The Final Hours of Sev’Shin – by Bronne Bruzgo

A beautiful blue sky stretched out to the horizon in front of the Grand Ethereal Mau’ka’s palace. The warmth of planet’s sun embraced his blue skin as if hugging him, with light kisses of a gentle spring breeze keeping him cool as he looked out from the balcony. The capital city of Sev’shin was a architectural marvel, and the aged Tau leader wanted to get a good look at what his people were capable of. Pure white structures organized into perfectly symmetrical angles rose into the heavens amongst waterways designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and useful powering the city using self-recycling hydrodynamic systems.

This, he thought, this planet is a shining example of the galaxy we live in. Sev’shin had originally been a human planet, full of superstition and fear. When the first Tau ships arrived, the populace had taken them to be sky demons sent by the common human god, “Emperor,” to test them. Despite years of war, the patience and understanding of the Greater Good had prevailed. While more than a few brash Fire Caste commanders had called for all-out war, Mau’ka’s predecessors  had known better. Decades were spent turning the other cheek as the humans lashed out with guerilla attacks after their armies were crushed. Slowly, generation by generation, an understanding with the people was finally reached. The Tau were here to help, they were here as friends to work for the Greater Good. Mankind was welcome into Tau society, greeted as a long lost brother.  Both civilizations were capable of so much, and together a treasure trove of ingenuity was waiting to be unlocked. Mau’ka chuckled to himself, remembering how they called him a radical back home. “Too much faith in humans,” they had said, “Little more than their less evolved primate kin.”

Mau’ka had worked on this planet long enough to see what Man could achieve when enlightened. He was generous. He was diligent. A man enlightened to the Tau way of life was the galaxy’s best chance at a future, at prosperity. He was not like the barbaric, bloodthirsty savages of the Imperium. Broken free from the shackles of his own self-imposed ignorance, a man could reason, learn, and create. The loving symbiosis of Tau and Man on Sev’shin stood as a testament to what could be achieved across the galaxy if both sides laid down their arms and embraced one another in peace, enlightenment and understanding. Working together, both races had transformed the planet from a polluted rock hurtling towards destruction to a crystal of beauty in harmony with itself. As he had always believed, the humans were able to contribute more than their fair share. Mau’ka had once used the self-sustaining water  energy system as an example to fellow Tau back home as a testament to the human benefit. While most Tau would assume the design to be one of their own race’s engineers, the credit went to men enlightened by the Greater Good. It was a grand breakthrough, and soon would be studied in the most prestigious academies across the Tau Empire.

Would have been, the Ethereal reminded himself. Like rain, just as his advisors predicted, the Ork bombardment began in an orchestra of destruction.  Well, at least, the advisors who had remained at their posts, Mau’ka mused. He watched as hundreds of thousands of rockets screamed towards the city with corkscrewing tails of smoke billowing behind them. Time felt as if had slowed down as the supersonic constructs of death smashed into buildings full of culture and knowledge, sending fire, shrapnel and shockwaves shooting through the beautiful urban landscape. Flames engulfed the Capital Library as incendiary shells, as if guided by a cruel fate, hit their marks. Marble statues of great thinkers were forever forgotten when orbital artillery smashed into them, turning them and the plaques of their accomplishments into rubble. The beautiful green parks complimented by smooth white walkways and glistening blue ponds were transformed into disfigured, blackened ruins in seconds, any life sucked out of the fauna by sheer trauma as brown muddy earth was thrown up by the earth as if being struck in its stomach by each strike of the metallic burning beasts.

The magnificent juxtaposition between the flawlessly designed Tau metropolis and the random chaotic destruction of Ork missiles reminded Mau’ka of what it must look like when a looter destroys the most elegant of paintings. It was as if a cure for the galaxy’s disease of endless warfare and hatred was written on a small piece of parchment, only to be thrown in a blazing inferno of ignorance.  A piercing and sudden shriek interrupted his thoughts as a rocket from the skies smashed into his palace’s ground level. As the meticulously planned foundation gave away and the balcony fell towards the earth, Mau’ka felt dozens of other projectiles rip the palace to shreds, as well as send painful shocks through his body as his insides were pulverized by the powerful vibrations  of the barrage.

Mau’ka hit the ground, the last painful jolt his body would ever receive. The pain rocked his skull as piles of rubble from the collapsing palace pushed the air out of him. For a moment, he tried to push himself up as if to stand, but the weight was crushing beyond comprehension. The Ethereal stopped trying after his first attempt and felt his life and oxygen being forced out of his lungs. His last flashes began to play out before him, but to his surprise, they were of the planet’s recent history as well as his own life.
The Discovery. The Great War. Fifty years of major terrorist activity. The Decade of Questioning. His assignment to Sev’shin.  Years of missionary work. The books he wrote on the Worth of Man. The racism to overcome from his fellow Tau. The disdain for so painfully long before the respect. The Age of  Healing. The Enlightenment. The Progressive Generation. Then finally, what was supposed to be ‘The Beacon Age.’ But that was before The War changed everything. Then the inescapable, uncompromising, unending bloodshed brought by the Orks reached Sev’shin. Two hundred years of work was unraveled in a mere fifteen years. The promise of help by The Ancients, and the betrayal.

This, he thought, this planet is a shining example of the galaxy we live in, as the last Ork rockets detonated close enough to reduce his body to little more than a red mist amongst the rubble.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *

The Void Stalker sailed quietly through the darkness of space, while the command deck slowly calmed down after nearly thirty hours of heavy activity.  Fleet damage repair was being closely monitored, the status of fellow ships reported and, most importantly, the position of  the Ork vessels were under heavy scrutiny.
The bridge had an air of tense productivity and optimism as reports flowed in. The Ork fleet had been reduced to half strength. Their attentions were towards the Mon-keigh and Tau held planet. Some notice had been given to the now-distant Eldar force, but were soon ignored in favor of bombing the planet called “Sev’shin” by the local population.
The Farseer stood on the observation deck, hands behind his back, overlooking the damage caused by the battle that had just taken place. Minimal Eldar, however regretful, were lost. Maximum Tau and Orks had been eradicated.

The Farseer watched as the Ork ships surrounded the planet that now had nothing more than a prayer to survive. He observed with a detached disinterest as the massive construct known as a “Hulk” to lesser races released its genocidal payload upon the undeserving rock, ruining any hope of a future it ever had. The surface of the planet began to light up like the wraith-circuit of his own flagship when a warlock burst into his chambers, delivering expected news.

“My lord,” the Warlock announced, “The Tau Capital system has no hope. It, along with this entire sector, shall be overrun by the Orks!”
Farseer Cleric looked on as a particularly bright explosion detonated right where the most important Tau city should have been located before he responded.








“…Just as planned.”