Author Topic: A dead god on Tosich IV  (Read 2213 times)

Uilleam

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A dead god on Tosich IV
« on: November 22, 2009, 03:44:31 PM »
On the arrival of The Shattered Sky in orbit over Tosich IV, Corvad had commented to Frum on how arrogant the tau were with this newly capitulated border world. The two of them had been communicating with the tau naval command, who were all aboard the largest ship in orbit having some sort of a celebration. Now as Frum walked through the newly erected fortress protecting the unimaginatively named Capital city he found himself agreeing with Crovad more and more. On his walk through the fortress to meet a tau of the ethereal caste Frum had found himself thinking about the complacency of the military forces compared to the strict organisation of the political. This whole planet was an egotistical celebration, it had slowly been drifting into tau control with the signing of defence treaties and the station of tau troops here but now it had officially become the newest member of The Tau Empire things were different. It seemed that there were a great deal of diplomats and political leaders here to celebrate. Frum wasn’t a remotely pious man, but he was loyal to humanity and it disgusted him to see these aliens celebrating their dominance over the humans of this world, pretending they had the humans’ best interests at heart. Every time Frum visited a tau world to trade they preached to him about the greater good and he had to pretend to be interested to secure the merchandise, he hated listening to them rave about their poisonous ‘greater good’.

With a conscious effort Frum lifted his hand from the hilt of his sword, he had to secure as much trade as possible now, before the Imperial authorities found out this world had joined The Tau Empire and started to heavily scrutinise vessels which had arrived from it. Deep scrutiny by Imperial authorities was the last thing Frum wanted, well the second from last... Frum visibly shuddered at the thought and subconsciously fingered one of the wards against the daemonic he always wore. Turning to look at Kraye, Frum saw she had an expression that could have frozen lava, but Frum knew it wasn’t caused by the tau, but rather that he had teased and goaded her by selecting Claye for this expedition alongside her. Grinning inside but externally deadpan he spoke up.
“I wish the tau had let more than just the three of us come to meet this ethereal.” Frum paused momentarily for effect. “I’d feel more comfortable with Claye here.” Kraye’s expression grew even colder; it would have terrified a tyranid. Waff played along, nodding in agreement with Frum, with the emotionless face of a truly exemplary gambler, though had he scanned Waff's mind Frum would surely have sensed amusement. Kraye on the other hand began to furiously grind her teeth, but still didn’t say anything.

As the Water Caste guide led the rogue trader and his accomplices out of the fortress and over along thin bridge to a platform overlooking a vast square Frum struggled to recognise anything he remembered, he had been here just under 4 years ago and might as well have been in a different city. The scale of tau investment here had truly been huge, hopefully he could grab a slice of that before the Imperium tightened up the trade with this world. The square was filled with milling civilians and busy earth caste workers, obviously there was some event planned for this afternoon, which was good, a carnival atmosphere made people bargain easier. Arriving onto the platform Frum studied those who were already there. There was the obvious leader who must be the Ethereal; leaning on a glaive and casually conversing with a pair of tau diplomats who fawned over the Ethereal’s every word with slack brained devotion. Next there were twelve Fire Caste tau of obvious high rank, a kroot leader, a pair of Earth Caste technicians busy setting up devices around the platform and finally twelve gue’vesa commanders. The one to one ratio of tau to human military commanders given the honour of attendance didn’t surprise Frum, he knew that humans made up around four fifths of The Tau Empire’s total ground forces on this planet. One of the humans locked eyes with Frum, there was something about the verdant green eyes of the man that unnerved Frum, it was almost as if the man recognised him, filling Frum with an increased feeling of unease.

Forcing himself to concentrate on what their guide was saying Frum realised that the Water Caste tau was introducing those who were present on the platform. When he reached the Verdant green eyed man the guide seemed to get even smugger and explained that he was a storm trooper officer who along with a squad of his men had stolen a ship and fled the oppression of the Imperium to serve the glory of the greater good.
“Captain Gorm arrived only yesterday.” The guide finished. For his part the man simply offered an enigmatic smile but said nothing.

