Once again Lost Soal comes up with a decent explanation that is simple. I approve.
Anyhow, we're on to 'Fear to Tread', marking the first time a Space Marine novel has two loyalist in succession.
Fear to Tread is perhaps one of my favorite James Swallow novels, and I find it his best venture into the Blood Angels. Not to crticize the guy, since I also enjoyed Flight of the Eisenstein and Nemesis, but the Rafen-oriented Blood Angels novels have always just.. lacked something. Swallow has an interesting take on 40K - more 'sci fi-ey' than other authors, and that really sets him apart, but the two blood angels duologies really lacked something in the story sense to really get me fired up. I can't quite explain it, either.
Anyhow, Fear to Tread covers Sanguinus being sent into a trap by Horus, part of Horus' greater scheme to defeat his brothers and put them out of his path towards Earth. It covers the Signus cluster events depcited in 'Collected visions' in greater detail. But more than that, it expands on the Primarch himself and his relationships with his children, including the Thirst/RAge aspect.
It can definitely be said that a driving force in the story is about interpersonal relationships. The relationship between Sanguinius and his Blood Angels - his children, and you definitely get a fathre/son type relationship there, and that's a good thing. It elevates the Space MArines far above the usual 'LOL KILLTASTIC MURDERMACHIEN' crap, and gives them some personality and dimension. They aren't just a bunch of psycho fanatical killing machines, they have a family and a sense of identity that binds them together, which gives much more wamrth and depth both to them and the Primarchs. It's the same thing we've seen in many novels such as Horus Rising and Thousand Sons.
Another relationship is betwene Horus and Sanguinus. Something started in the first novel, Horus Rising, on Murder. And it gets oh, so murdered here. Sanguinus and horus never meet face to face, other than an odd astropathic conversation, but their relationships -conveyed in past discussions - as well as the ultimate breaking of their fellowship and trust - is what centers on this aspect. Sanguinius must come ot terms with Horus betrayal - both of their brotherhood personally, and of the Imperium as a whole. And on Horus' end, we also have to come to terms with the new, Chaos Horus, who also must come to terms with his relationship with his angelic brother, albeit on different terms. The transition between this horus and the old Horus is also suitably jarring.
And lastly, there is the relationship betwene Horus and his erstwhile allies- the Word Bearers and the Daemons. There are plots within plots, and each faction is trying to play the others to achieve their ends. Horus shows he is coming into his role as the warlord of Chaos he was made, and that he is no tthe pawn others (like Erebus) think he is. I rather liked Horus giving Erebus a lesson in that, in fact.
Another good part about this book is the way its paced. There's plenty of fighting on the ground and in space, although much of the ground fighting happens towards the end of the book, but its paced in a way I rather like. We watch Sanguinus going trustingly on his way into Horus' trap, and we witness it gradually dawning on them that something new, horrific, and totally alien to anything they have seen occurs Between that and the relationships angle, there's lots to drive the story through and the pacing keeps things interesting without going too far in one direction (EG its not all space marine kill-porn).
At the edge of their battalions were war machines – battle tanks, hovering skimmers supported by invisible columns of contra-gravity, low and blocky things that resembled armour-plated trilobites, fighting vehicles that bristled with gun barrels.
Imperial combat vehicles of the Luna Wolves
Ejected from the launch tubes of a dozen capital ships and battle-barges in low orbit, a rain of ceramite capsules tore through the outer atmosphere of Melchior and fell like flaming meteors towards the Silver Desert. Falling with them were diving hawks: Stormbirds and assault gunships turning and wheeling through the air towards the gargantuan nephilim encampment.
Drop-pods clipped by the sound beams went off course, spiralling out of the landing quadrant towards the white salt erg; others not so fortunate ripped open or slammed into brutal collision with their fellows. The lead Stormbird, crimson like its cohorts but adorned with wings of gold, wove a course through the sonic barrage, guiding the flock into a blazing power-dive.
Strongly suggests stormbirds and similar craft were pacing the drop pods in their orbit-to-ground descent, which would be damn fucking fast.
He threw himself into the pale sky, embracing the pull of gravity like a lover, letting it speed him towards terminal velocity.
Against the drag of the airflow, he unsheathed a wicked red sword with a curved, barbed hilt; it was the cousin to the blade held by his brother Horus far below.
Assault legionaries of a dozen companies bore down with the snarling jets of jump-packs upon their backs, guns in their hands and retribution hard in their eyes. Leading them were the Sanguinary Guard, whose golden armour and white wings echoed those of their liege lord; but the wings that held the Guard aloft were made of enamelled metal, and like the assault squads their flight was powered by spears of orange flames from blazing fusion motors.
The primarch landed with an impact greater than a point-blank barrage from a Vindicator, a perfectly circular ripple of shock resonating out from the crash of his boots upon the desert sands.
The angel Sanguinius drew up from the crater his arrival had shaped and met his first foe.
Sanguinius freefall at terminal velocity. Impressive all the same, if hard to calc.
Also sanguinary guard jump packs using fusion motors
His sword-tip rose up in a bright arc of glittering metal and met the nephilim in the centre of its torso mass. The blade bit into the glass-skin and shattered it effortlessly, fragments pealing with tinny bell-tones as they ricocheted off the primarch’s battle plate. The weapon went on, deep and true, the monomolecular edge slicing through into gelatinous internals, breaking silicon bones and opening up the alien to the air.
Sangy using a mono sword, for whatever that is worth.
As he spoke, the rumble of the remainder of the landing Stormbirds was joined by the crashing impacts of the drop-pods.
Drop pods strike after Sangy and his jumppack troops. This probably means the drop pods were slowing as they reached the ground more than it does that Sangy is somehow hypersonic, although I've heard the latter suggested before.
..used their wrist-mounted Angelus bolters to pour cascades of fire into the enemy line. With each hit, the warheads of the mass-reactive bloodshard rounds exploded into hundreds of magno-charged monofilaments; every concussive impact upon the skin of a nephilim caused bloody detonations inside the torsos of the alien creatures.
