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  1. #1
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    Destroy my Warhammer 40k story

    On a whim, I'm going to post a snippet of some warhammer fiction I'm writing. Obviously, Warhammer 40k and all the associated ideas, Astartes, Space Marines etc. etc. are property of Games Workshop. The characters, story line, planet, and culture are my own creation. I'm merely looking for feedback on writing style, characters, and general enjoyment before getting deep into writing something (That I would then have to revise).

    I've chosen a chapter that is sort of a "lull" chapter after an air chase scene. The astartes present are not named yet, as I haven't decided on what Chapter they are from yet. The background is that while flying en route in a Thunderhawk to the planetary Capital, the Thunderhawk is mistaken for a drone used in an air defense exercise (Due to incompetence). The acting air controller is convinced that their protestations are part of the scripted test language and orders a shootdown in a comically incompetent way as the passengers and flight crew try to cut through the jamming and reach someone who can call off the fighters and launchers. We begin as the thunderhawk lands, as the Interceptors engaging the thunderhawk fire a missile that strikes the actual target drone, as they are about to touch down.

    Chapter 5

    As the engines powered down, the ramp came down, flooding cold air into the compartment. The Astartes dismounted and emerged first, weapons at the ready, followed quickly by Voyska. As he stepped out into the crisp air, he saw that the pilot had set down directly on a service area next to a hangar. The two fighter jets had landed, and were taxing into the service way.

    Looking back to the Thunderhawk, he saw the damage was not as severe as he’d first thought. Other than the landing gear malfunction, there were several spall marks, little fist-sized dents marked by an expanding circle of pockmarks.

    “Interesting weapons, those little missiles of theirs.” The pilot said, as he came over.

    “Indeed. Radar guided, high explosive fragmentation. They were mostly designed for dealing unarmored ork craft or the fragile flyers used by the Eldar.” Voyska replied.

    “They can track Eldar craft?” The Captain said, joining them.
    “Not directly. They use a pretty primitive radar set, compared to Guard standard, but while the Eldar are notorious for their stealthy ways, if you flood the area with radiation and link all the sets together, the absence of a return becomes a return in and of itself. If you apply enough cogitators to the problem, you can generate a decent proximity track. Since Eldar ships prize maneuverability, it’s just a question of flooding the area with ordinance after that. Probability says you’ll hit one eventually.”

    “Inventive. Damage Report, Pilot?” The Captain asked

    “Superficial, from the missiles. The cannon rounds are of more concern. One of the bursts appears to have hit the actuators for the landing gear”

    He pointed an armored finger at several tracks of deep pock-marks, running in twisting and arcing paths where a burst had hit the dropship during a maneuver. One particularly deep trail ran around and under the side where the panels covering the landing gear were.

    “Indeed. As I said, 30 millimeters. We were lucky.” Voyska said.

    “It would take a lot more than those to seriously damage a Thunderhawk. Especially non-bolter rounds.” The Pilot replied.

    The sound from the engines on the interceptors began to get louder as they taxied down the service way.

    “Those were Interceptors. The actual fighters, which are slower, and probably couldn’t have caught us, mount 50s, and some of the older Fighter Destroyers are pure guns. I think they still have 3 or 4 of the M-89s with the 90 millimeter AP Guns that they’re retiring in favor of newer Imperial designs. A squadron of those shot down a Chaos Thunderhawk about 60, 70 years ago, purely by battering it so much it deformed the airframe and fell from the sky.” Voyska said, raising his voice to talk over the engines.

    “Certainly they are interesting little craft. I’m more concerned about the jamming question. The sensor suite on a Thunderhawk should have burned through the jamming. What do you know?” The Captain asked.

    “It’s a question of emission sources. If I recall, this sector has something on the order of nine or ten stationary air-search radars, with a dozen or so mobile sets, coupled with the hundreds of lower power sets on the mobile launchers. The reason all the frequencies locked up on us is more likely an accidental one, and a serious breach of protocol. Normally, all of the radars will operate on the same frequency bands. Because they were trying to calibrate their equipment, each radar operator chose a different, non-overlapping frequency band within their operating range. I remember reading a circular about it, specifically banning the practice. They occupied all of the air-waves with ground sets, and then the interceptors themselves applied their own jamming protocols on us.”

    “And the comms interference inside the craft?”

