*Transmitted: The Song of Hate
*Destination: Holy Terra
*Date: 2 217.M44
*Telepathic Duct: CLASSIFIED
*Author: Chris Stork
*Thought For The Day: The Number of Those Fallen in the Emperor's Name Outnumber the Stars
One hundred thirty-seven causalities.
Eighty-two were not serious and were on light duties.
Forty-seven would need replacement limbs or organs.
Eight in a healing coma that would last half a year.
Sixteen instantly gone.
Five who passed before the medics could reach them.
Two that fought on after being injured and bled out.
One fell in front of her.
Seras was away, sitting in her quiet, dark room. Armour fastened with all the trappings of her 'position'. It was easier when she wasn't herself, but some creature of these times. Paper, data-slates and pictures spread before her. She read all the names; the how and the why.
Each report she pored over told her the story of this battle. Larion's stand, drawing out the traitors. Jun's frantic game of hide and seek. Kelioch's rampage through steel and flesh. Feroi's head-long reckless charge. Michael's self-deprecating account. He shouldn't be so hard on himself. She had seen reports just like that before though. Duran had made a good choice.
Through the records the battle came alive. The fury, the violence, the joys and the elation rang out in the words. Tanks exploded, ripped apart from within, traitors were cut down in droves, screaming as they died. Fire washed over her, burning her. Shots and ordnance smashed off to her sides. Seras read them all, proud of her soldiers. She hated how they attributed victory to her and not themselves, but she was still proud of them and all they accomplished.
Slowly Seras finished up with the reports. She needed to give a eulogy. It was expected of her. She would have given one without question. With no pause she could name every deed accomplished by the fallen. The goodbyes were a terrible finality to their lives. She wasn't ready just yet. A few button presses and their lives in front of her. Page by page, honour by honour, wound and scar she walked through the past. The beginnings, the hopes and dreams, and then the end.
Her timepiece chimed. Twenty minutes to the start of the ceremony. She stood up, gathered up the data-slates, records and pictures and placed them away, with the rest of her memories. She kept everything. From the time just after Millennium until now. Nothing was left behind. She put, folded and moved all of her memoires to their spots. Her armour and her mask were set. She was as ready as she ever would be.
She still wasn't ready to say good-bye.
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