For the Greatest Good
I'm afraid that I'm not quite sure where this goes, but I've been working for quite a while on it and I hope that you all enjoy "For the Greatest Good", the first of hopefully more parts soon. Please don't forget to comment and tell me your opinions on it. Editing is never out of the question :D
The story is based around the aftermath of Dawn of War, Soulstorm and what happens to Commander Or’es. The story assumes for the sake of the story that the Imperial Guard succeeded in defeating the Tau (as suggested by Games Workshop).
“Shas Or'es, you have been summoned to this council to receive the ruling on the charges of gross incompetence which directly led to the death of your Ethereal, Aun'Ro'Yr during the Kaurava* system campaign. We, the Council of Truth for the Greater Good have concluded that you are innocent. While we deplore the loss of Etheral Aun’Ro’Yr, we can only conclude that the combined problems of facing several enemies at any one time and the uncompleted status of the Nan-Yanoi moon base meant victory was always unlikely. We applaud you for the aggressive actions taken in the name of the Greater Good and offer you our condolences for the loss of your battlegroup. You are dismissed until you receive new orders.”
Shas Or'es stood before the assembled Council; all of them representatives of each Caste ranging from Earth to the Ethereal’s themselves. His eyes appeared dark and heavy before holding his arms before him and making his symbol. “For the Greater Good,” he said in a monotone voice before turning and left the council, their eyes on his back as the door slid to a close after him. Without warning, the representative from the Fire Caste stood up. Shas’O Vior'la Ko’rans looked at the other assembled representatives.
“Are we truly doing the correct thing in permitting him to retain his command?” Ko’rans was bulky, a symbolic Bonding Knife on his waist to indicate his humble beginnings as a Fire Warriors.
The Earth Caste representative shuffled his feet as he looked at the bulky warrior. “There was no reason to take away his command. Our reasons were sound; there was very little chance for victory in the Kaurava system.” His cloak was a muddy brown colour to indicate his Caste.
Shas’O Korans slammed his fist into the desk. “A true warrior would have stayed and died over the body of his Ethereal! The very fact that Aun’Ro’Yr died should have been reason enough for him to commit suicide, at the very least sentenced to death by this council!”
The Water Caste representative glanced at Shas Kor’ans in amusement. “Come now my brother, surely we are not barbarians such as the humans? Their obstinacy to stand and fight the Greater Good while facing total defeat is admirable but ultimately foolhardy. Whilst the deaths of Shas Or’es and his warriors in a last stand may be thought of as honourable and glorious by the Fire Caste, the loss of life would have been pointless. It is the decision of this council that Shas Or’es decision to retreat when Aun’Ro’Yr fell in battle was a correct one.”
“He should have died with Aun’Ro’Yr!” The Fire Warrior bellowed.
“Enough.” The calm clear voice seemed to vibrate through the room, and an instant calmness filled the inhabitants of the room. Sitting between the four Castes at the place of honour was a blue-greyed skinned Ethereal. He stood up, the other members of the Castes automatically doing the same, as he looked around them. “While the death of one of my brothers is unfortunate, he would not want to see some of the finest minds our Castes have to offer bickering amongst themselves as though we had returned to the Mont’au.” The assembled members shuddered unconsciously as though they were indeed back in that time. “No, Shas'O Or'es did the right thing. Unfortunately, I sense that his beliefs have become warped.”
The Water Caste member looked at the Ethereal in surprise. “Warped, Ethereal? What do you mean?”
“Has Shas Or’es turned against the whole ideal of the Greater Good?”
“Nothing so drastic, I believe. I believe however that his views on what the Greater Good exactly means have changed in his time at the Kaurava System. Many enemies were faced there, all of them horrific in their own way with no other thought that to destroy us entirely.” The Ethereal sighed and walked towards the door slowly, stopping to look at the representatives behind him. “I suspect that that his next mission will prove to be a decisive point for our empire. I only pray that the empire will prove strong enough to survive the actions of Shas Or’es.”
