A 'good' Space Marine novel as I define it, in the Night Lords thread, is one where the Space Marines are not the chief characters. You almost need humans alongisde them for the Space Marines to work off of - their reactions/interactions with humanity in general are what drive any sort of scope or development you can get out of a Space Marine, which is why novels like Helsreach or Rynn's World are the best - Space Marines forced to confront their own natures - or even question it - are perhaps the best. And again this isn't canonical - Space Marines are supposed to be zealous, unthinking, fanatically driven killmachines. But you can't write about those very well.
Which brings us to Grey Knights. There's plenty of Space Marine killing huge numbers, and generally being badasses, but that is almost an afterthought. What we get with the first novel is a Gray Knight who is forced to confront just what it is he is, and what he does, and why. We're presented with a tragic figure in an Inquisitor who is attempting to hunt down and stop the resurrection of a powerful Daemonic entity. And the interactions betwene the two, the lessons learned on both sides, are what realyl drive the novel. Counter really is at his best when he writes about Chaos, and you can see it in this one. And because Gray Knights are all about Chaos, that may be what makes these novels work and not Soul Drinkers.
Anyhow, GK is good, but in a pure 'chaos' theme Hammer of Daemons is better, even though it deals with the HERETICAL concept of a GK perhaps falling to Chaos (which is only true if you don't think about the book.) but we'll get to that in time. I will note that Counter HAS managed to ruin the series for me in a recently published short story, though: we find out that GK bullets are blessed in the blood of sacrificed innocent, good men - by the Ecclesiarchy (hah!) and GK armour is forged in the fires of cremated and tortured psykers aboard Black Ships or something. I wish I was kidding about that, but it seems like the GK concept got elevated to 5th edition standards
Anyhow, on with the GK novel:
They had trained since before they could remember in resisting the trickery of Tzeentch himself and the creeping corruption that had brought so many to the fold of Ghargatuloth. They were armed with the best weapons the Ordo Malleus could give them, protected by consecrated power armour hundreds if not thousands of years old, shielded from sorcery by hexagrammic and pentagrammic wards tattooed onto their skin by the sages of the Inquisitorial archives.
- Mention that the Gray Knights are protected by Pentagrammic and hexagrammic wards (Tattooed directly onto their skin) and how they are trained to resist Chaoic influence and sorcery. The wards, as I recall, are reinforced by their own innate psychic ability and the stuff built into their armour.
Note the absence of them practicing such sorcery, wielding dameonic weapons, etc.
There were three hundred of them bearing down on Khorion IX to have their say in the confluence of fates.
300 Grey Knights vs Daemon Prince.
They were just a handful in number compared to the trillions of citizens making up the Imperium....
"trillions of citizens."
The screams from below sounded even through the din of the descent and the pod's lander engines, a million voices raised in praise and anticipation...
A million minions of Chaos await the Grey Knights.
And worst of all, the daemon army seethed, hundreds of thousands strong,
Hundreds of thousands of daemons.
The impact was immense, like slamming into a wall. The grav-couch restraints jolted back as the pods ploughed through the branches of wood and bone, into the middle of the daemon throng. A great scream rose above the din of the impact as daemons were vaporised by the impact, and the viewport was suddenly covered in their many-coloured blood.
The servitor-pilot controlling the pod's systems responded to the pre-programmed order and the bolts holding the pod's sides together burst with a series of sharp reports. The sides of the pod burst open and Mandulis's restraints fell away.
Servitor controlled drop pods deploy the grey knights and vaporize (pulverise) daemons.
Mandulis drew his Nemesis sword from its scabbard on his back. The blade leapt into life, its power field calibrated to disrupt the psychic matter of daemons' flesh,
...he felt three unholy bodies come apart under the blade's edge.
- Nemesis sword (force?) mentioned as having a "power field calibrated to disrupt the psychic matter of daemons flesh". Interesting, since usually magic crystals or something similar is given as the reason for the force sword's effects (it can channel psychic power through the weapon) Maybe the powerfield is a special Grey Knight sonly modification to enhance the weapon further. This would in turn suggest power weapons (or at least a certian kind) can be "adapted" for greater effect against certain kinds of matter (possibly at the expense of their effects against anything else, like some lasers.)
Psycannon fire from Chemuel was shrieking past, the modified bolter shells exploding in spectacular starbursts of silver that shredded the attacking daemons.
Psycannon in action, shredding daemons.
Mandulis pressed down on the firing stud in his gauntlet and sent a stream of bolter shells ripping into the advancing daemons.
Gauntlet mounted storm bolter.
It had taken a century to hunt down Ghargatuloth, the power which, through dozens of avatars and aspects, directed thousands of Chaos cults in acts of depravity and terror.
The time and scope of the daemon princes actions and acitivites - many avatars (outlets to work through, I assume he means bodies possessed) and thousands of minions (per avatar or total, we aren't told.) I'd guess this means hunting the daemon down each time it possessed a new form, undoing whatever it had planned, destroying its allies - but the daemon managing to escape to begin a new each time. This suggests it happened at least once every few years on average/
The Ordo Malleus had fought long and hard to find out that it lived on Khorion IX, an uninhabited and largely unexplored world deep into the Halo Zone of the Segmentum Obscurus where the beacon of the Astronomican barely reached.
