Works of Richard Marsden
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All is Well
"It’s an Eldar."
"How d’ you know?" The soldier kicked the dead body and the psyco-plastic armor that apparently failed to protect the creature, made a dull thudding sound.
The guardsmen who were gathered around the body looked at their first actual xenos with open curiosity. It was not every day that a routine patrol turned up something so unusual. The alien was thin; its armor was bulbous in places, almost insectoid in design. The alien armor had been painted, or perhaps was made, in garish red hues, though the elongated helmet was bone white. Several puncture wounds along its body revealed some large caliber weapon had done the xenos in. Its blood had long ago soaked into the grassy meadow the Imperial soldiers stood in.
"Well, look at it. Looks like all the picts and manual images of what an Eldar supposed t’ look like. All long n’ funny. " Sergeant Hammzeron nodded and adjusted his combat helmet. Slowly the Sergeant scanned the area around the patrol, but he could see nothing but low grasses and a few flowers. It was an idyllic place really, besides the corpse of the alien in their midst.
"Well Sarge, what’s it doin here? You sure it’s an Eldar? Does it have pointed ears?" one of Sergeant Hammzeron’s men asked as he nudged the alien with his boot, as every soldier seemed inclined to do at some point.
With a grunt Hammzeron knelt and slung his lasgun on his back. He reached his dirty hands down upon the creature and fumbled about its neck and helmet. After clumsily fidgeting about a few moments the helmet made a hissing noise and released a vaporous cloud. Hammzeron’s patrol leapt back and leveled their weapons at the dead alien. Hammzeron paid his jumpy soldiers no mind and pulled the helmet off the creature. The Sergeant stood and tossed the white helmet aside and with his other hand gestured to the body.
"Look at that. Pointed ears." One guardsman muttered.
"Pale ain’t it? Look at those eyes. Big. Kinda like jewels. Sarge, can I keep its eyes?" another chimed in.
"No, no. Can’t keep xenos tech or trophies. Don’t think the eyes are really gems anyways. Any of you see its gun?" Hammzeron looked around and his men did the same. They rooted about the shallow grass and flowers in search of the Eldar’s lost weaponry.
"Here it is Sarge! I- should I touch it?" called out one of the guardsmen who pointed at an elongated white tube like device nestled in the grass and flowers. The weapon must have been flung from the Eldar’s hands when it was struck down.
"No. Wouldn’t want you to get yourself killed. Right. So, we have a dead Eldar." Hammzeron frowned and looked at the corpse. In all his years in the Imperial guard he had yet to come across Eldar or Orks or Tyranids or the Great Enemy for that matter. Hammzeron felt himself fortunate that the 507th Kaultus, had at the very worst, found itself engaged with bands of pirates, smugglers and the occasional civilian insurrection when some fool got it in his head that tithes weren’t fun to pay. Indeed Hammzeron counted himself lucky, until today.
"I’ll call it in Sarge. Colonel will want to know about this." Private Ilben reached to his side and detached a transmitter/receiver from his vox array.
Before the diligent Private could do his duty Hammzeron raised his hand. "Hold on there Private. Let’s think this through." Hammzeron had images of fighting hordes of bizarre aliens and mucking about in trenches and bunkers. The thoughts did not please him. The 507th Kaultus had successfully avoided every major engagement for the last twenty years, and Hammzeron was not about to upset tradition.
Hammzeron cleared his throat and regarded his men, who in turn tilted their heads and stared back at him with open confusion written upon their young faces.
"See, Eldar are tricky sorts." Hammzeron started, "They don’t invade worlds and the like. Nope. They strike so as t’make you do something. Try to fool people into doing stuff that helps them out."
"So, this dead Eldar is a part of some trick? Well, we should really call it in Sarge shouldn’t we?"
Hammzeron shook his head at Private Olzon. "No. This here Eldar IS the trick. See, the Eldar want us to call this body in. Next thing you know the whole regiment is up and patrolling, and running about looking for a fight. From there, for all we know, Orks could arrive cause we make such a fuss, or the Eldar could attack elsewhere while we’re looking about madly. All because of one dead Eldar." It was Hammzeron’s turn to kick the corpse.
The men exchanged glances and Ilben returned the transmitter/receiver to his vox pak . The young Private removed his matt green helmet and glanced at the dead Eldar. "So they put this body here on purpose? You sure?"
"Look around Private. Don’t it seem funny?" Hammzeron indicated the grassy meadows around them, and a light breeze caused the flowers to stir. A few butterflies flitted past unconcerned with the men, or dead alien.
The men nodded and one amongst them sniffed, "Sarge is right. Dead Eldar, just lying about? Nothing around for miles? It’s a trick. But what is it the Eldar want us to do?"
Before Hammzeron had to explain, Ilben grinned, "They want us to call it in!"
The Sergant smiled broadly, "Right you are Private Ilben. They want us to call it in. But we’re the Imperial Guard. We don’t do what aliens want us to, do we men?" More importantly Hammzeron didn’t want to do what most Imperial Guardsmen did which usually involved firing one’s weapon and charging a whole lot.
"No sir!" the men chorused.
"So. We’ll just not report it. You men DID NOT see a dead Eldar. Right?"
They nodded and smiled, pleased with themselves apparently. Hammzeron smiled as well, pleased that he had helped the regiment maintain its long and quiet record of missed battles. With a few congratulatory pats on the back the men assembled and Hammzeron led his patrol away ready to report that all was well.
The body remained in the grass for some time and then an area near to the corpse shimmered. A shape could be made out for a moment and then an Eldar ranger revealed itself. It swirled its camoline cloak over one shoulder. A few moments later several other shapes shimmered in the air and they too revealed themselves to be cloaked Eldar outcasts.
The lead ranger looked at the dead body of the Saim-Hann then spat upon it. Contrary to the belief of many, the various Eldar Craftworld did not get along. The elegant creature stared at its fellow Rangers and hissed, "The Farseer did not forsee this. Somehow the Mon-Keigh have divined our plan. Their leader, their "Saaaarge", is clever."
"We should eliminate this Saaarge then?" asked one of the Rangers who turned his glittering blue eyes in the direction the filthy humans had marched.
"No. We must consult with the Farseer. The humans must think it is the wild ones who mean them harm. Let us away." The lead Ranger shook his head at the corpse of the Eldar. Even in death the children of Saim-Hann could not fit into a grander plan. As one the Eldar donned their cloaks and vanished from sight. Meanwhile the 507th Kaultus passed by another day in peace.