I, Res Ipsa Loquitur, make this oath of moment to submit a completed story about Leonid Aleksandrovich 'Bolshoyestvol' Komarov, a reluctantly renegade planetary defence trooper.
Big IronParadise Lost – Part I.Aleksandr Nikolayevich Komarov marched out of Kotlin to defend the Imperial order he believed passionately in and to liberate his birthplace from Heretics. He fought bravely in numerous actions and was the recipient of several field promotions, rising to KomBat within six months of war breaking out. He died unregarded in the mud; half of his skull blown away by an errant artillery shell fired by his comrades as he and his battalion assaulted a Heretic bunker. The Kommisars called it 'collateral damage'.
She read the line again, quite unable to believe that such a thing had been committed to print in the first place. The words didn't swim, didn't change. “The famous man looked at the red cup” they read. She laughed to herself, rested the slate on her rounded stomach and wondered about a society that could venerate such rubbish. She thought of Sanya, miles away fighting for his beliefs and again prayed that the Emperor would see him well. He would be surprised in the change in her since he left; she had written but did not know whether he had received her letters. All was well, said the wire. The Heretics had been pushed back to the outskirts by heavy Imperial shelling and minimal losses had been sustained. The war would be over in weeks. Sanya would return to the factory, they would marry and together they would embark on this new chapter of life.
The months passed, and Sanya did not return. A year and Sanya did not return, did not yet know about the boy so far as she knew. Then, a letter. She read 'missing in action, presumed deceased' and wept. Eventually, the Heretics were defeated and their surviving leaders were summarily executed in Kotlin's Main Square. Sanya did not return.
Seven years went by and the boy's grandfather said it was time. He lived in a brutal and lawless world and he had to know how to fight or he would be finished before he even got going. She didn't – couldn't – disagree. It was obvious that Kronstaat IV had never really recovered from the Marzanna Uprising, as it became known. Central government had not been able to fully reassert control, crime was rife and you could not rely on the Arbites who were more concerned with their own prestige and power than maintaining order. Reluctantly, she agreed and the boy was given his father's stub gun, a relic of a man who went to war and never came home. The boy was not large and was not well nourished and the pistol hung prominent and ostentatious on his hip. Between the Wars – Part II.Leonid Aleksandrovich Komarov eyed him across the room saw him spit, saw him take a gulp of his zydrate, saw him toss a few creds on the bar and stand up, swaying slightly. He watched him leave, followed him across the square, across the market, down a dark laneway and shot him in the back of the head. He watched him crumple, dropped the pistol to the floor and then faded away into the cold night. It was his fifteenth birthday.
The situation on Kronstaat IV did not improve. New heretical blood cults were being uncovered on an almost monthly basis across the planet. Resistance to Imperial rule intensified and was allegedly crushed in joint actions between the pink-robed Arbites and the Defence Force that made lots of noise and caused colossal destruction but which in reality seemed to achieve little.
It had been immediately apparent that dropping the pistol at the scene had been his biggest mistake. Being seen tailing the victim out of a drinking hole and across three busy city blocks had done him no favours, either. Shooting his mother's boyfriend couldn't have been more obvious in the circumstances, said others. Still though, the presence of a firearm that distinctive, that jealously guarded and that well-known was fatal to any presumption of innocence in the public mind. Ballistic testing confirmed what everyone already knew. Gunshot residue testing nailed the coffin firmly shut. It was an open and shut case and so the public advokat did the best she could, which is how he had ended up spending the last five years serving in the 6th Battalion, 42nd Regiment of the Kronstaat IV Worker's Defence Force. It was, without question, also how he had ended up in his current predicament; a traitor flanked by giants clad in purple. Maraviglia – Part III.Stepan Maximovich Petrichenko surveyed his battalion, sighed noisily, then told them that they had been double-crossed and would certainly die within days. Of course, there were protestations. It couldn't possibly be true, all was proceeding according to the plan and Kronstaat IV's future would be secured within weeks. Steely determination was all that was required; by the people for the people. Petrichenko patiently laid out everything he knew. There was no denying it; they had been duped. They had been used as pawns in a game they couldn't even suspect existed and they had been sold at a great loss. They were Heretics. The Marzanna Uprising had been successful, with their help.
Ryadovoy Komarov gripped his lasgun tightly, shaking ever so slightly, awaiting the next lot of blood-cultists and whatever those ...things... had been. He stole a glance to his right at Zaitsev, who was mumbling verses from the Infantryman's Primer
under his breath and again wondered how it had come to this. He had not seen Soshnikov for days. He hoped he had deserted. Poor Soshnikov, he had known. Had tried to warn them and had been dismissed. A movement ahead caught his eye. A flash of red among the piles of rubble, slag and corpses that used to be Kotlin. Before he could react, one of the silent giants despatched the... thing... with a shot to the... well, where its head should have been, the sudden crack of gunfire making him start.
He unclenched and waited for the next wave. He wouldn't survive much longer; he knew that. Didn't want to, really. Not now. He couldn't have known. They couldn't have known. A signal chimed down the line. Ladders were placed. If he had to do it all over, he'd shoot that abusive son of a bitch again. No question.
A second signal chimed and over they went, into darkness.
Edited by Res Ipsa Loquitur, 11 February 2018 - 07:14 PM.