the IG novels represent yet another category of glut in the 'stories mostly featuring the Imperium', with the distinction that its not Space Marines (known to comprise over half the glut of BL novels featuring the Imperium. Once in awhile you get an eldar novel, or an Inquistior novel, or something different. But most of the time its SPACE MARINES.) Which is kinda depressing when you think about it - most of the non-Astartes stuff is Gaunt's Ghosts, Cain, and the IG novels, with an occasional other one. none of the other races get nearly as much representation, except as guest characters or adversaries. Admittedly writing a Tyranid centric novel would be difficult (but interesting to try), but you'd think there would be more tau and Eldar novels, becuase there are certainly plenty of those kinds of fans.
The IG series predated the Space Marine Battles novels (and generally wasn't as much of a blatant money sponge) but it follows much that same logic. Basically an IG regiment gets showcased. Overall its a very 'hit or miss' sort of thing, again much like SMB. I'm actually more tolerant of them than I am the Space Marines stuff, because, frankly, I'm biased towards the Guard and I dislike Space Marines. (and yet I read Space Marine onvels. Go figure lol.) The first few I didnt like the first time I read them, (esp 15 hours beacuse of its bleak tone) but I've kind of softened my view over time, as you'll see. The others.. well we'll see as we go along. But don't be surprised if the best is Cadian Blood (because its ADB and his first venture into BL fiction at that, although we get two Steve Parker novels and he is RIGHT up there in quality) because you don't come to this series expecting Abnett. Just keep that in mind and it will be fine.
So the first book in the series was Fifteen Hours, and featured generic IG stuff. The funny thing is there's a prequel short story of sorts featuring the 'main' regiment the Vardan rifles, which I covered in the Bringers of death short story anthology here. My previous coverage of Fifteen hours can also be found old thread for comparison. Fifteen hours is, as the starter of the series, basically a 'introduction' into guards stuff. You go from farm lad to military recruit... but unlike the dreams you might have (like STar Wars of being a hero) the reality is much harsher, bleaker, and generally prone to some sort of bad end. And yet.. with all the bleakness, I do find the story has some positive elements to it, and a redeeming sort of charm in the way its constructed. Tragic yes, but its not all bad. I think its just my general 'grimdark aversion' that makes it difficutl for me to sometimes appreciate a properly bleak story (although I am learning lol.) There is even a bit of absurdity to the whole situation and the story (if a bit grim and bleak), that is actually appealing. 40K does not do nearly enough 'bleak absurdity' like this, one can say.
There is also a short story that was printed in the first IG omnibus that covered that, which I will reprise here. Note that I acutally pulled my page numbers from the solo novel (which I do for most of my IG novels, only letting the short stories come from the omnibusses.) And like most of my 'current' 40k updates oyu get it in one lump sump, but with two separate posts.
He had been hit at the base of the spine, the bullet leaving a fist-sized hole at the front of his stomach as it exited his body. Treating his wounds to the best of his medical knowledge had stuffed them with gauze to stem the bleeding and placed dressings over them. Though there were phials of morphia in his Guard-issue med-pack and he had learned the “Prayer of Relief from Torment” by heart, he had no need for them. There was no pain from his wounds — even when his probing fingers had slid past the knuckle into the ragged hole in his stomach he had felt no physical discomfort.
Fist sized hole from ork round through body, and goes as deep as a knuckle (10 cm at least?) Probalby not much differnet form the previous analysis i did.
..the task of trying to repair the ancient rust-pitted irrigation pump in front of him. Before the sunset had distracted him he had removed the outer access panel to reveal the inner workings of the pump’s motor. Now, in the fading light of twilight, he removed the motor’s burnt-out starter and replaced it with a new one, mindful to say a prayer to the machine spirit inside it as he tightened and re-checked the connections.
Taking a spouted canister from beside the foot of the pump he dribbled a few drops of unguent from it into the workings. Then, satisfied everything was in order, he reached out for the large lever at the side and worked it slowly up and down a dozen times to prime the pump before pressing the ignition stud to start the motor. Abruptly, the pump shuddered into noisy life, the motor whining as it strained to pull water up from aquifers lying deep below the ground.
..Larn pressed the ignition stud again. This time though, the motor stayed sullenly silent. Leaning forward, he carefully inspected the parts of the mechanism once more — checking the connections for corrosion, making sure the moving parts were well-lubricated and free from grit, searching for broken wires or worn components — all the things the mechanician-acolyte in Ferrusville had warned them about the last time the pump was serviced.
The infamous 'pump repair scene'. This is mainly interesting because while there is certainly an element of rote learning to it, it also requires a certain degree of knowledge as well - the corrosion bit that Larn and his family had been 'told' about by the mechanician (not quite a techpriest or enginseer? one of the 'laity'?) I'd ultimately chalk it up as an example of the sort of 'practical knowledge' people pick up over the course of things simply because you can't always rely on the AdMech being around to hold your hand on everything. Like with the Necromundan underhive (except still acknowledign the dogma), or the way some Guard types can modify vehicles and equipment unoffiically (assuming they don't get caught.) there is a certain bit of 'unofficial' knowledge that can just creep in, which means there are limits to just how much you cna push the 'ignorant peasant' stereotype throughout the entire Imperium.
..Without the irrigation system to fall back upon, a couple of dry weeks now could mean the difference between feast and famine for an entire year.
