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Shas'la Vior'la Kiar checked his almost empty pulse carbine clip, and looked up at the wasteland that surrounded him. He found himself thinking about how he got into this mess.
It was midday and his small force consisting of eighteen Fire warriors under command of Shas'el Vior'la Kiyotto were moving through the ruined Gue'la city toward the enemy imperial guard command post, they had orders to destroy it and its entire manning force if they did not surrender. They moved on foot so that their advance would not draw attention, a vanguard of Three elite Stealth suited Shas'ui led the way, their force was far too feeble to take there objective with strength of arms but rather relied on the fact that Gue'la all over this world had been yielding and joining the Tau ranks, and the Ethereals assumed that these Gue'la would do likewise.
They could not have been more wrong.
By the time they reached the Gue'la the sun was already beginning its slow descent. Shas'el kiyotto had just received knowledge that a flanking Kroot squad would join their assault, Kiar and the other Fire warriors took up positions to the north of the Gue'la and waited for the Stealth teams burst cannons to signal the attack.
Then it began.
The stealth team slaughtering the Gue'la manning the heavy bolters that defended the command post in a hail of burst cannon fire. He was on the move running from cover to cover squeezing off shots with his pulse carbine then throwing himself behind piles of rubble as the Gue'la's answering lasgun fire rained down around him. He saw his best friend cut down mid-step by a stray lasgun shot.
He heard the Kroot's squawking battle cry coming from the west. The Gue'la had lost their heavy weapons but were fierce in their resistance. He could hear the Gue'la whimper as pulse shots found their mark, but the whimpers soon became screams as the Kroot fell upon the Imperial Guard position, for a moment he believed victory was at hand, then from the corner of his helmets enhanced display he saw his Shas'el pierced by two lasgun shots fall to his knees and continue firing, kiyotto's shots found their mark and the two Gue'la responsible for the pool of blood now forming at the Shas'el's knees were cut down in a fountain of red gore.
Kiar along with a young Shas'la were at Kiyotto's side in an instant and hauling him to shelter behind what remained of a low wall, began giving him what futile medical aid they could. Kiyotto was relaying the grave situation to his commanding Shas'o paying no heed to the two gaping holes in his gut, Kiar wondered if the Shas'el even knew he was injured. Kiar peered over the wall at what remained of the Imperial Guard command position, he could see twelve or so Gue'la locked in hand to hand combat with a hand full of Kroot and the few remaining Fire warriors, of the Stealth team there was no sign.
He sat down with his back to the wall, the wall that provided the only barrier between him and the ensuing slaughter. He sat silently watching the trembling young Shas'la and his Shas'el who was still conversing with Shas'Ar'Tol command. After what seemed like a lifetime the clamour of battle suddenly fell into an oppressive air of silence, Kiar felt the trembling young Shas'la staring at him, and rallied himself to rise and gaze at the carnage of the command post. When suddenly over the refuge of the wall came the leaping figure of a Kroot followed intimately by a lasgun beam.
The Kroot took a moment to collect himself, and saluted the Shas'el saying in broken Tau "my kin lay lifeless, the Gue'la are few", Kiyotto did not respond and I realised he was dead. His peers and Warriors alike respected Shas'el Kiyotto; often relinquishing his XV8 battlesuit for standard warrior armour to farther strengthen the bond with is troops.
The young Shas'la seeing his Shas'el dead was overcome with rage and shouting a curse to the Gue'la he snatched up his pulse rifle and stood, but as he pulled the trigger his still cursing head was cut from his shoulders by a Gue'la marksman, Kiar heard a howl of agony from the command post, the Shas'la's shot had been true his death was not utterly in vain.
Kiar was pulled back to the present by the voice of the lone Kroot his only companion on this field of death "the sun sets" he said. The Kroot had risen to look over the wall numerous times in the dec or so since the young Shas'la's death, but not once had the appearance of its green crested head been greeted by enemy fire. So in the grey twilight without a word Kiar spared a glance at the bodies of Kiyotto and the headless Shas'la now forever young, then he and his last lingering ally began the final assault.
Kiar and the Kroot divided into a pincer movement as they crossed the forty feet of no man's land to the command post. They met with no resistance only the deafening silence of the closing night. Kiar had stalked through half the command post by the time he came across a defender, the only defender! A young Gue'la little more than a boy, standing hands in the air pleading for mercy. Kiar was about to calm the boy and try to inform him he was now a prisoner of war and would come to no harm when from the centre of the boy's chest burst the blade of the Kroot's rifle.
The next morning when the Tau reinforcements arrived Kiar was commended for his bravery and declared a hero. Because of his actions he was later promoted to Shas'ui and given a place in a Stealth team. Now four Tau'cyr later he still awakes every night tormented by the Gue'la boy's dying eyes.