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Crucible Of War (Anthology)

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Name
Crucibleofwar.jpg
Cover art by Adrian Smith.
Editor Christian Dunn and Marc Gascoigne
Authors Dan Abnett, David Charters, Matthew Farrer, Jonathan Green, Graham McNeill, Sandy Mitchell, Matt Ralphs, Edward Rusk, Simon Spurrier
Released 2003

Crucible Of War is an anthology of Warhammer 40,000 short stories edited by Christian Dunn and Marc Gascoigne. It was first published in 2003 and is currently out of print.

Contents

Liberation Day

By: Matthew Farrer and Edward Rusk

Synopsis

Aboard an Ork-controlled Space Hulk a group of human slaves not only escape their confinement, they manage to send out a distress signal that is picked up by nearby Space Marines. Or more accurately, Chaos Space Marines.

Setting

Unnamed Space Hulk controlled by Orks. Particular locations visited by the humans include slave-pens created in a hangar bay, a temporary hide-out in an old boarding torpedo, the "witch-place" of the Ork Weirdboyz adapted from a Navigator Cathedral and of course extensive deserted ductwork and abandoned corridors. The culmination of the story takes place at the foot of a bridge-tower en-route to power generating systems the slaves succeed in sabotaging.

Characters

  • Humans
    • Challis - Freed the other human characters and became the group's leader. A native of Noatun Hive of the Hive World of Vanaheim, Challis was originally an underhive ganger, but became a Section Commander in the House Skadi Militia. He was captured when the Orks invested his home Hive and managed to flood the lower levels by smashing a Rok into the sea that bordered Noatun Hive. Ended up a prisoner/slave of the Iron Warriors, having caught the personal attention of Lord Sliganian.
    • Hyl - Daughter of the chief steward to a guild house. Taken, along with several others, when the ship she was on (the Cezarro's Dreaming) was attacked by the Orks. Whippet-lean and green eyed, she became the second-in-command of sorts of the group. Ended her days by being turned into a Chaos Spawn.
    • Korland - Apprenctice to Magos Biologis Emmanael Cort. His thesis was on Orkoid behaviour, and so became an invaluable information source for the group. The first to truly realise that their Space Marine liberators were traitors, Korland was slain by Obliterators
    • Cantle - Scout and something of a machinery expert. Disappeared in the climactic battle and presumed killed by the Orks.
    • Kelf - Killed during the final sabotage effort.
    • Luder - Transformed into a Chaos Spawn.
  • Iron Warriors
    • Lord Sliganian - leader of the Iron Warriors Company involved, commander of the battle-barge Ragnarok. His power-armour was heavily ornamented on the helmet, shoulders and forearms with golden chasing. His hands were actually some form of claws. Exhibted no small amounts of a playful and mocking sense of humour. He was attended by two Obliterator bodyguards.
    • Theomandus - Sorceror. Wore a cloak of pale silver and was soft of voice. Heavily quoted Perturabo and possessed the ability to create Chaos Spawn.

The Curiosity

By: Dan Abnett

Synopsis

Magos Biologis Valentin Drusher, charged with compiling a complete record of indigenous fauna on the world of Gershom is somewhat perturbed when it appears that he missed out an apex predator from his list. Investigating this curiosity with the local Arbites and a hunter or two, Drusher discovers that his new form of fauna is anything but indigenous.

Setting

The world of Gershom, specifically the province of Outer Udar, considered the most backward and heathen of Gershom's provinces. Various agricultural locations are mentioned, as well as the Baron's Keep.

Characters

  • Valentin Drusher - Magos Biologis. 42 years old and rather dishevelled, had been working on his taxonomy of Gershom for 7 years and considered it finished until the curiosity showed up. Of course, considering the curiosity turns out to be a Tyranid, it turns out to be definitively finished before the story begins. Rather unexpectedly discovers that he is expected to not only define what the curiosity is, but also kill it. This he eventually manages to do, in concordance with Arbite Macks and a lot of good fortune. Dislikes Gershom and Outer Udar, but resignedly faces up to having to stay there for a long time once the Imperial authorities are called in to investigate what a Tyranid is doing on the planet.
  • Germaine Macks - Arbite. Short-haired, lightly facially scarred and with eyes of amber, Macks is the province Arbite assigned to investigate the curiosity, or as it is called in the province, the Beast. Eventually manages to kill the Beast, with a little aid fro Drusher.
  • Fernal Skoh - Square-jawed hunter of beasts, brought in by the Baron. Leads a group of professional hunters. His highly equipped team prove incapable of cornering the Beast, but with the aid of Drusher and Macks, Skoh is able to find and engage it. Unfortunately, it bests him and leaves him for dead. Skoh is able to pass onto Drusher its Tyranid nature before he dies. Despite his professional reputation, he was considered disreputable and even potentially unholy due to his background and family ties.
  • Lussin - Member of Macks' team, loses his face to the Tyranid in the final confrontation.
  • Bishop of Udar - Local Ecclesiarchy representative, enjoying a boost in congregation numbers and fervour due to the Beast. By the end of the story he is suspected of engineering the Tyranid's presence in the first place.
  • Lyam Gundax - The Bishop's enforcer. Suspected of being complicit in the Tyranid's presence.
  • Baron Karne - Ruler of Outer Udar and host to all the other characters.
  • The Curiosity/The Beast - A lone Tyranid hormagaunt somehow transported to Outer Udar and implanted with a goad-control that gave someone rudimentary control over it. It's bloody rampage was eventually halted by Drusher and Macks.