Sanguinary Guard bolters with their super-duper 'Harlequin's kiss' style ammo. Nasty.
Horus’s landspeeder squadrons raced overhead, bracketing a phalanx of blue-skins with salvoes from their graviton guns and multi-meltas, punching through curls of smoke as the outer rings of the encampment burned.
Gravity weapons on land speeders.
In the aftermath, the freed slaves were isolated from the converts who still remained alive for fear that revenge killings would explode from a mob mentality. Horus took on this deed, in no uncertain terms drilling those who claimed to lead the liberated that justice would be delivered to all turncoats – but it would be Imperial justice, right and true and conducted to the letter of the law.
Rule of law in the Great Crusade.
"What ships have you chosen to remain to administrate the compliance?"
Horus rubbed his chin. "The Sword Argus and the Crimson Spectre, I think. Their Army platoons can garrison here, make sure the nephilim cult is dead and buried. If all goes well, they will disengage and reconnect with my expeditionary fleet in a few months."
A passage which implies that the 'garrisons' we've seen left for compliance may be temporary rather than permanant. Rather odd, given Temba and False Gods (IT was implied that some of the Garrisons were permanant, although it might just be the people put in charge of them and the troops/others assisting, rather than the forces as a whole.) So what I hinted at earlier in my analysis based on such garrisons may not be totally right
. He was one of his most trusted men and carried many honours alongside his stewardship of the elite veteran company, hard-won through decades of war in the Emperor’s name. Raldoron was equerry to the primarch and held the new honorific ‘Chapter Master’, serving in a similar role to the warriors of Horus’s advisory cadre, the Mournival.
The guy runs the First company (like Abbadon) and is Equerry (like Maloghurst) and gets titled 'Chapter Master'. Which is interesting, sinc ein KNF we learn that 'Chapters' are a part of formations, just as Companies are.
The Blood Angel’s armour was badly damaged; fibre-bundle musculature ripped, ceramite cracked. It appeared that the chestplate had been torn open across the sternum and a brutal wound opened beneath it. The primarch recognised the hit pattern of a nephilim shriekpulse, and looking closer he saw the trails of dried blood visible from Alotros’s nostrils, his ears, the corners of his reddened eyes. Such a hit would have boiled the brain matter of an ordinary human, and even for a legionary the impact should have crippled flesh and torn at neural pathways. Alotros was pallid and in obvious pain, but he seemed detached from it.
The warrior had taken a point-blank strike from one of the alien weapons and survived, a rare happenstance..
Sonic weapon that could 'boil brain matter' can damage Power armour and cripple/kill evne an Astartes potentially. 'boiling' brain matter (1.4 kg brain) would be worht hundreds of kj, so it gives an approximate idea of Astartes armour tolerances, at least against such weapons.
"We give so much to our sons. Our aspect, our will, our fortitude. They are the best of us. But they carry our flaws as well."
"So they should," said Horus. "So we should. To be human is to be flawed – no matter what we are or where we came from, we are still human. We share the same ancestry as the people we defend."
"Indeed. If we lost that connection... If we truly were beyond humanity, then the Emperor’s sons and the Legiones Astartes would have more kinship to xenos like them–" Sanguinius gestured towards the corpse of a nephilim blue-skin "–than to the children of Terra."
A discussion between Sangy and Horus. Rather nice I thought, as it outlines an important aspect of the Astartes (and Primarchs) of this time. The first fifty or so pages of this book were actually kinda fun to read because of the interactions between Horus and Sanguinius - it really did much to establish the bond between these two, and it was a joy to have a glimpse of the Horus we saw in Horus rising - I definitely liked Swallow's depiction here. I also like the definite ties of kinship the Primarchs feel for the Marines they lead - there is literally more there than simply a general leading his troops, and it carries some strong implications (both positive and negative) from that (again like with the Mournival in Horus Rising.)
It goes on to state that basically, the well known flaws that characterise the Blood Angels since 2nd edition were present even in the Great Crusade - even Sangy has them, although he has greater control than his sons do. And its something he's kept hidden from everyone.
"A handful, in two hundred years, from a Legion of one hundred and twenty thousand?"
Size of the Blood Angels Legion, which definitely makes them one of the larger Legions. I'd imagine some others (The Fists, for example) probably can match that too.
"I have kept this from our father and brothers for several years. I am searching for a solution. Some among my sons have a measure of the truth. They are united with me in finding a way of undoing this flaw."
"Don’t say it. You think that I blame myself for something I have no control over, but I do not agree. This is my legacy and I must account for it. A primarch…"
"A primarch is father to his Legion," said Horus, completing the thought for him.
Again Sangy is keeping secrets (even the Angel has his dark side) and we again get that strong bonds thing between Astartes. I sometimes wish this aspect was emphasized more than the killtastic crap. There's a real sense of family here that could be played up and make the Astartes something more, but its not really. Which is a pity because its a source of one of the biggest tensions with them as well (the HEresy and the Traitor legions and whatnot.)
"I could not speak of this to any of the others. You know as well as I do that it would diminish my Legion. Some of our brothers would see it as weakness and seek to turn this truth against me."
"But why have you kept this from father? If any living being could know the key to it, it would be him!"
"I will not be responsible for the erasure of the Blood Angels from Imperial history. I will not have a third empty plinth beneath the roof of the Hegemon as my Legion’s only memorial!"
Horus’s eyes widened. "It would not come to that."
Sanguinius shook his head once more. "I cannot take the risk. The Emperor has concerns that go far beyond the needs of his individual sons. You know that is so." He frowned. "We all know that is so."
The reasons Sanguinius keeps the secret of his flaw from the others, even the Emperor. Apparently this sheds further light on the fate of the 2nd and 11th Legions - they (and their Primarchs) were evidently purged for some serious sort of genetic flaw or deviation, or perhaps mutation, something akin to what the Blood Angels themselves face (and perhaps the Thousand Sons, or similar) have suffered. What's interesting is that the Blood Angels are not unique there - we know of the Wulfen and the 13th Company after all, and they're not exactly kept secret.