Out beyond the Calixis and Scarus sectors really.. rather odd that the AStronomican "barely reached" there given its ability to reach the edge of Ultima Segmentum (which is far bigger than Obscurus), unless it's because the Eye of Terror is in the way - that would probably interefere with the signal (which mewans anything behind it would have some difficulties navigating.
This in turn menas many calcs in and around the eye are probably conservative due to that sort of disruption and blocking.
Khorion IX was too isolated for a planet-scouring Imperial Navy assault and normal troops would last a matter of seconds on the planet. Even the Exterminatus, the ultimate Inquisitorial sanction, would not be enough - someone had to see Ghargatuloth die and, even with a devastating strike from orbit, the Ordo Malleus could not be sure.
Niot sure what a "planet scouring Imperial Navy asault" means - orbital bombardment? Mass extinction? Extensive bombing? Its contrast to exterminatus would seem to rule out mass extinction at least, but its hard to say. Possibly it means deploying naval troops to purge the planet. Normal troops may mean Imperial guard. "orbital strikes" sugggests planet scouring and/or extermintaus may involve large applications of brute force firepower though
Rather odd they can't just exterminatus the planet or blast the place from orbit, but they "need someone on the ground" - perhpas because the daemon has gotten away so many times they can't risk him getting away agian and have to be sure (so do it the hard way). Hell maybe they tried blasting a place one of the past times and he did get away.
The fast strike cruisers Valour Saturnum and Vengeful carried over two hundred and fifty Grey Knights, as large a force as could be moved quickly enough through the vastness of the Segmentum Obscurus.
It was earlier noted there were 300 grey knights, so between 250-300 on two Strike cruisers.
But the mind of a Grey Knight was built around a hard core of pure, depthless faith. Where other men had fear, the Grey Knights had resolve. Where others had doubt, Mandulis had faith. An Imperial guardsman, no matter how courageous or pious, still had that unprotected hollow of despair, greed, and terror at the heart of his soul. A Grey Knight did not. Ghargatuloth's mind tricks broke against Mandulis's mind like waves against rocks.
That was why it had to be the Grey Knights assaulting Khorion IX. The Lords Militant could assemble armies hundreds of millions strong, but not
Resilience of Grey Knights against Daemons. Armies of no size could hope to stand up against that (of course, given that Guardsmen do stand up in the end.. makes me wonder.)
Also "Lords militant" amassing hundreds of millions of guards men.. I'm guessing thats Lord General Militants, rrather than the Lord Commander Militant (one of the High Lords). This means "hundreds of millions" per sector or part of a sector (subsector?) which means hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of guardsmen per sector. (with maybe 10x that total in PDF forces.. although its possible that the number represents the upper limit "tithing" capability at any given point or theroetical maximums. Of course we can inteprret it to mean plural armies too..)
One thousand years passed. The Imperium endured -men and women died in uncountable numbers to ensure that. Armageddon was lost to the orks. The Damocles Gulf was conquered and strange new species were encountered. The Sabbat Worlds were overrun by Chaos and an immense crusade launched to reclaim them.
Stratix died in screaming plague, Stalinvast in the fiery extremes of the Exterminatus.
the Adeptus Terra tried to unpick laws and declarations from the will of the Emperor. The warp created new hells outside real space. Whole systems were lost in madness and new ones settled in their hundreds.
Over a 1000 period timeframe. Most of these refernece previous novels or other events. Stalinvast is Inquisition War, Damocles gulf crusade, the 2nd and 3rd Armageddon Wars, the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Stratix was the world mentioned in Bleeding Chalice, the whole Teturact fiasco, which suggests it (and the soul drinkers novels) took place sometime within that 1000 years.
Also "whole systems lost in madness" and "hundreds settled" - implies a mere "hundreds of new worlds settledin a thousand years, although in context it also suggets only a few worlds lost.. maybe it works better as a ratio, which suggests more worlds were gained int hat 1000 year period than were lost.
When the first shot had hit, Justicar Alaric had thought of the final days
With the second shot, the one that punched through his leg and tore up into his abdomen, he had realised that he was not dead and that the final days would not come for him yet. He remembered red runes winking maddeningly on the back of his eye, telling him that his blood pressure was falling and both his hearts were beating erratically, that two of his lungs had been punctured by the shot to the chest and his abdomen was filling up with blood. He remembered dragging himself into cover as overcharged las-shots ripped into the stone floor beside him.
..willing his limbs to move so he could loose a last volley of shots against the cultists who had wounded him so badly.
Effects of being hit by a lasgun shot, coming up through his leg and into his abdomen. I'm guessing at an angle. Not cauterized since it cauged bleeding, but it puntured two lungs.
Alaric was all but submerged in a vat of clear fluid, a concoction of Titan's apothecaries that helped flesh heal and kept infections at bay. He felt tubes snaking all around him, feeding medicines into his veins and sending information back to the cogitators he could hear thrumming and clicking away around him. He was bathed in light coming from lumoglobes arranged in a circle on the stone ceiling above him.
