Of Their Lives in the Ruins of Their Cities (Short Story)
|Collected in||Sabbat Worlds|
The Hammer and the Eagle: Icons of Warhammer
Dan Abnett takes the Tanith First back to the beginning. On Voltemand, long before they gain fame and glory as Gaunt's Ghosts, the Tanith are a broken unit. Crippled by doubt and hating their commander for his part in the death of their world, they are fractious and undisciplined. Leading a patrol into no-man's-land, Gaunt is ambushed. The Tanith must rally around and protect their new leader, or be consigned to history.
On the world of Voltemand, the soldiers and commander of the recently-founded Tanith First and Only Imperial Guard regiment find themselves landed with a desultory holding duty in unpleasant conditions.
Colonel-Commissar Gaunt is aware that he's an unpopular man in his own regiment, due to his role in the Fall of Tanith, and that his career choice in accepting a regimental command rank has so far proven disastrous. Mulling over an offer of an arranged transfer from his old friend Vaynom Blenner, he decides to lead a patrol out on reconnaissance to help him decide what to do - whether to "spin this shit into gold, or get a transfer to somewhere with a desk and a driver." Taking command of three squads handpicked and led by Colonel Corbec, Gaunt heads out into the ruins of the city of Kosdorf.
It quickly becomes apparent that the dislike of Gaunt amongst the common soldiery is bordering on open insubordination, with Colonel Corbec having to act swiftly in order to keep such troopers as the morose and truculent Caffran and the unstable Larkin in line. Connected to this attitude (and unnoticed by Gaunt) is the behaviour of Major Rawne and his immediate hangers-on, who go to such lengths as stealing Gaunt's personal mail in order to find out more about their commander.
The recon unit comes under unexpected fire from what appears to be Chaos-tainted PDF troopers, becoming pinned-down in the ruins. As things look increasingly bleak, Gaunt travels amongst the men, building up a closer and better picture of their nature and characters. The recon unit is eventually rescued by a sizeable detachment from the rest of the regiment, led by Major Rawne - who, initially content to ignore the situation until the recon team was officially reported overdue, had been convinced to go looking for the unit by the advice of Chief Medical Officer Dorden... which in turn was largely based on the comments of the strange young Tanith civilian, Brin Milo.
In the aftermath, several of the Tanith troopers are more positively disposed towards their commander, who in turn decides against transferring out of the regiment.
- Ibram Gaunt - Colonel-Commissar
- Colm Corbec - Colonel
- Rawne - Major
- Dorden - Chief Medical Officer
- Mkoll - Chief Scout
- Larkin - Marksman
- Murt Feygor - Adjutant to Major Rawne
- Beltayn - Infantryman
- Bragg - Infantryman
- Caffran - Infantryman
- Domor - Infantryman
- Merrt - Infantryman
- Ceglan Varl - Infantryman
- Brin Milo - camp follower
The events of this story follow on from the events of the second chapter of the second Gaunt's Ghosts novel, Ghostmaker.