Born In An Ork Desert
An unofficial Warhammer 40,000 Short Story
Written by Joseph Osuna
Reading Time: 22 minutes
“You’re going to have to get something better than that!” quipped Darius as the man fiddled with the power sword. The wires were exposed from the bottom of a sword hilt; and sparks flew when he tried to connect them together.
“Ow!” he exclaimed after being shocked.
Darius laughed, “You can’t fix that yourself and then take it into battle against Orks. It will get you killed.” The man’s face squinted as if trying to find a problem, but he wouldn’t recognize it even if he saw it. The man answered in a joking tone, “Where’s the respect for your commanding officer, Sergeant?”
Darius chuckled to himself, “My apologies Lieutenant Coal, I didn’t realize you were such a talented engineer.”
Coal smiled under military cut blond hair and a square jaw. He was naturally strong with a defined face. Darius by contrast had dark brown skin, a shaved head, and a leaner muscular build.
Coal looked over and said, “An earth caste engineer could definitely fix this.”
Darius shook his head, “They’re not going to assign an earth caste engineer to fix your barbarian sword. A Gue’vesa, a ‘human helper’, tinkerer may be able to get you another battle out of it.”
“A Gue’vesa can figure this thing out, we just need to find the right one. We’ll take it to Kora,” replied Coal. He knew humans had made this item, humans had mastered the science, and one day they would again. Coal respected the Tau, but he felt his people had so much to contribute. Not just to the Tau, but to the enslaved Gue’la humans of the imperium. He knew humans were more than helpers to the Tau, or slaves to the imperium, and that they could be partners of the Tau.
They set out to find a “tinkerer” in the market district. These were men and women that experimented and jerry-rigged plundered imperium and xeno technology and weapons. The most common was a Gue’vesa Special or a GS. It was a laspistol, or a lasgun, with the safety features removed and the power turned up. The weapon only had about seven or eight shots before it needed maintenance, or melted down; but it penetrates armor like hot-shot lasweapons. These GS weapons were common among Gue’vesa, especially those who feared the return of the brutal gue’ron’sha, also known as the space marines.
Lieutenant Coal always carried one, never really expecting to need to use it that much.
The sun was up, but you’d never be able to tell that, in the dark underbelly of the hive city. Here it
was perpetually dark. The Tau were busy kilometres away tearing down the sprawling monstrosity of a planet city by city. This planet was theirs now, with the human population being relocated to other Septs for assimilation. But many humans still lived in the remaining cities with bustling markets, shops, and dealers of forbidden goods. There were just too many humans to relocate, so tens of millions of humans remained in hives working as laborers in recycling the planet’s vast array of building materials. Others worked as enforcers, or as Gue’vesa soldiers, ensuring the flow of material was uninterrupted. Or in distributing food from the Tau to alleviate suffering was another common job. But teachers and students were the newer prefered professions. They were all paid a small allowance in plundered, or counterfeited imperial credits, which kept the economy spinning in the underhive.
Darius and Coal wandered down the bustling dark streets of neon signs, and food being sold out of street-carts. Coal bought a square pastry with a green paste filling in the middle. Darius frowned, “You shouldn’t be eating that, it barely counts as food.”
Coal laughed, “You’re too much of a Gue’va. Too good for Gue’vesa living, just because you never knew the joy of tsox beetle jelly in your pastry. Gotta get that protein somehow.” Gue’va, or Gue’vesa Va, was human slang for a human follower of the Tau’va, or the Greater Good, who had been born to a comfortable life on a Tau Sept world, as opposed to the Gue’vesa born to a harsher life on human worlds. The Tau never really considered them different; but for humans these people were born worlds apart. Especially, if a Gue’va were a true believer in the Greater Good, as opposed to the Gue’vesa who chose it over attending re-education.
Then Coal joked, speaking Darius’ name with a Tau inflection, “Tell me Dar’ee’us, why did you join the Gue’vesa Auxiliary army rather than a fire caste cadre? You’d fit right in over there and get to wear a Tau battle-suit one day.”
Darius looked uncomfortable, “I am from the Water Caste, they convinced me to join here… but I also wanted to see what living among Gue’vesa was like. Maybe, I would understand the Gue’la better. Understand the world better.”
Coal looked at him, “Are we everything you dreamed?”
