Hey this is the first chapter of a short story/novella? that I started writing the other day. It features the Tau Empire, the Imperial Guard, and Khornate Chaos forces. Don't worry I'm not a fanboy of any one of these factions so you're not going to find a Fire Warrior taking down a squad of Chaos Space Marines by himself or anything like that. I started reading the fluff about a year ago and I don't play tabletop so if there's any major fluff issues please let me know. Constructive criticism is welcome!
The world of Arden IV was one blessed with a variety of industry, agriculture on the southern continents supported the hives of the north, making it one of the more prosperous planets on the Eastern Fringe of the Imperium of Man. The planet was policed by the forces of the Adeptus Arbites, who kept the dark interiors of the hives in order, waging an unending war against the inhabitants of the lower levels. It also garrisoned a regiment of the Imperial Guard, the Arden Dragoons, who had proven themselves in combat across the Eastern Fringe, though never at home. It was considered by most to be a rather sleepy backwater of the Empire. That was what Por’Ui Dal’Yth M’Yen, secret envoy of the Tau Empire to the planet had always believed. M’Yen lived in the shadows of Arden IV, amongst the rogue traders who plied some of the seedier spaceports on the smaller continent of Martenz Minor, always deprived of the wealth of its larger cousin. He was known on Arden IV not by his true name, an allusion to his skill at deception in service of the Greater Good, but by the rather more humble moniker of Rags. M’Yen hid his true nature behind thick soiled robes and rags wrapped around his face, only his deep eyes visible to the Gue’La. If asked he went by the story that he had been the victim of a disease seeded by the dark powers of Chaos on his home world as a child and that it had left him stunted and hideous, forcing him to hide his deformed flesh. It was not a question he was asked often, amongst the dilapidated ports of Martenz Minor there were many uglier sights to be seen than the innocuous Rags.
M’Yen had been sent by the elders of his caste to assess the vulnerability of Arden IV, in order to prepare the way for the next wave of expansion and settlement by the Tau Empire many years ago. Probing and inquiring, he sent reports sporadically back to the home world of his Sept – Dal’Yth, yet the ways of the Water Caste required above all else patience, and in all his years on Arden IV he had never found himself ready to pronounce the world ready for annexation. Even when the Arden Dragoons had been sent to aid in a battle for a distant cluster of Gue’la worlds, fighting against the Greenskins, the defense of the planet remained strong, too strong for an empire which probed constantly at all its borders, finding much softer targets than Arden IV. When the regiment had returned home bloodied but victorious M’Yen had expected to spend the rest of his life on the planet, his efforts bearing little fruit. A frustrated desire for glory was not what irked him about the uneventful nature of his assignment, it was the burning desire in his heart to do more to further the Greater Good which made M’Yen restless. Yet a restless member of the Water Caste was far more patient than the Gue’La who inhabited Arden IV, whom he had seen kill each other out of passion more times than he would have thought possible. Surely once they became aware of the truth of the Greater Good even men such as rogue traders would lead lives of peace.
“Rags” made his living hauling junk from the lower levels of the hive named Habitatus Sigma up to the space ports where the traders exchanged them in return for currency and occasionally rumors of the goings on of the planet. Rags did business with many traders and few suspected him of anything. If they did it was unlikely they would ever see the small swaddled figure again- it was easy for him to fade into the faceless crowd. In the fourth Kai’Rotaa of the year by the reckoning of the Tau calendar M’Yen was doing just that, hauling the strange works of the Gue’la through the crowd flowing in and out of the port. His goods were concealed beneath stained canvas and he pushed them ahead of him in a worn, creaking old cart. He was supposed to meet a lean, dour man named Hawk down in one of the lower berths and was making his way across the main concourse, past the great banners extolling the strange and fanatic faith of the Gue’la that stared down at the passersby. Suddenly M’Yen heard startled shouts behind him. He shrugged off the sound at first, perhaps it was simply another brawl. Yet the startled shouts gave way to screams, accompanied by deep and savage growls. This was no ordinary brawl, the crowd was beginning to react, beginning to panic, running from the noise. M’Yen turned, peering out from under his rags and cloak. Before he saw anything his keen Tau sense of smell picked up an unmistakable scent- Gue’la blood. The growls turned to laughter and terrifying chants of “Blood! Blood! Blood!” punctuated by the cries of hapless victims. M’Yen was no Fire Warrior, and he knew he was not prepared for a battle, nevertheless he reached under his robe and nervously grabbed hold of a small Gue’la laspistol he had obtained from an offworld arms dealer long ago, gripping it tightly with one hand while frantically pushing his cart forward towards the berth where Hawk was supposed to meet him. M’Yen scrambled in his mind for a reason that the Rogue Trader might accept for taking him onboard and away from this madness. The cries grew louder still behind him and M’Yen could tell that the killers were closing with him, working their way though the crowd and laughing sadistically. For once M’Yen hoped that the Adeptus Arbites would arrive soon, this chaos was much worse than normal. Despite the fear gripping him, M’Yen didn’t dare look back; his sense of smell told him more than enough.
Around the corner and down the ramp, the sign for Berth 47 flew past as M’Yen jumped on the back of his cart, letting gravity carry him down to the berth at a frightening speed. As he had predicted, the platform was hardly tidy, half empty crates lying about haphazardly. He tried to aim his cart for the crates and jumped free before impact, hitting the ground hard and rolling to the feet of a shocked Hawk, stunned by the dramatic entrance of the little man. “There’s no time! We have to get out of here, madmen are ripping through the Gue-people on the concourse! You can have whatever is in my cart and then some credits on top of that, just get us the hell out of here!” M’Yen stammered, shocked from his fall and winded by the impact. Hawk was a man who would never turn down the chance for profit and what was a little risk? Risk was a part of his everyday life ever since he had started out as a stowaway on an Imperial cargo frigate. Without hesitation he yelled for his crew to grab Rags and his cart, and bring them on board. A couple of the crew reached the cart when on of them collapsed with a yelp- from of the ramp came insane laughter as Hawk noted a crude throwing axe protruding from the back of his hapless underling. “If you want a job done properly…” he muttered as he ran to the cart, slapped his surviving crewmember back to his senses and called for him to start hauling as he spun to find a wild haired maniac in bloodstained robes charging towards him screaming bloody murder. Hawk was a quick draw and he manage to blow the lunatic’s arm off with a hastily placed shot from his laspistol before he was tackled to the ground, the oppressive smell of the lunatic filling his senses and the desperate feeling that he was soon going to die racing through his mind. He saw the indistinct shape of the madman’s arm drawing a weapon of some sort and preparing to bring it down. A prayer to the Emperor he learned as a child ran through his mind and Hawk braced himself for the end, but it was not to come- the lunatic’s head unexpectedly exploding in a burst of gore and his corpse rolling off of Hawk’s chest. Hawk shook his head to clear his senses, wiping brain matter and gore off his face he looked over to see Rags holding a laspistol in a shaking four-fingered hand.
Hope you enjoyed it! The next chapter should be up in a couple days. I'm going to try to keep the plotting tight so hopefully this will end up being around seven to ten chapters long.