Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part Thirty Two: An opportunity to redeem yourself

Obolis reviewed the tactical data in front of him.  He shook his head slowly. It wasn’t that he wasn’t grateful.  It wasn’t that he wasn’t relieved.  It was that he wasn’t sure where this fortune was coming from.  He had finally been assigned the forces from the Sphere that he had been requesting.  After six months of feign and retreat, advance and scatter, his forces had been ground down and now he was being resupplied from the homeworlds with enough resources to push the Imperials back to New Boston and off this world for good.  The main advance of the Cemephon expansion had moved on from this world months ago and he had been left on mop up duty.  Once his place at the right hand of Anemos, leader of the Cemephon Expansion, had been assured.  His public criticism of the Etherial had relegated the proud (some would say haughty) Fire Warrior to back world duty.  He had to rely on his friend Maturm, a peculiar Water Caste member who chose to join ranks with a Pathfinder unit, to bring news from the front~ light years away.

From his seated position in his command gunship, Devilfish class, a fast moving dry landscape outside, he read the information over again.  He had removed himself and his quick escort from the front line, if it could be called that, to meet the advance force of his resupply column arriving from a transport ship in orbit.  He looked up at his tell screen in the command console.  Several feeds were coming in from the rendezvous point.  He could see large Orca dropships landing en masse.  He noted their payloads in detail notes on the screen.  His grin showed itself in a rare performance.  
The three devilfish that transported the commander and his team arrived at the large landing zone deep in secure ground.  It was a large open field, once a farm, surrounded by low hills that could be seen off in the distance.  The lead craft dropped toward the ground and landing props lowered. The side doors of the well worn drop craft slid aside.  The other two gunships took up a circular patrol orbit around the drop site.  Obolis leaped from his transport before it finished touching down.  He looked into the sky, his two escorts moving off.  Beyond them he could see several of the large drop ships lowering from above.  Several were already on the ground.  He began his walk toward what appeared to be the command post for the drop location.  Two of his lieutenants ran after him from the transport.  As Obolis approached the command post he was met by another officer.  The grim faced officer nodded and met Obolis’ eye.  

“Welcome” Obolis said. “I am Obolis, commander of all Cardres on this world.”

“Indeed” the officer spoke “I am Tanthus of the Second Flame Cardre.  I bring messages from Anemos and greetings from your master.”

Obolis nodded. The newcomer referred to the Etherial. It was clearly a reminder to Obolis of his mistake in criticizing the sacred one.  The Firewarrior took from his belt a scroll case and quickly removed the cap.  From within he pulled a shaft of paper and proceeded to read it.  

“You are directed to hereby pull all your forces back to the points described in the data manifest.  This planet is being resupplied with seven battle groups and their heavy transports.  Lady Anemos and the Etherial are returning from the front lines at the edge of the expansion to address the situation.”  

Obolis shook his head.  “What situation?” he asked “this world is a backwater.  We’ve been pushing the humans around this ball of rock for weeks”.

Tanthus looked at Obolis with unhalting contempt.  “Space Marines have landed on the far side of Palthna river two days ago. They are now striking at will and securing the the hive cities you were unable to capture.”  Obolis swallowed at the stabbing words.  The newcomer continued “The Imperials have made this world a priority again, we had left in your hands to secure.  That has clearly not occurred".  Obolis bristled at the insinuation that the world had been all but secured.  "Fire Warrior, you have an opportunity to redeem yourself in the eyes of your brothers and your master.  I hope you have the will to recognize it”.

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