Hey guys, new story on the block. I know you guys are probably tired of me switching stories to stop and start
, but I think this is the one. Now that I look at it, there's really no point in doing Saints of Hinariath if I'm going to stop AICoF, so I could either go with a new story, take some old characters apply them in a different setting.
I hope I did good with this, and hope you guys like it. Without further ado:
Chapter One: Fallen Star
“Much is always demanded of us Shas’la, charged with the duty to uphold and protect the boundaries of the Empire. We must stand with unwavering resolution against the insurmountable odds of horrors that threaten our realm. We must be the burning beacon in the darkness… and set the very universe alight with enlightenment.”
“Hmph… sometimes it’s simply too much. In these times of expansion and bloodshed, the call falls upon us to achieve the impossible… time and time again. But we remember our duty, our oath of loyalty that we hold dear to our hearts, the Tau‘va, and all that it stands for. We remember our honor, that we serve and strive when we wake in the morning till nightfall to serve our beloved empire. If our deaths are what is needed to benefit the our society as a whole, it is a sacrifice that we do willingly, for it is all for a higher and noble purpose, and in that there is no shame. We are Tau, and by the Ethereals, we’ll prevail against any foe that seeks to challenge our destiny. Let the fickle Eldar come to reclaim their Maiden world, for they’ll only find there efforts futile; Ayennia is ours.”
-Shas’El Mun’dal of the 3rd Tien Cadre
Ash’va Rain Forests
“Beautiful day to claim some kills, eh? Get your Shas’la on the field safe, pilots.”
“Receiving intel from recon teams, landing zones are still clear.”
“I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad news…”
The entire world was rushing by. Drifting cloud formations, the endless stretch of lush forest canopy, and the mist and fog of early dawn; the very skies themselves seemed to be flowing past her windshield in a rapid blur.
“Approaching destination, no resistance… I repeat, no resistance.”
The turbulence created by such speeds, the scream of toiling engines struggling to maintain them, just the thought of rushing into battle pumped adrenaline through her veins.
Entire flocks of birds were zipped by in a second, yet the entire vehicle formations before her view port matched her speed so precisely, the entire taskforce seemed suspended in the same position as they sailed across the horizon.
“I want a quick deployment none-the-less. Get another report from the recon teams for any unusual activity. We can ill afford to walk into a trap.”
“Ha! You say that as if there’s another way of fighting Eldar.”
The sleek hulls of Devilfish transports were a jet black against the pale light of early dawn, glowing in the trails of azure fire flaring from the engines jutting from their flanks. Buzzing around each in a ragged bubble, flying, heavily armed disks that were Remora Stealth Drones blindly followed their designated targets to whatever goal it had set itself to.
“Requesting a few more escort squadrons on Tien’s flank, I’m only seeing transports.”
“Ten decs to landing zone and closing.”
Surrounding the hundred ferrying vehicles, dozens of Barracuda fighter squadrons weaved and passed through entire formations, some even venturing ahead of the force to shield the more vulnerable targets in case of an attack.
“Just received the latest report from the recon teams, nothing to report.”
“Maybe they’ve seen our force and decided to run?”
Dwarfing all others were the trio of Manta fliers that the entire taskforce was centered around, illuminated with a innumerable obscure lights and bristling with enough firepower to lay waste to monstrous Titans and enemy formations alike.
From the surface, this flying school of mechanical fish resembled a massive, multi-colored comet shower that had sailed too close across the atmosphere.
She rolled her eyes at the broadcast playing through the entire cadre’s Devilfish comm-systems, a knowing smirk on her lips and determination burning in her heart.
Waves of light chatter slowly revived the comm-systems back into life, broadcasting and relaying every piece of spoken information through network linking the Tien Cadre into a single hub.
She reclined further back into her seat, sparkling hazel brown eyes naturally focused on the world moving world before her. By the way her armored palms were clasped tightly round the steering controls and her unresponsive reaction, it was safe to judge that she was effectively tuning anything unrelated to the comms out.
Though the transport she navigated was nearing its highest speeds, the short velvet hair falling across the unusually dark blue skin of her face rarely budged, occasionally brushing against the shoulder pads of her armor.
Devilfish pilot M’yen Koi’na jolted out of her state of concentration, her immediate attention pulled back to her surrounding environment.
Apparently confused, the Fire Caste warrior craned her head at the co-pilot sitting parallel to her, who was staring at her through the blank expression of his helmet. They locked gazes for a moment before she shifted her sight down the brightly illuminated interior of the transport.
