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"The Greater Good is more than a theory. It is more than a creed or a philosophy. It is a universal truth, and to deny it is as arrogant, foolhardy and ultimately futile as to deny the pull of gravity or the passage of time."

—Commander Flamewing to the Second Emissary Council
Commander Flamewing

Commander Flamewing as seen operating in his Battlesuit.

Commander Flamewing -- the preferred translation of his true name Shas'O Vior'la Suam Eldi into Low Gothic -- is one of the most prominent leaders amongst the Fire Caste of the T'au Velk'Han Sept within the Jericho Reach. Currently, he is in command of the Fire Caste Hunter Cadre operation on the outskirts of the Zurcon System.

This relatively young Shas'o has earned a great deal of frontline combat experience, particularly against the outlying tendrils of Hive Fleet Dagon.

More than most T'au Commanders, Flamewing is willing to work alongside the Imperial forces of the Achilus Crusade towards the destruction of the Tyranid menace.

Flamewing strongly believes that the hive fleet is far more dangerous to the Greater Good than the presence of the Humans, and he has made some tenous alliances towards this end with a few like-minded Inquisitors of the Ordo Xenos -- including Inquisitor Adrielle Quist.

History

Shas'O Vior'la Suam Eldi is a comparatively young T'au Commander, yet he has seen more combat in the last year than many of his rank expect to experience in a lifetime.

Flamewing hails from the T'au Sept of Vior'la, a system in the T'au Empire renowned for the skill and potency of the Fire Caste warriors born there. The warriors of Vior'la are commonly held to be hot-blooded and ferocious, yet able to contain these traits and focus them towards the Greater Good.

Commander Flamewing is typical of his peers in that he is possessed of a fearsome intensity that is made manifest in combat against the enemies of the T'au Empire. As a Fire Warrior, he defended the rimward frontier station of Hy'si against Drukhari raiders intent upon enslaving the Earth Caste scientists, earning much honour as well as many impressive scars.

As a battlesuit pilot in a Crisis Team, Flamewing participated in the Defence of Sy'l'Kell on the Sept world of Dal'yth Prime, where he gained three confirmed kills against the mighty Space Marines of the Imperium before wounds sustained in close combat forced his withdrawal from that action.

After a period of convalescence, Flamewing took part in the actions that followed the Imperium's retreat from T'au space, fighting as part of Commander Farsight's force that swept into Human space and took control of a number of colonies the Humans had all but abandoned in their haste to re-deploy.

With the foundation of the Velk'Han Sept, Flamewing was given command of a newly-raised Hunter Cadre which was tasked with opposing the advance of the recently discovered Tyranid hive fleet closing on the freshly-established Sept.

Sadly for Commander Flamewing and his Hunter Cadre, T'au high command massively misjudged the Tyranids' capabilities. Having already faced smaller tendrils of the larger enemy force that had arrived on the Eastern Fringe, Flamewing was not naive as to their nature.

He had studied every after-action report he could access and believed he had the measure of his foe. The problem was, the T'au's estimates of enemy numbers were grievously in error, and the T'au stumbled into a far more numerous and concentrated enemy than it could ever hope to defeat. Within solar days, dozens of Hunter Cadres were fighting for their very existence, cut off from support and massively outnumbered.

Flamewing found himself in command of an effort to effect a fighting withdrawal to a defensible position, a task that he executed with great skill and honour, saving the lives of many hundreds of Fire Warriors and their auxiliary troops. His Hunter Cadre exacted a fearsome toll as it fought across the burning sands of Zurcon Extremis, and Flamewing himself led a number of daring counterattacks that accounted for a number of lynchpin Tyranid hive-node beasts.

In one such encounter, Flamewing and his veteran Crisis Teams engaged a Zoanthrope, braving the horrors of its relentless psychic assaults to bring it down with concentrated plasma rifle fire.

At length, Flamewing's Hunter Cadre established a defensive position high atop a wide, flat mesa, and stood unyielding as the Tyranid monstrosities broke around its base as a seething ocean battering a lone rocky isle.

Flamewing and his warriors held the mesa for six solar days and nights, ever hopeful that the other T'au Hunter Cadres would be able to fight through and join them.

