Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Horus Rising: The Deceived (IX)

Contents of possessed Space Marine may differ
from those shown (copyright Games Workshop).
Welcome, citizens, to the Truth.

Consequences are terrible things, and we would be better off without them. Not better people. But better off.

Six members of Brakespur squad are dead, because no-one thought to correct them on the things they thought impossible. Soon enough half a galaxy would follow suit. We have been making this point for a little while now, but then it can hardly be overstated.
And yet.

Had Loken recognised the nightmare that that seeped into his friend's being, would he still have hauled Xavyer Jubal to safety after their desperate duel? Would the thought still have struck him, on however subconscious a level, that something might be done for his fallen friend? Or would he have seen nothing but a hell-birthed monster fit only to be cast into the pit it twisted above?

For had that been Loken's choice, two more remembrancers would have survived long enough to meet their end in a hail of bolter shells at Horus' command. On the other hand, Euphrati Keeler might never have encountered the necessary catalyst to become the being she ultimately did. Inspiration. Saint. Saviour of the Imperium.

The most simplistic message one could take from this would be that Loken's ignorance ironically saved the whole of the galaxy. This is an obvious point, true, but like many such clear and simple ideas, it cannot withstand close scrutiny. Had the Astartes Legions been offered the insights on the Empyrean they needed and deserved, the Heresy (which, you may remember, we concede was inevitable in some form) would have taken so different a path as to render Keeler's involvement almost certainly unnecessary.

It would be more illuminating to consider that this critical moment, where Jubal found himself suspended above nothing with only Loken to save him, was only possible because Horus saved Loken from a similar fate above the sun-swivel towers of High City. It was Horus' virtue that saved Loken, and Loken's virtue that first saved Jubal and then - thanks perhaps to his friendship with Mersadie Olition - allowed him to kill what remained of his friend in order to save a remembrancer he barely knew.

In saving Loken, Horus set about a chain of events that would go on to defeat a rebellion of which he had not yet conceived. The Sons of Horus's cupidity might have declared the beginnings of the Heresy, but the Luna Wolves' honour had sealed the rebels' doom before the first virus bomb had whistled down from the 63rd fleet.

This can only be an argument for trusting our protectors. Not for trusting them blindly, of course. The Warmaster's treachery most certainly taught us that lesson. But for believing we can trust them without blinding them to the truth. Ten thousand years on, and our Imperium insists more violently than ever that there must be no "why"; that every action, thought, sanction and execution be prescribed by rules and traditions utterly impervious to logical thought, rhetorical appeal, or emotional plea. Our overlords would have us believe that there exists no other way to cultivate order in a hostile galaxy. This is transparently and cruelly untrue. Without reason, justice is random, and randomness is chaos. One might as well argue great masterpieces can be placed on the canvas with kitchen knives and flaming torches.

In the name of stymieing Chaos, we have allowed chaos to run free, brutal and unpredictable and agonising. Punishment is certain, but the reasons for it are not. A galaxy of humans has shrunk its perceptions and its expectations to the point where all that matters is how one minimises the risk of betrayal. The fear of another Heresy has blinded us to the qualities of man that made Horus' treachery so unthinkable to begin with.

In this sense, the Warmaster was more successful than he ever knew. If the Imperium today were to encounter the Imperium of the Luna Wolves, we would crush it outright from fear and suspicion. Our purpose fell with Horus' loyalty. Our nobility died with Istvaan III. A lonely carrion god joins with ten thousand trillion souls on almost a million worlds as they pick at the wreckage of what we once had, and as they ape uncomprehendingly the motions of heroes we no longer dare to become.

When a new Long Night falls, let it be known that this is why. When the warp swallows us once more, remember those who could have grasped our arms and pulled us out of the darkness. For they are gone now, buried long ago, and Horus himself is only the start of the reason why.

The rest we must take upon ourselves.

What Was

This week, we're focussing on Loken's memories of the Crusade to date.

An alien species that will only fight in prescribed locations is an interesting idea.  What do you think of it, and of the Luna Wolves' response?
I think they were bastards. Also, I think there's a degree of fear there.  They knew that if they fought in the battle zones, they couldn't be certain of the outcome.

So you're saying they have a fear of failure?
Yeah. They're worried about potential losses, so they're using the excuse that the enemy isn't following their rules either. What rules would those even be?

The rule that says you can fight anywhere, I suppose.

But they didn't seem to make any attempt to explain that to them.  I suppose it's an interesting idea, though. Lots of cultures have places that you're not supposed to fight in, and I guess once you've decided war is the worst thing possible... Still, they were dicks. Maybe they just didn't like the implication that they were pretty much the worse people ever.
What was your reaction to the alien cavern system and its perfect relief map of Terra?
How do we know it's alien and not human?

From how old it was?

But maybe humans were out here long ago? Maybe the Emperor is lying about it all.

Why would he do that?

