Fiction

A grizzled Wolf keeps watch on the Tau

kepler20f-reworkLying quietly in the tall grass, unmoving, the Space Wolf examined the xeno buildings carefully through a pair of monoculars. Bright white, with clean and uninterrupted lines that rose gracefully into the sky, the structures had an elegance of form that contrasted sharply with the bulky, grandiose architecture of the Imperium.

Perhaps that’s why the Tau buildings made his skin crawl, the Wolf thought. To the sensitive nose of a son of Russ, the buildings even smelled of xeno filth.

The sun was setting, and the shadows grew long. But the Wolf’s work was not yet done. For days, he had circled the xeno compound, recording its layout and tracking troop movements to ensure that the incoming Kill Team would have every detail needed to plan their attack.

The Wolf’s name was Gunnar Stormbrow, and he was no stranger to working behind enemy lines. He’d provided reconnaissance for the Great Wolf himself during the First war of Armageddon, three centuries earlier.

His weathered face told the tale of his long service. Scars crisscrossed his bearded face, and a bionic eye served as a replacement to the natural one ripped out of his skull by a xeno claw during the purge of the Space Hulk Well of Darkness.

Since his arrival on Media III, he’d made sure to stain that face—and his clothing—each day with dirt to ensure he blended in with the surrounding landscape. He’d also brushed bits of grass and twigs into his beard and shoulder-length tresses as he’d crawled repeatedly around the kilometers-long perimeter of the base.

Warhammer 40K blog

Gunnar Stormbrow

Unlike many chapters, the Space Wolves do not use their young cubs as scouts. Instead, those warriors whose personalities prefer the open spaces and isolation of the Fenrisian tundra choose the path of the wolf scout. Many are veterans who have long lost interest in the pack’s boisterous competition for status.

In Stormbrow’s case, his isolation was fueled far more by pride of craft than anything. He’d always had a talent for scouting, for staying concealed against the most alert foe.

He had done well so far on this mission. He’d dropped from orbit in a high-velocity, single-man drop pod, one specially built for covert operations. Alone, with no support among 6 billion traitorous humans and surrounded by nearly 20 regiments of Tau fire warriors, he’d moved unnoticed for days across one of the planet’s most vital military installations.

His skill meant this installation was doomed. Already, he had transmitted a store of military intelligence on troop deployments, unit strengths, and other critical data.  It was invaluable military intelligence that would allow his chapter brothers to bring ruin and devastation to this alien cancer.

His work gladdened his heart. The citizens of Media III had turned their back on the All-Father and pledged their loyalty to the Tau, and he longed for the Kill Team’s attack, when he could rise from the shadows and join in bringing righteous justice to the traitorous human rebels and their xeno allies.

As his mind idly contemplated his efforts, the last light of the sun faded behind the horizon, and the scout’s last task was at hand. Recently, at nightfall, there’d been an increase in vehicle traffic near a white xeno tower on the northern edge of the compound.

It was likely a harmless detail, but the scout didn’t like the uncertainty surrounding this evening activity.  It could be critical to the fate of the upcoming Kill Team mission. Worse, it could indicate an early transport of the xenon technology bound for the Yaisdra Campaign, a prospect that would force him to act alone to stop it—and a result that would likely not end well for the unsupported Wolf.

He had moved into position the previous night. It had taken him seven hours to cross the 400 meters of open meadow to a gully that provided a clear view of the mysterious traffic. He’d laid hidden for the past 14 hours, and now, at least, he would learn what there was to learn.

Sure enough, as soon as darkness took hold over the countryside, the compound below began to stir. Atop a large white tower that dominated the xeno base a string of floodlights snapped on, bathing the surrounding area with a bright, harsh light. A hatch opened at the base of the building, and a squad of traitorous human soldiers appeared, their lasguns raised as they hurried outward and created a perimeter about 50 yards around the entrance.

As if pre-arranged, headlights appeared on the road two kilometers away, moving directly toward the tower.

It took only a few minutes for the approaching vehicles to arrive, with the faint whine that always accompanied the xenos’ anti-gravity technology. Two of the vehicles were transports, known as Devilfish, but the third was something else, more deadly—what appeared to be some kind of battle tank mounting a huge weapon of unfamiliar design.

Another xenon abomination, Stormbrow thought.

A flick of an eyebrow was enough to activate the small pict recorder in his bionic eye. Such a vehicle, he thought, would prove a threat to the incoming Kill Team. It would be important that the team bring a powerful anti-armor weapon.

As the vehicles came to a halt, a squad of Tau fire warriors disembarked from the first Devilfish and circled the second. The second vehicle’s hatch opened, and two ritually dressed Tau stepped out, then turned to assist a third individual.

This one caught the old Wolf’s attention. Despite the shadows caused by the floodlights, Stormbrow could see that this xeno was somehow different. He was taller and leaner than most, and moved with the slow measure of a weak body, and his companions clearly showed deference to this one.

fonteart1Clearly the tall xeno was important. Stormbrow had heard rumors that there was a leadership caste for the Tau, and this individual might well be one. And, if that was the case, its capture might well be a valuable objective for the Kill Team.

But that decision wasn’t his to make, he thought. His superiors would make that decision. His job was complete now, and all that was left to do was wait for the Kill Team to arrive—and then join them in the attack.

Stormbrow rested his chin to the ground and watched the arriving Tau enter the white tower. A day of reckoning was coming.

The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our wargaming adventures in the sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.

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