Half a team of Fire Warriors were strapped into their own individual seats on either side of the skimmer, their weapons locked into a device right beside them. Though they had equipped helmets like Te’ar, the stiff and rigid stances many of them displayed betrayed the mounting tension beginning to seize them. A disapproving snarl flashed on her lips before the pilot turned back to Te’ar.
“You call me?”
Te’ar stared at his superior for a while longer, before confirming with a nod.
“Yes.” Though distorted, the reply lost none of its somber edge, as if someone had lost all hope in something. Yet Te’ar remained silent, shifting his attention back onto the view port without another word.
M’yen shot him a questioning look, sparing a split second to glance at skies ahead of her before turning back to her original target. “What?”
“Nothing, wasn’t going say anything.”
“… So you screamed my name for… no reason whatsoever?”
Te’ar threw his hands up, chuckling somewhat in disbelief. “What? I… I didn’t “scream” anything-”
“Look, you have something to say or not!?” Judging by the snarl on her lips and the sudden crescendo in her volume, it wasn’t difficult to tell that M’yen’s nerves were being grated. But then again it never took much to get her blood boiling.
Te’ar slumped slightly in his seat in response, plopping his helmet into the palm of his hand while contemplating his choice of words. “… I was only going to mention that… you know you can’t keep spacing out like that.”
“Like what?” The Fire Caste warrior’s jaw fell open at that, as if she couldn’t comprehend what had just been said. “I’m the one piloting this thing, keeping my focus on the what lies ahead and maintaining updates on the situation to keep this thing in the air. Because I have fourteen lives in this vessel that I’m accounted for!”
“I am aware of that, but”
“Eldar vessel detected! Coming into line of sight rapidly.”
“You have to be-”
“Wait, be quiet!” The female Shs’la cut him off mid-sentence, leaning against the restraints to hear what had been said. She soon began to squirm in the pilot chair to peer into the gaps in the blockade of Tau vehicles for any image that mirrored the talk relaying through the cadre, but shrugged hopelessly after a few attempts.
“It appears so, it’s a single ship… it seems to retreating from the perimeter of the landing zone.”
Ignoring the earlier conversation, M’yen immediately began tapping an assortment of glowing blue buttons projected on the hologram display over dashboard. A small panel blipped onto the view port.
+Integrating Devilfish 00192874653 into channel+
+… Integration successful…+
M’yen waited till it the screen blinked out of existence before speaking into the headset on her ears.
“Devilfish Pilot M’yen Koi’na, here. Shas’El, requesting data link screen to Eldar vessel.”
“Request acknowledged, pilot … transferring video feed to all units in the cadre.”
No sooner had the screen disappeared did two more flash into existence on Te’ar’s half of the windshield.
The first the pair noticed was the image of the deployment area in the distance. An area of Ash’va where the forests weren’t so dense, Tau forces had bombarded the area for days on end to clear the area swiftly for the offensive to re-secure the islands of rain forest. What was left now was basically a crater of ash tainted water that the warriors of the Ethereals would have to wade through to begin their assault.
It was a massive blight in nature’s beauty, stretching on for miles to ensure that the taskforce assembled for mission wouldn’t be forced to deploy piecemeal. The risk came in the fact that if the Eldar managed to bottle them in this this blasted field, the battle would certainly end in a decisive, if not crushing defeat.
The second was of the alien grav-tank hovering in the background. Its image continued to increase in size as the taskforce closed in on the LZ and as stated, it was slowly back pedaling from the edge of the crater. It was far larger than any Eldar vehicle that she had ever seen.
M’yen wouldn’t know it, but such a weapon was often referred to as the Cobra Grav-Tank; one of the largest of its kind. Twice the size of a Falcon and armed with a massive D-cannon on the top of its hull, but the tank skimmed along the forest ceiling alone. Any of the Mantas could easily slay it.
“I want fighters engaging that tank, all other units, maintain formation.”
The Transport began to quake in the passing of a Barracuda squadron flying by the view screen, flying ahead of the main army to engage the floating tank below.
Yet M’yen’s eyes were glued to the data-link, and they soon narrowed suspiciously at what they saw next. “What’s happening behind it?” She whispered unconsciously.
No reply came.
The line of events occurred far to quickly for any orders to be given. Suddenly, reality seemed to distort and shift right above the Eldar tank, rippling and beginning to swirl with some supernatural power.
The D-cannon fired its massive weapon, a sphere of shifting colored energy with enough force to tear open the warp itself. The explosion that blossomed in between the two factions over the black crater simply enveloped the dozen Barracudas that had flown over it.
Then the Web-way portal exploded into existence in a blinding flash of light, shining with an intensity of a newly birthed star in the middle of sky.
At that point, M’yen had slowed her transport into an idle hover, following the example of those around her.