..Larn realised his reasons for wanting to see it repaired went far beyond such practical considerations. Like it or not, tomorrow he would be leaving the farm forever and saying farewell to the only land and life he had ever known, never to return. He understood now that he had felt the need to perform some last act of service to those he would be leaving behind. He had wanted to complete some final labour on their behalf. An act of penance almost, to give closure to his grief.
kind of a symbolic thing for Larn, as this is his last day before becoming a guardsman, sort of a way to 'leave his mark' and try to take care of them one last time. not being able to do it has grim implications (but in this book that is par for the course, and perhaps one of the least grim things to happen to the poor boy.)
..find his parents sitting in the kitchen waiting for him, the black-edged parchment of the induction notice lying mutely on the table between them. From the first it had been obvious they had both been crying, their eyes red and raw from grief. He had not needed to ask them the reason for their tears. Their expressions, and the Imperial eagle embossed on the surface of the parchment, had said it all.
As i said, it's not the worst thing that can happen to him. But still it carries its own sort of weight. its natural and understandable that parents, even devoted, godly types - would still grieve for losing a child in this manner, and it is, for all intents and purposes, a death. they may not know he dies, but it is unlikely (at least per this book) he'd ever return home, so he's as good as dead (or at least, gone from their lives.) And that's a horrible thing for a parent.
what's more is its a simple and mundane type of 'grimdark' - which in my mind makes it effective because of the human element. Its a pain/horror you can relate to on some level.
In accordance with Imperial Law and the powers of his Office, your Governor has decreed two new regiments of the Imperial Guard are to be raised from among his people. Furthermore, he has ordered those conscripted to these new regiments are to be assembled with all due haste, so that they may begin their training without delay...
As we learn later they have a PDF, so why are they recruiting from the populace? Is the military situation so dire they have to go through the effort of conscripting and training civilians? Are there no hive worlds where they can just snatch up a shitload of gangers? Or what?
Honestly this book is a bit like IA bokos in that respect - logic won't neccesarily prevail here, so you just kinda have to roll with it even if things don't make sense (and alot won't.)
Facing her in uncomfortable silence, Larn realised how hard it was for her to speak at all now she knew she would be losing him tomorrow. It lent their every word a deeper meaning, making even the most simple of conversations difficult while with every instant there was the threat that a single ill-chosen word might release the painful tide of grief welling up inside her.
Again that whole 'losing a child' angle has a greater weight behind it for being what it is, at least as far as I view these things.
"...when he came of age at seventeen. Then he heard the news he’d been conscripted into the Guard and everything changed."
Larn gets conscirpted in at 17 as well.
"He knew there was a heavy burden that goes with being a Guardsman — a burden worse than the threat of danger or the fear of dying alone and in pain under some cold and distant sun. A burden of loss. The kind of loss that comes when a man knows he is leaving his home forever. It’s a burden every Guardsman carries. The burden of knowing that no matter how long he lives he will never see his friends, his family, or even his homeworld again. A Guardsman never returns, Arvie. The best he can hope for, if he survives long enough and serves his Emperor well, is to be allowed to retire and settle a new world somewhere, out among the stars. "
Again, the whole 'leave home and never return' angle to the IG. This is something that is more of a holdover from earlier fluff, as we know of lots of examples where this isn't quite true. Back in earlier fluff it was inferred that each world was more isolated and alone, and thus the idea of replenishment from home by recruits (or of returning home) was supposed tob e impossible/impractical. In the 'modern' scheme of things, where sectors have arisen as self-sufficient 'islands' of humanity scattered across the galaxy, the idea of returning home if you serve within the sector is alot more plausible, so 'never returning home' is no longer an absolute (EG the Sameter regiments in the short story where Eisenhorn loses his hand.)
As it is, for the purpose of this story, there's no going back for Larn.
"....in his time as a Guardsman your great-grandfather saw more than his fair share of wonders and horrors. He saw worlds where billions of people lived right on top of each other like insects in giant towers, never able to breathe clean air or see the sun."
"Five years become ten. Ten became fifteen. Fifteen became twenty. And still your great-grandfather followed his orders without thought of complaint, never once asking when he would be released from service. Until at last, nearly thirty years after he’d first been conscripted...
"By then he’d seen dozens of different planets, and at first sight Jumael didn’t seem to have anything much to recommend it more than most."
The time of service has varied too. In some places its only ten years (then you get to colonize) in others it might be a generation. Some may continue serving on, their children being raised and trained within the regiment (fraternization and families IIRC were enocuraged in such cases.) Again its one of those things that has grown into a 'case by case' basis, much like with regimental size, training and equipping, and so on.
Still it shows release IS possible and we learn of one way. Also he discusses the things he's seen, which also included mention of desert and ice worlds, titans, space marines, and so on.
Also dozens of different planets in a couple of decades implies one planet per year, which is quite a bit of trucking around for a Guard force when you think about it. It also stands in contrast to the Vardans Larn and we meet later...
"His regiment had just finished a long campaign, and they had been sent to Jumael to rest up and recuperate for a month before being shipped out to war once more."
"Oh, he tried to put a brave face on it, never complaining. But he was getting old, and the wounds he’d sustained in thirty years of battles were starting to take their toll. Worst of all was his lungs.."
"Emperor’s Day was coming, and with it the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of their regiment. As an act of celebration it was decreed that lots would be drawn from among all the men, and whichever man won would be released from service and allowed to remain behind when the regiment left Jumael."
They actually let the Guard have R&R between missions. AMAZING. Also one of the means of release is a lottery. As we know another way is being put into a conquest force and allowed to conquer and colonize a planet for the Imperium.