Alaric turned his head to see the brass-cased cogitators quietly spewing sheet after sheet of paper onto which were scribbled the long, jagged ribbons of his life signs. The medical facility was one he had been to before - it was here that he had received the hexagrammic wards that formed a thin lattice of blessed silver beneath his skin. Medical orderlies were moving quietly between other recovery tanks and auto-surgeon tables, checking on the patients - some were troops or other personnel from the Ordo Malleus. Others were the inhumanly tall and muscular forms of Alaric's fellow Grey Knights.
The lumoglobes casting pools of light around the patients, surrounded by shadow where cogitators and hygiene servitors hummed gently.
- The ORdo Malleus/Gray Knights have bacta like tanks/vats that can help "heal flesh and keep infections at bay." - it also requires medicines being fed intravenously into his body.' Also we see the gneerla status of the Grey Knights infirmary.
- Hexagrammic wards of "blessed silver" inlaid beneath Gray Knight's skin.
Alaric recognised Brother Tathelon, one arm blown off at the elbow and his body covered in tiny shrapnel scars. Interrogator Iatonn, who had accompanied Inquisitor Nyxos in the assault, lay with his entrails exposed as the dextrous metallic fingers of the auto-surgeon worked to knit his innards back together.
- auto-surgeon attemting to knit internal organs back together of an Inquisitor.
One of the orderlies, one of the blank-faced, mind-scrubbed men and women the Ordo Malleus used for menial work, saw Alaric was awake and came to inspect the life signs streaming from the cogitators.
- the Ordo Malleus make ample use of "mind scrubbed" personnel.
The black carapace, a hard layer beneath the skin of his chest and abdomen, had a large ragged hole in it where the first shot had broken through his armour and Alaric could see through the crystallised wound to the surface of the bony breastplate that had grown together from his ribs. There was another hole, larger, in the meat of his thigh, with a tight channel of internal scar leading up into his abdomen. He could feel the wounds inside him but they were almost healed thanks to his internal augmentations and the Chapter apothecarion. He was covered in smaller scars, burns from where his armour had become red-hot from the weight of las-fire slamming into it..
Enough lasfire to turn his Grey Knights chestplate red hot. assuming a 50x50 cm area and ~3-4 cm thickness for the plate and made of iron. call it 60-80 kilos. color wise we might figure its between 770K and 1060K depending on how literal about "red-hot" you want to be. Assuming 300K initial temp we're talking a temp change between 470-760K.. 198-456 kilojoules depending on specific heat used.. just to be broad call it between 10-40 MJ or so, within an order of magnitude. He also has burns on his chest, but that would be rather minor - a few hundred kilojoules compared to heating the chestplate. We dont know exactly how many shots, but no more than "hundreds" of cultists fired on him, not all shots hit, and the cultists apparently are what did him in, and it wasn't more than a few seconds worth of fire, from context, so we're probably talking more more than a few hundred or a few thousand shots.. single to double digit KJ at least, and probably leaning more to double digit at that.
The two shots that caused major injuries were very deep penetrating. That he can peer down the hole suggests its fairly wide - several cm at least, and the other is even bigger. That would correspond with the idea of penetrating deeply into an astartes chest (a good 15-20 cm at least, given the greater bulk) or through the thigh and up into the torso (twice the first hit easily.) for a "blaster" type laser (suggested by the penetration) we'd be talking double digit kj quite easily, givne Astartes durability, bulk, and the need to puncture two lungs with one shot. The shots in question were apparently from high powered, even overcharged lasweapons. These wounds would also tend to confirm the "double digit kj per shot" estimate from above, quite easily, although considering that these shots would have to have also penetrated armor then done the damage..
Glavian was ancient, one of the few Grey Knights currently in the Chapter who had reached the extended old age a Space Marine's enhancements could grant him. Glaivan's hands had been replaced long ago with bionic armatures that gave him a surgical touch far finer than human hands, with splayed fingers tipped with scalpels and pincers. Grey Knights usually wore their power armour when outside their cells or at worship, but Glaivan had long since left his battlegear behind. Beneath the long white apothecary's robes his body was braced with steel and brass, and his redundant organs had been removed to leave Glaivan a shell of a Marine.
Glavian was more than four hundred years old, all but the first handful of those having been spent in service to the Grey Knights and the Ordo Malleus.
a 400 year old, heavily augmetic Gray Knight.. had some of his organs removed (although not ones to deal with slowe daging I guess...) implied that 400 years old is long for a Gray Knight, although whether the limit or not is up for debate, given what other sources tell us. Perhaps it is rare for them to live that long, given the nature of their foe.
"They were high-powered las-burns, justicar, very deep. I am surprised that you are awake so soon, and very little surprises me."
I guess the las shot inflicted burns as well. Probably roughly equal to the energy to inflict the holes at least. Coupled with the need to penetrate armor as well as causing the burns... might be high double digit/low triple digit kj lasgun shots, which would make sense for "overcharged" shots.
Alaric had seen Valinov, just as the storm of las-fire had ripped out of the underground temple from the cultists under Valinov's command.