Darius gave him a sarcastic look, “The Gue’vesa are a lost people. They believe in nothing except survival. The Imperium Gue’la humans as well. We all need the Greater Good and the ethereals, because without it, we’re all murderers! Just like the Tau were in the Mont’au, ‘Time of Terror’.”
Coal was confused, “Are you saying we’re all murderers?”
Darius nodded his head, “All intelligent beings fight for survival, but if survival is without purpose and morality, it is just endless worship of death. Luckily, the ethereals have given us purpose; to help better the lives of all that accept the Greater Good. To serve each other rather than destroy each other.”
“The Ethereals are very wise,” joked Coal.
“We all need the Ethereals, even the traitors in the Vior’los Sept. They will be murdering each other once Farsight’s tyranny ends. Then they will beg us to save them.”
“We Gue’vesa are too smart to talk about Farsight,” grinned Coal.
“He’s a typical Fire Caste bully. The por’faan, ‘water caste’ will never submit. Gue’vesa Auxiliaries who are loyal to the ethereals is more important than ever, now that Farsight’s sickness is spreading.”
They finally came to a concrete staircase leading them down into a small room with a door. They waited for a minute, and the door finally pops open. A slightly disfigured woman with a burned face says to them, “Lieutenant Coal and Sergeant Darius, so good to see you. I hear you boys are deploying on Ork duty.”
“The echoes travel far down here,” said Coal grimacing. “It’s a small mob of Orks, an easy cleanup. What I need is a repair. The power keeps cutting out on this sword. Can you fix it Kora?”
She looks down at his power sword, “Bring it in.”
They enter the next room, which is filled with racks of autoguns, lasguns, mismatched pieces of armor, and all manner of imperial weapons. She places the power sword on a bench and examines it through goggles with various built in magnifying glasses. She examines it, her face twitching, “I’m impressed this even still works. This isn’t a rush job, testing all these components will take time. Your power emitter is still in good shape though, probably one of the connections burned out. You could trade the sword in, I’ve got a new piece.”
“I don’t want to lose my sword… that’s how I want to be known. As a sword hero like the La’r’nan of Tau legends,” said Coal frowning.
Darius was obviously confused, “You know the La’r’nan stories?”
Coal nodded, “Required reading on Gue’vesa planets. There’s something I loved about the sword hero traveling to the ungoverned frontiers and alien worlds protecting the innocent.”
“You mean spreading the Greater Good,” asserted Darius. Kora cringed, “The Tau have certainly got you boys under their spell. I mean they ain’t bad if you say the right words. They ain’t good if you say the wrong words. I don’t even want to know how they changed the gangers!”
Coal smiled, “We’re in their house now, we gotta play by their rules. What do you have while my sword is in the shop?”
From underneath the table Kora pulls out a sleek straight metallic stick or straight-stick baton around seventy centimeters long, “It’s a shock-stick, works like a power maul, but with electricity. Simpler technology, easier to fix and maintain. It’s Tau made, so it’s very reliable. Made to subdue prisoners of war.”
“These are Orks, I need to kill’em not stun’em!” he said indignantly.
Kora continued, “This is very deadly. We’ll overcharge it, by adding two power cells; and then I’ll rig it up with the resonance emitter from your power sword. That’ll give it a small power field to break armor and bones. This will be like hitting someone with a lightning bolt.”
Coal pondered a while and then said, “It won’t blow up, right?”
Kora waived his fear away, “No… probably not. The emitter should work, even if the electric relays overload.”
He looked to Darius, “What do you think?”
Darius picked it up and felt its light-weight and flicked it on, it crackled with electricity, “Better than a power-sword for Orks, they barely wear any armor. Quicker punch than a chain-sword. It’s definitely good for pok’por’ret’ka.”
Kora looked confused, “Yeah, it’s good for pot pork…” Darius cut her off, “No, for the school of Flowing Water Martial Arts.” “Okay then, how much?”nodded Coal.
Kora looked away hiding her face, “Twenty credits and leave your power sword. If you come back in the next year, I’ll swap them back out. If you don’t, I keep it and all the components.”
Coal dug into his pocket and handed over the credits. Kora grabbed them. Darius then looked around, “How much for the Voss auto-pistol with the long magazine?” Kora pulled one off the shelf, “Five.”
Darius shook his head no, “Four.”
“Five and I’ll throw in a full magazine.”
Darius agreed and they exchanged.
