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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-15-11, 04:00 AM Thread Starter
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Default Trial By Fire

Yo fellow heretics. I've wanted to write some fanfiction for the site for awhile now. I had actually begun writing something else for Boc's latest HOES when the idea for a larger story came to my mind. Put that one on hold to work on this.

I hope you all enjoy it.

Also, I've used a number of words in the language of the Tau which I got from the Tau Xenolexicon which can be found here for those not versed in Tau'sia.

.......

Shas’la T’au Kais sat patiently in his seat in the hold of the Devilfish transport, mentally reciting one of the many military treatises of Commander Puretide as the craft traveled through the dense rainforests of Taliros III. The words of the legendary warrior were comforting to the inexperienced Shas’la, calming his nerves. This would be his first actual combat mission and he could not deny that he was nervous about it. But he was not the only one. Aside from their Shas’ui, everyone of the eight warrior team had never severed in real combat. Needless to say, all seven Shas’la were noticeably on edge, some looking around the cabin every few rai’kan, another was tapping his fingers on the side of the pulse carbine sitting on his lap while yet another was needlessly fiddling with his helmet’s comms antenna.

But then Shas’ui Myar as though sensing their apprehension, unstrapped himself from his seat and walked to the front of hold. “Listen well young warriors,” he spoke, drawing their attention. “Your days in the academies and training fields of T’au are over and you are all now Shas’la but do not let that go to your heads for all of you have yet to be bloodied by true combat. Today that changes. Today is your Xaux’suam.”

Xaux’suam, the Birth by Fire, when a novice warrior passes through the fires of combat and becomes a true warrior of the Fire Caste. …Or died in battle.

“Never forget that you are all Pathfinders, the eyes and ears of the Cadre,” Ui’myar continued. “We are-”

At that moment, a blinding flash of light and a thunderous roar consumed the passenger hold of the Devilfish silencing the Shas’ui’s words as the starboard hatch and part of the adjoining hull was torn apart by a fireball. A wave of sheering heat slammed into La’kais before he could even react.

.......

The stricken Devilfish transport fell to the ground, skidding across the dirt and foliage before coming to a stop. Black smoke bellowed out from its hull and the small fires that burned along it. “Xeno craft eliminated,” Dariel of the Imperial Fists Space Marine Chapter said, lowering his missile launcher.

Their squad sergeant, Raltus gave a slight nod from atop the foliage covered hill they had hid upon. “Emile, Gaius, make sure there are no survivors,” he ordered.

The two neophyte Astartes rose from the bushes together and carefully made their way down the hill towards the xeno skimmer. The jungle was devoid of sound, save for their footsteps and the cackling of the fires. But suddenly as the pair reached the Devilfish, a small round object flew out the broken hatch and landed before them. In an instant the device exploded, blinding them with a pulse of multi-spectrum light and deafening them with a sonic blast. As the two men struggled to regain their senses, blue bolts of light wildly shot out of the smoking hatch peppering the ground around them. But despite the inaccuracy of the attacker, a pair of shots struck Emile’s upper torso, scorching his carapace armor while a fourth bolt seared his right cheek. He staggered back as three well-aimed shots tore through Gaius forehead. The neophyte Astartes collapsed to the jungle floor, blood and brain matter staining the dirt.

“Open fire!” Raltus shouted, firing off his bolt pistol.

Castus raised his sniper rifle and fried into the darkened hatched. At the same time, Emile started firing off his shotgun as he backed away from the fallen transport. Dariel began to lift up his own weapon when Raltus stopped him. “Wait for the xenos to leave their craft then fire!” he barked.

As though the sergeant had predicted it, the rear hatch of the Devilfish transport dropped down and the young scout took aim. He saw a flash of tan and squeezed the trigger. The missile streaked through the air, hitting the ramp and detonating. But the Tau that Dariel had seen had half-sprinted, half-dove off the ramp. The xeno crashed into the dirt, escaping the fireball yet open to Castus and his rifle.

His teammate took aim at the fallen alien. “Feel the Emperor’s wrath xeno,” Castus uttered just before there was a loud roar and he was thrown back, blood flying from his chest.

“Sniper! On the Devilfish!” their sergeant yelled, pointing at the broken and smoking front of the craft.

Lying on top of the hull was one of the Tau warriors holding a long barreled rifle. More of the aliens began to emerge from around the far side of the Devilfish, firing on them as they advanced. One alien, the right side of its tan helmet and armor burnt black fired at Emile’s back with one of its fellows as he tried to move to fire on the sniper that killed Castus. The combined fire of the cowardly pair surprised him and quickly brought down the already wounded man but not before he managed to fire a single blast against one of his attackers, knocking the alien back.

