Home Fiction Vignette #10

Vignette #10

by SCG
A person in a mask welding.

I trust my techs. I trust my team. I trust our processes. I trust our traditions.

I trust in divinity, and in the grace of the ineffable angels. I trust in that which watches over me. I trust that which nourishes me.

I trust my armour. I trust my helm, my visor, my gauntlets. I trust my systems. I trust my cables. I trust my rigging.

These are the three pillars of trust for a helldiver. In each we must hold firm. Where trust fails, a pillar crumbles. When a pillar crumbles, a helldiver does not return.

Many helldivers fail and fall. I no longer count the comrades I have lost. The faces of so many are lost to me. I am old. Old enough to remember when they still called us Void Hunters. Old enough to remember the face of Maximillian Harkonen, the first Void Hunter and the founder of our order. Old enough… to remember when Maximillian himself did not return home.

So now I am the oldest of our order. A symbol. A relic. A leader, unwillingly so. My trust must hold firm. My trust must never waver.

Now I feel a faint impact on the back of my inches-thick armour. My lead tech has kicked me, letting me know my team’s work is done. They have checked, and prayed, and checked again. I am ready.

I turn to them to lock eyes with each man and woman, and we gaze deep into one another. This team is the best team. This team is my team. We all know what we are charged with. Not one of them breaks eye contact until I move onto the next until, at last, I have shared this moment with all present.

I activate my visor and it polarises. I still see well enough, but now I am protected from ultraviolet rays, from the brightest lights, and the most unimaginable deformities of reason and being. My eyes rove over the runes carved into the visor. Each is complete, its lines unbroken. Another layer of protection from what is outside.

I stand atop my platform, and ritualistically tug each cable in turn. Each pulls firm, as I know it will. This is only tradition. An acknowledgement of the efforts my techs have already gone to. The cables are good. My rigging is attached. My systems report back positive. It is time.

Below the platform, a field snaps into being before the station’s hull irises open. The void lies farther below, and the field keeps our breathables in. There is always a wall, as there must be.

I raise an armoured hand in salute. The other grips my safety cable. The locks release, and the platform drops. My team vanishes upwards, out of sight. The dive begins.

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