It also highlights yet again a rather cold and brutal aspect of the Emperor, the sort of side we saw in First Heretic in reprimanding the Word Bearers, as well as the hints we got WRT Thunder Warriors in the Outcast Dead. Hell, it even mirrors that dark hatred of the religious we know that Big E harbors as per 'The Last Church'. He's still human just like the rest, and full of flaws, which is perhaps a massive irony given his purported divinity and the fact that the HEresy stems from many of those flaws/weaknesses (like keeping secrets.)
Some great cosmic cataclysm had shattered the planets aeons ago, and strewn their remains in the plane of an accretion disc hundreds of millions of kilometres across.
Size of the belt. Establishes the distance between the inner system and the belt.
The 88th Expeditionary Fleet took their warships into the Kayvas Belt and vanished from sensors, leaving the Blood Angels flotilla at the edge of the system to wait..
Each time they bolted for open space beyond the mass shadow of the supergiant sun and asteroid belt, the Blood Angels were waiting for them. Starships and ork cruisers engaged in deadly games of cat-and-mouse that lasted for weeks on end..
..but months of protracted ship-to-ship engagements and naval warfare made the sons of Baal restless.
Weeks nad months of ship battles, and engaging Ork ships at the edge of the system. Also mention of the star's 'mass shadow' which si probably a reference to the gravity effects on warp translations.
They fought with great violence, even attempting doomed tactics such as direct assaults on Legion starships or the initiation of warp engines while still deep within the gravimetric danger zone
Again the 'gravimetric' danger zone aspect and limit on warp translations.
the primarch tired of Alpharius’s evasive manner and sent a frigate in past the outer marker, in defiance of the rules of engagement the two Legions had agreed upon. When the frigate returned weeks later, the crew reported that they had come across no signs of their allies, only the wrecks of ork vessels and the bodies of dead aliens. The 88th Expeditionary Fleet comprised hundreds of warships, and yet no trace of them was sighted.
Weeks to travel in and explore the inner system from the edge and return, implying perhpas a week towards and back. Unless we're talking large number of AU (billions of km) or they took alot of time to explore (which is possible) that's not going to be very high accel wise (At least assuming constant accel) and velocities would only top out at a few percent of c. Given the estimated size from before, its probably at least an AU or so distant for what that's worth.
Also size of Alpharius expeditionary fleet, which suggests expeditionary fleets are rather large (dozens to hundreds of vessels) which when couple dwith the number of expeditionary fleets in Horus Rising (~4700) suggests hundreds of thousands of ships (close to a million, if each fleet has ~200 ships.. but even if each only had 20-30 on average, we're still talking around 100,000 ships in the primary fleets alone and that is merely in terms of warships.)
At last, Alpha Legion ships were appearing at the very edge of scanning range, apparently moving in a wall to herd the enemy towards the fringes of the system.
Implies scanning range of Blood angels ships (at least against other Imperial ships) is in the hundreds of millions of km range - although we know it can be greater - which might mean it was billions of km
They had no way of knowing how long it would take the orks on the bridge to complete their pre-jump preparations. Based on observed behaviours gleaned from Imperial records, that interval could be anything from a few minutes to several hours. Ork technology was largely a random and inelegantly constructed thing, and no two greenskin ships were alike.
the joys of Ork technology
The ork was thickset, easily the same mass as Kano, but it wasn’t slow.
If this means an unarmored astartes, teh size might be 150-200 kg. If its an armoured Astartes.. it could be up to half a ton.
He turned into the bolter at his hip with a twist of his torso and squeezed the trigger, allowing the weapon’s powerful recoil to pull the muzzle up in a three-round semi-automatic burst. The first round clipped the ork’s leg, blasting a fist-sized divot of flesh out of the green meat of its thigh; the second and third shots hit home in its stomach and sternum.
Fist size hole blown by bolter round.
But then the air was shrieking with new bolter fire and the ork came apart under the force of a dozen guns.
A dozen bolters obliterate Ork.
The Wardens were the watchmen of the Blood Angels. In some ways they served as mentors for the younger legionaries, battlefield instructors and learned veterans who shared knowledge with the rest of their kindred; but they were also charged with sustaining coherence throughout the tens of thousands of warriors that filled the ranks of the IX Legion Astartes. That could mean anything from offering suggestions to a captain on a point of combat doctrine, to leading a ceremony of remembrance to the fallen. They were lore-keepers, counsellors, teachers. In the deep past, men who had served in similar roles in other militaries had been known as diaconus, zampol, chaplain or a dozen other names – some political, some religious, some secular. They existed outside the chain of command but still within its ranks, maintaining that most Imperial of ideals throughout the Legion; unity.
Wardens.. pre-Heresy Chaplains, and serve much the same role that Chaplains and Commissars do in modern times.
Viewed from the bow, the battle-barge resembled an arrowhead ten kilometres from stem to stern, lined in bright copper, bronze and crimson steel. The maws of nova cannon, mega-lasers, mass-drivers and torpedo hives encrusted the forward quarter, presenting an arsenal comparable to that of a whole fleet of smaller vessels. Acres of towers ranged away down the length of the craft, extending out from the dorsal and ventral hulls. In the fashion of Imperial starships, modelled on the deck-by-deck design ethic laid down for the Red Tear’s ancient, ocean-going ancestors, a massive citadel rose from the aft quarter. This huge conning tower resembled a gigantic fortress, an outer keep of soaring adamantium walls and glassaic windows forming the base and a wide cylindrical donjon rising higher still. At its apex, among the saw-tooth battlements and point-defence batteries, a massive transparent dome looked out into the void like an unblinking eye.
Similarly, beneath the central plane of the main hull, a blade-like keel dropped away, thinning to a wicked point. Here were many of the battle-barge’s secondary cannons and the hangars for the warship’s auxiliary craft. Cavernous docking bays, large enough to house and maintain a brace of escort frigates, ran the width of the vertical structure.
