Wednesday, 3 September 2014

By Such Terrible Devices

Galaxy In Flames: The Choral City (V)

Angron: clear winner of the final "Primarch
most likely to fall to Chaos" Award, M31.

Welcome, citizens, to the Truth.

Horus' opening statements are over. The rebellion has officially begun.

Amongst the almost infinite approaches to rebellion mankind has dreamed up since we first realised stabbing someone is easier once their backs are turned, there are it seems to us general similarities that surface over and over. One of them is this: their first actions as newly-minted rebels are always those things they had been most wanting to do.

So then, what are we to make of Horus's decision to unleash the virus bombs upon Istvaan III? It certainly wasn't the only way to deal with those Astartes he judged incorruptable. Targeted cyclonic strikes or nuclear detonations would have had the same effect. He could even have simply left, trusting an entire planet of psyker-dominated warriors to grind down a Space Marine force without transport of heavy armour.  Even if the virus bombs were necessary for some reason, there was not a single Astartes more than a few kilometres outside Choral City, meaning the overlapping fire patterns which obliterated all life on the planet was the most horrifically literal form of overkill.

Horus disintegrated all life on a planet because he wanted to. He burned away the atmosphere of a planet because he wanted to.

And then there is Angron.

Given the quality of the sources we have - at great risk - succeeded in obtaining, there can be little doubt that Horus did indeed order Angron to stay in orbit rather than attack the remnants of his loyalist soldiers on the ruined planet below. Beyond that, though, Horus' response is deeply surprising. On a purely strategic level, there is no reason for a major change of plan. Let Angron enjoy himself murdering World Eaters, and head to Istvaan V to prepare the trap, leaving a few vessels with virus-bombs loaded in Istvaan III's orbit.  If Angron wipes out the loyalists before the Emperor's forces arrive, then nothing changes. If not, the ships on-station can bomb the survivors and retreat to the Istvaan V mustering point before the incoming fleets can so much as load their docking bays.  At absolute worst, this might cost Angron and his coterie their lives - assuming that even Primarch of the XII Legion could be so far gone as to ignore impending death at the metaphorical hands of an enemy he cannot swing his chainaxes towards - but then that was the only alternative Horus entertained to a prolonged ground war in any case.

Which leads to a rather simple conclusion: the rebel Astartes invaded Istvaan III because, consciously or not, that was what Horus wanted. The chaos of the virus, the chaos of the conflagration, and now the chaos of combat. When we rebel we do what we've always wanted to do. The one constant amongst almost every Legion that fell to Chaos during the Heresy is that the Emperor was ultimately unable to curb their desires for excess, be that knowledge, bloodshed, or aesthetic perfection. Horus' vice, it now seems, is the utterly unnecessary act of war. After so many decades of holding back, of seeking the diplomatic solution or the surgical strike, the desire to simply cut loose with the terrible power under his command and wipe his enemies from the face of the galaxy finally became too much to restrain.

I suppose we could say the Warmaster decided to master the only method of war he had not yet had the opportunity to try. The desire to try the forbidden and the need to relinquish control.  These are the things Chaos has relied upon to ensnare us from the very beginning. For all the surprising rapidity with which Horus tumbled from a noble defender of humanity to a mass-murdering monster, it may well be that the fall never so far nor so quick as it might have seemed.


What Is

What's worse; being eaten by a flesh-melting virus or cooking alive inside a giant robot?

Well, the virus was quicker.  But also agonising. How can I possibly choose?

You could use your imagination.

Nonsense.  This requires full-on scientific experimentation.  Though we lack the credentials. Or materials. Or test subjects.

I dunno.  We really just need an oven, some concentrated acid, and a few of those squirrels that keep nicking our bird feed.

How can we possibly tell which squirrel is enjoying itself less?

Um... volume of screaming?

Yeah, but different squirrels will have different volumes anyway.

Well, obviously; that's why we'll need replicates. Fifty, sixty squirrels, minimum.

We can't kill that many squirrels; we'll have the animal rights people round.

Ugh. I hate those guys.

While we're on the subject of Des'ree.

