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 On the Edge of Expanion (IC)

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Iron and Metal
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PostSubject: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:02 pm

After the Damocles Gulf wars, with the Imperium forced to pull back and confront other foes, the Tau and their allies surge forth. Through their technological might and superior ethos of the Greater Good, they capture vast tracks of the Eastern Fringe. In all directions the Empire expands. While they hold these new territories, fresh reinforcements from the gue'la Imperium arrive, sparking the bloodiest war with the humans in history. The third sphere of expansion halts. In the end, the Imperium acts in a manner befitting the savages that they are and unleash an Exterminatus warhead that not only burns countless Tau-held worlds, but also sets the gaseous space around the Damocles gulf alight. So intense and expansive are the galactic fires that the Tau on the remaining worlds beyond the Gulf are cut off until the fires die or new technologies are created to allow the safe passage of ships once again.

Even still, the Empire continues to grow. The ancient Necrons, a new enemy to the Tau, awakens to the galactic west. To the galactic east, Hive Fleet Gorgon has left a sea of dead space. The rest is a galaxy of enemies and potential new allies waiting to be found. Rumors of a Fourth Sphere of expansion, reliant on the newest faster-than-light technology spread. To be a Tau in such times is to be one of billions of individuals serving a cause greater than yourself. It is to be alive in a time of greatness and glory. It is to be alive in a time of discovery and a time of hope. For your destiny is not to succumb to the terrors of the galaxy, but to conquer them so that peace may reign supreme. For the Greater Good. For the T'au'va.


-------++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++-------


A warm breeze blew in from the mountains to the east. There was a sea beyond and it brought cool winds. But the mountains prevented them and the water-filled clouds from moving into the vast, arid valleys that the Tau had settled. This planet, above all in the sector, was coveted by the first tau into this region of space because of its climate. It reminded many of the wondrous homeworld of the Empire T'au and many chose to settle it as a result. The fact that it had no native super-predators didn't hurt either.

So new was the planet that it didn't even have a proper name yet. It was simply "Neg'em Kre'ui Uan'voss" (First Arid Planet, Third Sphere) - Neg'em for short. Perhaps something would transpire to change that.

So it was that you find yourselves in one of the half-dozen settlements. The majority of residents in this particular settlement, nestled up into a high hill to take advantage of the high ground, were tau. But like anywhere else in the Empire, auxiliaries were sprinkled throughout. Gue'la, Kroot, even Vespid lived and worked in each settlement in a variety of positions.

Of the tau, members of each caste were present. Earth caste erected the buildings, ensured all systems worked, ensured agriculture grew, and maintained all of the equipment brought in from off-world. Air caste pilots moved supplies from settlement to settlement and ran missions from the surface to orbit when necessary. Each settlement had at least one member of the water caste to ensure the mental well being of the residents remained high and to make contact with any natives - should they be found. And of course, Fire caste warriors were stationed on each settlement for protection. On Neg'em, they expected an easy tour of duty with little to no actual combat. The extreme boredom of waiting was a burden to most of these natural warriors.

To take some of the burden off of the Fire Caste, each settlement had its fair share of mercenaries. The majority of these were gue'vesa and kroot. Some members of the Empire had chosen to retire here, making the most of their remaining days serving the Greater Good and doing their part to make sure this planet's settlement succeeded.

Every type of individual within the Empire could be found on Neg'em. And underneath its appearance of stability, adventure awaited.


Last edited by Iron and Metal on Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:17 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:55 pm

Within one of the workshops on your settlement, a small female tau is busy at work. She wears the typical work vestments of all Earth Caste engineers, making her more or less identical to any number of similar tireless Earth caste laborers. Nearby, a labor drone floats and assists where it can. With nano-tool in hand, the jobs she finds herself in are important, but easy.

Perhaps too easy. Maybe the thought of challenge and something new is what brought her here, so far from her home of Sa'cea. Of course, being so young, she had little choice in the matter. She went where her superiors told her. But now that she was here, she couldn't help but think it was for some larger purpose...


+++

The hut had served him well. No one bothered him unless they had a job and he could more or less do what he liked. He chose to stay just outside of the settlement. They knew him. He was one of the mercenaries who signed on in the early days of the settlement. His duties were to hunt and scout and, if necessary, kill.

He was well experienced to do all of those things, but the latter had not been of much use on this peaceful, arid world.

But his mind was occupied with things much darker than his duties. The large kroot rolled around restlessly. Nearby, his kroot hound watched on loyally while the master shook and seized.

How many days had he been like this? How many days would it continue? He needed to get out. He needed the air on his face and prey in his senses... but he also needed one more bump. So he writhed and waited...
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:15 am

Gorthrax frowned an apology at the hound, his thick brow turning down at the outer edges. Mok had likely watched over her master for however long he’d been out of it, which was two passages of the sun by Gorthrax’s reckoning. With a soft clicking noise Mok is called to heel -I am not worthy of your obedience- Gor clicks, hisses and whistles, the meaning of the words lost on the beast although Gor hoped some of his feeling was not. With a wince at his aching limbs he rises from his sleeping mat and heads out into the bright daylight, his clawed hand brought up to shield his eyes too accustomed to the darkness of his hut.

His small dwelling was situated on a rocky out crop over looking the settlement. The hut was just within the treeline, the stone outcrop was where he kept tools and a half dozen wooden frames used to stretch hides so they could dry in the sun. The settlement was a a short run away so he was provided the solitude he craved but also had a prime lookout spot. Mok close to his heel Gorthrax inspects the hides before moving to the edge of his overlook to look down on the settlement. It was around midday so the place was busy.

Gorthrax looked on glumly at the settlement, he knew he had to go down there but the reluctance was great – but the itch, his addiction compelled him. The fungi he used as a stop gap were only so potent and he needed a decent fix. He also had other errands; the kroot warrior Angpak would want his leathers returned which Gor had repaired and he also had dried meat to trade, if he left that any longer it would start to spoil. More importantly he’d been told a shipment was due in and so there might be a chance to beg some pain meds. He procrastinated for a while before gathering what he needed and headed down to the colony.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:30 pm

They called this settlement To'kak. The gothic translation of "by the sands" served both as geographical fact and a common tau curse. Nestled up into the rocks of a high hill, To'kak's vegetation was hardy and tough. Nothing like the jungles of Pech by any means. But what little water dropped in the area was soaked up by the higher places before it ever touched the valleys below. Thus, after a few hundred meters the tough, fibrous trees died away, leaving only hardy brush and plants that cared more about survival than looking pretty.

And with its elevation came quite a view. Looking out over the walls one could see endless miles of valley that gave way to similar hills as this. Far beyond that, large mountains loomed.

Angpak sat near a cafeteria taking in one such view. The planet's single white start was starting to rise fast. He clicked his nails against the table and turned his head back. Even higher up in those hills was Gorthrax's hut. He wondered if he should pay him a visit.

He decided to give him three more inches of sun-movement.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:49 am

Na‘No peaked to her labor drone doing its job just as precise as ever. She felt a little unchallenged by doing her work. Again checking if everything is working fine. Of course, the cogs and gears are busy doing its work. Just like I am, checking if they are working. She rolled her eyes, sighing. Unmotivated Na’No proceed doing the on-the-spot-checks like the last decs. -Tau’va, my friend!- an older earth caste worker shouted to her. Shaking herself and straigthen up she was fully concentrating yet again.