With the introductions over the Ethereal spoke up, addressing Frum.
“You travel the galaxy trading in rarities?” The Ethereal waited for Frum to reply.
“Amongst other things.”
“So you must have a great knowledge of ancient peculiarities?” The tau leader inquired.
“I know a little, but my companion Waff is a true expert.”
“Excellent, I’m sorry to delay your business negotiations but I could not pass up the opportunity for some input on the nature of this object.” The tau proffered a large jagged shard of metal that had been tucked into its sash, and seeing Frum’s unimpressed and bemused look the tau explained. “It may not be an object of beauty but since an asteroid mining team sent it to me to evaluate I have been unable to glean much about it at all, it is highly anomalous.”  The tau set the lump of metal down on a table and gestured for Waff to look at it. Waff looked it over, and scanned it with his customised auspex a few times, before looking up with his gambling face on and exclaimed.
“I’m not certain what this is but it seems pretty worthless to me.” Then he made the secret hand gesture between him and Frum which meant read my mind.

Reluctantly bending the warp to his will, Frum scanned Waff’s mind and received the knowledge his friend was purposely thinking about. That strange lump of metal was the raw material for a sword of immense power, a sword that never dulled and that no armour or energy field could withstand. It was a shard of necrodermis, a portion of a long dead god, Frum knew he had to have it. The Ethereal looked bemused; Frum had been staring into space for a minute or so. Snapping back to attention Frum spoke to the Ethereal.
“If we take it up to my ship we can run more advanced diagnostics. No, better yet we can take it to an expert on anomalous metals to study and bring you the results next time I visit this planet in a year or so. What say you friend?” Frum scanned the Ethereal’s mind, it seemed to resist him as if the thoughts were insubstantial, Frum drew on more of his strength and saw clearly, the xenos was going to refuse.
“That’s very kind of you-“ The Ethereal began. Frum formed some emotions, the Ethereal giving the shard to Frum, Frum returning later with wondrous results that the Ethereal could never dreamed of. Frum mixed in some raw hope and trust and slid the package gently into the Ethereal’s mind before it could finish its polite refusal to part with the shard.
“-Yes, take it!” the Ethereal continued in a totally different tone, garnering strange glances from its underlings. The kroot was looking at Frum intently, resisting the urge to abstract himself from the immaterium Frum scanned its mind, it was suspicious. Just as Frum was about to step forward and take the shard the Ethereal froze. “What? No, NO it stays.” The xenos leader exclaimed. Frum cursed silently and slid another emotion onto the Ethereal’s mind like a blade. “Sorry, on second thoughts take it.” The Ethereal said, its emotions getting harder to manipulate with each attempt. Immediately the Ethereal shook its head slightly at first but then with more conviction.
“It’s mine.” The xenos spat the words out. The other tau started to talk amongst themselves in their own language, the humans looked confused and the kroot stared from Frum to the Ethereal.
“Mind control.” It croaked quietly, then turned to the tau and said a single word in their language. Frum looked at the tau commanders who stared back at him with rage, then he looked at the humans who, apart from the verdant green eyed deserter who just looked enigmatic as usual, seemed to still be confused.
 
Focusing all his psychic strength, Frum drew more warp energy then he ever had before and crafted a series of images of tau fire warriors killing the gue’vesa soldiers, men and women being sterilized by tau and human children being used by tau as human shields. Frum could feel his soul roaring like an inferno in the immaterium, the warp energy threatened to burn him from existence, it felt like it was trying to turn him inside out. In his state of warp fury Frum was barely aware of his body beginning to shake, he was aware however of the daemons gathering in the warp around him, his skin was searing, no it wasn’t his skin it was his tattoos burning like the sun. Frum could feel himself slipping away, it was like the immaterium was becoming more real and the materium was fading to a shadow, with a supreme effort he spiced the images with rage and hatred and finally poured all his paranoia in to the projection. Frum’s nose was bleeding now but he didn’t care, it didn’t really feel real. With a roar he slammed the projection into the minds of the human officers and then stopped pulling on the warp.