To keep them under his thumb!

How would faking the provenance of a map help with that, you paranoid nudnik.

I still don't think their Terra is the real Terra. It's all a tissue of lies.  Everything is lies.

Do you just mean this is fiction?
Do you ever look around this country and think "What we really need here are more people in giant hats"?
 It would make life more interesting. It would be difficult, though, wouldn't it? I mean, who makes them all? Do they have multiple hats?  Do they have to change them every day?  How many different designs do they have to come up with?

Maybe it's one hat for weekdays and one for Sunday best?

It'd all be Sunday best for a celebration, though.

True. When Horus left maybe they all went back to work in their giant bowler hats.

They don't seem very useful.  If you're going to go to the effort of making a giant hat, it should at least do something.

You're concerned that the giant festival hats are purely decorative?

No, but they should have some purpose.  Like, maybe a birdbath on top?

Maybe the planet had eight suns, and this is the only way to survive.  Giant Speedy Gonzales sombreros are standard issue to prevent skin cancer and spontaneous combustion.

Do children get smaller hats?

I'd imagine an eight foot hat isn't noticeably less dangerous than a slow moving car.  I presume you need a hat license.

I'm concerned about the materials needed. You'd need a lot of felt. Does that come from sheep? Are this the future of the Welsh?

(Please, no emails. She gets to make these jokes; her parents are Welsh.)
What Is
You mentioned last time you thought the attack on the insurgent stronghold was a bit impersonal and uninspiring.  Did you enjoy Loken and Samus trying to kill each other in their slippery-slope duel?
It was definitely more gory. It was better. Hard to follow, but that's probably deliberate because of the speed. I don't understand why they weren't quicker to bring him down given he's broken all those rules.  Why don't they carry tranq-guns. They should carry tranq-guns.

Easily said, though isn't it? Would you kill me if I suddenly murdered one of our friends.

You're not a trained killer with intimate knowledge of the army's working. If they didn't have tranqs, they should have cut his legs off.  No, his arms, even better, because that's how he was carrying his weapons.

That much I can't deny.

So chop off his arms, and you can replace them with mechanical ones if and when he's no longer crazy.
How convinced are you by Sindermann's diagnosis of Jubal; a pathogen interacting with enemy propaganda on Samus?
Well that was exactly what I said it was last time.  The fact that he was gloating makes me think it's some kind of parasite looking for escape.  It's going to come out of his stomach any minute. WHOOSH!

Yes, that's exactly how that would sound. Though it's not like I know, really. I'm basing this on Alien, which probably doesn't have the full force of medical veracity behind it.



Oh, and I told you Astartes would end up fighting each other! I want my accuracy recorded for posterity.

Yes, my love.
Any thoughts on Loken's decision to rescue Jubal rather than letting him fall?
If he has option to save him, he shouldn't have let him fall.   Loken might feel a bit guilty for having promoted Vippus (Vipus) over Jubal.  And he thought it was a possession, so maybe he hoped the iterators could do something about it.  There's lots of reasons not to let him fall.  Not least the fact that finding out how this happened is going to be much easier with Jubal's body.
What Will Be

What next for Euphrati Keeler?

I don't think she's dead. Loken will probably save her because of his relationship with Mercedes (Mersadie). But she's seen things she shouldn't have, so maybe the Astartes will claim she's like a stork, sent to spy.

A stork?

Like in Egypt.  Maybe they'll just remove her Remembrancer license.  Or the other option would be to elevate her, actually let her in on what happened and impress on her the importance of keeping quiet.  Meanwhile, the can use her picts to demonstrate how horrific the rebels were, to justify further war. They could even destroy the whole planet, then they can go play with the Blood Angels.  I think that's unlikely, though; they won't want this weakness exposed.

Of course, there may be anti-war elements who want their hands on Keeler's pictures as well, to try and derail the Luna Wolves.

What reactions can we expect from the other characters once they learn of what happened in Samus' fane?

Sindermann is going to have a lot of research ahead of him, which might make him question his faith. Loken is going to confide in Mercedes, and even admit he can feel fear. The rest of the Astartes are just going to carry on as normal. I don't know if Vippus will have to face questions or even charges over shooting Jubal.  I think it's going to be hushed up, though obviously the Mournival and Warmaster will have to know. The former will sweep it under the rug, dismissing any notions of superstition, and insist it was malfunctioning breathing equipment or something. Horus may be more sympathetic to Loken's questioning - though he has the safety and well-being of the entire Legion to consider, so there will be limits. 

I imagine that Horus and the Mournival will try to limit how many people know about it, though Jubal has helped with that by killing those remembrancers.  Given the backstory, I think they have enough trust in Sindermann that they'll leave him alone. They'll have to "quieten down" the original Imperial soldiers who heard Samus' whispering. They might end up wiped out in an accident they can blame on the other side, or just sent to the front on a suicide mission.

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