He took a deep breath, and exhaled. As he sat on that rock in the cave huddled around the fire with eight others, he simply asked himself, how did it come to this? He saw his companions faces and saw the same question in their eyes. Some asked in rage, some fear, some sheer bewilderment.
Oliver could not stand it a moment longer and stood, one a youth stood and asked, “My Lord, are you alright?”
Oliver looked him over eighteen maybe twenty, a kid, but I am not much past that. “Do not stand on ceremony, boy those days are past. We are about survival now. I just need some air.”
The boy bowed his head, “Yes, My Lord”
Oliver thought, “Ah fuck it, you be you Temoth” He saw the fear in the boy and his need for some normalcy. Oliver walked away and stepped out of the cave mouth.
The blast of cold air hit his face, winter on this miserable rock of a planet. Chilly but not the glorious cold of home, Valhalla. That cold distilled one down to the truth, but this was just misery, rain and wind no snow or ice.
He reached in and pulled out a cigar and lighter one of the few luxuries that remained to him. He studied it for a second, then bit the end off and put it to his mouth to light. A deep inhale and then exhale ahhh better he thought.
A long way from home, a long way from my life. He remembered six months ago his father sent him and a cadre of troops, no raw recruits peasants mainly to this dung heap. All to help an ally hold onto a mineral rich rock. Only reason to be on Serla is to strip mine it dry.
Well that was prior to the thralls deciding they had enough and revolted. Sobekrim maybe barbarians, brutal and vicious little goblins but you throw in Krizd and well they become devils. Who thought it a good idea to import Krizd, that bastard set this rebellion in motion.
Despite lack of modern equipment they quickly overwhelmed the local chain holders, and turned mining equipment into crude but effective weapons.
The Aians quickly sent regular troops, but Nasim soldiers are not trained to fight real wars but a ritualized form of war between the various Houses. Alas, the rebels did not know the rules. We came to help and they slaughtered all of us at the battle, debacle actually. We broke and ran, they slaughtered all humans they could find.
More than ten thousand years of slavery will do that. From the rumours filtering around, it sounds like many thrall worlds have revolted thought the Imperium. Aliens are a dangerous lot, especially the thralled ones. Captured humans were burnt as offerings to their vile god. The Krizd could careless if they were adults or children straight to the flames. A veritible Moloch, funny demons seem to exist everywhere
Oliver studied the stars somewhere around one of those suns was his home. He wondered if he would ever see it again. He thought doubtful most likely they have declared the world lost. I wonder what is occurring up there. Could the entire Imperium be collapsing upon its vaunted self? Before coming here, he never thought possible but after seeing what crude rebels could do he was no longer sure.
He some how managed to rally some troops, people and others into a resistance band. About two hundred soldiers and another four hundred people back at the camp. He kept everyone moving so as not to be a juicy target.
Tonight he led a band to scout a new spot in which to move. Oliver was a skillful gurellia leader now. Movement meant more than anything. That is the camps single greatest defense. He knew keeping the people safe mattered most.
He sacrificed options to inflict damage the rebels. That galled his nature, he wanted to bleed them. To strike always was why he personally led the scout missions. The struck a party 9f Sobekrim and killed twenty, hardly a dent as they breed like roaches.
He took a deep puff of his cigar. He saw light in the night, movement. Rebels coming, he thought. His impulse was to move but something was different. He instead pulled his binoculars. The pale of night was intense.
What he saw stunned him; he shook his head and returned the binoculars to his eyes to be sure. No doubt, thank God, Spathoroi, sword bearers, Imperial Warriors. The Imperium had not forgotten them. A massed body for sure several hundred, and that unmistakable whirl Juggernauts Imperial Armor. They came in force and he knew hellbent in destruction and vengence.
For the first time in months, Oliver felt a lightness in his step. He went back into the cave to share the good news.