The battle-barge was built around the form of a great ruby teardrop, and from its port and starboard sides, winglets bearing engine clusters and troop bays reached outwards, mimicking the design of the Legion sigil of the Blood Angels.
Sanguniius' flagship. Dimesnionally, its shorter than some other flagships (like the one in KNF) but its 'tear-shape' means it is also probably much more arrow-like and broader than most Imperail starships of this time, so it all probably balances out.
The really interesting thing is the prow armament - a huge number of torpedoes, multiple nova cannon, mega lassers and mass drivers 'equal to a fleet of smaller vessels.' - scores or hundreds of ships perhaps. Thats an insane amount of fireppower considering most starships (Even battleships) typically mount only a single prow weapon (or type). But it does show multiple mountings can be done.
Other vessels, ranging in tonnage from gunboats to grand cruisers, moved in formation with their command ship. Around them, Hawkwing and Raven interceptors maintained a wide security cordon about the flotilla.
The Red Tear's escorts. Whether the warships are warp capable or some are sublight, we don't know.
The combined Red Tear fleet was on the move, courses already being prepared to make space along the line of a distant warp beacon; out in the deeps, the eternal lighthouse of Terra’s Astronomican had become vague and hazy in recent weeks, requiring the use of the secondary waypoint markers commonly used by Imperial Navigators as points of rendezvous.
Possibly/probably a reference to astropathic relays/beacons acting as secondary navigational refrence points for Navigators - we've known of things like that since the BFG era.
"It is said that the Warmaster is planning a major new offensive several sectors distant."
It's implied they are a few sectors away from Horus' position, pre Isstvan.
”The astropathic choirs,” explained Furio. “Their communications are sometimes imprecise. Other signals bleed in. Data on other expeditionary fleets becomes known.”
The astropathic rumor mill.
The admiral’s aide had an augmetic implant on the right side of his face that stretched from the temple down to the jaw line, a device of brass and polished silver. Raldoron recognised the form of a wireless vox-mechanism within it, and his enhanced hearing picked up a faint whine from the implant – the vibration of an echo-communiqué transmitted into the officer’s mastoid by bone induction.
"Our scout ships at the head of the fleet report a single Imperial vessel of cruiser tonnage on an intercept vector. It was likely waiting for us beyond the mass shadow of the belt, at the Mandeville point."
we learned about Mandeville points in KNF.
The ways of the Emperor’s sons were complex and often far beyond the understanding of others – even men raised to transhuman power like those of the Legions – and it was known that some of them possessed abilities that appeared to defy logic. There were many stories: that Mortarion of the Death Guard was incapable of feeling pain, that Corax could cloud the minds of men with but a thought or that the Khan could talk to storms… These were a strange intertwining of living myth and cold truth, and when one was speaking of beings like the primarchs it was impossible to say where fact ended and fiction began. The Angel had the sight, so it was said, and nothing that Raldoron had ever seen or heard in his years as a legionary had ever made him doubt it. On rare occasions, at times of the greatest import, Sanguinius would intervene in the operations of the Legion, apparently without reason, but always with great effect.
Some more on the 'abilities' the Primarchs have. Again they don't always seem quite so overt as most psykers od (except Magnus) although the Khan's abilities seem to come close. We also know some primarchs share similar qualities, low level telepathy (Lorgar had this in First Heretic), as well as the fact Curze and Sanguinius both share a
sort of prescience.
"But I must say, you were not expected. A day later and you would have found us gone. My fleet is in the midst of preparing for travel into the warp."
They are still by the Asteroid belt and the Word Bearer ship reaches the Mandeville point. Given the size of the field implied before we can definitely say that its less than a billion km or so, and given the definition of Mandeville poitns in the last book, we might figure there's a good 8-10 AU to travel in at least a day, which would result in an accel of between 50-80 gees minimum, and a top realspace vleocity of 8-11 % of lightspeed.
The suspension of psychic warfare and the abolition of the Librarius contingent had been dealt with differently in each Legion that maintained one, each according to their individual traditions and methods. In a service offered by Lorgar to his brethren, the master of the XVII Legion had sent his most pious and vigilant apostles to help with the re-integration of those gifted with psyker powers back into the rank and file of the Space Marine cohorts.
Also probably allows the Word Beares to manipulate the psykers in each legion, the ones most vulnerable to warp
and daemonic activity.
"Horus Lupercal’s message is for his brother’s eyes only. The meme-blocks in my psyche and the telepathic codes holding my aura closed will only dissolve…" She released a sigh, gazing dreamily at the primarch. "When we are alone."
Astropathic message security measures.
This was no manner of psychic communication he was familiar with.
The ectoplasmic cloud coagulated into a familiar form, and then it spoke. "Well met, brother." The timbre of the words was distorted, as if they were coming through water, the low tones resonating, but it was without doubt the voice of the Warmaster.
"And her abilities have been… enhanced by those with unique knowledge.’
"How is this done?" The Angel slowly circled the trembling, naked woman. "She is a… a conduit? That is not possible…"
"‘Clearly it is, Sanguinius. Hurling psychic shouts into the void and hoping they will be heard is but one method of contact over interstellar distances."
"Sahzë's rare gift is what you see at work here. She can forge a direct line of contact through the warp, becoming the passage between us as easily as if we were speaking over a vox-channel. She is mind-bonded to another, who is before me now."
Horus has access too (probably through the work of his Daemonic allies) a means of forging direct connections through the warp across light years. REcall that it was implied that he was several sectors away, so we're probably talking hundreds, if not thousands of light years. This is different from astrotelepathy in the sense it is a direct, real time communication (not unlike the Villips of the Yuuzhan Vong, with similar limtiations.) but lacks a certain flexibility. It's also interesting given Magnus tried something similar (over greater distances) but with far greater effort.
The closest AStropaths come is the direct mind to mind communication to throw their thought/symbol messages, which is alot less precise.
