+ inload: Iter Mirabilis +

+ Iter Mirabilis +

If I learn one thing from the skirmish, it is that inter-legionary warfare is swift, brutal and unforgiving. 

The second lesson is simpler. It is important to be the last one standing. 

I limp over to each of the fallen enemy in turn to confirm the kills with a blade. It is something both more, and less, than expedient. Two are little more than blackened skeletons, and one took a boltgun round to the head.

I squat next to the Seeker with the broken neck. The Immortal's grip has nearly decapitated him. Is this knifework necessary, or tribalistic? I feel like I am exorcising my own hesitation. I shiver.


Standing, I appraise the situation. We are mauled, but – with the exception of Colmach – we are not dead. Triumph and Medardus are not fit to fight; but Coalstan, the Immortal and I are functional enough to prove a limited threat. Miredan seems almost embarrassed when his injuries prove to be little more than flesh wounds. He is battle-ready. Iron Hands are hard to kill.

Hard, but not impossible. We are forced to leave Colmach. The Immortal stands back, respectfully, as the others place the fallen veteran on his shield and fold his arms across his front. Bereft of a head, the corpse has precious little dignity. 

Triumph pulls a small silver object – no larger than the tip of my finger – from a pouch, and places it gently on Colmach's torso. Medardus, swimming in and out of consciousness, mumbles along with Triumph as the Breacher coughs out his litany.
"Colmach is dead. We will remember."

Let them have their ritual. 


I order us back to the supplies. There was a functional narthecium suite in one of the armoured containers, I am sure. We limp back down from the mountain, Miredan taking point and the Immortal protecting the rear. We are slow, vulnerable. Weak.

A functional suite, I think cloudily, though none of us have the training to use it. A problem, I decide, for later. Activity. Purposeful activity. 

We trudge heavily down the gouge, using the missing Stormbird's path as cover. No-one objects to the direct route this time. Having no orders, no command and control, has left me at a loose end. 

Isstvan was full of miracles, but miracles are simply the confluence of seemingly unlikely events. The Imperial Truth provides clarity and guidance. It has little space for mysticism. 

Finding an angel on the way down was thus a surprise.


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