|Astartes Stormbird, Ultramarines Chapter (copyright Games Workshop)|
This is it. The short, screaming dive from the Vengeful Spirit to the Whisperheads marks the boundary between two eras of the Luna Wolves' participation in the Great Crusade so different each side is almost unrecognisable from the other. Once the landing gear on Garviel Loken's Stormbird sinks into the earth, everything changes.
The fact that the warriors of the Emperor would ultimately find themselves clashing with the intelligence of Chaos was, of course, inevitable. It is far more surprising that it took as long as it did. For more than two hundred years the Luna Wolves fought their way across the galaxy entirely unaware the forces spilling from the realm they saw as nothing but a way to shorten their campaign were anything more than vicious and mindless predators. A campaign launched from Terra, lest we forget, a planet from which the Eye of Terror is all too obvious. Did not one Astartes stare at that violet wound in the night sky and wonder whether it was something the nascent Imperium might want to check up on?
Much of the explanation for this inconsistency comes down to the Emperor, of course, but we shall discuss that particular problem in more detail next time. For now, we shall remain focused upon the front-line Astartes, and the remembrancers about to follow them to the surface.
Consider the timing of the decision to allow a half dozen civilians to accompany - albeit at some distance - the Tenth Company into battle. Just days before, a fellow remembrancer was beaten almost to death on the surface of Sixty-Three Nineteen. The response by the Astartes is to say nothing to his colleagues, and then endanger six more remembrancers by bringing them into a war-zone.
Obviously, none of the remembrancers chosen to visit the planet were worried about the danger. That was their job, to charge heedlessly forwards until they meet an immovable object, most commonly death. It is the job of the Astartes to save people, even and most especially from themselves. Yes, Kyril Sindermann notes his concern for the remembrancers' safety, but he spends more time noting his concern that the remenbrancers will be unable to understand the true nature of the Astartes, red in tooth and claw.
And note Maloghurst's position: it is critical the Astartes be sufficiently well-documented. His interest begins and ends with how the remembrancers can benefit his Legion. As an isolated example, that seems entirely reasonable - the equerry to Horus looking out for Horus' best interest. Start to consider his position with that of Sindermann's, however, and the comments of Loken, and the utter disinterest with which Karkasy's fate has been greeted (for all that, yes, the man brought it entirely upon himself), and you begin to see a pattern - the Luna Wolves are interested in the remembrancers only insofar as they can benefit the Luna Wolves.
Again, these are human beings. These are the people the Astartes Legions were created to protect. And yet somehow, they have become beside the point. Not just the remembrancers, humanity in general is simply a yardstick by which the Legions measure each other. This many human worlds reclaimed is impressive, that many is not.
We have argued before that the specifics of the Horus Heresy are irrelevant; that galactic civil war was always inevitable. This is why. The entirety of the Great Crusade was based on an unsustainable model of humanity and Astartes wanting the exact same thing. The very moment that changed, the instant that man concludes their worlds are safe enough already, it was inevitable that war would break out. Loken was always wrong: Astartes need war, and in the absence of it, will create their own one.
Because for them, humanity is nothing but a concept. Because from the Emperor to Xavyer Jubal, it was arrogance all the way down.
We got a scrap of detail about the "Unification Wars" this chapter, something to do with the Yndonesian Bloc and the Pan-Pacific Tribes. Has that given you anything else to go on regarding back-story?
I'd always been thinking these people had left Earth for some reason, but now I'm thinking not. Except the people on Sixty-Three Nineteen seem to be the original people as well. So it's confusing. These Astartes weirdos have reunited everyone else who went into space, but there's been some arguments about the Emperor. Did the Ydonesian Bloc not agree with him? I'm really not getting this yet.
Is there anything to be said about the discovery that the Luna Wolves are the sixteenth Legion?
Didn't we already know that? Isn't that why the world is called Sixteen Ninety-Three?
No, it's Sixty-Three Nineteen. They're the sixty-third expedition, but the sixteenth Legion.
Oh. Then does that mean the Emperor had fifteen failed attempts before the Astartes worked? Or maybe not. Have the Imperial Guard (Imperial Fists) been given a number yet?
I don't think so.
And does that mean there's at least fifteen more Horus siblings?
What's happened to Mersadie Oliton?
I don't know. I thought she was going to be with Loken, but maybe not. Maybe she's already on the ship, ready to go down. Maybe Loken has already diddled her to death. Maybe its connected to Karkasy?
I thought that was interesting, actually, that they haven't gone into much detail on that.
Why don't the other iterators know about Karkasy getting beat up?
I have another question: why respond to a remembrance getting the crap kicked out of him by sending more remembrancers into danger?
Well the Astartes want them all gone in any case. Maloghurst seems to be the only one who wants them to stay. Probably because of what Euphrati has done for him, making him a hero across the fleet with her pictures.
Actually, I wonder if Maloghurst is deliberately attempting to turn people against the Crusade by showing them the truth about how horrible the war is. Either because of what's happened to him, or to try and turn people against the Emperor, or Horus, or Loken, depending on how he does it.
Anyway, back to Mersadie. Maybe she was a blood sacrifice in the Mournival ritual. Or maybe they're deliberately keeping her away from Loken because they've figured out the effect she has on him.
What do you think about Maloghurst's insistence that the truth can never be wrong?
Depends on the truth, doesn't it? There's plenty of examples in history of people thinking that exact same thing, and releasing information so terrible people have risen up against it. We talked about this earlier. Why would he want to show people the horror of war? Is he trying to show people the true cost of war, now that he's been horrifically injured? Showing the generals who sit up on their horses-
I know you were going to say that.
We know that there's horses in the future because the Astartes have been spliced with horse DNA.
No they haven't!
It says Loken has a horse-like head.
And I say Eric Cantor has a head like a shoe-box, but it doesn't mean I think you could open his face and find a pair of Doc Martens.
Anyway, it'd show the generals what's really going on. Maybe Maloghurst is thinking along the same lines as Loken - what's the point of all this. Bringing all of this to the attention of the big-wigs.
Or it could be a test to see what the remembrancers think of all this, to judge how the people on Terra would react to the truth.
What Will Be
Who is Samus, and what effect will he have on the story?
It could be anything. One of Horus' brothers. The Emperor. A god. One of the Mournival. Just some bloke trying to freak out the attackers, like Loken said.
Where did the idea of Horus' brother come from?
Well, they sound similar. Is Samus an Egyptian name?
Er... *checks*. Greek. Or Irish.
OK. So a classical reference, maybe. But who knows?
As we've discussed, it's interesting that even after what happened to Ignace Karkasy, the decision has been made to allow a half dozen remembrancers access to the surface. Any thoughts on what might happen to them whilst they're on Sixty-Three Nineteen?
I don't imagine all of them are going to be returning. I would imagine that whatserface - the imager - will, though. Abnett has killed off named characters before, but they've been secondary with nothing special about them. Will an imager be a problem for the Astartes? Maybe they want rid of her. Not everyone is necessarily happy about the effect her pictures had on Maloghurst and his reputation.
Or maybe something will happen to whatserface but Loken will save her because she's friends with Mersadie. Or maybe the iterator will keep an eye on her because he has such respect for her work.