The solar flare faded and died quickly, unveiling the swirling wound in the materium that the Eldar had planted. A flood of hundreds of Anti-Grav vehicles spilled through into the soon-to-be battlefield. Falcons and Waveserpents, Vypers and jet bikers, Pheonix and Nightwing fighters; all painted in the indigo’s and violets of Craftworld Teyl-Jhen. The Eldar forces blitzed into Ash’va to face the forces of the young, catching the intruders in a large scale interception.
“All units, spread out!”
“Realign targets! Open fire, fire at will!”
“All units, get your cargo on the ground!”
The battle had begun.
The very sky was set alight in the storm of fire that had been unleashed over Ash‘va. Burning streaks of Bright and pulsar lances, Rail guns and ion cannons zipped across the field in a lightning criss-cross between the Mantas and the Scorpion Grav-Tanks.
Strafes of shuriken and burst cannon fire flared around the larger vessels as the Barracudas rushed into a massive dogfight with the Nightwings and Phoenixes to defend their comrades.
The mass of Orcas and Devilfishes soared below the ensuing battle in a mad rush for the LZ, firing off missile barrages and every available weapon at any opponent who’d try to stop them. Judging the protection of the Fire Warriors to be a higher priority, the Remora stealth drones followed them in escort, picking out rapidly enclosing foes to destroy.
Falcons, Waveserpents, and Vypers weaved masterfully through the chaos and descended upon the vulnerable transports with all the fire they could muster.
Disadvantaged and caught off guard in the sudden ambush, the first wave of the Tau force was effectively demolished in a hail of incredible fire power. Entire wings of the Rash’va and An’del cadre were shredded into scraps and the cries of dismay were strong when the Manta Kuo’no’s Pride had one of its wings clipped off by a lucky Pulsar beam, beginning its slow and inevitable plummet to the surface.
“So much for not walking into a trap, eh?”
“Recon teams are no longer responding!”
“No sign of Eldar dropping troops into the area, land forces are probably already planet side.”
“We’re going in.” M’yen declared unceremoniously, speeding her skimmer onward in pursuit of the four vehicles in her line of sight.
Te’ar merely nodded, clutching the control stick to the Burst Cannon turret beneath the canopy.
“Hope you know how use that.” The Main pilot spoke with a light smirk.
“You just worry about any incoming- Ohhh!”
Te’ar screamed at the top of his lungs at the plasma missile that materialized into view and on a collision course with their windshield. M’yen didn’t think twice about joining in when the live ammunition closed the gap to mere feet from blowing them to hell and back.
Both them quickly stopped when it spiraled away at the last minute, the apparent shock still plain on there faces when it struck one of the engines on a brethren transport trailing hard on her flank. M’yen quickly jerked the transport away from their flailing ally as the inflicted wound was quickly engulfed in an incinerating fire. It continued to wobble drunkenly before nose diving away all together.
Te’ar quickly ripped his helmet free, displaying a horrified expression at what had just transpired. M’yen glanced at it and began laughing hysterically in response, ignoring the disgusted stare being hurled at her.
“Holy Ethereals! A split second earlier and that would have been us!”
“… Did you really just say that?”
“Oh don’t look so scared, Te’ar!” M’yen flashed her teeth in a scary smile, obviously enjoying the thrill of the battle far too much. “Are you not a warrior of fire!? Hold on by the way.”
Before Te’ar’s mind could think of what that meant, the entire world suddenly shifted as the Devilfish dipped into a diagonal descent, the conflict in the air abruptly replaced with growing crater. The co-pilot barely blinked when he found himself leaning forward, nearly slamming his face against the dashboard.
Everything blurred when an unknown force slapped the Devilfish into an out of control spiral. The keening wail of alarms cried in the midst of whirling, crimson lights as emergency panels popped up all over the view screen.
“Damn, we’re hit!” M’yen bellowed over the relentless barrage of noise.
“Bring it under control!”
“Everything’s unresponsive! Might as well be a full system failure, we’ll hit the crater in a spiral at this rate. Should have deployed disruption pods! ”
“We’re going to die!” It was all Te’ar could say at that moment, watching everything flash by with a look of panic.
“At least we die as warriors should.” M’yen shrugged hopelessly, before bellowing the loudest whoop she could muster while throwing her arms into the air.
Te’ar wanted to ask if she was insane, but there was no point in asking a question when the answer was obvious. He sighed a final sigh.
“For the Ta-”
The alarms died out along with the electricity in the Devilfish, the impact hitting with enough strength to short circuit the entire skimmer. M’yen cracking her head against the steering wheel was the last image Te’ar before everything faded into silence and utter darkness.
EDIT: Fixed some errors in there.