Seeing another of his comrades fall to the filthy, cowardly aliens sparked a fire in Dariel. Loading another frag missile into his launcher, he roared in fury and hatred as he rose from his knees to his feet. He was vaguely aware of Sergeant Raltus yelling something as he aimed at the two xenos that had struck down Emile. With them in his sights, Dariel began to pull the trigger.

That was when the world around him exploded.

Dariel blinked several times yet he could not see from his right eye. Somehow he had ended up on the ground. He tried to sit up but for some reason he could not seem to push the right side of his body off the ground. Turning his head to his right, Dariel saw that his arm was little more than a burnt, bloody mess, most of it gone from the elbow down. But despite the graveness of his wound, it didn’t hurt. He knew he should be feeling something yet his body was devoid of feeling.

Raltus appeared over him, his bolt pistol firing mutely at their attackers. The sergeant’s mouth was moving yet his voice was low and strangely distant as bolts of blue energy flew overhead. He was struck several times but despite that the squad leader remained standing. Raltus reached down with his free hand, lifting him back up to his feet. But as Dariel started to rise up, both hit with a combined barrage from several of the Tau and the sergeant’s grip was broken as they both collapsed.

Dariel struggled to get up, utterly ignoring his wounds. A shadow descended on him and he turned around, coming face to face with the featureless helmet of the Tau soldier. With his one hand, Dariel reached for his combat knife. But as his fingers wrapped around the handle, the alien fired. The blinding light of the carbine’s shots was the last thing Dariel ever saw.

.......

With the last of a Gue’la dead, the Pathfinders had time to take stock of what they had and tend to their wounds. The Devilfish was severly damaged, the rocket having torn through the craft’s hull just next to the right hatch. Though it was no longer on fire, black smoke was still billowing from the fallen troop carrier. La’kais found himself sitting on a fallen log near their smoking transport as La’kunas treated the burns on the right side of his face while the rest of the team were either combing through the Devilfish or keeping watch. The burns were minor as his helmet had taken the worse of it. However, both it and his personal comms were useless now.

“There,” La’kunas said as she finished applying a bandage to his face. “It’s fortunate that you were not hurt worse in the blast.”

La’Kais placed a hand on the bandage, a dull ache still coursing through the right side of his face. Though not as close as Ui’myar had been standing, he had been sitting the closest to where the missiles had hit yet somehow he had managed to climb out of the Devilfish and fire on the Gue’la as they attacked.

Speaking of the humans, their presence in region was unexpected. The Taliros system currently was under the yoke of the Imperium of Man but their claim was growing weaker and weaker by every passing rotaa. In recent months, a significant percentage of the human population had cast off the rule of their cruel, uncaring Governor and embraced the Greater Good. A civil war had broken out between those clinging to the old rule and those seeking a better path. Given the system’s location and natural wealth, neither they nor the Imperium could allow such unrest to continue.

However as they were both mobilizing forces to end the fighting and restore order, a massive Space Hulk tore through the system. From inside the Hulk, legions of Orks poured out and onto the only inhabited world, Teliros III. By the time their Coalition arrived in system, most of the less populated southern hemisphere of the planet was overrun by the Orks while the northern hemisphere was in a state of chaos with the three sides locked in bloody conflict. From what La’kais had heard, despite the efforts of their noble leader Aun’el T’au Or’es’ro and the Water Caste, the Imperials were refusing to see reason in temporarily uniting to deal with the greater threat the Orks posed to the people of Teliros III. The brunt of the Imperial forces seemed to be centered against the Orks in the northern hemisphere as well as the cities that had sided with them rather than the Orks in the jungles.

Clearly, they had changed their minds on the matter.

La’kais’s musings were broken when his fellow Pathfinders that were searching the broken Devilfish withdrew from the craft, calling to those standing sentry to move back to the rear of the transport. “How bad were the injuries?” La’lar inquired once they were all together.

Of the seven of them that had managed to climb out of the Devilfish and fight their attackers, the two of them had received greater injuries than the bumps and bruises they all received in the opening shot and crash that followed. Shas’la Kunas had been the one to risk her life drawing the fire from the enemy heavy weapon as the rest of them climbed out the far hatch, receiving some injuries from her dive when she landed on her arm wrong. “Shas’la Kais has some minor burns while both my left wrist is sprained and my little finger is broken,” La’kunas answered as she reached for her pulse carbine, hefting it with confidence. “But we can both still fight.”

La’kais nodded his head in agreement before asking the far more important question. “What’s the status of the Shas’ui and the Devilfish?”

