Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Wurrshuv's Revenge - Week 8

Wurrshuv's Revenge - An ATT Campaign 

Week 8 

Learning from their previous operational and strategic errors, the Tau have been quick to capitalise on the onset of the Lake Season, with esteemed commanders Shas'el Kiv'rai'ka'nan and Shas'O'Tash'var Len'li being placed in command of Operation MONSOON - a full scale offensive by Tau Empire forces to seize the Ork supply lines in the Mo'Hav Plains. The operation is extremely large in scope, and involves many of the remaining Tau Empire assets. If it succeeds however, it will cut the Ork forces in half and ensure a decisive resolution to the conflict. With the Tau command structure steadily improving, the ATT Shas'ar'tol has growing confidence that Operation MONSOON will end in triumph. 

The war in space has returned to the same equilibrium as previous months, with the Tau fleet struggling to contain the Ork Freebootaz and Roks. The Tau have reestablished a secure hold on the reinforcement corridors through the system, and are able to intercept any Roks entering the primary biosphere, but the outer reaches of the system are still firmly in Ork hands. The Kor'ar'tol admiralty is especially concerned with a growing discrepancy in the numbers of Ork shipping encountered. The unsuccessful search and destroy operations in the outer reaches have shown the Tau the full scale of the Ork presence in the system, yet the Ork attacks on the Tau reinforcement convoys have been far less than what such a buildup would otherwise allow. The Air Caste has deep fears that the Orks may in fact be massing their warships for an attack with overwhelming force to secure space superiority. At the behest of Kor'O'T'au Kais'Y'eldi'Aloh a network of Tau orbitals are now in the process of being deployed along the Tau reinforcement corridors and at key sites in the system's primary biosphere. 

Situation Updates - All Sectors 


Tau forces remained boxed in at their foothold in the He'Sho Seas. Several attempts to break through the Ork cordon around them have been made, but all thus far have failed. The numbers of the Tau landing force in the region continue to slowly but steadily dwindle, while more and more Orks arrive at the He'Sho Seas front every day. The corsairs and bounty hunters under Wurrshuv's employ continue to be a major challenge to the Tau commanders and their own shrinking pool of allies. A growing number of the Tau commanders on the He'Sho Seas front are also beginning to fear that Wurrshuv may deploy superheavy Stompas and Gargants against them. Such war machines could prove devastating to the thinly stretched Tau forces, with a well-placed assault fragmenting their foothold into isolated pockets. 

Nonetheless, news from the adjacent Mo'Hav Plains has given new faith to the battered Tau air-landing forces. If Operation MONSOON succeeds, it could cut off the Orks in the Mo'Hav plains and allow the Tau to relieve their Enclave comrades in the He'Sho Seas, or provide an opportunity for the air-landing forces to break out and link up with the advancing Tau forces in the Mo'Hav Plains. Many Tau in the He'Sho Seas now believe that their best hope is to survive long enough for Operation MONSOON to reach its objectives. 

Ork Points: 83
Tau Points: 17


The forces of Shas'O'Tash'var Len'li have succeeded in linking up with those of Shas'el Kiv'rai'ka'nan, and the two Tau commanders are now in the process of consolidating their position and completing the final preparations for Operation MONSOON. The first reinforcements intended for Operation MONSOON, sixteen batteries of Tracer Missile Carriers assigned to the offensive by the ATT Shas'ar'tol, have already arrived, and more Tau troops are expected to arrive shortly after the final requisition orders are completed and forwarded to to the higher levels of Tau command. 

Tau forces under the command of Shas'el Kiv'rai'ka'nan have engaged the first lead elements of Ork forces dispatched to recover the disabled Tanka they have positioned themselves around, defeating them in detail in a series of ambushes. Tau units led by Shas'O'Tash'var Len'li meanwhile have begun missions to sabotage the Ork road infrastructure. Further forays into the Mo'Hav Plains are proving difficult, as the Orks have extensively mined many of the major roadways and likely axes of advance through the region. Roadside explosives, often improvised from surplus supplies, are encountered at every turn and it is now readily apparent that the Orks have set traps everywhere during their occupation of the area. The Tau positions also remain vulnerable to Ork counterattacks from multiple directions, and Ork forces attacking from Test Range Ekko in the south-west will see the Tau foothold severely tested while forces are marshalled for Operation MONSOON. 