Still, we know its possible in later years. The Word Beares had similar in the Blood Angels novels, and astropaths in the Soul Drinkers novels have done similar (albeit over shorter ranges.) so 'direct' conduits are possible, if rare.
" I have learned that a cluster of worlds in the Northern Cross, out on the Fringe, have severed all lines of contact with Terra and the Imperium. These worlds are key colonies in that region, a lynch-pin system vitally important to the protection of the outer sectors, and of critical strategic importance to the Great Crusade."
"Go to the Eastern Fringe"
Sanguinius destination. Kayvan Belt to Signus cluster.
The Blood Angel ran at a pace that would have matched the cruise of an Mastodon troop carrier over even ground, his training fatigues snapping at his limbs.
The Blood Angel saw the turn coming and upped his speed into a sudden sprint.
Running speed of an unarmoured Blood Angel, probably implies definite automobile speeds. Also not their fastest speed.
Raised up high over the bow of the starship, the gallery was part of the pre-Crusade design of the vessel. Formerly a space where gunnery officers could take visual sight readings and sensor gear could be housed, advances in technology by the Mechanicum priesthood had made such uses obsolete – and after the cruiser’s most recent refit, the kilometres-long platform had been remade. Aside from the Hermia’s main spinal corridor, it was the longest passageway on the ship, and for the most part it was empty.
..a man leaning forwards on the battlement-like grids that had once housed macroscopes and laser-rangers.
This would suggest Great Crusade era fire control is alot more automated/centralized (probably run by teh cogitators) than in earlier eras, although guns still have gun crews for varying reasons. I'll note that in modern times the methods of targeting and such probably vary - some ships probably would use cogitator-controlled/directed fire (computer assisted manual), whilst others might use this in a more manual/decentralized approach. Again, variable tech.
Also the implied length of the starship.. at least a good 2-3 km long, which given its a cruiser si not surprising. If we go by FFG sizes 4-5 km is likely.
Instead, he held it up to show the warrior a set of narrative panels, each a small picture accompanied by a block of text below it. The first was a fanciful representation of a Blood Angel in the white and red armour of a Legion Apothecary, a bolter in one hand and a chainaxe in the other, facing a wall of feral, night-clad eldar. "I’m a sequentialist," Gerwyn explained, the words spilling out of him. "A bit of a scribe, a bit of an artist, the best of the both. I know some look down their noses at my craft, think it’s not so grand as those who write operas or chip away at marble, but I’ll warrant more people read these serials across the Imperium than you’d know…"
A comic or cartoonist, in other words.
Then the Hermia’s warning klaxons began a shrill chorus, the deck conducting a rumble as multiple autonomic gun batteries turned to face the still-forming warp gate.
One assumes this is the new, replacement gunnery system in action.
"The fool commanding that vessel must be desperate or stupid to exit the warp so close to a translation point…" He frowned. Such tactics were sometimes used by privateers on well-travelled cargo lanes, or by shipmasters attempting to blockade a star system.
Translation points represent fixed points of entry/exit into the warp (at least, safe entr/exit) and thus make blockades possible without committing ungodly huge numbers of ships.
For the first time, Azkaellon noted the presence of a Rune Priest standing in Redknife’s shadow. The Wolf cleric’s armour was dressed with scrimshawed bones, his open-faced helm apparently carved out of a great canine’s skull. He was careful to stay at his commander’s shoulder, his hand forever on the hilt of a serrated force sword.
He jutted his chin towards the Rune Priest. "You know that psykers are no longer permitted within the Legiones Astartes."
"My battle-brother Stiel is not a witch-mind, Blood Angel, and he forgives you for your error. It is a common misconception."
"And I say again: the Decree of Nikaea has forbidden the use of psychic powers. Your… priest… should be returned to the rank and file, not allowed to treat with the warp."
"His power is pure. It comes from Fenris, as does mine. That is the explanation I will give you, the only explanation."
And once more we witness that the Space Wolves are hypocritical assholes - pushing for the Nikaea edicts, and yet they still get to keep their pet Rune Priests when every other Legion had to give up using psykers. Because their 'power is pure and comes from Fenris.' HAH, bullshit. The Priest is even carrying a fucking Force Sword (Which is attuned to oh, psychic powers.) Fucking hypocrites.
One does have to wonder why they get ot so openly disregard the Nikaea edict, though.
That this document and these commands were authentic was beyond all doubt – the photic parchment would have been tele-kinetically transcribed by a bound astropathic savant and all relevant codes and cipher-phrases were in place ..
He wrote it with his mind, in other words. The photic parchment bit is interesting - imprinted on via light, or a holographic ‘paper?’ If so does that mean the Astropathic TK can manipulate photons?
Alderman Yee, in the hours before he had placed a laspistol between his thin, papery lips and burned out his skull with it,...
We might assume he burnt out (or blasted) the inside of his skull. The latter might be more mechanical damage and require only single or double digit kj, whilst the latter (burning it out, say by flash burns) could require double or even triple digit kj.
Assuming a 10-15 cm long, 2 cm diameter hole was drilled through the head we might figure 60-90 sq cm was 'burnt' at least, and for 3rd degree burns that would be a good 3-5 kilojoules, for example. More severe burns would be, of course, greater, as would burning the brain (third degree burns throuhgout the volume could be a good 100-200 kilojoules easily, although as I've noted many times in the past, thermal damage is not as efficient as mechanical.)
The colonists called for help, first from their neighbours and then from the Imperial Administratum, the Army, the Legiones Astartes, from any agency that was listening. But none of the courier ships dispatched towards the segmentum core had reported in, and all astropathic messages went unanswered.
The Cluster has warp capable courier ships (multiple ships) with the range to reach the Core (which probably means astropaths. Implied speed at least of tens of thousands of c probably, since they probably took less than a year to travel there (more probably, in order to get back before now.)