Kora looked at Coal, “Considered a plasma pistol? Twenty five credits, it’ll put down a Beastman or put a hole through even the biggest Ork.”
Coal laughed, “We don’t expect to fight any giant Orks.”
Darius looked puzzled, “What’s a Beastman?”
“A mythical monster that eats children and worships dark gods,” smiled Coal. Kora laughed, “They’re real alright! The governor had a secret army of them here in the under-hive.
They got scooped up by the Tau.” Coal laughed, “No way!”
Kora paused, putting away the money and asked, “You boys ever think them Tau are just using you out there? Sending you to die instead of their own?” It was a common question, and a common fear in the hive cities.
Darius replied quickly, “They worry about us more than themselves because our equipment is considered… pathetic. They think it is cruel to send soldiers out with imperium gear.”
Coal agreed, “They mostly keep us out of the combat. We drop bombs and secure the rear, they do most of the shooting. It’s only when it gets really bad, that we’re sent into the middle of the storm.”
Kora smiles, “Then why are you in here buying a melee weapon?” “If an Ork joins the party, I wanna be ready to dance” smirked Coal.
Coal was wearing his flak officer’s peaked hat and Darius his combat helmet. They were on a gray desert planet covered in flak armor surrounded by imperial artillery. Basilisks roared, throwing shells far down range. Coal looked into his Tau binocs and saw far in the distance, a Tau fire caste firing line was laying a constant stream of fire. The Orks came at them in waves, their large battlewagons and junkyard battle-suits were brought down under heavy streams of pulse fire and missiles; but the waves of Orks charged forward through the artillery explosions. Darius peered through binocs and made an assessment, “The Orks are going to reach the line. When they do, it’s going to break in the melee.”
Coal looked at him, “You sure?”
Darius nodded affirmatively.
Coal thought fast, “We could take the Chimeras and form a line in front of them.”
Darius shook his head, “No time. But we could swing around behind that large Ork mob.”
Coal tried working it out, “The Chimeras can’t shoot the mob without hitting the fire warriors.” Darius agreed, “All we need to do is stall the Ork mob long enough to allow them to reposition. If we take our platoon into melee combat, the Oks will turn and fight.”
Coal looks at him, “If we do that, we’ll be dead in minutes.” Darius gritted, “We have to give the fire warriors time to reposition, and we can’t do that if we fight shoulder to shoulder with them. You have to make the call now or we miss our window.” Coal considered his options, he hadn’t received any orders, but he knew Darius was right. If the
Orks made it into melee, the line would collapse and retreat would ensue, the whole Tau cadre might collapse from being flanked. He could feel something, something calling to him, faintly telling him to save their brothers the Tau.
Lieutenant Coal roared, “Mount up Gue’vesa! We’re going Ork hunting! Sergeant Darius, call our move into the artillery battery. Sergeant Pace, call it into the Tau cadre. Let’s avoid friendly fire!” Two squads of Gue’vesa soldiers piled into the two Chimeras, and they took off kicking up dust. The lieutenant and the sergeant waited for a response, from either the Tau or Gue’vesa leadership, telling them not to proceed; but there was silence. This was going to happen. Coal and Darius sat preparing their weapons, while the squad affixed their bayonets. Darius sharpened his hatchet and looked at Coal’s shock-stick, “You remember what I taught you?”
Coal nodded, “That stuff about water movements.”
Darius looked him in the eye, “Yes. Keep your stance fluid, redirect their momentum, then quick strikes and jabs; the shock will do the rest.”
Coal looked at the squad, “Remember boys, the Orks are wild, let’em swing and leave themselves open. Use the reach of your bayonets and we’ll make it through.”
Coal then spoke loudly, “Bow your heads. Today we give ourselves to the Greater Good! We dedicate our lives and our actions to spreading the Greater Good. May the Greater Good protect us because we are its servants and it is our light. Grant us strength and we will spread your truth. The Greater Good protects.”
“The Greater Good Protects!” replied the squad.
After the prayer Coal could feel energy fill his body, with every breath he felt as if his power expanded. He again heard a quiet whisper somewhere in his mind. Something echoing through time and space. He could faintly hear something. He shook off the distractions and prepared hisGS laspistol. Darius then whispered, “That is not how the Greater Good works!”
Coal just smiled, “It’s works for me.”