Ork Points: 78
Tau Points: 22

Wurrshuv's Krunch - ORK CONTROLLED 

The Ork air forces on M-88 are beginning to adapt to the changing weather of the Lake Season. Simple but effective instruments for determining the speed and direction of winds have been installed at Ork airfields, and the Greenskins are learning quickly how to judge weather conditions. In the periods of fair weather between rain spells, the Ork fighta-bommers surge to the skies in full, attacking Tau positions with overwhelming force before returning to their bases as the rain returns. These brief but intense air raids have been compared to the violent thunderstorms of the Lake Season by a number of more sophisticated Tau observers. 

The Ork mining operations have also continued unabated, with Ork aircraft and artillery scattering high-density minefields across more and more Tau territory. The Orks are proving to be adept at locating Tau counter-stealth sensors and seeding the surrounding area with both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines. Routes identified by the Orks as Tau supply lines are prioritised, but any rear echelon area can find itself mined. 

The first Ork Gargants entirely constructed on M-88 have become operational and left their construction sites in the Krunch region. These towering behemoths have been observed by Tau orbital and aerial surveillance making all speed towards the Tau positions in the He'Sho Seas and Mo'Hav Plains. It is expected they will arrive at the front lines in a matter of weeks if not days. Their larger Mega-Gargant cousins are also nearing completion. 

After over a month of hard work. Wurrshuv has finally unveiled the latest of his ventures - mass media. It is a network of electric speaker towers that covers the entirety of the Ork-held territory on M-88. These speaker towers have been constructed in all Ork fortresses and settlements on the surface, and large numbers of mobile 'Speaka Wagonz' have been deployed to the front-lines. Each settlement or unit of Speaka Wagons forms its own self-contained network, connected by various cables. These speakers relay sound played on tapes at a central studio in Ork settlements or from the vehicle itself in mobile examples. 

These speaker towers have begun broadcasting news, Wurrshuv's orders and community messages to local Greenskins as well as popular Ork music (especially in the 'Evy Metal and Goff Rokk genres), and their transmissions are announced by hired Ork shoutas. The speaker tower network has also become Wurrshuv's chief means of propaganda, and they now relay bombastic reports of Ork success - the opening story on their activation being the recent crushing Ork victory in the Saal'vesa training grounds. In some larger, more developed parts these speaker towers are accompanied by large video screens, providing a visual element to accompany the audio. Ork audiences across Wurrshuv's domain have been enthralled at the spectacle of listening to the voices of Wurrshuv and his subordinate chieftains blasting in the air and watching footage of destroyed battlesuits and grav-tanks and fleeing Tau in the south, often accompanied by rousing musik and pyrotechnic displays. Needless to say, this has had an extremely invigorating effect on the Greenskins, and Ork morale has soared. 

Ork Points: 100
Tau Points: 0

Note: Due to heavy Ork defences and overwhelming numbers of Orks in the area, Tau players may not report games in this region.


- Recording of Wurrshuv, announcing the activation of the Ork speaker system on M-88

Training Ground Saal'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED

Following their catastrophic defeat near the border of the Saal'vesa training grounds, the ATT ORBIT cadres have retreated several hundred miles, hounded by pursuing Ork forces at every turn, until finally reaching refuge at the Tau forward base known as Border Outpost J-117. The proximity of the installation and its defensible infrastructure made it an ideal rallying point, and the shattered remnants of the ORBIT cadres have begun to converge at this location to lick their wounds. 

Seeing an excellent opportunity to permanently neutralise a number of prized Tau formations in one strike, any available Ork forces within the vicinity of Border Outpost J-117 were prepared for an assault on the outpost to finish off the surviving ORBIT remnants. The flooded and muddy conditions of the Lake Season made it difficult for the Orks to mobilise much of the wheeled vehicles that form the bulk of their mechanised forces, and so a large force based on foot infantry was formed up to storm the Tau base. 