Or’es stood up with his arms above his head as the red-laser from the hovering orange drone continued its measurement of his body, a hologram of armour appearing in front of him based on his height and weight. His body bulky, even for one of the Fire Caste, he couldn’t simply go for an ordinary suit of armour like many of his kin. He had to have his custom made. Nodding his approval to the small hovering drone, he walked out of the light causing the hologram of the armour to disappear and the robot to disengage itself. He sighed deeply as he entered his Spartan room and sat down in front of a table, pulling a bottle of the finest drink shipped out from Tau itself. Pouring himself a glassful, he had only just taken a sip of the sweet drink when the door suddenly pinged, signifying that someone was at the door.
“Enter”, his bass voice called out loudly. The door’s voice-recognition systems processed the key word and with a hiss opened the door. An armoured Tau warrior walked inside, slightly smaller than Or’es even wearing his armour. His turned towards Or’es who remained sitting. He grinned at the sight of the armoured Tau. “Come, Ja’kul, you have no need to remain under your helmet in my chambers. We have been through too many campaigns together for mere military protocol to stand between us.”
The Tau raised his gauntleted hands to his head and pulled his helmet off, shaking his head as he did so and scratched his scalp through his long white hair. He shook his head in slight amusement, “I swear no matter what rank or what race you are, helmets will always make you itchy after taking it off.”
Or’es agreed with a small grunt, sitting at a table and gesturing Ja’kul to sit across from him. Grabbing another glass near him, he poured another drink out for him. The two of them sat at the table in a comfortable silence, sipping at their drinks. Ja’kul smiled in satisfaction at the sweet alcoholic taste before putting his glass down and leaning forward. “So tell me, commander, what word from the Council?”
Or’es declined to answer until he finished the last of his drink, sighing deeply afterwards. “It is as I thought would happen on the rescue ships back here. The council weren’t – no, couldn’t blame me for the military disaster that was Kaurava. They gave me some reluctant praise and then sent me on my way.”
“Then it wasn’t as bad as we first feared”, Ja’kul said in obvious relief.
Or’es was shaking his head as soon as Ja’kul had opened his mouth. “No, unfortunately it is just as bad as we feared, if not more.”
“Korans was there.”
Ja’kul raised an eyebrow before sighing deeply “Ah...The same Koran that you once defeated heavily in a military exercise?”
“The man takes things too seriously,” Or’es smirked.
“It didn’t help that you managed to wipe out over 90% of his force before personally taking him prisoner.”
“Accidents happen. He needs to grow up and find where he went wrong before he messes his own career and the lives of his soldiers up.”
Ja’kul grinned widely, “Regardless of what he ought to do, he hates you beyond words can describe.” Draining the last of his glass, he wiped his mouth and leaned forward. “So what does this mean for us then?”
Or’es leaned back and placed his arms behind his head, sighing. “I fear that it means that the two of us will be sent off to some outpost keeping down local ork tribes or combating pirates for the rest of our careers.”
A hissing noise suddenly interrupted the two of them. “But such would be a inglorious and terrible end for two such mighty warriors such as yourselves!” A voice boomed from the now-open doorway. The two Fire Warriors turned to look at the person. Standing in the doorway was a smiling Water Caste member, the traditional sign of the Diplomat Class tattooed on his bare shoulder revealed by his blue-dyed robe. “Will you not hand me a glass and some of that drink friends?” The diplomat asked, his voice persuasive. Almost unwittingly without noticing it, Ja’kul found himself pouring more drink into his glass and holding it towards the diplomat who took it with one hand and drained it in one before smacking his lips in appreciation.
Or’es shook his head as though a fuzziness had descended upon him. “And who might you be, friend?”
“They call me El’Lavor and I was chosen to bring you news my friend of your new posting.”
“Ah...” Or’es said dully, gripping his glass with slightly more force. “I shouldn’t have been surprised that they haven’t waited to give me the choice. Out of sight out of mind, is that not so?”
El’Lavour grinned widely “On the contrary, Commander, the mission you have been assigned is of utmost importance to the Empire and to the Greater Good! You have been chosen to accompany a new experimental ship that offers great possibilities into long-range travels. Why, if we’re correct then we can reasonably expect the Empire and the Greater Good to expand into the very edge of the galaxy in a few thousand years!”
