Thrope should be in a very bad mood. His gang is about to be thrown into a battle they did not expect, his allies are hardly guaranteed to be of any use, the opposing side more than equals them in firepower and what the Spyre's will do to them if they lose doesn't really bear thinking about.
So yes, Thrope should be in a bad mood.
The involvement of Spyres means that the odds of this battle being officially recorded are slim to none, the Tau have been nice enough to place themselves inside a single building, Thrope's gang could use the exercise and Thrope can hardly deny that he's been itching for a real fight for some time now.
Plus, the Spyre's are really nothing more than well-equipped bullies – and Thrope likes fighting bullies.
Thrope is in a very good mood indeed.
Tau weaponry is amongst the most fearsome in the galaxy, a single round of concentrated fire from the Tau-occupied building would all but guarantee the death of whatever poor sod they happened to be targeting. Thrope knows this. So does Chaka.
And the man with the scarred palms waves his left hand.
An invisible knife of fantastic heat splits a massive wedge of air in front of the Tau shelter, smashing down from the empty sky to kick up a massive cloud of sand and dirt. A cloud that seems almost to crystallise as it rises – fragments of impure glass cascading back to the ground as the massive updraft generated by the heat fractures the light of the sun into a disorienting kaleidoscope across the sky. And as the lightshow fades fire erupts from the point of impact, sheeting upwards until an impossible wall of flames obscures the entire building from view.
Good luck firing through that.
Thrope takes a quick glance at Chaka. His eyes are glowing orange and the scars on his outstretched left hand are flickering green – but Chaka smiles right back, he can hold this for as long as it takes.
Blocka and the Eldar ranger both take careful aim. Two of the Spyre gangers find themselves impaled by identical small darts – but either the darts fail to penetrate or the toxin they contain fails to be effective. Both the Spyres remain annoyingly healthy, though the successful hits do manage to drive them into taking cover.
The Spyre leader spares his erstwhile Tau allies a glance before marching forward with the two of his gang who are not currently on the ground, his eyes locked on Chaka. He knows that downing the Psyker will cause the wall of fire to dissipate.
And Taka and Wiki know that this must not happen.
Taka's rifle blurs as he sprints towards the walkway, the Kroot letting lose a battle-shriek that shakes the air itself. Wiki simply runs silently forward, the professional way she holds her pistols at severe odds with the manic grin now formed on her lips.
The Spyre leader barely spares them a glance. A motion of his hands and the two following Spyres drop fluidly to their knees and raise their guns.
The first to fire is a woman, odd claw-like weapons on her wrists. An arm-mounted bolter sends a spray of bolts towards Wiki. She dodges and returns fire – but something flickers in the air between the Spyre and Wiki – and the bullets come shooting back in the opposite direction, catching Wiki in the shoulder and sending her crashing to the ground behind the launchpad barrier.
The second Spyre is a man, his weapon launching some form of net. It spreads itself into the air as it approaches Taka – but the bounty hunter drives his rifle into the ground with surprising force and catapults himself over the flying web to continue towards the Spyre leader. Who doesn't seem to be at all concerned by the Kroot charging towards him.
He should, perhaps, be more concerned about what may be happening beneath him.
As the leader steps onto the walkway he feels a slight impact against his knee. Looking down reveals a large needle emerging from the offending limb, and a grinning three-armed man standing on the ground below, pistol raised. But the leader doesn't really have time to respond to this as Taka takes this opportune moment to send a knockback round smashing into his chest. The concussive force of the ammo living up to its name and sending the leader stumbling backwards. Unhurt but rather seriously annoyed he glares at Taka – who ducks down out of the way, leaving the leader locking eyes with Thrope.
Thrope is still smiling.
And Thrope knows this man.
Oh not personally. Not by name. But he knows him nonetheless. A noble resident of the Hive Towers. Strong, well trained, amazingly equipped. Arrogant, cruel, utterly convinced of his right to treat everyone below his station as his personal playthings.
It's a conviction that has likely been driven into him since birth. It's a belief that Thrope intends to shatter.
To the leader it is as if a great weight were pressing against his mind. He freezes in place, a cold sweat breaking out on his forehead as he desperately pushes back against the force. It lightens and he thinks the worst is over. But then Thrope's grin widens – and the leader comes to the terrible realisation that the smiling man wasn't even trying.
Thrope's gamble pays off. His psychic assault fractures the leaders mental defences. But Thrope isn't one for messy mental manipulation – he just needed a way in.
The leader erupts into a pillar of screaming fire. Flames of raw psychic energy burn around his heart at the same time as they flay the skin from his face, an unforgiving assault of pain and heat against which no armour is any sort of defence.
A charred ruin of a human being crashes to the ground.