The Tau were able to inflict heavy losses on the attacking Ork hordes, using a network of shield drones inspired by those used in the He'Sho Seas offensive to protect against the worst of the Ork firepower. Nonetheless, the overwhelming numbers of the Orks came close to overrunning the base, and the surviving ORBIT commanders were forced to call in the last of the remaining Tau air support in the region in order to break the Ork attack. In the face of effective Tau air attacks, the Ork waves were broken and the Greenskins withdrew. 

It has been claimed that Wurrshuv himself was present at the battle, observing incognito while disguised as regular Big Mek in Mega Armour, a piece of equipment that Wurrshuv is known to typically avoid using. Exactly what Wurrshuv's intentions were is unknown. Some theorise that he may have been field testing new equipment, as descriptions of the battle suggest that none of his trademark wargear was on his person throughout the engagement. Regardless, such claims do match a number of unconfirmed sightings of Wurrshuv reported throughout the Saal'vesa region. All descriptions appear to indicate that Wurrshuv is searching for something, but exactly what he seeks remains a mystery... 

The successful defence of Border Outpost J-117 has given the ORBIT forces valuable time in which to regroup and recover, but they have left many of their best warriors dead, dying or prisoner at the border. It has also allowed the retreating Ork forces in the Saal'vesa region to link up with follow-on waves and resume their attacks on the Empire Sector in strength. The Tau public remains deeply shaken in their confidence, and many citizens of the Tau Empire following the conflict now associate the ORBIT cadres with the tactical blunder and subsequent major defeat rather than their successes from earlier in the fighting. 

Ork Points: 27
Tau Points: 73

"See? Deeze Goff wannabeez ain't so tuff! Let's get 'em Ladz!"

-  Nob Ogslag, during the assault on Outpost J-117

Training Centre Or'vesa - TAU CONTROLLED 

Combat in the northern Or'vesa region has once again become a grinding stalemate. The Tau troops that have arrived in the last week have learnt quickly in the merciless environment that the Enclave Sector has become, with those who do not adapt quickly meeting a brutal end at the hands of the battle-hardened Greenskins rampaging in the area. Much of the compromised Tau communications network in the region has now been secured, but many of these sites have now found themselves cut off by Ork advances. Tau counterattacks have stalled much Ork progress, but the Orks of the Northern Raiders still retain an enormous jagged salient they have carved into the Or'vesa region over the course of the conflict, beginning at Wurrshuv's Krunch and plunging deep into the areas surrounding Training Centre Or'vesa. This salient is known affectionately by the Northern Raiders as 'Da Fang' from its distinctive shape, and thus far all attempts to eliminate or cut off this salient have ended in failure. 

Ork warbands continue to flood into the Or'vesa region, drawn there by promises of carnage and freedom from Wurrshuv's iron-fisted command. Wurrshuv's Tech-Nob and Spekta enforcers remain ever-present however, and no warboss who wilfully denies Wurrshuv tribute survives for long. The network of speaker towers Wurrshuv and his Mek acolytes have constructed is present in the northern Or'vesa region too, supplementing the many WAAAAAAGH banners and Ork idols that have sprung up across Da Fang. Amongst the newest warbands to arrive are the notorious Snakebites known as 'Da Green Mambaz'. Feared across the Galactic Southeast, these natives of Ork-infested deathworlds have readily joined in competing for Tau trophies with the other major Snakebite forces in the North, and are proving to be every bit as deadly as Old Smashafist's armies and the Gnarlborrow Boyz. 

Ork Points: 35
Tau Points: 65


Despite their advantage in the treacherous weather of the Lake Season, the Tau air forces on M-88 are now all but spent. Though the Air Caste has continued to fight bravely in the skies, they simply no longer have the numbers necessary to challenge the Orks in the air, with far too many of their scarce aircraft and pilots being squandered by Tau commanders in large-scale operations over heavy Ork activity. After recent actions in the Empire Sector, Tau estimates indicate that a single squadron of Sunshark bombers are now the only remaining operational combat aircraft below Manta weight that the Tau have in the entire Saal'vesa region. 