His cultists - the mission briefing had suggested several hundred of them in the underground temple complex -
Alaric had been one of the first in, leading the squad he had recently come to command.
- mention of several hundred cultists (upper limit on the number firing on Alaric.) Along with Valinov. Putting this into context with what was said above, we can figure that pretty much within the first or second salvos of being fired upon Alaric went down, again confirming it was a short timeframe.
"How long?" asked Alaric.
"Three months.' replied Glaivan. 'The Rubicon made good speed back."
We don't know the exact distance involved, but it is mentioned later that Valinov was rampaging across segmentum solar, meaning they can't have (from Terra) gone more than 10-15K LY or so tops (Segmentum solar isnt that much bigger). around 40,000c or so speed, although that assumes a straight-line course.
Alaric took three months to heal form his wounds, including the transit back to the Grey Knights base from the planet they were attacking.
The Grey Knights were technically autonomous, but the Ordo Malleus were in practice their masters, and they certainly didn't want the Grey Knights harbouring seditious opinions about the Inquisition. Radicalism was, officially, a non-existent threat, and that was all the Malleus would officially say to the Grey Knights about it.
Like the Deathwatch (as per the RPG) the Gray Knights are technically not under the direct command of the Malleus, but they are so closely allied that they basically are the same. Malleus radicalism seems to be a secret as well.
Alaric sifted through his last memories of the raid - gunfire streaking through grimy underground tunnels, battle-brothers charging in a storm of explosions. If the Rubicon had indeed made good speed then Alaric had probably been in Glaivan's care for a couple of weeks.
This would suggest maybe a bit less than three months.. 2-1/2 maybe, but not much different 50-60K times the speed of light instead of 40K. Also implies a short timeframe between alaric arriving and going down again.
There was a great deal Alaric had to do after any battle, let alone one where he had been both severely wounded and been exposed to potential corruption. He would have to confess, receive purification, have his battlegear repaired and reconsecrated, see his name entered in the immense tomes recording the deeds of the Grey Knights, and be debriefed by Grand Master Tencendur and the inquisitors who had been ultimately responsible for the attack.
The life of a Grey Knight was ritual and purification punctuated by savage combat against the foulest of foes - just a few days of it would break a lesser man, and sometimes Alaric was grateful he could not remember anything else.
After battle rites for a Grey Knight.
Barbillus had worn armour covered in gold filigree depicting daemons crushed beneath the Emperor's feet and wielded a power hammer with a head carved from meteoric iron. He had ridden his war pulpit into the deepest pits of daemonic horror.
Barbillus had an extensive staff, mostly of warriors who rode with him into battle, recruited from martial cultures all over the Imperium. But he also needed people to get him to the battlefield. Investigators. Interviewers. Scientists. Some of Barbillus's rear echelon staff went deep undercover for him, infiltrating noble houses suspected of daemonancy or vicious hive-scum gangs sponsored by hidden cultist cells.
A rather high end inquisitor, what with a fancy hammer and a mobile war pulpit...and quite a household. Esienhorn he is not. The scientists bit is intresting.
He [Valinov] came form the Segmentum Solar, that was certain, from one of the massively industrialised worlds of the Imperium's heartland where only the sharpest and most ruthless could hope to gain recognition from off-world.
We know Segmentum solar is heavily populated, since its the seat of humanity's birth and the most densely colonized... this suggests it is also the most heavily industrialized and perhaps the most technically advanced part of the Imperium as well.
Then came Agnarsson's Hold. If Barbillus did not die fighting the Daemon Prince Malygrymm the Bloodstained on that planet then he certainly died when the Exterminatus was brought to bear. This time it was his personal staff who launcehd the cyclonic torpedoes form Barbillus's fleet to destroy Agnarson's Hold if he didn't return from the daemon-infested surface. Senior Interrogator Valinov had watched from Barbillus's flagship as the verdant agri-world was swallowed up by the magma welling up from its ruptured crust.
Fleet bombardment of cyclonics to Exterminatus an entire world. Crust ruptured, spilling magma ont o the surface. Suggests far more nastier than the usual "billion megaton" or so bombardment..
The hive world was drowned in the nightmare dimension of the warp. The storm was impenetrable and no one could be sure what happened to the nineteen billion men, women and children who made up the population of V'Run, but astropaths reported hearing screams emanating from the planet for light years around.
Hive world of 19 billion on Segmentum solar got fucked over... Astropaths could pick up screams "light years" around.. whether this is realtime or not we don't know.
Valinov left a trail of atrocity across the Segmentum Solar. He immolated the capital of Port St Indra by overloading the city's heatsinks.
they tracked him to the plague-stricken communities of the Gaolven Belt.
The Conclave approached Grand Master Tencendur, and he agreed to send a force of Grey Knights to spearhead the assault on Valinov's fortress.
The first man out of the boarding torpedoes and into the breach had been justicar Alaric.
Evets preceding Alaric's introduction to us. Valinov's activities seemed to be confined within Segmentum solar, suggesting the aforementioned limits on the Rubicon's 3 month journey.
A heat sink overload destroys a city.. probably a hive city.
Alaric going down just out of the boarding torpedo seems to confirm a rather short barrage of fire taking him down.
