+ inload: Ikoi Konstantin +

+ Ikoi Konstantin, Phalangite of XIX Muster +

Encamped barely three dolichos from what had been the Imperial's third line of defence, the whole Muster had been pushing through anonymous Terran rad-desert dotted with the remnants of ancient habitation. 

The siege allowed few moments of rest, but for some reason, the land was virtually silent. Aside from the dull systolic thuds of distant guns and the white jet-streaks of flyers, it could almost be peacetime. While ruined by artillery fire and the inlet of scouring, radiation-laden winds, Ikoi could see that the area had been reclaimed; made part of the Palace during the Unification Wars. The ground was still dusty and dry, but here and there vegetation could be seen clustered scantily in hollows near the smouldering buildings. Weeds. Brambles. Even berries, here and there. 

Ikoi was seized by a peculiar sensation. Recognition. Not letting his boltgun drop, he slowed his pace, warily. It was

He had been born here. Sek-Amrak

An ikon flashed in his vision, marking his elevated heartrate. After more than two centuries, he had returned. It was changed, of course, but...

He dismissed the insistent ikon absently, and stalked over to the vegetation. His vision was clearer when last he had stood here. He felt an uncontrollable urge to remove his helm, see the land of his birth with his own eyes. Doffing his helmet, the wind hit his sweaty face, cooling and rad-hot at the same time. 

His eyelid twitched. The ground was too sharp, too precise. Decades of war – and more prosaically, his occulobe organ – had made things alien, unfamiliar; had robbed the surroundings of any nostalgic comfort. He inhaled, a strange pressure mixed in with the tingle of quickly-neutralised toxins.

Kneeling down, he brushed aside the brambles, slowly at first, then increasingly fast, until he found a cluster of saphberries. Most were withered and dry, but three – just three – remained summer-swollen, a glorious rich burgundy. Delicately, silently, he pulled them from the branch, the textured iron of his gauntlet-tips seeming ungainly. He looked at them in his palm for a long moment, then popped them into his mouth, suddenly desperate, suddenly bereft.

They were bitter, spoiled by their exposure to the desert. The berries contained none of the wine-thick sweetness he remembered, none of the tang. His brow furrowed and face blackened as an auditory chime alerted him to toxins, chemicals. He balled his fists and screwed his eyes up. For a moment or two, he felt a hot, breathless ache that had nothing to do with poison; nothing to do with the war. 

Staring ahead at the Imperial Fists' fourth line, his face resumed its usual blank, sharp expression, as though a shutter had fallen across it. Replacing his helm with a sharp, swift motion, he stood. He paused just for a moment, casting a long shadow through the sick air, then briskly strode away. 


+ Layered in a complex mongrel suit of plate, Konstantin's torso and shoulder plates are examples of Nu-Saturnian pattern, a type superceded not long after the First Expedition reached past Pluto in the early years of Crusade. The remainder of the suit is of Voss-Prime extraction with the exception of the helm, based on an artificer-pattern common amongst the IVth Legion. +

+ The power pack is a similarly old examples of Sol-Militaris pattern. Unlike the torso and pauldron plate, its age is unremarkable on an active Legionary. This variant was superceded towards the end of the Great Crusade by Mark IV, but was often retained by veterans owing to its reliability and great resilience. +

+ A newer Tigrus-pattern boltgun, and standard pauldron markings help with the identification of this legionary. His corpse – scorched beyond gene-rune retrieval – was recovered from a temporary bunker complex dug beneath the Auro Marches after the Siege, and verified as Ikoi Konstantin, a Terran veteran of numerous campaigns, including the Dol-Mars campaign, Saryine Pacification, and the notorious Battle of Black Blades. Konstantin was – at least temporarily – assigned to the 282nd Grand Battalion, though whether this indicates the formations presence here is moot; as the area was subject to atomic bombardment during the Siege, glassing the plateau. +

+ Legionaries like Ikoi Constantin present scholars and recordicians with much to discuss. How could those had fought to reclaim Terra in the Unification Wars; many of whom had seen or even met the Emperor directly, return to rain such terrible destruction on mankind's birthworld? +

+ The answers are as numerous as stars in the sky, and – as is often the case with the subtle corruption of Chaos – often rooted in a yearning for freedom; for an unshackling from the increasingly oppressive and invasive bureaucracy of the Adeptus Terra. +

+ At root, the Legiones Astartes represent a terrible contradiction as old as humanity itself: an invading force tasked with liberation. That underlying and subconsicious confusion is fertile ground for the Archenemy to sow with doubts. +

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