Red Fury (Novel)
|Preceded by||Deus Sanguinius|
|Followed by||Black Tide|
Red Fury is the third volume of the Blood Angels novel series by James Swallow. It was first published in 2008, and re-published, along with Black Tide, in Blood Angels: The Second Omnibus in 2012.
Following the tragic events that led the Blood Angels to the brink of civil war, the Chapter's strength has been badly depleted. The Blood Angels must act, and act quickly, before their enemies learn of their weakness and attack. With tempers flaring, and mutants running wild on their homeworld, can the Blood Angels and their successor Chapters put aside their rivalries and rebuild the Chapter before it is too late?
The Blood Angels teeter on the brink of oblivion following the events on the shrine world, Sabien; their fate lies within the hands and magnanimity of their successor Chapters. To stop things from getting out of control, Rafen must use all of his diplomacy to keep the peace between his men and his cousins of the Flesh Tearers Space Marine chapter. Yet, in the background and unbeknown to all, an old foe plots the downfall of the Blood Angels.
The Blood Angels are still reeling from the events on Sabien and the near-civil war caused by the Arkio Insurrection. The newly-promoted Sergeant Rafen is surprised to be invited to attend a meeting of the Chapter's high command, including Commander Dante, Chief Librarian Mephiston, and Sanguinary High Priest Corbulo.
Dante says their numbers have been severely depleted, and extreme measures must be taken if the chapter is to survive. One proposal, from Corbulo's subordinate Caecus, is to use Replicae techniques, much as the Raven Guard attempted during the Horus Heresy. But Caecus is forced to admit that his research has been only partially successful thus far, and Dante refuses to give his approval. Instead, he dispatches emissaries to the high commands of the Blood Angels' "cousins" - their Successor Chapters.
Rafen and his Tactical Squad are dispatched to the Flesh Tearers, who have just suppressed a rebellion on an Imperial world with their usual ruthlessness. At first, Chapter Master Gabriel Seth refuses to heed Dante's call, but Mephiston chose Rafen for a reason: Rafen is candid with Seth about the events on Sabien and the desperate state the Blood Angels are in now - something Seth can appreciate all too well. But in secret, Seth cannot help but calculate how to turn the situation to his own chapter's advantage.
Before the conclave on Baal begins in earnest, Rafen is provoked into an honour duel with one of the Flesh Tearers, Sergeant Noxx, who insulted the artistic pursuits of one of Rafen's squad. The Flesh Tearer is as precise as he is savage, and the duel is dangerously close to becoming deadly, but Rafen wins by tapping into the Black Rage again, before Mephiston calls him back to himself.
The other chapters in attendance at the conclave include the Angels Encarmine, Angels Sanguine, Angels Vermilion, Blood Drinkers, Blood Legion, Blood Swords, and the Flesh Eaters. The reactions to Dante's account of the events on Sabien range from outrage to skepticism, but all the commanders are shocked by Dante's next words: the Blood Angels have accelerated their normal recruitment processes, but to replenish their numbers they require a tithe of the new recruits from the other chapters as well. Seth refuses absolutely - since the Flesh Tearers' total strength is no more than four Battle Companies — and then proposes the reverse: that the Blood Angels be disbanded, and their battle brothers distributed to their brother chapters (in private, he and his adjutant, Captain Gorn, discuss the possibility that one of these Successor Chapters might take over the stewardship of Baal).
Unknown to Dante, Caecus is continuing his research in secret. During one of his research expeditions, he happened upon a Magos Biologis, Nyniq, who has helped tremendously. Despite Caecus's chapter serf, Fenn's disapproval, Caecus has accepted Nyniq's suggestion that she invite her mentor, Haran Serpens, to help further. With their help, Caecus soon creates an apparently stable clone, using a distillation of genetic material from his own blood.
Caecus bursts in on the conclave, presenting the so-called "Bloodchild" to Dante and saying that the tithing will be unnecessary. Dante is appalled that Caecus disobeyed him, but Seth cannot conceal his interest, and insists on testing the clone's abilities.
The test is a fiasco: matched against Rafen and Noxx at the same time, the Bloodchild is a formidable fighter and a quick learner, but it succumbs to the Thirst in a matter of minutes, drinking Noxx's blood from a wound and becoming a vicious mutant, forcing Rafen's squad to throw him a bolter, allowing him to gun it down.
In cold fury, Dante orders Caecus to return to his laboratory and destroy his research, including any remaining clones. Once the conclave is over, he promises, the Chapter Master will have a much worse punishment to hand down.
With no replicae solution, the Blood Angels have returned to their previous position, except that the fiasco has discredited them even more in the eyes of their "cousins," especially Seth. In private, Seth approaches Dante in his quarters and dares to suggest that the Blood Angel disband his chapter and step down as Lord of Baal.
In the throes of his despair, Caecus receives a psychic message from Magos Serpens, who insists that they still have a chance to succeed; the only flaw in their earlier attempt was that Caecus's blood was not pure enough to avoid slipping the gene-flaws into the clone. Caecus, half in desperation, thinks of the one purer source available: the blood of Sanguinius himself, preserved in the Red Grail. As a Sanguinary Priest, Caecus has the authority to enter the chapel where the Grail is kept, and removes a small vial of the blood, but Captain Rydae of the Angels Sanguine is killed by the chapel's auto-defences when he tries to stop Caecus.