Or’es blinked in surprise, “What do you mean, El’Lavor; speak plainly if you would to us mere soldiers, for we do not have the knowledge that you currently hold.”
El’Lavour smiled broadly. “From what I know commander, the Earth and the Air Caste have been working together on a new experimental Engine Drive that would allow us to ‘hop’* from places in one part of the galaxy to another. It’s all very technical and above my head, but this could revolutionise space travel as we know it. It would certainly solve the problem we currently have of getting places!”
Or’es sat back in disbelief, his head spinning at what he would be commanding. Ja’kul leaned forward, his eyes transfixed upon the diplomat. “I assume that we will not be actually commanding the ship itself, seeing as we’re not part of the Air Caste, correct?”
El’Lavour smiled disarmingly. “You misunderstand me, naturally you wouldn’t be able to command the ship itself, however, you are to be place in command of the Fire Caste and other elements that will be accompanying the ship.”
Ja’kul frowned, “other elements? Surely you mean only the Fire and Air Caste, what need will there be for the Earth or Water caste, no disrespect intended of course for you.”
El’Lavour grinned, “None taken friend, we all have our specific purposes. No, from what I know you will be heading to a small colony that will be requiring additional resources from the Empire. Along with you will be a small battlefleet just in case things don’t turn out perfectly. Like I said, it is experimental and potentially a dangerous task, although the scientists involved in the making of this new technology assure me that it is perfectly safe; all the simulations have said so.”
“Sounds like a suicidal mission to me,” Ja’kul muttered.
The smile that had been on the face of El’Lavour suddenly disappeared, replaced by an angry scowl. “Regardless of whether or not it is suicidal, you will remember these are your orders and for the Greater Good, you will obey them, Knight Ja’kul*.”
Or’es waved his hand, looking at the two of them. “Forgive my friend, diplomat, he isn’t thinking correctly. He’s only a light weight, after all!”
El’Lavour looked unconvinced for a second before his smile returned to him. “In that case, commander, I will let the two of you continue your talks of glorious campaigns in the name of the Greater Good continue! Your formal orders will be waiting for you when you choose to go to the barracks, commander; you are expected to present yourself for formal duty by tomorrow. You had better perform any personal tasks you wished to do by then; I would not expect to see you for some time. The mission, I am told, will take some time before you return back to us.” Standing up, El’Lavour bowed slightly before leaving the room, the two warriors watched him leave.
As soon as the door hissed to a close, Ja’kor turned to Or’es. “You cannot seriously be thinking of accepting this mission? Surely you can see its intended to remove you permanently! An experimental ship? You heard the rumours of the last few ships to attempt new experimental engines! They either end up in dead space or in the middle of hostile alien territory!”
Or’es smirked, “Personally, the last one sounds a lot better than simply wasting our careers away in some backwater planet, does it not?”
Ja’kor sighed heavily, burying his head into his arm. “Commander, I would follow you the very depths of a Tyranid Hivefleet if I had to, but personally I would like to wait for that day for quite a while yet, possibly at the end of a long and distinguished career in which the entirety of the Empire will know my name for centuries to come. Imagine it, Commander Ja’kor, Hero of the Tau, spreader of the Greater Good, the scourge of tyranny! Would that not be a glorious sight?”
“Sounds about as realistic as seeing Korans drunk on duty.” The two of them smirked and raise their glasses to each other before pouring yet another one.
“Mothership, this is Hope, requesting permission to land.”
There was a minute of static before the operator replied to the ship. “This is Mothership to Hope, permission granted. You are authorised to dock in Hangar 12. Any unauthorised acts of violence or bringing a weapon onboard will be met with full preventive measures.”
“Understood Mothership, this is Hope signing out.”
