With a chilling rush of frozen air, the transporter ship doors slid open to reveal a white-out of snow and ice. The Tau XV8 Battlesuits embarked outwards, their night vision sensors peering into the blizzard that engulfed them on all sides. Visual enhancements, laser scanners and thermal mapping arrays built up an overlaid image of their surroundings onto their suits HUD’s. Silently a XV8 signalled the two weary squads of Fire Warriors to disembark from the hovering vessel, they did so without hesitation. The whole cadre was diverted from their homeward bound trip after a month of training exercises in a nearby star system, they were all exhausted, but they never faulted upon their instructions.
A small squad of Pathfinders jumped down from the boarding ramp just as the transporter fired up its ion rockets and disappeared into the snowy wilderness above them.
The sun would be up in a few hours; and they still had to track the missing datacore. Little was known of Ketla Tr’n Five; although orbital sensors had picked up tiny scrambled signals coming from near the datacores position, so the Tau cadre knew they weren’t alone on this frozen rock.
Shortly before sun rise the Tau cadre assembled on the edge of a high windswept plateau, the beacon on the datacore was emanating from only a short distance away, but so was another signal. A spurious second signal was overlaid over the datacore’s beacon. What was that?! A homing beacon? A secondary distress call? In fact the magnetic reading for this entire plateau were significantly higher than they expected; something was not adding up.
With the wind slowly beginning to die down, Shas’va’el , the newly appointed commander of Fire cadre 62X, raised her motorised left arm and ordered her small Pathfinder squad to scale a tall disused thermal vent. From their, with the snow blindness and darkness soon to disappear, they would provide ample information and support to her troops.
That other signal though, it’s frequency was now increasing rapidly. She knew she should know what that could mean, but her mind was numb from the cold and weary from the training exercises.
She altered her internal suits environment settings and also gave herself a boost of stimulant. This mission was regarded as priority 2, so whatever was on that datacore was important.
The readings from her gravitational sensors were increasing now… not by much, but with the stimulants were now clearing her mind and answers would be coming quick enough.
She turned her head and saw the two 8 Tau strong Fire Warrior squads stood ready in the bleakness of the snow. They didn’t speak to each other, mission silence, the Tau way. The squads would stand their for hours in the freezing cold, scanning the horizon and always being ready to engage, awaiting further orders from Shas’va’el. Equally her bodyguard stood beside her, motionless but carefully covering the Pathfinders as they climbed the icy rungs of the ladder up to the roof of the thermal vent.
Shas’va’el’s attention was diverted to a status report coming in from her missile drone when the ground heaved hard…