The materium thundered back into his senses, only seconds had passed since the tau seemed to have realised Frum was attempting foul play. Frum saw that two of the human officers were twisting about on the floor in spasms and another was bent over retching blood. The other nine however raised their weapons, rage twisting all of their features apart from the green eyed officer who seemed calm, and opened fire on the tau. A wave of disequilibrium crashed into Frum’s mind as his soul reeled from the power he had just unleashed, as his sight began to blur he just saw Waff launching an emergency flare before he feinted.  

Frum opened his eyes and again it seemed mere seconds had passed. Kraye was duelling with the kroot Shaper, which looked like it was suffering slightly from the effects of Waff’s stun coated needles. More importantly though Frum saw the Ethereal cut down a former gue’vesa with his glaive before stepping over the body and reaching for the shard of necrodermis. Scrambling to his feet Frum found that he didn’t feel too bad, slightly numb with a headache building up but otherwise fresh and alert. Realising he was wasting time assessing his physical fitness as the Ethereal escaped across the bridge with the shard, Frum tore his sword from its scabbard and gave chase, nimbly leaping the dead body of a Water Caste dignitary. As he made his way onto the thin bridge the Ethereal turned its head and saw him, obviously realising it had no chance of outrunning the tall human bearing down on it, the Ethereal stopped running and turned assuming a defensive stance with its glaive.  

Frum barely had time to slow his pace and avoid the glaive that had been expertly aimed at his neck, losing his footing in his hasty dodge and coming perilously close to falling off the bridge. The Ethereal capitalised on Frum’s fall, swinging the glaive around to bring the other blade down in a slashing attack again expertly aimed for Frum’s neck. Frum desperately rolled away from the edge of the bridge, narrowly avoiding the glaive which created sparks as it slashed the area where Frum had lain a moment ago. The tau kept up its relentless assault, swinging the glaive again bringing the end round with enough force to split Frum’s skull like a ripe fruit, this time however Frum managed to get his sword in the way and deflect the fearsome blow. Frum immediately riposted towards the Ethereal’s leading arm but the tau was prepared and flicked the glaive into a brilliant parry, tearing Frum’s sword from his hand and sending it clattering across the stones behind him. As the tau lifted its glaive to deliver the coup du grace Frum was sure he saw a smug look on its face, deeply enraged Frum lashed out with his heavy boot kicking the xenos with full force right between its legs. Obviously genital configuration was similar in humans and tau because the Ethereal’s face scrunched up and went a paler shade of grey. Conserving the momentum from his kick Frum threw himself into a backwards roll coming up to his feet and grabbing his sword in the process.

Neither combatant was willing to give the other time to gather themselves both immediately launching forward, failing to land any blows and slamming together much too close to make use of their weapons.  The Ethereal whilst a skilled duellist was obviously not used to the conditions of a brawl because it hesitated, Frum on the other hand punched the xenos hard in the face with his offhand again and again. The tau reacted by stepping backwards and trying to bring its glaive up to block the punches, Frum was prepared for this however and now grabbed at the shard which was tucked securely into the Ethereal’s sash. Bringing his sword down Frum cut through the sash releasing the shard to his grasp and dealing a painful slash wound to the tau’s abdomen. The xenos seemed to finally realise that at this stage it couldn’t rely on its duelling skills or superior reach because it let out a high pitched war cry and hurled itself at Frum. Pushed back towards the edge of the bridge Frum seemed to teeter for a second before grabbing the tau and using its bodyweight to pull himself back from the void. Both the human trader and the tau leader were now teetering on the brink of death, simultaneously trying to balance whilst desperately clawing and grabbing each other, all semblance of self control lost. Suddenly the tau’s attacks became less frenzied and took on an air of futility, regaining some self control Frum realised he had managed to impale the Ethereal through the chest with his sword, more by luck than anything else.  The tau too glanced down and saw the sword hilt protruding from its chest, its eyes widened in horror, for that moment taking on an almost human facial expression before letting out a gasp and toppling off the side of the bridge.