    The noise of the engines began to die down as the interceptors parked next to the Thunderhawk.

    “That’s a known phenomenon. No one really talks about it, but there are several early warning radar sets designed to track inbound orbital objects, for ground-to-space missiles and for hand-off to the air defense grid. They’re all several hundred kilometers away, but once an event is triggered or logged, they will go into high frequency scanning. That background chirping you heard was the short-wavelengths kicking in, trying to figure out if we were the vanguard of an invasion force coming from low orbit.”

    “But how were the missiles able to track through our own jamming?”

    The pilot answered “Our electronics were trying to cut through and jam too many signals at once. It correctly prioritized on the missiles, but it would occasionally focus on the other air search sets when it identified them as higher priority threats. This allowed some of them to get through.”

    “Vasily! Vasily did you see that?” One of the pilots of the interceptors shouted as the canopies lifted, leaning over the side and pulling her helmet off to reveal a short crop of black hair.

    “BVR, 60 degree off angle, no LOS, while landing! You did it Sasha! We won the bet!” shouted her blond wingman, jumping down from the edge of the aircraft, easily a 5 meter drop. He ran over to his wing mate’s aircraft, holding his arms up. She eased her legs over and jumped down into his arms.

    “Two bottles of real Vodka! And a week end at Darya’s Dacha! She was a fool for making that bet!” Sasha exclaimed.

    “Yes, but will she be coming with us, I hope?” He smirked

    “Hey, me first! I made the shot!” She said playfully.

    “Woohoo!” A voice belted out into the cold air. Voyska snapped his head to the Thunderhawk. Kutuzova bolted down the ramp.

    “That was amazing!” She ran up to the Pilot and jumped slightly, trying to give him a bear hug, and failing, her own armor causing her to slide down to the ground. She stepped back, stabbing the sky with her fists. “Let’s go again!” she yelled to no one in particular, her voice peaking, a look of pure exhilaration splashed across her face. The Astartes looked at her impassively.

    Voyska shook his head, catching the Captain’s eye. “Young people and their adrenaline.”

    “Yes, let’s go again!” Sasha said jauntily, as the two pilots walked over. She walked up to the Pilot, beaming ear to ear. “That was incredible! What do you call this thing?” She said, pointing at the gunship.

    “A Thunderhawk.”

    “Tough bird. Sorry we had to shoot it up like that. But Orders are orders.” She smiled sheepishly.

    “I doubt your weapons could have damaged it much.” The Pilot replied. “Excellent marks for gunnery.”

    “That short stop move you pulled, when you flipped over and used your hover jets to go straight down, that was incredible.” Vasiliy remarked, demonstrating with his hands the way pilots do. “We nearly flew apart trying to pitch down and match that turn. You easily could’ve pitched back level and tagged one of us.”

    “I was ordered not to fire, or I surely would have.”

    “That was some of the best maneuvers I’ve ever seen. How did you survive those G-forces? You were going full tilt sideways at some point!” Sasha said effusively.

    “My biology is built to accommodate it. I have pulled harder maneuvers, but unfortunately, not all of my passengers could tolerate them this time.”

    At this, Voyska saw a shape shamble down the ramp.

    “I’m not sure they did.” Voyska said, walking back to the Thunderhawk. Amara stumbled, a few steps at a time, one hand across her stomach, the other hanging limply at her side.

    “What’s her problem?” Kutuzova remarked snidely.

    “She never liked going fast. Now I know why.” Voyska remarked defensively. “Are you alright?”

    “Yes. No. Sit down.” Amara heaved.

    Voyska led her away from the ramp to a clear patch of concrete and eased her down. Sitting cross-legged, she rocked back and forth, her hands trying vainly to grasp the concrete, as if at any moment she would be torn back into the sky, never to return. Only her red leather gloves prevented her from tearing the skin on her fingers.
    “Are you sure? There’s probably something in the Thunderhawk, maybe we can go back and get it?”


    “No, you’re not alright?”

    “No Thunderhawk!”

    He looked plaintively at the Pilot.

    “Unfortunately, Astartes do not get motion sickness.” The pilot responded.

    Sasha piped in “You could try having her pop her ears. Like this”

    She put her fingers in her ears and made a silly expression before saying “Mop. Mop.”
    Amara looked at her in a pained, incredulous way.

    Vasiliy bobbed his head. “It’s in basic training. It readjusts the balance in your ears.”

