Salamanders is an.. interesting series. Interesting because its a Space MArine novel about the most... humane and generally heroic Space Marines. So you think it should be good right? Well.. I dunno. I can't really make up my mind about it. I actually like Nick Kyme's depictions of Space Marines - Assault on Black Reach and Fall of Damnos made me like the Smurfs (as has Nightbringer, but that's another thread.) but there is just something.. odd about him. Maybe its because he doesn't write Space Marines the way I've come to expect Space Marines to be written, which is alot like Abnett (and I have a mixed view in that regard.) It's really hard for me to pin down.
So its really hard for me to say whether this is a good or bad series. As a whole I liked the books individually, but I feel the arc as a whole fell flat with Nocturne. Flat in that 'Storm of Iron/Chapter's Due' buildup we saw with Honsou (as opposed to Marduk in the Word Bearers, which is another update..) So I live it up to individual readers to decide. Certainly the idea was interesting, if nothing else.
Again one book, two updates.
Two more fell to his weapon’s retort, their chests exploded as the volatile rounds did their gruesome work;
Bolter rounds vs human torsos.
What was left of Ko’tan Kadai’s corroded power armour was chained to a pyre-slab along with his half-destroyed body.
Two thick chains were piston-drilled to one of the short edges, and the rectangular pyre-slab hung down lengthwise.
Ceramite coated its surface, so the pyre-slab would be impervious to the magma heat.
A vast reservoir of lava dominated the cavern’s depths. The hot, syrupy magma came from beneath the earth and was the lifeblood of Mount Deathfire. It was held in a deep basin of volcanic rock, girded by layers of reinforced heat-retardant ceramite so that it pooled briefly before flowing onwards from one of the many natural outlets in the rock.
Yet more heat-resistant ceramite.
Though the chain links would not dissolve when they touched the
lava, they were still red-hot from the rising heat.
The captain’s armour and the remains of his body were quickly
ravaged. The intense heat would render the last vestiges of him to ash.
An indicator of the conditions of the lava, as well as the fact the chain links, like the slab, are also pretty durable. Whether RL material could do this or not, I dont know.
Tradition held that whenever an old captain died and another took his mantle, the ascendant would wear the previous incumbent’s armour.
Ko’tan Kadai had met his end before a traitor’s multi-melta. There had been little left of him to salvage, so his armour was given unto the mountain instead. It seemed a fitting offering. N’keln’s armour then was forged anew, an artificer suit fashioned by Brother Argos, Master of the Forge.
It is not normal for power armor to be sacrificed that way, only the sheer damage to Kadai's had resulted in it being so. Thus is the "old stuff is better, pass it along" tradition maintained.
Fugis saw it as a dim black line
where the tall spire of Epimethus, Nocturne’s only ocean-bound Sanctuary City, jutted like a dull blade. It was surrounded by other, much smaller satellites, the numerous drilling rigs and mineral harvesting platforms that raked the ocean floor or mined its deepest trenches for ore.
Nocturne has an ocean bound city, as well as ocean based mining.
Close up, the artificer armour he wore was rarefied indeed. Encrusted with the sigils of drakes and wrought with super-dense bands of adamantium that bound its reinforced ceramite plates, it was a masterpiece.
Artificer armor.. it seems to suggest that the cermaite forms a sort of core or bulk of the armor, with a layer of adamantium over/around it, at least partially. Adamanitum backing perhaps?
“Librarian Pyriel has been probing the star clusters out in the Belt and detected a resonance, a psychic echo of Nihilan’s presence. We will use that as our marker.”
Some sort of distant, FTL based scrying, at least for warp signatures of some kind.
The Hadron Belt was the last known location of the Dragon Warriors.
“With respect, sir, our last encounter with Nihilan was months ago. They will be far from there by now, likely returned to the Eye of Terror.”
"This remnant Brother Pyriel has found could be
weeks old. What makes you think they will still be lurking in-system?”
Hadron belt is in the REductus sector as per the Short story in HEreos of the Space marines, which as per 5th edition core rules and SM codex is around 10K LY from Nocturne. weeks or months since the last encounter, which means that it took less than a year to reach 10K LY. It could not have taken LESS than 10,000c. Covering that distance in a few weeks would be between 170,000-260,000c.
