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Old 01 Sep 2008, 12:53   #2 (permalink)
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 9,807
Default Re: Entry J - Fire and Fury: A Warrior's first Ride


Through the next two tau’cyr, Commander Oi Nan and his instructors did their best to help mould the next generation of fire warriors. As time went by, it eased the commander’s heart to see his instruction take hold in the minds of the Shas’saal. He took pride in their abilities and though some would be recycled to lower classes due to injuries or sub-standard academic achievement, many went on to graduate and become Shas’La.

It was not until Oi Nan took the stage on the night of their commencement, that he began to feel the pull of the demons of war on his old heart. As he stared out over the crowd that night, he fought hard to keep his resolve …

Bought with blood
From the commencement speech of the first Fi’rios Fire Warrior Academy graduation

“As a fierce battle ensued across the surface of Fi’rios during the Third Phase Expansion, we fought many hard-won battles in the name of our empire and the Greater Good,” said Shas’ O Dal’yth Oi Nan Cae Mont’yr as he stared out at the senior class of Shas’La recruits before him. “Because of the brave warriors, both Tau and Kroot, who gave their lives in battle against the green savages, we are here today.”

He could feel every eye in the room on him now. Many of those young minds either believed they knew what he was talking about or were trying to wrap their head around the concept. They would learn soon enough.

“Every inch of this planet, every seat in this auditorium and every breath you draw,” the commander paused, his memory stirring. “Was bought with their blood.”

The old warrior stiffened up and shook off the creeping memories, maintaining his bearing as he stood on the stage in his ceremonial white robes, though he half-wished he could be among the crowd, young and eager to fight, with no knowledge of what lie ahead.

“Before we close our instruction for the day, I will pass to you a story that may serve you in your travels after you leave this school.”

With that the Shas’O spun a narrative, detailing one of the first battles in the invasion of Fi’rios. The planet was under the control of a fiercely powerful ork warlord. The orks held the surface through strength of numbers, but the Tau had already begun to implant small teams of pathfinders and XV15 suits near ork outposts to observe an harass the Be’gel and create a suitable situation to begin a Kauyon.

“I was serving as the Shas’Ui for a team of pathfinders. We were one of the first teams and, as you may be able to imagine from your survival training, life in the wilderness was tough.”

“We had been observing the orks from deep within the tree line for nearly a Kai’rotaa, when we received word that a hunter cadre was inbound. The orks were fortified in a makeshift fortress; not the best conditions to wage battle with fierce Be’gel. Though this fortress was of little importance, the orks would fight to the death to keep it. Our duty now was to bring the majority of the orks out of their lair and into the forests, where the cadre would make quick work of them.”

“With that in mind, we laid down enough carbine fire to spark their interest before heading west. We were the bait that would bring them to the cadre. To ensure we had their full attention, the local XV15 squad hit the first crew of orks to leave their fortress with a torrent of pulse rounds before disappearing into the forest.”

“My team took the lead from there out, sticking near the main road to ensure that our tracks would be followed by the simple creatures. It worked as they had sent the majority of their warriors to follow us.”

“Every now and again, we would offer them a glimpse of our squad from a distance to keep them on the trail. After nearly three decs of running, we reached an area of low ground, where two streams crossed in a section of lowland. The area around the stream was free of trees and was surrounded by higher ground was dense with vegetation. This would be where the Kauyon would close upon the beasts.”

“I radioed Shas’O Or’es Kais Mont’yr with the coordinates. He had been tracking us and informed me that a team of Fire Warriors was in place and that himself and a crisis unit was inbound. Our job was now to apply our pre-deployment training and mark targets for the cadre.”

“As the orks began to come into view, it was easy to tell why they were known amongst the commanders as O’res’la. They had been pursuing us on foot, carrying their large weapons as they sprinted over an uneven and muddy trail. Despite all of this, they didn’t betray a hint of fatigue; in fact they seemed to be invigorated by the chase.”

“As a force of nearly fifty green skinned barbarians closed in with us, I gave the order for the pathfinders to hold their position, keep their finger off the trigger and make ready to mark targets.”