Still every now and then Na‘Nos thoughts and ideas seems to drift towards her ideas of how to build new stealth-tech and shields. It was something that she has to displace from her mind since she is here now. She rembered how excited she got when she was asked to work so far away from Sa’Cea. Quite happy that the climate was similar to her home planets one, she feels more than ready to view more of Neg‘em. Imagining how her drone Ar-Tol 17 would assist her during some exploration on this dusty planet. Her eyes start wandering around and rest on the hills in a distant view.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:20 pm

[In the Workshop]

A voiced called out to Na'no from behind. It was her work cadre, an old earth caster enjoying his retirement on Neg'em the best way he knew how: scolding the younger members.

"Na'no, stop daydreaming and focus on your work. Back in my days, I would have been zapped across the back if I let my focus slide from the task at hand. It's no wonder the third sphere expansion stalled. Youth today cannot even focus on a simple..."

He went on and on for a while about how much better days past had been. Eventually, he got to his point.

"I have a task for you. I wonder if you can keep your eyes open long enough to complete it?" He walked over and placed a beautiful pulse pistol down in front of her.

"The air caste pilot who delivered our last supply shipment asked if we could take a look at this. Apparently it has been over heating during practice drills. He promised that if we could see to it, we would get priority over the rest of the settlements during the next supply drop."

The Greater Good taught that all were to be treated equally, but that rarely worked perfectly in practice. That rule was especially true out on the frontier.

He stood by, eagerly awaiting a response.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:31 am

Gorthrax paused at the main access point, its heavy doors barring the way into To’kak. He glanced up in irritation at the Firecaste warrior who looked down upon him from his lofty watch tower “Open way – you know me” Gor snapped at the guard in Tau. It was the same every time, Gor didn’t see the point but as expected the reply came “Its protocol, now state your name.” Gothrax folded his arms and stared up for a moment.

I am barely off my sleeping mat and already my tongue turns to a viper.

Inhaling deeply Gor steadied himself for a moment, his visit would go poorly if he was going to be belligerent to all and sundry. He really needed those pain meds. -Gorthrax Sun Wolf- he replied in a series of chirps and whistles, the Tau now satisfied opens the gate doors after a green light flashed on the voice recognition device. Gorthrax gave the guard a curt nod for his trouble.

Beyond the entrance alongside Tau going about their business are two Kroot and a hound, at the sight of them Bok lets out a friendly screech as she dashes forward in excitement. Gorthrax was about to reprimand her but he didn’t have the heart, Bok had watched over him for a few no doubt boring days. The two Kroot, Anurak & Chakan regard Gorthrax coolly as the hounds Bok and Kla sniff and chase each other in tight circles. -Angpak grows impatient Gor- Chakan calls -he waits by the Tau watering hole-

Gor had intended to see the about the pain meds first but it sounded like it would be advisable to seek out the paramount warrior of the small kroot kindred. A whistle brings Bok to heel so he heads to the cafeteria, the tau watering hole.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Wed Jul 18, 2018 10:19 am

[With the Kroot]

The fire warrior watched Gorthrax walk by without a word, nor did he return the nod. When the kroot had passed he went back to his post, pulse rifle within reach at his side.

The cafe was as bustling as it got. Mid morning nourishment breaks approached and members of the settlement filtered in and out for the provided snacks and beverages.

Angpak sat silently, watching. He ran his talon across the lip of a hot beverage, even though the temperature outside was rapidly approaching 35. His annoyance grew the colder it got. He watches Gorthrax arrive cooly.

"The settlement has weakend your resolve, kindred," he began in Kroot. "To be late is often taken as a sign of superiority or disrespect. Which shall I assume?" Beside him, a massive kroot hound, easily twice the size of Bok, laid silently upon the ground. Never once did it show the same friendliness the others had, and its eyes always looked hungry.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:05 pm

[with the Kroot]

The lie came naturally "I think neither my Kin. It is quiet here, it is hard to maintain a warriors edge baby sitting colonists. I spoiled the repairs so it took me longer than expected." Gorthrax had found that he had to lie often to cover his addiction, the embarrassment and dishonour he'd bring to himself if discovered was a crushing weight. When Gorthrax was whole, before the flames and his habit was formed he fancied he'd be a match for Angpak, but no more, he'd lost his edge.

"Do not be concerned the repairs are good". Gorthrax places Angpak's rolled leathers on the table, he remains standing eager to be off, uncomfortable under the gaze of the Kroot warrior.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:54 pm

[With the Kroot]

Angpak stared at Gorthrax for a few tense moments, his fingers clicking against the side of the cup. A warm breeze blew between the two kroot, shaking the alpha's quills. When Gorthrax lays down the rolled up leathers, he briefly looks at it.

"You 'spoiled' the repairs" he asks rhetorically. He stands and unrolls the leathers for inspections. "Well, the final product looks good enough, as you say."

He snaps his fingers and his kindred make ready to leave.

"Don't lose your edge, Gorthrax. There are many still who would love to eat your flesh so that they may absorb your essence, hunter." He moved close. The few inches he had on Gorthrax allowed him to look down. He took a deep breath, the scent coming from the drug-addled scout rolling over his heightened olfactory senses.

"Do not let them know you are no longer fit for consumption. My kindred and I leave for trade with the other settlements. If you are looking for work, I hear tales that there are beasts in the valley near the oasis whose quality of meat is only surpassed by their natural ferocity. Could pull a good price if you can break them."
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:51 pm

[In the Workshop]

Embarrassed and ashamed, Na'No thanked the honorable leader. It was one of those moments when she wanted to sink into the ground. She made an almost embarrassingly low bow and extended her hands towards the Pulse pistol. It had been some time, but she had only too well in mind, how these wonderful weapons work. 'Excuse me! I will do everything possible to do justice to the Tau'va.'

The weight of the weapon in her hands felt just right to take accurate shots, if needed. 'It should be easy for me to repair this weapon.' Full of zeal, she pulled out her nano-tool. Ar'Tol immediately flew over to Na'No, whistled softly. The two were a well-rehearsed team. Mental pictures in mind to finally get some variety and see something different than this workshop - even to get out and see other settlements - motivated both to top performance. Nevertheless, they needed some time to repair this beauty. Full of bliss, she began to hum a traditional song. Ar'Tol beeped strictly in tact.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:52 pm

[In the Workshop]

The old Fio'ui looked surprisingly pleased.

"I half expected you to roll your eyes or show some other such irreverence for your superiors as some of the other fools who have come through here have done. You surprise me, Na'no. If you do well here, I may just keep my eyes on you."

His face was still bunched up as though he expected Na'no to fail. His light orange eyes, big and wide, were full of judgement. When it was clear she would not immediately begin, he huffed.

"Summon me when you have finished, Fio'la," he ordered before walking back to his post.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Jul 23, 2018 12:05 am

There was no greater insult to a kroot that he wasn’t fit for consumption. Gorthrax felt anger, shame and shock at the realisation that Angpak knew or at least suspected his weakness. His hand instinctively flexed near his hunting knife, he would gut the alpha. His insecurities and and his shame stayed his hand though, he backed off a step, head down a fraction. He’d have to prove Angpak wrong or his days were numbered. “You are wrong, I will prove your words false and bring back strong meat."

Gorthrax walked away, he was going to return to his hut to prepare for a hunt, he swore the intoxicants would never pass his beak again. He was an addict though and before he’d even got out of To’kak self doubt ruled, the shame was crushing that Angpak knew, he’d need just one more hit to get him through that day.

