A series of Writefaggotry about a Dreadnought and a Tau Battlesuit.
Original story (Writedude)
Dreadnought Cassius stared around the battlefield in dismay.
The gallant crusade of the Black Templars had failed miserably. They had decided to unleash their holy wrath upon the heathen Tau, who had dared to infringe upon their worlds in the name of their godless religion, but they had underestimated the technosorcery of the xenos. Cassius had seen old friends and new recruits alike cut down by unerring plasma fire at the same rate that the Marines had sent the blue-skinned aliens to hell with pure bolter and flame. Now, it seemed, only Cassius was left, his left leg servo damaged by a lucky shot from a Tau scout's heavy weapon and leaving him limping, his blessed armor scarred in dozens of places.
His corpse eyes peered from the viewing slit at the battlefield. The ground had been churned by tank track and gunfire, leaving slippery mud in place of the green fields the Tau had dared desecrate. Bodies of both gallant Templar and filthy xenos carpeted the ground in grotesque attitudes of death, and vehicles of both kinds lay sad and crumpled, dotting the battlefield with columns of smoke and fire. Cassius limped by a Rhino, pierced by a foul railgun, and he averted his eyes from the mess of gore that was rotting in a streak from the exit hole of the projectile.
He was proud, though. Despite the loss of so many of his brethren (which would be avenged in time), the Tau had been driven back to crawl for forgiveness at their master’s feet. They had accomplished that much – this world would never be theirs. And as long as Cassius lived –
A noise made him turn.
A foe! A foe stilled lived, here on this sacred ground of the Templars! It was one of their dreadnoughts, its lithe limbs broken and crippled as he was, pulling its foul form across the field. Its weapons were broken and useless, and Cassius felt some satisfaction at recognizing some of the scorch marks that adorned the shell. The head was gone, revealing its mechanical nature in a fray of broken wires. Perhaps the xenos inside saw another way, through cameras or other technoheresy. Cassius approached the prey, confident of his success.
In truth, though, he was fearful. Never in his long life, incarcerated in the blessed, cold shell that kept him alive, had he fought such an opponent such as this. Their soldiers were weak, true, but their heavier weapons reminded Cassius of the Eldar and their cursed weapons in power. The xenos had even gone so far as to ally with other, filthier aliens, bird-like beasts with primitive weaponry. Meat shields. There had been insects as well, threatening to tear Cassius open until he doused them with blessed promethium. Truly, the Tau were formidable, but not strong enough to defeat the guardians of man.
He was standing over the battlesuit now. It had stopped, lying on its back in a parody of death. Cassius wondered if the alien inside could see him. Curiosity unbecoming of a Marine gripped him – he had to know what was inside. Perhaps there was an alien half-dead and being kept alive in there, like he was. Maybe it was just technosorcery and heretical workings inside. Whatever it was, he had to know. He felt like a techpriest, plunging into bizarre secrets of machines. He clamped an arm around the protruding front of the suit, and with his strength, pulled the armor way in a shriek of metal.
There was an alien inside! Cassius discarded the shorn part of armor and inspected. The alien inside was a typical, foul specimen of their race, a female (Cassius gawped at this foul practice), screaming a protest, an oath, perhaps, in their alien language. She had wounds – blue blood stained her flimsy cloth clothing and the inside of the suit in equal measure. Red hair, he noticed, pulled in their distinctive braid. The suit was nothing special – not like how he worked at all. There appeared to be no controls, then the Dreadnought realized, with a lurch of horror, that there appeared to be a plug of some kind on the back of her neck. Neural plugs were the practice of the Adeptus Mechanicus! This foul race parodied humanity in every way! Cassius raised his huge arm to crush the shrieking worm to paste.
And could not.
He had killed hundreds in his lifetime. He had broken foul Orks into pieces, burned Chaos worshippers with cleansing flame, gunned down foul Eldar witches. In death, he had smashed a Wraithlord into shivers, feeling the scream of the soul-being’s death in his head. He had single-handedly saved a whole village from no less than three Lictors during a Tyranid incursion, forever winning the respect of the people. He had killed hundreds of this xeno whore's comrades not so long ago, without hesitation and remorse.
And yet he could not kill this one.
He lowered his arm. The Tau’s face was streaked with tears, and she muttered some prayer to... Who did she pray to? The Tau had no gods! Did she pray to her masters, who sat in comfort behind the lines and ordered devotion and death in equal measure? Cassius, ignoring a rude comparison to the brave forces of the Imperial Guard, stared at the slender, oh-so-fragile form of the alien, the form he had been told to hate and fear. He tried to bring up an old reserve of hatred for everything that bit at the heels of the Imperium. He wanted to kill the wretched xenos. He did.
