The storm clouds had finally split at the first crack of thunder. Alaric remained sitting in his seat, watching the deluge come down onto the Achilles' Spear's windshield. He didn't want to disturb the moment, to acknowledge what the Command Squad and the entirety of the third platoon, fourth Company, had just been through. Pelting rains washed away the flames of war, blood off the streets, and quenched all that smoldered and blazed until only drifting columns of smoke choked the skies. In this moment, there was nothing he could have wished for more than the feeling of bliss the rain brought with it.
"Tiranus. Can I have word, in private?" All of the Command Squad sat in the dim crimson light within the Chimera's interior. Alaric glanced over his shoulder to see nearly a half dozen battle-scarred men all hunched over and sucking in stale oxygen. They were all painted in splattered blood, lending them the look of vengeful wraiths. The frightening look a wraith had in it's eyes felt manifested in Sergeant Mikhail's own. His shadow fell over Alaric all of a sudden, his stony expression far more regrettable than bleak. "Come on. Let's go for a stroll, Corporal."
"What do you need? Sir." Alaric climbed out of his seat and followed his commanding officer down the rampart and into the damp and chilly ruins of a desolated city.
The last vehicles of the entire fourth company were still rumbling in the streets filled with corpses of black robed cultists and storm grey geared Guardsmen. Techmarines and a legion of servitors were on the sidewalks and other crossroads leading to routes that wouldn't be used. Mikhail looked towards the lobotomized machines working tirelessly to create barricades of debris to shield them from further attack. He pointed at them and smirked very wearily.
"You know, if it hadn't been for me... you'd be one of those things by now. Just standing there from sun up to sun down, building barricades and repairing vehicles. You ever realize that, Corporal?"
"All the time, sir."
"Call me Mikhail, Alaric."
"Right, Mikhail." Alaric didn't have to repress a shudder because of the rain, so did so freely. He didn't like to think about these kinds of things or have these conversations. Especially with his superiors, it's even worse knowing his Sergeant had been his only lifeline that day. The day he ended up blowing up something quite spectacularly. "How did you convince them to let me fight again? You still haven't told me."
Mikhail gripped his shoulder with a firm hand. "Because I couldn’t convince the Mechanicus to make you a preist. Listen, you don't need to know. You just need to listen to me: you play by your strengths, understand? It's the only way you'll survive in this horrible galaxy. It's the only way you'll outlive the war. Do an old man a favor and remember what I've said, okay?"
Alaric's brow couldn't have risen any higher. He gripped his Sergeant in a bear hug before bothering to ask, "Why are you telling me this, Mikhail?"
An Imperial officer -female & high ranking, by the look of her medals and uniform- suddenly pushed through a small throng of tech-priests. A pair of heavily armed men, geared out in carapace equipment and hell-guns followed from a three foot distance. Mikhail gestured to the rapidly approaching group without another word and pulled him towards themselves. His Sergeant offered a crisp salute and Alaric followed his example.
"Colonel Landi, at your service. At ease, gentlemen." Landi didn't return their salutes, instead extending a very strange looking folder filled with documents. It had a very important looking seal imprinted on the surface. "Alaric Tiranus. Congratulations, you've been handpicked for a top-secret project. I can't tell you what that is, exactly, but these files I'm giving you should tell you enough to know that we've been watching you. Don't try to refuse the offer. Once you're selected, there's no backing out."
Mikhail wrapped an arm around Alaric's neck. "They've come to take you away, Alaric. It's a damn shame, too. You're a damn good Corporal. Just take care of yourself, Alaric. This is goodbye."
The order to move out had finally reached the fourth company and the armored column bellowed restlessly. Colonel Landi took Alaric aside the moment the convoy began rolling through to some unforeseen objective. Battered vehicle by vehicle grounded through the obliterated streets until after a couple of minutes, there were none that remained. Her two bodyguards immediately took him into a relocating medical base where a swift Valkyrie descended from the clouds to pick them up.