Organized near the beginning of the fifth sphere expansion, simultaneously with the colonization of Thal’asa, The Cold Fire Coalition is the main protection and expeditionary force for the sept. Most Cold Fire cadres specializes in ambush tactics using both Kayon and Mont’ka philosophies. Kauyon strategies center around a “spark” unit or units intended to lead hostile to a kill zone, “igniting” fire from the carefully placed ambush units. Mont’ka maneuvers usually target moving columns. As is typical of T'au, the cadres avoid sieges, attrition warfare, and protracted battles wherever possible, and they manage to be fairly successful with this approach despite operating most often in claustrophobic urban environments.
Due to their often limited space in ground battles, the coalition favors battlesuits, Piranhas and strong air support over heavy vehicle deployments. Rather than a dedicated armored interdiction cadre, the handful of Hammerhead tanks and Sky Ray gunships in the coalition form a reserve cadre that provides armor to other cadres and contingents on an as-needed basis.
+++Hanyon Hive Outpost. . .Acro+++
Gir’hos stood at a window overlooking the battlefield in the distance. The door behind him hissed open, framing Hollowheart in the doorway. She entered unbidden, but the guards didn’t stop her, and she stood silently. He felt her eyes on the back of his head, felt her aggression. Some thought of her as calmer than her brothers and sisters from Vior’la, but he knew better. She was, if anything, more hot-blooded, just better at controlling it. He reminded himself how closely she needed to be watched.
“I’m told you have some new intelligence on our enemies, Commander,” he said evenly.
“Ostensibly, Aun’el,” came the reply, terse, clipped, “I believe we have an actionable lead on the source of the attack that killed Aun’o Ai’tor. The gue’la...were not responsible.”
“I see,” he turned at last, and nodded to the honor guard, “Some privacy, please.”
The two guards stepped silently out of the room, and the door slid closed.
“Tell me, Commander. What have you found.”
As her personal name suggests, Hollowheart is coldly efficient, presenting a steely and aloof demeanor to her troops and enemies alike. She fully embodies the aggression that Fire caste warriors of Vior’la are known for, but has never shared their typical hot blooded temperament.
On the battlefield she rarely takes prisoners and enemies who turn down her first demands for surrender are unlikely to get a second chance. Her name has become an epithet among the humans defenders of Acro.
- Aun’el Thal’asa Gir’hos - The Empire’s interests in the Thal’asa sept were originally overseen by a small council of young but experienced Ethereals. During the initial campaigns to secure the region, however, a series of daring attacks from operatives of the Imperium led to the deaths of all but one. Though each loss was a tremendous blow to the morale of the burgeoning sept, Gir’hos held the T’au forces together, even leading from the frontlines. He is an enigmatic figure, reclusive in his councils and deliberations, but bold and impassioned when he joins the Fire Caste on the battlefield. Some Fire Warriors believe he has a greater revence for and appreciation of combat even than members of their caste.
- Shas’el Thal’asa Mont’da’erra - Warghost
A Pathfinder commander of no small renown, Mont’da’erra spends almost as much time in the field as he does coordinating the coalitions intelligence gathering reconnaissance units. He has proven equally dangerous to the enemy in both roles, with a propensity for slipping through secured perimeters that has often strained credulity among other divisions upon receiving his reports.
- Shas'el Thal’asa Lunsuoi - Lastinglight
Uncharacteristically even-tempered for a Fire caste warrior, even a commander, Lunsuoi has served as Hollowheart's second in command for several years. She sees herself more as a bodyguard than an advisor, and her battlesuit prowess serves her well in that pursuit, but she understands Hollowheart better than anyone and knows that her counsel bears weight, which has saved lives on more than one occasion, both T'au and Gue'la alike.
- Shas'vre Thal’asa Cal’Tuk - Hardhoof
A highly decorated Fireblade, Cal'tuk is a tough and demanding front line commander, but also very close to the Fire Warriors under his command, and the loyalty he has earned has inspired acts of bravery that have been referenced even in the great Fire Caste academies on Vior'la itself.
- Shas'o Thal’asa Ty’Salash - Quietwave
As quiet as her name suggests, Ty'Salash always seemed a perfect fit for a Stealthsuit squadron, and her successes early in the 5th sphere expansion quickly earned her a place in command of the coalitions stealth forces, often working closely with Mont'da'erra. Despite protests from Commander Hollowheart, she also spends a great deal of time leading from the front, though her results can hardly be argued with.