    Amara frowned, said “Too la-“ before heeling forward and vomiting a little before catching herself, her proximity to the concrete causing it to splash up onto her legs and Voyska’s shoes as he jumped up. She straightened back up.

    “Bet-?” Voyska started to ask, as she heeled forward again and unleashed a torrent of vomit. Voyska leaned down and pulled her long dark hair back behind her head.

    Kutuzova harrumphed, looking away in disgust. The Captain and Pilot shrugged sympathetically.

    Sasha came over, handing Voyska a sip-pouch of water from her chest pocket. “Keep it. She’ll need it in a few minutes.” She counseled. “Sorry we put you through that.”

    “Thanks. Listen, about that –“

    “Which one of you thought it would be a good idea to trespass in my airspace!” A shrill female voice boomed from a rapidly approaching open-top car. A woman was standing up in the seats, the handset of a loudspeaker in her hand.

    The car stopped short as the woman jumped over the side of the car. Her short black hair, among copious other things, bouncing and swaying in the wind as she jumped. This was not helped by her uniform, composed of a sleeveless, low-cut top, with a sort of half-shawl on her shoulders and a skirt that was entirely non-regulation length. In fact, Voyska was positive that nothing about her uniform was regulation, given the amount of bounce and sway at play. Her eyes glared the Astartes as she began striding over.

    “You!” She yelled, pointing at the Astartes, “What the hell were you thinking! We could have easily taken you down! I gave you an order to divert!”

    “My mission was to deliver my passengers to the closest entrance to the mountain. I was traversing the airspace necessary to reach an appropriate landing zone.” The Pilot replied

    “Indeed. I ordered him to continue on course.” The Captain offered.

    “The hell you did! This is my airspace, Mr. Tinman, and you land when and where I tell you to.” She stepped directly up to him, poking her delicate fingers into the pilot’s breastplate. “Is that clear?”

    Both Astartes at this point had expressions that, while inherently neutral, were somewhere between bemused and offended. Amara had paused in her expulsions, an expression of pure shock on her face.
    “Who is this woman, exactly?” The Captain asked.

    “I believe she attempted to shoot us down, Captain.” The Pilot replied.

    “I see.”

    “I am Lieutenant-Colonel Darya Daryovna Lyubmova, 1st Air Defence Division, Acting Senior Air controller for the Capital District! And you have just violated every regulation of normal flight on this planet with your little stunt! You’ll be lucky if you ever fly again! Who the hell is your supervisor!?” She asked, poking the giant pilot-warrior’s breast-plate with every word, in perfect tempo.

    “I am his supervisor.” The Captain replied. Darya pivoted to him, her eyes aflame.

    “Well, who is YOUR supervisor!”
    “The Emperor.”

    “Well he is going to hear all about this when I file my report! I’ll have both of your wings, and I’ll have this scrap heap towed and mounted in front of my office!”

    “You would have to actually shoot it down first.” The Captain replied.

    Sasha and Vasiliy couldn’t contain themselves anymore. Each of them fell down laughing, rolling on the tarmac. The young officer’s nostrils flared, “How dare –“ She began.

    (Continued in next post due to character limits)
    Last edited by Insignus; 13-06-2017 at 10:13 PM.

  2. #2
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    “That’s Enough!” A voice behind her said. Sasha and Vasiliy immediately jumped up and snapped to attention.
    Yet another car had snuck up in the hustle and bustle of the airbase. The stately black staff car had pulled up right behind Darya during her tirade. The voice belonged to a woman stepping out of the car.

    “I apologize for my subordinate, and if her actions caused you any offense.”

    “And you are?” The Captain asked.

    “Colonel Darya Daryovna Lyubmova, 1st Air Defence Division, Commanding Officer and Senior Air Controller, Capital District.” She rattled off in a clipped tone.

    She was indeed, the spitting image of the younger, junior officer, older, and with more lines. Her uniform was defiantly regulation fit, her head capped in a perfectly angled flat topped officer’s hat. She leaned heavily on a metal cane topped with a double headed eagle. She focused on the junior officer, slowly walking towards her.