Fleeing back to his laboratory, Caecus finds the place deserted, and all his Chapter Serfs and assistant Apothecaries dead. Worse, the remaining "prototype" clones have been hatched and are wreaking havoc inside the complex. Caecus rushes to his inner sanctum and confronts Magos Serpens, who mockingly removes his disguise and "introduces" himself by his true name: Fabius Bile.
Finding Rydae's body at the Chapel, Corbulo raises the alarm, and Dante dispatches Rafen's squad to the Apothecarium to apprehend Caecus. Seth insists on sending Captain Gorn and Noxx's squad with Rafen.
They enter the laboratory to find the same carnage; the remaining clones, whimsically dubbed the "Bloodfiends" by Bile, are running amok, growing increasingly fast, strong, and bloodthirsty. The "eldest" of them, the so-called alpha-male, is even learning the use of weapons and armour scavenged from the corpses. Captain Gorn is killed by a moment's inattention, and together Rafen and Noxx and their men fight their way deeper into the complex. There they find Caecus, badly wounded and broken. He confesses his folly, and that Bile has taken the Blood of Sanguinius. Rafen coolly pronounces him damned, and executes him.
They pursue Bile deeper into the complex, trying to head off what they think is his only means of escape, the teleportarium. But Bile tricks them: when the Bloodfiends ambush them inside the chamber, Bile triggers the teleporter, sending all of the mutants (and one luckless member of Noxx's squad) to the skies above the fortress-monastery. The rapidly-evolving mutants have developed fleshy webs that allow them to glide down to the ground - Noxx's Marine, unfortunately, has not. Bile, meanwhile, bids a mocking goodbye to Rafen and escapes through a warp portal opened for him by his patrons. Rafen rushes his men back to the Thunderhawk and orders the pilot to make emergency speed back to the fortress.
At the fortress, chaos envelops the Blood Angels' sanctum. The Bloodfiends rip into the conclave, killing several battle brothers, while another group, led by the alpha-male, invades the Sanguinary Chapel. Corbulo tries to stop them, but is beaten down, and is horrified when the alpha seizes the Red Grail and drains it down its throat. It screams one word, "More!" before it and the other Bloodfiends disappear into the fortress's hidden recesses.
Dante orders the fortress sealed and for the entire chapter to arm themselves. Based on Corbulo's information, he grimly determines that, having sampled the blood of the Primarch, the Bloodfiends will be drawn to the only similar source inside the fortress: the Holy Sepulchre, where Sanguinius's body is interred. Dante orders that the Blood Angels will make their stand at the three gates to the Sepulchre. Even more grimly, he orders Master Sentikan, who has withdrawn to his ship with Captain Rydae's body, to turn the fleet's guns on the fortress and be ready to obliterate it from orbit if Dante gives the word; Dante will wipe out the fortress, and the entire chapter, before he allows the monsters to defile the body of the Great Angel.
Dante tells the Successors' Masters that the fight is not theirs, and gives them permission to withdraw to their ships. To a man, they refuse, saying that Sanguinius is as sacred to them as to the Blood Angels.
To his surprise, Rafen and his squad are chosen as the last line of defense, standing with Mephiston and Chaplain Argastes at the bottom of the Sepulchral pit, next to the sarcophagus of the Primarch himself.
The Bloodfiends storm the sepulchre, stronger, faster, and more vicious than the most enraged of the Angels' Death Company. Many loyalists are killed, including Chapter Master Daggan. Dante and Seth, fighting side by side, account for many of the Bloodfiends, but are unable to stop one pack, led by the alpha, from dropping into the pit.
Even Mephiston's awesome powers and Argastes's fervour are unable to stop all the Bloodfiends; with them and the rest of his squad knocked senseless, only Rafen stands between the alpha and the sarcophagus. Rafen decides to throw caution to the winds and leaps for the monster, burying his Combat Blade in its heart. But even that doesn't stop it, and it throws him aside. Mephiston, barely conscious, reminds Rafen of what Caecus told them: that the clones are grown with many of the Astartes' special organs already implanted, including the Secondary Heart. The Chief Librarian throws Vitarus to Rafen - though not empowered by Mephiston's psychic powers, the force sword is still a deadly weapon. Rafen plunges the blade into the Bloodfiend's back, finally bringing it down before it can touch the sarcophagus. It makes one final, sad utterance to Rafen: "Brother."
The fortress-monastery slowly recovers. When the Conclave reconvenes, Dante accepts full responsibility for the chain of events leading to the battle. His request for new recruits from the other chapters stands, but he says he will not blame any one of them who refuses, even if it means the eventual dissolution of the Blood Angels.
Indecision hangs in the air for a moment. Then, to general astonishment, Seth is the one who steps forward and pledges the support of the Flesh Tearers, and encourages the others to do the same. If the events of the past few days have taught them anything, he says, it is that they are all Sons of Sanguinius - not cousins, but brothers. To a Flesh Tearer, there is no better, or more solemn, pledge of brotherhood, than to stand together in battle, as they have done. His simple, blunt words carry the day, and the vote is unanimous.
Rafen and his squad are recovering from their wounds, while mourning the loss of Brother Corvus, who gave his life protecting another of their number. Rafen and Sergeant Noxx say their goodbyes on terms of respect, though the latter predicts that it may not be long before they cross paths again.
Rafen is summoned again by Dante and Mephiston, who give him a mission of the greatest importance. The Red Grail is drained, and the last sample of Sanguinius's blood in the Galaxy is in the hands of Fabius Bile. Rafen is ordered to hunt down Bile, recover the blood, and "wipe his blighted existence from the stars."