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Fate of a race.
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Old 07 Oct 2005, 21:34   #1 (permalink)
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Default Fate of a race.

The cell block rang with the sound of jackboots clanging against the iron grill flooring. Inqusitorial Stormtroopers armed with riot shotguns and shock-goads stood to attention as the party passed, nodding respectfully to the leader, sneering at his two companions.

One of those companions was Por'La Dal'yth Ukos, a Water Caste who, months before, had found himself at the sharp end of an Inquisitorial plot, a plot that ended with a nuclear holocaust on Nen'dath and the death of four million Tau. He had joined the Inqusitor responsible because of his innate curiosity for the galaxy that lay beyond the Empire, because if he had sided with the Tau Empire, he would have died along with the rest of the colony, and because he had five seconds to decide. At gun point.

The other was Shas'Ui Vior'La Zhan, a Farsight sympathiser who had learned of the galaxy from the Inquisitor who now held his allegiance, and had helped plan the Inquisitor's escape from Tau space. He hadn't liked the nuking of a Tau city, but the Inquisitor insisted there could be nothing left of his work.

The Inquisitor in question was Hlane Englar Draconis, Lord of the Emperor's Most Holy Inquisition, Xenos Ordo. Draconis was widely considered the highest authority on the Tau, Kroot, Praedar, Vespid, and many other Xenos. He was also, up until three years ago, on the most wanted list of the Ordo Hereticus. Draconis blamed politics, a subject he hated almost as Witch Hunter Tyrus. Draconis was hunted for most of his life because of his radical ideals, his seemingly compassionate view towards alien races, and because an encounter with an Eldar Farseer left him with fluctuating psychic abilities that boardered on Alpha Level.

Draconis came to a halt, and ordered the guards to open one of the cells.
"This is Xeno 9415733," Draconis explained to his Tau entourage, "he is a member of the... well, suffice to say you can't pronounce it without a beak, but 'Grunty' is the name used by most. They exist now only in captivity, bred in prison-zoos like this one..."
The alien emerged. It was about three feet tall, plump to the point of round, and covered in green and white feathers. Four wings, bound by thick leather binds, sprouted from its back, and it walked on three, four-toed talons. Its three cherry-red eyes swivelled as they focussed on each Tau in turn, before locking fearfully on Draconis.
Draconis turned to one of the guards, "have him brought to interrogation room gamma. I need to speak with him."

Once in the chamber, with the binds removed, the creature seemed to settle, though never made direct eye contact with Draconis or the Tau.
"I thought this would be an interesting start for you, Spoony," Draconis gave a casual glance to the Por'La, clearly trying to revive a boyish charm in his century-old face, "You'll be the first of your race to meet a Grunty. He has bionic translators, so he can speak and understand Gothic, though the guards never give him much of a linguistical challenge..."
La'Ukos thought for a moment, "I may ask him what I wish?"
"In full confidence."
"If it would make you happier, I shall begin a fascinating study of this cracked plasterboard wall over here..."
La'Ukos nodded, still fearful that a wrongly-placed word may incur the wrath of the Xenos Inquisitor.
"Just get on and ask. I've known Draconis for long enough to tell you he won't blow your head off for looking out for your own interests... or the Empires."
La'Ukos looked at Ui'Zhan, then at Draconis, who appeared to be trying to make a pencil balance point down, and made a decision.
"How were your race..."
"Enslaved," Ui'Zhan added bluntly.
The Grunty began to click and chirrup. A few moments later, the translator activated, and spoke in a high-Gothic accent.
"Many ships came. We had fought Orks, and our guns were powerful, but the Imperial ships were too strong. I was told they killed many, billions dying as our home system was cleansed from orbit. The rest of us were hunted down planet by planet, ship by ship. I was aboard an asteroid-miner, a mere chick barely old enough to be free of the blue-down, when our ship was boarded. I have been here ever since."
"And how long have you been here?"
More chirrups, "Eighty-two years."
"A male Grunty lives approximately one hundred and seventy years," Draconis added, "females only sixty... but females are more common."
"Do you know anything of our race?" La'Ukos asked, feeling ever more aprehensive about being within this Imperial fortress.
"Yes. We found one of your ships, the ship that played the message. I remember hearing it in the Wing-Hall. I do not know the details, but I think our people wished to have you as an ally..."
Footsteps echoed outside the door. Draconis stood up sharply, making the Grunty and La'Ukos jump.
"Time to go," he stated, ushering the Tau out of the door as Stormtroopers entered and restrained the Grunty.
The Grunty swalked in pain as shock-prods were applied. Draconis waved off the Guards.
"Your race... how many ships? How many worlds?"
"Around a hundred worlds," La'Ukos replied.
"Your technology? Your weapons?"
"Advanced, more so than the Imperial technology," La'Ukos ignored the snarls from the Stormtroopers.
The Grunty shuffled on his talons, "My people had four hundred worlds, and technology we too believed greater than human tech... I hope your race is stronger than mine."

The Grunty was led away, and Draconis directed the Tau towards the launch pad, discussing with Ui'Zhen an increasing Ork threat posed by the Warlord Tukrath. La'Ukos walked silently, pondering the words of the alien slave, rotting away in an Imperial cell for the rest of his life.
"...I hope so too."
Farewell, Kangaroo Joe, you shall not be forgotten.

Originally Posted by Tom Norman
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Old 07 Oct 2005, 22:53   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fate of a race.

This possibly the best story I have ever read, and certainly the best piece of fluff I have ever read. Well done.
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Old 08 Oct 2005, 00:21   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fate of a race.

Interesting story. Are you planning to continue it? The beginning is a massive information dump that is pretty off putting. I don't think you need to have the Shas'ui for the story, so you might drop him to lessen the the information dump at the beginning. For the rest I'd suggest finding a way to integrate it into some dialouge to make it more interesting.
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Old 08 Oct 2005, 01:47   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fate of a race.

Once again, Fluffmaster wargamer shows his stuff. o)

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Old 10 Oct 2005, 22:18   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Fate of a race.

Great piece of fluff, but I recall the thread that I'm sure inspired it. Making a point with a story, that I'm familiar with, but making a point with a story you wrote yourself is something else. Essentially all I drew from this was "Tau suck". It was fun to read, though.
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