"A man from the same squad as your great-grandfather, who’d fought by his side through thirty years of campaigning. Though that man could’ve just taken his ticket and walked away, he didn’t. Instead, he looked at your greatgrandfather with his worn-out face and half-healed lungs and handed him the ticket."
"And that’s how your great-grandfather came to settle on Jumael IV, through the kindness and self-sacrifice of a comrade. "
"He [Grandfather] would say sometimes the hand of the Emperor can be seen in the smallest of things, and that it was the Emperor who had decided to work through this man to save his life. In the end it was a miracle of sorts. A quiet miracle, perhaps, but a miracle all the same.”
Nice and uplifting huh? Well don't expect that to last. This book has a way of twisting the upbeat in perverse ways, and this will be one of those things. Just wait.
So far today, like each of the sixty days before it, Ferres had had them running training exercises since dawn. Marching, weapons drill, kit inspection, hand-to-hand training, basic survival skills: every day was a never-ending series of challenges and tests. Larn felt he had learnt more in the last two months than he had in his entire life.
Over the last two months the sergeant had repeatedly shown an inclination to hand out draconian punishments for even the most minor infractions. Having been on the receiving end of such punishments more than once already, Larn had learned to dread the sergeant and his idea of discipline.
IG training over two months. Since its grimdark IG training, that means its harsh and brutal and the sergeant is a tyrannical asshole. BEcause its the Guard and such.
“And if, because he has failed in his duty to keep his lasgun clean, the Guardsman finds his weapon jams in the heat of battle and he cannot fix it?”
“He should fix his bayonet to the mounting lugs on his lasgun’s flash suppressor, sergeant, and use it to defend himself,”
“In the heat of combat? With the enemy right on top of him? What if he doesn’t have time to fix his bayonet, Leden?”
“Then, he should use his lasgun as a club, sergeant.”
“He should hold his lasgun horizontally with his hands widely spaced as though it were a short-staff and strike the enemy with the butt.”
Probably a good indiactor of how the IG train their troops for close quarters combat, unless they're using entrenching tools (later on.) I guess you can't always rely on a bayonet charge.
The interesting thing about the context was they implied that keeping your weapon clean and available for ranged combat was desired and preferred for the Guard, and close quarters was baiscally 'last choice.' Which makes sense, given how fragile the Guard can be against everything else they face. (Like ORks, Tyranids, CSM...)
...he checked the safety before inspecting the rest of the gun in turn. Sights, barrel, stock, holding lugs....
Larns lasgun seems to have sights of some kind.
“I will obey orders, sergeant. I will follow the chain of command. I will fight the Emperor’s enemies. And I will die for my Emperor, if He so wills it.”
“What are your rights as a member of the Imperial Guard?”
“I have no rights, sergeant. The Guardsman willingly forfeits his rights in return for the glory of fighting for the just cause of our Immortal Emperor.”
“And why does the Guardsman willingly forfeit his rights?”
“He forfeits them to better serve the Emperor, sergeant. The Guardsman has no need of rights — not when he is guided by the infinite wisdom of the Emperor and, through Him, by the divinely ordained command structure of the Imperial Guard.”
“And if you should meet a man who tells you this things are wrong, Larn? If you should meet a man who claims the Guard’s command structure sometimes makes mistakes and needlessly wastes the lives of the men under its command?”
“Then I will kill him, sergeant. That is the only way to treat with traitors and dissenters.”
“Hnn. And if you should hear a man spout heresy, Larn, how will you persuade him of the error of his ways?”
“I will kill him, sergeant. That is the only way to treat with the heretic.”
“And if you should meet the xenos?”
“I will kill it, sergeant. That is the only way to treat with the xenos!”
Like in the uplifting Primer IIRC, the IG technically have no rights, which in a way means they're a form of slave labour (which is hardly unusual in the Imperium. Amazing they admit they MIGHT have any rights other than 'work and die for the Emperor, peon!' Its supposed to be grimdark, after all.)
And we get our introduction to another one of those absurd, grimdark running themes through this book: IG HIGH COMMAND IS NEVER WRONG, NO MATTER HOW STUPID THE DECISION SEEMS. Indeed, Broucherac is chock full of examples of this lunacy, which is supposed ot represent a contrast betwene 'theory' and 'reality' in the Guard (EG the high command acts/thinks one way, and the line troops think/act another.)
Oh and IG have no rights, niot even to think (another 'thoery/reality' thing )
Two thousand green and unproven recruits, sent for basic training at this staging post before they left Jumael IV for good. Two thousand would-be Guardsmen..
Size of the Jumael regiment.
"Unlike the rest of us, I hear he was regular PDF back before he got drafted. He’s probably the only man in this entire regiment who knows anything about soldiering."
see Jumael has a PDF. So unless it was already depleted, why did they not tithe off them? At the very least hat would have saved them a great deal of time in the training department.
..Hallan, the squad medic, from nearby as he busied himself putting a dressing on Leden’s damaged nose.
There is a squad medic.
Following the direction of Jenks’ nod, Larn looked over to see Vorrans — the fifth member of their fireteam
Interesting, because fire teams appear thorughout the novel, but according to other novels (like Cain, whre fireteams show up) they're actually an unofficial thing. But here it seems to be an offical thing.. so.. go figure. Squads aren't the smallest unit
“Though I was right enough about this slop. Back home we wouldn’t have fed this to the grox. Still it fills a hole, I suppose.”
“Fills a hole is right,” Jenks said, pulling a spoon from his mess kit and using it to prod suspiciously at the sticky grey stew in his own mess tray. “You should keep back some of this and take it into battle with you, Hals.