You mean the Dies Irae?

Which is pronounced how?

Dees Earey. No, Diyez Earey. Eyeray? Diyez Eyerye?

So whilst we're on the subject of Des'ree...


Did I mention last week about how they might have put the stabilisers on specifically for the attack?


But that's an obvious conclusion!

I know.

Why didn't you suggest it?

I concluded it was obvious.

I hate you.

What's worse; being eaten by a flesh-melting virus or being disemboweled led by a ten-foot psychopath with filthy chainsaw axes?

Yeah, whose going to win that: World Eaters vs World Eaters.

I'm going to go with whichever bunch has a Primarch.

But the other side has Tarvitz.

Hey, I love Saul, but against Angron, he's basically a toothpick in unnecessarily shiny armour. But to return to the question...

Depends.  Does he kill you quick?

Possibly. But we can't take it as a given.

But that's the whole thing.  Do you die of blood loss almost immediately, or are you left to poo yourself to death-


Well, not literally.  But feces would pump into your blood and internal organs.

That does sound pretty much like pooing yourself to death.

No, it's not pooing unless it comes directly from your bum.

I love the time we get to spend together talking like this.

This was your question!

I didn't tell you to focus on the feces! I've never told anyone to focus on the feces!  I thought we could have a lighthearted conversation about how the axes wouldn't be hygienic and you might get tetanus.  Poisoning people's blood with shit never occurred to me.

Perhaps we should move on.

Yes. That, or split up.

Anything to say on the ongoing nightmare of Istvaan III?

How did the World Eaters build those bunkers so quickly?

They didn't.

But they said they did!

I think they mean the Imperium in general, from back during the original pacification.

They've been there before?

Yes. The Raven Guard did it decades ago. Now it's in rebellion.

That was Davin!

Ah, I see what's happened. Perfectly understandable. Davin was pacified by the Luna Wolves, who then installed an Imperial governor who rebelled and formed part of Chaos' plan to destroy the Emperor.  Istvaan III was pacified by the Raven Guard, who then installed an Imperial governor who rebelled and formed part of Chaos' plan to destroy the Emperor.  Apologies for any confusion.

Also, where's Loken?

Where indeed? Did he reach safety in the catacombs?  Or is he dead? Who can say? WHO CAN SAY?

What Will Be

Horus is suddenly being very coy about his plans. What do you think Abaddon is going to be sent to do?

Kill Loken. Or Erebus. Or somebody.  It's definitely killing someone.

Why Erebus?

Because he can't keep his mouth shut. Also, he tried to have Horus killed. Maybe he needs Abaddon to head down to the planet and sift through the goop for something.

You think you need someone of Abaddon's rank and experience for goop-sifting duties?

It needs to be someone Horus can trust, maybe.

I don't know. I think if Abaddon gets handed a sieve and a peg for his nose he's liable to switch sides again.

True.  Maybe he's being sent to give the Emperor a message.

I would like to see that. The words "swivel on this, punk" presumably have particular weight when you're giving someone the middle finger in a power claw.

Iacton Qruze versus Maggard the Haggard. Place your bet.

Haven't we killed Maggard already?

No. Euphrati froze him with her saintly powers, but he got better.

Where did the golden armour come from?

A gift from Horus, I guess. He can afford it, what with all the money for life support he can cut back on now the remembrancers are dead.

Surely Maggard can't come out of this killing everyone. That's too grim even for this. I'm not sure Iacton can win without a bit of help. Though he's still an Astartes, isn't he?

A very old one.

You're saying even an old Astartes can't just run over a slightly modified human?

Depends on how slight the slight modifications are. It might be a fairer fight than you think.

If they even fight.  Maybe Haggard has had enough moving from mad master to mad master.

He's probably still seeing this as a promotion. Unwanted sexytimes will have been much reduced, if nothing else.

How do you know? Horus might totally be into that.

Very true, though I'd be surprised if he was doing it with a human.  Though actually I guess it depends just where and how Maggard has been enhanced.  He could maybe be giving Magnus the Rod a run for his money.

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