In My Spirit Lies My Strength
August 4, 20113
Something seems to be disturbing the Xeno. He stares at me in what looks like incomprehension, glancingalternatively at my wound and at his blade as his smile slowly turns into a grimace of anger. The adrenaline of thecombat recedes, freeing my ears from the sound of my own beating heart. The noise of the arena washes over me
like a tidal wave of sound, but it isn’t what I had expected it to be. The spectators are laughing, pouring a cascade of
mocking sounds not at me but at my opponent, some of them pointing and laughing so hard I can see them doubledover in their seats. It is then the realisation dawns upon me: my opponent must have been convinced there waspoison coating his blade.Maybe there is, maybe this is another of their elaborate mind traps, one in fact intended for me. But the pain
throbbing across my chest isn’t excessive, my mind doesn’t feel clouded and my muscles show no sign of weakness.
Then again, what could the Xeno possibly have done to earn himself the shame of becoming little more than alaughingstock destined to be killed? I shut my mind to such questions. Ultramarine taught me there was little point intrying to understand the Xeno. Wanting to know why they fight or how they fight is the first step to warming up totheir cause. Let scholars study the ruins we leave behind, he said to me. Warriors like us need not understand to kill.I do exactly that. My opponent is still spitting insults back at the arena when I barrel into him in full sprint, bringingdown my knife at the same time I slam him backwards. Even surprised, even wrong-footed the Xeno manages tokeep his balance and deviate my swinging arm. He does not see, obscured by my body, my heel slam down hard onhis unprotected foot.He gives a short yelp and the short moment for which he remains pinned is what I needed to make him lose hisfooting. As he stumbles backwards I weigh down on him, savouring the lurching feeling of the two of us falling to the
ground. Both of our knives escape our hands in the stumble, but he is underneath me and his frail musculature can’t
unpin him. His hands reach for my face, scratching and clawing as my fingers close around his throat. I lean close tohim to deny him the satisfaction of gouging my eyes or my lips, his fists then only able to thump uselessly againstmy back. I am vaguely aware of the pain he causes me, a pain that is almost entirely eclipsed by the pleasure of hearing his agonising gurgles, feeling his blood-tainted spittle on my face and, at last, crushing his throat in a wetcrack.The arena cheers at me, the first time it has ever done so. They are actually cheering, not mocking me, not laughing.
I can’t make out their usual sarcasm and that has me distracted for a moment as I get up, letting go of the Xeno’s
limp body. I want to maim it more, to have revenge for the suffering they inflicted to me, but what I want above all
that is to honour Ultramarine’s memory. He explained to me that we need only worry about destroying the Alien.
Once it is dead, we must banish him from our thoughts.
“For Guilliman and for the Throne of Terra! Courage and Honour!”
Emboldened by my kill, I cry out the words with more passion than usual. Maybe it is why I can see, as I point athim again, the Xeno leader rise up from his seat and whisper something to the figure next to him. I squint my eyesand I can just about make out his arm indicating my general direction. My posture of challenge does not waver aninch to betray how high this simple mark of attention lifts my fighting spirit. I have killed one of his kind today
notthe first I have killed in my life of fighting them, but the first since my capture. Soon it will be him.#They let me the choice of weapons today before they unshackled me, presenting me a rack of blades of all lengthsand shapes. I hesitated a long time before choosing, not because I did not know which one to choose but because I
didn’t want to willingly take a Xeno
-made weapon. It is one thing to be forced to fight with one of their weapons butquite another to taint my mind and my hands by deliberately selecting a weapon of alien origin. Ultramarine insistedupon that very often, because we used to be so impressed with the sorcerous-like power of their rifles and cannonsthat we wanted to seize the weapons of their dead. He took great care to teach us how that was in fact spreadingthe taint of the Alien, until we saw the error of our ways.There is, almost lost in the array of exotic weapons, a bastard sword that I have seen as soon as they brought me infront of the rack. It does not look to be the product of their forges
too blunt, too unsophisticated for their tastes. Itis a brutish tool of war and so it is all that I require.I stretch my muscles before the barbed doors of the arena open. I feel good doing that and I realize I am fitter than
I used to be. Training whenever I wasn’t shackled seem
s to have paid off or maybe there was more than symbolism
in Ultramarine’s words when he told me that strength lied within ourselves, waiting to be tapped. The desire to kill
one of them again, channelled into cold fury, has bestowed upon me the physical ability to carry out my justrevenge.The noise of the arena does not faze me as it used to. I have purpose and I am focused now, more than I ever was.Tasting the death of one of the Xeno under my bare hands has been the wake-up shock I needed to becomestronger. My mind is set. I do not waver, even when I see the female walking towards me on the black sand. I know