They did not, and the commander realised his cadre represented the last T'au presence on Zurcon Extremis. On the seventh night of the battle, something strange occurred. Flamewing's warriors fell into a dark rage, one by one shedding the peerless discipline for which the Fire Caste is renowned and surrendering to something far more primal.

Soon, the rage consumed Flamewing himself, and he observed his warriors growing surly and fractious. Shockingly, several brawls erupted in the ranks, a phenomenon that none had ever witnessed or experienced.

Then the realisation of what was occurring came to the commander, and dread filled his soul; the Fire Warriors were succumbing to the same barbaric urges that had set the castes against one another at the very outset of T'au history, a time of bloodshed that only the coming of the Ethereal Caste had put at an end.

The fact that Flamewing's warriors were regressing to such an atavistic state could only mean that the last of the Ethereals on Zurcon Extremis had fallen to the Tyranids.

Realising his Hunter Cadre's position was all but lost and its fate too terrible to consider, Flamewing saw but one course of action. He determined that not a single T'au would fall at the hand of his own kin, and rallied his warriors for one last, glorious action. Flamewing's Hunter Cadre would sally forth from their position and sell their lives dear.

If they were to fall, Flamewing promised, it would be for the glory of the Greater Good and they would serve the empire by slaughtering its foes to the last.

Flamewing's words stirred his warriors into a righteous rage, and the entire Hunter Cadre launched itself at the foe, Flamewing at the head. The battle raged for the remainder of the local night and well into the next day, and as the sun reached its zenith only Flamewing and his Crisis Team retinue were left standing, atop a small mountain of T'au and Tyranid corpses.

The end was mere moments away, but suddenly, the survivors' rage lifted, to be replaced with a sudden sense of familiar, blessed calm. A moment later, the communications channels sang with transmissions and a huge, multi-Hunter Cadre force crashed into the rear of the Tyranid horde.

Within an hour it was all over. Commander Flamewing and his few surviving companions stood before the Ethereal Aun'O Tsualal, and gloried in the radiance of his sacred presence.

In the aftermath of the battle for Zurcon Extremis, Commander Flamewing entered a brief period of retreat and meditation. He had been grievously wounded, in body and in spirit, and has yet to fully recover.

During his retreat, Flamewing conferred with and studied beneath the most learned of Fire Caste notables, T'au Commanders who had faced and mastered the same inner turmoil he himself had suffered on Zurcon Extremis.

He meditated on the deeper truths of the Greater Good, and emerged possessed of such inner knowledge that few of those who had known him took him for the same warrior. Donning his battlesuit once more, Commander Flamewing took command of a new Hunter Cadre built around the survivors of the old, and vowed to take the battle to the Tyranids anew, armed with his newly-acquired wisdom.

Commander Flamewing is to be found wherever the Fire Caste faces the Tyranid menace, advising other commanders or leading the charge in person. He greatly resents the waste of resources afforded by the need to fend off what he regards as petty attacks by the Human Imperium, believing the two species should be working together against the overarching threat of the Tyranids.

While the commander has fought against Human forces on several occasions, he has also cooperated with them and made several clandestine alliances amongst more open-minded factions within the Ordo Xenos and other groups.

As yet, these alliances are tenuous at best, but Commander Flamewing is working towards a time when, he believes, T'au and Human will stand together, united by common necessity, against a threat neither could survive alone.

According to the Deathwatch's Codicier Taelon -- based on current intelligence -- Commander Flamewing is leading a Hunter Cadre of experienced Fire Warriors and other auxiliary fighters, and is engaged upon an unknown mission to the Death World of Mahir.

Given that this planet has fallen to the Tyranids, his objective must be to strike some decisive blow against the Hive Mind or perhaps to deny or disrupt the Tyranids' consumption of Mahir's biomass.

The Deathwatch's admittedly limited reconnaissance of Mahir suggests that the Tyranids are struggling to subdue the world's fearsome flora and fauna.

The Codicier recommends -- ratified in the Chamber of Vigilance of Watch Fortress Erioch -- allowing the Tyranids to expend their energies in their attempt to consume a planet that appears to be just as determined to consume its invaders. Taelon recommended that the T'au force be observed lest it interfere with the delicate balance of power on Mahir.

Sources

  • Deathwatch: The Achilus Crusade (RPG), pg. 122
  • Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pp. 8-10
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