Master gunship pilot Shas'la T'au Sha'ng of the Tau Empire, now better known as Longstrike -- and bearing the titles of Hammerhead Pilot, Gunship Ace, Titan-Slayer, Terror of T’ros and Hero of T’au -- has quickly become the Tau Fire Caste's most heralded tank ace. Since his first training session, he has exhibited an almost innate ability to handle a Hammerhead. With the start of the Tau Empire’s Third Sphere Expansion, his skills were soon put to the ultimate test in the heat of battle
It was during the Taros Campaign that the young Hammerhead pilot earned the name Longstrike and got his first taste of the repugnant ways in which humans fight their wars. As part of an Armoured Interdiction Cadre, he was assigned to a contingent fighting in the western deserts of T'ros. There, over vast arid flatlands, Hammerhead gunships clashed for days against the full might of the Imperial Guard's Leman Russ main battle tank companies. For all their smoke-spewing and crude design, the human battle tanks were dangerous; even more so as they outnumbered the Tau armour by at least six to one. Early in his many engagements, Sha'ng showed poise and a remarkable aim; making every shot count until the horizon was littered with fiery wrecks. Yet the battles were costly for the Tau as well. All of Sha'ng's bond-mates -- those who had undergone the version of the Ta'lissera unique to gunship pilots -- were slain. The human tankers showed no remorse, grinding their heavy tracks over wounded Tau, or even their own troops, in their eagerness to press the attack.
Sha'ng continued to battle, steadily backing his Hammerhead away to put intervening terrain between himself and incoming fire. With every discharge of his vehicle’s Railgun, smoke blossomed from another Leman Russ in the distance. The tank duel went on until a school of Razorshark strike fighters flew over to finish off the attackers, and Longstrike's legend had begun. In the ongoing battles that marked the Imperium's retreat from T'ros, Longstrike continued to cull the Imperial armour, including a famous headshot that felled a mighty Warhound-class Titan.
Due to his unerring aim, Longstrike was chosen to test the newly designed experimental XV02 Pilot Battlesuit. With its upgraded interface, he could become one with his vehicle -- reacting instantaneously alongside various artificial intelligence (AI) functions within the Hammerhead. He would also be able to make better use of incoming Marker Light data, enabling him to lock on to targets with even greater accuracy. He could now support nearby teams in ways that vehicles, even those equipped with Advanced Targeting Relays, never could before. Longstrike became not only better integrated with his gunship, but also with his entire cadre. The combination of Longstrike's already formidable skills and the XV02 Pilot Battlesuit has made him deadlier than ever.
Despite the unparalleled views and holo-maps provided by the XV02, Longstrike still prefers to rise to the cupola position to view each battle directly. To those who question his actions, Longstrike repeats an ancient saying on T'au -- "'Vrass al’shon kwn’sha" -- which translates roughly into Low Gothic as "some traditions refuse to die". This is typical of Longstrike, for he is a traditionalist, repeating over and over the maxims taught by Fire Caste pilot training academies. He believes firmly in drills and repeats manoeuvres with his Cadre's over and over again until each of them know his battle tactics and preferred targeting matrixes, and he knows theirs. However, when Longstrike's new Cadre after the Taros Campaign proposed to undertake the ta'lissera bonding ritual with the exacting veteran, they were refused. After his first bondmates were slain by the armies of Mankind upon T'ros, Longstrike vowed to never again perform that ritual. Cold and detached, Longstrike is bonded to duty and battle alone.
Redeployed later on during the Third Sphere Expansion for the major battle on Mu'gulath Bay, Longstrike destroyed innumerable gun and bunker emplacements along the Imperial lines. As the fighting moved into the narrow hive city streets, Longstrike's lightning fast reactions allowed him to destroy infantry attempting to emerge from cover and attack surrounding Fire Warriors. Before the last pockets of resistance were wiped out, word of the Hammerhead pilot who could not miss had spread all across the Fire Caste. By that time, Sha'ng was already on board a transport for the next engagement of the Third Sphere Expansion.
Longstrike wears a unique experimental XV02 Pilot Battlesuit. This form-fitting prototype allows a pilot to work in tandem with his vehicle's AI by processing the cadre tactical network and incoming data quickly so that the pilot can react extremely rapidly to enemies attacking his vehicle or nearby units. The Battlesuit also features a multitude of specialised systems, plug sockets, vents, and a wrist-mounted control panel that allow Longstrike to pilot his Hammerhead by himself without the need for additional crew members. The Battlesuit also incorporates a Blacksun Filter, which is an optical filtering suite allows him target enemies at full efficiency and range, even during night fighting operations.
- Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition), pp. 62, 72
- War Zone Damocles: Mont'ka (Digital Edition), pg. 79
- White Dwarf 400 (AUS), “Longstrike”, pg. 22