The Guards Cadres on M-88 have reached their forward deployment locations in the Saal'vesa region, from which they can engage in multiple operations. Nominally the entire contingent of Guards Cadres has been assigned in support of Operation MONSOON, in which case they will move into the Mo'Have Plains with the rest of the forces gathered for this offensive, and a number of Guards Cadres have already broken off from the main force and are en-route to join the forces of Shas'el Kiv'rai'ka'nan and Shas'O'Tash'var Len'li, including the 5th Vior'la Guards Mobile Strike Cadre, the 8th Vior'la Guards Mobile Strike Cadre, the 12th Bork'an Guards Guards Heavy Support Cadre and the 14th Bork'an Guards Heavy Support Cadre. The remainder of the 72 Guards Cadres deployed to M-88 are standing by to await mission confirmation. 

The latest reinforcement convoys to reach M-88 have included a supply of specialist long-range missiles, counterstrike missiles and counterstrike missile components, all requisitioned by Shas'O'T'au Kais'Ka'Eoro'Da'Anuk for the Guards Cadres on M-88 in anticipation of the imminent combat they are about to see. It has also included a number of unknown objects, carried in sealed containers. Only the highest levels of the Tau Coalition Command on M-88 know the contents of these mysterious containers, but they are marked with a number of bold warning signs suggesting exotic particle hazards may be held within. This arrival has coincided with that of a number of additional Special Insertion Threat Containment Teams on M-88, and it is believed by many that the two arrivals may be connected, but information surrounding this development remains sketchy at best...

Ork Points: 0
Tau Points: 100

Note: Due to the extensive Tau defence networks in place within this region, Ork players may not report games in this territory.

Ork Campaign Points: 4 
Tau Campaign Points: 4

Shas'vre'T'au Mont'yr'Nan'Cova cautiously strode along the winding path through the tall sand-coloured savannah grasses that danced back and forth in the wind. He was very careful to pick his way around the fluid muddy shores of the seasonal lake which sprawled across the landscape to the right of his team, as the Tau knew that any steps in the mud would leave tracks that a sharp-eyed observer could use to find him, fatally undermining the concealment of his stealthsuit. It was a detail that would not occur to many, but the veteran Shas'vre knew from experience that small details like that were the difference between life and death for a stealth team. This was doubly true when acting independently as Nan'Cova's team were now, ranging far from the 42nd T'au Guards, Nan'Cova's parent cadre, in order to flush out any ambushes along their route of march through the Saal'vesa training grounds. 

Nazduff floated motionless in the icy embrace of the lake his mob of Spektaz had hidden themselves in, only his eyes and nostrils protruding from the surface. Innumerable small creatures wriggled and writhed through the water, some evading the waterfowl and wading birds that hunted them for sustenance, others chasing those that fled. A prickling ticklish sensation began to migrate up Nazduff's flank as a Lake Scorpion attempted to negotiate the obstacle it suddenly found in its way. Nazduff would have to be careful when he got out - he had learnt that the Lake Scorpions could not cause any serious harm to his kind, but they were still ded 'urty. None of the wildlife in the lake seemed remotely fazed by the band of Orks suspended in their midst, poised like crocodiles at the lake surface, which was just how Nazduff wanted it. After all, if the animals were disturbed it might betray their presence to the Tau on the lake's edge that they were watching. 

Nan'Cova stood and gazed over the lake. This area was seeing a brief respite from the heavy rains which plagued the Lake Season, and so the skies were completely clear as the sun set over the tranquil open wilderness that stretched beyond the edge of Nan'Cova's vision. The sunset was as brilliant as any that could be found on M-88, and it was mimicked by an immaculate partner on the mirror-clear water of the lake as it shrunk down towards the horizon. The scene was underscored by the beautifully desolate accompaniment of nature as the wind raced across the landscape and birds slung notes at one another. Nan'Cova wished that he could witness the moment in its full colour glory, instead of the lurid false-colour imagery of his stealth battlesuit's sensors. 

Nazduff stared at the Tau on the edge of the lake, scrutinising this quarry as it stood looking out over the lake. For a moment Nazduff had feared the Tau might locate him, but the figure remained motionless. Even better, Nazdruff felt the Lake Scorpion leave his form, abandoning its quest to find a way around the cloaked Nob. That would be one less thing to worry about when the time came. Nazduff peered at the Tau and its compatriots as they probed and scoured the lakeside, as oblivious to the Spektaz as the animals were. Evidently they were not looking in Orange like Nazdruff's Boyz were. The other Spektaz were right, it was an excellent colour for hiding from the Tau, though Nazdruff could not fathom why. Nonetheless, he remained content to survey the unwitting Tau through the acid tangerine hues of his looted stealth battlesuit optics. 