“What amazes me,” said Vorrans, “is here we are, surrounded by wheat fields on every side in one of the most productive farming regions on the entire planet. Yet, every day, instead of giving us real food they give us this reconstituted swill. If you ask me, it makes no sense.”
“Well, that’s your mistake right there, Vors,” Jenks said. “Asking questions. Don’t you remember the big speech Colonel Stronhim gave us on the first day of induction?”
Since its a grimdark IG novel, that means that a agri world full of wheat and normal food is denied to the Guard, who get to eat gray slop. Because it sthe Guard and... GRIMDARK. And this is STILL no the worst it can get.
“In the months and years to come you will find yourselves assailed by a thousand questions every time you are dispatched to a new theatre of operations. You will ask yourselves where you are going, how long will it take to get there, what will the conditions be like when you arrive. You must put such things from your mind. The Guard’s divinely ordained command structure will tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it. Always remember, there is no place in a Guardsman’s mind for questions. Only obedience!”
Speech given to recruits by the Colonel. It becomes a running theme through this book as I said - never question your superiors they're always right, etc. etc. You can literally run a drinking game to 'divinely ordained command structure'. It gets about as annoying as 'wet leopard growls' do for Space Wolves.
“Though given the vagaries of warp travel and the relativity of time in the Empyrean, you should understand that giving anything even resembling a definite answer in this regard is entirely out of the question. Furthermore, there is always the possibility that what may seem like three weeks to us may prove to have been a somewhat longer period once we emerge from the warp. As I say, time is relative in the Empyrean.”
The officer droned on, his sentences strewn with terms like “trans-temporal fluidity”, “real-space eddies”, and a dozen other similarly indecipherable phrases.
Two months had gone by since the day he had first passed muster on the parade ground, and for the last four weeks of that period Larn’s regiment had been billeted on an Imperial troopship en route to what promised to be their first campaign. Four weeks, and today at last their superiors had finally decided to tell them where in hell it was they would be going.
2 more months I think, we're told about a total of four months, with close to 2 months (closer to 3) in transit. So four months of training and two months of travel (7 weeks as per the back of Fifteen hours the novel.) We dont know the distance though.
Also the whole time dilation thingy. '
Even travelling through the depths of the void, Sergeant Ferres had not let up on them. If anything, Ferres’ daily training regime since they had left their homeworld was harder than it had been back on Jumael IV, the only difference being they did their training now in one of the troopship’s loading bays...
...Ferres had had them running training exercises from breakfast to lights out.
Training schedule onboard ship.
They had been on the troopship nearly a month now, jumping in and out of the Immaterium for a few days’ warp travel here, a few days there. Each time, during every night they spent in the warp, Larn had been troubled by terrible nightmares. In his dreams he saw alien landscapes populated with strange and horrific creatures...
Warp sickness, the ship apothecary had called it when half of the regiment had reported for sick duty after their first night in the warp. You will get used to it in time.
Larn knew that in order to acclimatise their body clocks to the thirty-hour day/night cycle of their destination world, the light-cycle in the parts of the ship inhabited by his regiment had been altered accordingly.
At least a month onboard ship at this point., and the whole warp sickness thing, and acclimistisation to a new planet's time cycles.
Oh and the pattenr of warp jumps.. few days at a time, making lots of small jumps. Assuming a few ays from system to system, assuming 10-20 LY apiece, we're talking 1200-1800c at least, maybe twice that, for 2-3 days.
Resuming his task with a weary sigh, as he typed the new set of coordinates into the cogitator...
A world whose only industry of note resided in a single enormous Administratum complex the size of a city — one of many thousands of such complexes the Administratum maintained across the galaxy. Lacking other prospects, like his parents before him Erasmos Ng had entered Imperial service, becoming just another small cog in the vast bureaucratic machine responsible for the functioning — smooth or otherwise — of the entire Imperium. A selfless and noble calling, or so they told him. Though, as with so much else he had been told in his life, he no longer believed it.
An Administratum functionary, being ground down by bureaucratic drudgery. He crosses on larn's life by committing the error that commits him to the wrong warzone (told you things can get worse.)
"one of thousands" implies that this may be some sort of sector level thing, or there is at least one such place per sector (whether it serves a purpose or not is up for debate) although this is not certain.
Now, at the age of forty-five and with thirty years of mind-numbing tedium behind him Ng knew he had risen as far in the Administratum hierarchy as he was likely to go.
His appointed task: to type into the cogitator the never-ending series of numbers spoken to him by the disembodied voice over his earpiece. A task he performed seven days a week, twelve hours a day, barring two permitted fifteen-minute rest-breaks, a full half-hour for his midday meal, and a single day’s unpaid holiday every year on Emperor’s Day.
Beaten down by the bleak dreariness of his existence, Erasmos Ng found he had long ago stopped caring what purpose his labours served.
He is (in his own words) a records clerk. An indication of his work schedule (84 hour work weeks) which is extreme, but amazing he gets any rest breaks, time for meals, or even a single day of vacation (what is anyone going to do given the usual grimdark crap, besides sleep ant eat.) At least they have the potential to get a full night's rest...
Also started work at 15. Apparently work laws are not very well enforced in the Imperium.
Magnified by the enhancement devices cunningly hidden in the transparent surface of the forward viewing portal the planet looked huge and foreboding...
Troop transport has viewing port magnification stuff, not unlike the ones in the Rennie BFG novels aboard the Macharius.