It is also a good 40-50K LY away from The Eye, which suggests that the Dragon warriors could easily have been back in the Eye of Terror within months (tens or hundreds of thousands of c) which is another indicator that the prior calc is grossly conservative.
Blinking, he caught fragments of his surroundings through his optical lenses.
Biological data, relayed from his power armour’s internal systems and linked to his Space Marine physiology, materialised on his helmet display. Grainy crimson resolution revealed heightened breathing, accelerated blood pressure and a spiking heart rate. Myriad screens of diagnostic information flickered by between Dak’ir’s slowing heartbeat, his ocular implant absorbing it all and storing it subconsciously.
Engaging a series of calming routines, hypno-conditioned for automatic and instinctive activation, Dak’ir fought his body back to equilibrium again. It was only then that he realised where he was.
Re-scanning the battle-helm’s data array, he accessed mission schemata and encoded briefings through a series of sub-vocal commands.
Power armor able to present medical/bio data as well as mission/briefing data for review. Also examples of the techniques conditioned into Astartes for control over various aspects of their body.
Nocturne was months away. Brother-Captain N’keln had assembled his sergeants, just as he told Dak’ir he would, and outlined his plan to return to the Hadron Belt. Librarian Pyriel had been present, explaining to the officers of 3rd Company that he had detected a faint but distinct psychic echo out amongst the debris and star clusters of the system.
"Months" between Nocturne and REductus. This tends to suggest at least 2, but fewer than 11. No less than 11,000c, but less than 60,000c straight-line. Of course it doesn't really tell how long they spent in system from arriving, but I doubt they could have spent weeks. On the other hand, with what we learn later on in FireDrake and Nocturne, I doubt they spent more than a year round-trip in either case. The bit with the dream visions would reinforce "months" as well.
We again also see Pyriel has some FTL detection ability (psychic scrying of some kind, and psychic in nature) out to 10,000 Light years.
The dream-visions had at first only surfaced during battle-meditation. They were rare, occurring once or twice every few months.
Da'kir dreams, and this is considered unusual for Astartes (or at least Salamanders it is). The frequency of his dreaming could have implications later on as well, but the dream thing is intereting enough on its own. That said, I'm pretty sure this isnt the first case of Astartes having dreams.
Four Space Marine crew worked at the vessel’s controls: a pilot sat in a grav-couch situated in the Fire-wyvern’s stub nose; a navigator carefully monitored sensor arrays and complex avionics; a co-pilot and a gunner filled the other two positions. Each wore power armour but with their back-mounted generators removed — all of their suits’ internal systems were maintained by the Thunderhawk’s reactor.
Power armour can link up or draw power from other sources than te backpack.
It was a ship, not a small fighter like the Fire-wyvern but a vast cruiser, akin to a floating city of dark metal.
The ship was evidently of Imperial design: long, but bulky like a long-hafted mace and with a slab-ended prow like a clenched fist. There was obvious damage to the hull, charred and laserblackened as it was by munitions fire. Several of its numerous decks were breached. Ragged
wounds in the metal...
...vast banks of laser batteries bowed down as if crestfallen along its ruined flanks. Auto-turrets, forward-arc lances and much larger ordnance made up the rest of the ship’s guns.
Clusters of factorum and munitoria comprised the vessel’s hard-edged core, and gargantuan foundry-engines filled its belly. Deep crimson and black, and displaying the symbol of the cog, the cruiser had clearly originated on Mars. It was an Ark-class forge-ship, a vessel of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
“No energy signature from the shields or engines. No radiation reading from the reactor.”
Ark class forgeship... designated as cruiser class earlier. Shipboard factory, presumably for use between systems, in explorator and possibly in crusading fleets.
“But no enemy in sight, no plasma wake or warp signature. Adrift in
realspace for us to find.”
Warp engines as well as reaction engines can leave lingering signatures that can be detected.
Most of the damage the Salamanders had seen outside during their approach appeared to have only affected the ship’s ablative armour. Internal puncturing of the hull was restricted to only a few locations, and those areas had been sealed off.
The forge ship had "ablative armor." which resembled physical damage from the exterior. In a way it makes some sense that this would be a feature of ship/armour design - we know they have ablative armor for tanks and body armor, and we know that 40K ships can suffer what appears to be extreme damage and remain functional.. ablative armor may be the sort of trivial damage it can take and appear to suffer yet still remain intact or be so easily refurbished.. Indeed it might explain hull thicknesses in some cases.
