The walls were painted white, egg shell. The trim was blue. The door as most were, was brown. The window was triple paned and held in the heat while outside the winter winds blew heavy down flows of snow and sleet.
Within the small house the sound of classical music, Bical Odias and the Silnious orchestra, could be heard. The notes were somber and thought provoking, yet alive and soothing. The wine stirred the blood, warming it while the fire from the wood stove danced and swayed.
The fire crackled and snapped as it consumed the wood. It growled and hissed and popped and sang and spoke and comforted and …breathed.
Marcona Pionias sat at the table watching the flames dance before him. He could see her there moving, swirling and dancing. She was beautiful. She met his every need.
Pionias hummed the tune the orchestra was playing; its name was called, “The Forgotten.” There were no words to this song, but there was accusation and longing in the notes that were presented.
The Aquilla along with a standard issue guard rifle sat above the fireplace mantle. They both were old and worn. They had been used too much over the years.
Snap, pop…hiss. Pionias opened his eyes. He had not realized he had even closed them. She was smaller now so he set the wine glass down and stood from the table he was sat at. He found the light from outside was growing thicker; he looked back to the fire. ‘I’ll be back soon. You won’t be alone for long.
His long green coat was hung by the door, its aged fabric stitched and patched too many times to be remembered. He slid it from the rack and put it on. He hated the feel of it upon his back, against his skin. It felt like a weight that he could never get away from. But the blizzard demanded he submit so he wore it despite the way it made him feel.
His old rough hand gripped the door handle and turned it. Old scars lined his knuckles and fingers and the back of his hand. The memories started to come back but he pushed them down. He did not want to remember, the pain was too hard to bear.
Gritting his teeth against the brutal cold, he pulled the hood up and over his head, then stepped out and closed the door. He had to pull hard against the wind, but not too hard; he did not want to slam the door.
The snow crunched underfoot but his steps were sure and purposeful and measured. He walked through the biting wind the sleet and the snow as if it did not matter at all, like he was the one who had brought it all down, like he had orchestrated its unruly spite.
‘Down you miserable Fecks!’ the Commissar yelled over the firing of the Basilisks the concussive blast waves of rail cannons and the trimmer of reactive shells striking home. ‘Move or die you sons of the Emperor or I swear by the throne that I’ll kill you myself.’
The commissar was a brutal man who had most likely killed or injured more of his own men then the enemy. He was hated be all, so when his head exploded no one mourned. It was good to see him dead.
When the battle was over every man who had survived in the regiment made sure to spit upon the Commissar’s body. It felt good to have some revenge for the things he had done to them.
The snow crunched under his feet. The sound of it brought him back from the brink. The wood shed was twenty more feet away and the door was shut. Snow drifts had made sure that Marcona Pionias had to work to get the door open.
Pionias grabbed the shovel from the rack and began to dig. Crunch..shlick…thud…crunch shlick…thud…
The flies buzzed all around him as he dug the graves. There were too many bodies to count, too many corpses to properly identify. It was hot and filthy and stunk to the Emperor’s throne.
He stood up from his labor and looked around. Fires burned in the not so distant, black smoke eddying into the blackened sky. War engines could be heard revving their engines, cranking their artillery cannons up and down, calibrating and repairing the damage done two nights ago.
Trenches were being dug thirty yards away, almost on top of the make shift graveyard. Someone was in the med tent screaming, an amputation he thought. Maggots were already crawling upon the skin of the dead.
Open eyes stared at him and at the ground and at the sky from bloated, burnt bodies. It was as if they were seeing where they were going after they died and it was terrifying.
Crunch…shlick…thud…crunch…shlick…thud. His hands were cold and numb. The snow had been removed from in front of the door. He pulled the tarp off of the wheelbarrow and pulled it from the corner of the shed. Bending forward he began to place bigger logs on the bottom and smaller ones to the top.
When it was full he pulled it from the shed and closed the door once more. The wind was fierce and cold, brutally chilling, to the bone. Pionias pushed the wheelbarrow through the snow balancing the wood on one wheel while holding the wooden handles in his cold callused hands.
‘Hurry up or the enemy will be upon us!’ the guardsman bellowed over the explosions, the shelling, the blasting and the screaming. The razor whire in front of the trenches were filled with bodies torn asunder by stubber cannons, las-rifles and land mines.