Or’res was sat next to the pilot, his eyes filled with the wonder that was the Mothership. Shaped like a crescent moon, the ship was at least the size of a small moon. Dozens of ships hovered around it, satellites and fighters zooming around in a carefully plotted patrol. Satellite after satellite scanned the Hope, forcing them to stop repeatedly before being authorised to continue. After several hours of being scanned, the Hope finally made it into Hangar Bay 12 where a delegation of Fire Caste members awaited Or’res.
The ramp lowered and Or’es, followed by Ja’kor and six Fire Warriors walked down the steps, most of them straining to not look around the hangar. Around them, the noise of whirring and clangs filled the air as mechanical crews worked on individual Barracuda Fighters.
“Commander Or’es, I am Knight Hel’mut and have been designated as your guide and escort for the duration of your command upon the Mothership. If you would like to follow me, I will escort you to the briefing room where you shall receive information upon the capabilities of the Mothership.”
As soon as they had arrived, Hel’mut immediately began speaking, holograms of the areas he talked about appearing in the centre of the round table which represented equality amongst species. “The Mothership is capable of constructing several classes of ships. Naturally, we cannot expect ships such as the Or'es El'leath* Class to be produced, but we can certainly construct ll’Porrui and Lar’shi* Class types.”
“The Mothership itself already carries 200 Barracuda Fighters and 100 Manta Bombers. In addition to these fighters, we have four Kass’l Gunships and another four Kir’qath Starships*. We also have two Lar’shi Cruisers and a Gal’leath Battleship. All of these have been equipped with the new Hyperdrive.”
“Tell me, Hel’mut, are we so confident of the stability of these new warpdrives that we are willing to stake all these ships upon them?” Or’es asked, scanning through his prepared briefing notes.
“All the simulations have indicated that the drives work without a hitch. The Air and Earth Castes have worked on this for over three years. Nothing should and can go wrong.”
Or’es sighed, “very well, if the simulations indicate it’ll work, then it’ll hopefully work. Now what am I commanding exactly?”
“You have been assigned under your command 12,000 Fire Warriors, 2,000 of which are special units. In addition, a tank force of 70 Hammerheads, 20 Droid Harbringers and 20 Sky Ray Gunships.”
“A formidable force for one mere planet.” Ja’kul commented.
“To protect those who serve the Greater Good, nothing can be too much.” Hel’mut replied.
“Fine words, Knight Hel’mut.” A frail voice said from the door. The assembled body stood up at once apart from Or’es who regarded the newcoming with a professional eye. Standing in the doorway was a frail humanoid figure. With flaps of skin where his armpits were, and slightly crooked facial expressions Admiral Sa’lain of the Air Caste regarded them all with black eyes.
“So, you are the Admiral* who will be leading me and my soldiers on this mission?”
“You would be correct, commander. I am Admiral Sa’lain, and I hope that you’re suitably impressed with the Mothership.”
“It certainly sounds impressive,” Or’es admitted. “However, until it’s been in action and I’ve seen its capabilities, I don’t like to comment.”
“A wise policy commander, but I assure you this ship can and does everything you have been informed of. For example, have you been told that the Mothership has the capability to fight off at least three of the Fanatical humans battleships?”
Or’es stared in shock, “If that is true, then why have we not mass produced these ships?”
Sa’lain smiled softly, “have you seen the size of this ship, commander? We did not simply make it in a few years. We have been planning for a ship of this type for many years now; it is only recently that we have had the resources and the technology to construct them. In any case, building the ship alone took over fifteen years. It was only recently that the decision to place the new Warpdrive within the ship was taken. But mass producing these ships? It would take many years before such an operation could take place, and even then I believe that many would see it more prudent to expand the existing navy. I myself am amongst them, there is no need to build ships like this when we already have ships good enough to fight and defeat our enemies. Quality for the sake of quality has no purpose.”
“Perhaps,” Or’es conceded. “Even so, I have little doubt we could further spread the Greater Good with a few more of these ships. So when do we depart for our destination, Admiral?”
The smile of Sa’lain’s face grew wider. “Why, immediately, Commander.”