His ship, Inevitable Victory, had been en route with escorts and another thirty troopships to the Seltura system when they had received orders to break convoy and proceed here alone. It had been only a small detour requiring no more than a four hour jump through the warp, but the precise nature of the mission they had come here to perform was enough to have the Victory’s captain grinding his teeth in frustration.
A single company, thought Strell. Why in the name of the Divine would Naval Operations Command divert an entire starship just to drop a single company of Imperial Guardsmen on some backwater, Emperor-forsaken world?
Troop transport convoy (note the escorts) with 31 troop ships. A 4 hour jump through the warp to make the detour to Broucheroc, due to the aformentioned administrative error. Assuming 4 hours between systems (call it 10 LY) we'd be talking ~22,000c
Also an indication that Broucherac is a 'backwater' and generally unimportant world, which is repeated throughout.
"Naval Operations command" semes to be tied to the Administrative facility where the error originates as well, which again hints at that 'sector' organization thing
It is like they used to teach us in the scholarium.
“Ours is not to reason why.”
“Ours is but to do and die.”
More of that 'theme' crap. The Captain, like every other good soldier in this book, is told to never question the DIVINE MIILITARY STRUCTURE .
“You shall know no reward other than the Emperor’s satisfaction!” the vox-caster continued. “You shall know no truth other than that which the servants of your Emperor tell you!”
“The mind of the Guardsman has no place for questions,” the vox-caster screamed unnervingly. “Doubt is a vile cancer whose symptoms are cowardice and fear, steel yourself against it. There is room for but three things in the mind of the Guardsman: obedience, duty, and love of the Emperor.”
More of the 'DIVINELY ORDAINED MILITARY STRUCTURE' crap, because you know, freethinking is bad.
That said, and despite the silliness, with the whole nature of the warp thing, this sort of indoctrination can serve an important purpose - given that thoughts and emotions can influence the warp, the ability to shape and control emotions can become an asset. We've seen it with fanatical Imperial zealots of all stripes - REdemptionists like KEira from the Dark HEresy novels are a prime example, but so are the Sisters of Battle. Imparting even a measure of that to the Guard can have some benefits as well (psychic shit and such.) Which probably also explain sall the prayers and litanies as well.
All that enforced indoctrination has the cost of dehumanising your troops (EG Meat Droids of Krieg, who we meet in Dead Men Walking) and taking away from those human aspects (although the human aspects have their own drawbacks where the Warp is concerned - the cracks it can put in faith for example.) There's a real balancing act there. On top of that, humans being humans, they tend not to willingly fall into nice neat pigeonholes - which is another theme of this book (That whole 'theory vs reality' thing again.) It's hard to make people fearless without making them Space Marines.
Overall I can see a reason for it (even if most people never think that far ahead) much the same way you can rationalize the AdMech silliness, but I'm not sure if the benefits it might result in are worth the cost. I mean, what I just described is sorta like the idea behind the Hydra Plot from the Inquisition War novels. Or the Tau's Greater Good...
As Larn rushed towards the lander with the others he found himself in awe to be approaching so enormous a vehicle. It looks like it could hold a couple of thousand men at least, he thought. Not to mention tanks and artillery besides. For the first time he truly appreciated the extraordinary scale of the troopship he had been travelling within for the last twenty-nine days. Sweet Emperor, he thought in amazement, to think they say this ship carries twenty such landers!
Again a month in transit, and the size of the lander/dropship - carries a whole regiment, plus vehicles. And the transport can carry at least 40,000 troops (20x 2000 transports), depending on whether or not it has enough landers to deploy its whole force with the transports it has or not.
Still with 31 transports and at least 40K troops apiece thats over 1.2 million troops.
Running up the ramp into the cavernous and dimly lit interior of the lander itself, Larn and the others found a grim-faced member of the lander’s crew waiting to point them in the direction of a nearby stairwell. Then, following the stairwell to its summit, they came to the vast rows and aisles of seats of the lander’s upper troop-deck.
“Find a seat and fasten your restraints.”
“I want you seated together in fireteam, section, and platoon order."
Inside the troop ship. It has no AG.
Also fireteam,s ection, platoon. I believe section is another word for squad, or a variation of squad anyhow.
Despite the fact that the lander was built to house a minimum of two thousand men, there was at most a single company of men inside it.
Why would they only put only two hundred men on board, when this lander can hold ten times that?
Again lander can house a 'minimum of 2000'
“Atmospheric entry in T minus five seconds. Two. One. Atmospheric entry achieved."
5 seconds from atmosphere.
"It makes you thank the Emperor for whoever first made heat shields.”
“Heat shields reading normal,” said the servitor, gears whirring inside it as it mistook the comment for a question. “Exterior temperature within permitted operational thresholds. All systems reading normal.”
Lander uses heat shields to permit atmospheric entry and exit.
“Beacon signal reading strong and clear,” Zil replied. “No air traffic, friendly or hostile. Looks like we’ve got the sky to ourselves. Wait! Auspex is reading some—”
“Registering hostile missile launch from ground-based battery. Recommend evasive manoeuvres. Missile trajectory eight seven degrees zero three minutes, airspeed six hundred knots. Warning! Registering second missile launch. Missile trajectory—”
“Evasive manoeuvres confirmed!” the pilot said, pressing his control stick forward as he pushed the lander into a dive. “Servitor: belay hostile trajectories and airspeeds until further orders. Zil, deploy chaff!”
“Chaff activated. Instruments reading chaff successfully deployed,”
"The chaff, it’s not done any good. It’s as though… Holy Emperor! None of the hostile missiles have guidance systems!”
