Shas’la Nase’mor, trained Fire Warrior Breacher and hardened veteran of the Third Sphere Expansion Wars, shrieked like a youngling as he blasted the cadaverous figure looming out of the manufactorum’s gloom. The shape had appeared suddenly as his illuminator swept the dark room, the suddenly humanoid silhouette standing out amidst the geometric scrap. His finger locked on the trigger, his shrieking didn’t stop, even as his pulse blaster clicked empty. The Breacher frantically reloaded as his squad leader, Shas’vre Har’pin, and a second Breacher swept forward, investigating.
“Congratulations Nase,” Har’pin drawled, “you’ve killed a servitor. A deactivated servitor.”
“Ethereal’s blood!” cursed the Breacher, trying to catch his breath. “Stop laughing!” he snapped at the rest of the squad, newbies who were taking the opportunity to mock the veteran. “Better embarrassed than dead!”
“You’ve plenty experience in the former, don’t you Nase?” jabbed one.
“Status report Shas’ui,” the comm sparked, the Shas’vre coordinating the sweep of this disused Imperial ruin asked. Har’pin ignored his bickering subordinates to reply.
“AD sir, no hostile contact.”
“Understood, continue the sweep and tell you Tau to keep their trigger fingers to themselves. Shas’vre out.”
Har’pin sighed, then called his squad to heel. “Nase to the center, Shase’len take point. Lock it up, and try to remember you’re here for the Greater Good!”
“Here to keep a bunch of cowardly Gue’la from panicking, you mean,” one of the Tau muttered. Har’pin couldn’t tell which.
“That’s no way to talk about our new allies, Shas’la. They’ve bled to clear the Imperium from their world and embraced the Greater Good whole-heartedly. The least we can do is clear this complex for them.”
“Why the need, Shas’ui?” one of the others asked, curiosity in his voice. “I saw the allied troops in the cordon outside. They looked at this structure fearfully.”
“You sure it wasn’t just because its so ugly?” Shase jested. He wasn’t wrong. The manufactorum complex had never been pretty, but now squatted like a great red cancer amidst the city’s new, sleek Tau architecture.
“According to the briefings, which you all should have listened to, this place is not simply a manufactorum, but a temple to one of the Imperial Cults. The locals may have turned to the Greater Good, but they have some superstitions left. They believe this place to be… haunted.”
Har’pin could hear Shase’s intake of breath, undoubtedly another joke at the locals’ expense. That’s when the screaming started.
Har’pin snapped his weapon up, looking for the source of that horrid noise. It came from all around, grating and piercing. Then he realized it came from his comms network. He let the blaster settle on its sling as both hands wrestled with his helm. Anything to get away from the shrieking. By the time his vision cleared, they were in amongst his squad. Spindle limbed figures of metal and plasteel, weapons of snapping lightning and booming thunder in their hands. Shase died first, a burst of flechettes stitching up his armor to shred his throat. The others followed soon after, Nase being hit by two taser goads at once. He smelled of fried fish. It made Har'pin's stomach churn. He tried to raise his weapon, but the shrieking was back. Transmitted from the domed helms of their attackers, it destroyed his concentration. The sensation was joined by more, a burning in his eyes, blood pouring from burst capillaries, a roiling in his stomach that soon brought up his breakfast. One of the figures knocked away Har’pin’s faltering blaster, then picked him up and held him face to non-face. This close the disrupting effect of the creatures’ helms was worsened tenfold. The creature emitted a burst of static, then spoke in broken Tau.
“Xenos. Die. This. Sacred ground. You pollute. No more.” The last thing Shas’vre Har’pin saw through bloody tears was the mechanical claw reaching for his eyes.