Payback

By: Graham McNeill

Synopsis

An illegal gun-running deal goes wrong for Constantine Barden on Karis Cephalon, leaving him injured, out of pocket and in serious trouble.

Setting

The Hive World of Karis Cephalon, principally the capital, Karis. Various locations including the mutant ghetto, a back-street medico and a bordello.

Characters

  • Constantine Barden - Gun-runner and general gangster. Silver-haired, bearded and fond of high standards in personal hygiene. Habitually armed with twin laspistols. Betrayed and injured in a deal gone wrong, he eventually gets his revenge and escapes with his life.
  • Trask - lank-haired partner of Constantine. Betrayed him, stole most of their joint-funds and left him for dead. Later killed by members of of Cornelius' gang.
  • Lathesia - Young female leader of Karis Cephalon's mutant underground. Recipent of the weapons involved in the gun-running deal that sets up the story. Attended by two mutant henchmen, both are killed in a gunbattle with Corneius' gang.
  • 'Red' Ivan Cornelius - Gang-leader of considerable influence. Attempts to kill Constantine and all involved in his deal, but eventually agrees to let Constantine go in exchange for a considerable sum of money.
  • Monque - Chiurgeon. Operates a shady medico service. Patches up Constantine.

The Emperor's Will

By: David Charters

Synopsis

The Space Marines of the Storm Warriors Chapter, bloodied and wearied by a prolonged campaign, are on their way home. However, they are diverted at the last moment by an order to snuff out a nascent rebellion on the world of Tesra IV. Before the operation can begin, an Inquisitor arrives with a plan to clear the situation up in a more subtle way than the Space Marines are accustomed to.

Setting

The Adeptus Astartes battle-barge Sirius and the Governor's residence on Tesra IV.

Characters

  • Storm Warriors
    • Calan - Chapter Master. Wearied by the recent long campaign and the losses incurred (two Astartes ships and around 300 Battle-Brothers) he feels some reluctance to open hostilites against the forces of Tesra IV for fear of taking needless casualties. The arrival of Inquisitor Andrijssen allows him to accomplish his mission with no loss whatsover to the Imperial forces: Calan descends by himself, walking into a trap, and confronts the Governor with the evidence of his heresy. His words, combined with the actions of and Imperial Assassin, end the rebellion before it even begins. His thoughtfulness, patience, wisdom and personal bravery in carrying out the Tesra IV undertaking create great impressions on his own men, as well as that of the attached Imperial Navy and Black Templar units.
    • Kortar - Captain of the 1st Company. Belligerent and somewhat reckless, Kortar wishes to launch an immediate assault upon Tesra IV. He later feels admiration for his Chapter Master's actions and confident in the future performance of the Chapter.
    • Sovak - Captain of the strike cruiser Illyan and reckoned to be Calan's eventual successor.
    • Dusal - Chaplain and counsellor to Calan.
  • Other Imperials
    • Inquisitor Andrijssen - Cloaked representative of the Ordos, Andrijssen's unilateral deployment of an Imperial Assassin proves to be the key to Calan's victory.
    • Assassin - Unnamed sniper (not identifed as a Vindicare in the text), he makes the only trigger-pull of the mission when he hits Governor Ignatius with a poisoned dart.
    • Dacius - Lord Admiral of the Imperial fleet elements, he takes over supervision of Tesra IV at the conclusion of the mission.
  • Rebels
    • Governor Ignatius - Planned rebellion against the Imperium, but convinced to reconsider when poisoned by the Assassin. Now forced to rely on daily deliveries of the antidote in order to avoid death, he forswears his treachery and destroys the network of rebels within his administration himself.

Fight or Flight

By: Sandy Mitchell

Synopsis

Having just been made a full Commissar, Ciaphas Cain arrives on the mining world of Desolatia IV to begin his service with the Valhallan 12th Field Artillery regiment who are part of a force eliminating an Ork raiding party. After settling into his easy (and nearly oxymoronic) role of likable Commissar, the Orks are eventually defeated, whereupon contact is lost with the Keffia task force fleet inbound to pick them up. Colonel Mostrue is unperturbed, but Cain's antenna sense the approach of Tyranids, and he advises Mostrue to keep the battery on full alert.