.. but they were very definitely not the light half-track rovers of the planetary garrison force stationed out there.
hard-sided shapes that rolled swiftly towards them, shoving abandoned groundcars out of their way with broad metal bumpers. Dense caterpillar tracks crunched over the rockcrete as the convoy of armoured machines slowed and folded into a V-formation as they halted. They were armoured personnel carriers of a design that Zauber had not seen before, great bricks of metal adorned with weapon sponsons, plated turrets and whip antennae that snapped in the wind
Rhino APCs perhaps? The PDF uses 'half tracks'.
..there was no trace of the point-blank impact of the eldar soulseeker round that had almost cost him his life. For the first time in weeks, Meros felt correct, his spirits lifted.
Soulseeker bullets (warp guided?) also 'weeks' implied to pass between the battle in the belt and the transit to arrive where they currently are.
Huge battle-barges, bespoke creations built in the massive orbital manufactories of Foss, drifted past with stately menace. The size of cities, they bristled with galleries of weapons powerful enough to scour the surface of a planet, and their launch bays were packed with squadrons of attack fighters, bombers and landers.
Battle barges. Again the class is distinct from (and probably more powerful than) Battleships at this time period.
Smaller capital ships moved in the shadow of the bigger craft, but their scale against the barges was deceptive. Many of the other vessels were three or four times the length of the Hermia – grand cruisers and battleships that were more than enough to project the fearsome power of the Imperium. Some were built around the spines of megaweapons, engines and crew compartments clustered about nucleonic lasers, particle bombardment arrays and lance cannon clusters. These in turn were flanked by their own companion ships, riding with escorts, gunboats or destroyers in close formation.
The rest of the fleet. Battleships and cruisers/grand cruisers are 3-4x the length of the Hermia - a cruiser. Givne the 3-5 km esitmated size before, we're talking anywhere from 9-12 km, to 15-20 km long. Which is longer than the Red Tear, of course, but the Tear has alot more volume than in its length (its Tear shape again.) Battle barges would be even bigger than the battleships, as well.
The prow megaweapons again are interesting - alser, particle beam and such. Lances are treated as a separate weapon as well, which is odd.
Also, again mention of gunboats.
There were hundreds of ships out here, brought together under the glow of a lonely pulsar, in a region largely devoid of colonial systems – or indeed anything at all. The rendezvous was on the edge of one of the galaxy’s spiral arms, and if one faced in the right direction, the near-lightless infinity of intergalactic space filled the sky.
Scope of the Blood angels fleet and its approximate location. Probably in Segmentum Ultima, so we're probably talking close to the fringe now, very close to the Signus cluster in all probability (I doubt they went too far south or north away from the spiral arm, and its unlikely that they went into Pacificus before backtracking) The new Forgeworld Horus HEresy Betrayal has a rather useful map which shows the location of the KAyan belt and the Signus cluster. The former is located in a region close to Chondax, Prospero, and Ryza, which puts it in the Gologtha Wastes region (and thus around Golgotha) and close to the Maelstrom... and the Signus cluster is right on the eastern most edge of the eastern fringe dead smack in the middleo fht eedge of the segmentum.
That gives it a good 40-50,000 LY distance, and in all probability the Blood Angels covered at least half that distance, if not more (say, 3/4 of it) In a matter of weeks, thats anywhere from 240,000c (a month) to 650,000c. Again, hundreds of thousands of c at least. If it was closer to, say 40-45,000 light years covered we could be looking at over a 1-1.2 million c transit times.
As far as the scope of the fleet - hundreds of ships representing the whole of the Legion. Which is.. rather small in fleet terms. Much smaller than I expected, indeed.
"How many of our battle-brothers are at this rendezvous? A hundred thousand?"
“Every one of the companies is represented here, aboard the barges and the command carriers.”
ASsuming that each company is as big as the Ultramarines ‘companies’ - 1000 men, we’re talking over 120 possible command ships (assuming that each battle barge/command carrier carries one company itself.) If they carry several, it would be less, but dozens of battle barges/carriers is still a significant number in and of itself. Note there is evidence that the companies are smaller. If that is the case the number of command carriers alters considerably.
Only mindless servitors and mechanical cogitator units went on about their tasks, oblivious to the great import of the lines of machine-call data reaching out invisibly from the Red Tea..
Hundreds of Navigators, chaining their thoughts together into a web of subsumed egos, guided the Blood Angels starships out of the darkness of the void and into a very different kind of abyss.
Apparently fleets of Navigators join their minds together. That probably improves the reliability of tranists - more eyes and mindes to watch out for dangers and such
Warp travel was never a thing of ease, and given the recent rise of storms and psychic turbulence in the immaterium, the forecast for the deployment was guarded. It was not unknown for ships to be torn apart simply by the act of translation; punching a hole in space-time was not just a matter of opening a doorway, but an event of great violence and power. In dimensional transition these tragedies happened, and it was an accepted part of the voyage, a necessary risk. The greater the skill of the Navigator, the less likely it would be, but in a fleet as large as this one, in a mass translation event, there was a good chance that some craft would be damaged or even destroyed.
Dangers of warp travel.
The warp flask implanted in her flesh was eating her from the inside, and the agony was intense; but she had much yet to do and he told her so, ignoring Sahzë as her weeping began anew.
One of conduit-lady’s modifications I suppose.
”Brother Kano,” said a languid, flat voice. He turned and found a hunchbacked servitor standing in the doorway, one of the maintenance helots that worked the chambers on this tier. It regarded him with idiot eyes. “I was alerted by sounds of distress. Are you unwell? Do you require a medicae?”
Servitors have some measure of recognition (they can respond to distress and identify individuals on sight) as wlel as carry out speech.
Shedding great bow-waves of exotic particles and extreme energies, the flagship and her sister vessels deployed in good order, expanding out into a huge conical formation.
Reversion to realspace from the warp.
”Admiral, begin standard communications protocols. Scan deep for ship-sign or perimeter drones.”
"Seven worlds, fifteen moons…" Azkaellon mused, approaching his master from behind.