“I’m reading a thousand hostile missiles as airborne already. And hundreds more are being launched every second."
Ork anti-air defenses. Naturally it makes up for lack of accuracy and guidance by sheer volume. Airspeed works out to 308 m/s. Odd that they think they can reach up that high into the atmmosphere (this happens shortly after entering the atmosphere, so we're talking tens of km), but maybe more time passed than I figured.
Anyhow, the lander has chaff dispensors.
"You need to pull the emergency release lever — like this.”
Pulling the lever, Sergeant Ferres shrieked in sudden agony as one of the ramp’s explosive release bolts misfired, a bright tongue of yellow fire bursting from the side of ramp to engulf his face. Screaming, a halo of flame dancing around his head, he stumbled blindly against the assault ramp as the other bolts fired and the ramp fell open behind him.
The theme of this book - nothing ever goes completely right, every Imperial is fucked sooner or later. Anyhow, its the manual release for the lander's hatch.
...a bleak and barren landscape — a flat treeless vista of frozen grey-black mud...
“They said Seltura-VII was covered in forests. And it’s cold. They said it would be summer.”
A fusillade that seemed to ominously increase in volume with every instant, as the noise of bullets and shells striking the hull on the other side of the lander grew so loud...
It's winter here. and its not where they should be. Also the Orks are firing on the transport from however far they are away.
"There’s a tenmetre tall Imperial eagle painted on each side of the hull of the lander."
The lander is at least 10 m tall, which means its at least 40-50 m long (Asusming a height to length ratio of 1:4 or 1:5)
“It’s our own lines, all right. If you look closely you can see the outlines of camouflaged bunkers and firing emplacements. That’s where we should be headed.”
“But it’s got to be seven or eight hundred metres away at least, Hals,”
Range they are from friendly lines. Given they imply a km or so away (and the Bringers of Death short story implied more like 1.2 km) it could be that the orks are around 200-500 meters away. OF course they also imply its a mere 800 m later, so it could only be 100 m or less. I kinda doubt the Orks are that close, else they'd be charging long before they acutally did if Larn's company had come down right on the edge of their side.
He saw Hallan fall first, his right eye exploding from its socket to make way for the bullet passing though it..
Until at last, with most of his comrades dead already and the flag still a hundred metres away, Larn realised he would never make it.
Changing direction to head for them, he saw they had emerged from a firing trench and raced towards it with enemy bullets chewing up the ground around him.
Larn reaches a trench about a hundred metres or so away. subtracting that we might figure that LArn covered only 600-700 meters of the aforementioned 700-800 m distance, which might mean that the 800 metres range from trench to trench is 100-200m.
the Guardsmen said, pressing a stud at his collar as Larn realised he was speaking down a comm-link..
The VArdans have comm beads. Remember that this is an unimportant, dead end backwater for all intents and purposes in this story. But they have comm beads. Whereas if this were a Graham MCNeill novel they'd be lucky if they could carry the comms in a bakcpack.
There were no forests. It was winter rather than summer. The war here was against orks, not PDF rebels.
They reached the wrong locale. Again its winter. Things just got much worse.
“You are on the wrong planet. You are in the wrong system. Not to mention probably the wrong war. Get used to it, new fish. If that is the worst thing that happens to you today, you will have been lucky.”
This is an understatement. And again it underscores the whole 'theme' in this story. I have to admit despite the fact the constant heaping of bad experience and bad experience on the poor guardsmen in this story (which brings back memories of a good chunk of the IA books), there is a sort of perverse absurdity to it that is sort of appealing. The bad shit is just.. so over the top. Like things couldn't get worse, and then they do.
The problem with this book though is that there is this constant feeling that it can't decide whether it wants to be silly/absurd or dramatic/grim, and it seems to flip flop between the two, which sort of detracts from it and pushes it more to the (bad) IA territory. This is not a book that should be taken too seriously, in all honesty, and to 'seriousify' it would require alot of over the top handwaving (for the purposes of my analysis I blame politics, like I always do.)
"We are surrounded by ten million orks. And right now some of those orks — maybe only a few thousand or so, if we are lucky — are getting ready to attack us."
Approximate number of orks on planet which wont include gretchin and snotlings and squigs and such (many times that number of the lesser orkoids almost certainly). Sufficed to say the Guard is probably outnumbred given that a single company faces thousands of Ork and Gretchin.
Behind him, hidden from his sight when he had first landed by a gentle sloping of the ground, was a series of firing trenches and foxholes. All of them led down towards sandbag emplacements that covered the entrances to a number of underground dugouts set among the shattered husks of buildings at the outskirts of the city.
Larn could see other firing trenches around and to the side of their trench — their parapets cunningly camouflaged to look no different from the countless chunks of crumbling half-buried plascrete and other detritus that lay scattered across this wasteland. From time to time a Guardsman would suddenly emerge from one of the trenches to run half-crouched, zigzagging from one piece of cover to the next until he reached the safety of either another trench or the entrance to one of the dugouts.
TRENCH WARFARE! HOW WW1!
Then, suddenly, at ground level, perhaps a kilometre away, he saw a brief glimpse of green flesh as its owner stood upright for a split second before abruptly disappearing once more.
One indication of the approximate distances between the trench lines. As noted here the range might be a few hundred metres greater, but later implies it might be a few hundred metres shorter. It could be they're constantly changing trenches, since there are diffrent trenches at different distances.
Each of them perhaps a metre tall at most, their stunted green bodies appearing curiously hunched and misshapen inside their rough grey garments.