Massive forge-engines loomed in the next chamber, banks and banks of pistons, foundries, kilns and smelting vats filling an expansive machine floor. Conveyors chugged with monotonous motion, steam spat in sporadic intervals from pipes and vents, unseen gears churned noisily.
It was a hive of industry, a slow-beating heart of metal and machines, oil and heat. Yet, for all its labours, the forge-engines had achieved nothing. The vast machineries were merely turning over and over, going through their production cycles bereft of raw materials. Spent bolts piled up on the floor beneath an array of heavy-duty riveting guns, their ammunition long spent; hammers pounded the vulcanised rubber tract of a running belt, their concussive force impotent without plating to beat; oil spilled across the deck and seeped down through cross-hatched grilles, no joints for the empty needle-dispensers to lubricate.
With no independent servitors in sight, no adepts to instruct them, the many and multifarious apparatus continued in their various indoctrinated routines uninterrupted. The only creatures in the forge were those servitors attached physically to the machines, but they too merely worked by rote, implementing their protocols like automatons. There was no evidence of crew or even skitarii armsmen or Martian praetorians,
The forge ship's manufacturing areas. Note the extensive servitor usage, as well as the mention of Praetorians.
For a fleeting moment as the radiation of the fusion beam stroked his battle-helm
and power armour,...
The end of his multi-melta still exuded vaporous accelerant created during the chemical reaction engaged to fire the heavy weapon.
Flamethrower-like melta weapon, probably the "pyrum-petrol" variety.
The Librarian opened his palm. With gauntleted fingers splayed he engulfed the servitor in a blast of psychic fire from his hand, burning out its eyes, rendering its flesh to charred hunks and scorching machinery black.
Assuming something on the order of cloth igniting/severe burning (100 j cm^2 roughly) and human sized propotons we're probably talking high kj/low MJ output for this attack.
..the Librarian moved out of formation, a hot core of crackling fire building inside his now clenched fist.
..Pyriel went down on one knee, head bowed, focusing his power.
They had enough for Pyriel to raise his head, his entire body now swathed in an
aura of conflagration. It sped from his hunkered form in a violently flickering trail, its head that of a snarling firedrake that arced around the Salamanders, encircling them as the elemental swallowed its own fiery tail.
..the wall of flame exploded outwards with atomic force, the nuclear fire burning all within its path to ash. The servitors became darkened silhouettes in the haze,
only to disintegrate like shadows before the sun.
Pyriel’s unleashed holocaust had drained him..
Scorched metal, the forlornly dripping remnants of votive chains and the ashen corpses of servitors littered the ground...
The conflagration had been devastating. Hundreds of automatons were dead.
Pyriel's super psyker flame attack.. probably represents his maximum power effort, although it is not permanantly draining (he recovers after a relatively short time it would seem.. before they leave the ship long.)
Burning hundreds of servitors like that, somewhere between really nasty surface burning (worse than 3rd degree) and outright cremation. How much of the servitor's body is flesh and what metal we don't know...but its safe to say its high MJ/low GJ at least (for wide area surface burning) to several tens or hundreds of GJ at least (for significant/total cremation of hundreds of human types.)
Psychic fire spilled from his eyes like an optical laser, tearing
through a line of servitors and severing their mechanised torsos. A clenched fist, and the summoned firedrake roared into being, the elemental burning down automatons as it swept over them in a fiery wave.
Pyriel again. First example of death ray eye lasers as a genuine psychic attack (outside that implied by the Emperor, that is) I have seen in fluff.
...plus a Techmarine who manned a battle-scarred mobile gun platform. The war machine rumbled on steel-slatted tracks, cushioned on a bed of vulcanised rubber. Its design was narrow, ideally suited to the close confines of the Mechanicus ship that had prevented Brother Argos’ much-needed, as it transpired, inclusion in the mission. The STC used to construct the gun, a pair of twin-linked autocannons with a modified belt-feed, looked post-Heresy but pre-Age of Apostasy. Similar in essence to the Space Marine Thunderfire cannon, the platform also bore the hallmarks of a Tarantula-cum-Rapier-variant mobile weapons system — something the Adeptus Astartes hadn’t used in either form for many millennia. The example before the Salamanders was evidently based on archaic designs.