As I heard the panting, grunts and foul orkish language echo through the trees, the killing blow began.”

“First, a short series of ‘thunks’ burst out in rapid succession as black projectiles filled the air above the orks. They barely had time to look up when suddenly the air above them filled with bursting flames. A small group of the orks fell, pierced through with razor sharp rain of shrapnel launched by an experimental air bursting fragmentation projector.”

“Though they were badly injured, many of the O’res’la still attempted to join their brethren in a counter attack, yet before a single ork could regroup, a loud crackle came from the same direction as the last volley. Lightning flashed horizontally through the forest, immolating small trees, cutting some of the green skins in half and searing the flesh of many more. I fought the urge to cheer as I witnessed the cyclic ion blaster unleash destruction in the name of the Greater Good. I knew this was the commander in one of the few Ionstorm pattern crisis suits, developed specifically for this conflict.”

“The column of barbarians was essentially cut in half at this point, when I gave the command to mark the closest group of orks. I took up one of my Shas’la’s rail rifles and finished the largest ork on the field as I called ‘Mark!’”

“As soon as the faint light kissed their green flesh, the tree line beside them came alive with pulse rifle fire. The fire warriors had been deployed to just the right place and their Shas’ui had held their fire just long enough for the commander to escape. The projectiles punched hole in the remaining orks at the front of their broken formation, coloring the crystal clear streams a thick green as their hulking carcasses fell in and around the water.”

“Now that many of the orks had fallen, the survivors in the tail end of the column turned to run, only to be cut down by the XV15 who had been tailing them since we had left the fortress more than three rataa ago.”

“With the enemy dispatched, we boarded a devilfish transport, as did the fire warriors. We could now join the crisis teams and the commander to neutralize the remaining orkish forces at the garrison.”

“Death rain crisis layouts were essential in destroying fuel and ammunition within the garrison, but it was Commander Or’es, with his Ionstorm special issue suit who had secured the victory, denying the orks the chance to mass their troops and bolster their morale.”

The fire that had built in Commander Oi Nan’s eyes suddenly faded and there was a moment of silence on the stage. Oi Nan wasn’t there, he was on the battlefield, but in a moment much less glorious than the one he was sharing with his students. He realized that he had trailed off, but was not aware for how long.

The Shas’O, his eyes still distant, cleared his throat and in a voice barely above a whisper, he said, “When the war is over, tell them of us and say, for a greater tomorrow, we gave up our todays.”

The few students that heard what Oi nan said furrowed their brows. How could they understand the burden he carried, he thought. He was merely a relic of that war. It was something these young warriors could only know through tales told by their parents or by an aging Shas’O.

Once again, the old warrior straightened his back, inhaled deeply and took a fresh grip on his bearing, wearing his discipline on his rigid blue face like a bullet proof mask. Behind all of that, the images of his squad, his cadre … his friends swirled through his mind in a maelstrom of both bloodshed and the tense, yet peaceful, moments between. In less than a Tau’cyr, all but six of his cadre would die in the battle for Fi’rios.

He could never explain to this group of recruits the way warfare changes everything it touches. He could never share with them what it means to press on for the Greater Good after losing everyone you know. They would have to learn for themselves how to deal with that when they and if they survive long enough.

He offered the only advice he thought could be of tangible help to these children.

“Your commanders will exercise the will of the Aun and the Greater Good on the battle field and they will always do so with a well-laid plan in mind,” his words felt heavy. “But not everything happens according to plan and even the Be’gel can adapt to our tactics and even destroy a cadre. It is what you, the Shas’la, do when the plan falls apart that determines the outcome of the battle. It is you who may one day command and send our troops into harm’s way. What will you do when your best plan falls apart?”

With that the commander turned and stepped off the stage, leaving a silent auditorium standing at attention behind. The students had much to think about and the old veteran had much he wished he could forget, but he would be present again because his suffering is his contribution to the greater good. So long as there is an enemy, there will always be a war, young Tau to fight it and old veterans to pass down its deadly practice.

-The End
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