The Emperor's Finest (Novel)
|Preceded by||Cain's Last Stand|
|Followed by||The Last Ditch|
|Editions||December 2010 hardcover|
January 2012 ebook
February 2012 softcover
Commissar Cain is called to duty once more, saving a governor's daughter from a planet over-run by rebels. The uprising hides something far more sinister however — genestealer hybrids! The search for the source of the alien threat leads Cain to a drifting space hulk — a far safer place than beside the obsessed governor's daughter. But when the Reclamator Space Marines suffer devastating losses at the hands of the Great Devourer, Cain and his trusty aide Jurgen must go it alone. With the tyranids waking and a group of stow away orks on the loose, there are no safe places to run or hide, and Cain must use all his ingenuity and cunning to escape the space hulk alive.
After his narrow escape from a Necron Tomb World, Cain finds himself among the Reclaimers Space Marine chapter, to which he has been assigned as the Commissariat's liaison. The Marines are already en route to the Viridia system to help suppress a civil war. When the culprits are revealed to be genestealers, the Reclaimers' next mission is to track down the space hulk they arrived on. Cain follows along, accompanied by Jurgen and the Viridian Governor's spoiled, headstrong, and infatuated daughter. Cain starts to wonder whether joining the search of the hulk is really such a bad idea...
|This page contains spoilers for:||The Emperor's Finest (Novel)|
After his harrowing escape from the Necron Tomb on Inheritus Prime, Ciaphas Cain regains consciousness in the Apothecarion of the Reclaimers' Strike Cruiser Revenant, and makes the acquaintance of the battle force's commander, Captain Gries, and Apothecary Sholer and Techmarine Drumon, who have collaborated on the augmetic fingers grafted onto Cain's hand in place of the two lost to the Necrons. Since Cain was originally assigned as the Commissariat's liaison to the Reclaimers, there is no reason why he shouldn't accompany them on their mission to suppress a rebellion on Viridia.
According to a short excerpt from Jerval Sekara's often-used travelogue, Viridia is a productive Agri World that is the hub of several important mining stations on the surrounding moons and asteroids. The whole system is a vital source of raw materials for the subsector, which explains why a minor civil insurrection on what would otherwise be considered a rustic backwater merited the intervention of the Emperor's own Astartes...
Unfortunately, by the time the Revenant translates into the system, the conflict has escalated into a full-blown civil war. Several elements of the PDF have defected to the rebels, including a small SDF flotilla that attacks the Revenant upon its arrival. These small ships are no match for the Strike Cruiser, and Gries prepares to embark for the surface immediately. Despite the manifest danger, Cain always feels safer on the ground than in the void, and accompanies them in their Thunderhawk.
The loyalist PDF commander explains that the rebels are divided into several feuding groups, and the Imperials' only advantage is that they are fighting each other as much as the loyalists. But Gries and Cain look closer at the tactical display and notice something wrong: the feuding between the rebel factions is a charade, and they have in fact organized a superbly coordinated cordon around the city - more coordinated, Cain notices, than he would expect from a Guard unit of the same size. Any counter-attack the Imperials launch will have to conceal the fact that they are on to the rebels' trick, or they will close the trap even more quickly.
Gries outlines a three-pronged assault; one detachment of the Reclaimers will secure strategic points inside the city, while another attacks the rebels' armour contingent. A third force is needed to neutralize the rebels' mobile artillery batteries; since the approach will need to be secret, their best option is through the sewer tunnels - a job unsuitable for Space Marines in Power Armour. Cain is unwise enough to point this out, inadvertently making it seem like he's volunteering to lead the mission.
Enter Mira DuPanya, the Governor's daughter and honourary Colonel-in-Chief of the household guard unit of the PDF, who volunteers a squad of her troops, but insists on accompanying them. Cain urges her in the strongest terms to stay behind and let the real soldiers get on with the job, but she refuses to listen. She points out that, as a Commissar, Cain has no direct command authority, and Cain is forced to concede the point (ruefully deciding that shooting her is not an option, if he wants to maintain a good relationship with the Governor).
As they make their way towards the rebels' position, Cain is forced to admit that Mira knows her way around the tunnels, and the anti-intrusion traps. When they are under the rebels' artillery park, Cain reluctantly says he will go up first (not out of bravery, but because he doesn't trust the others' stealth skills).
True to form, Mira insists on following him. Cain manages to mine the rebels' artillery, but another member of their party attracts the attention of an enemy patrol. Cain and Mira are separated from them and forced to flee down a sewer tunnel, alone. There they come across a horde of mutants, led by Cain's worst fear: a Purestrain genestealer. Cain manages to hold off the beast with his chainsword, but the two of them have no where to go as the pack of hybrids closes around them. Just as they are preparing for a semi-heroic last stand, the Purestrain and the rest of the genestealers are scattered by storm bolter fire, as a squad of Terminators from the Reclaimers teleport to their position, guided by Cain's vox set.
With their lives unexpectedly spared, Cain and Mira make a mutual decision to forget their earlier friction and engage in a more "productive" working relationship...
As the Reclaimers and the PDF are mopping up the remains of the insurrection and the genestealers, Cain is able to watch the drama from his suite at the Governor's palace, Mira having persuaded her father that his abilities are most needed away from the front lines. Cain is cheered when Guard reinforcements arrive, accompanied by Jurgen, who is still piqued that Cain decided to go off to Inheritus Prime without him.
Captain Gries announces that the genestealers likely came to the planet on a Space Hulk, and their next mission is to track it down. At first, Cain wants no part of the job, but changes his mind quickly when Mira, fearing that he is about to leave the planet, insists that they need to have a serious talk about "us."
List of Characters
- Cain's farewell speech to Mira is an obvious parody of Rick's farewell to Elsa in the film Casablanca.
Notes on Continuity
- The novel picks up immediately after the events of Echoes of the Tomb (Short Story), when Cain finds himself among the Reclaimers after leaping through a Necron warp portal.
- The story takes place during Cain's career as an independent commissar attached to brigade headquarters, between the periods of his service with the 12th Valhallan Field Artillery (depicted in Fight or Flight (Short Story), The Beguiling (Short Story), Sector 13 (Short Story), and Death or Glory (Novel)) and the Valhallan 597th, to which he was first assigned in For the Emperor (Novel).
- Cain's service with the Reclaimers was referred to, peripherally, in For the Emperor (Novel), The Traitor's Hand (Novel), Duty Calls (Novel), and Dead in the Water (Audio Book).
|Hero of the Imperium||Fight or Flight • For the Emperor • Echoes of the Tomb • Caves of Ice • The Beguiling • The Traitor's Hand|
|Defender of the Imperium||Sector 13 • Death or Glory • Duty Calls • Traitor's Gambit • Cain's Last Stand|
|Saviour of the Imperium||The Emperor's Finest • The Last Ditch • The Greater Good • Old Soldiers Never Die|
|Other Novels||Choose Your Enemies|
|Other Short Stories and Novellas||A Mug of Recaff • The Smallest Detail • The Little Things • Last Night at the Resplendent • The Bigger They Are|
|Audio Dramas||Dead in the Water • The Devil You Know|