Basically a variant of the Rapier Laser Destroyer/Tarantulas from older fluff when they were more mobile (antigrav even), wheras "modern" Tarantula are all stationary/fixed (and the Rapier has not yet been deployed in modern terms.) It still probably would exist in some form, as everything else form the old days gets resurrected sooner or later (Mole mortars, Thudd guns, etc.) If they are still mobile this probably reflects the mobility more than modern, and its probably just a lower-grade varaition of what sabre or hydra platforms do.
Bolters were no different. Lengthened stocks with the extended shoulder rest were an antiquated version of the Godwyn pattern Mk VII carried by the Salamanders — albeit with Nocturnean refinements. Drum-fed and carrying sarissas — a saw-toothed bayonet-style blade affixed to the gun’s nose
"Archaic" bolters. That they have stocks at all is rather fantastic (most pictures don't have them with any kind of stock). Drum fed seems to be older as well, nevermind bayonets (although we know Sisters of battle use sarissas. wonder what that implies...)
Despite the Salamanders’ obvious paucity of ammunition, the Marines Malevolent had neglected to supplement them. The fact that their guns were so antiquated that neither the drum-mags nor the individual shells would have been suitable for their bolters made the point moot.
“The old drum-feeds are prone to jamming,” Ba’ken continued. “I’m surprised one hasn’t misfired in their faces before now.”
“They are certainly not wasteful,” agreed Dak’ir, “But aren’t all our weapons relics to one degree or another?”
“Aye, but there are relics and there are relics,” he said, obliquely. “These guns should have been stripped down for parts and re-appropriated years ago. A warrior is only as good as his weapon, and these dogs with their patchwork armour and archaic ideas are ragged at best.”
Again the "old" style bolters, as well as a commentary on the general "older is better" philosohpy. There does seem to be actual limits to age (as well as criteria in how "older" can be better) before they retire stuff or recycle it. In cases where "older" IS better, it probably is due to either some interesting bits of lost-tech integrated into it (like teleporters), or because it is from an era where things were better made or better engineered than nowadays, or something similar. Basically its just an indication that like most things in 40K, its not all one way or another - it just "depends". And old bolter can mean its either a priceless relic or a piece of shit antique that should have been scrapped, depending on its origins and such.
This also tends to suggest that they do develop/alter or modify designs t least in some degree, compared to older (outdated) designs . This does not neccesarily mean "more advanced" or more sophisticated or "inherently better" though, alot of it depends on the parameters/motivations behind the changes and what is dictating it. (reliability or simplified logistics over firepower for example)
flash. Then came pain, so raw and invasive it was as if his organs were twisting inside out, as if the very molecular structure of his being was breaking down in a nanosecond, atom by atom, reforming and disintegrating again a moment later. Sulphur and cordite wreathed his nostrils, so overwhelming he couldn’t breathe. The acrid taste of copper filled his mouth as all notions of time and existence bled away into a soup of primal instinct, like being born. The tangible gave way to the ethereal as all meaning fled from his senses.
A sensation of nausea followed, supplemented by a bout of sudden vertigo making Dak’ir stagger as the corporeal world reestablished itself.
Teleportation. Note the curious implied awareness and the "time fraction" suggested there - I'm not sure whether to take that seriously or as being imagined (more towards the latter, although even if taken seriously it doesn't mean that Space Marines have nanosecond reflexes, its more the extent of their ability to slow down or perceive/notice things and process the information - "bullet time" for lack of a better term.)
Teleportation was a dangerous and inexact science. Even with the
benefit of a homing beacon, the chances of becoming lost in the warp or translating back as a gibbering morass of fleshy blubber as your insides became your outsides were still uncomfortably high. To engage in teleportation when those translating had not been primed or were not wearing Terminator armour to protect them from the physical rigours of the process was even more hazardous.
Dangers of teleportation. To be honest I'm not sure how Terminator armor is supposed to protect against this - insulation against the mutational powers of the warp? Or is this just a human version of "Red ones go faster?"
Not wishing to risk the capriciousness of the Purgatory’s teleportarium or its captain’s spite, Pyriel transported the errant Salamanders back aboard the Archimedes Rex by psychically opening a gate of infinity into the immaterium. Invoking such power was not without risk, but Pyriel as an Epistolary-level Librarian was accomplished in his craft. The three Astartes arrived back in the cryo-vault aboard the forge-ship without mishap.