Frum stood staring down into the square far below deeply saddened by the loss of his sword which had gone down with the Ethereal. Pulled from his momentary reflection by the thudding of boots behind him Frum turned to see the surviving human officers running past him on the bridge. Alarmingly the the enigmatic man was heading directly for Frum, and for moment he froze gripping the shard tightly to his chest, worried that the man had realised his mind had been manipulated. But as the man drew near he stooped to pick up a small alien device dropped by the ethereal after its sash had been cut, Frum watched in fascination as the man thumbed the controls and pointed the device at his face. Frum’s attention was shifted from the alien device to Kraye who appeared at his side, his bodyguard was suffering from a slight limp and had a cut across her left shoulder but apart from that and a few superficial scrapes she seemed unscathed. Rather than the lasgun Kraye usually carried she was wielding a tau carbine, Frum raised his eyebrow at her but Kraye just shrugged, her usual fastidious attention to rank decorum gone and said.
“That rutting kroot smashed my las.” Frum looked at her appraisingly then nodded in response, the weapon seemed to sit naturally in Kraye’s grip and he knew the damage these weapons could inflict.

Now the fight with the ethereal was over Frum started to notice that he didn’t feel very well, nauseated from the strain of manipulating more warp power than he should Frum bent over and retched, it seemed the headache that had been building had finally arrived and his head felt like it was imploding. The adrenalin seemed to drain out of him and the realisation of how close he had come to death or worse rocked Frum’s mind, all strength left his limbs and he slumped down onto his knees. Frum thought his bodyguard seemed uncharacteristically fazed by the situation and she turned to the shady savant who was nimbly hurrying across the bridge, pockets bulging with xenos artefacts, and snapped.
“You should have been here helping your master, not stealing new toys for yourself.” If the reprimand affected Waff he showed no outward sign that Frum could pick up, and he certainly wasn’t about to use his telepathic powers anytime soon. Waff crouched down beside Frum to examine him.
“How do you feel?” he said at the same time as rummaging through his medi-kit. Frum opened his mouth to respond it only caused him to dry retch, strangling the words he was trying to get out.
“how do you think he feels? How do you manage to be a genius and an idiot at the same time?” Kraye barked at Waff, she was definitely uncharacteristically flustered.
“I wanted to know his symptoms.” Waff replied calmly, though there was a hint of ice in his voice, at the same time he filled a syringe with a purple fluid and injected it into Frum’s neck. Feeling his nausea recede enough to speak Frum gasped.
“My head, my head!” Concern flashed across Kraye’s face but she said nothing, Waff just nodded and fished 3 capsules out of his kit and passed them to Frum.
“Break these and dissolve them in your mouth.”

Headache and nausea suppressed Frum was back on his feet albeit a little less steadily than usual, and he still couldn’t shake the feeling of numbness.
“I alerted the shuttle crew.” Waff said. “They’re preparin-.” Waff was cut off mid word as the huge pict screens facing the square flared into life.  Realisation dawned on Frum as to the purpose of the tau device the deserter guard had been manipulating; the enigmatic man’s face suddenly appeared on the pict screens, his voice booming out in an impassioned condemnation of the Tau and their atrocities, his eyes burning like green fire.  It seemed like the emotions Frum had put in the minds of the Gue’vesa had touched on some real underlying resentments because the crowds of humans below broke into a frenzied state of riot, turning on any aliens they could get their hands on and any humans who tried to defend them. As Frum reached the other side of the bridge he turned to look back down at the square before slipping through the passageway. Gunships soared around the vast square, blasting away at the enraged mass of humans dispersing the vast crowd which began so scatter into avenues and side streets in every direction.

