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Or'es Shi Cadre

Article: On Chaos and Etherials

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My findings on the book Firewarrior.

Recently I decided to re-read the book Firewarrior. I find that it is a massively underrated book. Sure its not the best literature Ive ever read but as a source of insight into the Tau it is almost unparralelled. We have so little to chose from it cannot be ignored and it is official. So I earmarked everything I came across of major importance and am going to report my findings here.
Firstly on interbreeding something I find people suggesting far too much. Earth and Water caste mixing and all that. Some say that a particular line in Firewarrior suggests this, the line is as follows:
"The Fio'os back on T'au, preoccupied with 'optimum genetic compatibility' orchestrated inter-caste couplings without prejudice or emotion, but still... T'yra found himself musing enviously upon which lucky por'el male would discover his name beside that of El'Yis'ten on the summons form." Page 141.
Now I have looked up every deffinition of the prefix inter and find validations for meaning both between two seperate groups and between members of a single group. In the context here I believe that it is meant to imply that the Fio'os chose mating matches inside the castes, water with water and fire with fire, etc. Issolated the inter could be supposed to mean between castes but in the context of the rest of the passage it seems rather clear at least to me that the Tau do not mix castes but instead chose optimum genetic material for each caste seperately.
Secondly on the control of the Etherials, given several things I have read I now believe that the Etherials control is pheromone based or at least something very similar, sound, scent something along that line. Not psychic as some seem to think, that is still a possibility as there is no direct evidence either way but given some things in the book I am lead to the conclusion that it is largely a pheromone based thing. Here are the passages:
"The possibility of corrupting a high ranking Tau had been worth exploring at least, he reassured himself: that it had failed merely assured their utter annihilation, Chaos had little time for incorruptibility.
    Pursing his lips thoughtfully, and absent-mindedly waving away an exotic scent that briefly teased against his nostrils, he glared at the alien and slipped his jeweled dagger from its scabbard." Page 363.
The important part is the exotic scent line. Kais during this part of the book is very close and somehow picks up that the Etherial is close by, slightly referencing a scent or feeling. This is not the most clear of things but my thoughts on this is that the Etherial is the source of the strange smell. Something that triggers a reaction in Kais and a strong one, even from a distance. The next one:
"The Aun closed his eyes and serenity enveloped Kais like a warm cloud, filling his mind with peace and purity and the glowing features of the etherial. Was there a taste, he wondered? A faint scent taste that rushed through his body like warm j'hal nectar, cleansing and purifying." Page 381.
This is much more plain, the Etherial gives Kais focus and banishes his fear and anger, thus removing the daemon whispers foothold over Kais. In this Kais registeres a scent in the air and correlates this with his refreshement and sudden clarity. This is a rather obvious suggestion of some sort of scent or pheromone base for the Etherials control over the Tau. It would also seem that Kovash released this scent on purpose so the Etherials must have some measure of control and its not entirely an automatic thing but can have varying levels. This again is just my take on the matter but this one seems much plainer.
Those are the two main passages suggesting a scent/pheromone basis for the Etherials influence on the Tau. There are several other semi noticeable parts that have some relevance to this earlier in the book but are really just precursers to this giving Kais a foundation and first experience. Nothing I came across offers another oppinion or is any plainer. Neither of these quotes entirely supports the idea but both suggest it one strongly, the other abstractly but they are the best examples from the book.
The next is the taintability of the Tau, a hot topic it would seem. The first passage that gives a whole lot of insight into this is this:
"The tau, by comparison, was an entirely dissapointing subject. Around his skull the energies seemed to boil and flex, hunting impotently for some foothold of emotion or excess with which to work. Impervious to psychic persuasion, a living embodiment of focus and calm, the etherial was proving to be a very difficult creature to corrupt. Severus rather suspected that, when he arrived, Tarkh'ax would deem the tau race unworthy of Chaos's more insiduous attentions and chose to obliterate them instead.
   He shrugged mentally. At least he'd tried." Pages 340 and 341.
Kovash may be an extreme example but his defences are amazingly formidable. The high ranking human admiral fell in short order where Kovash no matter how battered and torn remained an iron wall against the intrusions of Chaos. If this is any indication even the most basic of Tau must have a formidable defence against chaos. Without the base desires of the humans and other races in the forefront of their lives the manipulations of chaos have little foot hold. The Tau are corruptible but if Kovash gives us any insight than it would take a long time and would not work on the Etherials or perhaps on the Tau population in general. The only Tau we see tainted was Kais and even then only temporarily. This was also only because of being in the shadow of his father and long hours of constant and horrific bloodshed and endless combat. This would wear down anyones mind and it is little wonder that Kais eventually cracked, it is surprising however that in one fell swoop his taint was removed which also goes to show how formidable the Tau are agaisnt chaos manipulations. This is also just my oppinion but this passage is pretty clear and though Kovash may be an exeptional case he is still a Tau and still an Etherial and this does give us some idea of what the Tau must be like.
Also this can go some way toward proving the purity of the Etherials for if they truly were manipulating the Tau and forcing them into subversion there would be something for Chaos to latch onto to taint them. Kovash is pure and strong of mind in focus and faith which only goes towards the credibility of the Auns even if it does not fully dispell such ideas. Next:
"Attempting to infiltrate Ko'vash's mind had been like waves breaking against a cliff. It would take centuries to wear him down. Ironic, then, that it would take just moments to wipe him away utterly. He raised the knife for a killing blow.... But the admiral had broken like dry wood and the etherial was a steel fortress." Page 378.
I took the liberty of cutting some bable from the center, not much but also not relative really. This just further backs up the oppinion above and gives another example of Kovash's steely resistance. It also goes to show that Chaos when faced with the Tau seems much more likely to simply destroy them than waste the time required to taint them. This is partially suggested above and further supported here. Lastly for this argument:
"The possibility of corrupting a high ranking Tau had been worth exploring at least, he reassured himself: that it had failed merely assured their utter annihilation, Chaos had little time for incorruptibility." Page 363.
This particular part of the passage I quoted earlier is yet another example of the position of Chaos to simply destroy the Tau and not even bother with further attempts to corrupt. This may not speak for chaos in general but the oppinion is one of a daemon of chaos undivided and this gives us some idea of what other chaos beings are going to do. Useless as tools the Tau will be targets for destruction.
Now all that about chaos is just my oppinion on these passages and of course I may be wrong but there is some stronge evidence to support the ideas I have put forth that also happen to make sense in combination with other 40k fluff.
Those are my findings from Firewarrior, there are many other references that say the same things more or less in the book but these are the ones I found to be of the greatest import and worth citing. Feel free to read Firewarrior and form your own oppinions on the matter I by no means wish to force these ideas on anyone but do wish to try and clarify some of the things in Firewarrior. Despite being a rather bad piece of literature Firewarrior is actually a good source of fluff on and insight into the Tau and I urge all Tau players to read it, borrow it from a friend, buy it, check it out from a library or whatever else. For Tau players it is still worth reading at least once in my oppinion.
The source for all this was of course the book Firewarrior by Simon Spurrier which is a novel on the plot from the game Firewarrior for the PS2 and PC.

"Bow to the Cows."