A rather interesting, if short-ranged (eg in system, and within range of a starship) alternative to teleporters, some sort of pseudo-warp gate thingy. It's not the first time Librarians or similar high powered psykers have done such a feat, either. Either wya it seems more reliable than teleporters despite performing a similar function.
Teleportation was instantaneous, and the confines of the receiver pad resolved around them. It was one of ten such translation points within the teleportarium in the fortress-monastery on Prometheus.
Ethereal warp vapours rolled off the hexagonal plate, which was large enough to accommodate an entire squad of Terminators, let alone three battle-brothers in power armour.
Crackling energy sparked then dissipated across three conductor prongs that arched over the pad like crooked fingers. Warp dampeners, psychic buffers and other safeguards were in place on the remote chance that anything should go wrong.
Dak’ir adjusted to translation quickly this time. Forewarned, he had steeled himself, and with Nocturne’s stable teleporter array the process was smooth. Automated servo-gun systems powered down, having not detected a threat...
Internal teleportation facilities inside the Salamanders fortress monastary. A rather rare (and limited) but interesting way of getting about. Also, it seems to be considreed more stable than the ship based teleportation of the Marines Malevolant. Whether this is because of superior technology, because they are a first founding chapter (better gear in general), because it is on a (relatively) stable planet rather than a mobile starship, or some combination of that we don't know.
Even so they rely on alot of security meausres to protect against warp dangers.
“There, at the cusp of the Veiled Region in Segmentum Tempestus, is a system benighted by warp storms.."
Their destination via strike cruiser.. a good 15K LY or so from Nocturne, straight line.
"Deep space augurs have revealed the small system it inhabits is a volatile area, wracked by solar storms."
Somehow they were able to scan/observe the planet. Possibly some sort of scout ship or probe (Though none was mentioned), or possibly astropathic/Librarian scrying of some kind (possible, given implications later.)
N’keln’s mood was idle and restive as he watched his Brother-Librarian guide them by the Emperor’s Light through the vagaries of the warp. Pyriel was forward of the command throne, on a lower part of the platform. He was encased within a pseudo-pulpit, standing bolt upright. It was not for the purpose of preaching that he was so ensconced, rather his psychic hood was connected integrally to the pulpit’s internal circuitry, augmenting his abilities.
Another case of a non-navigator being used to guide a craft through the warp (alognside such examples as a Farseer in Dawn of War Tempest, a Librarian in the Gav Thorpe Avenging Sons short stories, although daemon assisted later, the Thousand Sons using sorcery, or sorcerers in ADB's Night Lords novels.. or the Orks inconsistently using weirdboyz to do it.) This probably stands out as one of the more reliable and probably long-range examples, however. It could be because of custom-designed gear and psychic augmentation, or it could be because they have such reliable intel (galactic coordinates, the deep space augur stuff) on the locale. One has to wonder why they aren't using a navigator however - do they not have any? Are they currently re-negotiating contracts? Is there some reason they wanted to keep outsiders free of involvement? Or did they have no Navigators to spare for this? Hard to say.
A series of tactical plans and schematics, deep-augur maps, blind-sketched by the ship’s astropaths, were arranged on a strategio-table to N’keln’s right hand.
I guess "augur" is shorthand for "augury", meaning that this is all psychic stuff. Which in turn suggests the "Deep space augurs" was a form of FTL, long range psychic scrying. What's interesting here is they haven't arrived yet and they could locate the planet and get details on it. This must have limits, however, as they couldn't tell what happens to them shortly (dropping out in the middle of a solar storm.) - it may be limited to relatively slow or fixed locations, or it may have a "lag" or some sort of scrying limits that can't detect certian things (or detect them very rapidly)
“Preparations for our landing are already underway?”
“Since before we left Prometheus, brother.” N’keln’s gaze had shifted to the plans that Lok was annotating with arrows and battle-symbols.
This tends to suggest they've been traveling for no longer than it takes for a company-sized force with vehicles and such to prepare for landing. Days perhaps, no longer than weeks certainly, although it depends on what "preparation time" means. no more than "months" is implied later, but that also included time spent on Nocturne, not just time spent travelling.