They were getting close. The sound of the Chimera’s multi-las and heavy-stubber rang out and vibrated through the steel. The metallic pings banged off the Chimeras armor and got more constant as they got closer to the battle. The Chimera commander then came over the comm system, “We’re hitting the Ork mob in 30 seconds. They have engaged the Tau in melee. Prepare for halt and departure.”
From the back of the Chimera a soldier’s voice spoke up, “For the record, this is a fucking stupid idea Lieutenant!” Everyone chuckled in a moment of levity.
“You’re a smart man Private,” answered the lieutenant. Then the chimera stopped and a green light came on. It was showtime.
They piled out of the Chimera with primal roars; with Lieutenant Coal in the lead. They saw a wall of Orks in front of them. In the middle of the Ork mob was a four meter tall Warboss known as Lokrak. Coal squeezed the handle, electricity crackled and power hummed through the shock-stick. The mob of Orks saw them, and turned to fight. Coal raised his shock-stick and smashed the first Ork that got close to him. The stick came down onto the Ork’s arm as it tried to shield itself. A large bolt of electricity emanated from the stick, and the arm exploded all over Coal’s face and armor. The Ork boy collapsed in convulsions and Coal could only think ‘Kora’s getting an extra twenty credits if I make it back.’
Coal raised his GS laspistol and fired at the next Ork, hitting its chest scrap armor. The Ork screamed in pain, ripping the super heated armor over his head away from his body, Coal took the moment and quickly swung the shock-stick low to hit the unarmored knee. It connected, electrifying the Ork, who then caught fire. Roaring in pain the Ork fell to the ground unable to control his body. Coal raised his GS laspistol and fired to end its misery.
All around him, Coal’s squad charged into the Ork mob; stabbing their bayonets into Ork guts, but it rarely seemed to kill them. He glimpsed Darius unloading thirty rounds from his automatic pistol into the Ork mob. An Ork was shot, and angrily swung a rusted sword at the sergeant. Darius hooked the sword with the head of the hatchet, and pulled the blade out of the Ork’s hand. He quickly jabbed the head of the hatchet into the Ork’s nose; smashing it in, and then slammed the hatchet into the greenskin’s throat. Another Ork came at the sergeant with a large chain-axe; but Darius throws his hatchet. and the blade slams into the Ork’s face. Then he grabs a slugga pistol from a downed Ork, and shoots his way to his hatchet.
Coal scanned around just in time to see an Ork nob charging him with a jagged cleaver; and he slunk his head and raised his shoulder. The cleaver came down and slammed into Coal’s the shoulder plate of his flak armour. He jabbed the shock-stick into the Ork’s exposed throat, and the electricity from the shock-stick exploded the neck. The head popping off in another unexpected explosion of green gore. This left the cleaver still stuck in his shoulder armor, and Coal could feel the blood starting to run down his arm, and onto his pistol grip. He hoped the cut wasn’t too deep.
Another Ork came roaring towards him flailing wildly with a crude metal club. Coal kept his stance fluid; and the Ork swung the club sideways, hoping for a roundhouse knockout. The lieutenant quickly brought the stick down onto the Ork’s wrist. Electricity surges into the Ork, and it drops its weapons, and is momentarily disoriented. Coal fires his GS laspistol into the greenskin’s unarmored stomach. The shot hit the creature’s stomach, but the Ork still charges Coal. Enraged it smashes its green fist into Coal’s face; and then tackles him to the ground. The Greenskin punches him in the face again; but then Coal flips off the electricity and swings his stick, striking the Ork in the head. The power emitter crushing the Ork’s skull.
Sergeant Darius lifts the body off Coal and yells “It’s working. The Orks are starting to break.”
Lieutenant Coal gets up and immediately looks for another target; and sees one of his squad barely keeping an Ork at bay with his bayonet. Running over he smashes the shock-stick into the Ork’s back, cracking through its junk-yard armor, and sending the Greenskin lifelessly to the ground. The infantry man smiled at the Lieutenant; but then a slugga bullet went straight through the soldier’s face, and he dropped to the ground. Darius and Coal both charged the lone Ork; in a rare moment of panic, the Ork boy took off running. Darius fired a slugga as the Ork fled. The Orks were also starting to flee. However, it wasn’t just them, the Tau had broken into a retreat as well. As did most of their Gue’vesa, who weren’t already dead. The Ork advance had been broken except for their Warboss Lokrak. The warboss was decked in scraps of metal armor, remnants of various imperial armor plates; and was armed with a slugga pistol in one hand, and a giant power claw on the other.
