A New Age Dawning
Just a little something I threw together for the History of the Velk'Ta Tau Sept I am working away at. This details the moment that Imperial Rule was thrown off.
The tree loomed up in front of him, it’s bare branches blotting out much of the light from the setting sun; shrouding the clearing in shadow. Sporadic gunfire sounded in the distance, the sharp crack of las-guns and the much more numerous wines of pulse weaponry. Kelmean smiled grimly. He was tired, the weapon strap across his chest was beginning to cut into him and he needed a shower but this day had been 11 years coming and it was every bit as sweet as he had imagined it would be. 11 years of festering resentment and the barely controllable need for revenge against the people who had murdered all his entire blood line for the simple act of wanting to choose their future. All his bloodline except him that is: the 9 year old had been hidden by the servants when the Death Squads had come and even as they were hung from the same tree as the rest of his family they had not given him up. Their sacrifice would now be repaid as would the deaths of his family.
Angry shouting brought his attention back to the present and he turned. Through the shatter stone archway that was only entrance to the Turncoat Tree’s clearing stumbled 3 shackled and bloody men. Their clothing was ripped and torn and all showed the signs of fight. They were flanked by 15 resistance fighters dressed in brown woodsmen’s oilskins carrying a selection of mismatched weaponry and 30 of their liberators: the blue skinned and green armored Tau Fire Warriors. In contrast to the almost casual stroll of the humans the alien warriors were alert and wary, Pulse Rifles constantly sweeping fire arcs. Behind them strode a giant walker, a battle suit that had to stoop to enter. With it’s smooth curves it was not Imperial technology and although it was also green it featured sept markings of beige rather than the red of the infantry and more importantly two very large and deadly looking plasma rifles.
At the head of the party supported by a walking stick of finest Lefax oak was a figure that even now nearly brought Kelmean to tears: Shas’El Vior’La K’Wamoh “Warmheart”. 11 years ago the final sight the people Lefax had seen of the Tau was the face of this Fireblade swearing he would be back and give them vengeance. 5 weeks ago he had returned at the head of a mighty force from not only his own world but that of another as well. They had fallen on the Imperial occupiers with speed and fury and the Resistance had risen up to meet them. There had been dark days and sacrifice as the “Scorchers”; the Imperial Guard stationed to keep order on Lefax had fought back but ultimately the decade of garrison duty had made them fat and lazy. K’Wamoh smiled as he neared Kelmean and the young human extended his gloved hand as the alien approached.
“Well met friend, well met” the brown jacketed man said in halting Tau speech, his voice breaking slightly with emotion.
“Indeed young Chief, the Empire and Vior’La offer you congratulations on this day!” replied the Fireblade eyes sparkling with a fire that seemed at odds with his aged frame.
“Tash’Var also offers its goodwill” This booming greeting was from the Battlesuit. Kelmean wondered if inside the suit Shas’O Blackshot of Tash’Var would be smiling also. He had only seen the Commander out of his XV8-05 Battlesuit once but he had struck the young man as being a serious yet approachable warrior.
“The people of this world thank you both for your Caste’s sacrifice in returning to us” Kelmean nodded his head to both as he said this and was about to speak again when he was interrupted by one of the shackled men.
“You will never get away with this traitor!” raged the largest of the three. A bald man wearing the remains of the ceremonial uniform of the administration: he spoke in Low Gothic and had dark brown eyes that were puffy from crying. It seemed now however he had grown a spine.
“The Imperium will return like it did before and this time your entire poxy world will burn!”
“Shut up Heckle! At least meet your death with dignity” This was from the man next to him, a thin whip of a man missing his right arm above the elbow. Pale and drawn from blood loss he still held himself with dignity. Colonel Jelm of the “Scorchers”, he’d been given the option of surrender but had declined. The final prisoner: the black haired High Priest simply muttered prayers under his breath and kept his eyes on the tree in front. He could imagine what was coming.
“You would do well to listen to the Colonel Heckle you bastard! You’re going to die today, if you’re lucky I’ll shoot you before we hang you next to remains of my family.”
“Go to hell you xeno’s loving arse.” The reply was spat back at him with all the venom the broken man could muster.
“You first.” Muttered Kelmean under his breath before shouting to his second in command:
“Bring the platform!”
Daffy, an older woman who had been one of the few members of the previous Tribal Council to escape the Inquisition moved to one of the lifter platforms lying forlornly against the walls.
“You are sure you want to do this young Chief?” Blackshot spoke again, this time softer so that only Kelmean and the Fireblade could hear.
“Yes Honored Commander I am. The people of this world need to see these men dead. And this place to burn.”
“He is right Shas’O, for the Greater Good of all this must be done” nodded K’Wamoh in agreement.
Blackshot did not reply but instead raised one of his rifles in a salute.
The dull rumble of the lifter platforms turbines approached as Daffy maneuvered the 10-meter square machine with little grace to where the small huddle of figures stood. With angry rifle butts and gruff words the 3 prisoners were loaded onto it and the platform slowly rose skywards. The 30 Fire Warriors stood in ordered lines while the 15 humans clustered together in a rough bunch, grim eyes on their prisoners. Blackshot kept level with them using his Battlesuit’s jump pack to send him skyward.