Assuming 2 weeks travel time across 15,000 LY or so we're talking 390,000c. If we were talking say, 4 days. 1.37million c. Four months? 45,000c. So we're talking anywhere from tens of thousands to a few million c, which is pretty much the usual range of Warp travel speeds. At least, inside warp space. Whether this is true outside it is also up for debate (its possible more time passes outside than inside.)
A massive shudder wracked the Vulkan’s Wrath, a sudden shock wave ripping down its spine. The bridge shook. Dak’ir and several others lost their footing.
Klaxons whined urgently, their warning drowned out by the raging tumult battering the Vulkan’s Wrath from outside.
“Alert status crimson!” N’keln bellowed into the command throne’s vox, gripping the arms tight to stay seated. “All hands to emergency stations.”
“We must have translated into a solar storm,” he growled loudly, seizing the ragged edge of the shattered pulpit for balance as the ship was smashed again.
They drop out in a solar storm. They must have come out pretty damn close to the star for this to happen (Eg an odd system) or its a very messed up star. Not to meniton that the magic storms are basically buffeting the ship rather violently like a ship at sea...
Dak’ir felt the danger before he saw a thin line of ultra-bright light creeping into being at the bottom edge of the shielding.
...multiple shafts of super-heated light reached into the bridge. An ensign nearest the viewpoint spontaneously combusted as the deadly solar energy washed over him. Others at the consoles suffered a similar fate. A shipmaster spun, crying for the Emperor’s mercy, the left side of his face a blackened ruin.
Dak’ir felt the heat against his armour tangibly.
Not wearing his battle-helm, the view for Dak’ir shimmered through a heat haze. His naked skin was untroubled by it, though he saw a blistering servitor less resilient to the solar flare. It ravaged the inner walls, setting cables aflame and burning out circuitry.
Pyriel threw up a force dome around the crew, who crawled into it on their hands and knees. The blinded and the burned were dragged, mewling, into the psychic sanctuary whilst the dead were left to crisp and blacken, their bodies becoming human torches in the blaze.
The crack in the shielding was only centimetres thick when Dak’ir reached the override panel and threw back the lever.
The smoking ruins of men lay all about the bridge, their charred corpses like dark shadowy husks on the scorched deck.
Our mysterious storm on unprotected crew. Ignigting someone suggests the entire body is suffering at least 125 j per square cm flash burns (enough to ignite clothing) which would be supported by the severe sort sof burns being inflicted (100+ j per square cm at least) - this is also merely from visible light seeping through a few cm wide crack in the bridge. Assuming a 4 m tall, 2 cm wide aperture.. dozens of people must also be getting torched.
also worth noting is that the same intensity isn't doing much to astartes flesh, which gives you a rough idea of its resilience to visible light at least (125+ j per square cm at least). The Librarian's force dome is providing the crew similar protection. We're probably talking tens if not hundreds of thousands of kj per square cm hitting the ship, and more probably megajoules MINIMUm (not all the light is focused entirely on the crew, its spreading out over much of the deck). Hell considering all the other cases of being in a corona or close to a star, it almost demands a greater intensity.
Also note that the sunlight is probably not even a fraction of the energy involved hitting the ship (particle radiation, whatever is buffeting the ship, etc.) since if the sun side is getting hit only part of the bridge could be exposed, and nothing on the bridge itself (the blast doors, or even the windows) is even close to being melted, vaped or breached - its only the organic crew at risk.)
“Hull engines are non-functional, aft thruster banks three through eighteen are showing sporadic power emissions. Shields are down and decks thirteen through twenty-six are showing critical damage, possibly an integrity breach.”
It was a grim report.
“What hit us?”
“The port-side of the ship was struck by a light beam from the solar storm. It burned through our outer armour, took out our shields and strafed most of the sun-side decks. Entire sections were ripped out. The worst hit areas were totally burned. Everything there is ash. I’ve shut them down already.”
“Imagine a melta gun at point-blank range against a suit of ceramite.”
