Monday, January 25, 2010

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part Twenty: I am of Water

Colonel Strauss walked from the open door of his personal transport vehicle followed by his command team. His Executive Officer followed not far behind him murmuring suggestions and ideas as they walked. Several nervous foot soldiers followed,lasguns held high and at the ready, as the party crossed the blasted out square where Summerset and Beacon Streets met. This intersection was framed by smashed buildings, debris was scattered around the remains of a statue. And several burned out civilian vehicles still smoldered from the bombardment only days ago. Large columns of smoke rose beyond the square and in the distance the rattle of bolter fire could be heard. The Colonel seemed not to hear his Executive as he walked. This was not for the sound of war but the thoughts in his own head. His face was set hard and focused on the task before him. Behind him one could observe the turret of the command APC rotating, the crewman scanning the scene ahead.

Before the Colonel, on the other side of the square, stood several large shapes. Three massive robotic forms stood in the street ahead. Their white and orange carapaces towered three times the height of a man. Their shoulder mounted weapons scanned the street. Massive jetpacks formed the bulk of their mass and huge carapaces dominated their forms. Green robotic eyes scanned the Chimera APC and the approaching humans. In front of the large robotic forms stood a solitary Tau. He wore a simple garb. A tan jacket, fastened with silver buttons. He wore light close cropped leggings, in the Tau style. His head was exposed to the air and his dark hair was formed into several long tails that hung to his waist. His face seemed to be expressionless. When the Colonel neared the Tau's mouth approximated a human smile.

"Colonel, it is so good to finally meet you in person" the Tau spoke in flawless Imperial Gothic which startled the guardmen. "I have listened to your many patriotic broadcasts to your troops. Very stirring". The Colonel frowned. He was uncomfortable with this alien addressing him so casually.

"What is it that you want alien? You requested this meeting" he said through his teeth. Again the Tau appeared to smile.

"I appreciate you taking the time in the midst of war to parley with me." The alien's arms opened in a welcoming gesture. His hands, three fingers a piece, open, palm up. "You and I stand here at the beginning. When the flint in the tinder box is about to light a spark. At this moment we can douse that spark before it becomes a fire, an inferno." He paused for a moment. "I am of Water. It is my task to extinguish the Fire." The colonel looked puzzled. "They are of Fire" the Tau motioned to the behemoths behind him. "Sometimes Water extinguishes Fire and sometimes Fire destroys Water. This is as it should be and as it is in the greater good. The Casts vie for influence and respect the outcome. Are you of Water sir?" Strauss rubbed his chin and glanced at his Executive Officer.

"I am not of water or of fire but of the will of His most benevolence. The Immortal Emperor of guides my hand. I think you come to me and talk of water because of the Fire Warriors that lay dead at the Temple of St Aspira. You talk of water when only ten blocks to the east a host of your warriors pursue a retreating column." One could hear the anger in the officer's voice.

"Indeed, I talk of Water because I am of Water. I alone can not stop the fire. I am here to give you the opportunity to step from the flames. You should abandon this city. Abandon this world." The Colonel's eyes widened. "Tell your followers to withdraw from the city. You know that a Tau armada approaches and though you may win this day or tonight or tomorrow, you can not stand against the Fire that descends on you from above. Today, in this city, we are evenly matched, evenly supplied. But once the Air arrives you will be swept aside. Take this time now to evacuate. Take your families and leave now while you can. We will let you leave~ or at least the ones who wish to."

"You called me here to suggest retreat?" the Colonel snorted in disgust. "You think we would abandon the field?" He turned on his heel and strode back to the transport, his escort backing away.

The Tau called out to the Colonel in a calm and knowing voice. "I look forward to your next broadcast Colonel. I hope you will consider my offer. A white flag should be your symbol."

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