Anaru sat with his head in his hands. In all his years he had never been this afraid. He was being accused of murder and treason, a crime that would take his life and also the light of the Emperor. He shook his head over and over in disbelief.
His cell opened.
Two space marines now stood before him, their black armor covered in robes and seals and symbols of their faith and devotion to the Emperor.
Anaru had but a few faded gang tattoos and the Imperial Aquila on his body. His fath was strong though and he had prayed non-stop since speaking with the psyker days ago.
“Good evening Captain, on your feet please. The Marshal needs words with you.” One of the Astartes stated.
Anaru stood and walked out his cell, grateful to stretch his legs.
“Will the psyker be there?” he asked them.
Both Templars shook their heads slowly.
“This is not your interrogation; the Marshal wants to merely meet with you. No individual with the taint of the warp is allowed in our living quarters.”
They escorted him through the higher decks of their ship. Every neophyte and serf and Astarte gave him cold nods. They were not looks of hate, rather, severe acknowledgment. He was a captain of the Imperial Guard, someone who commanded and was trusted. Someone now in their custody.
Every few meters he would take notice of the war banners, murals or some other curio. Items that would have been used in war now enshrined as holy artifacts in baroque cases. This ship must have seen thousands of campaigns based on their battle honors. A whole hallway was filled with the names of fallen Templars, so that they would be remembered by all who walked the hallways of the Reconquista. So many great deeds, all done in the name of the Emperor. It made Anaru feel proud he was in their presence. If only the circumstances were different.
The Marshal was sitting at his desk, an ornate slab of marble carved with the images of Rogal Dorn and the heraldry of the Black Templars. Data slates and scrolls piled around his desk, his personal servo skull and servitor prepping more information for him to go over. He looked up Anaru and pushed the scrolls he was reading to one side. He motioned for Anaru to be seated. He kept his gaze the entire time. Sizing him up and receiving a data slate from his servitor.
“I am Marshal Kraus, Captain Anaru. I have been meaning to speak to you about the incident aboard your companies’ ship. I am not one to blindly judge, Captain. I wish to know the truth and every detail of it. I would hate to send a man such as yourself to his end in shame. The Emperor forgives as well as he protects. Your Colonel seems to think you are worthy enough of salvation of some kind. I am quite curious as to how you ended up in the position that we found you in.”
Anaru kept the Marshals gaze. Mildly, he shrugged and let out a heavy sigh.
“I will do my best to answer all your requests, Marshal Kraus.”
Marshal Kraus sat upright and cracked the tension from his neck.
“You have been Captain of the first company for five years. Two years serving as First Lieutenant directly under Colonel Ogati. You made first sergeant for your platoon in your first year fighting with the 21st. You’ve campaigned on the front lines most of your career, Captain. The only blemish I can even see is before your time with the Astra Militarum. We all have a past though, even I was involved in the violence that is youth gangs, though that seems centuries ago. You are highly decorated, a warrior and a leader of men in the Holy Emperors Name. So can’t help but hold some faint notion that I do not believe the evidence against you one hundred percent.”
Anaru’s eyes lit up with hope. He felt the blackness in his heart lift and he cleared his throat.
“I thank you Marshal Kraus, for allowing me the benefit of the doubt.”
The Marshal nodded his head and poured the Captain a cup of recaff. His servo skull floating jut behind him, no doubt pict recording the entire conversation.
“Now, tell me about your mission and the events leading up to your fleet entering the asteroid field, Captain. What you remember may not only save your soul, but the souls of all those on Salessia IV.”
Anaru sipped from the recaff goblet. He leveled his gaze upon the Marshals cold gray eyes. His servitor lumbered over to Anaru, offering him a tin of cigaros.
Anaru took one and lit it. Savoring the flavor and exhaling his nervousness out.
“We received our orders on the third Sunday of last month. We had only just returned to Poirua from an offensive against the greenskins on Kristzurch IX. We were briefed shortly, as we were getting reports slowly through the Astronomicon. From what the pict and text data had showed, the renegades launched a blitzkrieg assault, taking the PDF by surprise and securing two major Diocese in less than a week. For some reason they were able to contact us for aid, but we had no confirmation that they had received any of our messages via the Astrotelapathica. Nevertheless we had our objectives.Commissar Erastus had gave the lads a pep talk about what were up against. As time went on we had seen images of these renegades. They were butchering civilians as they went, and doing worse to the women. We had agreed that no quarter was to be given and we had instructed all infantry to fix bayonets before deployment. There was talk about the renegades not yet having access to the PDLB’s. This was to be or advantage, as we would be dropped straight into enemy controlled zones, from the Fleet ships in orbit. Each company had specific targets and instructions given to us by command. Colonel Otagi had tasked the 1st with assaulting the Diocese of Saint Mendoza, as Arch Bishop Jerall was under siege and his Apostle Guard were outnumbered nearly six to one. Jerall’s protection or extraction was of the utmost importance, for whatever reasons they may be. Commissar Erastus and I had agreed he could not fall into the hands of traitors, as we both knew what traitors do to a man of the cloth. “
Anaru lit another cigaro and drank the remnants of the recaffin his goblet. Noticing that the servitor was already refilling another goblet and Marshal Kraus was paying very close attention, his hand scribing away on a small scroll.
“Planetfall was set for 0300 hours Salessia time. The Fleet had entered the warp all at the same time, though our own ship was delayed buy a mere half hour, some malfunction with our void shields. The problem was dealt with and we were on our way. To my knowledge we were supposed to come out of the warp directly above Salessia. I do not know what happened as we were knocked around by the constant bombardment of the asteroids. I just remember seeing the fleet being obliterated before my eyes and not being able to do damn thing about it.”
Marshal Kraus made a note and stirred in his seat.
“I woke up here, with a headache worse than any hangover ever and that psyker telling me I had killed my astropath and navigator. I’m sorry. That’s all I can remember so far, Marshal.”
The servo skull flew off into the darkness of the Marshals’ chamber and Kraus slowly stood.
“Thank you for your honesty Captain. I would hope you will remember more without the aid of your pimaris psyker. I have no trust of such…beings. I would like to think you would also remember more before you go before Interrogator Zephael. He is not known to be as pleasant as myself.”
Anaru stood and saluted the Marshal .
He was escorted back to his cell in silence.