|Warmaster Horus (copyright Games Workshop)|
How many times? How many times has Horus knelt before one of his children, revealed the terrible truth of the Empyrean's reach, and demanded that the secret go no further?
And how many times has he done this whilst inwardly raging against his father's decision to keep secrets of his own?
The most sophisticated forms of propaganda do not pretend undesirable events never happen. That kind of total denial is too easily contradicted by experience. The smarter tack is to allow that such things can happen, but only as an unconnected sequence of freak occurrences, under conditions so rare and extreme that they serve as exceptions to whatever rules the propagandist wishes internalised. Above all else, the discrete events must never be allowed to resolve themselves into a trend.
So it is that Garviel Loken could fight the creatures of the Warp on Erridas, on Syrinx ,and at Tassilon, could see psykers swallowed whole by nightmares that gouged out their souls and coiled up in the resulting hole, and yet never so much as consider the possibility Jubal might have fallen prey to something similar. It is how the first Luna Wolves could stand beneath a sky bruised by the Eye of Terror's purple desecration, and never consider the Empyrean might contain mire within than mindless, flesh-hungry beasts.
In this, we should remember, they were ably assisted by their own boundless pride. There are uncountable ways in which life in the forty-first millennium compares poorly with the Imperium of Loken's time. Our technology fades and crumbles, our borders collapse in every direction, and we fight for our very existence against bio-engineered killers and mechanical horrors that put the megarachnids and the overseers to shame. But in one respect we can claim progress: we have become far more suspicious of pride. In itself pride may be no vice - indeed, to a point it might be considered virtuous, though no person alive can be trusted to stop short of that point - but in its pure state pride is unstable, all too easily transmuted to arrogance, and from there collapsing into envy, bitterness and rage.
This is the fate that befell Xavyer Jubal. His pride in his martial prowess became an arrogant expectation of promotion, which became poisonous rancour when Nero Vipus was elevated above him. Samus found a nest within that resentment, and quickly set about hollowing out enough of a once mighty and noble warrior to turn him to its own ends.
It was the pride of the Emperor that allowed the Astartes to take to the stars without the knowledge they needed to face the horrors lurking beyond our reality. It was the pride of Garviel Loken that led him to insist so fervently in the non-existence of spirits that when faced with one he reacted too slowly to save seven of his fellow marines. It was the pride of Jubal that murdered almost twenty Astartes and baseline humans purely for a fractional difference in rank.
But it was the pride of Horus that caused the greatest wrong. It was the pride of Horus that told him he deserved to know more from his father than he had received. Even as he confessed to having treated Loken and who knows how many before him in exactly the same way, he believed he was different. That every other act of concealing knowledge for which he was responsible was an isolated incident, rather than a trend the nascent Imperium was proving incapable of avoiding.
In the final analysis, the question Horus asked the universe was why he should be treated the way he treated others. Why he shouldn't be considered different from every other example of super-human ability in the universe. Why doing what he merely expected from everyone else wasn't worthy of unique treatment.
Pride turned to arrogance. Loyalty turned to bitterness. An empire turned to flames and dust.
We have much to discuss before we reach that point, however. Let us tell you of a world of feral insanity. A world of scrambling bladed death. A world where the very trees were fashioned as enemies against us.
Let us tell you of Murder.
With part 1 of Horus Rising now finished, this seems like a good time to cast our minds back over what the book has offered us to this point. I've asked Fliss to give me three words in response to each of the following words:
Dedicated, fair, complicated.
Distant, ambitious, brutal.
Twatty Twatty McTwatface.
Hardworking, single-minded, enigmatic.
Parasite, hallucination, disease.
Ruthless, semi-disciplined, fractured.
Terrorist, religious, horrifying.
Speed, drive, weft.
I've asked this before, but with the first part of the book done, it's a sensible time to return to the question: who are the deceived?
You said that last time.
Well, everyone's deceived in some way.
Yes, but maybe you could be more specific?
God, it could be anyone. Maybe it's the people who believe in Gods and demons. Or it could be everyone below Horus, deceived into thinking there's no Gods or demons or magic pixies and the unicorns they've been spliced from. It could be Horus and/or the Emperor for believing themselves Gods. It could be the iterators for thinking they're doing good. Or the remembrancers for thinking what the superhumans above them are doing is good.
Or for not calling aliens "aliens". That's pretty deceitful.
It's worth noting they call the aliens "xenos". It's not like they call them "introvert blancmanges".
Do they say "xenos?" They only seem to refer to races by their specific names. Are they worried about being racist? Mind you, they do wipe them all out.
Yes, I don't think the Great Crusade is overly concerned with political correctness.
At the risk of cliché - to say nothing of genre cross-pollination - I shall quote Obi Wan Kenobi: "You've taken your first steps into a larger world". Any thoughts on Horus' exposition on the nature of the warp?
Like what's inside the warp.
Are they inside the warp? Or is it just a side-effect of using it? Like when people started fiddling around with radiation before they knew what would happen. Or Bruce Banner. What happened to him?
A gamma bomb.
Am I thinking of the right person? He's got alliterative initials, which suggests he's a Stan Lee character.
Or radioactive spiders.
I don't think anyone in the Marvel Universe intentionally irradiated spiders in the hopes of advancing mankind.
Or genetically modified sheep. Am I sounding like a paranoid conspiracy theorist?
What do you think of Horus and Abaddon and their plans to hush up what happened to Xavyer Jubal?
It's not surprising, is it? They don't want the Astartes to appear weak, and this would show that they have a flaw, which isn't good for the ultimate fighting force. And as they note, it's got both Loken and Sindermann questioning their beliefs, if it got out into the general populace you'd have riots and blood.
Is that an endorsement of their actions?
No, because I don't agree with anything they do.
But putting aside what's happened up until now.
Governments keep secrets when they judge they'll do more harm than good. And if they're right about that, then I guess I agree with it. That doesn't mean I think questioning a lack of God is sufficiently worrying to keep this under wraps. It's not like they're hiding an imminent nuclear strike knowledge of which would ruin everyone's last minutes on Earth. I think. Really, it's just a good job I'm not in power.
We know now where Mersadie Oliton has been -
Where she claims to have been.
- and that Loken doesn't seem to have any interest in confiding in her. Does that put a damper on your shipping forecast?
No. Loken has been reticient all along confiding in Mersadie. I imagine he'll struggle for a litlle bit longer. Like Mac in CSI: New York.
What? Oh, is that the guy played by Gary Evilface?
Yes. It took him a while to confide in his girlfriend that getting shot in the back means he's lost his memories. I think it's more likely Loken will confide in Sindermann. Or even Euphrati, since she was there.
What Will Be
We talked for a while last time about where you thought things were going, but the revelation that extra-dimensional creatures exist and have a tendency to possess people are probably the kind of thing to cause a paradigm shift in one's predictions. Any updated thoughts on what will happen in part 2 of the novel?
Everyone seems to be coming back from the dead: Jubal, Karkasy. Clearly this will be a far-future version of The Walking Dead. I think Mersadie is going to get taken over by the things in the warp - because of her huge head - leading Loken to realise he loved her all along. Loken takes revenge by killing Horus and/or the Emperor. Abaddon and Torgaddon turn out to be genetically modified vampire shape-shifters. Malaghurst becomes ever more power hungry, and sets of on a quest for the One Ring. Or maybe starts sacrificing human virgins to the thingies in the Warp.