Brothers of the Snake (Novel)
Brothers of the Snake is a novel by Dan Abnett composed of seven short stories featuring the Damocles Squad of the Iron Snakes Space Marine Chapter. It follows on from the chapter's prominent appearance in Abnett's sourcebook Tactica Imperialis. The hardback edition was published in 2007, with the paperback released in May, 2008.
|This page contains spoilers for:||Brothers of the Snake (Novel)|
Priad of Damocles squad, one of the Iron Snakes of Ithaka, is sworn to defend the Reef Stars from all threats and to perform this duty with honour and steadfastness above all else. Over twelve years, he and his squad must battle Dark Eldar, Orks and even their own weaknesses from one end of their domain to the other.
Part One - Grey Dawn: Undertaking to Baal Solock
When a Dark Eldar vessel crashes and the crew set about slaying the local inhabitants, primary clerk Antoni follows a myth telling of Snake guardians watching over the planet which leads her to activate an ancient distress signal. Brother Priad of the Iron Snakes arrives in response. Antoni follows as a witness to Priad's cleanse mission and together they defeat the Dark Eldar, with Antoni even killing two herself, being one of the only souls in the Reef Stars beside an Iron Snake to have killed a Dark Eldar.
Part Two - Black Gold: Undertaking to Rosetta
Damocles squad liberates an oil refinery from Chaos Cultists and Dark Tusks Chaos Space Marines. However they must alter their mission and destroy the deposit rather than liberate it once they realise a Chaos artifact is buried deep inside the oil. Three Iron Snakes are lost including Brother-Sergeant Raphon, and in his place Priad is promoted to squad leader.
Part Three - White Heat: Undertaking to Eidon
Librarian Petrok comes to asses the tactics of the Iron Snakes and Imperial Guard reclaiming Eidon city from the Dark Eldar. He then joins battle with Damocles squad after sensing they face great danger. Meant to safeguard the eastern wall of the city against enemy retreat, Damocles is forced to ground by more foes than expected. With Petrok's help they take the wall and push inwards to discover a phosphor vent the Dark Elder were guarding. Now, it is wired with explosives. Unable to deactivate the exotic devices, the squad carefully carries them out of the city to a safe detonating distance.
Part Four - Red Rain: Undertaking to Ceres
Four squads of Iron Snakes arrive on the agricultural world of Ceres to aid Inquisitor Mabuse in crushing a Chaos Cult. Damocles squad encounters a swift moving Daemon that is hidden from their equipment, only visible through the unaided naked eye. Calignes is wounded by the Daemon and Pindor is found to be missing. Searching out the Daemon again, Illyus is killed in another encounter. Yet during the act the Daemon stays still long enough for the Iron Snakes to rip into and kill it with bolter fire. In the nearby grain silos they discover the still alive Pindor and rescue him from becoming a sacrifice to Chaos. Being thwarted of sacrificing a Space Marine, the meek townsfolk reveal themselves as cultists and overwhelm the marines in a torrent of fanatic zeal. Barely do Damocles conquer the overwhelming numbers. However Calignes and Apothecary Memnes are killed in the torrent and others are wounded.
Part Five - Crimson Wake: Ithaka
To replace their fallen brothers, Damocles squad returns to the Iron Snake's home world of Ithaka and the chapter fortress on the moon of Karybdis. They set about testing new petitioners in sparring for the spots in Damocles squad, and two, Dyognes and Aekon, are selected. For the place of an Apothecary, Priad inquires about a particular brother he has in mind, but is informed to drop the idea of wanting Khiron - for after seeing his squad wiped out, he returned to the chapter fortress and for no reason shot a fellow brother in the head. Priad seeks Khiron in holding to hear the truth and learns of a Daemon who came back in the body of the killed brother, but it escaped into another body and is now tricking the whole chapter into not noticing its presence. Khiron claims it can be smelt, a scent like nothing else. While further training the petitioners, Priad, with his mind troubled on other thoughts, takes a direct hit in the face. His olfactory augmetics now broken, he senses something - the obscene scent of a Daemon. Priad attacks Captain Skander, and the fight quickly escalates till Priad sets a flamer on Skander. A Daemon withdraws from the flaming body. Witnessed by all, Priad and Khiron are vindicated. Damocles squad rushes out to save Khiron from his death sentence, and Damocles is returned to full strength again.
Part Six - Blue Blood: Undertaking to Iorgu
Damocles is ordered to act as an emissary guard to witness the crowning of a new King on Iorgu. Inquisitor Mabuse finds Priad and reveals his suspicions of foul play in the old rulers death. As the crowning nears, a storm accompanied by strange occurrences and visions engulfs the city. Riots break out in the streets and the nobles flee the city. Something in the warp is stirring. Mabuse believes a Chaos cult has forced the crowning in order to awaken a great evil imprisoned beneath the sacred mound of the city, for the ceremonial treasures used to crown a new ruler are in fact ancient devices keeping the evil in status. Damocles squad along with Mabuse take the treasures and venture into the maze tunnels of the sacred mound, assaulted by glamors and tricks of chaos along the way. Near to the centre, Mabuse is shot and killed by cultists. Damocles pushes onward into the inner chamber to find themselves swarmed by millions of insects. Near to drowning in the living cloud, Priad finally replaces the artifacts and traps the evil again, just as it began to manifest into physical form.
Part Seven - Green Skin: Undertaking to Ganahedarak
An Ork Waaagh! assaults the Reef Stars and The Iron Snakes respond with twenty five full squads led by Seydon, the chapter master himself. But Priad refuses to deem Damocles squad battle-ready after learning that the brothers under his command had undertaken a forbidden test of diving into a deep ocean trench. While Damocles is undergoing punishment of a month of hard training, Librarian Petrok has dreams of Seydon's force in danger and sets about building a relief force with Damocles squad at its head. They arrive to the planet Ganahedarak to find Seydon's force cut off, surrounded and caught in the midst of an Ork civil war. The relief force launches a surprise attack and manages to buy enough time for Seydon's force to break out, and the chapter pulls out of Ganahedarak to consolidate its forces. Petrok and Priad have been having mysterious dreams concerning Priad, a set of jaws, and a black dog. Recalling the black dog from his first mission on Baal Solock, they leave the main chapter and head to Baal Solock to uncover the mystery. During the journey, Petrok becomes sick and lapses into a coma, but Priad dreams is contacted in a dream by the librarian who reveals that the Dark Eldar have manipulated the Ork Waaagh! by stealing a relic of jaw-bones from a revered Ork Warboss and depositing it in the Reef Stars so the Orks would blame and attack the humans. Priad goes down alone to Baal Solock and reunites with Antoni, now the High Legislator, who he encountered on his first mission to the planet where she, as a souvenir from the mission, kept some teeth they now believe to be the remains of the Ork relic. While searching the palace archives, they are attacked by Dark Eldar, but Damocles squad breaks orders and comes down to aid Priad. Using the recovered teeth samples, the chapter's Apothecaries manage to regrow a replica of the entire jawbone and put it to use luring the Orks away from the Reef Stars and into Dark Eldar territory.