Gorthrax turned from his course and sought out Kor'la T'au Sep'tor the pilot who was sympathetic to his need.


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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Jul 23, 2018 2:59 pm

[in the workshop]

Rightaway Na'No sought a quiet corner in the workshop, with many busy Fio's nearby. She shyly peaked at the Fio'ui as he folded his arms behind his back and slowly turned. Fully motivated she finally felt able to deliver top performance.

Without much words to lose, she tinkered with her nano-tool on the weapon. Ar’Tol had a technical blueprint displayed as a little hologram. Even surprised how much the function was present to her in her mind's eye, she managed to repair the weapon faster than thought. After some testing to assure the barrels function, the pulse pistole was fully operational again. Na’No strides towards the respectable Fio'ui. ‚Please, let him be satisfied.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:55 pm

[In the Workshop]

The venerable Fio'ui was inspecting a piece of equipment. He was so into his work that he didn't hear Na'no approach. After a few moments, Ar'tol "accidentally" bumped into his leg. He turned with a start, his face twisted and ready to scold the little drone when he saw the pistol.

"Technology triumphant, you cannot possibly be finished so quickly. Let me see." He gingerly took the pistol as two light blue holograms flashed over his eyes, enhancing his vision.

"This," he started, hands inspecting the pistol while his ocular enhancements holographically pulled each piece apart so that he could examine it in virtual reality, "is exceptional work. I am truly impressed, Fio'la..." his voice trailed off as he waited for the small engineer to give her name.

His demeanor changed and he seemed much less harsh. "The Kor'ui will be very pleased with this. You have brought honor to this workshop, indeed. Tell me, is your eye for artifacts and salvage as good as your eye for Tau technology? I may have an assignment for you..."


[With the Kroot]

The landing pad was sparsely populated. A few air caste pilots directed labor drones to help with any lifting they had while a few earth caste engineers tended to their craft. Traffic here was slow most of the time. Only when a new shipment of supplies was expected did it get busy, and even then it was manageable. Such was life on the settlements.

Kor'la T'au Sep'tor stood near a handful of labor drones who buzzed away as Gorthrax approached. The tall, lithe pilot turned and nodded his head to the Kroot Carnivore.

"Gorthrax, you look like a dying star. How goes the hunt?"
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:24 am

[In the workshop]

Incredibly relieved, Na'No exhaled and felt the tension drop from her. She hadn't had the rank of Fio'La for too long and wanted to make a good impression. 'I am more than thankful for these words, Fio'ui. In fact, I was exercised in perception training.' She glimpsed at the Fio. Eloquence was not her strength, miles away from the impressive speeches of a Por. She thought of the technique of Kau'Yon, in which - like in a complex game of chess - all conditions are validated to obtain the long-term best strategy. She had studied this technique in books and stories of her idol Shadowsun. Without lying, she could claim that observation and perception was one of her strengths.

Na'No knew only too well that she had never been involved in a more complex salvage-mission nor was a impressive personality at the battlefield. But she did not go any further into detail about this, hoping that the Fio'ui would give her more information without asking: 'What can I do to serve the greater good?'
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Tue Jul 24, 2018 12:07 pm

[In the Workshop]

The Fio'ui called over a labor drone who quickly took hold of the pistol and sprayed it in a lubricated sealant. "Take this to its owner with the following message: Greeting, Kor'ui. The job is finished via the ingenuity and precision of the Fio. I hope you will keep our settlement in your thoughts during future deliveries. Technology triumphant."

The drone secured the weapon in its chassis, blinked twice, and flew off to its destination. The Fio'ui turned to Na'no.

"This planet used to belong to the gue'la, long ago. I doubt they even remember its existence, so old and stagnant is their crumbling empire. Alas, given the lack of proper planetary scans before the halt of the third sphere expansion, there is bound to be untapped resources and even ancient gue'la artifacts on the planet. Of course, most of what is to be found will either be useless or degraded beyond repair. Even still, our settlement, and Neg'em as a whole would benefit from any worthy discoveries. If we prosper, Neg'em prospers, Tau'va prospers."

The Fio'ui stands with his hands clasped behind his back awaiting any questions or response. It was clear his goal was improving and elevating your settlement before any others, but if one prospers all would prosper as a result.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Tue Jul 24, 2018 3:48 pm

[In the Caves]



Vra'fa struggled to take in breath. The damage to her leg from her arrival had made any movement painful, but the hobbling in an attempt to run had been the most painful yet. The young water caste envoy was sure something important had been in the caves - a meeting, or gathering, or something. But she had found nothing of the sort. She had only found danger. And possibly death.

Three of them were following her. She could hear them slowly scraping their cadaverous legs through the dirt ground. She thanked the Tau'va that they were slow. If they had been fast...

But they were gaining on her. Even now she could smell them again. The small escort drone's optical unit turned red and flashed a proximity warning. They had found her.

Four of them approached from behind. She knew now she couldn't outrun them... One bared its teeth, dead eyes focused on the Tau and hungry.



***
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:32 am

[With Sep'tor]

Gorthrax paused at the air castes words ‘a dying star’, he must look rough for even a Tau to notice the slow effects his addiction had on his body. He lets out an audible sigh, his shoulders slump slightly – it was not a good day. Gorthrax then shook his head in irritation his mood erratic, sending his black head quills back and forth which issued a rustling noise akin to long grass in a hard wind. He was barely up and out for the day and he already felt the need to crawl back into his hut. His cocoon against the world.

His raised his left arm in greeting to Sep’tor revealing his scarred flesh, the healed skin running all the way up his left flank and up the underside of his arm where he had raised it to protect his head as the Salamander flames had engulfed him. He wasn’t sure what he liked about the Tau, but he called him ‘friend’ and he had few of those in the colony.

“Rough night, my aching body kept me awake” Gor lied rubbing his scarred side, his shoulders slumping by another imperceptible degree. He closed the remaining distance between them and clasped hands with Sep’tor. “The hunt has been quiet, but I have news about strong meat at an oasis so I shall have cause to feel the wind rush against my face. It will be good to hunt something with ‘teeth’.” Saying something had ‘teeth’ was Kroot slang for something that was dangerous to hunt.

“How is it amongst stars?” Gorthrax looked up at the sky, flying fascinated him.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:34 pm

[In the Caves]

Vra'fa gave one last glance to the optical unit of the droid. Apparently it also carried a simple projection unit. She had been meaning to find someone to help her program it, before she had come down to the caves. The thought was so distant it felt like it belonged to another person.

Vra'fa closed her eyes for a brief second and took a deep breath to try and quell her shaky panted breathing. This wasn't that scary, it was no different from, say facing down negotiators across a table. Negotiators with sharp teeth and claws. Thoughts, terrible thoughts of how alone and defenceless she was were threatening to tumble into her mind but she steeled herself. Alone? Never. She was part of something much greater than any one life. Countless others were standing alongside her. In every move, in every word, in every breath they were together, all of them building a better world for everyone. She couldn't betray their trust.

Vra'fa turned slowly to face the four beings behind her. Both her hands were open and a clear distance from her sides. Her naturally open face was smiling, a little forced true, but she had managed to stop shaking. The Polygot Hedron was floating alongside her, slightly lower than the drone.

"Greetings to you. My name is Vra'fa, and I come representing the Tau settlement. I mean you no harm. I would just like to talk. I think if we both work together we can both benefit from it. We have much to offer eachother."

