Dramatis personae

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Transcription datum +++ Thu, 2009-02-05 13:43

Shas'el Hun'k

Dramatis personae

Shas’El Hun’k started his career as a lowly Shas’La on Sa’cea, just as every generation of Fire Warriors in his sept before him. He served his time working his way through the ranks with honour, performing many mighty and heroic deeds in the name of the Greater Good, but this is not the place to recount them. Suffice to say Shas’La Hun’k was finally gifted with the title of Shas’El and command of the cadre in which he served.

His first noteworthy endeavour as a Shas’El was in the defence of an Il’fannor (Merchant) class star ship from a hostile human boarding action. A large Tau fleet colonisation fleet out of Tau’n had been entrusted with the duty of carrying several hunter cadres from Sa’cea and Vior’la towards the northern rim of the Tau Empire, Cadre Hun’k amongst them. As the fleet entered the region of space close to the sept of Dal’yth, they made contact with an equally large Imperial Navy fleet in orbit around a small moon.. Surprise was almost total on both side – the Imperials clearly were not seeking to bring the Tau to combat – but the Air caste captains recovered from the shock much sooner than their human counterparts.
Forming up around the two leviathan-like Gal’leath (Explorer) class colony ships, the Tau fleet sent relentless waves of torpedoes towards the Imperial fleet. The drone processors controller the ordinance guided them to their targets with cold logic and pin-point accuracy, inflicting a heavy toll on the human vessels.
Unable to close the range to bring their powerful broadside weapons batteries to bear, the Imperial Navy prepared to withdraw – venting plasma from damaged reactors hanging lazily in their wake. As a parting act of defiance, or possibly to cover their retreat, their Emperor class battleship launched a massive wave of bomber, fighters and assault boats. Darting in between the burning and blackened hulks of cruisers and frigates that were already being inexorably pulled down towards the surface of the moon, they were in amongst the Tau fleet before the Air caste captains were aware of the threat. Barracudas were hurriedly scrambled to intercept, but it was far too late.
With devastating concentration of force, the attack craft fell upon the leading Il’fannor class vessel, Mesm’tsua’ais (All Stations Equal). Fury fighters conducted lightening-quick strafing manoeuvres on the defensive pulse turrets to draw their fire away from the slower bomber and assault boats. The Mesm’tsua’ais suffered extensive damage as the high explosive payloads of the bombers took their toll. Sizable chunks of the superstructure were sent cork-screwing away into the void, and recharging process of the Ether drives had to be taken off-line to avoid a critical overload. However the craft was saved from complete destruction by the arrival of the Barracudas, who successfully drove away the attacks. As the surviving fighters and bombers withdrew in the slim hope of making it back to their mother ship, it soon became apparent the several Shark assault boats were lodged deep within the Mesm’tsua’ais’s outer skin. Methodical Air caste damage reports over the internal comms system were abruptly replace with desperate pleas for Fire caste aid against human boarders, clad in massive suits of powered armour and each bearing the mark of the dreaded Inquisition on their shoulder pad.

Fortunately for all servants of the Greater Good aboard the beleaguered craft, Shas’El Hun’k quickly roused his cadre to action. Their Devilfish and Hammerheads were left aboard the Mantas – the corridors too narrow to allow them passage – but their urban combat training was just as valuable here as in any city streets. Hun’k ordered two squads to guard the captain and senior air caste officers on the bridge, as well as the important water cast dignitary who was also aboard. Meanwhile Hun’k lead his cadre’s Battlesuits to destroy the assault boats and cut-off the boarders only means of escape.
Cautiously approaching the corridor section where the first assault boat had attached itself, the Crisis pilots were surprised to find them deserted – the rearguard Hun’k had expected were not present. They destroyed the launch controls and guidance systems with their plasma rifles and fusion blasters and moved on to the next one. This too was deserted and Hun’k began to think he’d made a mistake by not immediately reinforcing the bridge. Hurrying to disable the controls on the final two assault boats, cutting off any means of escape for the boarders, the Crisis suits raced for the bridge – blasting through the doors to the central lift shaft and using their jet packs to propel them upwards as fast as possible.
As Hun’k and his Crisis suits raced towards the bridge, the two Fire Warrior squads assigned to guard it were engaged in a heavy fire fight with the Death Watch kill team. Using the cover provided by exquisite works of art that lined the gently sloping approach to the bridge blast doors, the Tau were putting up a stubborn defence – but these were amongst the finest warriors humanity had to offer and they couldn’t stop their advance for ever.
On the other side of the heavy doors blast doors, the Air caste officers and water cast dignitary listened in hush silence as the sound of pulse rifle fire dwindled beneath the relentless chatter of bolter rounds. For a few tense moments there was silence, and then a dull thud from the other side of the blast door – followed by another as a second melta charge was detonated. The massive door was designed to withstand huge forces and all on the bridge held out hope that it would by them time for help to arrive. Even now a wing of Mantas was visible through the main viewing window, racing across the cold void to deliver several hunter Cadres to reinforce Cadre Hun’k.
A few moments later these hopes were cruelly dashed as the centre of the blast doors were reduced to glowing molten metal. The first Marine through was met by a dissolute hail of pulse pistol fire, but his centuries old armour shrugged it off with ease. He returned fire, putting down his attackers with contemptuous ease, the Air caste captain amongst them. The rest of the Marines had entered the bridge by now, six in all, and they quickly moved to surround the cowering water caste dignitary, Por’vre Tau’n M’proh. Their captain spoke, using an arcane translation device incorporated into his artificer constructed helmet, and informed M’proh that they had come for him, as an Ethereal was a much sought after captive by the Ordo Xenos, but that would not stop them killing him and finding another prize if he did not order the Manta-borne reinforcements to withdraw. M’proh realised that he had been mistaken for an Ethereal and resolved to act for the Greater Good. If he did as they said, then he would be taken by the satisfied Imperials who hopefully would never discover their mistake, keeping the real Ethereals safe from any such kidnap attempts in the future. Nodding silently, the Por’vre allowed himself to be pulled up bodily by his robes and dragged over to the external communication equipment.