Running through the Tau fortress towards the bay where their shuttle was waiting the trio encountered no resistance; though every so often they passed the bodies of a few Fire warriors or non combatant Tau and in one instance a gue’vesa officer. As they rounded the last corner before the shuttle bay it was a different matter altogether, Frum’s soldiers were using the entrance to the shuttle bay as a choke point holding back the Tau with the eclectic mix of weaponry they carried. The Tau on the other hand were much more homogeneous, firing their pulse weapons at the humans with disciplined precision and using the columns as cover from the return fire. There seemed to be as many Air caste Tau as Fire caste and Frum realised that this was the aircrews scrambling to their craft automatically, rather than a dedicated force being sent to cut off the Rogue trader’s escape. Regardless of the nature of the Tau force they still had an advantageous position and would sooner or later gain access to the shuttle bay. Frum’s men were good, but he knew that should the Tau push past the choke point they would swiftly triumph.

Kraye had obviously come to the same conclusion because she dashed behind a column and then laid a withering hail of fire into a group of Fire warriors trying to move round the flank. The tau seemed to be momentarily surprised to be coming under an attack from pulse weaponry because they paused for a second. Taking advantage of the confusion of the Tau Waff shot one through the abdomen with his pocket laspistol, letting out a shout of exultation as the Fire warrior crashed to the ground dead. This snapped the tau out of their confusion and they all dived for cover, though Kraye managed to down one and score a glancing hit on the helmet of another. Still not recovered from his psychic exertions Frum decided it wasn’t worth wasting precious bolt rounds with his impeded aim and instead unclipped the Eldar disc thrower Waff had modified for him. Frum sighted a large group of air caste pilots who were hanging back in the safest cover but still contributing their pulse pistol shots to keep Frum’s men pinned in the hangar, they still hadn’t realised they were horribly exposed to the trio that just arrived. With his right arm cradling the necrodermis shard to his chest like a child with a toy, Frum raised the Eldar weapon in his left hand and let rip with a hail of disks into the Tau pilots. The Eldar weapon was light enough that he could fire it one handed without too much loss of accuracy, not that that mattered much given his already impeded accuracy. Frum kept the trigger depressed until the ammunition was totally depleted, hosing down the Air caste tau with random sprays of disks, when the ammunition was finally expended most of the air caste lay dead or horribly wounded. Frum looked at the weapon in his hand in shock, he carried it as more of a trophy then a weapon and was surprised by its savage capabilities.      

The chamber erupted into total chaos, upon Frum’s attack of the air caste all the tau immediately became aware of the new threat on their flank and began to move to eliminate it. At the same time the suppressing fire that had kept Frum’s men pinned in the shuttle bay petered away to nothing as the Air caste survivors struggled to comprehend the carnage around them, with a shout the humans sallied through hangar entrance and engaged the confused fire warriors in mêlée. Caught up in the excitement Frum ran towards a surviving Tau pilot, clipping the Eldar weapon back onto his belt as he went, the pilot looked up in shock and raised his pistol. The tau was never going to bring his pistol to bear in time and Frum grinned as he reached for his sword – that wasn’t there. Panic flashed into Frum’s mind as suddenly the tables were turned and the humour all belonged to the tau who was now grinning as it prepared to gun Frum down.

Waff head butted the disarmed tau pilot in the chest and felt its frail bones splinter with a gratifying crunch; the alien fell down dead, its vital organs punctured by bone fragments. Taking stock of the situation Waff saw Claye gut a fire warrior with that brutal knife he carried everywhere, Kraye wasn’t being outdone however as she closed her augmented hand around the face of a helmetless fire warrior and crushed its skull before firing her sidearm into the guts of another fire warrior.  Then Waff saw Frum gripped by panic and the pulse pistol aimed at his central mass, unable to contain his shock Waff screamed and stretched out his arm reflexively towards the tau pilot aiming at Frum. Subconsciously he activated his MIU link and spook flooded into his body, Waff felt a force erupt from his outstretched hand and slam into the Air caste pilot’s arm crushing all the bones and sending the pulse pistol spinning through the air. Almost as soon as it came the imperceptible force was gone replaced by intense pins and needles all over Waff’s body, the frail tau aviator lost consciousness and crashed to the ground. Witnessing the shocking telekinetic attack finally broke the moral of the few surviving tau and they fled the area, a few falling to the pursuing fire of the humans.