She looked at the four and waited on their response, her whole being concentrating on them so she could ignore the beads of sweat dripping down her spine and the red hot fire from her leg.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:44 pm

[With Sep'tor]

Sep'tor noded. He had never let on that he knew of Gorthrax's addiction. He was no fool, but the kroot's promethium burns were extensive. He nodded empathetically when he heard of the kroot's hard night of ache-ridden sleep. On the other hand, his eyes lit up and he placed a hand, palm in, and touched his forehead with a slight bow at news of the upcoming hunt.

"May the Tau'va guide your aim," he said in Tau with a slight bow. "And may the wind rustle your quills and the blood paint your beak," he finished in the whistling, clicking tongue of the Kroot.

Sep'tor looked towards the sky. Swirling green clouds moved across a pale blue backdrop. The twin suns of the planet burned bright as they seemingly embraced.

"She is my love and I hers. I miss the black and the stars that light it every time I have to step foot on land. I feel frailer here. But that is a fact. Up there, I can dance with the best of them." He looked back at Gorthrax and asked the next obvious question.

"Why have you sought me out today, friend?"


++++

[In the Caves]

Vra'fa receives no response others than pained moans and growls of rage. The four continue their slow, shambling approach. Wicked claws on wicked hands stretched out to meet her.

The escort drone beeped a proximity warning, its red optics unit beginning to flash quickly. Danger. Danger. Danger.

Two words in a calming tau voice emitted from the done: ++Hostile Intent++ A faint whir grew as the embedded pulse pistol took aim.

+++
Foes - 9m out and closing
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Thu Jul 26, 2018 1:56 am

[With Sep'tor]

Gorthrax snapped his beak in recognition of Sep’tors blessing, the Tau was always respectful. As Sep’tor spoke Grrthrax’s gaze followed Sep’tor’s into the sky. He watched some birds as they wheeled and dove on the midday thermals, while others seemed to almost hover on the air, with only slight movement as the air currents shifted. Such freedom. For the briefest of moments Gorthrax forgot his troubles.

Sep’tor had asked him a question. With a content sigh, a feeling that would not last long Gorthrax cut short his daydream. “Accept my apologies Sep’tor, we often speak when I need something, our travels meaning our threads do not often pass. I wish it was not always so.” Gorthrax’s eyes wander to the cargo boxes “The hunt will keep me away for many passages of the sun, so I was hoping there were some meds that could be spared?”

He hated asking his friend but to many uncomfortable questions would be asked if he went to one of the colony medics.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:37 am

[In the caves]

Vra'fa's green eyes widened as she saw the things clearly for the first time. Her eyes lingered on their sharp claws and her imagination immediately conjured images of those hands underneath her rib cage and ripping her insides out. Bile rose to the back of her throat, as her stomach clenched but she kept the same forced smile to check the reaction to her words.

And there was none. The four continued forward, getting ever closer and her skin chilled and tightened. Fighting back against the rising tide of fear, she stepped back with her good leg and half stumbled and dragged her right leg. The dull throbbing was replaced white hot fire and she bit hard on her lip to stop herself crying out, tears forming at the edge of her eyes. Her hands were still splayed, but now more for balance as she awkwardly made her way back, shoulders twisting from side to side.

"T..t.there is a Greater G.g.g..good that will come from us working to..agh...gether. More....fo..food than you could ever.. ummm... get on your own."

And then the gun sounded.


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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:41 am

[In the workshop]

Nothing would not be more exciting than finding old artifacts and investigating how they worked. There was no question that Tau technology was far superior to Gue'La ones. "It would be an honor for me to be part of an expedition! My education allows me to recognize valuable resources, and the Gue'La technique will be clearly inferior but useful." Na'No spoke unexpectedly loud. Her eyes lit up at the thought of making discoveries that might be of affliction. Ar'Tol 17 bobbed slightly up and down. It seemed like the drone was simulating a nod.
Na'No's eyes fell on some Fire Warriors who took a rest not too far away. "Ar'tol and I are anytime available for an possible expedition." She tried as best she could to conceal her concerns about possible alien inhabitants of this planet. Her curiosity about the unknown was ming-boggling.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Thu Jul 26, 2018 6:55 pm

[With Sep'tor]


The tau pilot nodded slowly. "Way ahead of you my friend. With the pirate activity in the area, supplies have been short. The gue'la raiders have been smashing our shipping lanes lately, as I am sure you have heard. We have barely had enough to make the quota for the main settlement. You lot and others like you get the leftovers."

Chances were Gorthrax had not heard about the pirate activity. Being on a settlement this far in the frontier was one thing; What information the ethereal and water caste chose to spread was another; staying in a hut on multiple day long addiction-benders was another entirely.

"Having said that, there is always something that gets lost along the way. And thus..." Sep'tor touched a few holographic buttons on a projection emitting from his wrist unit. A labor drone came buzzing up, in its arms it carried a box about a foot long by half a foot wide.

"This was the best I could do. Use it sparingly and only when the pain is unbearable. There is no telling when the gue'la will be crushed. I probably shouldn't say anything, but the Third Sphere has halted entirely. The gue'la Gue'ron'sha - their clunky giants - have set entire swathes of the sector on fire, if you can believe it. If we thought the supply shortage in the sector was bad, this is only the beginning. Neg'em will need to start becoming as self-sufficient as possible." He sighed a shook his head, but he was smiling.

"They will call me back to the stars soon. With aid from the mother-system potentially unavailable, all air caste will have to pull their weight." As if on cue, a holographic message came through. Sep'tor shared a few curt, respectful words, and it went away.

"I am needed elsewhere. I do hope you and I will cross paths again, kindred. But if we do not," he switched to kroot, "then may the meat of many glorious fighters be digested by you. May your kindred grow and flourish, and forever may the Tau'va serve you as you have faithfully served it." He reached up and touched the much taller kroot's shoulder. "For the Greater Good, Kroot kin."

++++

[In the Caves]


Vra'fa looked around quickly, but could see no way out. Somehow, someway, she had come to a complete dead end. The escort drone acted on pre-programmed algorithms, firing on a hostile target that had come much too close. The pulse round hits squarely center mass, blowing a hole in the creature's chest the size of a kroot fist. Blood pours from its mouth and it thuds into the ground, dead. The other three don't seem to even notice. They shuffle forward still.

***
Foes x3 - 6m and closing



++++

[In the Workshop]


"Do not make the mistake of underestimating the gue'la, young 'la. Their technology has stagnated, yes. They live in the past rather than looking to the future, yes. But you should remember that that is because their far past is a technological marvel, if some of the relics they bring to bear in war is any indication. A conundrum yes, but ancient gue'la artifacts may still hold scientific truths the tau do not fully yet understand."

He stood for a moment as though lost in thought and then walked away. "That reminds me! If you are out in the field, you really must wear the proper attire for field research and outings." He dug in a cabinet and came out a few moments later holding a folded bundle of clothing.

"This is the same fabric as the body gloves our glorious fire warriors wear under their armor. Once you have changed, meet me in the vehicle garage."

Without another word he moved off in the direction of the garage.

[Gear acquired! Earth Caste Field Research Fatigues (AP: 3 body/limbs; +10 resistance (heat) and (cold))]
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:16 am

[In the Caves]
Vra'fa had barely heard the shot before the insides of one of the four things seemed to just disappear. For a second she stared in shock before the blood shot out of its mouth and she realised what had happened. Crying out, she thrust her arm in front of her face and tried to step back. And found the cave wall behind her. There was nowhere to go.