Nan'Cova peered again over the lake as he began his assessment of the area. Nothing seemed out of place, but his experience had taught him never to take peaceful areas on the front lines at face value. This was especially true in the conflict on M-88, as the Ores'la special forces had proven adept at seamlessly blending into the environment. A sudden gust of wind made the Shas'vre thankful for the climate controls of his battlesuit's sealed interior environment, which kept him at a blissfully comfortable temperature no matter how hard the wind might bite. The enhanced environmental protection and life support systems were one advantage of the XV-25 stealthsuit that often went overlooked by warriors, even Nan'Cova himself at times. The Tau watched as the wind made sheets of rippling waves that glided over the water to the shore, trundling along the surface until- 

Nan'cova froze. There, not too far from the edge of the lake, he could see an unmistakable patch where the ripples broke around a phantom object. Nan'cova knew it could only mean one thing, that there was a cloaked object in that place. Now came the real challenge. The fact that Nan'cova could not see what was causing the disturbance meant that whatever was there was cloaked on the current spectrum his battlesuit's sensors were looking through. Nan'cova knew that there would have to be at least one spectrum that the object was not cloaked on, as otherwise it would be impossible to locate and, if it was a warrior, would be unable to perceive its surroundings. The trouble was that Nan'cova did not know which spectrum it was visible on, and it could be any one of over a dozen that Nan'cova was currently cloaked on himself. If he guessed incorrectly, it would give away his position while still leaving the adversary hidden from him. Nan'cova was currently looking through magnetic resonance, so he could at least rule that one out. With the terrified calm of someone disarming a bomb, the Shas'vre activated the vision mode menu and one by one began to carefully cycle through different spectra...

Nazduff wondered what the Tau was thinking as it stood motionless in front of him, the cluster of eyes on its armour staring straight into his own optics. The Ork could not help but find it funny that the Tau was looking straight into his eyes without any clue that he was there. Truly Wurrshuv's Stelf Gubbinz were a miracle of tekky know-wotz. It was then that the Tau vanished from sight, and Nazduff's amusement with it. Not only did it mean that the Tau had Stelf Gubbinz of its own, it meant that the Tau had spotted Nazduff or one of his Boyz. Nazduff screamed and raged inside as he slowly inched his free hand down and carefully retrieved a stikkbomb from his utility belt. He had almost got the weapon to the surface of the water when the Tau shot back into view and levelled its weapon at him. The moment Nazduff saw the barrel of a gun in front of him all thought left his head, and the Ork lost himself to animal instincts. In a single primal instant Nazduff burst from his hiding place, ripped the arming pin from the stikkbomb with his teeth and hurled it at the Tau with all his might, lunging to the side and towards the edge of the lake as the grenade left his hand. 

Nan'Cova was barely able to open a channel to the rest of his team before the stikkbomb came flying at his head, detonating in a flash of overwhelming brilliance and a shock-wave that sent him stumbling backwards, his stealthsuit's audio dampeners struggling to contain the deafening percussive thunderclap of the explosion. The blast did little more than leave the stealthsuit's armour plating speckled with pockmarks from the shrapnel, but it did disorient Nan'Cova enough for his quarry to displace. Fortunately the Ores'la was still using the same spectrum for vision, and Nan'Cova could easily see the hulking monstrosity as it stormed out of the water, its comrades following suit in a frenzy of activity that left the lake as an explosion of splashing water. 

"All elements! Fire on my target! Enemy contact!" Nan'Cova barked through the team comm-net, "They're in the lake! I have 15 Ores'la in track, equipped with cloaking fields. Set to vision mode 8!" 