Size of the Signus Cluster. Again Imperial worlds (like the Boros Gate) are heavily inhabited in some cases.
"If we continue on this heading, we will cross inside the trajectory of Phorus within the day."
We dont know exactly how far away they start or the distance covered to Phorus (the outermost system) but it does imply they cannot reach the capital world (closest to the star) within a day.
Past the orbit of Phorus, there was a wide gap of several light-minutes until the frigid sphere of Holst. Unlike the barren, cratered surface of the most distant planet, Holst had been fully colonised by the Imperium. The ringed, blue-white world was rich in gas ice, and beneath the mantle of a thin nitrogen atmosphere, chemical refineries dotted the surface alongside massive hive-cities to house the workers that toiled to harvest the metallic slush for the engines of empire.
The cluster’s inner region of planets, those that fell within the acceptable parameters for null- or low-exertion atmospheric modification, were a trio of Terran-sized worlds. Two were bread-basket colonies – the windswept agricultural settlement of Scoltrum and Ta-Loc, a stormy ocean world – and the third was the densely populated capital planet of Signus Prime, the fleet’s ultimate destination.
Past the life zone, closer in towards the red sun, lay Signus Tertiary and the innermost planet, Kol. Both worlds had some human population, but they were radiation-soaked stones home only to small outposts and ore mines.
The Signus cluster. Details of interest are the several LM between Phorus and Holst (although distances between Holst and the capital are unknown) and the fact the outermost systems can be hive worlds, and the inner most can be inhabited (albeit small outposts and ore mines..) which I think implies habitation of Mercury/Venus like planets.
In any colonised star system, even one under strict military control, there would be a sphere of vox-communications passing back and forth between starships and orbital stations, bleed-through from commercial data networks, even the low frequency traffic of civilian broadcasts. It was virtually impossible to silence the voices of a single planet, let alone seven of them.
EM/comm activitiy of inhabited planets (At least in the GC/HEresy era.)
"I was told that the scouts found the wreckage of more than a dozen different craft drifting in Phorus’s gravity shadow."
"Civilian haulers, defence force monitors, shuttles. Many of them not even warp-capable. Trajectory suggested they were fleeing the inner worlds."
Implication of system ships in number (lower limit) type and capability. Some of which seem to have at least some (limited) form of warp travel.
"‘The ships had been torn apart."
"The nephilim use displacement weapons. Very effective at close range."
"I mean literally torn apart. As if by some kind of shearing force."
Displacement weapons defined. IIRC we saw something similar in earlier novels. In this case its like sonic weapons (which may be a term for anything that relies on blast/mechanical damage effects, perhaps.)
Their distaff cousins, the astropaths, were not so lucky. Their hab-module was deeper inside the warship’s hull, protected by layers of heavy armour and energy barriers. Arcane technologies connected them to mechanisms for psychic thought-projection, infinitely byzantine systems that fascinated the primarch with their intricate complexity.
Astropathic sanctuary on Red Tear. armoued, inside the ship, but also requires mechanisms to project the telepathic stuff like an actual signal - apparently it cannot simply pass through the ship's mass to reach out (which in a way makes sense given the attention they would give to psychic/warp wards/barriers and suchlike.)
"The damage patterns resemble the effect of an explosive detonation deep inside the ship-frame."
"But the scans show no signs of thermal damage, no traces common to a chemical or nuclear detonation."
"No exotic particles either, which means it couldn’t be an esoteric weapon, like a graviton shear or a conversion beamer."
Again comment on ship to ship weapons and possibly more on 'displacement' weaponry, which again suggests it conveys some sort of explosive/blast/mechanical damage rather than purely thermal. And apparently does include gravity weapons.
"I cannot understand how or why these craft were even in this zone of space. Most of them had no warp motors and were incapable of speeds beyond one-half light velocity, and yet they appeared to be making for interstellar space. It would have taken them centuries to reach the nearest star system, a millennium more to the closest Imperial world."
Once again the signus system had warp capable ships of some kind (third implication of that) whilst the sublight ones were capable of (at most) half the speed of light. Which for a system ship is certainly not trivial
from a mass/energy standpoint . ASsuming a ship of a million tons or so (such as a system ship) it would require at least e25 joules (total, not per second!) to reach that velocity, and probably a similar amount to stop. And that's a lower limit, mind, given it measures only the ship's KE, not the KE of the exhaust (which is going to be many times greater.)
Assuming it takes a week or two to reach that speed average velocity would be somewhere in the e18-e19 watt range for the engines, and would require tens of gees (15-30 gees at least.) Even if it was a full month (possible, but unlikely given the timeframes implied in the book) we'd be talking in excess of 5-7 gees, so its not going to change things dramatically by an OoM.
As a measure of total fuel/energy supply, that's a staggeringly high amount, but consistent with the ability of 40K starships to reach decent fractions of lightspeed. Presumably, truly interstellar ships (lik the Blood Angels fleet) would be capable of as good or better performance.
"Lens the eye!" At his order, the open bow of the semi-circular amphitheatre widened and the wide armourglass portals looking out into the dark shifted. The molecules of the clear material were stroked by electromagnetic charges that shifted the density and structure of the largest portal, a flawless disc set in an elliptical framework that resembled a human eye. The view outside sharpened, bringing the bow of the Red Tear into hard detail along with her escorts.
The viewports of the Blood Angels starships. apparently not just glass or inert material.
On the woman’s gas-lens screen there was a cogitator-generated image dredged up from the depths of the Red Tear’s commodious data mines; a picture assembled from probe readings and the logs of the Imperial colonial census office, the standard planetary catalogue entry for Signus VII, local designation Phorus.
computer tech and census readings.
"They were in the process of terraforming Phorus,"
The GC era humanity still had terraforming tech.
Phorus turned and turned, passing through an impossibly fast day-night cycle, moving as if its connection to the laws of nature had been severed. The dark sphere finally found a kind of equilibrium, presenting what had been its southern polar regions to the Red Tear and all those who watched through viewports and screen-relays.
