The gasp for life was barely audible beneath the howling wind as the fallen warrior regained consciousness. His battered body began to regain its senses whilst his neural system brang back the memories of what had transpired. And with the memory also came the pain.
Aun'Josi opened his eyes and saw only darkness. Yet it felt strange, almost metallic to touch. As the recovery process continued he realized what had happened. How he had been betrayed and, in turn, betrayed those under his command.
The Berzerkers of Khorne had thundered across the short stretch of ground behind the ruins the Tau had made their fire-base, spurred on from the slaughter they had wrought on the first Fire Warrior squad.
Aun'Josi had fallen back to where the second unit of Fire Warriors had assembled. The early morning sunlight glistened off of their pulse rifles making them appear like divine lances ready to vanquish any evil before them.
The first rank knelt in preparation for the imminent order to fire. Then he had given it, a calm yet firm order. As soon as the command left his lips the flash of pulse weaponry could be seen streaking towards the Chaos troops.
The electromagnetically enhanced rounds struck the charging Berzerkers like a lightning bolt. Some staggered back from the impact but four were less fortunate. The white hot rounds penetrated their armour then proceeded to burn through the warriors mangled flesh; causing organs and entrails to seep through their scorched armour and land on the dusty earth behind them.
One Berzerker was set alight inside his metallic suit but still he staggered forwards, devoted to the Chaos Gods until the very end.
Aun'Josi doubted that anyone would morn their passing. He had thought of the men beside him and whether any of them would survive this encounter. Millions of miles from home and their families, his men had faced demonic forces and had not faltered, knowing that it was for the Greater Good and the defence of the Galaxy that they were serving.
As he lay on the dusty blood covered surface of the world that had become a mausoleum for his unit a tear rolled down Aun'Josi's face as the bitterness of the day's events came flooding back. The anger that he felt gave him strength and with great effort he managed to force the great weight from his body.
With a heavy thud the Fire Warriors corpse rolled and landed beside him the empty visor of the helmet staring back at him. Aun'Josi felt grateful that he was able to see again but the relief quickly vanished as he witnessed what was around him.
The shock of what he saw touched a nerve which set another recollection into motion.
The forces of Khorne were almost within striking distance, unnerved by the loss of their squad members. Aun'Josi had given a rallying battle cry as he braced himself for the close quarters skirmish.
"Where are the Dark Eldar?" he had asked the squad captain.
"They say they are en route sir" came the reply, the last words the captain were to ever utter.
He then remembered hearing an electronic whir as the previously obscured gun-drones had swung out of their hiding place in the upper levels of the ruins. A shimmer of pulse carbine fire resulted in two more Berzerkers tumbling into the dirt. Now only two remained but their lord was still standing.
The next thing Aun'Josi remembered was being flung sideways into the crumbling ruins his back slamming into the rocks, causing debris to fall around him. Then a metallic object had landed on top of him and his vision had faded.
As he stared at the bodies of his Fire Warriors sprawled across the barren wasteland pain wracking his body Aun'Josi felt the urge to give up on his own existence.
He had failed his men, himself but more importantly, he had failed as an Ethreal in protecting the Greater Good. The crushing emptiness he now felt could never be recovered. Why should he survive whilst the good Tau around him had fallen?
He reached down and picked up a discarded bolt pistol and cocked it. He slowly raised it to his head his arm trembling as he did so.
Then another memory triggered.
Although his vision had gone he still retained his hearing. As he had lain beneath the Fire Warrior corpse he could make out the sounds of the ongoing battle.
He had heard a blood-curdling roar as the Khorne Lord had bellowed out his triumph into the Heavens.
There had then been a crackle of static as the dead captain's radio burst to life. He recalled hearing a sinister voice which had asked if the Tau were still alive.
Aun'Josi remembered feeling relieved as at last, the Dark Eldar mercenaries could now assist his remaining forces. But his hopes had been erased as the Dark Eldar continued to speak.
"My Lord, the Tau warriors have been wiped out just as you wished."
"Good. I can feel their suffering already. It gives us strength and with the death of these pathetic Tau we can now claim these relics of Chaos for ourselves. Prepare for my arrival."
"Yes my Lord. All shall be ready".
There had then been an enormous flash of light that even managed to penetrate the darkness encompassing Aun'Josi. The combination of the intercepted transmission and subsequent burst of light meant only one thing; a Dark Eldar Archon had entered the battle.
Another bellow had then filled the sky as the Chaos Lord had charged the newly arrived Archon. The bellow soon became a high pitched shriek as Aun'Josi heard the clash of weapons and the activation of a soul-trap. The scream then left a resounding silence as the Khorne Lord's soul was stolen from him, leaving his empty body to fall to the floor with a thud.
Aun'Josi had then heard the sound of a large Dark Eldar force arrive at the Archon's position. He distinctly recalled the humming of Hellion sky boards and the sadistic laughter of the Wyches.
Too late Aun'Josi then realized that the Dark Eldar were not mercenaries at all but an actual strike team from the Dark City itself. He thought he had hired them but in fact, they had used him. The Dark Eldar were known for their cold calculations and their predictions had played out perfectly. All in the name of the Greater Good.
The gunshot reverberated across the landscape, echoing between the ruins of a forgotten world. A world that had once again felt the full impact of war.
As the pistol fell to the ground, Aun'Josi resolved to return to the Tau home world and report to the Ethereal Council the events that had occurred this day. He would not let the brave Tau under his leadership be forgotten. Neither would he allow the Dark Eldar's betrayal to go unpunished. He would restore his squads', and his own, honour and therefore help bring about the Greater Good that they had all suffered for that day.