Hawk Squadron: From Gue'la to Warrior Pt. 1

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Rook Hawkins

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If this is what comes with being part of an auxiliary force, I really need to hand in my resignation.

The run had started only five minutes ago, but the pain seeding through Rook Darksky's legs had pushed his impression of mere terran minutes into seemingly never-ending Tau decs. It wasn't that Rook despised running - contrary he enjoyed it - but the rugged heat of Tau worlds and the awkward jungle terrain didn't help his balance, and the density of the air only made his lungs sore and breathing harsh.

Not like Viceria. The name of his home world brought a smile to his lips, allowing sweat droplets to seep into the corners of his mouth. He licked at the salty moisture, redirecting the physical gesture he was going to make towards the horrible taste into his legs to keep pace with the rest of his Gue'la-trainee comrades. 'Trainee' is such a poor word to describe them all.

In fact most of the men in his unit were not new to war, nor were many of them green when it came to combat.  As some of the men in his unit were formerly members of the Imperial Guard, they always had stories to tell around the barracks about exotic worlds full of bizarre vegetation and amazing firefights.  They would talk of thousands of soldiers all trying to hack each other to pieces, and not enough tales of heroic gestures and amazing feats could be spoken of in one sitting.

Not that Rook believed any of them or took them too seriously.  Some of them were just too ridiculous.  The idea of thousands upon thousands of las-shots whizzing around, narrowly missing these heroes was beyond anything Rook could see as realistic.  As a former member of the police force on his home planet, he had been in quite a few shootouts.  He'd never killed anybody or was seriously injured, but he'd seen plenty of his friends get gunned down in cold blood, and bullets rarely ever ignored their targets. 

It was only mere luck that Rook had managed to evade death as much as he had, in the ten years he served in the force and with the destruction of his home planet, only because he had found himself good protection against those trying to kill him, and there were usually less gang members then law enforcement officials there.  So the gangsters never had trouble finding easier targets to hit. 

And the shootouts between the gangsters and police officers were certainly never on as grand a scale as the battlefields of the galaxy.  Never the less, Rook was proud of his accomplishments in law enforcement and had put his life on the line countless numbers of times for his people, and his values.  And although he didn't consider himself a hero, he felt that his actions did fall along similar lines. Especially in the last days.  He let his eyes narrow, which wasn't much of a task as sweat stung at his eyes enough to squint them.

Life on Sa'cea was definitely not easier then his life on Viceria, which had lied within the outer-rims of Imperial space. But for Rook's family, who had come to Tau Space on a freight ship after Viceria had been infested with 'Nids, it was the start of a whole new life.  After Rook had watched his whole world die, doing his best to help defend it as much as he could, it was odd to see other worlds continue to prosper.  There was a time where Rook hated the Tau, and all they stood for, especially when he had first arrived.  He didn't understand how such a species could have continued to thrive while his world lay, an empty shell of what it once was. 

To make matters worse, the Imperium had also left his world for dead, another statistic in thousands of years of war.  Viceria was just another planet out of many to fall and die.  Somehow, Viceria just wasn't as important to them, as there were other problems threatening the galaxy, and for that Rook had given up his old values in search of new ones. 

It festered in him, he hated the lifestyle he left and despised the aliens who took him in.  But eventually, the Tau efforts to help the refugees of the tragedy had shown him a way he felt was worth his quality.  As the Imperium continued their efforts of seeming intolerance, the Tau were living many separate lives as a continuation of something more.  There were many efforts for the needs of the whole populace.  It was here that Rook had found solitude in who he was, and who he'd become.

The Tau had been very good to them, offering the refugees technology that Rook had never even knew could exist. Some of the elder Tau taught them about Tau lifestyle, and at times of war, Fire Warrior teams protected the settlements from imperial raiding parties which ventured far enough into the major septs during the Damocles Gulf Crusade to get onto the planets surface. 

It was during these raids that Rook had finally offered his services as a law enforcer, and asked what he could do to help defend the remnants of his civilization.  The Shas'ui that had been in charge of the Fire Warriors that defended his settlement told him of the recruiting of humans into the Tau military.  And Rook, never being one to turn down an opportunity, had joined up almost immediately.

