The warm rays of the late morning sun illuminated the speckles of dust as they past through the beams of light cast down through the prison bars above. Joseph would usually find it a simple pleasure to watch the small particles lazily dance about, but his plight was far from pleasurable. The cell with its pale beams of light was still cold, but this didn't bother the Bacaran. In the near silence of the brick prison, Joseph meditated on the events which had led him to this sobering moment.
The first occurrence which had set him on this path was when he had join the Bacaran Patriotic movement. A lamentable choice, but back then it was the only good option he had. That was when Governor Hampton had began to reveal his twisted plan in earnest, allowing off-worlders to tear out the resources of the land for his own agenda. Since there was no more work in the forests or mines, the gangs where the only way to make a decent living. Knight and the others had taken care of him, excepted him as a brother and although their conduct wasn't spotless, their hearts were in the right place. Then the Governor sent his lackeys to root out those who apposed him in the hive, kicking in doors and either shooting or arresting those they found. He hadn't expected to get out alive when they had come to their shack, yet by the Emperor's grace, he had. And not only that, they all got away unscratched thanks to the highland militia. The men of the highlands always stuck to the old ways and the traditions of their ancestors, and were the first to speak out against the desecration of the land. It was them who had christened him with the name 'Omen' after his faith and how he believed the way things happened was the Emperor's work. Once more he was taken in with open arms by those who believed in similar values and that the actions of the Governor were not for the Imperium. Unfortunately, the Imperial Guard did not agree. When the Chimeras of a mechanized regiment thundered into Deppie ridge, they had all fought hard to defend themselves and their cause. But against tanks and artillery, they didn't stand a chance. The pain in his leg from the fragment of a bolter round, still gave him grief from time to time; but it was still a small price for escaping death and imprisonment.
Then he had met Tanika. She had taken him in, mended him and in a short span of time, they had fallen in love. When the Governor's corruption was finally revealed, he was swiftly dealt with and Bacara could rebuild once more. They had been content with building a new life for themselves, raise a family and spending the rest of their time together in peace. Then, he had made that fatal decision, to help those who had also escaped imprisonment. But, how couldn't he? They were his brothers, he knew they were good men. They just needed a guiding hand to help them in the right direction. Since there was a lack of priest in the region, the local PDF had even made him their temporary Chaplin, to the horror of Tanika. It had taken a good bit of clarifying for her to be on board with the idea. He still believed it was the Emperor's will for him to help them and all had been fine, at least until last night. Barnard had always been more radical, but he didn't expect that he would continue to fight against the occupying Imperial forces, let alone press-gang him into helping him at las point. The guard had caught them in the act and this time, there was no escape.
Now Joseph had been condemned to serve until either death or later notice in the Bacaran Labour Militia, almost mockingly named after both the organizations he had taken part in. He would be sent off-world to fight wherever the Imperium dictated, most likely never to see Te Harinui again, Never to see Tanika again. His emotions raged within him, how could he let this happen? They had only been married for seven months for throne sake! Now he wouldn't even get to say goodbye.
The cell was suddenly filled with the sounds of the heavy lock on the door being released. Joseph didn't stir from where he sat, still engrossed in his own thoughts. As the door was slowly swung open, the brighter light from outside force him to squint as he focused on the stone floor. He had expected to be told it was time to leave, yet the words he heard spoken didn't match up to his expectations. "You've got about fifteen minutes, that is all." the voice of the guard stated, followed be a "thank you" from a much gentler voice. Joseph knew that voice, his head shot up to face the entrance of the cell. In the doorway stood the silhouette of a small petite figure, wearing a long flowing skirt with abounding hair draped over the shoulders. It was her, Joseph stood up and stared in disbelief. Tanika Fern stepped straight into the small room with surprising speed. "Tanika.." was the only word Joseph managed to say before he was greeted with a sharp pain to his cheek and his face being jerked to one side. 'Alright, I deserved that.' he thought as his mind registered the unexpected, yet understandable slap. The next sensation he experienced was a tightness around the waist and the warm sensation around his torso. Looking down, he found his wife embracing him, her face buried in his chest.
"How could you do this to me? How could you do this to us?" she sobbed in his chest. For the moment, Joseph simply embraced her. He had already asked the same question to himself whilst in the cell, yet he still didn't have an answer. Tears ran down his face as his emotions became even more confused. This series of events was an absolute tragedy, yet he was happy to hold his wife. A grace from the Emperor he thought he would never experience again. "Don't go..." Tanika mumbled through the tears. "Please don't go.". "Tanika." Joseph whispered back. His wife looked up to him, her eyes and cheeks glistening in the light. "I need you to be strong for me, my love. I need you to prayer, pray for a safe and speedy return. I know the Emperor listens to your prayers, your prayers will bring me home once more.". Joseph smiled through the pain, "Can you do this for me, Tanika?". As distraught as she was, Tanika had silently listened. Lowering her head, she gently nodded while subtly drying her face on his shirt. "I love you Joseph." she managed to whisper. "I love you too." Joseph replied, holding her tighter.
And so fifteen minutes passed, the two embracing each other until the last moment. Tanika did not protest, nor did she cause the guards any trouble. They had given her this time, to which she was grateful. The two had one last kiss, to which the guards did not disturb. She left the cell not turning away from her husband, a silent prayer on her lips. Even as the door was closed, Joseph didn't hear her leave for a few minutes more. Once more, silence invaded the cell; leaving the Bacaran with his thoughts. He sat on the bench once more, committing to his memory every moment of the last fifteen minutes. As he sat, Joseph noticed that there was something in his pocket. Fishing with his hand, he pulled out two items that weren't there before. One was a picture of Tanika, her beaming smile illuminated by an outdoor fire. Joseph remembered that night very well. The other item was a nail file. Joseph couldn't help but chuckles a little. It was just like his wife to be so optimistic, even in this situation. Joseph looked up to the barred widow of the cell. There was no way he could cut through them before they came to take him away. Yet she had still smuggled it in, just in case. What a blessing she is!
When the time came, the cell was once more opened, but this time two guardsmen stood at the entrance. Joseph was cuffed and lead away, leaving behind the empty cell. The empty cell, with one bar slightly filed down at the bottom.
[[I started this story at the beginning of the year as a little insight and have finally gotten around to finishing it. Special thanks to my wife for helping me write this and giving me ongoing great feed back.
For more clarity on the subjects touch on here, feel free to look into these notes I posted before:http://www.peachpunk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=134.]]
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