“Shas’ui Myar is dead. Killed in the blast,” La’tash announced, confirming what the young warrior already feared.

Shas’la Tash was the hero of the battle, taking out both the enemy sniper and their missile launcher with his rail rifle and his excellent accuracy. Few inexperienced soldiers could match such talent and ability. La’kais was not ashamed to admit that he was a little in awe at his marksmanship.

“As is our pilot,” La’Lynu bitterly added, her armor slightly damaged by a shotgun blast that had been fired from too far to injure her. “And the Devilfish itself is beyond repair.”

The other Tau all seemed to sag under the weight of the disappointing news. They still many tor’kan from their objectives. It would take at least two and a half rotaa by foot to reach their destination, putting them in a tight situation if they were to achieve their goals before the Cadre commenced with their attack in three rotaa. La’kais let out a quiet sigh. “Our long range comms relay?” he asked, hoping that they had at least that much.

The female warrior shook her head. “Heavily damaged,” she answered. “Maybe we could get it working for a bit but there’s no guarantee it would be strong enough to reach Command from down here.”

“Our Shas’ui is dead, our transport has destroyed and we have no means of getting in touch with Command…” La’lar uttered as he pulled off his helmet, his young voice tinged with panic. “What do we do now?”

The situation was grim, there was no denying that. Without their comms relay they’d be hard pressed to be able to contact the other teams operating in the region much less contact Command abroad the fleet’s flagship, The Light of Unity. They couldn’t inform their superiors of their current status nor would Shas’ar’tol even be aware where they were or that they were still alive. Indeed, the logical course of action would be to assume that they had been ambushed and killed in route to their mission objectives.

At best they were stranded until their Shas’o launched his attacks against the Orks and they could get in touch with the rest of their Cadre, at worse their Commander believed they were dead and would alter his attack to compensate, trapping them in the jungle that was now home to hundreds, perhaps thousands of Orks. Several of the others seemed to come to this same conclusion, their shoulders drooping and weapons hanging limply in their hands. Even quiet, unshakeable La’Kles looked defeated.

Something needed to be done or none of them would survive the coming rotaa.

The words of his teachers and instructors as well as the teachings of Commander Puretide filled La’kais’s head as searched for some idea as to what they should do, of what he should say. In the end there was only one thing he could say. “We are warriors of the Fire Caste.”

The other Shas’la all turned to him, not saying anything. Kais swallowed for a moment before he continued. “We are warriors of the Fire Caste. We will do what we have been trained for, carrying out the mission that we have been entrusted with,” he said, grabbing his weapon as he stood up. “We all knew that any one of us could die on this mission, even Shas’ui Myar. It is our duty to persevere despite what is thrown at us and complete our mission.”

Both Shas’la Tash and Shas’la Lynu straightened up, looking a little more confident than they had been which in turn strengthened Kais’s own resolve. “When the Ethereals ended the Mont’au and unified our people, our ancient ancestors pledged their lives to Tau’va. An oath of duty that those warriors who came before us have taken, an oath that will be taken by those who will come after us and an oath that we have taken,” he said, staring into the eyes of each and every one of his teammates.

“By our blood and our fire, we serve,” he spoke, uttering the first verse of the oath.

Instantly his teammates snapped to attention. “For Tau’va until death claims us,” they chanted in unison.

“From mightiest of heroes to lowliest of warriors, we serve.”

“For Tau’va until death claims us.”

“To protect our people and our homes from all threats, we serve.”

“For Tau’va until death claims us.”

“For Tau’va, the light that saved us from the Mont’au and will unify all, we serve.”

“For Tau’va,” all seven Pathfinders finished, their spirits raised by the simple act of reciting the Oath of the Fire Caste.

“We continue the mission,” La’Tash said, shouldering his rail rifle.

La’lar nodded and shook his left fist in air. “No matter what stands in our way.”

“Ork or human, it makes no difference. They’ll all fall,” La’kles bluntly commented.

It was the closest thing that passed for eagerness from the stoic warrior. Likewise, the rest of the team each displayed their own confidence and eagerness. A grin spread across La’kais’s face for a moment as he patted La’lar’s shoulder. “Then let’s get ready to move out. Shas’la Kunas, Shas’la Lar, gather up what supplies and munitions you can salvage from the Devilfish as well as the comms relay,” he ordered. “Hopefully we’ll be able to repair on the way. Shas’la Lynu, Shas’la Tash, Shas’la Savon, set up a perimeter and stand watch for anymore Gue’la or Orks. Shas’la Kles, you’re with me. I will not allow two of our comrades to rot in this jungle.”

.......

Well? Like it? Hate it? Let me hear from you.