Her mind was panicked. The terror of being trapped, being hunted down and nowhere to go. That she might die here, alone and in the dark. That she would be letting everyone down; her family, her teachers, the community above and the Tau'va. All the energy that had been put into her, all the work she was meant to do, all that light being broken and smashed, ruined and despoiled on this cave floor.
And along with this guilt, the vision of that thing, its life extinguished too. The blood.... so much blood. Her stomach heaved and suddenly her mouth was hot and overflowing and then out it spewed, some over her, though most on the floor in front of her.

Tears were steaming down her face, some adding their saltiness to the sour bile in her mouth. She managed to stop the next heave and looked up to see the three coming ever closer. Feeling emptier than ever before, she imagined just rolling up into a ball on the floor and just letting them coming, letting them finish it, ending all of this.

But she couldn't. She might not be a warrior. She might be weak and defenceless. But she was not a coward. She would face them, and she wouldn't stop her duty.
Bringing both arms in front of her to defend herself, she spat out some of the taste from her mouth, and through the sobs that were wracking her thin body, found her voice again.

"Y..y..you don't have to continue. We c...can find a mutual way to help eac...eachother. We.........ah....we are stronger together, we will fall apart."

As she spoke two loud retorts came from the drone and she felt like screaming. Anything to drown out that noise and what it meant. But there was nothing she could do but to keep talking.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:23 am

[In the Caves]

The drone kept blinking red, announcing how close the enemy combatants were. Its voice remained calm and sing song as death itself approached.

++Hostiles six meters and closing, Por'la++

Two more pulse shots rang out. One of the creatures died just like the one before it, thudding into the ground like a sack of grain. The other's leg came off at the hip. It crawled a few more feet, eyes never leaving Vra'fa, before laying completely still.

***
Last foe - 3m and closing
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:30 am

Through the x shape she had formed in front of her face with her arms, Vra'fa saw two more of the things fall. Guilt fought the panic inside her. Her heart was throbbing loud in her ears, so fast she was sure that it would explode. There was only one left. But this was her doing. These deaths were on her head. A brutal exchange- her life for theirs. And it was all so pointless.

The tears continued to stream down her face, her body still shaking with them. But her arms remained firm in front of her face. That was where the first blow would be struck. With a mix of frantic anticipation and dread, she waited for the first touch. It would almost be a relief to feel it now, to feel actual pain rather than just imagine it. And in a way it might bring some rest bite, to devour some of the pent up thoughts engulfing her brain. The absolution of her guilt. But still, she really didn't want to die.

"Y..ou can st.t.t...op. We can still st.t.t...top this end. We can find a sol..solution"

The sing song voice of her drone sounded again, and she shut her eyes tight. The only sound was her heart pounding its crazy rhythm. The downy almost invisible hairs on her body seemed to all be pointing out, searching for that first touch. And then the gun sounded again.
She opened her eyes, unable to wait any longer.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:52 pm

Gorthrax was grateful as he took the meds, he clutched the box to his side almost lovingly like he carried a young chick. He realised that he was lucky to get anything with the news Sep'tor brought, it also raised alarm that there may not be anymore meds in the foreseeable future, or even if ever as he doubted he could trick the medics.

He was a poor friend to the pilot, he knew no grand words to say in Tau as Sep'tor gave him his farewell. However as the Tau reached to touch his shoulder Gor bent his knees slightly and placed his hand on Sep'tor's as the Tau touched his shoulder. "Farewell Kin. May you forever fly high with the sun at your back." Gor clicked and whistled in reply. "For the Greater Good" he said finally in Tau.

Gorthrax waited for a moment as the Tau went about his business, indecision keeping him in place. He so wanted to return to his hut and 'hit the sky', he could look into the strong meat at the oasis in a few days. However, the thought of dwindling supplies was pushed to the fore, Perhaps it would be better to go see about transport to the oasis, make plans and try and keep his mind busy. The latter finally won out so he makes his way to the workshops to see if he can secure a vehicle and a driver.

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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Jul 30, 2018 1:42 am

[In the Workshop / Vehicle Garage]

Tentatively, she took the new clothing. A tingle shot through her body. Na'No had imagined herself fighting as bravely and courageously on the battlefield as all the other honorable fire warriors, led by commander Shadowsun. The fabric in her fingers felt more robust and yet very light. She thanked the Fio several times, even when he was already gone.

She slipped into her new fabric, which nestled incredibly gently against her body. She took two seconds, taking a deep breath and smoothing the fabric with her hands. The nano tool fits the side-pocket of the fatigue just right. Blazing fast, she turned around, nearly ramming Ar'Tol 17. The drone skilfully dodged and called for caution.

Na'No quickly walked to the vehicle garage. She would have liked to run, but she did not want to cause the other Fios any unnecessary distractions. On the way, she thought a little about the words of the Fio'ui. Gue'la artefacts had aroused her interest, but she hadn't considered these as a technical marvel. The words of her instructor back at Sa'cea came to her mind, who always talked about the absolute superiority of the Tau technology. Her eyes fell one last time to the mountains in the distance before she stepped into the garage: 'I'm ready! Technology triumphant.'
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Tue Jul 31, 2018 2:17 pm

[Somwhere in front of a mildly important door on Ne'Gem]

(Snort)
The snore didn’t manage to escape Elanro’s helmet. Like most soldiers on constant campaigns, he had quickly learned to sleep anywhere and anywhen. He could even sleep standing up, as he was doing now, gently leaning against a wall, beside a door he was guarding. The helmet that held back his snores also hid his closed eyes from the world at large. Another trick he had learned early on in his career was how to stand “at attention” efficiently; his lean was hard to see, and he had wedged his arm, sling and pulse rifle in such a fashion that it stood up while requiring no effort on his part. Traffic was fairly low but he awoke and moved his head whenever an unfamiliar scent happened to go by.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:49 pm

[In the Caves]

The final shot rang out. Vra'fa opened her eyes expecting carnage and blood shed. Instead, she only saw blackness - the blackness of the cave, the blackness of thick viscous blood coating the floors and walls, and the blackness of her own failure to bring a diplomatic solution to the problem. Heart beating rapidly, she slowly turned around.

A monster stared down at her. Bigger than the largest of the creatures by an entire body and half again as wide, it bore into her soul with its eyes. Not dead like the others. No, these eyes were full of intelligence and... something else.

Before she could speak it struck out with both hands, clapping both sides of her head and crushing it into oblivion...




...Vra'fa awoke with a start. It was past morning and the day had long since started for the vast majority of the settlement's inhabitants. She had no one to answer to, however. No one on this particular settlement at least. The water caste had a simple mission on the frontier: disseminate important information from higher up to the populace, ensure socialization remains smooth and for the benefit of the greater good, and make contact with alien life if and when possible.

Most days she was simply bored, but that didn't mean she could simply stay in bed all day. Her presence was important. At least in theory it was.

When she gets to it, a message awaits. A holographic image, so perfect it looked as though the speaker was in the room with her - albeit much smaller in size - greeted her in usual Tau fashion. It was a standard message sent to all Por on the outer settlements.

"Remember that there is no stone that can withstand the steady drip of water, por'la. In all things, great and small, you have a daily duty to the Greater Good to show your best selves. Go forth, meet new beings, and strengthen existing bonds. For unity."

