A Simple Scribe
“Remembrancer, this way!” barked a nasal voice over the din of the embarkation deck.
“Yes… sir” guessed Danse clutching his tote tight and weaving inexpertly through the bustle of servitors, crew, crates, vehicles and hoses choking the deck. The grated steel deck, larger than a football field and freckled with robust pads for the Stormbirds, Thunderhawks, and cargo lighters thronged with hundreds of people, and thousands of pieces of equipment and machinery all moving in a chaotic, atonal ballet. Danse crossed the short gap to a crewmember, a scarecrow of a woman tall and lean, her face pocked with scars from some manner of wound. She wore the crimson trimmed grey robe of a legion thrall. Danse himself wore a traveler’s outfit, soft, sturdy trousers, boots, loose fitting shirt, and a light robe over it, belted at the waist. His hood was down in the hot, dry heat of the deck and sweat beaded every bit of skin.
“Follow me, High Captain Beattie will speak with you, then I will direct you to your quarters” she said over her shoulder, already walking stiffly away.
Danse stumbled, recovering and struggling to keep pace. “Did you see High Captain Beattie?”
The crewmember didn’t respond, her shock of hair, so black it nearly shone blue, bobbing away from him as he struggled free of the press of flesh and steel on the deck. Trotting to catch up, panting from the heat, exertion, and confusion of the new environment it took Danse a moment to take things in. The deck below him was steel, somewhat blue to his eye, repeated along the walls, with the ceiling being a blood red with gold trim. Lights in ornate niches and hatches were all perfectly worked into murals and frescoes adorning the walls and rugs and screens broke up the sounds that normally echoed down the halls.
“Your quarters will be forward of the embarkation deck, they’ve set aside a number of petty officers and junior officer’s quarters for you lot to use.” She spat. The sides of her head were shaved to the skin, and a pair of augmetic ports gaped from raw wounds in her skull. “As soon as your interview is over I will take you down there and return to my duties. You will find a list of important rules and directions to key locations in your room. Please make an effort to not break any of the rules or get lost.”
“Of course ma’am… miss… I’m sorry I don’t know your name?” Danse knew he was whining a little but he could barely catch his breath. And a meeting with the High Captain himself? His cousin had heard from a friend that many remembrancers didn’t meet with an astartes for weeks and he was to meet a High Captain his first hour on board?
“Thank you, Lieutenant Avorla.” Danse said, she slowed fractionally, turning into a corridor much broader and taller than the one they’d been in.
“We’re close. Don’t waste his time he has much to do to prepare Misericorde for her next battle.”
“Of course, Lieutenant Avorla.”
“Just Lieutenant will do.” She bit off. He’d come even with her, finally and saw ahead of them a large arched doorway, its wooden door completely at odds with everything else on the ship. The ornate tasseled rug they walked on felt impossibly thick under his boots and he felt an odd desire to remove his boots as they crossed it.
Avorla walked right up to the door, pounding it twice then turning off to stand beside it resting on a small seat jutting out from the wall. “ENTER” barked a deep voice from within.
“He doesn’t mean me” Avorla said, seeing Danse hesitate. Danse took a breath and pushed the massively heavy door open. It moved easily once started and got away from him to slam awkwardly against the wall. Danse stood awkwardly for a moment the loud noise and sight before him stunning him momentarily.
Astartes had to be seen to be believed. Danse was used to looking up at people, not even 155cm tall he looked up to almost everyone even with the lifts artfully concealed in his boots. In his bare feet Beattie towered over him. The back of Danse’s brain told him Beattie might well double his height in full warplate. The astartes was wearing a bodyglove with a crimson robe over it, trimmed in gold. The simplicity of the trim seemed to emphasize its luxurious fabric and perfect craft and the artfully made chair, sized perfectly for him seemed both incredibly rustic and perfectly complementary to the holo table next to it. Beattie looked directly at Danse “Well, come in, let me look at you.”
Danse breathed deeply, straightened up and walked to the table, letting his tote fall on its strap to his side. His father had told him, when it’s time to face the music stand straight and walk tall. Come to think of it he could hear music, soft, deep chants echoed into the room. He forced himself to continue his determined pace across the 10 meters or so to the table. Slowing down he glanced at the table to see a map covered in odd symbols and arrows on it before darting his eyes back to Beattie.
Like all the IXth legion, Beattie shared facial features with Sanguinius, his eyes betrayed passion and intelligence, and there the similarities ended. Beattie was broad, powerfully built with hands like hams, and dark skin. His soft smile gave away… something. Danse wasn’t sure what. “Tell me about yourself Remembrancer” he said, his voice deep and somehow harmonized with the chants.
“Well my lord, I’m a remembrancer, just out from Terra…”
“Tell me about YOURSELF, Remembrancer. Don’t make me repeat myself again”
“Ah, well, I was born in Albion and did my schooling there, me Uncle wrote for one of the broadsheets there and took me under his wing, er as it were” he trailed off a moment, looking up at the fresco of Sanguinius, with his wings spread hovering over them. “I would bring him news and he’d jot it down, maybe liven it up, or bring in other details to put it in context, you know? After a while he had me doing it meself. Some of my stories caught some attention, and I thought I’d be in trouble. Apparently, I’d noticed some recruiting efforts by some of the legions or something. Anyway, I was brought before a couple folks who said they worked for the Sigilite, They said if I was so good at finding out the truth that I should be where illumination was needed and next thing you know, I’m on a ship here.”
Beattie looked at him, no, through him for a moment, his mouth moving. “Thames river trader, eh? A block down from the theater right out from the pumphouse?”
Danse froze a moment, how could he know?
“The recruiters found me hawking papers there. I’d been jumped by… well… that’s a story for another day for sure. How Malcador knew…” His eyes widened as another voice spoke
“He might have, but I chose Danse for this duty my son.”
Danse fell prostrate. No mortal surprised by the Angel could possibly be expected to stay standing and Danse was certainly no tougher than any other man. “I became aware of your connection and, well, there’s no coincidences as my Father says. Added to that he’s a clever investigator and an insightful writer. I look forward to his chronicles on your battles with great interest, Beattie.”
“Yes my lord.” Beattie said
“Leave us brave Danse, I must impart some instructions on Beattie. I am glad to have met you. Please be careful closing the door, I’m told it gets away from people.” Sanguinius said with the hint of a grin on his impossibly flawless face. Danse scrambled to his feet, forcing himself to walk normally from the room as he carefully, gently, closed the door. Avorla stepped out to ensure it closed silently her eyes more than a little wild from her own encounter with the Angel. She looked down at Danse.
“Let’s go. Let’s get you to your quarters.” She stalked away, somewhat slower than before. “Did he really pick you himself?” She asked, clearly thinking about each word.
“It’s what he said. I can’t imagine taking the time to think about me.”
“The Primarchs don’t waste time. If he picked you, if he spent time on you there was reason for it. Don’t you worry about that.