Slaughter at Nessus Colony

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Lieutenant Coll saw his vox-offer take a Pulse shot to the chest, and hit the ground just before a second could kill him. The firepower coming from the Tau was horrific, a solid wall of fire that killed anyone who rose to fire.

Fortunately, the Imperial forces were not completely helpless. Chimera transports and Leman Russ battletanks returned fire with murderous efficiency, whilst artillery hurled shells up into the sky to gut out fortified positions.

Coll scrambled over to the dead vox-operator, and removed the headset, "say again!"

"This is Magos Dimitri, our forces are deploying now. Keep down and out of the firing line, and make ready to advance!"

Advance? Coll spat, there was no chance of that. It would take more firepower than a full Regiment to break these Tau...

...the ground shook. Not hard, but enough to be noticed. It was the lack of sound that made it frightening; tanks had engines, shells exploded, but when the ground shakes for no reason, it's chilling.

it shook again, and the Tau stopped firing.

A third time, each time slightly stronger. Coll risked looking up from the trench, and saw through the haze the Tau occupying the positions they had held at the start of the engagement, three days ago.

A fourth shake, and this time there was a distant thud, which grew louder with each rythmic quaking.

One of his men tapped him on the shoulder, and Coll turned. There was a long moment, then he cheered. The cry of victory rose through his squad, his platoon, his regiment, from every voice in the Imperial army.

The Titans had come.

*  *  * Shas'El Bork'an Kais was lost for words. He and his men stood there mutely, watching the titanic monster of steel approach them. He had seen data-picts of Titans before, the massive machines engaged by the Manta Missile Destroyers against the Damocles Crusade.

These were different. They were larger, and sported more guns. Two of them advanced, spread wide to cover as much of the field as possible. It was then that the third Titan, larger still, emerged between them.

El'Kais, realising the psychological power of these machines, began barking orders. His men jumped into action, taking aim and preparing to engage the Titans. He called back to O'Kauyon aboard the Manta for support, and his cries for help were answered swiftly. In less than ten minutes, the Manta would engage.

Along the Tau line, Broadsides and Hammerheads began to fire. Swordfish joined them, adding their twin-railguns to the barrage. With a distinct whooshing sound, the Scorpionfish began to send volleys of missiles into the Titans.

The shields flared, and for a brief moment, both sides held their breath. Then, like the wrath of a vengeful god, the return-fire began. Turbo-lasers, Volcano Cannons, Plasma Blastguns and Vulcan Mega-Bolters assaulted the Tau position with merciless fusillades of fire. Tanks were atomised in an instant, fortifications blasted open, warriors shredded by a storm of explosive shells. The Scorpionfish lasted three seconds, before its reactor overloaded under the force of the firepower aimed against it.

The lead Titan began to advance. One arm bore a crackling powerfist, the other a spitting volcano cannon. On its chassis was a massive, single-shot missile, and a plasma cannon much larger than anything El'Kais had ever seen, even on the flanking titans. The Titan stopped, and the plasma cannon fired. The world turned white, and El'Kais was knocked to the floor. He tasted blood, and blinked away the spots from his vision. It took him a while to realise the shot had wiped out the Broadside team stationed in the bunker nearby, along with the bunker.

"Xeno deviants! All hope for you is gone! Surrender immediately and submit to the Emperor's will, or die by our divine weapons! You have five minutes to decide!"

El'Kais looked around what remained of his line. Most of his men were dead or injured, and every fortified bunker, supply post and auto-defence had been blasted to rubble. He still had a few Hammerheads, and several Crisis Suits and Broadsides, but against the three Titans he may as well throw rocks. None of the Titans bore a mark, not a single scratch from an entire army's firepower.

An instant before the Manta's engine-noise became audible, its main cannons fired. The shot struck the leftmost Reaver, shattering the void shields and tearing off armour plates as it skipped across the hull. The Tau forces cheered, then stopped and stared as the Titans failed to return fire.

"This is Shas'O Vior'La Kauyon! Surrender this world to the Tau Empire, and you will not be harmed! We do not-"

The Warlord fired its missile. The ordnance blasted forward from the carapace-launcher, and seemed to flicker in the air. Halfway to the Manta, it vanished, and a heartbeat later, the Manta was torn into by internal explosions. Shrapnel tore down over the Tau position like deadly rain, killing or maiming anyone not in cover. The Titans began to advance again, guns roaring. Behind them, the Chimeras of the Guard and Skitarii forces rolled up to reclaim the lost trench lines, whilst the Leman Russ battletanks took snap-shots between the striding god-machines.

El'Kais died, crippled by shrapnel, weapons roaring and screaming in horror as the rightmost Reaver strode over the Trenches, and crushed him with its mighty armoured foot.

 




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