A change of tactics was needed. Yes. He would pretend to walk away, let the alien think she was spared, and when she was escaping, turn and fry her with cleansing Promethieum. Yes, that was what he would do. A sound plan that would bring a sacrifice for the Emperor, a burning corpse to commemorate his glory.
Cassius abruptly turned and limped away from the fallen suit. His ears listened for her scrabble of retreat as he stopped some distance away, the prefect range to bathe her in fire and glorious heat. He waited. His patience was rewarded as the sound of hooves on metal reached him. The pilot was pulling herself out. Quick, turn and burn her for the Emperor and for vengeance for your fallen brothers! He whipped around on his torso servo, bringing his arms to bear.
The Tau woman flinched. She had moved towards him, not away! Did she intend to fight somehow? She had no weapons on her person. She was leaning over, clutching her side in pain as she walked towards him. This was the most foolhardy charge – nay, limp – Cassius had ever seen! He stared as she came closer. 15 feet. 10. 5. His training screamed to kill, to crush the foul alien underneath the boot of the Emperor! Kill the foul xenos, it hollered! Do what is right. She was close enough to touch him now! Quick, do so-
The Tau female hugged him, wrapping her arms around the coffin that was set in the armor. Cassius’s real body, under the armor, flinched as she pressed herself to his shell. She desecrated his form, the sacred coffin of Cassius, who was the Black Knight of Lypmhos V, the Slayer of Many! How dare she?! HOW DARE SHE?! KILL HER!! NOW!!
He did not.
Her eyes sought his. They met, her startling blues and his cold, fading brown ones through the viewing slit. She whispered something, a thanks perhaps. The warm whisper of her breath passed through the slit, giving his brow a warm tickle. It was the first warmth he had felt since he had been in the coffin, one that was not from fire or techpriest instrument. Then she slipped away, turning and limping away from him, towards some unknown horizon, back to her camp, maybe. The hulk of Cassius remained still as she left.
Part of the Dreadnought felt shock, horror. He had committed some sort of heresy, he was sure. He would need to atone somehow. His mind cast for ways in which to redeem himself. He would have to shut himself off in a hundred year slumber, perhaps, never awakening unless the situation was truly dire, or until the foul taint of xenos had decayed from his body. Yes, that was it. He would sleep, until he was fit to walk in the light of the stars again and work for the great God Emperor on his throne.
And yet, as he settled down to his self-inflicted punishment right where he stood, his form crouching and becoming still, his last thought was of the Tau girl he has spared. Her eyes, her hair, her wounds, the thank you, the warmth of her breath.
And the thought, that someday, he may be repaid for his act of kindness.
++Hydnos Crusade++12 years later++
As the temporary coalition of the Black Templar Hydnos Crusade and the Tau 245th Expeditionary force converged on the Tyranid Hive, Dreadnought Cassius was startled in his advance through the jungle by a Ravener. The chittering, snake-like thing closed on him, promising death with each spastic flick of its claws, and then shrieked as sudden gouts of flame bathed it in light, cooking the animal and shrivelling its flesh.
Cassius turned, and saw a battlesuit, standing tall, a mark of a Shas’vre on its armor, its comrades crouched and watching him carefully. The leader approached, slowly, and hugged the dreadnought with its mechanical arms. A familiar phrase floated from speakers on the suit, a phrase he had heard ten years ago.
He had been repaid.
Alt. End (Iron Handed)
he turned, facing the battlesuit squadron.
Cassius' vision blurred as bolter rounds exploded against the battlesuits armored carapaces sending shards of twisted and broken metal spinning off into the surrounding terrain, he felt cold as in the bottom of his vision his battle brothers came into view spewing death from the end of their Boltguns, Cassius felt as though his vital fluid was draining form his long preserved corpse as he saw the Shas'vre being brought low by Brother Lectus' Rocket launcher, the cockpit a skeleton of twisted metal, the ragged remains of a limp body barely holding onto life still visible through the broken carapace.
Cassius could do nothing, his armored shell not responding to his touch for the first time, all he could do was watch, that was until his vision cut out and he lost consciousness to the sound of death as blue fire erupted from behind a hive tower and impacted his battle brothers chests.
He awoke to the sound of power tools, much like those used by the Adeptus Mechanicus, yet they sounded different, his vision flickered as he saw the blue tau xenos on his shell, carefully cutting into him, and across what seemed to be a hangar a tank, a large glass tank filed with a translucent liquid, and through the liquid he could see a battered blue form.
Cassius lost consciousness again, and dreamt of a life never lived, constantly interrupted by pain and suffering.
He awoke, not to the sound of the Adepts chants or the rituals that normally preceded his awakening but to a strange new feeling, he could feel, he could move, for the first time since his interment in a Dreadnought he could move again, he could sit up.