It blinked out. The day awaited.

In The Workshop/Garage]


The stocky fio'ui waved Na'no forward. "Here, it is a standard fare on the frontier, but it will do."

In front of him was a TX5-Piranha. Na'no was well-versed in this specific vehicle, even though she had never driven it personally. She had worked on it regularly, so she was the natural choice to take it out. Unlike the TX4 versions made for war, this was made specifically for scientific outings. The two gun-drone cradles were empty. It wasn't completely without teeth, however. Where the burst cannon would go was a single pilot-operated pulse carbine.

The fuselage had been expanded to hold a crew of four with two in front and two behind rather than the standard two. The back had been refitted with complex scanning, optical, and communications equipment.

Before Na'no could respond, a large Kroot entered the garage from the side. He was carrying a box under his arm and a lanky, dangerous looking creature walked close to his side. After some words with a random fio'la, he started to head directly in her direction...


[With the Cadre]


The door behind Elanro opened without warning. "Shas'la. Attention!"

From within walked out the commander of the garrison. Garrison was a bit of a stretch seeing as only 10 or so actual fire warriors, mostly former or completely green and untested fire warriors, manned this settlement.

"Put your excited face on. You have orders." The Shas'ui smiled. "Report to that gimp Por'la's quarters as soon as you are able. I hope in your long and illustrious career you had some experience babysitting."

His smile grew.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Sun Aug 05, 2018 5:05 pm

[With the cadre]

Elanro had smelled him coming a mile away. Smug gits (the only thing he ever learned from the orks was their swears) always had that odd, sickly-sweet scent about them. Even Orks, Gue and kroot seemed to have that same taste in smugness. Fortunately, it had saved his life more than once; a smug opponent often tried to savor their kills, the best time for point-blank head shots. Still, the commander was not, for most intents and purposes, an opponent, so he started moving to follow the order.

"Sir yes sir." He said, in a dull, somewhat grumpy voice. Nonetheless, he sedately started walking towards the water caste quarters. It wouldn't be the first time he guarded a Water caster, and it wouldn't be the last. Someone had to save them from their lemming-like survival instincts, might as well be him.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:19 am

The flow of the water was smooth, still and yet moving. It was easy to lose yourself staring down, to watch it move without appearing so, capable of shallowness and hidden depths, lulled by the soft lullaby of it splashing and lapping against the edge of the bowl. Her hands were thrust down deep, resting against the smooth stone bottom, water up to her elbows, the droplets from the splashing dripping down her face. The blue of her skin seemed even darker down there, the lines indistinct. They no longer looked like those claws.
For the first time all morning she felt totally relaxed again, the last misty memories of her dream burning away in the sunlight. It was time to begin the day properly.

Pushing herself up out of her crouch, wincing at her leg but continuing nonetheless till she was standing straight, arms dripping at her sides. Sloughing out of her sleeping gown, she closed her eyes and brought both hands together, thumb leaning into her forehead and began the morning ritual. She concentrated on the signals her body was sending her, and tried to ignore conscious thought. The feel of the air on her skin, the sound of her heart and breathing, the familiar smells from her room. Her healing leg was throbbing in a way that was impossible to get used to but she didn't try to ignore it, and rather accepted the pain. Her wet hands moved slowly now, touching her spiritual and physical keypoints on her chest and arms and leaving the skin damp. Normally she would have continued with her legs, touching the key joints and blood movers but it was impossible at the moment.
She finished by reaching back in the bowl and lifting out the carved wooden bowl from its centre. Holding it above her head for a few seconds she waited, before turning it over. The water splashed down, rivulets of water tracing down her body, and her eyes opened wide again in the shock of feeling. She stood and saw again as the colours of the world made themselves aware to her, and the water flowed by her feet, leaving only the last remnants already drying on her body.

It didn't take long to get ready after that, a matter of donning her robes of office (which she was pleased to see she had in fact cleaned the night before) before combing some knots from her hair and braiding it again with practised hands while she watched the holographic image. When it finished she winked at the black furry shape of Anda propped up next to the speaker.

"You ready to be up and out fulfilling our purpose yet? What's that- you want to sleep some more? Silly Anda, we'll solve nothing in here. Time to get out and see how the world is!"

Tightening the final knot on her braid, she let it fall against her chest, before fastening the wide red belt around her waist. Tucking first Anda and then her Polygot hedron into the belt, she moved over and activated her escort drone. It was meant to be always active, even while she was asleep, monitoring for any threats but she considered this a waste of energy and put it into standby mode each night. It flew up and rotated quickly, and she turned to find where she had left her stick.

++Immediate area scanned. No hostiles in range. Please see engineer if fault persists.++
She grinned over at the drone.
"I was meaning to take you to see an engineer at some point. You can produce a hologram right? Well if you keep quiet about your little 'fault' I'll try and get that set up. Deal?"

Naturally the drone made no reply, but she was used to this by now. Her stick had been half sticking out of her rolled up sleeping mat, a curious place indeed. It never seemed to start the day in the same place. Opening the door with her free hand, she stepped out into the sunshine, and looked out at her surroundings with smile. She might have been on this world for almost a month now but it still felt so new and fresh. Her dwelling was slightly apart from its closest neighbour and thus the walkway was empty bar the distant figure of a Fire warrior coming her way.  Closing the door behind her, she moved forward, leaning with one arm on the stick. She wasn't exactly sure what the day might entail but she planned on doing a general tour of the settlement to begin with to get a general idea of how things were doing and if there was anything she could aid with.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:57 pm

[In The Workshop]

Gorthrax's gaze followed the pointing arm and rested on the earth-caste female. He cocked his head slightly to the side as his hunters eye's sized her up. She looked like a runt; small and slight - weak of physical form. Certainly not good eating. Not that he ever would, to break the Kroots bond with the Tau would be sacrilege.

A bit like me... not good eating.

His brow draws down momentarily in a frown, before he shakes his head and strides purposely towards her. Gorthrax had not gone ten feet when he sent a tool box tumbling off a table, a careless elbow catching it as he passed sending tools clattering onto the floor. He should have been more aware of his surroundings but his come down had dulled him. He was about to try and make good his blunder when the Fio'ui of the workshop shoos him away, Gorthrax holds his hands up in apology before sheepishly approaching Na'no.

"I am Gorthrax"
the tall Kroot says in clipped Tau as he unintentionally looms over Na'no. "I need a transport and a pilot to take me afar. There is good hunting to be had.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:04 pm

[With the Water]

Vra'fa's escort drone beeped. It's optics turned a soft violet. Incoming message. In a volume that only Vra'fa could hear was the voice of a Fio'ui she had known for some time, though not well. He ran this settlement's workshop.

"Greetings and good day to you, Por'la. I have recently put a pupil of mine up to a very specific task that will see her roaming the frontier. Per protocol, any mission that may include coming into contact with sentient life requires the presence of our envoy. I highly doubt this likely, but protocol must be followed. Feel free to stop by the garage at your convenience. For enlightenment and the Greater Good."
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:06 pm

[The door of the water caster]

Elanro, seeing the door of the water caster was nearby took off his helmet and found the nearest trash can. There always seemed to be too much spit in his mouth these days, and he spat out a large glob into the can. He was glad there where no mirrors nearby; he must look a sorry sight, bleary-eyed, wrinkly, his skin turning a darked shade of blue in the creases. He slipped his helmet back on , then stepped up to the door and gave a strong "Knock knock knock!" with his armored hand.

