Chapter 1- Arriving in Kaurava
The Tau fleet leapt gracefully out of the warp, their atoms reforming instantly like the rapid completion of a mighty jigsaw puzzle the ships rebuilt themselves into their full forms.
Tau Commander Or'es'Ka stood on the bridge of the ship Flames of Truth, the flagship of the Tau armada ordered by the High Ethereal to help stem the tide of the conflict emerging in the Kaurava System. Or'es'Ka stared intently at the command screen dominating the centre of the bridge- watching the tactical display unfold before him. Each sector of the Kaurava system was clearly mapped- corresponding colours matching the faction currently dominating the territory. With the introduction of the Tau the number of factions engaged in the Kaurava System at present totalled five- their adversaries being the Imperial Guard, the feral tribes of Kauravan Orks, Legions of Chaos and the Necrons, each beginning their march to secure one of the systems planets each.
"Bring the fleet into position at the edge of the system" Or'es'Ka ordered the navigation officer. The Air Caste officer complied, the fish like craft of the alien fleet manoeuvring stealthily into position over the jungle clad planet of Kaurava II. "Activate the scanners- I want a suitable landing site identified within the hour"
"Yes sir" The Air Caste officers activated the ships long range scanners- preparing to search the system for an appropriate location to begin the Tau campaign for Kaurava.
The polished, metallic doors leading onto the bridge parted- a figure stepping through the open doors. The Tau Fire Caste Warrior loomed behind Or'es'Ka. The soldier clasped their gauntleted forearm over their chest in the traditional salute. "You summoned me Shas'O?"
"Yes. I am in need of your courage Trooper Karr" Or'es'Ka spoke with the calm and pious voice of a true follower of the Greater Good. "Navigations officer, activate the map" He ordered a member of his bridge crew.
The officer typed out a series of commands on his holographic display. The lights on the bridge dimmed, the projector in the centre of the room becoming awash with blue light. "We have identified the perfect landing zone for our troops to establish our base of operations" The image centred on the moon hanging precariously over Kaurava II. Or'es'Ka raised a gloved finger to the small bleeping icon. "This moon would serve as a perfect position for us to launch our operations in the Kaurava System. However there are difficulties"
"There is no obstacle to the Greater Good which cannot be solved by those truly committed to the cause" A quote spoken straight from the chronicles of the Cadre Academy.
"Very true Shas'El. But I fear that the infestation that corrupts this system may require more than the harsh wrath of our piety to properly dispense it" Or'es'Ka centred the view on the target zone- the cold grey surface of the moon overlaid by a corrupted purple envelope, the emblem of Chaos scorched into the surface. "Our desired landing zone is currently infested by the servants of Chaos- our only option is a full scale assault" A representation of a small fleet of Orca dropships glided silently towards the surface of the moon. "attempting to remove the Chaotic infestation with our fleets' laser cannons will only result in unacceptable damage to the facility. I am afraid you and your warriors are our only option"
The map snapped off, draping the bridge into dim darkness. "Very well Shas'O" Karr gave a respectful bow and turned towards the door.
"For the Greater Good" He called after her.
The fleet of Tau Orca dropships unloaded the formation of Tau Fire Warriors and Kroot Carnivore Squads on the rocky fields at the base of the Imperial citadel. Shas'El Karr lead her team down the landing ramp- the full extent of the Chaos presence on the moon only apparent once they touched down on the surface. The Citadel, a bastion of human technology, was now corrupted by the foul organic taint of Chaos. She turned back to face her squad. "Come soldiers of the Fire Caste- let us remove the forces of Chaos so that the Greater Good may flourish!"
The warriors cried the Fire chant of their Cadre. Karr lead them through the small, winding chasms dominated on either side by wide craters. Hard contact was soon made between the two opposing armies- the Chaos Space Marines had the advantage of terrain height but the wide, open visibility of the landscape meant that most of the fighting was done at long range, to the Tau advantage.
Alien plasma rounds strafed past human bolter rounds, the latter corrupted and stained by organic residue which infected Tau troopers upon contact- growing and consuming their bodies until they became as vile and demonic as the creature that had slain them. Karr had instructed that any who became infected were to be shot cleanly through the head- to ensure the corruption could not spread further.
The stalemate was eventually broken when a squad of red tinted Crisis Battlesuit's leapt over the lip of the crater- emerging behind the enemy line, spraying the Chaos frontline with spurts of minigun fire supported by shots from their secondary flamethrowers. With a painful wound opened in their defences a swarm of Kroot Carnivores broke ranks and stormed the enemy lines, the contact between the two sides becoming a frenzied massacre of demonic weapons meeting primal teeth and blades. With the bolstered support offered by the Crisis Battlesuits the Chaos forces could not hold their ground for much longer and those who did not flee were quickly cut down in a wave of blue plasma.
The Tau Fire Warriors, lead by Karr, drove forward into the next theatre of battle, their position now standing at the foot of the Citadel, the silver metal structure puncturing out from the rocky base. At the top of the ramp stood a Chaos Sorcerer, flanked on either side by his honour guard of demonic Space Marines. "There stands their Commander. Kill him! Purge his kind in service to the Greater Good" Karr screamed.
