Hawk Squadron: From Gue'la to Warrior Pt. 11

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Rook Hawkins


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"There were reasons," The Shas'O started, "the cadets at the Kais Academy needed to fight somebody other then Tau. Our tactics are efficient, but not infallible, as both are species which are biologically and strategically different, I felt above all else that a sparring match between the two school's would be an extremely valuable lesson. We needed an enemy who could provide split second changes to plans, work well with the environment and give a few squads some challenges."

"Afewsquads?" Rook looked smug as the Shas'O explained to him the idea behind why they had substituted a Tau group instead of a human one. The Hawk's had long since left Rook's side on orders of the Shas'O and Nol, to speak with Rook privately. Rook hadn't minded. He just wanted to find out what was going to happen next. And although as he learned more and more, even as the reasons were validated, Rook still didn't feel it made the switch appropriate. But who am I to question a Shas'O?

"Okay, so we sent four. It was only twenty or so individuals." The Shas'O twisted his expression into a smiled, "But you bested them regardless."

"Barely."

"But you did."  The Shas'O folded his arms behind his lower back, "Va'tol had spoken highly of your abilities, and although Va'tol is reliable on such matters, I wasn't sure until the last fight. We tried to throw you off with the heat and the steam, but you still managed to work through it. Quite impressive for a gue'la."

"The academy has pressed the Tau Auxiliary Command to grant you and the Hawk's with your honors tomorrow." Nol started, pursing his lips together as if to suggest he was considering the right words, "There will also be promotions."

Rook suppressed a whistle, "I wasn't aware they promoted Gue'las' based on these tests."

"We usually don't." The Shas'O said. "But when it comes to the leading Squadron of the tests, we always take it under consideration, because of the high risks those units are sent on, and because of the status of the honors."

"I've just never heard of anything like that." Rook smirked.

"That's because you're the first team where this has gone past considering."

Rook's smile broadened, "I'm truly honored. Who's getting promoted?"

"You'll find out tomorrow at the parade fields."  Nol tapped a small button on the side of the bed, sounding another buzzer that made Rook cringe.

"Parade fields?"  Although his head was ringing already, he managed to sneak out those words as both Nol and the Shas'O started to leave through the medical bay's door.

The Shas'O nodded. "It's customary for the class of Gue'la Trainees to witness their top Squadron getting the honors. It's a ritual."

"But we creamed some of those guys. Don't you think they'll be a little sour?"

"Perhaps."  The Shas'O stated, null of emotion. "But most of your class have been rather impressed. Some are starting their own stories. It should prove to be enlightening."  With that, both he and Nol left Rook back to the smell of hospital solvents, bright lights and white walls. 


----------------------------------------------------------------------

The Tau dress uniforms for it's Gue'la graduates were very appealing to any eyes. Even the Orks would have to agree that the designers paid particular attention to detail. However the similarity to Imperium dress uniforms couldn't be ignored, and that led some credit to the idea that Gue'vesa'la's probably had a hand in the styling process.  And the fact that the uniform contrasted with the Imperial version also spoke metaphorically to their new beginnings serving the Greater Good.

The outfit was actually a off-white body suit that started out very broad in the shoulders, fit snuggly around the waist and loosened starting from around boot-level. Knee-high black leather boots then fit over the pants, forcing up some of the material, and allowing some excess to flow over the top of them.  The jacket, also broad in the shoulders and dyed with the same off-white color was made with very rough material resembling cotton. It had cloth epaulets that were trimmed in a gold material - that also trimmed the creases of the rest of the jacket. It was collared around the neck, tightly Rook would add, and fitted so it thinned at the stomach. A belt, which was actually just a hoop made of smoothed animal hide rested comfortably around the waist.

The sash that fell across the right shoulder was the Squadron's colors. The Hawk's had voted on teal, Rook supposed that could be for a number of reasons - all of which he was unaware of, and so that was the color of their sashes. Usually, the Squadron's insignia, presented to the unit upon Graduation, would have been painted onto the sash around the chest area. But instead, the insignia was that of a stalking forest beast, the official sign to all that the man or woman wearing the insignia had been a member of the squadron that won the trials.

The only trouble to the outfit was that the cotton-like material was extremely itchy and Rook found it a challenge to not scratch at his arms constantly during the opening ceremony.  With the heat pouring on them, Rook almost preferred the Gyro and the trial armor to anything related to the dress uniforms.

The Hawk's were now on top of a large stage, positioned in front of the parade fields. The rest of the cadets in Rook's class were standing at attention in front of the stage, listening to the Shas'O intently. Rook glimpsed a few of his former foes from the tests glaring at him.  Rook had even caught Kal Tark, leader of Cougar Squadron, with fixed eyes on him, his face distorted in suppressed anger. Rook had felt a bit or sorrow for Kal, but then bit it back.It was his fault he didn't win. He had the advantage, and he didn't lead properly. In real combat, you either fall prey to cheaters, or you learn to cheat yourself. It's unfortunate but thus leads to the spoils of war.