It was a call he never had to make, as at this moment Hun’k and his Crisis suits flew through the hole in the blast doors, knocking Death Watch members from their feet with accurate plasma rifle fire as they landed gracefully on the deck. The Marine captain dropped M’proh and drew his power sword. One Crisis suit fell beneath its glittering arc of destruction before the others could react, but the human was all alone now, and Hun’k dealt the killing blow with his missile pod.
With the human threat eliminated and his life saved, Por’vre M’proh was grateful beyond words to Shas’El Hun’k, and he has been trying to repay him ever since. Due to the formidable negotiating skills of the Water caste Magister, Cadre Hun’k often finds itself with the best the other castes and alien allies of the Tau have to offer. Initially this was an Earth caste developed modified Crisis suit prototype that featured a twin-linked plasma rifle built into one arm, and a ceremonial blade on the other (further developments to this suit type later resulted in the unique Battlesuits worn by the famous Shas’o R’myr during the Taros campaign). Later the Cadre was also issued with the comparatively rare Tetra scout vehicles and most recently have received a consignment of the brand-new XV-25 Stealth suits. M’proh’s skills did not end with acquiring new equipment, and previously Cadre Hun’k has found itself reinforced with human Gue’vesa teams, although these have since been reassigned and replaced with two Kroot kindreds; the ‘Kindred of the Burning Spear’ and the ‘Kindred of the Swooping Kroothawk’.

After the battle of Dal’yth, the fleet pushed further outwards towards the fringe of the Empire, the familiar suns of the Tau heartlands giving way to cold, unfamiliar alien stars.
It was here, far from T’au and their home worlds that the warriors of Sa’cea and Vior’la did battle against all manner of alien raiders and invaders, just as the Ethereals had commanded they should. Shas’El Hun’k discharged his duties with honour equal to any other cadre there, and it wasn’t until they reached the outpost of Das’anti.
A small volcanic world orbiting a blue star, Das’anti was home to an extensive Earth caste research station – teams of Earth caste geologist searched the planet for optimum sites from which to harvest its rich mineral deposits, while their archaeologist counterparts studied ancient ruins of suspected human origin with keen interest. Message boats from this outpost had not returned to Tau for nearly two Tau’cyr, so the fleet from Tau’n was diverted to investigate.
Arriving in the Das’anti system, the Tau commanders were apprehensive to discover three human ships - painted in the colour of dried blood – hanging in orbit. AS soon as they detected the Tau fleet, the humans hastened towards them with all available speed. Communication attempts were met only with incomprehensible gibbering and raving across all frequencies so the Tau were left with little option but to open fire. The humans were hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned by the Tau, and it was a matter of minutes before they were destroyed and the hunter cadres were speeding towards the planets surface aboard their Mantas.

The outpost on Das’anti had fallen to the predications of humans devoted to the monstrous god Khorne, who were now engaged in debased blood rites of slaughter and sacrifice in the ancient ruins that had been under investigation by the Earth caste, now revealed as sites sacred to the deprived entity that they worshipped.
The battles were long and hard – the devotees of Khorne throwing themselves on the Tau with unbridled fury and hate. All across the planet red armoured giants and cultists covered in self-inflicted mutilations clashed with Crisis suits and Fire Warriors. Concerned that they should avoid a war of attrition, Aun’El K’myar’sa suggested a strike at the heart of the enemy’s command structure. All the Fire caste commanders agreed this plan was sound; there were many recorded instances of human worshippers of these dark gods loosing heart upon the death of their leaders.
Cadre Hun’k and Cadre Mont’yr, a similar mechanised formation from Vior’la, struck outwards from the safety of the Tau lines in the dead of night, skimming over rivers of molten lava and dunes of ash towards the largest collection of ruins that orbital imagery seemed to indicate was the location of the enemy command elements.
Reports from Tetras speeding ahead of the main advance spoke of a terrible dark ritual that had the enemies full attention – surprise was on the side of the Tau.
The two armoured formations approached the dark grey temple just as the ritual was reaching a crescendo. The roof and walls of the building had long since decayed into dust, only scattered columns remaining to mark the boundary, so access was easy for the vanguard of Crisis suits. Inside they encountered a scene of charnel house horror that caused even the most battle hardened amongst them to pause. The flagstones of the temple floor ran slick with the blood of a hundred human cultists that had apparently turned their rusted blades upon their own throats. There blood ran along the floor in small channels and into a deep pool at the foot of a skull-encrusted alter. Theirs was not the only blood however, as strung upside down on a web of razor wire stretched between the nearest columns, was the Earth caste archaeologist team, their wrists slashed and blood drizzling down to add to the crimson fluid in the pool.

