Artefacts (Short Story)
|Horus Heresy Series
|War Without End, Born of Flame, Lupercal's War
"Artefacts" is a short story by Nick Kyme originally published in Sedition's Gate, released exclusively at Horus Heresy Weekender in 2014. It was later sold as an individual e-book in 2015 and then collected as part of War Without End (January 2016) and Lupercal's War.
Before the massacre on Isstvan V, the Primarch Vulkan returns to his forge on Nocturne to prepare for war against the traitors. However, in light of recent conflicts with his wayward brother Konrad Curze, he looks upon his personal armoury with a startling new clarity. If the wrath of the supposedly loyal Night Lords can be unleashed upon their own home world in a moment of unchecked rage, is it wise for any Legion to have access to such devastating devices as the Engine of Woes, the Unbound Flame or the Song of Entropy?
On Nocturne, Vulkan tells his Master of the Forge, T'kell, how he accompanied Horus and Jaghatai Khan to stop Konrad Curze from destroying his home world, Nostramo. Although Vulkan admits that the dark, smog-covered world of Nostramo was filled with sin, it did not deserve what happened to it. Before they could stop him, Curze blasted his world's tectonic plates from his flagship, causing it and its moon, Tenebor, to explode. What appalled Vulkan most was that Curze's genocide of his world was not the rash act of a petulant child - it was deliberate and calculated. In anger, Horus and Vulkan pursued Curze's ship, while the Khan slipped ahead unnoticed to head him off. But once Curze was captured, Horus insisted that he be redeemed, rather than executed.
Vulkan then reflects that each of the primarchs is different, and was created for a different purpose. His own, he once thought, was to be a master weaponsmith, but unlike Ferrus Manus or Perturabo, each of his creations was unique. T'Kell asks, if that is so, what Curze's purpose might be. Ruefully, Vulkan remembers asking Horus the same question. Horus encouraged him to treat Curze as a weapon, whose edge had been dulled and needed to be sharpened. Once Vulkan was done, Curze was to be given over to Rogal Dorn, in the hopes that the two primarchs could repair their relationship. But the plan fell apart during the Compliance of Kharaatan.
Years later, after Horus had become Warmaster, Vulkan contacted him via lithocast to confess that he had failed to redeem Curze. Horus laughed and said, on the contrary, Vulkan had succeeded admirably; if Leman Russ was the "watchdog" that kept the other primarchs honest, then Curze was the necessary evil, the "terror" that might be unleashed if any of them stepped out of line. During this conversation, Vulkan had the distinct impression that Horus was mocking him, and that some other being occupied his skin. Now that Horus is in open rebellion against the Emperor, Vulkan wonders if he wasn't already corrupted at the time of their conversation. In any case, that conversation is why Vulkan changed his mind and decided against gifting Horus with his latest weapon, a massive warhammer named Dawnbringer.
Now Vulkan has returned to Nocturne to re-arm in preparation for confronting the Traitor Legions in the Isstvan System, but he has a special task for T'Kell. The primarch opens a secret vault in the fortress-monastery and reveals the thousands of unique weapons he has created. Vulkan is taking Dawnbringer with him to Istvaan, but has decided that the rest must be destroyed, lest they fall into the wrong hands and be used for some terrible purpose.
T'Kell pleads with him to reconsider, as they are part of Vulkan and his legacy. Vulkan rejoins that does not want destruction to be his legacy, and T'kell asks, why then did he make the weapons in the first place? Vulkan responds, because he thought it was his purpose, and had no idea how far his brother was capable of falling. Inside the vault, T'kell is able to recognize only a few among the thousands, including the Obsidian Chariot, the Vermillion Sphere, and the Light of Unmaking. Vulkan says that in the wrong hands, any one of them could destroy a world, but T'Kell counters that, in the right hands, they could save one. After consideration, Vulkan relents, and appoints T'Kell the first Forgefather; he will select seven artefacts from the collection - one for each of the realms of Nocturne - and destroy the remainder. Vulkan departs the vault with his hammer, leaving T'Kell to ponder which of the weapons he will decide to save.