He looked down at his body, and instead of the hull of a dreadnought he saw shining metallic legs and a new artificial body, he began to stand, his new augmentations taking the weight of his body, he arose, and began to walk steadily to what appeared to be a door, and as he reached it it opened, a strange creature stood there, like him it was a mixture of flesh and metal, yet it was... blue.
It started calling to him, and then he realized, it was the beautiful sound he had heard twice before, and he reached it and it greeted him. The figure guided him through what must have been another door until they finally reached what must have been an open observation deck, he walked forward feeling the wind on his face for the first time in countless centuries, it was wonderful, so wonderful, he collapsed onto the floor with contentment and the Tau female sat down next to him and wrapped its arms around his metallic chest, and they sat there, waiting and watching, and as the dual suns of the planet rose they sat, in complete bliss, holding one another as a new life dawned for both of them...
Subprocessor DM's version
Brother Iratus swung forward on his stubby legs, mowing down dozens of blue soldiers with a sustained burst from his Assault Cannon. As oncoming fire scorched his armor, Iratus remarked loudly to himself on how pitiful Xenos weapons were, while waddling steadily forward and sweeping the battered ground with his Flamer. The Tau fell back continuously, faltering before the Dreadnought's unrelenting assault, unable to bring the well-armored machine down without heavy support. Though he was alone, his Battle Brothers having fallen long before, Iratus refused to give in, trusting in the Emperor to guide his fury to those most deserving. Rows upon rows of Xenos fell to his shells, rapidly becoming precious as his magazine ran dry. Sniper teams, bogged down in the tank-churned, bloody ground, were gunned down by Iratus's Storm Bolter as he climbed the hill he had marked for conquest; he pledged to the Emperor his last stand on the high point as his ammunition was expended.
The Assault Cannon, its barrels glowing red from constant fire, stopped spinning. The Storm Bolter fell silent without rounds, and even the Flamer ceased to offer the light of its holy flame. The only weapons left to Iratus were his arms and his legs, and as he climbed the hill of his triumph, his armor scored and cratered by the fruitless efforts of the enemies of man, he saw his doom.
Thousands of soldiers, well-armed, with clean armor, unbroken ranks, and unchallenged resolve, awaited him at the bottom of the hill. Their rifles and carbines pointed upwards toward his mighty bulk, while drones of all kinds floated in a pattern about his shoulders, encircling him. It was not these meager things that bothered him, however. With the Emperor's strength behind him, Iratus would wade through their useless pillars of fire, and grind them into the earth, one by one. But he knew that he would never get close enough to unleash his fist upon the face of the foul Xenos, for they had brought their most expensive toys. They had brought their own ridiculous parody of man's ultimate sacrifice and most holy machine. They had brought Battlesuits.
The suits were lined up in formation, directing their heavy weapons at the scarred and staggering Dreadnought standing on the hill. Their shots would tear him apart through sheer volume alone, wearing him down long before he could reach them. He was finished, as he had been so many centuries before. In death Iratus had continued to serve, gladly, for his life was not his own, but the Emperor's, to do with as he pleased. As a living weapon Iratus was nothing more than a thing, a construct to be wielded by the Imperium as a bludgeon to break the backs of the vileness that threatened it. From his walking tomb the hardened Space Marine had dispensed justice for hundreds of years, but his time had come. His last stand, on a world claimed by the upstart Tau, out of ammo, and out of time. He raised his fist, and shouted:
I PURGE THEE IN HIS NAME
And the enemy line exploded.
Hundreds upon hundreds of shells detonated above the heads of the worthless Tau, shattering their armor into splinters and setting them aflame. The drones fell in seconds to concentrated fire, their thin, poorly-made armor no match for the holy Bolter and consecrated Lascannon. The Battlesuits whirled about, spraying shots wildly all over the battlefield, even as the unerring aim of the Brother Marines tore them to shreds with the Emperor's Will. Thunderfires far beyond the battlezone belched flame and destruction with accuracy unrivaled, raining steel and Promethium down on the Xenos position. As Iratus charged down the hill, lost in the glory of his fight, a single Land Raider punched its way through the terrain, its weight too great to allow it to tilt. Two squads of Marines poured out of it, rolling backwards as the Raider crushed burning and melted corpses in its wake. The Marines, easily regaining their balance, stomped forward, unleashing hell upon the scattered survivors of the assault.
