Renegades (Short Story)
|Collected in||Heroes of the Space Marines|
One hundred and three Space Marines came to the defence of the world of Helmabad. Now just thirty remain. Cut off from their vessels and defending against an ever-growing cultist threat, Brother-Captain Gessart of the Avenging Sons must make a difficult decision - to stay and fight to the last man, or abandon Helmabad, and his oaths to the Emperor.
Amidst heavy casualties and combat unceasing, a number of Space Marines of the Avenging Sons chapter - currently on "penitence patrol" due to previous dishonourable actions - grow disillusioned with their role in the quelling of a global uprising and decide upon a most rebellious course.
The Imperial planet Helmabad, currently in the closing stages of a rebellion and civil war. Most of the story is set in the mammoth underground complex of the Imperial Governor's palace, a construction whose corridors and halls were large enough for armoured vehicles to be used in co-ordinated assaults against fortified positions. The inner area of the underground palace was called the Sepulchre.
- Avenging Sons
- Brother-Captain Gessart - Company Captain of the disgraced, Gessart comes to feels the strain of 40 days of continuous warfare and is angered by the amateur behaviour of the Helmabad PDF, as well as the perilous supply situation faced by his men. Determined to survive and avoid what he perceived as pointless self-sacrifice, upon learning from Zacherys that Helmabad was mere hours away from a massive daemonic incursion none could stand against, he resolves to withdraw from the planet. When this plan is met with resistance and then hostility by Chaplain Herdain, Gessart resorts to killing the Chaplain in cold blood in order to ensure his scheme's success. After removing further unreliable members of his company, he ordered the subjugation of the PDF and securing of Governor Mu'Shan. After turning over the Governor to the rebels in exchange for safe conduct off-planet, Gessart realised that he and his marines had become truly renegade, unable to fit back into their chapter. Regaining command of his Strike Cruiser, he ordered course set for the Eye of Terror
- Chaplain Herdain - Believed in fighting against one's enemies, no matter the odds. Assigned to the company after their dishonourable withdrawal from action during the Archimedon campaign, he sought to absolve them through achieving noble deaths. Refused to countenance Gessart's order to withdraw and provoked a confrontation over leadership. When he began to browbeat members of the company into choosing his side in the discussion, Gessart ended matters by shooting him in the head.
- Librarian Zacherys - His prophecies, interpreted and acted upon by Gessart, drive the missions of the company. Stands with Gessart after discerning that to stay on the planet would mean certain death.
- Apothecary Tylo - Sided with Gessart against the Chaplain, claiming that to allow Astartes gene-seed to fall into enemy hands was unthinkable.
- Brother Hechsen - Siding with the Chaplain, he chose execution at the hands of Brother Nicz rather than taking part in the withdrawal.
- Brother Heynke - Initially unsure whose side to take, he elected to go with Gessart's majority group.
- Brother Karlrech - Siding with the Chaplain, he refused to switch sides after Herdain's death. Immediately executed by Brother Nicz.
- Brother Lehenhart - Sides with Gessart, declaring that tactical withdrawal is not cowardice, but survival, and that to fight against impossible odds is tantamount to suicide.
- Brother Nicz - Sides with Gessart, if effecting a more extreme viewpoint; that the situation was so bad that Chapter and company honour meant nothing compared to simple personal survival. Appreciates the dark humour of Gessart's plan to get off-world, but once the Captain has declared the survivors renegade he attempts to assert authority over Gessart. Gessart dares Nicz to take a shot if he thinks he can best him, and Nicz stands down.
- Brother Ruphen - Siding with the Chaplain against Gessart's orders to withdraw, Ruphen was the first Avenging Son to draw a weapon and aim it at a battle-brother.
- Brother Rykhel - Stood against Gessart, declaring his oaths of loyalty to the Chapter meant that he had no choice in the place or manner of his death. Reluctantly goes along with Gessart's plan after the death of the Chaplain, but elects to desert in an escape-pod at the last minute in an attempt to bring news of Gessart's treachery to the chapter. Considering the world he would land on was in rebel hands and about to be over-run by daemons, Gessart thought it unlikely he would survive to do any such thing.
- Brother Willusch - Believes similarly to Gessart; that there is no point in throwing away Astartes lives in needless self-sacrifice.
- Kholich Beyne - Chief Serf aboard strike cruiser Vengeful
- Imperial Governor Mu'shan
- Colonel Akhaim - Commander of the Sepulchre Guard, Helmabad's PDF. Killed by the Avenging Sons.
- Serain Am'hep, Third Apostle of the Awakening - Senior figure in the rebellion and with whom Gessart bargains.