One good man adviced me to read this story. Done. Now - personal opinion time.
Why Wh40k authors love to make their characters behave like stupid teenagers with issues? Is this some kind of mental projection, or they just want to make their books 'closer' to teenage public? When a veteran fire caste warrior behaves herself like an arrogant b*tch - it looks very childish. I don't believe it because I saw how people behave themselves in such situations. All that 'Badass macho/amazon soldier' is a Hollywood bullsh*t usually used for entertaining effect. Professionals never behave themselves like that. One more thing about that b*tch behaviour - it's very unwise to antagonise your squad mates 'just to show them who's the boss'. They're not in a high school. Besides, they are Tau, which means discipline and devotion. (at least in theory) So I don't see the reason why aliens behave themselves like human teenagers.
Again, about teenage attitude. The 'boss' of their expedition is a complete idiot. His behaviour reminded me of the Alien movie. 'What is this crap? *steps closer to the egg* No, really, what is this unknown, dangerous-looking thing? *puts his head into the egg*' *facepalm* This 'boss' notices tenths of mutated corpses and several dead marines, his fire warrior bodyguard tells him about Tyranids, and his actions? 'Nah, it's ok. Let's continue with exploration.' And he says that after the water caste lady describes him as 'a person of logic'. -__- This is way too stupid. He wanted to make a great discovery and receive some fame and admiration. U-huh. The great example of Tau psychology and mind set. And they call their Gue'vesa barbarians after that? Hey, author, stop writing without a decent preparation/consultation period. Because what you describe is not a Tau expedition. It's a bad school trip.
Power armour. Gene stealers and their rending claws cut through marines armour. Again. And marines were so dumb that they didn't use flamethrowers or 20-40 suicide servitors with melta bombs to clear that secret laboratory. The more I read about space marines, the less I believe in their 'inhuman combat abilities' and 'mental supremacy'. Besides, what about in-built auto-destruction mechanism? Don't tell me that paranoid and xenophobic Inquisition didn't install one.
We have this 'break the system!' water caste lady as a narrator. All her 'What? They LIED to me!?' gasps feel unrealistic to me. Even that shas'ui girl knew more than a noble water caste diplomat. It's ridiculous.
Tau 'influential figures' behave themselves _exactly_ like their Imperial counterparts. (like arseholes) Author failed to understand that Tau is a different race with different ideology and way of life. They can't behave themselves like Imperial planetary governors or arrogant space marines captains (another stupid cliche) because they are not humans. Yet, they act like ones in this story, which completely ruins the atmosphere. And even inner Tau philosophical monologues can't remedy that.
Massacre at the lab. 'Boss' showed everyone his intelligence and logic by poking an unknown suspicious fungus with a power scalpel. He did it after two of his group members shouted him to stop. How did he manage to become a scientist with that IQ?
Gue'vesa. They walked into a toxic jungles without breathing masks. Riiight. And of course they got infected with fungus spores. This is called 'forced plot'. In my opinion, authors should avoid this at all costs, because a reader is not an idiot, and he doesn't like when an author takes him for one. You want to start an event - create a plausible explanation for it. Don't use 'writer's magic' and 'because I can!' approaches. It makes the whole situation look ridiculous.
In this story, a plasma pulse can't kill a mutant in one hit.
'Sudden amazon' syndrome. A water diplomat turns into a fire caste warrior in several seconds.
'Professional' fire warrior succumbs to hysteria.
'Space marines are our enemies, but hey, let's recharge this techmarine anyway. Maybe he won't kill us after the second reactivation.'
Deathwatch techmarine calmly communicates with Tau.
From the techmarine's words I can assume that the ultimate goal was to destroy the lab. So, why send a kill-team? Orbital bombardment is more efficient. Or, if it's a Tau world now - just contact their water caste and tell them about the lab - they'll vaporise it themselves.
The only thing I like about this story is that Iron Hands tech marine was described as a real badass.