The first wave of Tau warriors charged up the ramp- some dropping into a crouch to fire before continuing their advance. The Chaos Sorcerer raised his arms above his head, the staff held in his hand beginning to pulse with foul dark energies. He slashed the weapon in front of him, the physical incarnation extending into an invisible pulse of energy which tore through the advancing soldiers, throwing them off their feet and discarding them like dolls back down the length of the ramp, the broken and battered corpses impaling the sharp rock lips of the surrounding craters.
Karr snarled- those proud warriors would be avenged. "Come Fire Warriors!" She leapt out from cover- charging the enemy line much as the first wave had. The remainder of her squad formed up behind her, following her into the maws of the abyss.
The Sorcerer thrust out with his demonic powers once again. Karr had the advantage- she anticipated it. She braced against the force of the blast, her metallic boots scrapped against the smooth metal beneath her. When she felt the energy dissipate she continued her advance- she glanced at either side, some of her squad had succumbed to the Sorcerers attack, but they continued to press forwards.
The Tau forces finally made it two thirds of the way up the ramp before they dropped to their knees once again- opening fire on the Sorcerers surrounding Honour Guard units. The Chaos Marines returned fire, the two squads exchanging fire over the ever decreasing distance as the Tau forces made they continued to advance up the ramp. Once again the advantage of height was given to the Legions of Chaos but the Tau Fire Warriors were the better marksmen. However with the constant support of the Sorcerer the Tau forces were having little impact, something had to give if they were to succeed. Karr decided to take it upon herself to break the stalemate- breaking ranks and continuing her charge at full speed up towards the battlements, taking each blunt round in the chest but not allowing it to impede her.
Karr had long ago discarded her Pulse Rifle, resorting to the ceremonial blades integrated into the forearm plates of her armour. Her troops and the Space Marines were caught up in the exchange of fire and unable to assist their commanders, it was entirely a one on one clash of blade upon blade. She made contact with the enemy commander, her curved forearm blades impacting the Sorcerers staff, forcing him to reel back as his balance faltered. However this fumble was quickly recovered, bringing the bladed weapon to bear against Karr. However she deflected the blow, forcing the two of them to separate before they made another attempt.
Karr's sharp ears suddenly heard something behind her- the battle between the Chaos Honour Guard and Karrs squad had ended. This meant that she would have to end the engagement quickly- either her soldiers were dead and soon she would follow them or the Chaos troops were defeated and the Sorcerer would attempt to retreat or take his own life before he could be captured.
Karr thrust herself at the Sorcerer; he attempted to bring the blade of his weapon to attack the exposed area of material between her helmet and torso. But Karr brought her forearm up to defend herself, the Sorcerers staff jamming in the curves of her bladed forearm, wrenching the weapon from his hands and dropping him to the ground.
Karr glanced at either side of her- relieved to see the barrels of Pulse Rifles being trained on the defeated enemy. One of her squad stepped forward, securing the enemy commander in a set of plasma cuffs.
Karr retrieved her discarded weapon, her gaze passing over the now secured Citadel as the remainder of her forces deployed all across the moon removed the last traces of Chaos presence. "Shas'El?" One of her troopers approached, retrieving a Tau banner from their pack. Karr accepted the shaft of the banner, watching the delicate material fluttering with the breeze. Karr raised the banner above her head- piercing the tip into the metallic hold beneath at her feet. From this point forward this moon was to be renamed Nan Yanoi- Sword Moon.
Karr walked out into the cool night air that covered the newly constructed base in the centre . Karr looked across the open field of silver coated metal dotted with semi-constructed Tau buildings being attended to by Earth Caste engineers. All around the perimeter of the base stood XV-88 Battlesuits and Path Finder patrols to identify and destroy any potential threats to their position before they made landfall.
She continued her walk through the grounds of the base, emerging near the research complex the Earth Caste had established to analyse any captured equipment acquired in the battlefield. The Fire Warrior bodyguards protecting the door snapped a sharp salute- only allowing their arms to return to their sides once she had passed. Karr walked briskly deeper into the intertwining complex network of corridors leading further into the facility- each new checkpoint she attempted to pass forcing her to submit to another security scan before she was admitted access. When she finally made it into the heart of the complex a part of her wished that she hadn't.
The centre of the circular room was dominated by a medical examination table encased within a glass cylinder surrounded by the curve of the room's wall. She approached the two guards protecting the doorway, having to surrender to another arduous confirmation of her identity before she was permitted access.
Karr watched as the polished door slid open to reveal the examination room behind it. The bulk of the room was occupied by an array of medical equipment and the examination table.
Strapped down onto the table with energy bindings was the Chaos Sorcerer she had captured during the assault of Nan Yanoi. After a lengthy interrogation sequence, which had left two Water Caste Diplomats dead under worryingly uncertain circumstances, Shas'O Or'es'Ka had decided to allow Karr to question the prisoner.
