Call to Arms: Serveus Kunar

Another of the central characters in Call to Arms, whom I'd like to highlight, is the Acolyte centurion, Serveus Kunar. He is introduced to the reader very shortly into the novel as the "Master of Combat" to Quæstor Varas Solabius. Now, in the novel "Acolytes" are a sort of aristocracy who act as the primary assistants of the Magistrates -- one might call them an hereditary bureaucracy, although they do more than fill the important government posts below the Magistrates, as they also serve as field and company-grade officers in military situations. Whereas Magistrates would be the flag or general officers (generals, admirals, and captains of large star ships) the Acolytes command every position below that, with Centurion being the highest rank.

The "Master of Combat" is specifically an appointment similar to an adjutant and a second-in-command. Only the most experienced and seasoned of Acolyte veterans are appointed to these positions and they act as close advisors to Magistrates who are often much less experienced.

In the case of Serveus Kunar, he is a veteran of decades of warfare, starting on his wedding night when he was recruited into the ranks of the Old Loyalists on his homeworld Bharat against an Anaketh invasion. After much prevarication, the Proconsul of Bharat finally mustered his own troops and joined in the war to repel the Anaketh. At Battle of Ghwailur the Bharatians won a decisive victory against overwhelming enemy forces. The proconsul was killed in that battle, but one of his last acts was to award Serveus with the Order of Military Virtue in recognition of the latter's gallant actions. Shortly after that battle the Anaketh blasted Bharat apart in a last furious act of retribution.

All Bharatians are thus orphans, scattered and wandering the galaxy in a massive diaspora. Serveus Kunar is an ambiguous figure in Bharatian folklore, regarded both as a great hero for his well-known actions in the war, but also known to be a fugitive with the death sentence on twelve systems for his association with the Old Loyalists.

He is an arrogant, brash, somewhat roguish character who is utterly devoted to the old-world ideals of chivalry. So while he can be bombastic, he also goes out of his way to show courtesy to women, sacrifice himself to protect those under his care, and is absolutely scrupulous about ensuring no opponent is unfairly disadvantaged. He is a master swordsman and marksman. His most prized possessions are his Order of Military Virtue, and his two weapons which he describes thus:

The gladius is Ensis Sagramathan, called ‘the hard’ and bane of the Timingilae; ancient enemies of the men of Dehra from whose stock come my people. This blade was wielded by Centurion Varinius Vittorius, a great Acolyte captain of the wars against the Timingilae. At the last battle with them, he was struck down and his gladius lost in the great Dhanshiri River for a millenium. It was retreived by the founder to the Warraikh family and served them for many centuries.

The blaster is Ravikhsamy, Flame of Jananjya. It’s history is less well known, but Voystra was not the first place where it tormented the deserters of the celestial courts.
Kunar is not a member of the Warraikh family, but Cenurion Warraikh was the stiletto-moustached Acolyte who recruited Kunar in the short story. He was killed on campaign and bequeathed it to Serveus as he lay dying.

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