyre of unnatural green flames.”

“The pathfinders continued to mark targets, which quickly fell to the incoming XV8s and before we could engage another enemy unit, the entire force of the dark machines vanished without a trace, including their downed vehicle.” Commander Oi Nan drew a deep breathe and walked around to the front of the lectern with his hands held together behind his back at parade rest. “The reason for the attack was unknown and the Necrons never attacked Dal’yth again. Shortly after the occurrence, our cadre would be drawn into the Third Sphere Expansion, selected by Aun’va himself to help expand our Empire for the Greater Good.”

“Lar’Nars was commended by our commander for his actions on the field and was selected for duty as an XV8 pilot,” Oi Nan’s eyes darkened and he looked down for a second before recovering. “If it were not for his stoicism and his bearing, our unit would have been destroyed before it had disembarked. In another situation, an Ui would have been expected to call a retreat for his squad, but he held the ground to protect the pathfinders and as a result, they were able to mark targets throughout the battle, enabling the rest of the army to quickly dispatch the Necron force and turning the battle in the favor of the Greater Good.”

“While the Mont’ka doctrine of combat debarkation, also known as the ‘Fish of Fury’ is a solid and proven maneuver, it is also contingent upon many supporting factors and is only one of the tactics your commander’s can call upon,” the commandant stated matter-of-factly. “You should be prepared to face adversity and you should understand that even the best-laid plans can fall apart on the battlefield, which is why every one of you will learn to fight without support before you learn to operate with it.”

Before he stepped down from the stage, the commander’s expression softened slightly. His eyes gave the look of earnest intent. “There is much training ahead and I encourage each of you to train as hard as you can, but understand that death does not spare the gifted, nor does it forgive fools. You will all graduate as Shas’La someday, but you will earn the title of Fire Warrior on the battlefield. The toll you pay for that title is your sacrifice to the Greater Good and you will bear it until the day you die, whether that be in a hail of enemy gunfire or in the robes of a venerated commander.”

With that, the old veteran stepped down and walked back toward the exit. A Shas’saal stood and called ‘Attention on deck, Shas’O’Dal’yth Oi Nan’Cae’Mont’yr, off deck!’ and all of the Saal rose to their feet in unison with uniformed discipline, their heels together, head and eyes straight to the front. The commander's footsteps were the only sound as he left the auditorium. He was tired, reliving the fire and fury of his first ride, left him exhausted and haunted by the faces of those who died to give him the lessons he taught today.
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