Galaxy in Flames (Novel)
Galaxy In Flames, by Ben Counter, is the third novel in the Horus Heresy Series. The third installment of the trilogy showing Horus's fall to Chaos, focuses on the tragic events on Isstvan III, where the loyalist factions of the Traitor Legions were slaughtered with the use of Virus bombs deployed by Horus's fleet. It is the announcement to the galaxy of the fall of Horus and the begining of the Horus Heresy.
The novel was first published in October 2006. Each print run has a different colour for the titles: First was gold, second in silver and third in bronze.
Warmaster Horus has fallen to Chaos, but his plans of rebellion against the Emperor are known only to a few he trusts to side with him. Primarchs Angron, Mortarion and Fulgrim of the World Eaters, Death Guard and Emperor's Children respectively have all sided with Horus and their four Legions gather in the Isstvan system on the pretence of crushing a rebellion by the Isstvanians. The unconscious Euphrati Keeler has developed a cult following who believe the Emperor is a deity and she is a saint, Kyril Sindermann chief among them. The group gets word that forces loyal to Horus are coming to kill her and Titus Cassar of the Legio Mortis Titan Legion begs his friend Jonah Aruken to help him save her. Aruken grudgingly agrees and he, Cassar and Sindermann go to rescue Keeler, only to find Maggard, former bodyguard of remembrancer Petronella Vivar but now genetically-enhanced enforcer for Horus about to kill her. Maggard attacks them but becomes unable to move, the bullets from his gun moving very slowly, and the three men realize that Keeler has awoken and is using her powers to save herself and them. Before Maggard can stop them they carry Keeler to safety amidst the bowels of the Vengeful Spirit's lower decks.
The assault force that will descend to the surface of Isstvan III to persecute the war is chosen squad-by-squad, which is unorthodox, piquing the suspicion of Saul Tarvitz of the Emperor's Children. Tarvitz talks his way into remaining in the fleet when the assault force deploys and on the gun decks discovers the ship's crew loading lethal Virus Bombs into the ship's weapons. Realizing that the Space Marines deployed to the surface are about to be betrayed and wiped out, Tarvitz steals a Thunderhawk and flies for the surface to warn them. He is pursued by members of his own Legion who are part of the betrayal and in desperation communicates with Nathaniel Garro, Battle-Captain of the Death Guard 7th Great Company who is stuck in-fleet after losing a leg in a preliminary engagement against the rebel Isstvanians. Garro, an old friend of Tarvitz's, believes him when he tells him of the imminent betrayal and orders his friagte Eisenstein to fire on the Thunderhawks pursuing Tarvitz. The resulting cloud of debris hides Tarvitz from the fleet's sensors as he lands on Isstvan and Garro reports that Tarvitz is dead before preparing to jump to the Warp and bring warning of Horus's betrayal to the Emperor.
Meanwhile on the surface those Space Marines of the Sons of Horus, World Eaters, Emperor's Children and Death Guard whom their primarchs deemed too loyal to the Emperor to rebel against him battle the rebel Isstvanians, the Sons of Horus and Emperor's Children led by Garviel Loken, Tarik Torgaddon and Lucius taking the enemy stronghold. Saul Tarvitz arrives and warns them of their imminent betrayal and most of them are able to take shelter before the Virus Bombs fall. Crewing a Titan on the surface Jonah Aruken and Titus Cassar hear the command to power down and seal their machine, their Princeps being loyal to Horus and so having received warning. Cassar realizes what is happening and tries to sabotage the Titan, pleading with Aruken to help him, but Aruken chooses ambition over loyalty and shoots Cassar dead. In the fleet Horus gathers the remembrancers attached to the four Legions and shows them the bombing before ordering his men to open fire, massacring them. Kyril Sindermann and Mersadie Oliton escape alongside Euphrati Keeler when she leads them to Iacton Qruze, an elderly Captain of the Sons of Horus, who leads them away from the massacre. The four arrive at the Vengeful Spirit's hangar and plan to steal a Thunderhawk but are intercepted by Maggard. Qruze and Maggard fight but are evenly matched until Kyril Sindermann picks up a blade and stabs Maggard in the side, allowing Qruze to finish him off. The four steal a Thunderhawk and flee, guided by Keeler to the Eisenstein where Nathaniel Garro takes them aboard.
Infuriated by the survival of the loyalists on the surface Angron spearheads a World Eaters' attack wave to destroy them without waiting for Horus's orders. Forced to support him Horus deploys the traitor Sons of Horus, Emperor's Children and Death Guard, turning what was meant to be a single wipeout blow from orbit into a protracted ground war. Saul Tarvitz emerges as a brilliant leader, commanding the loyalists as they repel wave after wave of traitor attacks while slowly being whittled down. Frustrated and jealous that Tarvitz is getting all the glory Lucius slays traitor Emperor's Children Chaplain Charmosian and uses his helmet microphone to contact the traitors, selling out the loyalists in exchange for a place in his traitor Legion. Lord Commander Eidolon launches a devastating attack that hits the rebels where they are vulnerable, acting on Lucius's information, while Lucius slips away and Garviel Loken and Tarik Torgaddon go to confront their traitorous former Mournival brothers Ezekyle Abaddon and Horus Aximand. The confrontation splits into two duels as Loken fights Abaddon and Torgaddon fights Aximand. Aximand kills Torgaddon, leaving Loken helpless against Abaddon who grievously wounds him before the building they are fighting in is destroyed by a traitor Titan. The traitor forces pull back, the rebels all but destroyed, and Horus orders the fleet to firebomb the planet from orbit, scouring it of all remaining life.
- Horus - Primarch of the Sons of Horus, Warmaster of the Great Crusade
- Angron - Primarch of the World Eaters
- Fulgrim - Primarch of the Emperor's Children
- Mortarion - Primarch of the Death Guard
- Maloghurst - Equerry to the Warmaster
- Ezekyle Abaddon - First Captain
- Tarik Torgaddon - Captain, 2nd Company
- Iacton "the Half-heard" Qruze - Captain, 3rd Company
- " Little Horus" Aximand - Captain, 5th Company
- Garviel Loken - Captain, 10th Company
- Nathaniel Garro - Battle-Captain of the 7th Company
- Eidolon - Lord Commander
- Saul Tarvitz - Captain of the 10th Company
- Lucius - Captain of the 13th Company
- Kharn - Captain, 8th Assault Company, equerry to Angron
- Esau Turnet - Princeps of the Dies Irae, Legio Mortis
- Titus Cassar - Moderati Primus of the Dies Irae, Legio Mortis
- Jonah Aruken - Moderati Primus of the Dies Irae, Legio Mortis
Other Non-Astartes Imperials
- Maggard - Enforcer