Their hearts set on revenge, the forces of the Greater Good inflicted a heavy toll on the Chaos Marines overseeing the ceremony. Unfortunately they weren’t quick enough to stop their leader from stepping into the pool of blood, disappearing beneath its shimmering surface. The Crisis suits moved to surround it and dispatch the human commander when he emerged.
Suddenly the Crisis suits were knocked from their feet as the blood exploded outwards and the hideously changed and grossly enlarged form of the commander rose upwards on wings of pure darkness. Giving a mighty roar that reverberated from the few remaining temple columns, he set about him with the giant whip and axe he was now clutching in his taloned hands. A Shas’vre had his Crisis suit smashed open by the whip, while the axe buried itself in the cockpit of a Devilfish, killing the pilot and causing it to crash to the ground. The Fire Warriors crawled out from the wreckage and were set upon by demonic hounds that emerged from the blood pool, close on the heels of the monstrous commander.
Hun’k ordered the retreat and the Tau began to fall back, a Stealth team appearing from the shadows to hold the hounds at bay and prevent the Tau from being overwhelmed. The commander reached forward, plucking one of the Stealth suits from its feet and snapping it in two over his knee, before holding the top half of the torso over his gaping maw to drink deeply of the blood that flowed from the Tau pilot within.
But this pause in the carnage was all the Tau needed to turn the tide – Hammerhead gunships crashed through the perimeter just as the commander was about to advance again, hypersonic rounds piercing his brass armour once, twice, three times. This was too much damage for even the demonic form to bear, and the commanders giant form collapsed in on itself in a cloud of red mist. It was then a simple matter for the Tau to mop-up the few remaining hounds and claim victory.
With several vehicles damaged in the fighting, and no way to evacuate all their forces at once, the two Tau commanders decided to set up a temporary camp outside the temple and wait for extraction. A detail of Fire Warriors were sent to recover the Earth caste bodies while the Shas’Els disengaged from their Battlesuits and sat down to talk. The stars lazily wheeled overhead as the two veteran warriors talked long into the night, each viewing the other by the ruddy glow of the molten lava, their faces bathed in a deep red light as if to underscore the tales of war and death that they shared. As dawn’s first light began to creep along the distant horizon, Shas’El Mont’yr began to recount the tail of his sept’s prodigal son – O’Shovah - the infamous Commander Farsight. Hun’k thoughtfully stroked his beard as Mont’yr explained the renegade Shas’O’s philosophy off not excluding close combat in favour of exclusively using ranged weapons, and then his eventual departure from the Empire to seek his own fate.
All of his caste had heard of O’Shovah and his exploits, but few of his betrayal. Hun’k sat looking at Mont’yr, open mouthed and aghast at the very idea of a great Fire caste commander abandoning the path of the Tau’va, yet secretly intrigued at the idea of engaging the enemy at close quarters. It was at this moment that Aun’El K’myar’sa appeared from the shadows and bade them talk on more on the subject of Farsight – he had arrived with a convoy of Devilfish to extract the stranded warriors of both cadres.
Once more clad in his Crisis armour and speeding back to his own lines alongside the rest of his cadre, Hun’k had time to think. He could not disobey the Ethereal’s orders, and would never speak on the subject of Farsight again, but the command had not extended as far as not thinking about him. And think he did, because as much as he despised Farsight for the path he chose, and as much as he tried to convince himself otherwise, he knew deep down that the renegade Shas’O was right – life on the fringes of the Empire was a lot harder than those in the central septs realised, and sometimes as Shas’El had to do whatever was necessary to protect the Empire, the Ethereals and the Greater Good. And that is exactly what Shas’El Sa’cea Kauyon Hun’k swore to himself he would do.

From there Hun'k lead his mechanised cadre deep into Imperial space, fighting at Dolor, Medusa V and throughout the Antona Australis sector, probing the far boundries of the Tau Empire. His last recorded posting was as part of the military council of the Brightsword Protectorate, a Tau enclave centred around Tau'lor (formally Dolor).



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