Until, before he even knew what he was doing, his finger was on the trigger of las-gun at his shoulder as he sighted in on the Xenos.
“Don’t bother, new fish,” Repzik said, laying a hand across his barrel. “Even if you did manage to hit one of the gretch at this range, you would be wasting your ammo. Save it “til later. Save it for the orks.”
In the bringers of Death short story, we're told that the Ork lines would be a low probability of hit for lasguns, which would fit approximatley with what is stated here ('even if you did manage to hit') although the prbabilities are unknown, and Larn has a fairly baisc lasgun. For all we know he's using iron sights and he's not a veteran (or noted for accuracy.)
There's also the cold issue, which as we know from Rebel Winter can reduce range (as can target type.)
It is worth noting that it probably can inflict injury at a km (give or take a few hundred m either way), its just an accuracy issue, so its not an absolute range limit.
“Sector Command says auspex is reading a lot of movement in the ork lines,”
Again thy have auspex to track Ork movements.
...still the ranks of gretchin stood exposed and out in the open on the other side of no-man’s land.
Not for the first time, Larn found himself fighting the urge to take his lasgun and fire at them. To shoot over and over again until every one of the ugly inhuman faces he could see before him had been obliterated.
“It’s an old trick, new fish,” Repzik said. “They’re waiting for us to shoot at them and give away our positions.”
Again it implies that even if the chance to hit is low, they can still potentially hit (and definitely hurt) them at the km (or so) range. And newbie as he is, they are bound to have given him some training in the limits of the lasgun, so he at least evidently belives they're within potential weapons range.
Of course, we know from the BRingers of Death short story that they use suppressive fire on the Ork lines, so it could be that its the range issue is a 'point target vs area target' sort of thing, I mean if theres a horde of orks rushing at you accuracy becomes less important than lethal range.
“We hold our fire until they’re three hundred metres away,” Repzik said to Larn. “See that flat grey-black rock over there? That’s your mark. We wait “til the first rank of gretch reach that before we fire.”
Again implying that lasguns have a potential range (for accurate fire) greater than 300 metres against Orks. The fun thing is that again with Rebel Winter, weather (cold) and target nature (orks) can reduce range, and we know from that one that rnage against orks in winter was half what it was normally, so we could infer normal (accurate?) lasgun range is at least 600+ metres for the lasguns involved.
Just behind the onrushing gretchin he saw countless numbers of much larger green-skins rise up to join the charge. Each one of them a grotesquely muscled broad-shouldered monster more than two metres tall...
“Eight hundred metres.” Vidmir said, sighting in on the enemy with the targeter clipped to the side of his lasgun, his calm voice barely audible above the sound of approaching thunder as the greenskins charged ever closer. “Keep yourselves cold and sharp. No firing until they reach the kill zone.”
“Don’t fire until you see the reds of their eyes."
“Six hundred metres.”
"It’s the orks you want to hit. We open up with single shots at first — continuous volley fire."
“Four hundred metres,” Vidmir said. “Prepare to fire.”
The range countdown again, implying that they could have hit much further from 300 m away, probably up to 800 or so metres. Again its that 'accuracy vs lethaltiy' thing, again keeping in mind the other qualifiers (like, again, Rebel Winter. It could suggest at least a km to a mile or so potential range for injury, although possibly not killing.)
“Three hundred and fifty metres!” Vidmir shouted, while Larn could hear the distant popping sound of mortars being fired behind them. “Three hundred metres! On my mark! Fire!”
In the same instant every Guardsman on the line opened fire...
With it came a sudden flurry of airbursts as dozens of falling mortar and grenade launcher rounds exploded in mid-air in a deadly hail of shrapnel. Then came the blinding flash of lascannon beams, the rat-a-tat crack of autocannons, the flare of frag missiles streaking towards their targets.
lasguns and lots of other weapons open up at 300 or so metres. The mortars seem a bit silly, but the grenade launchers and missile launchers (Frag) having that range is nice to know.
“One hundred and twenty metres!” he heard Vidmir yell through the din. “Change cells and switch to rapid fire!”
“Shouldn’t we fix bayonets — just in case?”
“If this battle gets to bayonet range we’ve as good as lost it. Now, shut up and start shooting!”
Rapid ifre (full auto?) at 120 metres. Also comment on the fact that letting Orks into melee range is a 'bad idea' for the Guard. Which really puts a sort of amusing spin on the whole trench warfare thing, because for the most part the Guard are purely defensive. Its the Orks who initiate all the attacks, and from Ork perspective, this sort of suicide appraoch is not neccesarily bad (although it would be insane for humans as real life tells us.) But for the human side, given the nature and unimportance of broucherac and its backwater nature (and the apparent absence of vehicle support, air support, naval support..) it probably makes more sense to stay in trenches and massacre the greenskins as they approach.
He saw an ork shot point-blank in the face, its feral inhuman features burned away in the blink of an eye by a lasgun on full burst.
Ork face 'burnd away' by lasgun burst. We dont know if it means isngle shot or barrage of shots (probably not more than a second's worth of fire, or possibly the lasgun equivalent of a 3 round burst - although by uplifting primer standards thats basically the same thing.) Assuming 3rd degree burns (50 j per sq cm) and a 20-25cm diameter face we're probably talking approximately 20-30 kj for the 'burst' which might acocunt for any mechanical damage 'headsplosion' 'burning away features' might imply in the head destruction (single double digit KJ could upll that off per shot) Assuming flaying flash burns (400 j per sq cm) we're talking between 160-250 kj. So call it double or triple digit kj for the 'burst'.
