Krell peered through the clouds.
Below war was waged; with their target’s successful extraction, it seemed the Imperial war machine had been given the green light to advance in full force.
There were times in his life when the sight would have brought him pride; a sense of wonder and safety that the Emperor’s forces could deliver such a hammer blow when needed.
Through the valkyrie’s small porthole, he watched swarms of ants, supported by large explosions, wash over hills and villages in pursuit of their goal, but instead of happiness, he felt empty. He turned from the window and patted himself down, his hands working awkwardly around the confining straps of his flight seat. Finally, he found his cigarettes and fumbled to draw one out. Clenching it between his teeth, he reached for his lighter, “Hey!” came a call, “You can’t smoke that in here!” He glanced up angrily and found one of the deck crew glaring at him, “You can’t smoke that here!” he repeated, pointing at him. Krell put his hands up in surrender, his lighter still in one hand, before returning it to his pocket, leaving the slightly crumpled cigarette in his mouth, then turned back to the window. He chewed lightly at the filter, as though it were a cigar, as he watched an enemy position evaporate in a cloud of mud and gunpowder – how was he supposed to live up to these feats?
He sighed lightly, the end of the cigarette dropping as though to mirror his despondency.
When he had been an Arbites, he had felt like he was doing something; the Emperor’s work. Bringing scum to justice and enforcing His word had been his stock-and-trade, but when he looked at the scene playing out miles beneath him, imagined the acts of bravery, the constant struggle against the enemies of man, it seemed as though his life had been a waste… He glowered resentfully at his own reflection in the port hole.
The figure in Penal Legion fatigues glared back.