'There's a fine line between not listening and not caring. I like to think that I walk that line every day of my life.'
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Last edited by Akatsuki13; 03-19-11 at 08:12 PM.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-15-11, 05:01 AM
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It's nice to see someone else do writing that focuses a bit on the Tau, but I have to admit it's a little flawed. Your actual description and pacing of the battle is pretty good- I enjoy how it shifted perspectives! But at the same time despite the great lengths you went to authenticate the Tau language, the dialogue still seems a little... Dry. Between gaps of punctuation and lack of differentiation in personalities, it seemed more a narrative mechanic than natural speech.

Don't let me discourage you, though. Keep on trucking it and you will get better!
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-19-11, 09:52 AM
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I'll second that, excellent to see the Tau get some love, don't see that too often. I'll also agree with the pacing of battle, it's very fluid and the shift in perspectives is lovely- I can almost see the change in scenes as the Marine speaks. I would disagree however, that the dialogue is dry, because let's be honest, they are Tau and Space Marines, arguably the two most balanced, introspective groups of beings out there. I'd say the language reflects a professionalism you don't see in a lot of characters- a fault I admit I'm quite privy to and respect you for not falling prey to.

Excellent!
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-19-11, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C'Tan Chimera View Post
It's nice to see someone else do writing that focuses a bit on the Tau, but I have to admit it's a little flawed. Your actual description and pacing of the battle is pretty good- I enjoy how it shifted perspectives! But at the same time despite the great lengths you went to authenticate the Tau language, the dialogue still seems a little... Dry. Between gaps of punctuation and lack of differentiation in personalities, it seemed more a narrative mechanic than natural speech.

Don't let me discourage you, though. Keep on trucking it and you will get better!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirge Eterna View Post
I'll second that, excellent to see the Tau get some love, don't see that too often. I'll also agree with the pacing of battle, it's very fluid and the shift in perspectives is lovely- I can almost see the change in scenes as the Marine speaks. I would disagree however, that the dialogue is dry, because let's be honest, they are Tau and Space Marines, arguably the two most balanced, introspective groups of beings out there. I'd say the language reflects a professionalism you don't see in a lot of characters- a fault I admit I'm quite privy to and respect you for not falling prey to.

Excellent!
-Dirge
Thank you both of you. In terms of the Tau dialogue, I can understand where you're coming from C'Tan. But as Dirge pointed out, Fire Warriors are highly professional soldiers. They are born and raised for the purpose of fighting unlike guardsmen who tend to be ordinary men and women who join or are conscripted. Also, keep in mind that they are a very polite and respectful race. Which is why they refer to each other by Caste, rank and give name. Technically, they would refer to each other by Caste, rank, sept world and given name, but I figure considering that they're from the same sept, it would be redundant for them to. In fact, to my knowledge those that have been bound together by ritual (like Ta'lissera and similar rituals) can refer to one another by only their given names without it being an insult. Though I think family may be able to as well. And those who do know each other for awhile can informally refer to one another by just rank and given name.

That being said, give it time. Their personalities which begin to show through. Remember, Kais may be the central character but there are seven Pathfinders here. I can't really show everything about them all at once. I have it all mapped it, just be patient.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-20-11, 03:23 PM
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True, very true. I can't say you did anything wrong, but the end result is still the same for me. Then again, I also butchered fluff in my own Tau fiction to give them more defined characteristics at the expense of fluff. So I don't think my opinion holds much validity here anyway.

Regardless, still very good.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-20-11, 05:37 PM
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There was a lot of detail and it was really pretty good. I enjoyed the read, but there are some learning points to be had.

When I finish a story I am pretty excited and tempted to post it as fast as I can. But others have taken the time to help me along and now my work is showing a lot of growth.

Start reading the writers circle. There is so much instruction there that will help you with everything from charecter developement to writers block and so much more.

Slow down. Read and reread your storys and have someone else read them that can be brutally honest about your work, and never get discouraged.

There were times at the beginning of the story that one minute you were talking from the Tau's perspective and the next from the Guards perspective, the devilfish was crashing and then the aliens were attacking.

At first I was confused... who were the aliens attacking? Were the Tau fighting aliens? It took a little bit for me to realize that you had switched from Tau to human perspective. So work on your transitions.

Do something like EX: As the devilfish crashed to the ground the Imperial Guard/ Marines imediately set upon it with weapons fire that lit up the dark shadows .... Jony Knocker or Joe Smith or Bobby Ray or who ever noticed the Tau as they poured out of the burning wreck...

That way the transition is made from the Tau to the Guard without losing any one.Dont give up and keep writing, brother. Adrian

A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep! Check out the H.O.E.S. short story competition.
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