|18 Dec 2005, 20:48||#1 (permalink)|
Blood and honour
Pulse fire blitzed the run'al, forcing the Pathfinders within to duck. Their opponents were engaging from extreme range, far beyond the reach of carbines, and neither the Shas'Ui or his men could lock on a Marker Light for fear of being killed.
The whole battle was a nightmare. Their enemies were the 10-Cadre of Shas'O Dal'yth Mont'suam Lar'ka. For reasons unknown, they had turned their backs of the Tau Empire, and an area once safe for travel was now plagued with piracy; not only had O'Lar'ka defected, but so had his support fleet.
The firing redoubled, and a lithe figure hurled themselves into the run'al. It took a moment for the Pathfinders to focus on him, but Ui'Mesme recognised him immediately as one of the Eldar mercenaries hired to bring the renegades to heel.
"Having fun?" she asked, attempting to recover some dignity from her unglorious entry. Ui'Mesme gave a quick overview of the situation, and the Eldar nodded in understanding.
"This will not be a problem," she waved her hands in a strange pattern, and a strange feeling, like being wrapped in silk, filled the Pathfinders, "fire at will."
Cautiously, Ui'Mesme rose. No shots answered him. He took aim, and pin-pointed the enemy Firewarriors, designating their position for Seeker-strike.
Explosions rocked the earth.
* * *"Now! We go!" O'Lar'ka fired his jets, and catapulted himself into the air. His two Shas'vre bodyguards, closer to him than his own siblings, fell into perfect jump formation with him. Six others joined the advance, forming an attack wedge that bore down on the armies of the Aun. O'Lar'ka felt the anger rise within him when he saw the emblem of the Aun Caste on the flanks of the enemy. They were fools, nothing but unthinking cattle. To follow such monsters was a crime, and death was the only fitting punishment.
His force hit home, crashing through lines of Firewarriors, and spreading bloody mayhem in their wake. Missiles streaked away, smashing armour and pulping flesh. Burst Cannons raked defence lines, shredding Shas with every salvo. Plasma and Fusion weaponry turned tanks and turrets to molten slag.
The push found itself countered by Vespid and Kroot, rushing in to oppose the Crisis Suits. However, they were butchered before they could attack, torn apart by Eldar guns.
"Erija? What are you doing here?"
The Eldar warrior smiled like a snake. He wore leather clothes, made of gue'la hides, and carried a variety of serrated blades.
"Why should I not be, my friend? Was it not I who showed you the light? Was it not I who helped you escape the slavery of the Aun? I have been there whenever you have needed me... and so is it not fitting that I should be here, now, in the battle that will decide the course of your life, and the lives of your men?"
O'Lar'ka gave no more thought to the matter. The Eldar skimmer-transports were circling round, and their passengers embarked for their next attack. O'Lar'ka waited for his main forces to advance before pushing on once more, hunting for the Aun.
* * *Aun'El T'au Kauyon watched the reports dance across the command console. The northern flank had finally begun to advance now that the Eldar Mercenaries had joined, but the south flank had totally collapsed under blitzkrieg tactics. Reports were confused, but it seemed the traitors had Eldar forces as well.
He turned to a nearby Shas'la, who already knew the question.
"No word from El'Shi yet, Aun'El. We may have to assume the worst..."
El'Kauyon looked up at the sound of weapons fire hitting the bunker. Beside him, the Eldar commander readied his weaponry so fast he seemed to blur. Two more shots rang out, then a third explosion shook the base. Weapons fire began to sound, echoing oddly in the corridors.
"Ethereal," Malakai whispered, "Get behind me."
The doors blew open. The Eldar were firing a heartbeat later. Their catapults made odd, shrieking whistles as they fired, and the horrible sound of tearing flesh and the screams of dying Tau replied. Some of the screams ended in odd, wet explosions.
A side door blew open. O'Lar'ka drove himself forward, guns firing. The Shas opposing him died instantly, but the Eldar were ready. A Bright Lance flashed, punching through his suit at the groin, and decapitating an Eldar behind.
For one moment, the world stood still. Erija emerged, and locked a markerlight stare on Malakai. For one brief, timeless moment, the fighting stopped.
It returned with terrible fury.
* * *The fight lasted twenty seconds. The Eldar scattered, taking the fight to the outer regions of the compound.
O'Lar'ka escaped, evacuated by his Shas'vre guards. The Ethereal survived with only light wounds.
After several minutes, Malakai and his men returned.
"I think I can explain what has happened here."
"How so?" El'Kauyon asked.
"O'Lar'ka's betrayal... Erija is working with them. He has tricked them into serving his goals, exactly how I cannot say. However, at the least he will benefit from the increased piracy."
"What could he have done to turn him against us?"
Malakai smiled, "we are a persuasive people."
El'Kauyon gathered his men. The traitors had fled, but they were still somewhere on the planet, most likely the equatorial mountains.
"We will send parties to locate-"
"No," Malakai interrupted, "we will deal with them. It is personal now."
Gathering his retinue, Malakai left the Ethereal and his men. This war was far from over...
Farewell, Kangaroo Joe, you shall not be forgotten.
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