Another History Lesson (or two)

Returning the four Marines to their chapter the wounded Fitheak ends up stranded on Baal. When the infamous Inquisitor Bertolli gets too nosy around the Blood Angel’s Fortress Monastery, Commander Dante charges Brother-Sergeant Azrael to see that the Inquisitor will not stumble upon their Eldar ‘visitor’, lest something untoward should happen. Azrael chooses to take her to Primaris IV, an agricultural world near the Baal system, governed and tithed by the Blood Angel’s chapter.
The story snippet was written in 2005, so here we are:

Before the Storm

She stood on the balcony overlooking the rugged coastline and the storm-beaten ocean, deeply inhaling the salty air. The wind played in her long hair and made it rise behind her back in strange figures, looking almost like angels’ wings. The joy was plainly written on her face, it was in her smile and in the light in her eyes.
“This is the first time in all my life that I am outside on a world- a real world, a planet, you know, without a battlesuit.”
At first this seemed incongruous to him, but then Brother-Sergeant Azrael realised that it had been a long time, too, since he had been standing in the open without his armour on, and he knew she had grown up and spent her entire life on the Craftworld. Still, to spend hundreds or even thousands of years without this? He was deeply satisfied with his decision to bring her here. If anything in his power could bring her back onto her feet, it was this.

She seemed to be reading his thoughts, although he was almost painfully aware that she could no longer do this: “Do you bring your young ones here to recover, too?”
“No” he answered, “But it would probably be a good idea. Why do you ask?”
Azrael could by now read her face pretty well, clearly having an advantage over her because his face hardly ever betrayed anything, and besides she had never had to rely on reading faces before. Hers definitely harboured unasked questions right now.
“I have studied your history.” was the somewhat mystifying answer.
“Please clarify. ‘Your’ referring to humans, Blood Angels, or me?”
“Referring to Blood Angels. I wanted to know after Apothecary Uriel asked me about your… special dietary requirements, when it had started and how you had coped all those years. He used some rather confusing expressions, so I looked them up in the files in the monastery.” She seemed to be disturbed.
“And so you have read about the implants. You are shocked about how different we are.” It was not a question.
Yet, “No” was the answer, “I read about the procedures used to bond them to you. You are doing such horrible things to your bodies!” She looked genuinely shaken. “How can you stand these intrusions?” she asked, impulsively touching the metal studs on his forehead with her in-humanly slender fingers.

His skin tingled at her light touch, and suddenly he was overwhelmed by the knowledge that he had been protecting her just as he would any of his Brothers, would even gladly lay down his life to keep her safe, so precious she was to him. For one, tiny moment Azrael felt as if he were about to betray the Emperor, but then, didn’t he feel the same way about their beloved Primarch Sanguinius?

His thoughts were harshly interrupted by the sound of the alarm klaxon warning the occupants that the security of the chapter’s small governmental fortress on Primaris IV had been breached. From inside, he could hear the unmistakable sound of shooting.


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