Friday, March 05, 2010

Dolgath Legacy Part Eight: A torch held aloft

Rage. Like a torch held aloft burning too bright to gaze upon, the rage of Captain Rex ignited a fury in his space marines unlike anything Dolgath had seen before. The ancient Astartes hero led the remains of his forces personally, charging forward with a passion that verged on recklessness.

“You see,” the voice of Inquisitor Nelthas seemed to emanate from someplace other than her person. “Such passion is foreign to the Tau. Combat to them is laid down in formal doctrine to be conducted in the prescribed manner. When faced with such fury, they crumble…”

Dolgath glanced at Inquisitor Nelthas. Her means of locomotion had accommodated her normally lofty height into something that would fit into the passenger bay of his Vendetta. Yet even this close, her true face was still partially hidden behind the apparatus of her psychomorphic mask which held a beatific smile reminiscent of some ancient painting from old Terra that he could not quite recall, an expression as elusive as her voice. Nelthas distained her usual entourage as well, accompanied only by two of her mysterious cloaked guardians.

Dolgath had initially requested all the support the Ordo Xenos could provide, offering to cede authority of this operation to her. To his surprise, Nelthas declined, instead counseling patience. In any case, Captain Rex had refused all aid, gathering together nearly the entire remnants of his depleted company; he chose a bombed-out section of the city adjacent to the docks for his last stand. Dolgath was surprised the aliens turned to engage them there. Perhaps they had become overconfident with their recent successes… As Dolgath scanned the battlefield, something caught his eye: Imperial pattern vehicles.

“Look there,” Dolgath indicated several blocky shapes amid the sleek alien vehicles.

“The Tau are noted for their indoctrination of Imperial forces…” Nelthas commented.

Dolgath suddenly leaned forward to stare intently at the view-screen. “Not just imperial, Inquisitorial!” Nelthas craned her head forward sharply.

He was just an old man. His lined face, grey hair and long dark robes were most appropriate for the monastery, or the endless stacks of the Administratum, but the whirling adamantine teeth of the eviscerator in his hands marked him as something else entirely. Sergeant Ulysses did not hesitate, old man, priest, or savant, the fact that he was here, in opposition to Captain Rex, meant he was a target. The old man’s attack upon Corvis, his squad’s trusted rhino transport, sealed his fate. The spinning chain weapon carved easily through the side of Corvis into its volatile core, the resulting detonation of its sacred power plant killed at least four of his fellow Astartes brothers. His squad was devastated, yet Sergeant Ulysses charged the heretic with all his righteous fervor. He sidestepped a vertical cut that would most certainly have carved him in half and slammed the butt of his boltgun into the old man’s face, seeing clearly the collapse of the bones and watching as if in slow motion as the old man fell to the dirt his eviscerator clattering useless at his side. Ulysses was about to turn away to the battle at hand, but the faint appearance of something, as if ripples upon water, drew his attention. Over the old man’s body appeared something… a haze, a mist, he could not later describe it in detail, but hands appeared and took the old man. He considered for a moment attacking this apparition, but he thought: the enemy deserves to collect their dead. The sacred rites of the apothicarion demand it.

Honor had been satisfied. Dolgath released the Adeptus Astartes from his service. As much as he’d liked having such a formidable force at his disposal, the price was just too high, on too many levels, and keeping in the good graces of the space marines was always a wise option. Yet, the battle for New Boston was not done, by any stretch, he would have to prosecute it with his own forces from here on out. His Keltens had not yet been truly tested, but he had no doubt these Tau would put them to the ultimate test.

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