The Spyre with the web-launcher takes another shot at Taka, this time the Kroot fails to avoid the shot and is sent crashing to the ground with a hiss of frustration – his struggles serving only to tighten the hold of the net.
The female Spyre runs towards her leaders body, likely intending to find out if he still lives. She finds this plan somewhat handicapped when an arm emerges from beneath the walkway, grabs her round the ankle and smacks her into the ground below. She recovers just in time to prevent imminent decapitation by rolling free of the reach of Slicks double swords and – claws out – charges into combat with the three-armed man.
A Howling Banshee Eldar readies herself to charge the two Spyres currently pinned down by Blocka and the Eldar ranger – before learning the slight downside to Chaka's wall of fire.
Namely, that whilst the enemy cannot see you – nor can you see them.
The Tau have moved.
The Howling Banshee takes the full force of a flamethrower at near point-blank range, her elaborate plume crumbling to ash as she falls to the ground and begins to gently steam.
A massive suit of Tau power-armour moves into view from behind the wall of fire, underneath both its arms are slung two of the biggest guns Thrope has ever seen. The head is unarmoured, revealing the Tau to be female – and rather pissed. She spins and raises one of the giant guns, sending a stream of superheated plasma into the roof of the building where Blocka and the ranger happen to be. The crumbling blocks of plascrete bringing an abrupt end to the pinning firepower from the two snipers. As she shouts something to the two Spyre's another suit of Tau armour emerges from behind the fire.
This one is about as different to the first as it could be. Sleek and agile where the first is bulky and powerful, it holds a wicked looking sword in either hand. A helmet obscures its face. The suit nods at a signal from the female Tau and darts underneath the building, heading towards Slick and the female Spyre.
The assistance is not required. The Spyre with the weblauncher has made it to his leader – and confirmed that he still lives. A quick communication and each Spyre hammers an area of their armour, personal teleporters whisking the entire gang out of the battlefield.
Slick – surprised at the sudden disappearance of his opponent – fails to notice the approach of the sword-armed Tau, and earns a vicious kick to the side of his head as a reward, he crumbles to the ground.
Blocka manages to pull his leg free from the collapsed building, he has no idea where the bloody ranger's got too. He pulls himself up to a new vantage point – and at a hand signal from Thrope positions himself to watch the fire-locked building.
Thrope has locked eyes with the first Tau. And come to the conclusion that this is a fight he does not want to be having. The Spyre leader simply believed himself to be inherently superior – an arrogance that made what mental defences he could produce incredibly brittle. But this Tau... this one is strong. Almost certainly the leader, self-confident without being egocentric, determined without being obsessed and – hidden beneath a veneer of military training – honestly truly not wishing to kill anybody. Thrope does not want to fight this one, he isn't sure that he can win.
So he starts walking forward. And smoke begins to rise from his skin. Smoke that is followed by fire. Thrope's entire being glows red, then white, as the temperature around him skyrockets. Leaving molten footprints in the floor of the landing pad he walks towards the Tau leader, stopping only to pass his hand through the web holding Taka in place, its odd fibres parting beneath his superheated grip.
Chaka drops the wall of fire.
Two shots emerge from Blocka's tower.
Two previously unseen Tau topple backwards, the needles in their respective necks rendering them immediately unconscious. Automatic systems in their suits activate – jetting the comatose Tau to safety.
Chaka runs to Wiki – who has utilised her unexpected lateral recumbency to invent several new swearwords. A red light emerges from Chaka's right palm as he presses it against her injured shoulder.
And Thrope proves an excellent distraction.
The Tau leader, justifiably focused on the walking pillar of fire approaching her, is taken by surprise as the Eldar leader at last makes his presence known, stepping out of thin air and discharging a fusion-pistol directly into the centre of her chestplate. The high-tech armour buckles under the heat, its contours warping and twisting as circuits spark and fry. It actually manages to save the Tau leaders life – just not by very much. She falls, a smoking crater taking up the front of her torso.
The Eldar leader turns to Thrope and sketches a shallow bow, before stepping back into empty space just in time to avoid a whistling power sword to the throat. The sword-wielding Tau having made it back from the encounter with Slick just in time to witness the confrontation. Denied vengeance the suit swings to face towards Thrope – and takes a pistol round to the face as Wiki pulls herself off of the floor, proud owner of a now fully functional shoulder.
The helmet flies off.
And Thrope's fire dies out.
Thrope gestures towards the downed leader, "not in the habit of slaughter for slaughters sake lass – get yerself outa here."
The human girl in a suit of Tau armour takes his advice. Wordlessly scooping up the leader and walking away.
Salvage is theirs for the taking.
And for the first time since the fight started – Thrope has stopped smiling.