Iratus had reached the enemy, despite his self-defeating thoughts. He cursed himself for his lack of faith, and prayed to humanity's protector to forgive him his transgression, and allow him to redeem himself. With his powered fist he brought the Xenos low, slamming his spent Cannon into a crippled suit and crushing survivors into bloody pulp. He reveled in it, relishing the feeling of being free, no longer needing to soak up fire with his massive form, able to indulge in the mess of close combat like he had in his younger years. He laughed in victory as the senseless, demoralized Tau fell before his armored shell, pleading with whatever forces they worshiped to save them from his wrath. Iratus marched on, diligently giving all what was their due, even as his Brothers approached, ushering those remaining into the grasping hands of the Warp. His vox crackled and sputtered for the first time in days, carrying him the words of his brethren soldiers.
"Iratus, are you alright?"
The Dreadnought held one of the blue creatures up, displaying him to the tens of injured and disabled wastes of flesh that remained. As the poor thing screamed, Iratus crushed him, and shouted back:
THE EMPEROR PROTECTS
The Dreadnought's Brothers easily secured the field, sparing no measure of force while they returned the Tau to their rightful place in the pits of the earth. Iratus refused any aid of any sort until all of the Xenos had been felled, despite the frustration this caused the Techmarines, who felt his pain. Days and days of continuous wear and damage had taken their toll, but the sarcophagus-bound Marine felt none of it at this moment. He stalked the mounds of bodies like a young man, picking them apart with precision and removing those that still lived. His Brothers left him to his work, and he finally reached the Battlesuits that had formed the back of the line. He inspected their crude, splintered forms, laughing to himself over their unsophisticated copies of superior Imperial technology. Most of them had been smashed quite thoroughly by the artillery barrage, but a few remained more-or-less intact. Tearing them open like ration cans, Iratus found that the pilots inside had already perished, without exception. And he moved to the last, lying on its back, its arms and legs torn asunder. He flipped it over, and found its cockpit to be open, and empty.
Iratus peered through the armor slit that served as his eyes, searching for the suit's lost occupant. The thought of missing a target, even one, bothered him greatly. At long last, he discovered a set of soft footprints in the mud, almost too light to see. He followed them a short distance, noticing that they were uneven, probably due to a limp. The Dreadnought finally came to their end, where a tiny blue Xenos sat shivering in the dirt, her arms pulling her knees to her chest. She looked up at the mighty machine, her red eyes without expression, and looked back to the ground, pulling her legs closer. Iratus raised his fist, thankful to the Emperor for allowing him to find the last of his enemies, but he stopped. He told himself it was because he wanted to savor her pain, to make her pay for the unabsolvable sin of killing his own Brothers, but he knew in his lifeless heart that it was a lie. His fist inched closer, but it would not drop. He could not bring himself to kill a being so helpless, so obviously unable to defend itself. The rage and fury of battle faded, and Iratus felt himself calm for the first time since planetfall. His fist lowered, though he did not tell it to do so. Praying to the Emperor, that in his eternal wisdom and mercy he could find fit to forgive him, Iratus activated his vox.
WE ARE CLEAR
He lied, the least of his sins. He rationalized it, telling himself that the broken thing before him could not possibly survive another hour, let alone long enough to give its short existence meaning. But he spared it, and he did it willingly, no matter if he accepted it or not.
The Brother Dreadnought returned to his fellows, leaving the Tau pilot to crawl in the dirt until it perished from the elements. He attempted, through the most rigorous meditation, to forget her, and to make himself believe that he left her to die slowly, to torture her. But the Emperor would not let him forget. For years, through incredible purges, unending battles, endless voyages, he remembered her in his dreams. It was not until he and his Chapter faced the Tau again that he felt he had any chance of erasing his transgression.
When Iratus made the drop he felt as a new man, filled with righteous fury and fully loaded for war. He killed countless Xenos with a glad heart and a blank mind, never once thinking of his crime as he murdered her fellows without a second thought.
Finally, he came to a hill, where fortified Snipers were picking off his Brothers with an ease he could not allow. Flamer and Bolter broke them easily, and as he climbed the hill to finish them completely, he felt vindicated. Despite his uncleanliness, he still served, and kept his faith. But that feeling did not last. As he reached the top of the hill, he came face-to-face with a lone Battlesuit, waiting for him. Its Railguns pointed at his stocky body, easily able to tear him to pieces at such close range. The Assault Cannon began spinning, but Iratus was suddenly jarred out of his focus. The Battlesuit spoke, three words that Iratus recognized as Gothic, even through the pilot's heavy accent.
WE. ARE. CLEAR.
And the suit backed down, walking down the hill without firing a shot. Iratus resisted the urge to hit it in the back, despite the voice in his head screaming at him to redeem himself.
The Brother Dreadnought left that planet a confused and flustered man, and for the rest of his life he could not get the memory out of his head. An honorable Tau. He laughed at the thought, and it warmed his heart. Perhaps man did not have as many enemies as it thought?