Although his new loyalty laid with the Greater Good, Rook seriously missed his home world. The soft grasses, the temperate climate, oh so different and much more comfortable for humans then the humid sweat-pits of Tau space.  He could remember the times he had been off-duty.  He'd spend time by the lakes near his home, or found comfort in reading the latest holo-book under the shade of one of the greatHelagos trees which Viceria was known for.  There was nothing like them anywhere else in the Galaxy, and especially not on any Tau world.

But this was his life now, and he'd learned to deal with all the fallacies that made a habitat out of it.  Just to top off the inadequate amount of luxury Rook had received since he decided to join in the spread of the Tau'va, or the "greater good," his Team Leader, Shas'ui Sa'cea Va'tol, always found a way to make Rook wish he were facing down the barrel of a Space Marine's bolt gun.

Va'tol was a Tau of great esteem, high standards and strict discipline.  Something that reminded Rook of his drill instructors from the Police Academy back on Viceria.  He had disdain for his instructors then, and had little else but disdain for Va'tol now.  Quite frankly, they didn't seem to take too kindly to Rook either.  If it wasn't the way Rook wore his training gear, it was just because he was a Gue'la, a human…

Speaking of Mont'au…

Va'tol steadily, gracefully drew back from the front lines to Rook, who was struggling to maintain the order of the running formation.

"Gue'la! How many times must I tell you to pick up your hoovlings when you run? Do youseek to trip into the Gue'la in front of you?" Va'tol's light-blue face seemed to turn a deeper navy, which contrasted heavily with the fire burning in his eyes.

"No Shas'ui, I'msorry." Rook pushed the slightest bit of sarcasm in the last word, hoping that it wouldn't fall unnoticed by the old Tau Fire Warrior. To imitate the tone of his voice, Rook exaggerated his pace, bringing his knees up over his waste in a ridiculous fashion.  It was a stupid game, but Rook had almost had enough with the old Tau instructor.

Even still, the cruel mockery of Rook's display didn't seem to phase Va'tol, as he only smiled, keeping pace with Rook - until Rook caught his foot on someOft'a tree roots and stumbled forward, falling on his face.  Pain surged through his nose and cheeks, down to his knee which collided hard into the sandy stone soon after the initial impact.  Rook wanted to scream out but found his words choked, as he realized the damage his actions had caused. 

Va'tol ordered the Gue'la trainees to halt, and they did so, laughing hysterically at their fallen comrade. Amazingly, Va'tol offered Rook a four-fingered hand, which Rook took, using Va'tol's weight to pull himself up.

"Gue'la," Va'tol shook his head, "if you wish to fight next to hardened Tau Fire Warriors, you must learn respect, and you must learn team work."

Rook, panting and still in pain, dusted a few spots of red and brown dirt from his tunic and pants. He looked up at his team leader, raising an eye-brow. "And how should I see myself as part of a team, when you never stop singling me out, Shas'ui?"

Va'tol showed his teeth in a manner that Rook had acquainted with a human smirk, "You do not think you are part of this team? In that case, Gue'la, because you have fallen and failed your team, your team has failed you since they did not bother to help you up or keep you in line, we shall run a full two decs today."

The team groaned, one trainee, Harris Kolt, gave Rook a hard shoulder punch, which reallydidhurt. Rook took the pain, using it as a subconscious reason to redden his face, "That isn't fair, Shas'ui!"

Va'tol tucked his arms behind his back and straightened himself, his eyes turning into ferocious, black slits. "And how is mocking your Team Leader any more fair, Gue'la?"

With that, Va'tol casually walked to the front of the formation, ordered everyone to attention, and started the cadence again. Rook had to push even harder now, pain surging through his ankle where he had caught hold of the tree root, his knee throbbing, hoping that his legs wouldn't cramp up. And maybe, with some miracle, he might come out of this run alive.

But that would only mean he would be stampeded later, at the hands of his team mates back at the Gue'la Barracks when they finished the run. Rook narrowed his green eyes once more.I made a promise to my family, to my people.  Even if I have to go through the warp and back a million times, I must complete my training....

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