The Immaterium is a wondrous, yet terrifying space. Constantly just a fraction away from real space, strange creatures lurk there in hopes of one day spilling over into real space and slaughtering all mortals. The Immaterium is both absolute and relative. Its power is great and terrible and its one desire is to gain more power. The Emperor was once close to destroying that great monster, and allowing mankind to one day escape its gaze. The Eldar attempt to hide away from the monster by disappearing through their Webways, always knowing that one day they will no longer be able to hide and will face their greatest enemy in one last mighty battle. But the Tau? The Tau are interlopers in a age-old game played between Chaos and its prey. They threaten the balance of power that is constantly in favour of Chaos and Chaos alone. The Tau are the greatest threat to the Immaterium, and they cannot be permitted to stand.
Red lights....a red light filled the room and a smoky smell filled the nostrils of Or’es.
Blink... a red sky in the window...
Blink...the face of a member of the Earth Caste screaming for help as he grasped a metal pipe poking out of his stomach.
Blink...a bloody red colour that shimmered a the edges of his vision, figures running in and out of sight...
Blink...a loud siren that pierced the very heart of Or’es ears.
Bang...the corridor seemed to cave in and Or’es knew no more.
Admiral Sa’lain and the two Knights, Ja’kul and Hel’mut stood solemnly in front of the body on the slab. The broken body of Commander Or’es lay there lifeless. Both Sa’lain and Hel’mut simply stood there, their faces broken with remorse while silent tears dripped down Ja’kul’s face, hidden only by his helmet.
“It was a...” Admiral Sa’lain said finally, “an unfitting end for such a glorious warrior.”
The three of them remained in an uncomfortable silence for several minutes before Ja’kul finally spoke. “It was more unfitting in ways you cannot even imagine. He should’ve to die protecting an Etheral from the vile grip of death. He should’ve died in a glorious last stand that would’ve saved the Empire and the Greater Good. He shouldn’t have...not like this...never like this...”
“What happened, Admiral?” Hel’mut suddenly said. “None of us here were on the bridge when the ship went into red alert. Were we attacked by some enemy unexpectedly?”
Sa’lain scoffed, “if only if had been something simple like that. No, everything worked perfectly. The engines were supremely effective. But...”
“But what?” Ja’kul brusquely demanded. His fist suddenly grabbed Sa’lain’s throat and his helmet was suddenly in his face. “What did you do, murderer?” His voice was a low, threatening murmur.
Sa’lain began to choke, causing Hel’mut to grab Ja’kul’s arm and disable it, hitting it in a nerve spot. Ja’kul’s arm fell to his side, unable to lift it. “Knight Ja’kul, I understand that you have just lost your commander, but remember where you are! You have just directly threatened the admiral of this ship and your superior officer!”
Ja’kul’s expression was impossible to read through his helmet, but after a tense few seconds he stepped away from the admiral, who was massaging his throat. Standing up straight, Sa’lain shook his head in irritation and stared at the two knights. “As I was saying, the engines worked perfectly but we hit a Warp Storm.”
“A what?” Hel’mut asked, his face looking puzzled.
“A Warp Storm, Knight, is when the Warp as the humans call it spills over into real space. We arrived right in the middle of it. As far as we know, we have been thrown off course and are currently in unknown space. For all we know, we could be in the direct centre of the Imperium or on the other side of the galaxy. Worst case scenario, we are still within the eye of the Warp Storm itself, surrounded by a mass of storm.”
“So find out where we are then.” Ja’kul demanded.
At those words, irritation appeared for the first time on Sa’lain’s face. “Commander, as much as I’d love to, our priorities are at the moment ensuring the safety of these vessels and the lives aboard them. Do you have any idea how much damage has been sustained?” The two Knights shuffled uneasily, realising that neither had bothered to ask. Sa’lain sighed heavily before beginning to speak. “The Mothership has been internally damaged in three levels, twelve lives have been lost and a further 57 have been wounded severely. We expect six more will die in the next day. Emergency repairs have begun on the hull. From what we can tell of the other ships, they have suffered similar damage. Worse of all, the Escort Glory has disappeared. We have found scraps of its hull through the surrounding space. We can assume that it has been destroyed with all hands.”
