In Death Duty Does Not End.
Word Count: 1085
The old soldier looked upon his men and women, all with tired eyes and weary bodies. He did not blame them; this had been a hard fought battle. Now with the safety of this steam fuelled train to the barracks at Tay, their duty would end and they might get some needed rest.
Sergeant McCray walked the length of the Flying Taymar and stood before her massive engine. Her steam chimney rose high into the skies and he thought that if he listened hard enough there were songs to be heard in her idling steam bursts.
Like the ancient pipes of his forgotten home world Nova Celtia, it seemed to tell him that their war was nearly over. He would hope that it was. Many friends lost in the wars against the Archenemy and others to the fanatical ways of the Commissariat, especially if cowardice was perceived. He put his tabac stick out and shouldering his carbine rifle he walked the length of the train. He started checking every storage door to ensure that it was locked and, that the men and women of the Nova Celtia 34th Infantry, the so called “Warriors of Heart” were in their appointed posts and doing their watch duties with the same efficiency as their younger counterparts.
He could hear the singing from the passenger carriages and shook his head, not one of the young bucks and young fawns had any idea what they were going to be facing. The war here had been on-going for over fifty years, they were in the arse end of the universe in the Shetland System and these young bloods’ had yet to see the real hardships of battle.
The explosives crew had checked along the bridge and ensured that it was not rigged to explode. He doubted it would be as the powers of the fell ones had much up their sleeves and explosives would be too obvious, and yet part of him was relieved as he stopped to look over the massive iron bridge.
It spanned the width of the mighty river Taymar. Great iron struts ensured that any train going over the bridge was protected from the harsher elements of this world. There was a walkway that had been constructed for the engineers to periodically re-paint the bridge to prevent rust setting in or check for broken struts and tracks.
He heard his Commissar bellow for all to get aboard. With a sigh Sergeant McCray climbed aboard and waved towards the drivers cab. The sooner they delivered the new bloods and the tanks to the encampment at Carisbrooke the sooner they will all make a push to finally get off this rock, or claim it as their own, whichever came first.
The steam erupted and the wheels turned, with a screech it began its slow move towards its destination and the Warriors of Hearts’ final battle. They never made it. Halfway across the bridge the Sorcerers of the Thousand Sons caused the river to swell to such a degree that the force behind it battered the pillars of rockcrete. As the Flying Tamar picked up speed the sorcerers sent the unnatural forces to the weakened structures. The moment the heavy train hit the weakened track section, the bridge broke apart. The weight of the train and the frenzy of the warp churned river had the bridge break in two; the train upended and plummeted into the freezing depths of the waters.
The steam hissed in anger as it entered the water, the screeching of the wheels mingled with the creaks of the armoured vehicles drowned out any human screams. The waters battered the train as it sank deeper into the water and swirled around it like a pack of hungry wolves. Once the hissing was done and the waters had calmed once more, the broken bridge was the only remnant to what had happened here.
Two fishermen were sitting along the banks of the Taymar. The war had ended almost half a century before. The Imperium won a costly but important victory, driving the forces of Chaos out of the system, with the help of the Brotherhood of a Thousand, White Scars and Raven Guards Astartes, peace reigned once more.
They chatted about how peaceful life was round here. The bridge itself had never been repaired. Further along the stream a new Bridge had been built by the Mechanicum, the older one had been sealed off and left as a memorial to the thousand men and women of the Imperial Guard who had died in what had been seen as one of the Thousand Sons more cowardly acts by the Warmaster.
They caught their fish and ate their supper then settled in for the night fishing they had decided to stay for. The more they caught, the more their families would feast at the weekend celebrations. The Priest would be there to say a prayer and honour those that had fallen in the defence of their world. They spoke about how their daughters and sons were doing and how their clan would continue to thrive with the blessings of the Great Chieftain and his sons.
The celebrations also marked the games, when the Brotherhood of a Thousand would come to them and recruit more males for their sky warriors. They come once every twenty five years and both men had sons of age and hoped their sons would be chosen. They laughed together and then it died away as their attention was drawn to the old bridge.
A single light lit the way but was bright enough to bathe the opposite side of the vast riverbank and as the two fishermen raised their glances they saw a train, an old train, one that had not been used in fifty years come across the old bridge. Soldiers sat on the roofs of the carriages with their rifles held tightly and lights in the carriages silhouetted the singing figures of soldiers on their way to battle. The fishermen watched, terrified as the Train screeched, and the engine and its carriages fell into the river with the screams dying with it, it vanished as it hit the water.
The two fishermen left their tools and ran like the spirits of hell were after them.
In death, duty did not always end. The next night Sergeant McCray boarded the train as he would for eternity to deliver the men and weapons that would never arrive.