|Submitted By: Date: April 10, 2007, 12:00:00 AM Views: 1679
|Summary: Now, insight into the warped and scarred mind of Raphael Herrn, Lieutenant in the Imperial Guard, Commander of the 3rd Brigade, 16th Division, 40th Corps.
It was getting dark as the last Valkyrie touched down on deck, thick clouds had rolled in, blanketing the land a quasi-dusk. The air smelled heavy and sweet, the smell of rain and lightning; the wind spoke of storms approaching. He had always loved the rain. A pair of female officers hurried out of the transport, accompanied by a small squad of men who looked slightly queasy. Must not be used to the ride, he mused, though he had heard good things about this Brigadier Fiest and her Espandor troops, he hoped that they were true. She was his new divisional commander. He turned slowly, gazing out at the parade hall. Row upon row of men stood at attention, multicolored uniforms shining brilliantly even in the neon lights, the semblance of some massive jungle bird in mating plumes; he wondered just how competent each one of them were, how well they would stand up in the coming months.
His own men, the 12th Keldian stood near the center, jet black uniforms clashing against the bright ceremonial dress of the surrounding units. They had come through hell with him, and Emperor willing they would go through it again.
Raphael Herrn ran one hand through his closely cut amber hair; he had grown accustomed to the messy length that had grown during his last months of field service, and it still felt slightly odd trimmed back to regulation length. He winced slightly as his fingers brushed the scar received not two months earlier in the heart of Kasr Pontcar, he swore he could still the burned plasteel where his helmet had been melted by Da’Xernia’s plasma pistol. The other brigadiers had each brought a company of their best men, a representative force of the division’s strength; the men of the 12th had given up nearly a third of their number to match. So many of his men lay dead on Cadia, so many good men, men that he had grown up with, that he had grown to love. This was not the time for sentimentality. He scolded himself. The past was all it could ever be; more important tasks now lay at hand. Doubt once again slipped through into his thoughts. Was it wise for the Lord Solar to give him such power, such responsibility? He had only just risen to command of the 12th; the only commissioned officer left after the bloody street battles of Cadia Prime. He still retained the rank of lieutenant. And now he was in command of an entire brigade of The Emperor’s men, it was his duty to ensure their safety and their readiness.
A drowning vox speaker announced the arrival of Fiest and her retinue, and Herrn glanced once again at the hall as the Espandorians uttered a triple shout, doubtless some ancient phrase that held great meaning to their regiment. How many of these men would be dead before the month was over? How much blood would be spilt on Medusa V? These men would gladly die for their Emperor. They were brave men, loyal men. If only they knew what they were truly dying for.
Unconsciously his fingers wound themselves tightly around a small circular object in his pocket. Its surfaced was chipped and rough, burned by promethium and clawed by shrapnel. Somehow the object calmed him, reassuring any doubts that he still clung to. Slipping it out of his pocket his kissed it once, and pressing it to his forehead he murmured a quick prayer to The Emperor for guidance. It was this miniscule disk that had assured his current position. Indeed, if it had been for it, he surely would have perished long ago. It was his charm, his security, and his source of strength. It was the personal seal of Inquisitor Lord Gaius Aerulian.
The unmistakable sound of jackbooted heels clicking together stole him from his reverie. A Cadian sergeant major stood at attention, salute rigidly maintained. Herrn returned the salute, allowing the scar-ridden soldier a slightly more relaxed stance.
“Tell the esteemed Ms. Fiest that I shall be joining her shortly, and that Lord Aerulian sends his greetings.”
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