His wounds still hurt and he could feel the channel of rapidly healing scar tissue where the las-bolt had burned through his abdomen. His skin felt raw from the healing tank.
Las-bolt had "burned through his abdomen" that suggests prehaps it was not an efficient "blaster" style las barrage but more inefificent "burning/vaporizing" type shot.. that would take maybe an order of magnitude more energy than what I estimated. On the other hand if it was that intense it might cauterize... maybe it was not quite fully burning/vaping but not quite totally "blaster".. a hybrid mode perhaps.
"Remember it, Alaric. Remember what it means to be broken and laid low. The mark of a leader is not whether you can avoid such misfortune, but whether you can take it and turn it into something that makes you stronger. Your battle-brothers are dead, but you can ensure their lives had meaning. That is what it means to lead."
Chaplain to Alaric. It's sometimes hard to blelieve Ben Counter wrote this, as Alaric is genuinely a sympathetic and likeable character. They're so different from the Soul Drinkers.
The Ordo Malleus had taken the rings of Saturn shortly after the inception of the Inquisition, and had turned them into its own unofficial domain. The lord inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus ruled Saturn's moons absolutely, because that was the only way they could ensure the security of their facilities.
The immensely complicated geometry of Saturn's rings means it was all but impossible for any enemy force to penetrate the thousands of turbolaser defences that bristled from asteroids captured by Saturn's gravity. The ordo controlled the only reliable way in and out of the rings, the naval fortress on the outermost major moon Iapetus.
Mimas, the closest major moon to the vast swirling mass of Saturn, was disfigured by an immense impact scar covering a quarter of the surface. Built into that crater was the Inquisitorial prison where the worst of the worst were held in complexes of isolated cells with psychic wards woven into the walls, guarded by gun-servitors and a regiment of Ordo Malleus storm troopers.
Encaladus, the next moon out from Mimas, housed the Inquisitorial citadel, a vast and imposing palace where the lord inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus held court and the most senior of the ordo's inquisitors maintained personal estates.
Tethys was the location of the Librarium Daemonicum, the repository of dangerous knowledge gathered over thousands of years of fighting the darkness. The Librarium was completely hidden from the surface - thousands of void-safe cells and galleries of crammed bookshelves filled a sphere hollowed out of the moon's core. Untold millions of tomes, data-slates, scrolls and pict-recordings were refrigerated to preserve delicate pages and unstable datacores. Access to them was given only on the authority of the lord inquisitors themselves, and the more restricted sectors formed some of the most sensitive locations in the galaxy.
Titan, the largest moon, concealed beneath its thick orange atmosphere the immense fortress-monastery of the Grey Knights, covering the surface as if the whole moon had been carved with a pattern of towers and battlements.
The docks of Iapetus, the furthermost major moon, extended kilometres out into space and were always hosts to whole roosts of cruisers, escorts and battleships, including the strike fleet of the Grey Knights and enormous Imperator-class battleships requisitioned from the Battlefleet Solar.
Inquisitorial fortress around Saturn in detail. Note the defenses and security around the planet (thousands of turbolaser equipped asteroids), the facilities for prisoners and illicit data, and the dockyards with a whole fleet of starship (including the Grey Knights.) Also requisitioned battleships from bAttelfleet Solar. I wonder if the Imperator class is an actual class, or if they meant to say "Emperor Class."
Spider-like archiver servitors scurried up the walls on thin metal legs, the fleshy once-human parts scanning book spines and labels for the Malleus research staff who spent their lives poring over ancient texts for their Inquisitorial masters. Many higher-ranking Malleus inquisitors had a personal researcher or two on Tethys, whose sole purpose in life was to find obscure and potentially vital information on the enemies of the Emperor.
Archive servitors, as well as personal researchers.
A few pale, large-eyed researchers were hunched over crumbling tomes, gun-servitors hovering over their shoulders in case the knowledge they were exposed to overcame their minds. Their breath coiled in the air and they all wore close-fitting thermosuits; the temperature was kept too low for a human to survive more than a few minutes.
the Dangers of Malleus research, and conditions in the libraries.
A tiny guide-servitor droned on ahead of her...
Ligeia being guided to Valinov's possessions.
The Ordo Malleus were mostly typically bull-headed daemonhunters with weapons and armour to rival the Grey Knights themselves...
A psychic Malleus inquisitor was supposed to hurl bolts of lightning or banish daemons with a word, but Ligeia's powers were geared towards understanding and perception.
- Assessment of typical Malleus Inquisitors, esp to compare to Grey Knights. We also see how Ligeia differs, which in context seems to make her a rarity/exception.
Ligeia took a seat and the guide-servitor flitted off again. No gun-servitor approached, because one of the privileges of Ligeia's office was the trust the lord inquisitors placed in her willpower. A suppressor field she carried switched off the defences in her immediate vicinity, so the signature of her psychic abilities would not bring sentry guns out of the walls.
Servitors attuned to psychic abilities (and programmed to attack.) Ligeiea has a suppressor field to shield herself from their detection, however.
Ligeia remembered from the briefing that Valinov had been wounded. It was a measure of his strength that he had survived the shock of a bolter round against unarmoured flesh.