100 meters into the air they climbed till the walls fell away beneath them and the forest tops were visible. Plumes of smoke could be seen snaking their way through the canopy; evidence of sporadic battles still being fought on the forest floors. Far out to the west a shoal of Tau Gunships could be seen skimming above the forest their sleek forms almost like leaves in the wind. The High Preist’s mutterings were becoming louder now; a Resistance Fighter convinced him to tone it down with a shark kick to the ribs.
At the very top of the three hung 12 skulls, the rest of the skeletons long fallen as the sinew that held them together rotted away or taken for food by birds of prey. 12 skulls for the 11 Tribal Chiefs and former Governor who had allowed the Tau Diplomats to tempt the world away from Imperial Governance and then hung for their crimes. Kelmean didn’t know which one had belonged to his Father and he didn’t really care either. His Father was long gone.
“Last chance to join us Jelm” He said looking down at the Colonel, face blank.
“I’ve served the Emperor all my life boy, I’m not going to fail him now. The least you could give me is a soldier’s death.”
Kelmean nodded. He wouldn’t show him how much he would like Jelm to join them. The Colonel, despite being on the wrong side had been an honorable man and it was a pity that it had to end like this. The other two however, they would die swinging from a branch. From his side Kelmean drew his blade, a short stabbing sword he had lifted of some corpse two weeks ago when his own blade had snapped. With heavy steps he made to move to the prisoner.
“No. Not you. Him.” Jelm motioned with his head to the Fireblade. “I’ll die by his hand.”
“As you wish” K’Wamoh replied sadly in the “Sorchers” own tongue. With his free hand he pulled the bonding knife from his waist and crossed to the kneeling man, hooves ringing from the iron. Slowly he took a knee, laying the staff beside him. Looking into the Colenel’s eyes Shas’El Vior’La K’Wamoh spoke softly.
“You have been a worthy foe and it is with regret that I see you pass from this world. For the Greater Good.”
“No Xenos. For the Emperor!” Jelm roared the last with a cry that caused the hairs on the back of Kelmean’s neck to stand up. K’Wamoh’s blade sunk deep into the soldiers heart and as his last breath slipped from his mouth he looked to the heavens. The Fireblade, with the aid of his staff regained his feet. Heckle was sobbing now and Kelmean felt his bile rise in this throat.
“String him up” He growled grabbing the Priest by the hair one handed and pulling him, kicking and screaming, to the edge of the platform. As Duffy brought the platform close enough to the tree to touch it, two of the Resistance fighters added lengths of chain to the manacles already on the wrists of the two remaining Imperial prisoners and tied them to the branch on which the 12 skulls were hanging. The body of the Colonel they tied under the shoulders and he too joined them, blood dropping down onto the branches below. With a nod from the Fireblade Duffy lowered the platform ever so slightly now just enough so that the two men’s feet couldn’t touch the decking.
Heckle was screaming now, his weight too much for him to bear. Irritated Kelmean reversed the grip on his sword and taking it in two hands by the blade he swung it hard. The pommel and guard connected with Heckles jaw break and the screaming stopped. He let the sword clatter to the floor and unslung the flamer from his back. Seeing this, as if for the first time, the Priests eyes went wide but he made no sound. Duffy pulled the platform back further now, knowing what was to come. They had planned this, all those years ago, every detail burned into their memory like the image of K’Wamoh’s oath.
Kelmean, tears in his eyes now, ignited the pilot flame with the push of a button and eased the trigger spoon. Flame shot from the barrel and he basked in the heat. Adjusting the feed slightly he looked into the distance, out across the vast expanse of the forest that covered the entire planet.
“They came to this green world on wings of fire. They came to take our sons and daughters from us, to send them to die on distant battlefields for a corpse on some forgotten rock far from here. They took the jewels of our planet and gave us nothing in return. They kept us in the dark for thousands of years, telling us to be thankful for the Emperor’s “protection”. Where was that protection when the raiders came? Where was it when rains destroyed our homes or the crops failed? And yet when we tried to chose our own path they brought fire and blood as a response. They came to this world on wings of fire and now they leave on them as well!”
With that his finger tightened once more and fire leapt forth engulfing the tree branch. The Priest screamed now. Darkshot added the heat of his engines to young man’s flamer, the Battlesuit rising above the tree and blasting it with superheated gases.
As the flamer tank ran dry it too joined his sword on the decking. Kelmean sank to his knees into the blood of his enemy, tears flowing freely from his eyes. He wasn’t the only one crying, he could hear the sobs of a few of the other Resistance Fighters. The touch of 4 fingered hand on his shoulder brought his head up. K’Wamoh looked down at him.
“It is done my friend. For the Greater Good.”
“For the Greater Good” Kelmean replied.
The platform sank lower now away from the burning treetop. A fire would be light at the bottom of the tree and once it burnt down to its roots the entire clearing would be abandoned. In time the whole area would be reclaimed by the forest and forgotten. This was the end of Imperial rule on this world. This planet would no longer be known as Lefax, instead it would be known by it’s Tau name: Velk’ta. A new age was dawning, a bright dawn of hope and prosperity. For the Greater Good of all.