+ inload: Thunder Warriors +

+ Bellator Tonitro: Baru Karanean +



The Astartes' face buckled like leather as he smiled; a far-away look in his eye. It was a peculiar expression for a Legionary. My only previous experience with the Legionaries had left me with the impression of rigid, unfeeling automata. The expression seemed oddly human; uncomfortably so, somehow. I pushed the thought to the back of my mind, and motioned to the officer to continue.

'It was told later, that the Emperor's warriors struck like lightning; that their victory was as inevitable as the storm. It was told later that their name was mere metaphor. I was told this by one such as you; a hundred years after the last of their kind met their unkind end. That moemoae-caipan – my apologies; your word,' he coughed, and I realised as he continued that he was slightly embarrassed. Another expression that I had not – and would not – see on the other Legionaries I met. 'Apologies again; our word, of course, would be 'bard'. I have been on the frontiers too long, perhaps. I have not yet adjusted to Imperial Gothic.'

That much was clear. Even the words themselves seemed awkward for him to phrase; his tongue tripping heavily over the syllables.

To put him at his ease – reading that back, I find the concept oddly comic – I interrupted. He listened to my clarification, head tipped, then he continued, with an eyebrow raised quizzically and a smile on his voice. 'Is that right? I hadn't heard that term. 'Remembrancers', is it? Well, well. So no more poets or bards to sing our stories? Just Remembrancers to report.' I said nothing, unsure of what I could say. It didn't seem like a question to me. I was reminded, strangely, of my grandfather. His mind had wandered. His pauses had become attenuated. His gaze had grown misty.

As the silence stretched, I wondered just how old the Legionary was. That I was talking with him attested to his having lived through Unity. Had he been born before the rise of the Emperor? Could any Legionary be so old?

+++

'I was there, Remembrancer. I saw the Thunder Warriors, and I tell you that their name was nothing so abstract as simile. They rolled over my father's forces without breaking stride.'

'I found later that our ten thousand-strong caravan was not even a target. We were merely in their path.' He smiled again. I detected no sadness, no regret. Perhaps his Ascendance had scoured or altered his emotions. Perhaps it was simply because he could not connect with the child he had been.

'I was not yet of the Legion, so my memories are patchy. You might excuse a frightened child of omitting certain details. Nevertheless, I see you wish to know all you can of the... first forces.' 

I dutifully jotted down his notes on his impressions – huge ogres that emerged from the blackness; fire-lit and bloody-toothed. Great roars that shook his thin chest, and the booming weaponry that burst his eardrums and left him screaming noiselessly. He talked spottily of the stench of sweat and salt-dirt; outlining his primitive memories in the enlightened frame of our more modern ideas, pausing to answer my prompts on how his humours were balanced or the relevance of the astromantic signs.

+++

After the report was made, he paused again. His face grew dark. 'We never knew them as Thunder Warriors. That is a later label, added to put something strange and terrifying in a box. Just as you were once a recordist, or a journaller – and now you and your kin are all Remembrancers. It is the same'. He brought his hands up, the fingers together, then opened them in a motion like a blooming flower. 'The Great Crusade will do this, too. All the myriad languages that have flowered over Old Night will be recorded and put aside; replaced with Imperial Gothic. We will establish a single culture, a great Imperium across the stars. The Emperor, beloved-by-all, will rule over a humanity united.'

He seemed to sit straighter, the cot beneath him creaking at his animation.

'I bear witness to the Imperial Truth. I am an ambassador of what is to come. My kind will journey to the galaxy's edge to bring all humanity together.' His smile returned and he continued. 'We will learn everything. We will encompass the whole of human knowledge. Think of it! Every song, every story, every scientific or mathemagickal principle from a million worlds – at the hands of everyone. It will be a golden age.'

He paused, his eyes glittering.

'But I will not be part of it. The scythe does not share the bread.' Did I detect a note of frustration beneath the conviction? Before I could ask, he began to speak again.

'But part of this is the past. We must not forget what has happened. The Thunder Warriors were a brutal necessity. Let me tell you more of them...'

4 comments:

  1. My word this is amazing! "The sythe does not share the bread", that is a beautiful phrase Rubicist! Beautiful and melancholic, perfect to capture the sentiment of a soldier who wants to be more than a means to an end. I love where this is going

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brilliant, simply brilliant. More please!

    ReplyDelete

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