Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A Deception Of Massive Proportion

Horus Rising: Brotherhood In Spiderland (V)

Lodge Master Serghar Targost in his blackest
armour (copyright Games Workshop)
Welcome, citizens, to the Truth.

We come, at last, to the Warrior Lodge.

When we first discussed Loken's induction to the Mournival, we noted the irony in his unwavering hatred of the Lodge, contrasted with his breathless joy at joining Abaddon, Torgaddon and Aximand. After all, were we to described a horizontal band of brothers designed to strengthen the Legion through mutual support, but which ultimately helped tear it apart instead, it's not clear which of the two organisations we might be referring.

But that is not to say they are without their differences.  The most important, as Loken himself would surely point out, is that the lodge is outlawed by the Emperor. Which is reason enough for an Astartes, doubtless, but for us the interdiction is curious. What is it about the character of the lodge that the Emperor found so disagreeable?

The most plausible explanation might seem initially to be the secret nature of the lodge. This needs to be considered carefully, however.  In our current climate of insane bureaucracy and violent literalness circular reasoning is not hard to find, but during the Great Crusade it is simply not plausible that the Emperor disapproved of the secrecy of the lodges, and the lodges were secret because of the Emperor's disapproval. Either the secrecy predated the Emperor's edict, or the Emperor objected to the lodges operating even in full view, forcing them to move metaphorically underground.

The former seems far more likely - banning the congregation of Imperial warriors to discuss tactics and shore up morale would be obviously self-defeating. A secret such order would be more concerning. This, though, simply leads us to another question: what would the lodges gain by such secrecy?

The answer gets us close to understanding how the lodge was so crucial to Horus in the early days of his rebellion.  The lodge has to be secret because it has to be unofficial. It is absolutely crucial that when a captain sends a man to die, he can compartmentalise the fact they spent the previous night discussing their victories and defeats. Or that the newest initiate can find fault with his commander and know the drop next week won't see him left behind in retribution. The only way the horizontal and vertical can exist simultaneously is if the latter does not acknowledge the former's existence.

It's a fine conceit, but if it goes wrong, it goes wrong very badly.  Loken was terrified of what when on in the lodge when he thought them potential enemies, and far happier with the idea once they accepted him as a friend. Much as he did with the Mournival, Loken entirely - or almost entirely - missed the obvious point: the lodge can only function in the way it was intended to when everyone is on the same side. The flip side of having an organisation separate from the chain of command is that the chain of command can't touch it.  Face a problem with your officer in the field, and the lodge might be able to intercede.  Face a problem with an officer in the lodge, one whom it transpires can't separate that life from his official duties, and to whom can you turn?

In short, what goes on in the lodge ultimately eclipses what goes on outside it, which is beneficial only to those the lodge supports. When Loken notes his one remaining concern - that secret societies inevitably become societies who hoard secrets - he is closer to the truth than he knows.  Horus was utterly reliant on the lodge during the early days of the treacherous attacks on Istvaan III.

Those who doubt that proposition should consider the following.  The battle of Istvaan III was fought between two groups of Horus' Legion (along with the Death Guard, World Eaters, and Emperor's Children, but those we shall consider when their time comes): those loyal to the Emperor, and those loyal to Horus.  Except, of course, that there could never only be those two groups.  There had to be three kinds of Luna Wolf (or Sons of Horus, as they became): those unshakably loyal to the Emperor, those fanatically devoted to Horus, and those who would have chosen Horus if forced to make the decision, but who would never countenance the unprovoked murder of thousands of their brother Astartes.

What happened to that third group?  Were they all included with the forces sent down to Istvaan III? Surely not. The loyalist force that descended was too few in number to include such borderline cases.  Horus was ruthless in his plan to extinguish what he saw as traitors from his ranks, but he was not a man given to senseless waste.  Far more sensible, surely, to retain those Astartes he could rely on in all other circumstances until after the first strike on Istvaan III was complete, to be employed during later sorties after he had spread whatever story he liked amongst them.

But how could this be achieved?  How could potentially thousands of Astartes be sounded out - separated from both the list of victims and of executioners - without the alarm being raised?  How could those same thousands be kept unaware of the virus bombing and subsequent firestorm unleashed on the planet by their Primarch?

It could only have been the lodge. Working in the shadows, building support man by man, disappearing those they misjudged and claiming later to have sent them on classified missions. Loken was right.  The secret society ended up keeping the single most devastating, most deadly secret imaginable. Having disobeyed the Emperor's order to disband in favour of their Primarch's quiet tolerance, it was a simple matter to choose the same course when the Primarch asked it. It judged Loken and Torgaddon and Vipus unworthy of it, and turned its weapons against them.

So did the XVI Legion tear itself apart.


What Was

Apparently the Warrior Lodge has been around for an awfully long time, so I'll be cheeky and ask about it here.  Erm... what do you think about that Warrior Lodge, then?

