+ inload: Six Months On +
The corridor is dank stone – Venus-built – and dim, erratically lit by lumno-sconces that draw power from the damaged reactors. That there is light at all is a luxury Arrowsmith has only grudgingly afforded the armsmen.
Ah, Arrowsmith. Clan-captain Arrowsmith. A hard man to like, which makes it all the easier for him to lead. I owe him my life. The memories of Isstvan are raw, and the near-flawless memory my altered state has engendered, means they remain unsoftened by time. It has been six months, and still I see the fateful moment of defeat as though it were happening again, over and over. My sleep patterns are disturbed, my waking actions are agitated and distracted, and my fieldcraft is affected. My plate 'jects me with counterstimms to degrade excess hyperadrenaline.
We are all like this. Like this at best. Decades of experience have taught me that it is not always the best that remain standing; have taught me the arbitrariness of warfare. Of my meagre command on Isstvan, most are counted amongst the happy dead. Medardus, Triumph and myself. We are alive, but I hesitate to call us survivors.
Medardus has retreated into himself, shunning all company. Triumph has similarly isolated himself; communicating only in platitudes and Lodge rote. It is hard for Arrowsmith to enact discipline, particularly with we three on board. We are held in a peculiar mixture of contempt and awe. To have witnessed the Primarch's dea–
To have witnessed the event, we are unusual. The warriors of Sten, who make up the bulk of Arrowsmith's Recon company, seek us out. Some are sceptical, saying our account silver-tongued; others belligerent, as though by bellowing and posturing they can alter the events of the past. Others still are muted, mewling. That I find sickening.
So, one hiding, one in denial, and me. I wander. Perhaps it is easier for an outsider to remain outside.
Ah, one other. I forget. As the armsman salutes and waves me through, the portal to the bridge opens, and he is silhouetted. The Immortal. Hmm.
It is hard to take his oath seriously now. Have we not all failed the Legion? He intimated as much to me during the escape. As we reached atmosphere, I heard a vox-click. A private channel. I was focussed on the flight – anti-air fire has a wonderful effect of narrowing my view – and so I bore it no mind. I do not know how, or if, the Immortal overrode my plate, but I heard, above the roar of my own blood, five words that cut through my turmoil.
We are all immortal now.
+ Warriors of Sten +
+ We rejoin our narrator on board the Nereid, a Venusian starcraft pressed into service to serve the Shattered Legions. He, and a lucky (well, arguably) few have become attached to other survivors from Clan-company Sten. +
+ These are work-in-progress, but I thought I'd pop 'em up for your thoughts. +
+ An injured veteran (that trailing arm is smashed up, and he's missing a couple of fingers as a symbol of the damage done to the Iron Hands) alongside a marine who might not be quite what he appears... +
+ Banners! Who doesn't love a banner to rally round? Clan Sten's banner will be sea green, a gift from the Sons of Horus in better times, which has taken on a very different tone now. Not sure if this chap will be a Herald or a company standard bearer, but he's got a little servo skull with him. +