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Crossfire (Novel)

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Cover art by Clint Langley.
Author Matthew Farrer
Publisher Black Library
Series Shira Calpurnia
Followed by Legacy
Released 2003
Pages 288
Editions 2003 softback
ISBN 0-7434-4366-7

Crossfire is the first novel in the Shira Calpurnia (Novel Series) by Matthew Farrer. It was first published in 2003.



This page contains spoilers for: Crossfire (Novel)

Part One


Part Three

On the last day of the festival, Calpurnia and her superiors are among the many high-ranking officials in attendance at the Cathedral. Before the ceremony is completed, Calpurnia takes aside one of the Sisters and goes up to the bell tower to investigate, where she finds Lord Medell hiding with his immense bodyguard servitor. Calpurnia guessed, correctly, that even being marked as a fugitive would not be enough to keep Lord Medell from witnessing the successful conclusion of the festival with his own eyes.

The servitor kills the Sister and gravely injures Calpurnia, disarming her and leaving her huddled in a corner with several broken bones. She knows that calling for help will be futile, so instead she keeps Lord Medell talking, and explains the solution to the mystery.

Almost everything Lord Medell told her was a lie, but his anxiety that the festival should come off perfectly was very real. Having successfully campaigned for the prestigious job of organizing it, he was painfully aware that it was the perfect opportunity for his enemies (he's the Lord of a noble house, of course he has legions of enemies) to discredit him by disrupting the ceremonies. But he couldn't increase security on the festival grounds without appearing weak or fearful, which would be just as catastrophic. Instead, he arranged an assassination attempt on a mid-level Arbites officer, causing the Arbites to tighten security around the festival grounds and ensure that nothing untoward would happen. That part of his plan, Calpurnia has to concede, worked perfectly.

Medell's only mistake was to take it for granted that the Arbites would "know better" than to pursue a serious investigation of any noble house, much less one as important as the Medells, even if the clues pointed that way. Imagine his surprise, Calpurnia muses, when she failed to take the hint.

Medell's delivery of the archeotech gun, from his own private armoury, was not intended to direct suspicion towards another noble house. In his own mind, the suggestion that any noble house was involved in the crime was as good as an instruction to the Arbites to back off. With a small laugh, Calpurnia says that part of his plan was doomed to failure.

Medell denies nothing, and Calpurnia's reading of him is spot on. Indeed, his outrage at being made a fugitive is matched by his bewilderment that a piece of "gutter trash" like Calpurnia would think herself fit to judge anything he has done, or suggest that he should be punished for it.

When his outrage reaches its peak, he gives the order for his bodyguard servitor to kill Calpurnia; but Calpurnia has kept him talking just long enough, and the command is drowned out by the peal of the cathedral bell ringing in the end of the festival. With the servitor temporarily frozen, Calpurnia launches herself at Medell and subdues him. She is tempted to pitch him off the ledge for everything she has suffered, but remembers her duty, and formally pronounces him condemned by the laws of the Imperium, before executing him with her pistol.


Calpurnia recovers from her injuries, and returns to duty with a new sense of balance. As she exits the Cathedral after the funeral service for the Sororitas killed by Medell, she encounters a cluster of nobles, including one young lady she ran into on her first day, who still bears a nasty bruise on her face from Calpurnia's shock maul, after she drunkenly refused to move aside. Calpurnia meets the woman's glare and feels no need to apologise. She is keenly aware that, as far as Imperial Law is concerned, Medell died a traitor and a criminal, but as far as the nobles are concerned, she's the villain for persecuting one of her betters.

Though every new planet she has been posted to in her Arbites career has come with a certain amount of culture shock, she has decided that her adjustment will not include kow-towing to any of the empty-headed nobles on Hydraphur. She is an enforcer of Imperial law and a daughter of Guilliman's ideals, and Hydraphur will have to get used to her style, not vice-versa.

Notable Characters

Adeptus Arbites



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