9 Jun 2011

The Gathering Storm

The wind howled across the dusty surface; wearing down the already crumbling ruins of a forgotten world. A world that had once felt the full impact of war.

Now war would return.

It had all begun a few weeks ago.

Intelligence sources had reported that remnants of old Chaos energy had been discovered on the edge of Tau Space. Further reports had confirmed that the forces of Chaos were already moving to reclaim this ancient evil for themselves.

The Ethereals had wasted no time in deciding that the relics must be destroyed for the Greater Good. With countless other engagements raging across the galaxy, only a small task force could be spared to embark on this dangerous endeavour.

Aun’Josi had been returning from a diplomatic mission when the orders came through. He was tasked with overseeing the operation personally, something he had taken both willingly and reluctantly at the same time.

He had remembered thinking ‘how could such a small force of fire warriors with light support prevent an army of Chaos Marines and other abominations from achieving their objective?’ Josi knew what was at stake and yet it seemed suicidal.

Thinking foremost of the Tau under his command, Aun’Josi had used his own informants to search for any available mercenaries in the area. No-one was willing, until the Dark Eldar appeared. The Tau knew that some Dark Eldar served as hired guns but this force seemed too large for a standard mercenary company.

The negotiations had gone well enough, given that the Dark Eldar Captain was as cold and unreadable as ice. His dark, motionless eyes seemed to survey everything and nothing at once.

Aun’Josi knew what the Dark Eldar were capable of. Appearing out of nowhere and disappearing just as quickly. Except that in the minutes they were apparent, they left devastation that lasted for decades. Nevertheless, a bargain was struck with these soldiers of misfortune.

Besides, this was all for the Greater Good.

Aun’Josi wrapped his robes around him as another strong wind blew out of the darkness. The Tau and their new allies had both agreed that a nocturnal insertion would best protect their advance but now, Josi wondered if he made the correct decision. All of his warriors were donned in armour that shielded them from this inhospitable planet. Then there were the Gun Drones that couldn’t feel anything. Aun’Josi began to envy them as the wind once again unfurled his robes.

Suddenly, his forces stopped moving and took cover as a Fire Warrior crouch-ran to where Aun’Josi was lying.

“Sir, Gun Drones have spotted an enemy Rhino approaching from the East.”

Aun’Josi peered over his rim of cover. In the distance he could make out the distinctive silhouette of the Heretics’ battle tank. He knew that his squad would have to get into more substantial cover, and quickly.

“Fire Warriors advance to the ruins ahead and establish fire bases. Send the Gun Drones up into the ruins to provide further reconnaissance and bring the Hammerhead around to the ridge on our right flank.”

The Fire Warrior acknowledged the orders and within seconds the squad was on the move.

As he pressed his back against the cold stone of the ruins Aun’Josi heard the rumbling of machinery tearing up the earth beneath it. The Rhino was closing in.

“Sir, Drones have spotted Bikers advancing behind the Rhino. Smoke screen has been activated, they know we’re here.”

“Send orders to the mercenaries to enter on our left. They are to swing in behind these forces of Chaos and hit them in the rear.”

“Orders have been sent Sir.” Aun’Josi detected a hint of hesitation towards the end of the Fire Warriors sentence.

“Sir, the Dark Eldar forces have entered the battlefield as requested but their Carabite Warriors have reported sighting another Rhino flanked by a Blood Slaughterer and a Defiler.”

Aun’Josi’s heart skipped a beat. Whatever these relics were, the Chaos Marines were willing to divert their most powerful units away from other fronts in order to reclaim them.

A shiver went down Aun’Josi’s spine and this time, it wasn’t caused by the wind.

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