Fusion blasts and plasma pulses filled the air around Nazduff's head as he threw himself onto the shore, stitching into the water in a whirlwind of sizzling steam as they struck the lake. Three of Nazduff's Boyz didn't make it, multiple hits ripping them apart in hideous sprays of gore that stained the lake with deep green blood. They were onto him now! Nazduff had to act fast. He lunged onto the relatively dry ground and flipped through the colour dial on his optic goggles, settling on Purple. Purple made sense, it was the sneakiest colour after all. It would have to do. Nazduff dived low and rolled away from the lake, before rising to a crouch. He gave the signal to his Boyz to switch their Stelf Gubbinz to Purple, then wildly gestured at where the Tau were and signalled his gunners to start laying down suppression fire. Then he drew his slugga, shook his weapons dry, then banged the slugga on his power klaw to activate it. 

Nan'Cova cursed as he landed. The Ores'la had vanished just as he was cruising in the air on his jetpack, displacing with the rest of his team after their initial volley. He needed to find them again quickly, and ideally without them spotting his team if they hadn't already. The Tau had just started cycling through the vision modes available to him when the Ores'la made themselves known on their own. At once two violent muzzle flashes burst into life as a pair of Ores'la opened up on Nan'Cova's team with heavy weapons, blanketing the earth with high-calibre death. Nan'Cova's warriors responded immediately, spraying the vicinity of the flashes with a hail of plasma from their burst cannons before soaring into the air on their jetpacks. For a brief instant Nan'Cova thought they might have eliminated the Ores'la, but then another brutally vivid muzzle flash burst into life a few more tor'lek away from the lake, sweeping Nan'Cova's position with automatic fire. The Shas'vre winced as the interior of his battlesuit resounded with metallic thuds from shots bouncing across its armoured exterior. The Tau did not need much more to guess what was happening; the two Ores'la that had opened fire were now taking turns covering for each other while they moved into position. Judging from the position of the last muzzle flash Nan'Cova suspected that they were trying to swing around the flanks of his team and trap them against the lake. He could not help but admire the elegant simplicity of the tactics the Ores'la employed - after all, the simpler a plan, the fewer things that could go wrong with it. 

No sooner had the first Ores'la ceased fire than his partner opened fire on the Tau again, this time a few tor'lek behind where they had begun their attack. This puzzled Nan'Cova, as it did not seem to match with the typical behaviour he had observed in the Ores'la - they were fearless on the attack, always advancing and never giving ground if they didn't have to. Even with the casualties they had already sustained, they still outnumbered the Tau two to one. Why would they be moving away from the enemy in that situation? To make matters worse Nan'Cova had not seen a single other Ores'la fall since they left the lake. It could be that they were simply hidden by still-functional cloaking fields, but then there should be visible blood by now. The Shas'vre had a rapidly growing sense of unease. He had to find what spectrum the Ores'la were visible on, that was the key. If he could do that he could track their positions with total accuracy, and his team would be able to fire with much better effect. Nan'Cova switched vision modes one more time... and what he saw froze his blood. 

Nazduff grinned as he neared the Tau. His gunners had done their job magnificently, and the Tau had ignored the bulk of Nazduff's Boyz as they advanced with him towards their prey. The Tau were fast, zipping through the air after every salvo from their weapons, but in their blindness they had manoeuvred dangerously close to the lake, and the Spektaz were now right on top of them, rushing along the drier ground around the lake to pile into close quarters. They were just a few paces away when the Tau suddenly turned about and levelled their weapons at them. Nazduff did not hesitate as he gave the signal for his Boyz to attack. Immediately the advancing Spektas unleashed a rain of stikkbombs and slugga fire. One lucky shot hit a Tau square in the middle of its head, smashing the optics cluster there and leaving the unfortunate warrior stumbling blindly. The remaining Tau poured fire into the onrushing Orks, leaving a further four dashed to a messy green mist that scattered chunks of flesh among the grass. The remaining Spektaz fell upon the Tau with horrifying savagery. Nazduff roared as he swung his power klaw at the closest Tau. 

Nan'Cova levelled his fusion blaster at the Ores'la bearing down on him, pressing the trigger just as the hulking monstrosity slammed an enormous piston-driven pincer into the weapon. The result was a cataclysmic detonation of searing radiance that plunged Nan'Cova into a world of darkness, his only connection to the world being a series of concussive thumps against his stealthsuit and a string of alarm tones. As his vision came swirling back to him Nan'Cova was confronted with a bright scarlet readout on the stealthsuit HUD indicating that its structural integrity was now at 75% on its right half. His Ores'la opponent had fared little better, the explosion having atomised its striking arm and burned away much of the flesh on that side of its body. Yet the Ores'la seemed completely unfazed by the injuries, and continued to strike at him with wild abandon. Nan'Cova was still regaining his bearings from the blast, and did not notice how far back he had been pushed until the Ores'la dived down and thrust him into the lake. 


