The Trial of the Mantis Warriors (Short Story)
In the aftermath of the devastating Badab War, the Mantis Warriors Space Marines are put on trial. As he recounts the events that led his Chapter into treachery and then back to the Emperor's light, Chapter Master Neotera desperately tries to make his judges understand his innocence, even as he wonders if he and his warriors are truly guilty after all...
Khoisan Neotera, the Chapter Master of the Mantis Warriors, is tried by a panel of unseen interrogators, including other Chapter Masters, several Librarians, and representatives from the Inquisition or the Adepta Sororitas. They state that his guilt, and that of the Mantis Warriors, is beyond doubt, and all they wish for is some explanation of why a loyal Space Marine chapter would side with the Tyrant of Badab.
Neotera remains silent, and still as a statue during his interrogation, but his mind flicks back to the events that led him to this point; how the Mantis Warriors were sent to investigate rumours that the Astral Claws had turned renegade; how he was reluctantly impressed by the grandeur of the Palace of Thorns on Badab; how Lufgt Huron spoke, in all earnestness, of wanting to fight against those elements of the Imperium that had forsaken the Emperor's true will; how Neotera himself resented the Mechanicus's order for the Mantis Warriors to turn over extra samples of their gene-seed for testing, as if for possible deviance; how he fought loyally alongside the Astral Claws' coalition for years, until the climactic battle over Badab, when his faithful Captain, Maetrus, turned his ship's guns on the Astral Claws, and said he trusted his Master would do the same...
And yet, at the end of this rumination, Neotera cannot account, even to himself, for how he came to turn traitor against the Imperium and wage war against his fellow Space Marines. But he did, and has therefore broken his silence only once, to tell his interrogators that he deserves no mercy, and will ask for none.
The court decides that the Mantis Warriors are not beyond redemption, and are therefore excommunicated and sent on a one-hundred-year crusade of penance. In the meantime, their chapter relics and homeworld will be distributed to other Imperial factions.
As for Neotera, rather than grant him the release of death, they strip him of all his titles and sentence him to a dungeon, where he will either learn to understand the reason for his crime, or die in anguish at his failure to understand.
- Neotera's trial, at an unknown location;
- Chapter Master Khoisan Neotera
- Captain Maetrus
- Librarian Shaidan
- Commander Lufgt Huron, Chapter Master of the Astral Claws