The Quiet Life
The sun was rising and dawn had arrived. A new day. A time of reflection, a time to enjoy peace.
Carsten Ottosen raised his glass in salute and muttered a toast to fallen comrades. Every day, for the last ten years, he had carried out this ritual, in all weathers, rain, sun or snow.
He leant heavily on the railing and looked down at the valley before him. It was covered in thick fog which heralded the arrival of spring.
“They will be late coming in today.” He was thinking of the small fishing fleet that hunted the Stora Swords in these waters. They would be struggling to negotiate the rocks and banks in that impenetrable white wall.
He sighed and sat back in his carpet-backed chair and stared up into the sky above.
The large moon Thieon sat there like a pale blue ball, always there, always watching. Its ubiquitous ring of ice particles and dust were glittering and sparkling like exotic jewels.
“Perfect.” He hummed, drawing smoke into his lungs from a long stogie. “This is what it is all about.”
They will be the death of you.
He smiled at the memory of his wife, gone two years since.
It was another ritual that they would play out, and he missed it terribly. He would stand there every morning with his Amsec and cigar and thank the Emperor for bringing him to this idyllic pasture. His wife would cuss him, and he would always reply.
“I should have died many times before. Now every day is a blessing.”
The stars were still out, which was unusual. Ottosen stood up, his augmentic leg creaking through lack of maintenance.
Something was not quite right and it took a while for Ottosen to take it all in.
They were not stars, they were ships, large ships in orbit. He smiled.
“Well that is different.”
He noticed the flashes and lines and raised an eyebrow.
“Fleet action?”. Ottosen had seen enough of them in his service in the Guard to know. “An orbital battle… here?”
He felt the vibrations, but heard nothing. There were flashes in the fog over by the headland, near the old lighthouse. Ottosen knew it was not lightning, it was something far worse.
“Well, well,” he smiled. “So today is the day.” He gulped down the contents of his glass and hastily refilled it, staring at the bottle as if he had never seen it before.
“I knew I brought you out for something.”
The vibrations became more pronounced and he could feel static in the air around him. There was a bright flash in the sky and Ottosen knew that the plasma reactors on board one of the ships had just gone supernova. He raised his glass and watched a long white vapour trail appear in the atmosphere above, quickly followed by thousands of others as the vessel broke up and was incinerated.
There were now figures in the fog, three of them walking in an awkward gait. It was an optical illusion of course, as the fog was several metres deep, but there were definitely figures advancing towards his hilltop retreat.
Figures the size of small buildings.
“Emperor’s teeth,” he gasped. “Frickin’ Titans!”
Ottosen grabbed the bottle and topped up his glass once more and waved it above his head like a trophy. The Amsec was clearly beginning to have an effect on his faculties. He glanced down to the left and saw the water surface on his neighbour’s pool vibrating like the water in a boiling kettle.
A mountain of glistening metal slammed down into it like a meteor, displacing its contents like a mini tsunami and shattering the paving stones around the pool as if they were made of glass.
He could not help but chuckle rather than gasp with shock. He hated his neighbour with a passion. Always sticking his nose up at the old campaigner and never having done a single day’s service for the Emperor.
The whole pool area had been replaced by the squat figure of a Warhound Titan, resplendent in red and gold livery and bearing the mailed fist emblem of Mortem Domini,
The Death Lord Titan Legion.
Ottosen was barely able to register the vision he saw before him, as to his right, his thousand-year-old olive grove came crashing down into his ornamental garden in a crescendo of noise, dust and utter destruction.
He turned to face the business end of a large multi-barrelled weapon the size of a Rhino transport, and if on cue there was an ear-splitting whine as the Gattling-blaster powered up to maximum revolutions.
All Ottosen could do was raise his glass to the Princeps and his crew and offer a respectful nod.
A Goth-Class Reaver, a Titan killer.
He looked around for the third pack member and knew that another Warhound was probably in a flanking position and waiting in ambush.
As if on cue there was a series of bright flashes to his right and then the Warhound in the pool area began hammering away at the lead enemy Titan with its own weapons.
With an ear-splitting roar, the Reaver added its Gattling-blaster and a clutch of missiles to the withering fire, which tore away what remained of the enemy’s shields.
After what seemed an eternity the Reaver finally loosened the Melta Cannon, ripping away large chunks of exposed armour and tearing off one of the enemy’s primary weapons. A second later the enemy titan exploded in a bright orange fireball.
Ottosen punched his fist into the air, all pretence of decorum forgotten.
The Reavers command cockpit seemed to turn towards him and nod acknowledgement, before stomping forward to engage the other engines.
“Good bye my friend.” Ottosen smiled. “If Gods walked this earth…” A stiff breeze from out at sea brushed his face. It tasted of promethium and burnt metal.
“That should clear the fog.”
The Reavers battle banner was now fully unfurled and Ottosen saw its battle honours and campaigns and finally the old Titans name was revealed;