Karr stood over the prisoner, her fingers loosely entangled and naturally lay against her stomach. "Are you well?" She attempted to adopt as gentle a voice as she could, but the creature refused to acknowledge her presence.
The Earth caste scientists and engineers had attempted to disassemble the creatures armour in the hope of discovering a weakness in its design- but so far had only been able to remove the monsters helmet, the ghastly form beneath it sufficient enough to send some of the younger Earth Caste workers charging for the lavatory in sheer disgust. Karr however forced herself to hold back her pained groans in the hope of discovering what information the creature might hold beneath it.
"It is safe here. You can talk to me" Karr cooed. But still the creature resisted her. She attempted a different tactic- she pulled a high metallic chair from the monitoring station to the bedside, her long legs barely grazing the cold metallic floor beneath her. "What about that Warp Storm at the edge of the Kaurava system? Did you perhaps have something to do with-?"
That seemed to have struck a harsh nerve; the creature suddenly came to life- turning its head sharply to face her. "You know nothing of what you speak, child. That Warpstorm is the blessing of Chaos" he began to resist against his bindings- but they held. "It signals the coming that soon all who do not fully submit themselves to the Chaos gods will succumb to their unholy wrath, and will be consumed in their fires". The creature finally stopped resisting his restraints- its wrists strained and blooded from the sheer force that had been applied against them.
Karr watched the creature as its armoured chest rose and fell in time with every pained breath it dare take. Karr had already realized that this endeavour was a pointless waste of time and was more than ready to abandon her attempts at negotiations. She rose from her seat. "Then our conversation is over" she began walking towards the door.
"Wait" She froze at the words which whistled through the room. "I say, that we are far from over" Karr continued to walk away from the unintelligible ramblings of the mad man, but she was suddenly unable to command her muscles, her flesh unwilling to submit to her mind any longer. "You Tau truly believe yourselves beyond the reach of the warp" This voice seemed to be resonating from within her skull. This was impossible- Tau were usually completely cut off from the influences of the warp. "You seem bewildered, child, but the powers of Chaos are stronger than you can imagine" The creature sneered- feeling it's invigorated powers returning to him.
Karr suddenly felt something tearing her mind asunder. She collapsed to her knees- clawing at her forehead in a vain attempt to remove the pain. But quickly it consumed her.
Karr awoke to find herself on an entirely new plane of consciousness, the pain that had torn through her mind had long since dissipated and now seemed so distant. She opened her eyes to the world around her- an alien world blanketed a thin film of darkness that threatened to overtake her entire form. But like a ray of light piercing the shroud a figure began to swim through the darkness towards her.
The figure suddenly gained an identity- it was Shar, her once partner during her youth. But it seemed almost impossible- Shar had been killed during a raid on an Imperial outpost years ago. He seemed to almost swim through the darkness, eventually stopping with his face barely inches from hers, the two floating with their lips almost touching.
"Karr?" Shar spoke with his voice. He reached out to touch her- she repeated it for him. Her hand grazed his cheek; his flesh was cold and lifeless. A flash of lightning washed over her eyes- Shars face was suddenly replaced by a ghostly image of a broken, rotting corpse. The creature returned to its original form once again. "What's wrong?" His voice seemed to stutter.
Karr shook her head clear. "Nothing" she touched the tips of her fingers against his cheek once again- this time his flesh was pulsing warmly, her delicate fingers gliding gracefully over the smooth skin. Her face leant closer to his- their lips grazing eachother as they moved. Another wave of fear suddenly sliced through her. The demonic image returned.
"You seem af..." His voice changed again. "…raid" the voice was sickly and liquid- this creature was not Shar.
The image of her past lover materialized once again, she was thrust back into her ultimate state of mind. But that existence was readily destroyed by the powers of reality. Karr felt something gripping her by the shoulders, pulling her away from the embrace. She resisted for as long as she could- but eventually she could not hold out any longer.
She was torn away from her partner. She looked over her shoulder- a dark armoured Fire Warrior was gripping her shoulders- harshly keeping her at arm lengths from Shar's embrace. She wriggled and writhed in a desperate plea to embrace her partner once again. "Shar!" She threw her elbow back into the helmet of the creature holding her, the monster recoiled in shock, giving her the opening she required to charge back towards Shar. Their fingers barely grazed before Karr could feel the force pulling her back once again.
This time she could not resist. She cried out- arm outstretched as she felt herself being pulled further and further away. "Shar!" A crack of a gun shot resonated through her mind.
Karr stood motionless- her right arm outstretched before her. A Tau guard stood beside to her- a smoking plasma pistol held in his outstretched hand. The true reality finally settled within her. On the medical bed lay the broken corpse of the Chaos Sorcerer, a smoking hole imbedded in the centre of its skull. Karr felt slithering arms receding from around her body. She glanced over her shoulder, watching as the guard that had been standing just outside readjusted his askew helmet.
The second guard, sheathing his pistol, approached her. "Shas'El. Are you alright?"
Karr didn't respond, turning away sharply and leaving room. She could not stand to be here any longer.