The smoke was dispersing, although the sun had yet to rise. Huge bonfires had burned throughout the night and Shaz’ue had difficulty in understanding the foe approaching him. He had fought alongside the humans of the Imperium before and even stood his ground against an astartes assault when they had been foes, but these space marines were different. Skulls hanging from their armour, lightning painted unto them, screams of an unnatural source that haunted his brave warriors’ sleep and the clattering of engines of war powered by unnatural sources.
Today, his band would meet an enemy that they had never faced before.
Arrayed for battle the Tau had dug in and expected the worst resistance. Shaz’ue would remain behind his own lines and strike at the enemy like a viper. Fast and deadly, he would land at his enemy’s rear and destroy their machines.
Shaz’ue’s fears were confirmed when he saw the enemy arrayed for battle. Unknown entities stalked the right flank and the left flank was covered in dark monstrosities of metal and flesh, bound devils of varying sizes and with heavy weaponry of an older origin than his own race. Towering in the middle stood the leader of the demonic host. Covered in an unnatural darkness and surrounded by a squad of hulking astartes clad in the infamous tactical dreadnought armour and bearing unholy sigils of corruption and plague, the pestilent lord of the Chaos Space Marines bellowed a challenge that could be heard across the lenght of battlefield, daring Shaz’ue to a showdown in melee.
“I, Superabimus Exultant, will feast upon your bones. Xenos have feared me for millenia and even while in service of the false emperor, I slew thousands of your ilk. Meet me in battle and perish.”
All of the Tau quivered with fear and the lack of their commander did nothing to dispel the sense of doom that permeated their ranks.
Before the vehicles and warriors of the xenos had been given a chance to open fire, the enemy let loose hounds of war and already half the distance to the gunline had been covered. The sun had not yet risen but the shooting of the Tau was not severely hampered by this, as all of their battle suits incorporated night vision and the targeting matrix was not hampered by any interference from magnetic sources.
Tank commander Longstrike sruck out with the aid of his hammerhead, but the mighty gun only succeeded in glancing the armoured hull of the helbrute closest to his position. The helbrute responded in kind by crossing the field in a furious charge and bounded with unnatural lightness. The armoured charge on the left flank of the Tau would soon be upon them, much to the dismay of the fire warriors that did not carry any weapons of sufficient strength to counter an armoured walker.
Soon the daemonic war engines would reach the Tau line and only the strike of the Tau commander held any real hope of disabling them.
Lascannon shots and accelerated ammunition alike, did not draw first blood in this battle, but the elite broadsides managed to halt the single forge fiend that was advancing in support of the chaos advances’ left flank. A single shot forcefully entered the maw of the forge fiend and in a blaze of warpflame it blew up.
Shaz’ue was still biding his time, but the margin for error was small in this battle. The unholy war machines were surely closing the distance and the inability of the Tau weaponry to penetrate the warded armour of the daemon engines could prove fatal. Fire warriors were more reliable, however, and with guided strikes, their fire decimated both the slavering hounds and the raptors, who were supported by a sorcerer growing wings directly through his power armour.
Charge of the Helbrutes
With a roar of defiance, a silent figure emerged on the morning sky, the sun at it’s back and spewing fire on the unfortunate path finders hiding on a roof top. Seven died in the horrible flames and the interceptor fire of both Riptide and Broadsides did nothing to penetrate the steel reinforced scales of the warp dragon.
On the other flank, the two smaller walkers engaged the fire warriors, who were isolated on the far left flank, and the supporting fire of Longstrike did nothing to deter the ferocious charge of the entombed astartes. Screams that threatened to deafen the remaining warriors forced a withdrawal from battle, as the towering behemoths slashed and ripped apart the fortified line. The fire warriors attempted to run from the onslaught, but to no avail. The brutes forcefully ran the few survivors to the ground and now the prize was in sight. Longstrike’s hammerhead was in range and soon he would meet his fate at the clawed hand of a Helbrute.
Shaz’ue struck at this moment, but his jump was mistimed. Landing in front of the main infantry line of the Chaos advance his fusion blasters were all but effective, only cutting down a single astartes. His brothers did not care. With crazed screams of blood and mayhem they continued their advance and although the combined overwatch fire of the remaining path finders, fire warriors and the crisis suit bodyguard of Shaz’ue destroyed a single of the lumbering terminators, the power armour-clad astartes made contact. Overcome by fear and the certainty of death, Shaz’ue lashed out in panic, failing to connect to the dark champion, who had roared a challenge. Around him, his bodyguard was being hacked apart by the astartes and the dying screams of his last bodyguard was simply to much for the panic-stricken commander, who abandoned the remainder of his strike force to the will of the dark gods. Little did he notice of the rest of the battle hiding in a nearby shelter, as the forces of Chaos slaughtered his remaining force and an unspeakable stench rose from the burning bodies of the captured and the dead.
Two days after the battle, the chanting of the astartes had subsumed and Shaz’ue finally dared emerge from his shelter. As he crept out in the dusk of Pyranthax, he saw an armoured figure in front of him.
“I may have died in the battle, but the gods saw it fit that I should bring you to my hell at the throne of Nurgle. The rest of my life shall be spent in the gaze of my loving god, but you, you will be forever locked in an inescapable hell, where daemons shall tear you apart and desolation shall rid you of your sanity.”
A smile crossed the lips of Superabimus, as his powered gauntlet ripped through the delicate machinery of Shaz’ue’s iridium suit. Struggling against the force of his adversary, Shaz’ue was unable to break the hold of the Chaos Lord and resigned to a fate worse than death at the hands of the unclean servants of the plague god.