A New Dawn 1.1 - The Cowardly Recruit
(Note: This is a precusror series based upon the Firmament Faction RP. The intent is to create a backstory for Erebus and how he ended up where he was. To satisfy this, the first chapter takes place just prior to the rifts opening up as the Flame Dawn is conquering the Ishani Emirates before moving towards Genesis Industries. The goal is to write a page a night with a new section coming out each week.)
Arn was only 19, a fresh recruit out of Aubade academy. Compared to the others around him he was hardly an impressive sight to behold. Granted, he was by no means a small or large fellow, merely unremarkable of any descriptors. He was about what you would expect for an Aspirant of the Flame Dawn - Young, inexperienced and in the gold-red armor of the Empire. Today was his first battle and that is where all similarities ended. Unlike his brethren he wasn’t excited nor was he feeling the bloodlust of combat calling him to war. He was terrified and simply praying to whatever Deity would hear him that he would simply survive to see another day. This prayer seemed a distant memory when he saw the deployment orders.
Vanguard – 3rd Battalion
He knew that the survival odds of an aspirant were only a meager 10%. Everyone knew they were simply fodder for the Knights and Legionnaires anyway. But when you were placed in a diversionary vanguard your odds dropped from percentage points to counting seconds. Your odds of survival depended less on your skill as a warrior and more raw luck when bullets opened up your drop ship for you.
Unlike most of the other recruits, Arn was not thrilled about being an aspirant on a Talich battlefield. Most of these pawns were more or less oblivious to how much shorter their life was about to get, but Arn was fully aware – he had after all lost 2 Uncles already, and those were the two he liked. He didn’t show up out of some sense of duty and obligation or any of that Flame Dawn nonsense – he had been forced into conscription. Either he fought, or his family was tossed out on the streets. Neither one was all too appealing to him, but at least if he died his family could go on.
Death was very likely. As a fresh recruit out of Aubade Academy he had no time to get actual combat experience on routine patrols or some distant border skirmish. Instead, he was going to be thrown out as a meat shield at the Ishani Emirates. The war between the two nations was now entering its third year. Unlike many of the other territories they had taken thus far, the Ishani had proven to be exceptionally resilient and given their location in the middle of the foreboding Aubade Desert – it had proven to be a tough nut to crack. The simple act of getting men to the frontlines before they passed out or died of starvation had in itself been considered a feat, let alone getting men in high enough spirits and healthy enough to fight.
Now, he had just been ordered to join the force launching the diversionary head-on assault. He knew that he was by no means a tactical genius (or of high enough rank for his opinion to matter) but even he knew what a slaughter their glorious “emperor” was leading them to. The orders were to join his new battalion and then proceed to spring across an open sand dune to the enemy’s walls – in the middle of the day with the hot desert sun blazing down upon them no less. He took a deep breath and went to the armory nonetheless. It wasn’t as if he had a choice.
The quartermaster had perhaps the easiest job in the Flame Dawn army. Know everything about the weapons and don’t fight. There was little question that Arn envied his position right now. I bet the rations are better too. He thought to himself as he stepped up to the booth housing a large selection of Flame Dawn armaments. Unfortunately, as a mere aspirant his choices would be horrendously limited to a spear or a blade and pistol.
The quartermaster grunted at him like an angry creature from some fantasy novel. Hell, he even looked reminiscent of the Piergors Arn had fought back in his good ol’ gaming days. But those 3 years already seemed a lifetime ago.
“Sword and pistol”
“Har har the little aspirant thinks he’s going to get himself a gun. Well here ya go. Try not to get too much blood on it when you die.”
Arn knew this weapon well. But that was what the Flame Dawn training was designed to do – make you one with your weapon. The 11mm handgun was a simple thing. Low recoil but the range was garbage, especially for what he’d need. He’d just as soon toss his blade and pick up some extra ammo but he knew he wasn’t going to get more. He saw some rifles in the back and thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
“What about those rifles?”
“PAH for a pitiful aspirant? I think not. NEXT.”
Arn finally hit his breaking point. Going through the desert was bad enough. Being placed on a suicide squad was terrible. And now he was expected to throw his body at an impenetrable wall as some sort of useless meat shield so others could fight. He wasn’t going to back down on having something reasonable to fight with.
“LOOK YOU INSUFFERABLE LITTLE MAN – I’M ABOUT TO RUN ACROSS AN OPEN DESERT AND DIE SO YOU CAN SIT IN YOUR BOOTH AND PRETEND TO LOOK LIKE YOU DO SOMETHING IMPORTANT ALL DAY LONG. IF YOU DON’T GIVE ME A WEAPON THAT I CAN ACTUALLY USE MAYBE I SHOULD JUST THROW THESE BACK AT YOU AND KILL MYSELF NOW TO SAVE THE ENEMY THE TROUBLE.”
Those were probably not the wisest words to use. They were poor words to use in a Flame Dawn armory and poorer still to use in the presence of his CO, Paladin Bromich. He had about as much time to register this fact as he did to react to the Quartermaster’s fist as it hit him square in the nose and knocked him out.