Hell its lucky he didnt lose his arm, or have his torso blown apart by proximity. Must have been one of those "reduced yield" bolter rounds
Valinov had been armed with a custom hunting las...
The Power Pack was similarily custom-built and was heavily overcharged going by the scorching on the Barrel.
The power pack is probably bordering on hotshot-scale, judging by the barrel scorching. Indicative of the variations in power output, power capacity of las weapons, and how they can be altered to make weapons deadlier. Which amkes sense, as changing the power pack's capabilities (how much energy it releases, how much it stores, etc.) is a good way of controlling the firepower of the weapon.
As we know from Dark Heresy and Rogue trader, overcharge packs basically reduce the number of shots to increase the power of said shots.
Valinov had carried a wrackblade, too, a sneaky little weapon that looked like a combat knife but hid a neurowhip processor. The same blade had turned Interrogator Iatonn's entrails to mush.
The Interrogator Alaric saw in the infirmary having his insides sewn back together. I guess the neurowhip thing combines properties of a vibroweapon with neural shock/pain enhancers or something, like the Dark Angel Blades of REason.
Ligeia held her hand over the tattered parchment and let her perception bleed out of the inside of her head and down into the paper, weaving around not just the shape of the letters and diagrams but the meaning that infused them.
The meaning on the scrolls was a faint, flitting thing, vague and frustrating. Ligeia suspected it might be some complicated code but the deeper she reached the more she came across a barrier of meaninglessness. The scrolls meant nothing. Their only purpose was to look impressive. True rituals of the Chaos gods would have lit up her psychic perception like fireworks.
Ligeia uses an interesting power to psychically read or divine impressions from the scrolls. Some psykers have demonstrated the ability to "read" via their psychic senses (the inks and such in the paper/parchment/whatever.) which seems similiar.
She recognised the name of Angron, the Daemon Primarch who had once been banished from the material realm in the first Battle for Armageddon. She saw Cherubael and Doombreed, N'Kari and hundreds of others, with the dates and predicted durations of their banishments noted beside. Some of those names alone would have corrupted lesser minds.
The Codicium Aeternum. By the Throne, if it was real...
It had last been seen in these very halls decades before. It had been thought simply lost, hidden somewhere in the bowels of Tethys where it had become a victim of the secrecy supposed to keep it secret. Many volumes had slipped through the gaps like that, and the Malleus had specialised knowledge hunter squads who roamed the lower recesses finding vital texts that had previously been forgotten.
The Codicium Aeternum was one of the most valuable reference works the Malleus possessed, listing thousands of daemons banished by the Grey Knights or the Inquisition.
A Malleus book on the names of Daemons. Also, they seem to lose books all the time (how?) and they have specialized squads who go out and find them (the opposite of deletion squads from Bleeding Chalice?) In this case Valinov is suepcted to have stolen it, so a likely source are renegade Inquisitors.
Nyxos himself was an old leathery warrior, wearing simple black that served to flaunt the silver-plated brackets and servo mounts that lent his frail old body immense strength and speed
In time, new recruits would be picked to join Alaric's squad, and eventually they would replace the fallen. But that would not happen soon. Until then Squad Alaric would be two men short....
Grey Knights seem to be in such high demand and hard to produce compared to regular astartes that replacements are not always on hand.
She ran her thumb along the gene-lock and the void-safe snapped open..
gene lock on a void safe.
As beings of pure energy many of them cannot be permanently destroyed, only sent back to the warp until they can reform; we believe the Codicium was first compiled in an attempt to systematically monitor their returns. Of course, the ways of Chaos are anything but systematic but the authors were thorough, at first. Many of the entries are incomplete or damaged...
The Malleus knows they lack the ability to permanantly destroy Daemons (although god knows why, we know Eisenhorn obliterated Prophanati with his runestaff (which suggested an alpha level could wipe out some fairly powerful daemons.) In any event they try to make a schedule of banishments so they can prepare and banish them again (if they can find them), but like most things of the warp precision is at best a secondary consideration, and the work is incomplete.
"Do you know where Ghargatuloth will return? Khorion IX was destroyed by exterminatus."
Implication that exterminatus may prevent the rebirth/return of a daemon.
"The Emperor's Tarot consulted at the time along with visions suffered by astropaths in the vicinity of Khorion IX suggested that Ghargatuloth would return somewhere in the Trail of St Evisser."
Predictions and prophecy via Tarot and Astropathic visions.
"It took the Ordo Malleus more than a hundred years to find out its name. Not even its truename, just the name it used to create cults all over the Imperium. Then it took decades to track it to Khorion IX and when they finally cornered it, they sent three hundred Grey Knights to banish it. Not one of them came back."
The hunt for Ghargatuloth.
" He could still influence the weak-willed from the warp but until they can bring him fully into real space he will be comparatively vulnerable."
Daemon prince can mentally manipulate the "weak willed" (culists?) from the warp.
In four months he will have been banished for a full thousand years and he will be able to create new cults and instruct them in drawing him into real space. Valinov will take too long to break. We must go now."
