Wednesday, 18 June 2014

More That Unites Us Than Divides Us

Galaxy In Flames: Long Knives (I)

Karkasy, Oliton, Keeler, Vivar, Maggard and Sindermann
(copyright Nuditon at DeviantArt)
Welcome, citizens, to the Truth.

We return to our unfolding tale of the fall of Horus at a critical juncture.  At first glance, though, it might not seem that way at all. Whilst the Warmaster waits for the pieces of his plan to fall into place, and Loken waits for... well, it has never been clear what Loken was waiting for, the Sixty-Third Fleet has entered a lull between the grand clashes of Aureus and Istvaan III.

But whilst the business of actual shooting has dropped away for the moment, war is being conducted all the same. Horus is busy recruiting, and he isn't the only one.  The gods of Chaos are gathering the banners and forging new alliances, partially but by no means entirely through Horus himself.  But whilst the Warmaster and the Warp are preparing to act in the name of bloodshed and destruction, the Lectitio Divininatus is building its support so as to move in the name of... well, that's not entirely clear either.

On the face of it, this is a ridiculous thing to say.  It's in the Emperor's name, scrivener, how could that possibly be more obvious?  Except that it can't be as simple as that, can it?  Not when the first tenet of their entire existence (de facto, at least) is that the Emperor's law should be thoroughly disregarded.

There is a natural tendency towards imparting a kind of symmetry between the Chaos cult brought forth by Erebus and Horus, and the persecuted iconoclasts (if indeed one can be an iconoclast in an era which forbids icons) of the Lectitio Divininatus.  After all, whilst one group rejected and betrayed the Emperor, the other essentially embraced him more fully than had any other, including the Emperor himself.  We also could consider the idea that submitting to the seductions of Chaos is easy, whereas Titus Cassar tells us adhering to the Divininatus is hard. Loyalty and self-control versus a lust for power heedless of consequence. It's not difficult to see how the their comparison s could be framed as an antithesis.

Understandable or not, however, this approach is a mistake, and potentially a dangerous one, because it bypasses entirely the fundamentally destructive nature of the Imperial Cult. Whilst it is technically true that Lorgar and Horus betraying their father ironically accelerated the Divininatus' ascent, there was every chance it would have continued to grow independently of the Primarchs' actions.  That means we can at least argue plausibly that the Lectitio Divininatus could well have ultimately proved as grave a threat to the fledgling Imperium as that of the Heresy itself.

Instead of focussing on the differences between Titus Cassar and Horus Lupercal, consider what united them.  Both of them believed, down to the bone, that the Emperor's stated vision for the galaxy should be dismissed.  Indeed, in their own ways, both actually desire the Emperor to be removed.  For Horus, the exchange is simple, he just wants to swap out the Emperor for himself.  Cassar, in contrast, wants to replace the actual Emperor with what his mind tells him the Emperor clearly should be. To overwrite messy, contradictory reality with simple, sleek rhetoric.

This has always been mankind's greatest weakness, and its most powerful weapon against itself.  Why waste time and risk confusion and misery by shaping your mind around the facts, when you can hold you mind as infallible and dismiss all contradictory evidence as mistakes, lies, or tests of faith?  Cassar might insist that route to accepting the Emperor's divinity is the harder path to follow, but it is a strange definition of a hard truth that means an idea that can  never actually be proved wrong.

But it isn't the unassailable circular logic of the Imperial Cult that is most concerning, and most potentially destructive. It's not even its desire to reforge Imperial thought from secular coolness into unquestioning worship.  It's how quickly it labels those who disagree with them as taking the easy way out.  Whilst Horus labels those whose view of the galaxy is at odds with is as naive and in need of "illumination", the Lectitio Divininatus does the same thing. Yes, at the time of the 63rd Fleet's approach to Istvaan, Horus was planning genocide, and Cassar was planning how he could print his next chapbook without getting shot, but ten millennia later, and the ultimate results of Cassar's efforts have cost us dozens of times over the loss of life the Warmaster ever achieved.

