The road was dusty, and empty. The trees in front of the Inquisitor rustled and whistled in the stiff sea breeze. To her right, the outskirts of the fishing village, to her left, woods and empty sands. Behind her - salvation. Ahead - death.
As the Righteous Fists' strike force moved up into the lengthening shadows of the late evening, Sergeant Polix's squad auspex began to sing.
"Objective located," his Squad Leader said, "tactical net aware."
Polix nodded, his power fist humming as he activated it. The weight of his bolter was comforting to him, the dispersal of his Marines second nature. His Squad Leader moved off with his Demi-Squad, and Polix motioned his brothers to follow as the Strike Force spread out to confront the Tau cadre that moved cautiously out of the buildings and woods of the settlement.
The element of surprise was theirs. The Thunderhawks had inserted them without incident and were waiting to extract them once the Inquisitor had been retrieved... or killed. Polix brought his bolter up, and looked across to Codicier Tithonius.
"Death to the xenos, Brother-Librarian."
"Death indeed, Brother-Sergeant. Fists of Dorn!"
"Emperor's Fists!" the battle cry was echoed across the force comm net as the Chaplain, Maeon, and the jump Marines of Oleon's Demi-Squad roared over a nearby grocery shop and landed heavily in the road, ready to leap again and bring the force of the Emperor's justice to the foul aliens in the dwelling ahead of them.
Polix moved, a steady lope characteristic of the powered armour suits and huge physique of the Astartes, his Demi with him, the Inquisitor alongside, a barely-visible wisp of blue-green energy permeating the air as the Librarian chanted, keeping them safe. Then a sudden roaring and a series of loud bangs blurred with rapid shrieking noises from his helmet and suit alarms, and everything went black.
Some time later, Polix moved. A grubby, vaguely humanoid, figure was trying to tear his helmet off. He rolled, throwing the figure to one side, and smashed its head apart with his inert power fist. He rose, groggily, to one knee, and activated his helmets low-light filters. He took stock. Amber and red warning lights flickered to one side of his vision. No green at all. His whole squad, dead or unresponsive to suit-suit communications. He breathed an oath, and looked around. The Tau had gone, and with them the Inquisitor. His IFF beeped green, suddenly, and he span, raising his shattered bolter by instinct. There, in front of him - an Astartes. A Devastator, one of Plato's Marines.
"Brother-Sergeant," the Marine began, "thanks be to the Emperor that you're alive!"
"Brother," Polix rasped, "what happened?"
"The Tau, Brother-Sergeant, gave a good account. They incapacitated or killed almost all our force, and Techmarine Sabas has had us combing the field looking for survivors ever since they left. We have too many dead, Brother-Sergeant."
"Then let us gather our Brothers and leave. Where are the Thunderhawks?""Nearby, Brother-Sergeant. This way."
The Amalthean Crusade has begun! Sort of. An Inquisitor with information vital to the liberation of Hamish's World (a small, largely desert, world whose main exports prior to the Third Sphere expansion were Guardsmen, minerals and fish) had been uncovered by Tau spies and was forced to flee, awaiting pickup by Astartes of the Righteous Fists' Second Company. Unfortunately the Tau arrived at the same time, and after a fierce firefight had killed or incapacitated most of the Marines. The Tau, in full knowledge of the importance of the Inquisitor, and aware of their own heavy losses, withdrew immediately with their prisoner, leaving the field to the Astartes.
The Imperium has one chance to either rescue their agent, or kill her, before the Tau can break her and gain vital knowledge about the forthcoming invasion by 2nd Crusade Group's 3rd Front Group.
Unfortunately, the Righteous Fists are not able to perform the rescue; the damage their powered armour suits took was such that, although most of the 'dead' Marines survived, they are unable to return to the fight for some time. Luckily, the 3rd Front Group has another asset - Stormtroopers of the Crusade Command Reserve, and Inquisitorial agents! We shall see how the Tau fare in a different kind of fight!
There will be a full write-up of the game I played tonight coming later. Suffice it to say that the new Tau are really giving me problems...
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