But through the darkness, revealed by the light of the exploding ordinance Pionias could see tens of thousands more. They were all about screaming in their daemonic tongues and profaning the name of the Emperor.
Pionias ran as fast as he could across the body strewn ground, head down. The shotgun was strapped to his back while he navigated the wheelbarrow from firing squad to firing squad. Each unit grabbed handfuls of ammunition and canteens of water as fast as they could.
He ran on pushing the wheelbarrow with all the energy he had. A thud behind him lifted him from his feet and tossed him into the trench where he fell into piles of bloody corpses. He could not remember how long he had been out, but when he came to the morning light was just breaking the angry dawn.
As he climbed from the trench he came face to face with the corpse of a fallen Chaos officer. The man’s eyes were open and his mouth open. Pionias pulled himself out completely and pulled the shotgun from his back. The officer laid there, a massive hole in his chest.
The funny thing was, he did not look any different than any of the guardsmen he had fought with before. The man was clearly as human as any other man.
The forces of Chaos had receded with the morning light and silence replaced the pitch of battle for a moment. But as the silence stretched, the effects of the night came to the fore.
Men who were wounded began to cry out and those who were unwounded in body tried to attend to their needs. The medico was among the needy as soon as was possible, but it was slow going.
Marcona Pionias slowly walked back to the wheelbarrow he had been pushing. It was tipped over on its side so he put it right again and began to sift through the ashes and sand in order to find the ammunition that had spilled.
The ash was cold and wet. His hands were cold and wet as well. He opened his eyes and blinked against the icy wind and snow. He was almost back to his house door; it was only a few feet away.
Only a few feet away stood the man who had taken everything from him. The man had found him in a trench and had pulled him out. Marcona Pionias hated this man. If it had not been for him the pain would be gone, the memories would no longer plague him.
If not for this man he would be dead and thankful for it. Lieutenant Rexus Olosian had found him bleeding and dyeing with seven gunshots to the legs and three to the torso. If it had not been for his being there, Pionias would have been free of this brutal universe.
Months came and went and the rehab was harsh. Through it he found that life was not through being cruel to him. It was in the medico that he had found her. He later married her. He knew he should not because in his world there was only war, but she had insisted so he did.
The guard no longer needed his services because of his injuries so he was free to take his new bride and go where he would. He, for the first time in his life was free. He did not know how to deal with his new freedom, but she helped him with it. She helped him become a better man, a gentle man.
He missed her so badly in the night. He missed her in the day. His tears were freezing to his face as he opened the door. The wind swept in like a criminal and threatened to steal all the warmth of the house.
Pionias pushed the wheelbarrow inside and onto the worn matt just inside and to the right. He closed the door forcefully, but smoothly. He did not want to slam it. The music still played, the wine glass still sat at the table and the fire still burned, but only slightly.
Slowly he pulled the old guard issued storm coat from his back and hung it up. Taking the smaller pieces from the top of the wheelbarrow he gently placed them upon the smoldering embers. He blew upon the small fire for a moment, gently, not too strong; she did not need to be forced.
As the wood began to burn he added a few of the larger pieces once more, walked over to the sink and washed his hands. He took the towel from the wall hanger and dried his hands. The scars were there as they forever would be, a reminder of a life he used to have, of a life she had saved him from.
He missed her horribly, coughed and steadied himself, holding back the tears before returning to the table. The song being played upon the player had been one of her favorites. It was a beautiful story of love found and life renewed. It was his story; he knew it well for he had written the notes himself before submitting it to the orchestra for production.
He closed his eyes for a moment and remembered her slight frame. They had grown old together, he missed her so. He found that he could no longer hold back the tears, nor could he refrain any longer from releasing the pain.
Falling from the chair he wept aloud and sobbed until late in the night. The fire was nearly dead before he noticed its begging him for help. It popped and snapped and hissed its last breath before being revived once again.
New wood for the flame, new fire to watch her dance again.
Sitting upon the chair once more at the table where they both had set for years, he took the wine in hand and sipped gently from its lip while listening to the music and watching the flames dance anew.
A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep!
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Last edited by Adrian; 11-30-12 at 01:40 AM.