    “Your performance in this matter has been most unsatisfactory, Lieutenant Colonel. When I left for the General Committee meeting, I expected you to rise to the occasion. Clearly, I was wrong. You cannot imagine my surprise, listening to your antics play out in public, over the weather radio, no less. This, as I am in the very act of driving to a meeting in which I was hoping to assure the committee that, as it has been for the last 30 years, the skies of the capital were safe. That despite the day’s events, no anomalous events were reported, and that a randomized test had shown this very day that we were safer than ever. I left specific instructions, as I have every day for the past 30 years as to the structure of the CAP, the disposition of forces, and the procedures for the test. And imagine my surprise to find out that orders had been changed, different pilots put on the line-up, and every damn search radar in the district turned on to calibration mode. Something I specifically tasked you with 3 days ago!”

    “The radars were calibrated-“

    “You can’t calibrate them at the same time! The test patterns outside of operational ranges are meaningless!”

    “We had no way of knowing what day the test would fall on. I felt it best to minimize the risk by concentrating the calibrations on a single day.” The younger Darya offered meekly.

    “Yes, on the day of the test!”

    Vasiliy piped in “Ma’am, the test was concluded successfully, the target drone was destroyed.”

    The Elder Darya’s head instantly swiveled on the spot, fixing on the pilot, eyes burning with a cold intensity that far surpassed those of her junior.

    “Silence!” You’re next, her eyes said. She turned back to the more immediate object of her displeasure.

    “As for you, you’re dismissed. This will be on your file, and you will report to the Brig by 1800 hours tonight.”
    “But mother-”

    The junior officer straightened up. “Yes Maam!” She turned and marched back to her ground-car.
    Voyska stepped forward “If you woul-“
    The Elder Darya put her hand up. “One moment, please.” She strode over to Sasha and Vasily. The pilots winced with every clack of the metal on the tarmac. She walked a circle around the two doomed souls, scrutinizing them, before stopping in front of them.
    “At last, my true problem children.” She said venomously.

    “Ma’am, we can explain –“ Sasha began.

    “Oh, you will. Starting with which one of you prized, special snowflakes thought it was a good idea to release an R-101 from under fifty meters within five hundred meters of an active airbase.”

    “Ma’am, those were not the conditions per se”

    “Really? So the thing I saw whizz over my car, arc under a highway over-pass and out the other side, that was just, what, an Ork’s Chin? Are we asserting that I am senile, now? Clearly, I must be, if I ever entrusted either of you with something so clearly capable of going dud and landing in someone’s living room!”

    “Ma’am, in fairness, it was an excellent shot, and the training manual clearly states that pilots must be prepared to react under any circumstances.” Sasha offered.

    “Well, Pilot, in fairness, four Weeks Suspension and Retraining.”

    Vasily leaned in front of Sasha. “Ma’am, Pilot Samivichna was merely conducting an impromptu test of the reaction shot capability of the R-101 Missile System. Thus, today’s test was clearly a success.”

    “That’s four weeks for you too.”

    Vasily stepped back in shock. Now it was Sasha’s turn to step in.

    “Ma’am! Respectfully, Vasily did nothing wrong. I took the shot.”

    The Colonel fixed her with a cold stare. “He is your wingman. If you go down, he goes down too.”

    “But what was his offense?” Sasha pleaded. Voyska buried his face in his palms.

    Darya’s eyes swept over to the interceptors. She began pacing a circle around the two pilots. After completing three or four circuits, she finally spoke.

    “Disembarking prior to shutdown completion without an approved safety ladder. Regulation 3C, items eight and nine.”

    “Ma’am, that’s not fair! Everyone does that. I saw a photo in your office of you doing the same thing!” Sasha cried.

    The Colonel’s eyes flared, burning a hole in the back of the young pilots skull.

    “Oh did you now. And did you know that I broke my leg and a vertebra in that photo? On a stupid dare, from my wingman?”

    “No! But Vasily is taller. Besides, we needed to disembark quickly, to check on the targets!”

    “Ma’am, it wouldn’t have injured my leg. And Sasha is correct, you did tell us to be ready for anything.” Vasily interjected.

    She stopped in front of them, looking at them sidelong. Both of them were standing at attention, feet bolted together.

    “I did, in fact, say that.” She shifted both hands onto the head of the cane.

    In a single, fluid motion, the cane whipped up into the air as she pirouetted, the metal shaft coming back down and to the side as it swiped both pilots hard in the legs. Her cap popped up in the air before coming back down, perfectly in place. Both pilots dropped to the ground, screaming, clutching their shins in agony.

