Aspiration – Escalation – Engagement

An extract from the Shale Interviews – Attr. Inquisitor Unfortunus Veck.

One of Commander Starblade's most promising Shas'Els had pushed his Cadre further north than the others, having 'intercepted' unusual readings detected by Imperial forces emanating from one of the larger mining centres, the romantically named Aspiration. Little was he – or indeed, I, who had ordered the false signals broadcast – to know that this would result in the catastrophic escalation of the conflict across Shale. Intended as an Imperial ambush to assassinate the promising Tau commander, the forces I had General Abacha divert to Aspiration never arrived. Later investigation found Aspiration, previously a thriving dustdock mine, absolutely deserted, and reduced to crumbling ruins.

It is fortunate that Por'ui Meggido, a Tau Water merchant attached to the Cadre, was picked up wandering the desert a few days after the events. Under duress, he was able to shed some light on what had occurred, giving me an insight into the rising threat that might otherwise have proven irresistable. Of course, as events played out... well; you know the rest.

It seems the Shas'El – whose personal designation remains a mystery as Meggido suffered a somatic stroke under the ministrations of the Interrogators – proved himself quite the hero. It is rare I admit to admiration of the Xeno, but I have no doubt that the dear price this Tau extracted from the Amarinthine Dynasty during this battle resulted in a change in Hykos' behaviours; something that prevented or delayed the Necron's ultimate withering drive on the Cursus Chamber. Perhaps this Shas'El ultimately proved himself the saviour of Shale – or at least bought the Imperial forces more time to prosecute the Polar Front. 

I have learned that there are precious few certainties in this lifetime. The first is that Fate, if he or she exists, is capricious at best. A second of these certainties is that courage – whether of human or alien origin – can be called virtue. A third and, perhaps, more critical truth is that the Master of the Galaxy is a jealous master. He – and by extension, we his servants – cannot afford pity or admiration for such Xenos. Some espouse a view that human blood and toil should not be shed against such alien virtues and alien heroes, when they stand as a bulwark against other, darker, threats. The wise know that appearances can be deceptive; such sentiments must be driven from the flock, or we risk inviting the most handsome wolves within. 

I salute that unknown Xeno soldier; I trust that – if he survived – he was rewarded in whatever alien fashion such beings find their satisfaction. Ultimately, however, even virtuous enemies are just that – enemies.