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Librarium

A Begrudging Throne

Dresden pushed his way grumpily out of the command tent while buttoning his coat. His adjutant hurriedly palmed a lho-stick she'd been trying to light and threw a sloppy salute, accompanied by a grin.

"Mornin', Caef." Dresden dismissed the guardswoman with a surly nod. Standing up straight in the rain, he pulled his hat on then began to walk to the edge of the encampment. He passed by his guardsmen – Lamb's Worlders once more, he reminded himself with relief, trying to put the months of Inquisitorial 'company' after the Shale debacle behind him.

They were engrossed with the ten thousand tasks soldiers have used to fill early mornings since the dawn of time. Some were polishing boots or awkwardly pulling on waterproofs, others huddled around breakfast fires, or knelt by canteens full of lukewarm water, shaving. Dresden saw a rip-sergeant leading a group in prayer, while some nearby troopers cleaned their rifles, their mouths moving virtually silently as they intoned the rites.

Some were simply picking their teeth, or chatting, or smoking; and others were sitting alone, looking out over the camp with that peculiar inscrutable look some soldiers have in the mornings, somewhere between boredom, patience and beatitude.

A sentry in the lookout post hailed him as he passed with a cheery salute, which he returned with a small wave. Turning a corner of an STC billet, he found a small group trying to protect a hand of cards from the rain in the lee. They looked up as he passed, their expressions a mix of respect and nervousness. Pausing, he looked down and tossed a pack of lho-sticks to the dealer.
"Phillips, if you can beat Ionas' hand, they're yours. If not – latrines. Ionas?" Phillips' face fell as Ionas' grin broadened. The troopers' faces were like a pair of theatre masks.
"Caef?"
"Keep him honest."

Approaching the perimeter, Dresden paused and looked over the surrounding areas.The primary sun was edging over the distant hills, suffusing the whole sky with a pure white glow.

Despite his mood, he felt his spirits lift. He was beginning to see why they called this place Throne.

The smell of porcuswine strips frying drifted over despite the drizzle and he turned about to find some breakfast. He reached up absentmindedly to scratch the corner of his remaining eye, and caught a smudge on the horizon. Vehicles. The supplies had arrived at last. He quickened his pace and started making his way back to his command tent. There was plenty to do before the company could move out.

He paused, and without quite knowing why, he turned about to look at the distant hills again. Perhaps this time, he mused. Perhaps today.

His eye narrowed. Snatching his magnoculars from his belt, he examined the smudge more closely.

'Orks!' cried the sentry, his voice cutting through the drizzle. A siren began to wail. Dresden lowered his magnoculars but kept his eye on the smudge. His face twisted into a hateful snarl.

Orks indeed... and one ork in particular.