His attention was drawn back to the Shas'O as the great Tau began to speak some more. "Today you leave this facility to go to war. The fate of the Greater Good now rests squarely in the hands of you and your friends in arms. It is no longer in our hands to teach you, it is now your jobs to learn lessons on your own.

"Part of learning lessons is looking to those who have already learned them. And up here, on this stage which was built and resurrected by Gue'la's like you, we have a Squadron that has distinguished itself beyond all others. In events of extreme displeasure, they worked together, and at times separately to end up coming out of the worst situations victorious. Today we are honored to grant these warriors with the privileges they have earned."

Rook had recalled from the practice ceremony that it was time for him to stand. As he stood, the majority of the crowd applauded. Not only did they applaud, but many shouts were heard. Rook smiled, feeling the same pride he had felt when Va'tol had granted him the title of Team Leader. But now I am receiving an even greater honor.  And with that honor, greater responcibility.

The Shas'O beckoned him to say something. Above the roars, Rook glanced at Ralus who was giving him a tilted head, "Uh oh. The team leader didn't come with a speech. Could this be the end as we know it?"

Rook snorted, "Shut up."

"Indeed. Didn't you notice that I had that embroidered into out Squadron insignia?"

"Ihave come prepared for situations like this."

Ralus rolled his eyes, "I can't wait to see how you handle this one."

Rook walked over to the podium, the Shas'O stepping back as if giving it up. The roaring of his cadet class fell silent was he faced them. Rook had grown use to being in front of people. As a young student graduating from the police academy on Viceria, he had been the top of his class.  But he'd learned even before then, at his graduation from grade school, when he had to give his first speech which he had blundered through the entire way. In order to prevent such a humiliating event from ever happening again, he came up with a two step program.

Step one: Always be humble and remember to thank everyone. "I don't really think I should be the only one up here. I am part of a team, and without them I would be nothing."

Step two: Say something profound, and end it quickly. "The reality of battle will be of complication and situation, and not of ease and without commitment.  Many problems will arise and throw themselves at you and you will be overwhelmed.  However, as I have learned these past few weeks, we must always rely on our friends and squadron mates to pull through it together. And with a class such as this, there should be no problems with that. Thanks for your show of support."

Rook waved and took a step back giving the podium back to the Shas'O again. The crowd started to chant once more, "Hawks! Hawks! Hawks!" This time all the Hawks stood.

Ralus came up to Rook first, "Wow, boss thatwas impressive."

Rook sighed, "You think I over-did it."

"Are you kidding me?" He shouted over the chanting, "They love you! You could cut off your hands and by nightfall everyone would be doing it."

"Thanks for your candor, it's always a challenge not to shoot you."

Ralus blinked into space a few times, "You know, I'm getting told that an awful lot lately."

The Shas'O put his hands in the air, and everyone immediately went quiet once again. The Shas'O cleared his throat, "As is customary, we will honor these warriors. Once every class cycle, we get a unit like this who goes above and beyond the expectations of the normal unit. So to vary the honors to specific unit needs, the head masters of the Academy and myself decide what the best honor would be to give to them.

"In this case, we find a group of extremely accurate marksmen. So we plan on doing something which may come as a surprise to many of you. In times of war, we allow two men in a Gue'la squad to carry some of our pulse weaponry. However due to the abilities of these men, we have decided to honor this unit by equipping of the entire Squadron with such weapons."

Rook gasped. Never has such a thing been done before by any means, at least not that he'd heard of. Humans were never looked upon as worthy enough to achieve such an honor. Of course, as part of their training, each Gue'la is certified on the Pulse Rifle and Pulse Carbine. But nobody ever expected to be issued one.There must be a reason for this, something that the Shas'O hasn't mentioned.

"There is another issue. In cases like this we also consider candidates for promotion. Several Hawk's have displayed unique abilities in the tests that warrant such promotions. Of course, we all know that Rook Darksky is one of them."

Rook grinned toothily as the Shas'O approached. He quickly snapped to attention as the Shas'O pinned on his collar his new rank. "Congratulations, Gue'vesa'vre."

The crowd went wild again and the Hawk's all applauded their commander. The Shas'O then stepped up to Ralus, who also went to attention, although with more enthusiasm then Rook had, and gave the Shas'O a smug look.

The Shas'O looked irritable as he pinned the Gue'vesa'ui rank onto Ralus' collar. It was almost comical to see the Shas'O press a bit harder then normal on the rank pin, making Ralus wince a bit.  The Shas'O did not say anything or do anything more, simply walked to Stromf.

Rook caught the slightest glimpse of pain in Stromf's eyes, a glimmer that would go unnoticed by all those who didn't know him.  The Shas'O also stuck the rank of Gue'vesa'ui onto Stromf's collar. When he was finished, Stromf saluted.  His look seemed hard and practiced, but didn't stop the Shas'O from returning the salute.

