This wasn't as good as the first novel, but it was still neat. and I take pleasure in seeing much of the tau wank rebuffed here, by Gav Thorpe no less. And its still better than Anniilhation squad.
I've also appended the short story between Kill Team and 13th Legion, although mainly because there wasn't much in there I found of interest, since it mainly takes place on a prison planet.
Short story: Liberty
- Only thing of note: they don't take the shoelaces or shoes away from the prisoners (or socks, as we saw with Kronin when he choked another Last chancer. Rather odd thing. I'm pretty sure some prisons make a policy of doing that in cases of dealing with psychotic prisoners (like Kage.)
Then again, this IS the Imperium... why the fuck should they care about prisoners? Its probably something viewd as a "survival of the fittest" tactic to provide the best penal legion soldiers to the Imperium's use. (Kinda like Sardukar, I suppose, just they're not viewed as being elite.)
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Introduction of Trooper Quidlon. Assigned to the last chancers penal battalion for making "unauthorised" enhancements to vehicles and weaponry in his regiment. Complaints filed with Adeptus Mechanicus techpriests and reprimanded several times by his superiors. Why do I mention him? Well, aside from demonstrating how whiny the AM get when other people try to do stuff out from under the thumb of the AM (IE like the Blood Angels or Space Wolves)'Next we have Trooper Quidlon, formerly of the New Bastion 18th regiment, who is here because of his inability to curb his curiosity and pay attention to the warnings of his superiors/ The first thing that springs to mind when looking at Quidlon is 'square'. He's short, has broad, straight shoulders, a lantern jaw and a flat head. Even his ears are almost square. Standing to attention, perfectly immobile, you might think he was a sculpture by an apprentice who hasn't worked out the finer points of the human form yet.
'It seems he can't stop messing about with machinery/ I continue hastily at the Colonel's prompting stare, pulling my thoughts away from the young soldier's strange appearance. 'Following several complaints from servants of the Adeptus Mechanicus and despite reprimands from his senior officers, Quidlon here continued to make unauthorised alterations to the weapons and vehicles of his tank platoon. Fed up with him, and wisely not wanting to start a feud with the tech-priests, his superiors eventually charged him with insubordination/
"Why did you not heed the warnings you were given?' the Colonel asks Quidlon, the first time he's spoken directly to any of the prisoners since he came in.
'I like to know how things work, sir, and the changes I made didn't do any harm, they made the engines and guns work better/ the trooper replies quickly, the words coming out in tumbled bursts, like a stubber firing on semi-auto.
Aside from that, Quidlon seems quite knowledgable about the devices in question (he's insatiably curious and intelligent.) and serves as the team's mechanic/engineer. Evidently not *everyone* is as blindly supersitious about technology (if he'd not been in the Guard, or probabyl serving in a laxer regiment, he'd probably be a techpriest himself. Or might be able to get away with it on an Agri-world, like in fifteen hours. Or been like hte Valhallan guardsman who was a former techpriest. I think one of the Ghosts was also.)
I should note that Quidlon is noteworthy only because he got caught at it. There are a number of examples of people being allowed to learn about or employ machinery when AdMech rules are lax (Fifteen hours comes to mind as a mild example, as does Death or Glory when a enginseer chick "recruits" ad-hoc members from refugees. A more extreme example would be hive Worlds like Necromunda, where in the Underhive the AdMech and "machine spirits" are virtually unheard of, and rarely adhered to.)
- mention of an Officio Sabatorum agent. Never heard of those, but I gather they're experts on sabotage and terrorisim, specialising in poison, chemical weapons, and explosives, from surfing the web.'I remember this one/ the Colonel says, pushing me to one side and squaring off against Trost. 'I remember this one very well. Trost, covert agent of the Officio Sabatorum. He has probably killed more people than everyone in this tower put together, including you and me, Kage.
And, apparently, they're quite capable/skilled at killing LARGE numbers of people as well (no surprise given their specialities)
- Bolt pistol round at point blank, blows skull apart. No fragmentation or ricochet (Kage was standing over the body holding it down.) See bolter analysis for exact calcs.Take your punishment like a soldier/1 hiss at him, sickened, levelling the bolt pistol at his left eye. One smooth pull of the trigger is all it takes, the crack of the bolt's detonation ringing off the walls as the explosive round blows Regis's skull apart, spattering my legs with blood and shards of bone. I step back, the pistol smoking slightly, and look at the others.
Note that while it doesn't explicitly indicate whether or not these are explosive rounds. If they weren't, it was probably some sort of fragmenting or "scatter-shot" bullet (like a glaser round) due to lack of overpenetration and the destruction involved. Or its one of the "lower power" examples of the explosive bolter rounds.
- mention of the Laurels of Glory, a troop transport dedicated to use by storm troopers (storm trooper regiments? This seems like 2nd edition era stuff mainly.). Then again I recall some mention of dedicated storm trooper battalions or regiments (as well as entire Grenadier regiments) in the 3rd ARmageddon war website stuff when it was still up. It wouldn't surprise me if the Imperium still fielded either or both in some form.It's the first day of real training, aboard the ship Laurels of Glory. A fine vessel, and no mistaking. Purpose built for storm troopers, the Colonel informs me, the Laurels of Glory has got just about everything you might want. Right now, we're stood in one of the combat bays. The ship has fourteen, each of them rigged out to represent all sorts of warzones and maintained by a veritable army of tech-priests. There's a jungle bay, a city bay, a desert bay, a nightworld bay, shooting ranges, drill quadrants, even a beach in one of them. I've not actually seen any of them yet, so I'm kind of curious to see how you can make a jungle on a spaceship. Trees made out of planks, perhaps? The best thing is that there's an armoury you could overthrow a hive city with, housing all kinds of lethal kit that I'm just itching to get my hands on. But that's for later; for now we start with the basics.