Ghargatuloth will be able to break free in four months.. this sets an upper limit on the timeframe for events.
A daemon's banishment was a complicated concept. The strength of the daemon, the method of banishment and sheer luck determined how long the daemon would have to languish in the warp. Mandulis must have dealt Ghargatulofh a fell blow indeed to banish the daemon for a thousand years. The Codicium Aeternum had been written in an attempt to catalogue all those factors and predict accurately when and where daemons would return, but Chaos by its very nature refused to be categorized so neatly and the book had been left half-finished - but not before Ghargatuloth's return had been predicted.
The requirements for banishment, and part of the reason for the daemon catalogue in question, and the way cHaos fucks that up.
"All Grey Knights have some psychic capacity. I am strong enough for it to be a part of my conditioning but not to focus it."
In a sense Grey knights are highly psychic but are so highly specialized via training and their wards its something they cnanot actively draw upon like a normal psyker in most respects. Probably helps to make their use of the psychic safer and more reliable.
There was a metal collar around his neck packed with explosives that would neatly blow his head off if he left the interrogation cell, attempted to use psychic powers (although Valinov had never shown any measurable psychic capacity) or simply angered the supervising interrogator enough for the collar's detonator to be pushed.
Valinov's pretty new necklace. Penal Legionnaire collection, I believe.
The Prison on Mimas was staffed by men and women who had been totally mind-scrubbed and then given an education consisting of nothing but security protocols, interrogation techniques, and utter hatred of the inmates. They were at a reduced risk of corruption because there was less of a mind to corrupt.
More Malleus mind-scrubbed staff. Apparently the process makes them less susceptible to the warp (at the cost of stripping out what? memories? Personality? emotions?) it makes them seem almost like servitors. Sounds alot like the emotional repression surgery we learn the skitarri/tech guard undergo really. And it suggests servitors are less prone to corruption as well.
I wonder if they do this to their storm troopers to some extent as a defensive measure?
In any case, we should be aware "corruption" probably means mental/psychic influence, but it provides no defense against the physically corrupting/mutating nature of the warp.
"So." said Valinov in that slick, smooth voice. "You're going to kill me five times?"
Ligeia looked up at him. "That was the plan, yes."
Valinov said nothing.
"You have been away for some time, Valinov. You probably don't know the changes to our procedure. It's complicated, but ultimately, the office of executions has acquired a psyker who can keep you alive, even though you are dead. The Adeptus Astra Telepathica trained him up and they owed the ordo a favour, hence your impending five death sentences. I must confess, I find it difficult to imagine what it will be like for you to remain conscious while your body begins to rot." This time Ligeia smiled faindy. "But then I suppose you have a better imagination than I."
neat trick. I rather liked this line really, but I guess we shouldnt be surprised the Imperium has ways to revive the dead.
"They brought you over from the Ordo Hereticus." continued Valinov. "That doesn't happen very often."
Yeah, we learn in other novels that headhunting the other Ordos talent is rare. I suspect once they get their claws into you they don't want to let go.
"Have you ever killed a world, Ligeia? I mean, killed every single person on a planet, wiped out everything they are and everything they will ever be."
"You did. You killed V'Run."
"V'Run is a free world now. But I have destroyed worlds before. Under Barbillus I did everything except press the button. Whole civilizations, dead in hours. Do you know what he did to Jurn? They had to bring in freighters full of refugees to repopulate it. They're still finding unexploded virus torpedoes in the under-hive to this day."
...I made sure Barbillus couldn't get off Agnarsson's Hold, that was truly right. He burned, just like the billions he had burned. "
More on Exterminatus, including V'Run. mention of killing worlds "dead in hours", which is consistent with the Battlefleet Gothic depiction of exterminatus.
Not all Exterminatus seem.. permamant though (the way Tallarn or St Josemane's hope is, for example) since they mention of bringing in freighters of refugees to repopulate a world after killing a world. Or else killing a world and exterminatus are not neccesarily the same thing, or it depends on the kind (Virus bombing in this case, since they Aaso mention of finding unexploded virus torpedoes.)
The Trail of St Evisser was a grimy little skein of space towards the galactic west, on the edge of the Segmentum Solar near the Ecclesiarchy heartland around Gathalamor and Chiros. The Trail consisted of a couple of dozen settled worlds forming a long, gruelling journey that twisted around nebulae and asteroid fields to describe the lengthy pilgrimage of St Evisser himself.
It was a shining example of piety, with cathedrals and shrines dotting every settled world, a rich vein of charismatic senior clergy and a brand of lavish exultation that covered cathedral spires in gold. Each world competed in works of devotion until the festivals of the Adeptus Ministorum became week-long celebrations with processions that snaked around continents. It rivalled the relic-trail of Sebastian Thor for ostentatious piety and material celebration of the Emperor.
But that had been some centuries ago. The Imperium was a vast and constantly changing place and cycles of poverty and wealth, fame and obscurity, churned between the stars. The Trail of St Evisser was all but forgotten now, just another band of worlds where billions of Imperial citizens lived out their lives. The population, Alaric saw, had fallen to about a quarter of its high point. The hive world of Volcanis Ultor was half-empty and whole agri-worlds were lying fallow. It seemed that religious fervour had at last waned and allowed warp routes to be forged that bypassed the Trail entirely. Shipping through the Trail was a fraction of what it had once been....