If a being could have stood upon the planet and lived, they would have witnessed decapitated mountains painted soot-dark sinking into abyssal sinkholes, and great chasms opening up from horizon to horizon. Magma flame jetted high into the air, ejected from the deep core of the planet, hot enough that the hellish glow was visible from orbital space.
And from above – only from above – the full dimension of what was being wrought upon Phorus was slowly becoming clear. At first it seemed that the planet was suffering a sudden and inexplicable geological catastrophe. The gravity of the outpost world went into wild flux as cracks wider than the reach of oceans spread across the surface.
Planets died this way, collapsing under their own mass and breaking apart; it was a common occurrence if one thought in astronomical terms. But never like this, without warning or precursor, seemingly triggered by the arrival of an audience to witness it.
Following lines of circumference, the monstrous fissures spread about the planet, and against all reason they propagated in perfect rows, one crossing over the other, each of them slicing through layers of blackened rock and burned ice. Landmasses splintered in a mathematical symmetry that was too precise, too flawless to be the action of tortured nature. It seemed as if an invisible artisan of godlike scope cradled Phorus in claws of force, cutting lines into the ruined surface as a man might delicately slice into the skin of a ripe fruit.
It ended as swiftly as it had begun, the planet briefly possessing and then losing a new atmosphere as a huge volume of toxic gases escaped from the flaming rocky mantle, boiling into space. Phorus’s landscape had been grotesquely altered, sculpted into a web of magma-choked canyons, each broad enough to drown a hive-city. A grand design emerged from it all, at once seamless and horrific.
Daemonic power reshaping a world. While the planet is in the grip of Chaos, its not exactly like in the Eye, so its interesting both for the scope of the power exerted and for the effects it has (eg its not totally physics breaking, although whether thats because of the limited warp/realspace interaactions currently or what, we don't know.) Calcing it is hard becuase we dont know who/what is doing it, and the manner, other than its obviously 'magic'.
" will have the answer to that question, even if I must rip it from the throats of our enemies." He delivered the words with cold, feral intent. "If this is meant to unman us, the xenos have underestimated the will of the–"
Sanguinius and his Blood Angels remain unfazed by what they witnessed above. It says something about the enemies they muts have faced and their abilities if they['re not exactly shitting themselves (although they're not exactly regular humans either... but the point is there's little to no panic or terror resulting from the 'warning'.)
"Primarch, the captain of the Chalice and several picket ships around the edges of the flotilla are reporting the occurrence of an unusual astronomical phenomenon"
Beyond the baleful red glow of Signus Alpha and the shimmers of its sister suns, the scattering of stars and nebulae that lay within sight of the Red Tear were changing. Azkaellon had the sudden impression of a colossal curtain falling across a stage the size of a galaxy. A great veil, impenetrable and stygian, blotting out everything.
Chaos again. The notable thing here is that they must not have travelled a great distance to get so rapid a mention of this 'veil' coming down and blocking out the light, as the 'stars' they see is simply the light that has been travelling throughout the galaxy from its origin point, so for the effect to happen so soon and for the Blood Angel fleet to pick it up so quickly (The fleet isn't huge or widely spread - Sangy said he was keeping them together and the mentioned spacing was hundreds of km) they can't be too far away from it (millions of km perhaps, depending on how you defined 'soon'. I'm defining it as 'hours/days')
With Urg’s termination the nascent ork empire self-destructed, and the xenos that were not hounded into the mud of Ullanor’s vast battlegrounds would be hunted down across hundreds of star systems, all the way to Chondax, the Kayvas Belt and beyond.
By the Emperor’s command, Ullanor was remade as a trophy world, designated Mundus Tropaeum on all galactic maps and records of tithe.
Implied location of Ullanor and its renaming
Geoformer platoons from the Mechanicum brought world engines and mobile stone-burners to cut a massive swath across the broken landscape left in the battle’s wake. Orkish dead were buried in their millions with their savage ruins, interred beneath transplanted rocks and the heads of crushed mountains. The Mechanicum eradicated every last remaining trace of the enemy and paved over them with a giant boulevard, a parade stage as wide as the footprint of some cities.
They built a highway and allowed only one structure to stand proud of the great platform – an ornamental pavilion of black marble and heavy granite that had been built piecemeal on Terra and then shipped across the void by special envoy.
Imperial industrial efforts for Ullanor. Note the stoneburners and Geoformers (I wonder if the former is yet another Dune reference?)
..great bowls of smokeless promethium burned brightly, endlessly lighting the highway with their blue-white fire.
Smokeless promethium. The colour is interesting in the implied temperatures are very hot (oxy-acetylene torches, for example) and that and smokeless bit imply very little byproduct created as a result of combustion, which I think would suggest its pretty damn efficient (which would almost be needed for Promethium to be useful in lifting most ships out of a planet's atmosphere. Acetylene for example has an energy content of around ~50 MJ per kg IIRC) I think Hydrogen flames can be made to burn similarily hot.
Mind you, since everyone has an idea of what 'Promethium' is, its still only indicative of the properties of a *kind* of promethium, rather than everything in general.
Unit Eight-Eight-Kappa-Two had been Toin Sepsoe, a rapist and killer of women in the hives of Hollonan...
Captured by the city guard, convicted and sentenced to perpetual servitude all that Sepsoe had been the adepts chemically smothered or surgically removed.
Punishment for muder and rape: being made into a servitor. Better than a Death Penalty, I suppose (making amends, I suppose.)
the meat and skeleton that had once been Sepsoe was retrofitted with more durable ceramite brackets and numerous bio-organic implants that allowed it to live longer than a human being, to go without the need for sleep and to sustain nourishment through ingestion of a bulk nutrient porridge, similar to that fed to grox or riding beasts.
Servitor enhancements and fuel supply. Presumably the implants are designed to make the organic bits operate more efficiently (simplifying the kind of nourishment needed as well as extracting more energy from it, as well as minimizing the amount of sleep neded.)