The humans rapidly moved the dead and wounded onto the shuttle and upon Waff’s insistence the most intact fire caste and air caste corpses for later dissection. Claye was the last to embark on the shuttle as he was opening the bay’s external doors, on the way back to the shuttle he activated a transmitter he carried and the bombs he had previously attached to the tau fliers winked into life. Waff looked distraught that so much xenotech would be destroyed before he had a chance to study it, however Claye responded to his venomous glare with a smile.
“Look in the hold.” Claye simply stated. Waff immediately leapt up, somehow managing not to lose his footing despite the motion of the shuttle and deftly scurried down the hold access chute. Frum looked at Claye with a questioning expression. “When we heard you were in trouble sir, I ordered Gunnt and Fwelm to loot as much as they could from the shuttle bay and the adjoining storage hangar, whilst the rest of us took up defensive positions. Of course the tau guards weren’t best pleased.” Claye smiled and patted his knife. “I thought you wouldn’t have wanted to leave empty handed sir.”
“Oh we didn’t.” Frum said, absently gripping the odd metal shard. Claye looked at it but evidently didn’t know what it was because he seemed confused, nevertheless he didn’t say anything. Moments later Waff reappeared from the hold with eyes wide and mouth agape, returning to his seat next to Frum and Claye he exclaimed.
“Throne on earth a piranha, you stole a piranha!” Waff was sweating prodigious amounts and Frum turned to him.
“What is it that could be so exciting?” Waff seemed confused by the question.
“It’s a scout flier.” Then it dawned on him. “Ah this?” he said pointing to the sweat, Frum nodded. “That’s a side effect of the spook, shouldn’t last more than a few hours.” Frum was in an excellent mood, so he wasn’t going to let the sweat bother him, nevertheless he stood up and made his way to the cockpit to talk to Sullia, wondering as he went how Waff seemed to be able to ignore the effects of the shuttle’s motion.

Once Frum reached the cockpit he opened communications with the bridge of The Shattered Sky
“Corvad this is Frum. What’s the situation in orbit?”
“As soon as we picked up the emergency flare we opened fire on the largest tau starship. Those little blue-faced bastards didn’t even have shields up!” Corvad leaned away from the comms for a second to shout some commands at the bridge staff, he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. “The Tau space forces are in a state of confusion, not sure whether they should engage us or support the ground forces. We are using the hulk of their flagship as a shield to keep them from engaging us en masse, but we need to keep mobile so I’ll keep updating your with the coordinates. Once you are safely aboard we should be able to break off and make the warp within half an hour.”
“What do you mean about the Tau supporting their ground forces?” Frum asked.
“The human civilians are rioting all across capital city, apparently it has already spread to spaceport city too as well as most of the southern hemisphere cities, some northern cities are even beginning to show signs of unrest.” He paused for a moment and then added.  “Oh and the human auxiliaries appear to have begun concerted assaults on the tau defence infrastructure in both hemispheres!”
“That would explain why we haven’t been shot out of the sky yet.” Frum muttered mostly to himself.
“Nothing to do with my elite flying skills then?” Sullia interjected, her voice laden with humour.
“An ork could do it, and bump us around half as much at that!” Frum grinned at her.
“Why do you keep me around then?” She riposted, winking suggestively.
“Horus’ foetid balls!” Frum shouted back as the shuttle avoided a ground to air missile by a tiny margin. Frum started to exit the cockpit “I had better let you concentrate.” He said, pretending that he wasn’t actually leaving from fright.

++1 month later++

The man with the verdant green eyes stood in front of a pict recorder, relaying in some detail the events of the last month on Tosich IV particularly the involvement of Yonnur Frum. He explained the devastation of Tau military and political leadership in the region, the destruction of one of their largest spacecraft in this sector and also the fact that a distant planet with little ties to the Imperium had in a few weeks become a fiercely loyal and commendably xenophobic border world with a well equipped military industrial complex. Finally he signed off his video message.
“Your loyal servant, Interrogator Gorm.”
« Last Edit: November 23, 2009, 08:45:10 AM by Uilleam »