The outbreak of war between Valorax and the Tau was not going well for the Valorax Guard.
The opening battles had led to defeat time and again, and now, vast numbers of Tau warriors were being funnelled into the war zone so that the killing blow of Mont'ka could be exacted, crushing the human resistance.
In the ruins of a Chalice outpost, the Tau command gathered for a strategic review, Shas'o Sa'Cea Shi, overall commander of the Montyr'nan Contingent. Shas'o Ka and Shas'o Run'al attended him, discussions rapid and brief so that the best way to crack open the more challenging defences ahead of them could be decided upon.
If the perfect strategy could be finalised here then the humans were all but doomed.
Which made it the perfect strike point for the Crimson Blades!
In quick succession a Landing Craft and Thuderhawk swept out of the low cloud cover and embarked the Deinous Battle Company, only a hundred metres from the abandoned facility.
Fire Warriors took up firing positions against the broken walls and parapets, letting fly with pulse fire from their rifles, but the Space Marines kept coming, most of the fire splintering off their power armour. With boltguns level, they returned fire as soon as they came into the blessed minimum range of holy retribution. The ruinous cover deflected much of the return fire but the attrition began and started to progress; attrition the Tau could scant afford.
Shas'o Shi ordered the concentration of fire and gave the signal for additional support. He watched the approaching Adeptus Astartes and the mighty xenoforms striding alongside them and frowned. Then he reluctantly gave the order to break the summit and withdraw the command staff. This would delay the coordination of their forces prior to full scale war but survival was paramount.
By his command,a Stealth Team teleported into position to provide covering fire, tracing their Burst Cannons across the detritus to spot incoming enemies.
But before he could start to move to get clear, a veteran sergeant of the Crimson Blades broke through the cordon into the complex and Shi realised with horror what device the human had built into his armour.
There was an implosion of transmat fusion, knocking all the Tau within ten yards to the floor and in the veteran sergeant's place was a gigantic and roaring Mammoth!
The Mammoth smashed into the ranks of Firewarriors, hurling them in every direction with its trunk and impaling them on its great curving tusks. Beneath its razorwire shod feet it crushed their armour and ground their bones.
Shas'o Shi called for the full retreat of his commanders and lifted out of the building on his jets surrounded by his Crisis Suit bodyguards, but as the men of the Crimson Blades entered the complex, drilling his warriors under withering bolter fire, the Mammoth smashed through the outer wall, coming after him.
There was only frenzied withdrawal now. There was no time for anything else. Shas'o Shi called down his Orca Dropship and his and his guard clambered onto the rear ramp. There was no decorum; no poise of command; only panic and survival.
The Orca took off as Barracudas swept in to provide covering menace for the retreat of the commanders against the circling Thunderhawk. Staggering to a viewer, Shas'o Shi looked down on the battle below as the Crimson Blades wiped out the remaining Tau in the complex until all were gone.
He was enraged. Not only had this debacle postponed the collaboration of the Tau's powerful forces but it had been a costly defeat. It had lost him more warriors than he would have cared to lose. But worse, it had cost him respect in front of his Troops and the other commanders. And it had cost him self respect.
He had fled like a child from the humans. He had fled like a child.
He swore now that when next they met, he would answer this affront to his character by total annihilation. The humans would be wiped from this world. Every one of them!