Cain's inkling proves correct when a minor splinter fleet of 100 hundred bio-ships arrives in-system and proceeds to invade the planet, where they destroy the other Valhallan Armoured force present on the planet. Cain's regiment holds fast in the face of Mycetic Spores until they are assaulted by a force of Gargoyles. Seizing this as his chance to escape to the spaceport, Cain has Jurgen dutifully drive him away from the base in a Scout Salamander. Cain's attempt at escape is foiled, however, as he runs into the main force of Tyranids moving to flank the Valhallans. Warning Mostrue to reposition the Hydra platforms, he and Jurgen flee back to the artillery fire-base, only to have the Salamander break down a short distance from the base, leaving Jurgen and Cain with the only option to run like hell. Just as Cain nears the fortifications Jurgen trips, only to be assaulted by a brood of Gaunts, whereas Cain has his forward route blocked off by a Hive Tyrant. Caught between the frying pan and the fire, Cain chooses the fight he has a chance in hell of winning and runs back to save Jurgen from the Gaunts. As he is doing so, the Tyrant and its bodyguards evaporate behind him under the guns of Hydra platforms, which leaves the Tyranids without a connection to the Hive Mind, and they retreat. Later, the Keffia fleet arrives and leisurely destroys the Hive fleet in orbit.

Cain's actions have (inadvertently) saved the battery from destruction, and he passes off his attempt to flee as a cleverly-disguised reconnaissance sweep. To his embarrassment, he is also hailed as a hero by the rest of the troopers for risking his life to save Jurgen. Mostrue has his private doubts about both, but insists on assigning Cain an adjutant, as befits his hero status. Much to Cain's nose's disappointment, this turns out to be Jurgen.

Setting

Desolatia IV; as the name suggests, a very barren world of (apparently) mostly desert and mountains. The action is centred around the base of the Valhallan 12th Field Artillery and it's immediate environs.

Characters

  • Ciaphas Cain - Commissar of the Imperial Guard, newly attached to the Valhallan Field Artillery and a man of extremely strong (and secretive) principle where his personal safety is concerned. Spends most of the story attempting to avoid danger (while leads to his being very aware and informed of the developing hostile situation) yet more-or-less accidentally ends up being the most heroic member of the regiment.
  • Ferik Jurgen - Gunner in the 12th, he is assigned first as Cain's driver and then as his aide.
  • Mostrue - Colonel of the 12th, appears somewhat suspicious of Cain.
  • Divas - subaltern (junior officer) and aide to Colonel Mostrue. Dedicated soldier and swiftly an admirer of Cain.

On Mournful Wings

By: Simon Spurrier

Synopsis

Two recently orphaned thirteen year old boys, Ica and Dalus, undergo the selection process for recruitment into the Doom Eagles Space Marine Chapter.

Setting

The world of Gathis II. The capital, Table City, is visited and the island/village of Kultoom is referenced, but the majority of the story takes place inside a peak of the Razorpeak Mountains. The culmination of the story occurs on the flanks of the Ghostmountain, mightiest mountain of the range and the residence of the Doom Eagles.

Characters

  • Ica - 13 year old boy, recently orphaned. Older than his brother by an hour, he was the favoured son. After the sudden death of his parents (and every resident of their community but he and his brother) Ica enters a deeply fatalistic mental state that proves instrumental in his surviving the trials of the Doom Eagles recruitment process and assures his eventual admittence into the Chapter.
  • Dalus - Younger (by an hour) brother to Ica and believed himself to be thought as worth less than his brother by his parents. After the wiping out of his family and village, his will to go on living was generated by the urge to outdo his brother and prove himself his better. While this ensured his survival of the Doom Eagles recruitment trials, it resulted in his not being admitted into the Chapter.
  • Thryn - Librarian Secundus of the Doom Eagles and responsible for the recruitment process. Possessed of mournful eyes and a jump pack.

Backcloth For A Crown Additional

By: Dan Abnett

Synopsis

When an old friend of Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn dies in suspicious circumstances, he takes it upon himself to investigate the matter.

Setting

Gudrun. The Drunner region of the world features heavily. Principal locations are the estate of the noble House Froigre and Sunsable's Fair, a travelling amusement fair.

Characters

  • Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn. At the time of this incident (355.M41) Eisenhorn is approaching his apogee, having defeated Quixos, expanded his retinue into a significantly-sized and capable organisation and begun secret study of the daemonhost Cherubael. His motivations intially stem from a need to exorcise retribution and justice for his friend's death, but once the taint of Chaos is detected in the investigation he shifts into a higher gear. Has a high level of fondness for Bequin.
  • Alizebeth Bequin - Untouchable and senior retinue member to Eisenhorn. Accopmanies him throughout the investigation.
  • Uber Aemos - Savant and senior retinue member to Eisenhorn. Provides essential investigative support during the investigation.
  • Lady Freyl Froigre - Matriarch of House Froigre and widow to Aen Froigre, whose death sparks the investigation.
  • Bakunin - A rather frail old man and member of Sunsable's Fair, his pict-capturing business is the focal point of the investigation.

Firestarter

By: Jonathan Green

Synopsis

Setting

Characters

Warp Spawn

By: Matt Ralphs

Synopsis

Setting

Characters

Leviathan

By: Graham McNeill

Synopsis

Uriel Ventris returns to action after his adventures on Pavonis. He and his company have been charged to destroy a Space Hulk that may carry an Ork warband. But there is another, deadlier foe to face in those dark corridors…

Setting

Chronologically set in between Nightbringer and Warriors of Ultramar

Characters

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