Amazed, Larn saw a battle-scarred sergeant in a grey-black greatcoat stride past him leading a ragtag band of Vardans in a counter-charge against the orks.
While before them orks screamed and died, the sergeant led his men forward...
Larn found himself wondering if one of the long-dead saints of the Imperium had somehow regained human form and now walked among them. The sergeant seemed immortal. Unkillable. Like a hero from the tales they told in the scholarium.
A legend, leading his men to victory.
Chelkar, about the only consistently positive thing about the story, at least from the view of people not Chelkar. Not that it really helps anyone else either, save for being a point of inspriation. He is also, as far as the story goes, the antithesis of DIVINELY ORDAINED CHAIN OF COMMAND.
Guard 'theory' vs Guard 'reality' again.
Pulling the slim oblong wooden case of the med-pack he had been issued with on Jumael from his belt, Larn handed it over. Breaking the seals on the box lid the medic slid it open and checked the contents.
“Morphia. Vein clamps. Sterilising fluid. Synth-skin canister. Wherever you’re from they obviously don’t believe in sending their sons under equipped to war."
Contents of Guardsmen's personal medikit. Which seems to be 'well equippd' by Guard (or Broucherac) standards. But Larn has no comm bead.
“The regulations say—”
“The regulations say a lot of things, new fish."
“Though you can be sure whichever genius wrote them never troubled himself actually finding out if they worked in practice."
Another one of those themes, the 'theory vs practice' I've spoken of so often. The troopers - hardened, experienced veteran troopers (and poorly abused by the high command) don't give a shit about what the upper echelons think or want. The divorce between 'high command' and the guys at the sharp end is a constant bit of absurdity in this book. And its also one of the annoying 'take seriously rather than silly' aspects that can be frustrating in the IA vein.
"Sadly, we have to make do with a ground-up concoction of local roots and tubers rather than the real thing. Even the Emperor himself would be hard pressed to find any real recaf in this hellhole, and we all know he can work miracles. To give it a bit more kick I mix in a tenth of a dose of powdered stimms which, incidentally, works wonders for the flavour."
"It is not as though this equipment is likely to be of help to its previous owners anymore. While it could mean the difference between life and death for someone still living on the line. It is a simple matter of the fair and logical distribution of resources, new fish. Which, in this case, means that the living get to keep the things the dead no longer have any use for."
A commentary on the relative scarcity of supplies. Again Broucherac is not exactly a well supported conflict.
"Along with everything else bionics are in short supply hereabouts. This is a Mark 3 Non-Motive Prosthetic, Left Leg Model. I had to barter the salvaged parts from a knocked-out sentinel for it, never mind what it cost me to get the damned apothecary to fit it."
Even augmetics are rare.
"A new greatcoat in urban camouflage pattern would seem as good a place to start as any. It will help you blend in and make you less of a target, not to mention keeping you warm. This time of year it’s cold enough to have a man passing ice cubes every time he voids his bladder."
Again its winter, and its damn cold.
Larn found himself the new owner of a greatcoat, a pair of woollen gloves, two frag grenades, a fur-covered helmet, a small lump of whetstone, and a comm-bead tuned to the local comm-link frequencies used by the Vardans.
But no body armour? Or is the greatcoat in this case body armour. But he does get a comm bead.
“You will need to come back here and see me again in fifteen hours’ time. Then I can issue you with some of the more valuable and sought-after pieces of equipment: hotshot power packs for your lasgun, extra frag grenades, a laspistol, smoke grenades, and so on.”
So comm beads, according to this, are more plentiful than a laspistol or hotshot packs. And LArn was 'well equipped' with a good medkit, but he had no commbead... thats Munitorum logic for you
still its kinda nice they seem to have targeters, hotshot packs and shit on what is an ass-end planet, and plentiful comm beads. Go figure.
“I was issued with my copy of the Primer on my first day of basic training back on Jumael.”
"You will find this little book to be a vital tool when it comes to the nitty-gritty of day-to-day living here in Broucheroc. The paper it is printed on is mostabsorbent.”
The uplifting primer is toilet paper. Again what the high command/upper echelons proclaim is not neccesarily taken as fact or truth - unless they are in a position to enforce it. As we learn though, this causes.. problems.
Chelkar’s expression was grave. “But remember, part of that duty is for you to keep yourself alive so you can fight again tomorrow. To that end, you will do the following things. You will follow orders. You will keep your eyes and ears open. You will watch your comrades’ backs, just as they will watch yours. But most of all, there will be no heroics. No fool-hardiness. No unnecessary risks.”
Rather different perspective than what the DIVINELY ORDAINED tell a Guardsman his duty is, wouldn't you say? Again even the officers on the line won't neccesarily do what the Rear echelon types insist. Again Chelkar is probably the best thing about this novel, aside from the banter between Davir and his comrades.
..when they brought him to the dingy basement print room to tell him it would be his task to produce a twice-daily newsletter and propaganda sheet for the edification of the city’s defenders...
A single lander bearing a company’s worth of battlefield replacements had crashed in no-man’s land. Reading it, Delias realised it was exactly what he had been looking for. Granted, the course of events would need a little rewriting. To keep Commissar Valk happy what had been an entirely futile waste of human life would need to become a resounding victory.
The propoganda papers being put out by the rear echelon types which are 'enforced' to tell only good news despite what the reality is. Because apparently the Commissars and higher ups consider telling the truth to be defeatism.