Sword & Spoken Word

Private Journal of Harlan Autumnhall #11

Dear Anastasia,

It seems I am not a warrior. I thought I was, because I can fight, and fight well. Chalk a ten meter ring around me and any ork, or man, and only I will leave that circle alive.

But a duelist is not a warrior.

I have learned this over the past weeks. So little of fighting a war is actual fighting. So much is logistics, intelligence, supply, morale and inspiration. After only a few days, I was no longer surprised to learn that an army requires two non-combatants for every soldier.

It is well that father taught me that no effective leader is ever too good to get his hands dirty.

When Brother Alrick found me yesterday to report, I was elbows-deep in grease, helping a Tech-Adept repair a tank engine. They will never love me as they love him (the man has a gift), but I have earned their respect and loyalty with many such displays, from the desperate battle on Heptapyrgion to personally teaching the close combat training to pitching in each day on Damaris.

It’s not all affectation, though. We need every hand. Even the most senior commanders are looking haggard. We’ve all missed meals, sleep. We try to rotate the men in and out of the line, but they are tired, too, from constant vigilance if not from fighting.

We win every fight. In the void, on the ground. The orks come flying at our guns as if there is no tomorrow, and for most of them, there isn’t. We kill twenty orks, forty, fifty, for every man lost or even wounded, but I still fear we will win every battle and lose this war.

There are so many of them. We butcher them and they just keep coming.

They are not fearless. I have seen them flee. I have seen them scatter from onrushing tanks, I have seen them rush about aimlessly in blind panic when the railguns open up. I have even seen them try to surrender. And cut them down with my blade as they threw their weapons down.

They do value their lives. They are brave beyond reason, not because they are brave, but because they are foolish. It does not occur to them that they can lose, that they can die, until their numbers are broken.

We will have to break them, and break them hard, or we will lose the colony.



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