The Grey Knights strike cruiser Rubicon was a fast ship. Even so, it would take weeks to reach the Trail. Ligeia had sent an astropathic message to the Inquisition fortress which had jurisdiction over the Trail...
I have to really wonder if the mapping of the Imperium when this novel was written was at all consistent, or if they just made it up for 5th edition, because according ot that map there are thousands of light years (or more) between "Chiros" and "Gathalamor." The distance could be as little as 4-5K light years (near Gathalamor), to maybe 15-16K light years (approximate) for Chiros. Chirios isn't really even in Segmentum Solar. Being on the "edge" of the Segmentum would be around 10K light years (Armageddon, for example, is 10K light years from Terra and close to the edge.) Given all that I'm inclined to treat the "between Chirios and Galathamor" as jsut very rough, approximate locations suggesting it is close to the south, southwest, and trust more in the edge.
Timeframe wise, 10K in 2-3 weeks is between 170,000 and 260,000c, and it could be half that (if close to Galathamor) or 50% more (if closeer to Chirios). This is slower than some other novels (Dow:A and the Red Fury/Black Tide duology come to mind) but the warp is never precise, and given the 13th black crusade, and the arrival of a daemon prince as well... the warp probably isnt very steady.
We also get some data on the economics and the scope of this world.. several dozen worlds with "billions" of populaton.. this being less than a quarter its true size.. Scaling up from a million worlds, and accounting for its "less important" status we're talking 300 trillion people in the Imperium at least. more probably more than that, givne more worlds, and that 2-8 billion is likely a dramatic under estimate (IF we go closer to the other end of the scale, say 800 billion you get some 33 quadrillion..) On the economic side, we learn that despite the vast distances, the warp storm activity (or perhaps because of it) and other factors, the Imperium does change on the larger scale.. places wax and wane all the time, including shipping.
We also learn once again what a group of money-wasting pompous assholes the Ecclesiarchy is.
Ligeia had set out her customary evening meal of exotic delicacies from worlds on the other side of the Imperium, but Alaric as usual ate little.
Indication of cross-Imperium shipping, albeit only for the very wealthy. Time is never a factor, since shipping can be done via stasis tech (CF Inquisition War) but I imagine it takes no more than decades, and probably years (if that) since the person doesn't age waiting.
"A Grey Knight must have a core of faith that cannot be broken." Alaric picked at the daemonfish fillets on the silver plate in front of him - truth be told, he was uncomfortable amongst the luxury with which Ligeia surrounded herself."'Like a rock in an ocean. That's the first thing we learn, although none of us remember learning it. You understand, we cannot know what it is like not to have that shield of faith. If we could remember it, that core would be flawed. There would be a way in. There is no room to remember for us."
The source of a GK's incorruptability.
"The Ordo Malleus has the most advanced psycho-doctrination in the Imperium. It leaves nothing behind. I could have been a hive ganger or some tribal hunter, or anything else. The Chapter recruits from hundreds of planets of all kinds. Whoever I was, I was taken before adolescence and made into someone else."
- the Grey Knights recruit from "hundreds of worlds of all kinds." yet despite that they still have trouble finding GKs. If we consider that there are amybe 1:100,000 Psykersk, and 1:1000 potential astartes... and that librarians can be rae from chapter to cahpter (1:10 to 1:100 maybe)... we can see why. And they have some intense hypno-shit - so much so it basically overwrites any prior personality.
" As a psyker I can discern information in whatever form it is written. The Ordo Malleus... made me an offer, and I accepted. There was some resistance, but the Malleus has its ways."
More about Ligeia's special powers and cross-Ordo headhunting. Seems Malleus can have more pull (in some ways) than Hereticus.
"Our politics can be very complicated and you are not a politician, you are a weapon. You don't need to know about our various factions and infighting - they are all mostly matters of pride and dogma, but believe me that men like Valinov are more common than any of us would admit."
I suspect she is referring to radicals rather than actual REengades or chaos-turned Inquisitors, although for some (like, I suspect, Ligeia) the difference is minor.
[/quote]Out of politeness he swallowed a slice of the daemonfish - it tasted rich and spicy, a world away from the balanced but tasteless sludge synthesised for the Grey Knights on Titan. He didn't like it. Eating like this was an affectation, a show of pride. Enough Space Marines had fallen to pride for Alaric to find the whole idea distasteful.
An indication, methinks, of the mindset of a Grey Knight where simply enjoying food can be considered a temptation to Chaos. In a way its true, and a GK probably can't take ANY risks, however slight, that may lead them on the path to chaos.
I have to note that from page 67 to here, we get one of those aspects about this novel that makes it so interesting for me. Basically its a discussion between Ligeia and Alaric over various matters, and it really sort of establishes their relationship for this book, as well as highlighting the differences between a Space Marine and a human, and you only get a fraction of that from what I post here. The interactions between Ligeia and Alaric will drive this entire story from start to finish, and is what makes the story really worthwhile.