The story of the Horus Heresy is not simply one about how Chaos almost destroyed us. It is about how Chaos unwittingly unlocked the method by which we decided to destroy ourselves.


(Only four questions this week, folks. It's a bit of a slow-burn opening. Though it may be that Galaxy in Flames requires a rather more light-touch approach in general. Battle For the Abyss is almost certainly going to, as well, and Descent of Angels will presumably mostly involve me faithfully transcribing the sounds of Fliss vomiting in disgust.)

What Is

Did you spot the importance of the book's opening line?

It was the same as the first book opened with.

Well, similar, anyway. The second book had another variant on the first page.

So is this supposed to mean Horus turning against the Emperor is no more real than Loken's joke about Horus killing the Emperor? Or could Counter just not think of anything else to write?

I don't think the link is as deep as you're giving it credit for. I think it's just a rhetorical flourish.  What I don't get is how this guy knows about it in the first place.  You'd have thought Horus' naughtiness was being kept pretty quiet at this point.

Maybe he's referring to Horus' total failure to punish his men for taking him to the Serpent place.  He should have been all smashing things and yelling "WHY HAVE YOU BROUGHT ME TO THIS DEN OF INIQUITY!?!"

Fair point.

He might even have been there when Horus gave the order to kill Varvaras.

You'd think Horus would have noticed. An unvetted Titan crewmember hanging around?  Though I grant he's less conspicuous than his war machine.

Maybe he's undercover.

Someone whose loyalties are not immediately apparent upon meeting them?  I like your thinking.

(I don't think this book is going to go well for Fliss.)

Why is Horus apparently so afraid of the remembrancers?

They might spend too much time snooping around.

They're not going to find anything, though, surely? Horus isn't going to be leaving anything incriminating around. And even if he did, Astartes like Loken are the ones that would find it.

But the remembrancers are more likely to pick up things, like Karkasy did. And if Loken did find anything, they can probably be persuaded to keep their mouth shut, for the good of the Legion or whatever.

So the remembrancers are more dangerous because Loken is unquestioning and an idiot?

I wouldn't say idiot.

Yeah, but I'm definitely going to say it and I wanted some back-up. Oh, speaking of which...

Right now it doesn't seem Loken has gotten around to doing anything about the problems in his Legion.  Is this a) wise, or b) spectacularly, head-breakingly stupid?

To be fair, what can he do?

Well... erm... actually, you have me there. He could stop sounding so utterly clueless when Sindermann and Oliton talk to him.

How helpful.

Shut up. Or... or he could form alliances! Yes!  Do that Loken, why don't you?

With whom?  He never spent any time going to all the get togethers.

 I assume you mean the Warrior Lodge, rather than local keggers.

He didn't go to the bar where all the humans get drunk either. So who can he ally himself with?

So he just has to sit there and wait for something to happen?

Maybe he has a plan bubbling away under the surface.

... Yes, I suppose he might do.

(Yep.  This book is definitely not going to go well.)

It looks like Maloghurst has been promoted backwards to primary school teacher; making sure children don't wander off on field trips.

His arrival was quite fortuitously timed, though.  Why isn't everyone under guard?

Lack of resources, I guess.  So you tell everyone to stay put for their own safety, and then you only have to put guards on the ones who prove a bit too adventurous.

So what's happening with all the iterating... iterationing... iteratory that needs doing through all this?

Cancelled until "the danger is passed", I suppose.

And no-one's suspicious of this?

I guess if everyone's confined to quarters, there's no chance for them to chat to each other about any suspicions they have. At most, you'll have two or three iterators sharing a berth. No-one is going to take on the Astartes or even the Imperial army, on those odds.

Couldn't they communicate via the ships comms?

I assume those are down too. "Compromised by the enemy", or some such.

So offer to help out by flooding the channels with civilian chatter.

I dunno, Fliss; this all seems a bit back-seat rebelling. Best to just stay in your room 'til it's over, I think. Well, that or join a clearly crazy cult who are all under the threat of execution.  One or the other.

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