Thursday, May 06, 2010

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part twenty eight: Comfort didn't enter into my mind

The evening had drawn in close and as the last of the darkness lingered in the western sky the camp seemed so alone. The gathering consisted of a column of mounted Fire Warriors. Eight or nine Devilfish gunships were in a rock strewn field, their rear hatches open and casting teardrops of light into the dark. Gatherings of warriors could be seen sitting on makeshift chairs or on the ramps from the ships. The flickering glow of light bollards that had been scattered around the camp illuminated the faces of warriors as they moved about in the dark. Their faces portrayed a grim reality. A truth about the campaign that few could shake. Around the perimeter sentinel drones kept a vigilant watch over the camp. Their robotic green eyes scanned the darkness for movement. Their klaxons were poised and ready to sound. Their long range scanners sought out signs of infiltration.

Obolis sat within the confines of one of the Pathfinder team's Devilfish. His suit waited obediently outside like a faithful pet. He sat at a makeshift table. Across from him sat Maturm, of the Water Caste, his friend. Between them a table stood with an old Tau game. Play peices on triangular shaped board. This was one of their favorite pastimes during the quiet of a campaign. They were fairly equally matched, each utilizing their own skills, but something tipped the favor toward Maturm this night.

"It still eats at you doesn't it?" Maturn asked his old friend after a period of long silence.
"I admit that it does. I am torn." Obolis issued a sigh looking toward the door. "To have a god walk among us and show us the way is something few Tau ever benefit from." Obolis shook his head in disapproval as he spoke "I can't believe that now I have my mentor and my god showing me the way I do not want to follow. I fear the dark places Ari'Ashi will take us..." his voice trailed off into the silence.
Maturum moved one of his pieces breaking a stalemate on the board. "Do you believe our ill fortunes of late in this campaign are due to Ari'Ashi's faulted leadership?".
"No" Olbolis responded staring toward the game "I would have made the same choices as he has made. I would have taken the same steps. His strategy is sound."
"Then what?"
"It is almost as though fate is against us, the dice are not cast in our favor."
"You believe that Ari-Ashi is cursed? His plans are doomed to fail no matter how good they are?" This time Maturim shook his head as he continued "I don't believe in curses."
"Nor do I. But how shall I explain our decline?"
"You believe it began when we partnered ourselves with the Dark Kin?"
"Before that, the signal of tragedy was the Human and his dark retinue. They opened the door to the dark kin. I blame Ari-Ashi for letting them in."
"But the Eldar are dead. Slew by the very humans who have chased us around this world. Surely the Eldar out us on the back foot and damaged our advance but the Archon himself fell. How could they still be influencing us?" Maturm took another move. Obolis was off his game.
"I do not know. But it can not continue. We have to break this string of defeats or the Cemephon expansion will be over before it begins." With this sentence it seemed to Obolis had had an idea. "It all leads back to Ari-Ashi" he said.
Maturim looked to his friend. "What idea do you have?". Obolis was silent for a moment.
"I am going to reassign you".
Maturim raised his eyebrow. "alright?"
"You will be placed on advisory status to Ari-Ashi. You will provide him field data on the campaign. I think he has been secured in the fleet since we departed New Boston"
"That's right".
"You will provide him with information about the campaign and..." Maturm, perceiving the plan already, cut off his friend in mid sentence.
"...provide information about the Etherial to you" Obolis swallowed hard while nodding. He knew that spying on Ari'Ashi was tantamount to treason.
"Are you comfortable with that?" he asked.
"Comfort didn't enter into my mind."

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