I can't say.

Very clever.

Well, it's just a club, isn't it?  Don't they have any sports teams in the fleet?  A squash ladder?

They have cage sparring, I guess.

Does that work across ranks, though, or can you only beat up the people you joined up with?  I don't know what you want me to say; I've no idea what secret societies are like, I'm not in one.

I was hoping you could use your imagination.  I'm not expecting you to suddenly reveal you've been a Mason all this time.

I'm not allowed; I'm a girl.

Girls can be in the Masons.

No they can't.

Then what are the Masonettes?

Small French houses.


What Is

More on the lodge, I think.  A lot of space was given in this chapter for the lodge members to try and justify their society. Did they succeed?

Maybe.  But then they're obviously putting a show on for Loken, aren't they. They're not going to let him watch all their deepest darkest top-secret rituals. I just don't see why it has to be secret.

So that issues can be resolved outside of the chain of command.

Why would you need that?  The chain of command should be able to work things out itself.  Besides, it rather blows to hell the whole idea of being the chosen of the Emperor if you're going to go round ignoring his instructions. I'd figure that would do more damage than you'd repair letting people bitch about their CO. Like in A Few Good Men.


That was about people questioning the chain of command.

That was about the chain of command fucking over a squaddie to the point where he died.  Not really a good advert for solving problems without talking.

I thought there was a mole. The orange man. 

The orange man?

Er... Kevin Bacon! He advertises Orange. And he tipped off Tom Cruise about Robert de Niro.

Oh, for God's sake. Let's move on.

Were you surprised to see Tarik Torgaddon and Nero Vipus among the members?

Vipus wasn't a surprise; he was acting suspiciously when Loken showed him the medallion.  I wouldn't say I was expecting Tarik, but it's not particularly surprising, given how similar the lodge and the Mournival are.

Does having them as members suggest the lodge isn't going to be a problem?

Maybe. Though it's less that Vipus makes the lodge look better so much as him keeping his membership secret makes him seem a bit more suspicious.

Let's move from the lodge to Horus' time aboard the Misericord.  How well do you think his plan for sorting out August and Eskerrus went?

I think it worked for August, though really I'm not sure what else he was supposed to have done.  If he'd held back the other companies after the first landing, he'd have been in trouble for letting people die unsupported.  I don't know about Eskerrus.  He's definitely the perfect equerry for Eidolon.

You mean he's a prick?

That was not what I said, but it was what I meant to imply. I'm trying to avoid swearing this week.

Good idea.  Leave it to the fucking professionals.

This might actually end up working out badly for Horus. Eskerrus could twist the briefing into it being about Horus not keeping his men sufficiently in check.  Eidolon would go for that; he'll be looking for any chance to get back at the Luna Wolves.

What else could Horus have done, though?

Shot Eidolon in the head?

I figured that was where this was going. Though, obviously, I'm all in favour of that idea.

Do you particularly despise bunting?

No. I have no strong feelings one way or another on bunting.

You don't think it's a grotesque reminder of our shameful Imperial heritage?

Bunting can come in all shapes and sizes.  It's not just the Union Jack.  Which in itself is an inspiring reminder of the unification of four lands.

But it always ends up used to give praise to a decrepit figurehead of an ideologically bankrupt institution.

I'm not necessarily as rabid a republican as you are. And don't call the queen decrepit.  She's doing very well for her age.

I'm sure everyone would do well at that age if they had access to cyborg technology, or whatever they give her. Her mother managed it by being pickled in gin, I think.

I'll admit it's a strange thing to be carrying around in a military fleet.

Yeah, you'd be proper furious if you run out of ammo fighting greenskins and the last cargo hold turns out to be filled with tiny flags on strings.

What would be on them, anyway? The Legions colours? Horus' face?

I like to imagine it's a picture of the Emperor giving us the thumbs up.

Do you think if two Legions meet their bunting might clash?

That's actually a big part of why the heresy kicks off.

What Will Be

Who took Jubal's lodge medal, and is that going to matter?

Probably. It's clearly bullshit that they forgot he was a member and so didn't pick up his medallion.  Maybe someone is trying to discredit Loken, by revealing his officers have lodge sympathies.

But Horus has lodge sympathies.

Says the lodge.  Maybe if Loken hadn't passed Jubal over for promotion this all would come out and Loken would be disgraced. It might be Sindermann or a remembrancer who took the medallion, to stop anyone from using it against Loken.

So who would want to discredit Loken?

Aximand?  He voted against Loken getting into the Mournival.  Maybe he still wants rid of him. Maybe Karkasy is behind it; in the interests of the truth-telling he claims to be so insistent on, and coincidentally-I'm-sure to get a scoop in the process. It could be Maloghurst, as part of whatever scheme he's up to this week.

Alternatively, it could be Horus himself, spiriting the medallion away in case it had something to do with Jubal going mad.

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