    “Clearly, you were not ready for anything, and clearly, your legs were injured by not using a safety ladder to disembark. Which is exactly what the log will say happened. Now, get up.” She commanded. Neither pilot did.


    Both pilots immediately bolted upright, wincing in pain, but dead silent.

    “Nothing broken? Good. That’s two weeks additional suspension and retraining. Only because that was, in fact, an excellent shot, and also, an excellent suggestion as to my official report. Those are the only reasons you aren’t being permanently grounded. You will stay with your aircraft until they are serviced and stowed, and then you will be officially on suspension.”

    She turned away, before turning back briefly, shoving a finger in their faces.

    “And if either of you land on this runway again with that air search radar turned on, Pilots, I will personally make you clean up every single dead bird in this entire district for a week. We get enough complaints as it is from the city authorities. Dismissed!”

    “Yes Ma’am!” Both Pilots shouted. When she had turned away, they both finally exhaled.

    “Now. As to you.” She said, walking over to the Captain. She stopped, looking down at Amara “What’s wrong with her?”

    “The Inquisitor is suffering the ill-effects of the engagement.” The Captain replied

    “Not a frequent flyer, is she?”

    “She’s almost as bad with trains.” Voyska offered.

    “It is not usually so bad. I apologize for the mess.” Amara said, trying to stand up.

    The Colonel reached into her pocket, fished out a handkerchief, and offered it to Inquisitor.

    “You missed some on your boots, dear.”

    “Thank you.”

    “Don’t be embarrassed. Everyone gets it. Even just a little. The one’s who don’t get it at all are honestly the one’s I worry about the most – because it means they can never tell where the ground is without looking at it.”

    “Colonel, I would like to request that my Pilot be allowed to remain here to see to the repairs of our aircraft.” The Captain interjected.

    “Of course. I’ll send for an extra ground crew.” She flicked her wrist at her car, circumscribing a motion with her arm, and then pointing at the Thunderhawk. The driver reached down and pulled a radio handset to his mouth.

    “Colonel – “ Voyska started.

    “Before we begin, since you’ve disembarked, your papers, please.” The Colonel interrupted.

    Amara started to flash her sigil, while the Captain stared impassively.

    Darya stopped her with a hand. “Not you, dear, you two don’t need them.”

    Kutuzova stepped forward, her passport already in hand, offering the little brown paper book to the Colonel.

    “Name?” Darya asked as she took the papers and began flipping through them.

    Kutuzova saluted smartly. “Lieutenant Anna Vladislavovna Kutuzova, 2nd Armored Internal Troops, Salyut District.”
    The Colonel looked up, smiling. “Ah, I thought I recognized you. When I last saw you, you were this high in my office arguing Infantry versus Artillery with my Nikita. How is Vlady these days?”

    “Father is doing quite well. He teaches at the academy now.”

    “Well, everything is exactly in order. Just as I would expect. It is good to see you, my dear, we’ll catch up after the meeting, I promise.” The Colonel said, smiling as she offered the passport back.

    “Yes Ma’am!” Kutuzova replied.

    “Papers, Please.” The Colonel said to Voyska.

    Voyska offered her a larger, thicker, black bound booklet.

    He saluted. “Major Voyska, -“

    “I know who you are.” She said, not looking up as she flipped through. She stopped, frowning “Where is your pass for this district? You are restricted to Salyut, yes?”

    “I am. However, I was specifically summoned by the General Committee to provide a report.”

    “I was not informed of this.” The Colonel dead-panned. “You know the rules.”

    Kutuzova interjected “It is true, Ma’am. He was the incident commander during the riots in the district. He was called by name. It is unlikely that the paperwork has been filed.”

    “Well. Since an officer of your district’s internal troops personally vouches for you, we can skip several provisional forms. You are hereby allowed entrance under her supervised custody for the duration of your business. Please inform district command upon your departure.”

    “Now then, since we are all going to the same place, may I suggest we take my car – “ The Colonel stopped, eyeing the Astartes. “This could be a problem.”

    Kutuzova stepped forward. “Ma’am, when we landed, I requested a truck from the civil defense command. There it is now, in fact.”

    The colonel reached over and tussled Kutuzova’s hair. “That’s our Anya, always prepared.”