Suddenly, red lights filled the room again and an alarm sounded. The three of them all had a sudden simultaneous flashback to the Warpstorm. Quickly looking at each other, Sa’lain said with resolution “Knights, as Commander Or’es has passed away, I am obliged as senior officer to temporarily take command of your forces. Hel’mut, Ja’kul, take your action stations on the Mothership. I will alert the other Knights to do the same on their ships. Whether this be the Warpstorm or an enemy, we shall not be lacking.”
Sa’lain stormed into the bridge, his officers all around him as the siren continued to scream through the air. He winced as a particularly loud one pierced right through him.
“Will someone please turn off that infernal racket?” A few seconds later and the sound ceased, leaving only the red light. “Now that we’ve got some peace and quiet, can someone tell me what in the hell we sounded the general alarm for?”
“Admiral,” one of his officers said. “We’ve got an incoming ship signal.”
“I thought our radar was knocked out by the storm.”
“We only just managed to get it back up, sir. Just in time as well, for we only just saw them incoming as we did so.”
“Just the one?” At the officer’s nod, Sa’lain began to walk slowly towards the command chair as his mind began to work as fast as lightning as he assessed the situation. Mid-step, he suddenly twirled around. “That means that they could’ve been watching us ever since we arrived here!” He ran to the tactical table, “where is their current position?” He frowned thoughtfully as he took in the tactical position of the enemy ship and began to mutter to himself. “This makes no sense...surely whoever they are they wouldn’t do anything with one ship alone. And their actions match nothing of the races we’ve encountered thus far. It would be logical therefore that they are a race that the Tau have no yet encountered. Therefore, we will initiate first contact protocols.” He turned to one of his officers, “which is the closest ship to the ship, captain?”
The officer glanced at the tactical screen before look back at Sa’lain. “Admiral, the cruiser Enlightened is the closest available ship.”
“What damage did it sustain?”
“Minimal damage, Admiral. One of its railguns went offline but it appears that they have returned it to full functionality.”
“Then it’ll be the perfect ship. Send a diplomat on board. But if they are human, then they are Imperial and we cannot allow our presence to be discovered. You will annihilate them with all force necessary. Is that understood captain?”
“Yes sir, I’ll have the orders sent out to the Enlightened with immediate effect.”
A few minutes later, the Enlightened began moving ponderously towards the ship. The opposing ship was a 3D triangular shape; completely grey and with a bending curve near its bottom*.
“Hail them,” Lat’ike, the Captain of the Enlightened. As the signal was sent out, Lat’ike stood up straight on the deck facing the viewing screen where he and his opposite number would hopefully face each other. A beep suddenly sounded and one of his officers indicated to say that they were on voice to each other.
“This is Captain Lat’ike of the Tau Empire. We send you greetings in the name of the Greater Good and hope that good relations can exist between our two powers. For the sake of diplomatic nicety, may I request that we open video communications?”
There was a minute of silence as static was the only thing that broke the voice contact between the two ships.
“Acceptable,” a voice suddenly said across the communications unit.
Another minute passed before the visual screen began to flicker. Lat’ike stood up straight facing it as the figure came into vision. He stiffened as he took into his opposite number’s appearance. Standing in metallic armour, a bronze-coloured human with a strange symbol on his forehead faced Lat’ike, arrogance written all over his face.
“We serve the God Ninurta. If you value your lives, you will shut down all your systems and await to be boarded. It is the only way in which your lives will be saved. Surrender yourselves to me now and you will be granted mercy by the hands of my God.”
Lat’ike gritted his teeth as he faced down the arrogant human. The humans dared to demand his surrender without a fight? Even if he hadn’t been given orders to destroy the human fanatics if he encountered them, he would’ve seriously considered doing so anyway to the Imperium’s vessel.
“In the name of the Greater Good, you are condemned to death, human scum. In accordance of the Declaration of the Greater Good, we reject you and your Emperor’s attempts to stifle the Greater Good and you will be punished for doing so with death. May your Emperor give you mercy in the next life, for we shall give you none in this one.” He turned to his officers, not caring that his counterpart was still on video to him. “Open fire!”