Dreams of Unity (Short Story)
|Heralds of the Siege
It has been many long years since the fall of the Thunder Warriors. After the last battles of Unity, the legions of genhanced warriors were slaughtered by the Emperor's Custodian Guard on the Master of Mankind's orders. But a handful survived... Now one of the last few Thunder Warriors gets caught up in dangerous events that engulf the Throneworld – even as he is hunted by one of the Emperor's praetorians.
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|Dreams of Unity (Short Story)
The story begins inside of a gladiator's pit in The Maw near the end of a match between a chrono-gladiator, owned by Radik Clev, and the Thunder Warrior Kabe. Although Kabe fought in many battles for unity, including against the Kievan Rus at the Sibir ice plain at Urhs, against the Hoth Grendal clans at Albia, and at the siege of Abyssna, he was unable to bring down his opponent and fell. After Tarrigata, his blind, aged master, cursed at the loss, Dahren Heruk, a fellow Thunder Warrior who was also part of Tarrigata's ludus, jumped down into the pit to battle the chrono-gladiator. After a quick match, Heruk defeated the chrono-gladiator then gave the dying Kabe an "Honoured Death" by stabbing him in the heart.
After the battle, Heruk carried Kabe's body back with Tarrigata as the old man remarked that the fights were drawing smaller crowds. After Heruk tried to argue that the Thunder Legion was still great, Tarrigata reminded him that there was no legion after Ararat, and Vezulah Vult, another Thunder Warrior, chimed in that they were just gladiators now. As the group prepared to leave, they discussed Tarrigata's past as an astropath and that they were all hunted now before Vezulah became lost in a flash back to the battle at Sibir against Kalagann before Heruk could snap him out of it.
They traveled to Tarrigata's home in the run down part of the Outer Palace districts, and situated above The Maw, known as the Swathe, where they dispose of Kabe's body. While harvesting his organs to help preserve their own lives, Heruk and Vezulah reflected on their prior glory as the worked. After finishing, Tarrigata told Heruk that the warrior owed a debt to Clev for interrupting the fight then ordered him to find what happened to Gairok, another Thunder Warrior who was missing and due to fight. As Heruk left, the Custodian Tagiomalchian, an Ephroi, departed in a Coronus Grav-carrier from the Tower of Hegemon on orders by Valdor to hunt down someone dangerous.
Heruk experiences a flashback to the battle at Abyssna, with Vezulah calling a charge for the Thunder Legion to battle. Gairok pointed out that the Custodians were fighting besides them as they took down the northern tower. The Thunder Legion was able to penetrate the tower and enter into hand to hand combat, routing the defenders but Heruk takes a shot to the head in the dream and wakes up at the Silo, a bar in the Swathe, with Gairok standing above him. Looking around, Heruk saw the many bodies that he assumes Gairok cut down in his hallucination. Unable to wake Gairok up, he comes under attack before Heruk stabs Gairok in the chest with his sword. As Heruk leaves the bar with Gairok's body, Tagiomalchian drops from his ship, near his prey in the Swathe, and he receives his order to kill his prey.
Arriving back at Tarrigata's home, Heruk finds it aflame. As he enters the place, he immediately starts experience flash backs to Arat, Hy Brasil, Urhs, and Albia before pulling himself back to reality. Busting into the place, he was able to find Tarrigata, rescuing him as the preserved organs of the Thunder Warriors were destroyed. Before dying, Tarrigata gave Heruk a rad pistol but was unable to answer any questions. As Heruk assumes it was Vezulah who caused the destruction, Tagiomalchian arrives at the Silo and examines the destruction, finding chaos markings on a body.
Heruk left in search of Vezulah, hoping to end him and the madness he suffered. Soon, Heruk came upon the lightning bolt representing the Thunder Legion in a stairway down into the Flood, the catacomb beneath the Swathe. Heruk found Vezulah, wounded across the stomach and with broken weapons nearby. He was also blind from acid attack after having been attacked by Legionaries who were in the Swathe. In his dying moments, Vezulah made it clear that he was attacked and not responsible for the deaths. Suddenly, Heruk could hear a battle and he ran towards it. Elsewhere in the catacomb, Tagiomalchian was wounded by his prey, but he also had wounded it. In his conversation with his handlers, he reflected on other incidents on Terra after the Alpha Legion attack before acknowledging that the source was near him. He then shut off communication as he entered into a hall to find a possessed Alphia Legion warrior waiting.
Tagiomalchian attacked the possessed legionary and its 8 cultists, attempting to stop the sacrifice. As Heruk arrives, Tagiomalchian was on his back and being attacked by the possessed legionary. As he charged the cultist, he reflected on Tarrigata's paranoia at a conspiracy as being correct. The fight was messy, and Heruk received many wounds as he cut down the cultists. His failing, cancer-racked body a dim shadow of it's former might. Eventually, he dispatched all but one, who killed herself. Finally able to battle the legionary, he witnessed the daemonic for the first time, and he recognized the evil behind it. Heruk charged the legionary, giving oaths to his loyalty and to unity as he battled. He found himself fighting against becoming lost in his flashbacks as much as he was fighting the demonic legionnaire, eventually allowing the possessed marine to deliver a mortal blow. Wounded and dying, he still continued to fight, eventually managing to blast it with the rad pistol. With the monster stunned from the blast, Heruk was able cleave his sword through the beasts' shoulder, chest, and up into its neck. While now cripplingly wounded, the possessed marine still lived, but Heruk was too weak from his wounds to continue fighting. However, Heruk's assault had allowed the Custodian to recover, and the gold clad warrior beheaded the possessed Alpha Legionnaire, before ripping out its heart, finally killing the monster.
As Heruk was dying, Tagiomalchian gave him thanks for the aid before questioning if he was of the Thunder Legion. After admitting he was, the Custodian was surprised to see that they still existed. Tagiomalchian readied to leave, but Heruk asked for one last favor: to be given an honoured death. The Custodian respectfully agreed to his request. While Tagiomalchian stood over him and raised his sword, Heruk released his grip on reality and remembered the raising of the Lightening Banner atop Mount Ararat, the triumphant cries of victory. He was back on mountain, in the Thunder Warriors' greatest moment, his comrades: Kabe, Vezulah, and Gairok standing beside him. As the sword was driven through his heart, the Thunder Warrior began to weep in joy and whispered "For Unity…".