"Por'La! Anybody home?"

Part of him wished he hadn't seen the Tau go back into the building. If he was uncertain of their presence, he could still dream that they might not be there and that he might actually get to sleep in his bunk for a change.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:51 pm

Vra'fa turned and looked at her drone as it repeated its message. She was smiling as she recognised the voice of the Fio'ui. Their interactions had been brief but she could at least put a face to the voice she was hearing. Her eyes opened wide as she heard the rest of the message. Roaming the frontier? Her heart was suddenly thudding in her chest and she would have danced on the spot if she was able. She had enjoyed getting to know the various inhabitants of their settlement but so far there hadn't been much call for her talents. If there was sentient life on this planet- the frontier was where she would find it.

"Record a reply for the honourable Fio'ui."
The optics of the drone turned green, indicating that it was ready to record. She was dimly aware of the Fire warrior moving past her but she was settling herself so that her excitement would not come across on the message. Once she was sure that her voice was calm she began.

"Greetings and good day honourable Fio'ui. I hope this message finds you in good health and vigour. I shall stop by the garage shortly. I am intrigued to hear more about this mission. For enlightenment and the Greater Good."

As soon as the recording finished she beamed up at the drone.
"See what I said Hui'lala? Already we are on our way to the garage. You trust me and I'll trust you too"

(Hui'la- generic term for bird or winged creature. Vra'fa is using it as an affectionate nickname)

The sound of a hard knocking suddenly distracted her and she turned to see the Fire Warrior was standing before her door. He spoke and his words confirmed that he was not indeed lost and it was her he required. It may have been the good mood she was in, but she found the sight of him knocking at a door she had just left quite humorous and her eyes were sparkling as she turned.
Her leg started to pain preemptively but she ignored it and started to make her way back towards him.

"Good day and greetings. I am Por'La Vra'fa. Do you require me for anything?"
She spoke in a calm and friendly manner, the hood of her robes down behind her back revealing her soft young features and smile. She stopped a couple of feet away and leaned on her stick, looking up at him.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:32 pm

Ah, fuck, a kid He thought to himself, tilting his helmeted head back a little in exasperation. With those big eyes like a baby bird begging to be fed.

"Switch that around and you'll be a bit closer to the truth kid. I'm here to make sure the local critters don't munch on your face on whatever little field trip is being organized."

His voice sounded like two pieces of sandpaper rubbing together. And now his throat was too dry and he felt like he was gargling gravel. His body was betraying him in the stupidest ways. He took off his helmet, grabbed the bottle at his waist and took a swig of water. His low-quality bionic left eye had a hard time adjusting to the light, and he scrunched up his face to compensate. This only emphasized the wrinkles and the blotchy skin and made his face look like an over-ripe prune. Hopeful his voiced would sound more normal after a drink, he asked:

"You wouldnt happen to know more about the objective would you? All I heard was "survey team" and that's as likely to be a day's work as a month's in my experience."

His voice was smoother, but still rough. He looked at her with vague disinterest, with his eyes occasionally darting to the drone that was following her, both sides of the walkway, and the sky.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:02 am

The Fire warrior turned, looked at her before titling back his head and then growled out his response. She was surprised, not only by the sound of his voice which was older than she was expecting but also his tone. It was dismissive and without any of the niceties normally employed by her caste. So this was a Fire warrior? She had met some prior of course but bar some interactions when she was a child she had only met those who had been detailed as the guard of a delegation and they only talked to the delegation leader. The Fire caste are warriors, she reminded herself, there was always likely to be tension between two such opposite attributes. The kid comment niggled at her but she tried to ignore it. He wasn't the first and would most likely not be the last who concentrated on her age. He had also failed to give her his name in response. What did he expect her to call him? Shas??

"Your assistance will doubtless prove invaluable."
She gave him a half smile and gestured at her leg.
"In this condition I'm not sure I could escape from an Erra'la. What is your given name?"

(Erra'la- a scarecrow)

Despite the warning his voice had given, she was further surprised by his appearance as he took off his helmet. He was definitely older, older indeed than any warrior she'd seen before. He might even have Ha on her father. She felt a little guilt for her earlier annoyance. In his eyes she would be a child, he had clearly served the Greater Good for a long time. She must think of the Tau'va and remember the virtue of Akil'a. It didn't escape her that his bionic eye did not look to be the highest quality. Life on the frontier she reminded herself. Things were different here.

(Ha- whiskers- Haha- affectionate or respectful term for an old man)
(Akil'a- one of the four accompanying virtues of the Tau'va- to mean Filial piety)


She moved her hand back to lean both on her stick, her body slightly slanted, while she looked up at him with the same gentle half smile.
"I have just been notified myself about our mission along the frontier. We will be accompanying one of
the Fio'ui's pupils who has been given a specific task. I was just going to the garage now to learn more if you would care to accompany me?"
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:23 am

He listened to her words, a mildly surprised look appearing on his face.


Well, that's one thing in your favor. You sure you want to know my name? Most envoys just go for Shas'La, if anything at all. Something about not wanting to familiarize cause it makes it harder should I die. Then again, most of them have died with far more ease than me and my brothers, so why not. Call me Elanro or Shas'La, envoy's choice.

Following her second question, he responded:

Well, I'm your shadow until we get back Por'La. Where you go, I go. And vice-versa if things go belly-up. So lead the way and I will follow.

He slipped back on his helmet and prepared to follow her.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:01 am

[With the Earth]


The Fio'ui raises his head a bit when Gorthrax arrives. "I almost forgot to add. You will have company, er well further company anyway, on your outing. Por'la Vra'fa is on her way on the very off chance you encounter a life form worth meeting. Probably not the kind this one intends to hunt... anyways, I will leave you to it. Good luck, Fio'la. Technology Triumphant."

With that he turned and walked away, leaving Na'no and Gorthrax alone.

Before long three more figures enter the garage. In the distance a limping female with a small drone and a male in full combat regalia similarly ask for direction and are pointed in the direction of Na'no and Gorthrax.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:05 pm

The Fire warriors response had presented Vra'fa with a minor dilemma. His words seemed to indicate a preference for his given name. However it seemed wrong to address someone so far her senior without any polite title. Should she simply use both? That seemed awfully like not making a decision at all. What should she do?
Suddenly the urge to laugh came over the young envoy. What was she doing? To an experienced campaigner like the Tau beside her, such a thing probably mattered little. He had given her permission to use his given name, so it couldn't be disrespectful to use it.

"In that case Elanro we should make our way to the garage and discover what we have set in store for us."

She turned and started her slow progress up the walkway, her stick making a knocking noise against the metal. After a few paces she looked up again at Elanro and gave him a lopsided smile.
"You can refer to me as Vra'fa, Por'la or indeed kid, whichever you prefer. Considering my physical abilities you might wish not to familiarise should I befall something on the frontier."

She nodded her head at the drone hovering on her other side.
"Hui'lala up there is a much likelier survivor."

As they came in sight of the garage, she asked another question, her tone and expression more serious and thoughtful this time.
"Elanro if you don't mind me asking, have you seen many envoys perish in their pursuit of the Greater Good?"

