The origins of the Commerce Protection Fleet ( or Qath’fannor to the Tau ) date back to the early 42nd mil-lennium, by which time the Emissary class had enteredinto widespread use across an emergent Tau Empire. TheEmissary itself utilised a unique hull design, better con-forming to the wing shape created by the Gravitic Drive.This had the effect of increasing the duration of warp-divethat the Emissary was able to sustain, an attribute whichwas to be of great use in the Emissary’s primary role asa diplomatic vessel, forming trade relations and allianceswith those species inhabiting systems neighbouring Tauspace.An end to the Emissary’s primarily passive role was tocome when a vital medical supply convoy on its way toa viral outbreak on T’olku was attacked by Ork raiders.Despite the particularly heavy escort assigned to it, theconvoy commander realised that it was only a matter of time before the Orks gathered in enough strength to over-whelm the convoy entirely, and dispatched his Messenger to the nearby Sept world of N’dras for aid.Arriving in-system, the Messenger immediately relayednews of the impending disaster to the Kor’vattra in orbitaround N’dras. Amongst them was Kor’el Nem’sha andher command of four Emissaries. Realising that the Emis-saries were the only vessels capable of reaching the be-leaguered convoy in time, the young Kor’el immediatelyvolunteered to defend it until the Kor’O commanding the
N’dras eet could reinforce her with his more heavily
armed Merchants and Explorers. Nem’sha’s Emissaries proved to be the salvation of theconvoy, their arrival heralded by an immediate salvoof missiles crippling the Ork Kroozer leading the raid.
Through the intense ghting that followed, the Emissaries
were able to link with the remnants of the convoy’s escortand hold off the still-determined Orks until the rest of the
N’dras eet appeared to scatter the raiders before them.
The Tau did not achieve such a victory without cost how-ever. In addition to most of the convoy’s escort beingdestroyed, one of the Emissaries was also left a twistedwreck, with a second so badly damaged that it had to beabandoned and scuttled. Most importantly, a convoy ves-sel had been boarded, with Kor’el Nem’sha forced to or-der it destroyed rather than let it fall into the hands of theOrks. Still, enough inoculations reached T’olku to haltthe progress of the virus, saving many thousands of Taulives in the process.The swift intervention of the Emissaries was widelyacknowledged as the single greatest factor contributingto this success, and so the Commerce Protection Forcewas created with the newly promoted Kor’O Nem’shacommanding it. Consisting as it did of Emissary crews – always chosen for their ability to improvise when their
far-ung missions left them isolated from any form of support, the edgling Qath’fannor soon came to be re
-garded as one of the most forward thinking elements of the entire Kor’vattra.Kor’O Nem’sha actively encouraged such radical think-
ing amongst her ofcers, leading by example in assigning
Fire Warrior Strike Teams to every Emissary under her command. Still distraught over her part in the destructionof the T’olku convoy vessel, Nem’sha placed the require-ment of having the strike teams be able to retake capturedconvoy vessels. Responding to this, her liaison in the Firecaste implemented a new training regimen amongst theQath’fannor Fire Warriors, which when combined withspecialist boarding pods developed by the Earth caste,enabled them to successfully undertake boarding opera-tions.Such co-operation between the Castes has characterisedthe development of the Qath’fannor under the leadershipof Kor’O Nem’sha and that of her successors. Inspired bythe example set by Kor’O Khas’a’tah, the Fire caste was
fully integrated into the command structure of the eet,with hunter cadres permanently attached to specic ves
-sels. Such measures, when combined with improvementsto the Emissary itself such as the addition of grav-hooksto tow Orca gunships, enabled the Commerce ProtectionForce to dramatically decrease the amount of shippinglost to raiders.Even in this formative state, the Qath’fannor was not en-tirely restricted to anti-piracy operations. When the need presented itself, the Emissaries of the Commerce Protec-
tion Fleet also participated in full eet engagements, such
as its part in the Damocles Gulf Crusade of 742.M41.
With an Imperial eet discovered penetrating into Tau
space, all available Emissaries within range were formed
up and tasked with ghting a delaying action in order for the Tau eet to gather in sufcient numbers to pre
-vent the intruders from reaching the major Sept world of Dal’yth.
It was in the Hydass system that the Emissary eet rst
clashed with the ships at the spearhead of the Imperialcrusade. However, it soon became apparent that the lightcruisers were no match for their Imperial opponents, asthe Tau were forced to withdraw with the loss of an Emis-
sary and several Orcas, with much of the rest of the eet
suffering damage. Swift to adapt, the Emissaries still in
a condition to ght adopted the hit-and-fade tactics com
-monly employed against them in the past by commerceraiders, striking at the vulnerable crusade transports and
slowing the advance of the Imperial eet.
Not to be deterred from its objective, the Crusade soonarrived in the Tau held Sy’l’kell system. Here rather thanneedlessly engaging the superior Imperial forces, the re-maining Emissaries had instead successfully evacuatedas many Tau personnel as possible in the knowledge of the ambush awaiting their enemy in the Pra’yen system.
Thanks to the actions of the Emissary eet, there the Tau
had been able to gather their heavier ships and install newweapons systems on the orbital station that would proveto be a formidable obstacle to the invaders.