Aromas is another ‘birthday gift’ story. In this case something I did for my friend Sebastian from Australia. His Scythes of the Emperor army is incredibly beautiful and, like me, he has invested a lot of creativity in the characters that exist within that army.
It was the scent that gave it away.
As the door slid open, the scent that a normal man would not have picked up wafted across Trano’s nose. Most Space Marines wouldn’t have noticed it either. It was a subtle scent. Something that shouldn’t be there. That just couldn’t be. He couldn’t place it but it made him quietly breathe deeper.
There – under the first scent. There was someone in here!
Trano took cover in the doorway as his bolt pistol cleared leather and trained on the source of the second scent – the man. He was sure now it was a man.
“And welcome to you too, Brother Trano,” came the voice from the shadowed room. “You can turn on the light if you like. You won’t need the pistol – but feel free to keep it out until you can see that for yourself.”
The Scythe stepped into the room warily, inhaling for more clues. He could see the silhouette of a man against the starscape beyond the viewport. “I was watching the stars. I hope you don’t mind. Your quarters were open and the servitor simply left me at the door.”
With his off hand Trano flipped on the lights which came up dim and then began to build to their full brightness slowly. Auburn hair with a touch of grey at the temples – clipped short on the sides but a bit wavy and longer on top. Medium complexion from what he could see of the back of the man’s neck. Crimson collar disappearing behind the back of the chair. The glint of light off the shoulder of a battered cuirass. Equally red jacket sleeve, to match the collar, with gold and white braid on the cuff. There could only be one jacket like that. “Colonel Senekal?” he whispered.
The guard Colonel swung the chair lazily about. Time had passed. There were some new lines on the man’s face. Lines of sadness and constant exertion. Even so, his grey eyes twinkled a bit. “Pleasure to see you again, Brother Trano of the Scythes of the Emperor. It’s been a long time.”
“Too long, Colonel. Too long. We’ve both been very busy with those things which hover around us. I’ve missed your company this last year.”
“And I yours, I assure you my good Astartes. I have many friends among the Adeptus Astartes – but each is different. All varied. All valued. All I miss when I do not see them. The same is true for other men.”
“You seem bothered, Colonel.”
The Danikan nodded, and lowered his gaze to the deck. “Aye, a bit. It’s not been the best of years,” he replied quietly. “But regardless,” he snapped his face back to the Scythe, “that’s the past and the Emperor never promised us an easy role to play.”
“That is certain.”
“And that, is why I’m here. It’s been a bit of a trip – and I didn’t quite make it in time. But nonetheless, I am here.”
“For what, Colonel? In time for what?”
“The celebration of your birth, of course! Birthdays are always highly regarded on my homeworld. Cause for celebration and joy. Or remembrance if the person has passed on. I am late – but yesterday was yours.”
“We had a small ceremony. I’m sorry you missed it, Colonel.”
“No matter. There is time, I think, to visit a bit before I must go again. In the meantime, I brought you this.” The Danikan reached below the desk and pulled out a plant. It was medium height for a table plant – around eighteen inches tall. He set it carefully on the desk. “Do you recall it?”
“That – “ Trano paused, stunned. “That cannot be!”
“It can!” Senekal grinned. “A Sothan Forsythia. Rare even on Sotha and highly prized for its scent and its spices which were used for cooking the highest cuisine on the world.”
Trano shuffled forward to touch it, his armored fingers bringing forth a bit more of the scent. The scent he had not identified for he had never thought to be exposed to it again. “Colonel – where?”
“A rather arrogant Imperial Commander. One who the Danikans had to teach a bit of a lesson to. He’d visited Sotha in his youth and developed a taste for Forsythia spice in his food. So, in his adulthood, he had some smuggled from the world. Before the Tyranids attacked and scoured Sotha of all life, taking even the atmosphere and the water.”
“This – Colonel this is a princely gift. Priceless. Absolutely priceless.”
“Not as priceless as a good friend, Brother Astartes. Nothing is so priceless as that.”