The Chaos ship slipped undetected through the darkness of space – closing in on its target like a silent eagle in the wind.
Infidius Fang was an experimental escort class ship, it’s usual blistering array of armament had been stripped, as had most of its defense and life support systems. It was left as a fragile hulk, carrying only one crucial cargo system. Its cargo, that took up a significant portion of the lower decks, was a new weapons system; untested and vastly incomprehensible to even the greatest Chaos minds. Technology, stolen by chance, without question or thought of consequence, from the clutches of an Eldar lunar research station.
As it closed in on its target, the elite skeleton crew of Chaos marines fought to keep the weapons temperature constant, while also bringing the craft to a full halt. The moon, Tasurn Cah, lay some 450,000KM straight ahead, in partial shadow of its host planet. It was classed category D4, almost as primitive as you could get. The humanoid populous didn’t even have the technology or sciences of flight, let alone stellar craft detection or deterrents.
Data and planetary readings started pouring into the ‘Demon’s Gate’, the affectionate name the crew had given the weapon. The system was calibrating itself, preparing itself, teaching itself about every contour and fluctuation of Tasurn Cah’s terrain. No, not just the terrain; it had moved onto the atmosphere composition, the electromagnetic planetary shell, the heat signatures, the periodic elements.
It was learning everything in preparation for delivering its payload. A single blast.
Half the marines on board were kept busy keeping the weapon systems cooled, venting heat into the void of space while drawing on thermal sumps to generate super cooled gases. The remaining crew were rerouting the ships inferior power to the datacore, insuring the vital calculations the weapon needed and recorded wouldn’t go offline. The system had been some 50 years in development, the Chaos empire couldn’t afford to miss out on the opportunity of testing the platform. The Demon’s Gate blast was rumored to disrupt organic material at a cellular level, meaning a loss of coherence between neighboring biological cells. All biological systems, planet wide, would instantaneously perish as its inhabitants were liquefied.
All plants. All animals. All life forms.
In a heartbeat.
That was the rumor.
That was today’s goal for the Fang. That was the fate of the peaceful primitive moon in the distance.
Had the crew been on the bridge their remaining systems could have alerted them to the detection of an inbound object on a collision course. It could have magnified the now-missing visual array system to show them the Tau plasma torpedo, glowing silently as it escaped the moons gravitational field. In fact if they had understood the power requirements of the Demon’s Gate, their minuscule remaining ship defenses would still be online and could have attempted to deploy the ships pulse countermeasures.
The torpedo was tracking a perfect arc from the shadows of Tasurn Cah to the starboard engine casing.
With the scanners of the Fang now picking up close to a dozen inbound torpedoes, the Tau cruiser finally punched clear of the moons shadowy region. Cloaked from spectrum sensors and hidden from visual arrays, the experimental craft had no chance of detecting Sha’an’ill until the deadly salvos were already on route.
The Demon’s Gate was now drawing every bit of power from Infidius Fang; it would have continued to draw many times over its limited supply if it could. The ship, now plunged into darkness, sat perfectly silent in the coldness of space. As it sat their, with its crew unaware of the closing Tau weapons, a deep crimson hue was building on the ships crescent shaped firing array.
The Tau commander now watched on her sensor panel; confused as to the nature of the enemy ship that now sat stationary, dark and defenseless out in the void.
However she knew that one less Chaos ship, no matter how small, acting even as bizarrely as this one, was one less for the empire to encounter later.
It was for the Greater Good those torpedoes had been launched.
Destruction of the Chaos will also be for the Greater Good of the Tau empire.
As she watched the square glyphs counting down, measuring the immanent arrival of the plasma to its target, her digital codex finally de-scrambled the low-range energy signature coming from Infidius Fang firing array. The Tau empire had come across this before; but not near here; not in those hands either. As the codex instantly uploaded the information to her helmet, she immediately ordered the self-destruction of the torpedoes.
The Shas’vre weapons operator hesitated as he heard the instruction. The visual read out on his helmet relayed the order perfectly however; the command stood as valid, the unknown reason for the order was irrelevant to him. The order would be followed.
Unaware to him as he now entered the termination codes into his console, other consoles began to light up around the bridge as sensors detected the distinct stellar patterns of close ranged plasma explosions. The order to abort the attack had come too late for the first few torpedoes, their payload now burning through the Fang’s fragile skin, tearing it’s delicate decks apart as if they were stacks of paper in a hurricane.
The Tau commander bolted upright out of her chair; daring the next few seconds not to replay themselves in the same way the first encounter of this device had…
In the distance, crimson lightning now flickered wildly from the Fang’s drifting hulk. The crippled and now unregulated Demon’s Gate was raging out of control. Energy was being drawn from the fabric of space, it was drawing light in on itself, distorting and harvesting it. Nothing short of a miracle would now stop the Gate from going super-critical.
The female Tau commander only stood in disbelief a few more seconds before that miracle failed to occur.
With a brilliant flash of crimson light; the lifeless hulk of the Fang, and the entire Sha’an’ill cruiser as well as its crew, ceased to be.
No wreckage, small or large, was ever recovered from those city sized ships.
Until now, nothing has ever been discovered to shed light on what happened above the moon skies of Tasurn Cah.
Until now, neither Chaos or Tau, know what happened to cause both ships to vanish.
Until now, that is.
For the datacore has started broadcasting it’s emergency tracking beacon. Its time for answers. Its time to recover all that data and use it for our own ends.
In case the two opposing empires weren’t confused enough regarding the legendary story of Tasurn Cah, the events in the depth of space occurred over half a millennia ago!
Where has the wreckage been for 500 years – what went wrong with the Demon’s Gate – only the datacore has the answers.
Tomorrow, we recover the datacore from the outposts of Ketla Tr’n Five, and with it we recover the truth….