Rook was taken back a bit by Stromf's initial reaction to the promotion.  Especially as Rook had been the one to suggest to the Shas'O to consider Stromfs exceptional performance during their training. This was assuredly something to be proud of. He made a mental note to check in on him later.

With that the Shas'O walked up to the podium again. "I present to you your top squadron!"

The crowd applauded once more, chanting again. The Hawk's waved individually, and Rook knew deep down, inside of him somewhere, that this would be the last time he would see many of these men again.


----------------------------------------------------------------------


After the ceremony, there was a rather large picnic right outside the parade field.  Makeshift tables were set up, some various drones floated around, specifically modified for duties as servers and caterers.  They mono-toned hello's and good-byes, offered drinks and small delicacies, many exotic from the Tau's explorations into the outer territories.  Although some of the meals seemed as though a kroot ox would enjoy them more then any sentient being. 

But then again, I'd rather be in the company of a krootox then here talking about politics.  Rook watched as his peers danced and moved around him in a demeanor that resembled a rehearsed play rather then a military affair.  Members of the Tau staff and graduates of high status mingled, finding common interests, talking about personal motivations, plans after their terms of service were ended, and war - to many a social engagement if there ever was one. 

To Rook, however, it was the Greater Good in full swing.  Human and Tau, talking and laughing, and even at times crying together.  But it was also of manipulation and lies, as was the course of politics more then not.

Rook found the afternoon sun to be dismal yet again.  Another gloriously hot day on Sa'cea, the sweat he'd have to endure in full dress uniform only making his arms more itchy.  Several parts of his body-suit were sticking to his skin and he found himself plucking the uncomfortable cloth away, irritably.  He'd hope to eventually get inside, even the Gue'la barracks with their filmy green hue would be more appealing right now.  Andthat was something he'd never had imagined he'd find himself thinking. 

A Tau in a white tunic and black pants - signifying he was one of the head caterers who had employed the use of the drones - brought a silver tray full of Valepta Nuts, a flavored taste on many tau worlds.  Rook accepted one and bit into the chewy exterior, allowing the tangy flavor to race down his tongue, followed by a rather spicy hot after-taste.  He swallowed a few times to rid himself of the heat that threatened to scorch his throat.

Out of the corner of his eye he spotted the Lions team leader, Marcel Flavious.  Flavious caught his glace and marched over.  Flavious didn't appear very muscular, and the way his clothes sort of melted off his body just seemed out of place in a Gue'vesa training camp.  But his voice was deep and commanding, "Gue'vesa'vre!"  He stood at a relaxed parade rest, Rook had to take a minute to remember that his new rank dictated such gestures of respect from subordinates.Subordinates.  Rook sighed. Just a few days ago, these were my class-mates, now I outrank them. 

Rook smiled, hoping that he wouldn't give the impression of superiority.  In his mind, rank was something that promoted discipline, not slavery.  He was no better then Flavious, no better then anybody else. "I hear you and your Lions are on your way to the Shas'Y'eldi Fleet orbiting around Vash'ya.  I hear it's quite an honor."

The thin-faced man nodded.  Rook looked him over, trying to perhaps gauge any trace of excitement or fear, but the man was emotionless, a part of his personality which forced the impression that there was more to Flavious then looks would suggest. 

"From what rumors I hear, the Orks are still coming in strong around Landfall.  Some of the staff hear seems to agree that we may be heading off to fight them with the Vior'la Cadre just being relieved from fighting the Nid invasion around Fal'shia."

Rook smiled, "Well, with your aggression I doubt they'll be much of a match."

Flavious remained featureless, although he turned his gaze to the ground for but a moment, "You have taught me a thing or two about being aggressive, sir.  Many officers would have been embarrassed after such a quick defeat."

Rook snorted, "I'm surprised you didn't sputter one curse at me this entire conversation."

Flavious finally cracked a smirk, "Believe me, I had a few choice words to say after the engagement.  But I've always believed that each defeat is a learning experience.  I would love to use your tactics if you gave me permission to do so."

Rook broke out laughing, and Flavious arched his forehead downward, "What's so funny, sir?"

"Nothing."  Rook caught ahold of himself, clutching his stomach with one hand, "I'm sorry, I'm just not used to this wholeCommanderthing yet.  My tactics are not owned, they are for saving lives so use them please.  And if you happen to improve on them, let me know."

Flavious returned to his featureless complexion, "I suppose I understand what you mean about the rank."  Looking back towards one of the Shas'O's who beckoned him, Flavious turned back to Rook with a frown, "You'll excuse me sir."

Rook gestured, "Please.  Good luck."  Rook thought of something quickly, spinning around and grabbed two glasses of sweetened wine from one of the serving drones going by, "Wait, Flavious please, have a drink with me before you run off."

Flavious paused and then nodded, taking a glass from Rook's hand, then lifted it towards the sky for a moment.  "For the Greater Good."

"Indeed."  Rook and Flavious took a sip of the wine, then poured some onto the dirt as was tradition for Gue'la's before going into battle.  "And may we serve as ferociously in combat as we do in handling political affairs such as this."




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