Of further note is that the ship has fourteen combat bays, each diesgned to replicate a variety of warzones and combat enviroments in realistic detail (As we see later.) This would tend to suggest this is a very LARGE ship, quite possibly (likely?) several kilometers long (at least).
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The Sabatorum agent Kage has recruited confirms use of explosives, gasses, and poisons to achieve his goals. And that "collateral damage" is considered acceptable."No, I've never had to stab a man/ he admits. 'I use explosives, gas and poison. If I had to fight man-to-man that meant I'd been discovered, which meant my mission had failed. I never failed a mission."
'I'm sure those three admirals thought highly of you as they died/ I sneer.
'The mission was still completed. Normally a few additional deaths are allowed. he states coldly. I focus my attention on Strelli and point the knife at him.
- Kage begins teaching the other recruits various combat techniques (knife fighting and marskamnship) as well as wilderness survival camoflage techniques, field navigation, and "all the other stuff" Guardsman seem to learn as standard.
- Kage issues each recruit 100 "rounds" with their lasguns. An oddly low amount, considering ammo pack capacity (at least twice that might be expected.) Given "whole number" rounds, that probably means 2 50-shot packs. Perhaps this is largely because of training purposes. Or, perhaps they only have a single powerpack that is 100 rounds. Kage only states "ammunition for one hundred rounds", never specifying how many powerpacks. (Hell, maybe they're high-powered weapons that have only 25 shots per powepack.)
Anyway, we're all decked out in battledress and heading into the training bay. We pass through a couple of airlocks monitored by white-robed tech-priests, whose job it is to maintain the stable environments inside each of the bays. At the end of it a large double-doored portal rolls open.
It's amazing. On one side of the door is metal mesh decking. On the other side steps lead down into rolling hills and fields. I can see a small pre-fabricated farmhouse a few hundred metres to my left, smoke drifting lazily out of its chimney. We walk down the wide stairwell on to the grass, gazing around us like first-timers in a brothel. With a clang, the doors slam closed behind us.
I assume the walls have some kind of image painted on to them, because the agri-world landscape stretches as far as the eye can see. Above our heads, small puffy clouds dot a deep blue sky.
I blink in disbelief as I notice the clouds are drifting across the ceiling.
'Last Chance...' Iyle whispers in awe. 'Sorceries of the machine god/
He's looking behind me and I turn to see what he's staring at. The doors have disappeared, as have the steps. As in every other direction, the hills stretch as far as the horizon. In the far distance I can just make out the purple slopes of a mountain range, topped with snow. The others are murmuring suspiciously, shrinking back from the open sky above.
'Yes, magic, the most powerful techno-magic/1 say quietly in agreement, awed and afraid at the nature of our surroundings.
This is unbelievable...' gasps Quidlon, dropping to his knees and running his fingers through the grass. 'It feels real, and even smells real.'
I notice that he's right. It smells like an agri-world. There's even a faint breeze blowing from our left. Fresh air, on a ship where the air gets constantly cycled through great big refiners, breathed millions and millions of times before until it's almost thick with age. I was expecting something pretty special, after the Colonel told me there were only a couple of dozen of these ships in the entire navy, but nothing as extravagant as this. His powerful contacts have been working hard for him again.
'It is real/1 say ominously, a sudden shiver of unnatural fear coursing through me. 'I think it's been grown here by the tech-priests.'
This is wrong, a voice at the back of my mind tells me. Ships don't have woods and meadows on board them. They have engines, and guns, and they're built out of metal, not dirt. At that point a voice blares out, seemingly from the air itself, shattering the illusion.
'This is Warrant Officer Campbell/ the heavenly voice tells us. Tech-priest Almarex will be monitoring you in training bay six. If you need to contact him, adjust your comm-sets to shipboard frequency seventy-three. When you wish to leave, return to this point and transmit a signal on shipboard frequency seventy-four and the doors will open. Oh, and a word of warning. Our climate regulators predict rainfall for most of the night, so set up a good camp. Good luck with your training/
'Rainfall?' Tanya laughs nervously. 'We're going to get rained on aboard a starship? There's a first/
'No fauna though/ Quidlon continues, looking around.
'No what, Brains?' asks Trost, who's sat on his pack, tossing a grenade from hand to hand.
'No fauna/ Quidlon repeats himself, squinting up into the sky.
What Brains means is there aren't any animals here/ Stroniberg explains, squatting down next to the ex-Officio Sabatoram agent. 'No birds, no animals, no insects. Only vegetation/
Why didn't he just say that!' complains Trost, ripping up a handful of grass and letting it scatter between his fingers.
- the training bay is at least a "few hundred meters" across. It also has real grass, ,real weather, and can mimic other aspects of terrain (horizon, distance, etc.) Sorta like a holodeck in some ways, I'm guessing. Naturally Kage and the others (except Quidlon) are awed and shocked by this, although if anyone thinks about it, its not impossible given the size of Imperium warships and something as simple as a hydroponics bay. Given the size of the bay, this tends to suggest/reaffirm that the ship itself is a multi-km long vessel.
- Quidlon asks what kind of support can be expected, and mentions "air support, artillery, tanks". Evidently even though regiments tend to be separate (armor and infantry regiments separate) and the Navy covers air support, it seems that they can be usually expected ot operate in conjunction, ,if Quidlon and the others were asking for it. (Why bother asking for something that rarely is provided in most combat situations?) Nevermind that we do have other examples or sources that provide other examples (naturally).