Nan'Cova struggled in the water against the Ores'la on top of him, pressing the Tau further into the depths of the lake with all his might and furiously slamming his head against the outside of the stealth battlesuit. Nan'Cova had to act fast. He knew from experience that his greatest asset in hand to hand combat was his stealth battlesuit's jetpack, but the Ores'la had him pinned on his back, leaving the jetpack fully submerged. Its turbines needed a clear flow of air to function properly, making the jetpack impossible to start underwater, and if he did not do something in the next 45 rai'kan the jetpack would become nothing more than dead weight. 


The Shas'vre's heart raced. The impacts on his battlesuit's headpiece echoed into his head. He frantically grappled with the Ores'la, but could not dislodge his attacker. He tried to plant his feet into the ground and push himself up, but it was no use. The Ores'la was too heavy. The creature must be in exceptional pain, and Nan'Cova marvelled at how it seemed to completely ignore the agony that must surely be running across it right now. He himself would have surely lost consciousness by now were he in the same situation. Nan'Cova shook aside such thoughts. He had to think. He couldn't dislodge the Ores'la, and in a matter of moments he would loose the turbine engine in his jetpack if he couldn't get it clear of the water. He had no functional primary weapon. He would just be left with- 


 That was it! The grav-repulsors! The second component of the jetpack system was meant to help with aerial manoeuvres, and it was the same gravity-nullifying technology used on Tau gunships. Nan'Cova remembered how water drifted upwards when under its effect. Surely it would be able to shift the water away from the jetpack unit and maybe even let it drain. Acting swiftly the Shas'vre toggled on the grav-repulsor subsystem and activated it. The instant he did he heard a soft reassuring hum from behind him and the water began to swirl around him. His heart soared as he saw the water bulge upwards and away from the stealthsuit. He waited a few moments longer to let the engine compartment drain and then activated the jetpack's main thrusters. A soft whine began to grow behind him as the turbines engaged. The moments crept by at a torturously slow pace as he waited for the engine to fire. 

Come on... come on... come on... 

At last the jetpack's engine roared into life. Nan'Cova felt his insides lurch as the world shifted around him and fell away as he shot upwards. The Ores'la was momentarily startled but wrenched its remaining arm around Nan'Cova's shoulder, clinging to the Tau with vice-like force. The Tau climbed higher and higher, before turning and plummeting back down into the lake, taking care to land on the undamaged left side of his battlesuit. Nan'Cova felt the Ores'la's grip loosen as it was slammed into the water with bone-crushing force, and he took advantage of the lapse to wrest free of the attacker, rising up and pressing his hooves down hard on the creature's chest to force it further down into the lake. Only when Nan'Cova saw no more bubbles fleeing the Ores'la's mouth and the creature lying still did he fire his jetpack again, climbing into the air and landing on the lake edge where he walked over to where his team was. He reached a scene of green blood running from several flattened patches of grass, as well as the fallen remains of four of his team mates. 

"I'm afraid I'm the only one still standing," the sole survivor of Nan'Cova's team said to him, "But the good news is the Ores'la have retreated. I think your stunts with their leader spooked them. They might regroup, but I wouldn't say they're going to be threatening anyone soon." 

Nan'Cova nodded in acknowledgement as he walked over to the drier ground, then sat down and examined the scorched ruined mess that had once been his stealthsuit's right gauntlet and the fusion blaster mounted on it. Then he opened a channel to his commanding officer. 

"Shas'O Da'Anuk, this is Nan'Cova," The Shas'vre said over the comm-net, "We've sustained heavy casualties in an Ores'la ambush, but this sector is now clear. Repeat, sector is now clear. You are safe to advance through this area. I say again, you are safe to advance." 

"Confirmed Nan'Cova," Came Da'Anuk's reply over the comm-net, "Sit tight over there, we're on our way."

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