The Chimeras had both taken to firing at Warboss Lokrak, pelting him with heavy fire. Lokrak turned and charged into the lasfire, swinging a giant power claw that grabbed that destroyed the multi-laser, and then the heavy-stubber. The Chimera feebly reversed, and spinning around, now fled. Lokrak then leapt after the second Chimera, and smashed his power claw into its armor. Ripping and tearing it apart, Lokrak shot the exposed pilots inside. Sergeant Pace ran up with his chain-sword whirring, and drove it into a gap in Lokrak’s armor, grinding into his left knee. Lokrak’s speed was incredible, he spun around and grabbed Pace with the power claw, and cut him in half in a split second. The top half of Pace then collapsed and fell to the ground. Cut in two, Pace still pointed his laspistol at the Warboss from the ground and fired. Lokrak scowled, as he lifted his leg and stomped down on what was left of Pace. Lokrak then reached down, and pulled the chain-sword out of his leg, with his claw.
Darius grabbed Coal, “We can take him together.”
Coal looked at him with huge wide eyes, “No, we can’t! Stand down Sergeant. He just cut through two Chimeras. Flak armor and melee weapons aren’t going to win this.”
It didn’t matter, Lokrak turned and gazed at them with bloodlust. The rest of the field having fled or died, it was just the three of them. Coal raised his shock-stick and Darius brought his hatchet to a defensive position and asked, “Orders?”
Coal replied, “Distract him until the Tau can regroup and take him out. Don’t engage, just dodge and fallback.” The officers surrounded Lokrak on two sides and he glanced at both deciding which one to go after.
Lokrak then looked at Darius and started to move towards him. Darius followed orders and took off sprinting as fast as he could with Lokrak in pursuit firing his slugga wildly and hitting nothing. Coal then gave chase to the monster Ork, he raised his GS laspistol and shot at the giant beast while running. From above you would see tiny human running through a desert of bodies chasing a green monster several times his size and firing a laspistol at it. Then a shot landed on the steel armor and it melted onto the ork’s skin. Lokrak stopped and was madly angered at the melted steel fusing onto his body. It turned to see Coal standing with the offending equipment and a blood soaked sleeve, a cleaver still embedded into his shoulder armor. Coal thought, ‘Well at least Darius got away.’ Lokrak decided he the humie needed to die quickly and charged, Coal squeezed the trigger of his GS laspistol, but the barrel had melted and it fired into the dirt. Coal threw down his laspistol. He turned the on electricity to his shock-stick at his side and yelled, “TO’TAU’VA! ‘For the Greater Good!’” Then charged the great beast.
Lokrak lifted his power claw over his head blocking out the sun in an attempt to smash Coal into the ground, Coal jumped to the side and barely avoided the crushing blow that smashed into the desert floor. Coal scrambled up and swung the shock-stick connecting with Lokrak’s left ankle releasing a burst of electricity that blackened the skin. Coal then backhanded the stick into the ankle again, the power emitter buzzing and smashing into the bone. Lokrak roared and his ankle gave way, collapsing the Ork to the ground. His limbs flailing around hoping his wild swings would catch Coal. Coal backed off afraid that one of the monster’s giant wild limbs would knock him unconscious. Then lone lasgun fire started to hit the downed Ork, it was Darius from a safe distance hiding behind some dead Ork bodies. He was trying to snipe out a victory with a foraged lasgun, but Lokrak barely seemed to notice the low-powered lasers heating his armor and blistering his skin.
Coal could tell the shock-stick was losing power, Kora was definitely not getting that extra twenty credits. Lokrak stood gingerly on the damaged leg, his anger smoldering. The standing giant revealed junkyard armor that was pockmarked & scorched. The Ork himself was covered in burns and wounds. Coal was covered in blood, sweat, and and the gray dust kicked up from this god-forsaken pit, his sleeve now blood red from the cleaver still embedded in him. Coal wished the Tau had just let the Orks have this rock.