It had been something she had been considering as they walked, odd fragments of the dream from the night before coming back to the surface. First encounters were always risky, rife with possible misunderstandings and as they were at the forefront envoys sometimes felt the impact. Her teachers had always laid the blame for these on a lack of good judgement from the envoy themselves. They had taught that no situation was impossible to mediate- if the right words were said at the right time. It would take judgement and experience. She was confident in her abilities in the former, but it was true she was lacking a bit in the latter. The learning never stopped.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:45 pm

"I'll stick to kid for now. And frankly, considering the normal physical abilities of an envoy, your limp doesn't make much of a difference."

He followed he along, largely keeping to himself, keeping an eye out for any potential dangers as was his eternal, thankless duty. Once she mentionned envoys dying, he said:

"Out of the 3 dozen envoys I've escorted at one time or another, about half died if I remember correctly? Mind you, we where at Fi'Rios, Ork territory, where an envoy was either useless or a hindrance. They never seemed to realize that they couldn't negotiate with critters that lacked, how do you say, moral agency. The ability to make choices based on right an wrong. The only choice in an ork mind is "Can I fight" vs "can I make myself better for fighting". No moral agency there."

He took a deep breath. He was not used to speaking so much, and to have someone willing to listen.


"They finally stopped dying on me once I started... anticipating orders let's say. The shas'ui would have given the extraction order soon enough, so I did it 30 seconds early before the envoy was decapitated. Of course, the Shas'ui was never happy, and the envoy always thought I had ruined their chance at negotiation. But I've seen too many get killed by orks because they didn't realise an ork is always in combat mode, and only want to fight. The day the ethereals finally declared them a lost cause was really nice."
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:59 am

Kid was going to end up sticking now, Vra'fa thought as they moved slowly on. But she wasn't as needled by it as before- she had given it as an option after all and a nickname was generally better than her formal title. She wondered if she should fill him in on her other physical frailties but on consideration, decided to hold her tongue. To her, other water caste members were all much stronger and fitter but perhaps to a Fire warrior encased in all that armour and with their combat training and experience, all envoys were weak. She wasn't planning on breaking any other bones on this trip at least.

She was shocked at his next statement, her eyes growing wide as she looked up at him, her heart starting to thump.
"Over a dozen dead! And you saw them...."

For the next few steps she wasn't aware of anything, not the metal beneath her feet or the jangled pain of her leg. She was just thinking of thirteen envoys, thirteen dead bodies. Her class had only ten pupils in it. All her friends dead, plus more too. Her stomach heaved and she had to fight to stop herself getting sick. This was reality she tried to tell herself, this was the effect of war. All those famous battles in the second and third expansion, none of them had been bloodless. In the grand sphere of things, thirteen dead envoys was simply a drop, a minor note. Other castes had suffered far greater. But she could see the bodies, she could see the faces.

She clenched her free fist tightly. There could be no tears, this was part of life out here. She couldn't disgrace herself in front of Elanro who had doubtless seen much worse.
She looked up at him again with more control over her face and nodded seriously.
"The wars on Fi'Rios sound like a pretty tough place to be. I hope myself not to never come face to face with an Ork. That mindset sounds completely unfathomable."

She paused for a moment before continuing.
"It must have been very difficult for you, to participate in an action which you knew would fail again and again. And even when you saved lives to receive some censure for it. I can only imagine and that is limited. I have no battlefield experience."

She was quiet again for a bit, the only only noise, the rhythmic knocking of her stick and the slightly deeper breaths that she was taking. Her next comment was a bit quieter and she was looking towards the garage as she spoke.
"I think sometimes the castes don't listen to each other as much as they should. We all have different skills and experiences and sometimes we think that our way is the best, when instead we need to listen to our fellow Tau."
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:54 am

[In the garage]

Na'No looked in the direction the Fio'Ui pointed. She saw shadowy outlines in the distance. But her gaze fell back to the massive figure in front of her. Of course she know Kroot. You can find many species all over Sa'Cea. However, she noticed quickly that Gorthrax looked a bit emaciated despite his impressive stature.

The Kroot appear impetuous and coarse as he whirled the tool carelessly around. But she was actually thankful for his clumsiness. "Suitable for such a savage." Actually, she giggles a bit to herself about the fact that he shambled through the obsessive neatness of the older Fios. The dull feeling that spread in her stomach as Gorthrax appeared at the garage entrance subsided. She overacted her uncertainty about the new task: "I will not be able to help you with hunting, but this gem will take you wherever you want." She clapped onto the TX5-piranha and hoped for a loud piercing sound to support her. A dull sound appeared.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:54 pm

“Well, we are suffering the consequences of overspecialization to a point. I don’t mind the censure that much though; I’ve always been here to protect my brothers and sisters first. If they’re too dumb to recognize the danger, that’s their problem. And kid, avoid the battlefield as long as you can. I may have seen a few envoys go down, but I’ve seen thousands of warriors die.”
He took another deep breath
“Still, better education on warzone etiquette could be usefull. Like for example, base appearance isn’t a clear indicator of dangerousness. I once saw a weird ork that was dancing around with a stick. He sneezed, and a hundred warriors, some ork too mind you, turned into squigs. That day I learned that the most dangerous orks are the ones that DON’T charge at you screaming. So yeah kid, what you can learn from us warriors is assume they want to kill; if they do, you’re ready, if they don’t, you’re pleasantly surprised! Hehe.”
He let out a loud raspy laugh. He was rambling, and he knew it, but it was nice to talk to someone who listened. She gained a lot of points over the previous envoys he had met. As they entered the garage, before she had a chance to respond, he said:
“I’ll be back in a sec, gotta go say hi to a friend”
He sauntered away towards the Earth caste Tau leading the work, his old friend Fio'Ui'Firios'Aloalts.
“Aloalts! How are you doing brother?”
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:54 pm

[In the Workshop]

Fio'ui Aloalts looked up in annoyance and then smiled as he realized he was addressing him. "Shas'la Fioros'Elanro, you old devil. Welcome, welcome. I do apologize for not swinging by and seeing you in some time. As you know, a Fio'ui's job is never finished. What brings you to my shop?"

Between the kroot and now the fire warrior, many of the fio'la in the workshop start the gaze and stare. Oddly enough, some seem more scared of the fire warrior and get out of his way more quickly and with assured bows of respect.

Aloalts gives them a look that makes them quickly get back to work.
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:43 pm

Despite Gorthrax's issues he was still a Kroot, and the weakling had clearly misinterpreted his question, he had not asked for help with the hunt. It was fortunate that she knew how to drive and was offering such services. She was Tau so that also gave her some leeway. Not wanting any hassle he let it slide.

Instead his gaze passes over the vehicle, he had seen the type before. It would suffice.

Forgetting for a moment where he was Gorthrax rustles Bok's spines, the hound responds in kind; rubbing his snout against his masters leg. After what seemed like an uncomfortable amount of time Gorthrax looks away from attending Bok and up at Na'no "It is fortunate that all I look for is a pilot." there was another pause, perhaps to long before he added "For the Greater Good."
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PostSubject: Re: On the Edge of Expanion (IC)    Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:57 pm

"Jus thought I'd say hi in passage, I'm on escort duty for a survey. When I heard you where involved, I knew there would be some kind of artifact to track down. As long as it isnt Ork Tek eh?! "

They reminisced for a couple of minutes about the old days (they would never be sufficiently deluded to think they were good), then Elanro got to brass tacks:

"You wouldn't happen to have a spare railgun lying around? The Shas'Ui has really been dragging his feat on the requisition order. The zoggin' git."
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