Damage report and an analogy. Apparently its pure EM radiation, but the parts hitting the rest of the ship must be more severe than what hit the bridge (it burned through the outer hull and armor AND shields, but it didn't burn/destroy the glass on the bridge?) I'm also wondering whta kinds of shields it was - void shields? Cremation (of crew, at least) would suggest again tens to hundreds of kj per square cm hitting the ship.) If the hull is explosively vaporizing in parts, it might explain the shaking, but then you have to wonder why, if they are under constant bombardment over minutes, the ship isn't being slowly melted/vaporized/blasted apart, since it already punched straight through the armour in the opening salvos. That means very little vaporization would occur, especailyl over a 15 minute period, which means that lots of velocity need be imparted to the ship.
It's possible that the extreme damage at the beginning was due to variations in the power of the storm (they jut were hit initially by a bad part) or by lack of preparation. It also depends on where it was hit - not all sections suffered it woudl seem, depsite the entire "sun side" section taking hits - it could be reflecting only weaker portions of the hull. either way the entire ship is still mostly intact and structurally sound, particularily since it survives reentry with damage (including to the engines) and a crash landing and can still lift off planet.
Again there's alot of oddities and complications that prevent this from being accurately calced, nevermind we don't have any exact idea on the energies involved.
Figurative example. Assume a 10 million ton strike cruiser. Assume 10% of its mass was ablated off in that 15 minute time period, with ablation occuring every few seconds. about 34 tonnes of mass ablates every few seconds, then. Assuming that the ship is shaken by oh, 1.5 meters per second (less than a gee at least), the 34 tonnes of matter must be travelling at ~442- km/s or so. The ship would be hit with at least 534 kt/s of energy, and survive this for 15 minutes at least, without being totally destroyed or even crippled... about 480 MT worth of damage, minus shields and armour.
On the other hand, it could just be a purely magical storm, disturbance created because of adverse warp storm activity, which was mentioned as afflicting the area recently. That would make calcing things difficult, so my above assessment is at best a rough approximation.
“We are still aloft.”
“How long will that be the case whilst we are breached?”
The breached decks would have to be purged and sealed. Hundreds, if not thousands, of human serfs worked in those areas of the ship — N’keln would be condemning them all to death.
"..assist in the evacuation. Save as many as you can, brothers. I will order the decks locked down in fifteen minutes.”
fifteen minutes of bombardment, with hits every few seconds.. again they're not worried about totally being destroyed in that time nor is the ship blasted in two by the time that happens.
Iagon was pitched off his feet as a violent tremor rippled across the solitorium. Zo’kar yelped in pain as he was torn from the Salamander’s grasp. A low rumble echoed through the chamber, followed by the sound of tearing metal and a crash of steel. Something fell from the ceiling...
The ceiling of the solitorium had collapsed.
Something had struck the ship and continued to assail it, that much Iagon knew as he leapt over the wreckage and fought his way into the outer corridor.
Internal damage from the storm.
The Vulkan’s Wrath was shuddering badly, jolting with severe force every few seconds or so.
The freqeucny of whatever the hell is shaking the ship.
Torn deck plates bled away into the darkness of the lower levels, pitch-black pitfalls that he discerned through his battle-helm’s infrared
Infrared viewing, as well as more internal damage. Its implied they may go through the various optical spectrum in the novel, but this is the only one mentioned.
“We must have entered Scoria’s upper atmosphere by now. The ship will be at terminal velocity. Any escape would be suicide. We get them to the upper deck.”
“The chances of these men surviving a crash are slim at best.”
“We are going to crash in a vessel that is not meant to land, deliberately or otherwise, on solid ground. We shield them,” he said. Wrenching metal resonated loudly in Tsu’gan’s ears, as forbidding as a death knell. “And hang on to something.”
This certainly implies that they are going to crash onto the planet in a somewhat uncontrolled fashion - or at leats, uncontrolled enough to put the crews at risk (but cn still survive, which is another thing against completely uncontrolled descents unless the inertial damping can handle it). At the same time, the crash cannot be totally uncontrolle dbecause it most obviously wasn't a hypervelocity impact (although it was significantly thermal still, as we learn.) Also, when the ship breaks free later on, it has enough "lift" to hover, which it couldn't do on thrusters alone. Its quite possible (likely) that they have some sort of antigrav or thrust ability that allows them to orbit without being tugged closer to the planet, however, which might help with liftoffs.
Either way it suggests at least a partly-uncontrolled descent, which the ship is surviving quite handily, in a damaged state, and can still lift off and travle in space after enduring all this. Not exactly proof of super-weak starships, methinks.