It didn’t matter that this battle was lost for Lokrak or that his mob had dispersed, only killing this humie mattered now. He raised his slugga and aimed, Coal was exhausted he just stood there waiting for Lokrak to end it. Lokrak aimed and fired the slugga. The bullet smashed into the chest-plate knocking Coal to the ground. He sat up and looked at the flak armor, it had the bullet embedded into it. Coal slowly stands breathing heavily and yells, “Gork is laughing at you! Mork thinks you’re scared to fight.” Lokrak throws down his slugga and limps cautiously towards Coal. Darius was still firing from his spot. The Lieutenant’s shock-stick still at his side, he prepared. Then Lokrak smiled, it was a grisly and disturbing moment for Coal. The Ork moved forward attempting to use his reach and power claw to grasp the human and cut him to bits. Coal continued to back away out of reach.
Then he could see Darius emerge and run towards Lokrak with his hatchet. The Ork kept advancing, Coal kept retreating, but Darius closed in. Coal backed away and then Darius was there and threw the hatchet at the back of Lokrak’s head, it embedded into his skull. The Ork twisted in confusion wildly swinging his claw in a circle around himself. Darius swung the lasgun and bayonet off his back and fired a few shots. He stayed away out of caution and tried to put some distance between them.
Coal knew Lokrak’s left ankle and knee were weak, so when Lokrak settled, Coal ran up and smashed his shock-stick again into the left ankle. There was no electrical discharge, but the power field still buzzed. The Ork collapsed onto his hands and knees. Coal then swung the stick into the Ork’s left elbow. The power field disrupted the muscles in the arm leaving it limp. The Ork no longer able to support himself collapses face first. The Ork struggled to rise. Coal mustered up the last of his strength and ran up, raised the stick over his head and smashed Lokrak in the back of the head. Electricity was finally pulsing from the blow, but the stick then sent a shock of electricity into Coal and he convulsed onto the ground, sizzling and emanating smoke. The Ork lay on the ground and convulsing as well. Darius then ran up and stabbed his bayonet into the Ork’s head. Then he did it again and again until Lokrak’s head was little more than mush. Finally pulling the hatchet out and putting it into the loop on his belt.
Coal stood up slowly and looked at Darius. They both seemed amazed they made it. Coal complimented him, “You can really fight, Gue’va.”
Darius smirked, “You too, Gue’vesa.”
Coal extended his hand in congratulations, but before he could take a step, he felt queasy and swayed in place. He had a strange sensation inside him, then he vomited all over himself. He fell to his knees and continued. He couldn’t stop himself. Then there was relief when he was finished. Then he could feel the world drift away as he blacked out and collapsed face first into a pool of his own vomit and blood.
There was something Coal and Darius did not know. Somewhere in space orbiting the planet, the Tau had watched the whole thing. An air caste deck officer spoke, “Kor’o, admiral, , we have just received a message from a Gue’vesa’ui in sector nine. They are informing that their two fire teams are charging the Be’gel lines.”
The Tau admiral’s face moved minimally, but enough to denote confusion. He replied, “Bring the visual of sector nine up. Magnify it.” The view screen showed an Ork mob in combat with a fire caste cadre the two Gue’vesa Chimeras closing in from a distance.
The air caste officer spoke again, “Do we call them off?”
The admiral looked to the fire caste liaison officer on the bridge and said, “Did the fire daste commander give these orders?”
The fire caste officer was just as confused, “No. I have no idea why they’re charging.”
The kor’o thought for a moment then spoke, “We cannot order them to continue, but let them act as they see fit. Do not relay any orders. This is the fire caste commander’s problem. Make sure the ethereal in command, Aun’Lusha, is made aware.”
The fire caste liaison spoke up, “We did not order the charge. The shas’o has ordered no reinforcements to the Gue’vesa position.”
The Tau admiral continued, “Then make sure everyone has this live transmission. Record and document everything that happens. The arrogant Gue’la have killed themselves.”
From that moment, the Ork charge and the battle with Lokrak were all recorded in high-definition from space. Two heroes were born that day; Lieutenant Coal would become known as Ea’be’gel’mang, ‘The Ork Hammer’. While SergeantDarius would become famous as the Almal’acaya, the ‘Hatchet Master’ . Their infamy may have started on a barren gray Ork desert, but their destinies would lead them far from it.
About the Author
Joseph Osuna is a scholar of many disciplines and a writer of many different genres. His stories seek to uncover the mysteries of why and how the world becomes the place we recognize. He may also be a time-traveling assassin or time-traveling tourist, the few scraps of evidence left behind are far from conclusive.