- Shas'el Thal’asa Sai’nan - Stunningsword
Recently promoted, Sai'nan is an accomplished battlesuit pilot with an energetic, intense, personality and a passion for the Tau'va that inspires others, as well as a troublesome thrill-seeking streak. More experienced than most with close combat fighting, Sai'nan's battlesuit is frequently equipped with prototype equipment in need of field testing.
- Shas'vre Thal’asa Mon’kir- Blackdog
Commanding the coalition's relatively small contingent of armor, Mon'kir has earned great favor with Hollowheart for his aggressive tactics, often surprising enemy with the sudden appearance of both light and heavy armor in unexpectedly close positions.
+++Rouen Hive Area of Operations. . .Acro+++
The glow was still receding and the heat trail still rising from the barrel of Mont’sha’s plasma rifle when Hollowheart landed next to him.
“I’m supposed to be the one with the reputation for not taking prisoners on this battlefield, Mont’sha,” she transmitted privately to his suit, eyeing the slagged remains of gue’la against the wall in front of them, their weapons clearly cast aside.
“They knew nothing of value,” he said, voice barely a whisper over the comms, lowering it’s weapon.
“You have been told before, that is not your determination to make. Do not allow your past with the humans to become a stumbling block to the greater good.”
There was no reply.
“You know from experience where that road leads,” she said pointedly, “You have had a second chance, but there will not be another.”
Another moment of silence, before the thrusters fired on his battlesuit, “Permission to secure the next sector, Commander?”
“Permission granted, Shas’el. We won’t have this discussion again.”
Tio’ve Mont’sha, led by then Shas'o Mont'sha, took part in the ill-fated fourth sphere expansion. After being rediscovered and rejoining with the Empire, it became clear that the members of the contingent had experienced similar unspoken traumas to those of others from the failed expansion, with similar results. It eventually came to light that a gue’la had led a brutal betrayal, exposing them to ambush by an unknown enemy. Nearly the entire contingent, more than five cadres-worth of troops, armor and matériel, was wiped out. Further losses were incurred when Mont'sha led a retaliatory strike that was, again, crushed by the enemy.
The remnant of the contingent, now barely enough to compose a cadre, is still commanded by Shas’El Fi’rios Mont’sha. He was held responsible for the destruction of his contingent and subjected to ritual punishment known as the Malk’la. After a lengthy probation and reassignment under Hollowheart, he has since re-earned his battlesuit. Uncharacteristically for those who have suffered the malk’la, the other survivors of his contingent have not shunned him, but requested to serve under him again, and as a force they remain insular. Mont'sha prohibited the restoration of some surface damage on his battlesuit as a reminder of his failure, but he continues to have a habit of brutal extermination towards enemies, particularly humans, continually toeing the line between service and censure.
Excavating deep into the ruins the Tau uncovered what appeared to be powerful databanks, capable of tremendous digital storage. Most seemed to have had their physical connections severed, including power sources, but one remained active. When the Earth Caste technicians finally interfaced the Tau hardware with the alien databank they found much more than conventional data storage. They were greeted by a collective AI.
After some time spent with both Earth Caste techs and Water Caste diplomats, the Tau learned that the AI, composed of countless sub programs, called themselves ISOs. They revealed that their creators had destroyed themselves in a great war over the ethics of their creation. As the only survivors, they had waited in the confines of the digital realm they’d built for themselves, hoping for rescue. While some parties among the Tau were skeptical about the wisdom of freeing such an independent AI, they eventually accepted the ISOs assurances of peaceful intent, though it is doubtless that their promise to share information on the dead world’s advanced technology factored strongly into their considerations.
To build trust, the ISOs agreed to provide labor and military support to the Tau in exchange for materials, and after a period of cooperation and a promise of independence, they would give the Tau the specifications for their technology.
Though they were initially secretive about what would be done with these materials, it soon became clear, along with how much they could offer. The ISO’s constructed drones to house them and grant them mobility, but more importantly the drones served as emitters from which the ISOs could create hardlight bodies for themselves. Needless to say, the Tau were impressed, and hardlight ISO units quickly integrated into the Cold Fire cadre and Thal’asa sept, most taking a similar form to their Tau allies, including mimicking their armor and weapons.
Edited by Messor, 11 February 2020 - 10:23 PM.