    “Yes Ma’am.” Kutuzova beamed, straightening her blond locks as she turned to the Captain. “Unfortunately, the truck’s suspension would likely not support the weight of your entire unit, sir.”

    The Captain raised his hand to ward her off. “They will remain behind and see to the Thunderhawk.” He motioned to his two subordinates. They nodded and peeled off to join the cluster of pilots, now gesturing animatedly near the interceptors, describing flight paths and maneuvers with their hands.

    The truck, a simple covered 5-ton affair, pulled up behind them. The driver, a genial looking old man, leaned out the open window, the up-turned tops of his Ushankya whipping around in the breeze.
    “Did someone need a ride? Hop on in!"
    Last edited by Insignus; 13-06-2017 at 10:14 PM.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus BillButNotBen's Avatar
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    I'm afraid I can't offer much in the way of useful criticism.

    This might be because it's from the middle of the story and I don't know any of the characters, but I found the rapid-fire switching between characters a bit confusing. (even without having 2 with the same name, which caused me to go back and re-read incase I'd made a mistake).

    This might be because I'm currently reading some Horus Heresy books and they are very different in style/portrayal, but the writing style and dialogue seemed a bit modern and young for the subject matter. Things like "piped in', harrumphed and 'dead-panned'. Plus no-one seems to be taking things very seriously.
    It depends what style you're going for though.

    In the books I'm reading no-one would have been laughing about trying to shoot down an Astartes ship. They'd have been crapping themselves in fear. And I can't imagine anyone, no matter how infuriating a character, poking an Astartes in the chest armour. (which I suspect would have resulted in an immediately broken arm, if nothing else)
    Your Astartes are also remarkably chilled and good-humored.

    “Well, who is YOUR supervisor!”
    “The Emperor.”

    “Well he is going to hear all about this when I file my report! I’ll have both of your wings, and I’ll have this scrap heap towed and mounted in front of my office!”
    I suspect that lack of respect to the Emperor might have resulted in a more painful response, but maybe the Space Marines have chilled out a bit since the Horus Heresy.

    Space Marines are tricky to write though, and I'm not sure the official writers have gotten it quite right either, so I'm not saying your style is wrong.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for reading!

    I try to portray characters as what I see as a bit more realistic, then dial some of them around. The younger Darya is defiantly a one off bit character. I do see your point about the rapid-fire switching. Its something I try to do when conversations lock in between two characters, as I feel it keeps the pacing going, and makes conversations feel less stilted or pre-planned - which lets me do things like the "Well who is YOUR supervisor" line bit - I"m trying to sell people on that being the sort of stupid, unforced exchange that someone would actually say. Even in the 40k universe, people couldn't possibly be as poised as they are often portrayed as being. Everything just seems too perfect, too "Just as Planned". When people screw up, in how I perceive the universe as generally written, its almost always nefarious and highly relevant to the plot, and as such, it instantly telegraphs (To me, at least) that something bad will happen. All misunderstandings are nefarious, and therefore menacing. My style tries to address that a bit. I balance that with eclectic character that I try to make interesting, as I know that some people do enjoy WH40k precisely for the Grimdarkery, so they need characters to compel them over between the parts that are grimdark and the parts that are not so much.

    Also on the dialogue part, it doesn't come out in this one, but one of my main characters (Amara, the Inquisitor, who also apparently has extreme motion sickness) never uses contractions. Ever. (I'm not kidding). That makes their conversations differentiated. It started as means for skating on the repetitive "Said" question, they I felt disrupted the dialogue, then became an interesting character facet for me.

    The lack of severity stems from it being a more newly compliant world (Molni), fairly insular, with a different language, and on the far rim of the Galaxy. The norms and institutions are still filtering down. They've always worshiped and revered the "Tsar" which is viewed(Correctly and Incorrectly) by the Imperium as a perfect means to an end for controlling the populace, but the institutions and practices don't align perfectly. Their Tsar has always been an abstract concept, whereas for the rest of the Imperial worlds, the Emperor has been a living fact in some form. Your point however, is valid. I may need to unfold that concept a bit - the whys of how they interact with the Imperials - before taking people on a wild ride.

    Main question tho: Did you laugh?

    On the Astartes being good natured and chilled, as I write them at least. This is an orphan story part, that I will eventually fit into a storyline, but it illustrates the advantages I perceive in having at least some Space Marines have a good sense of humor.

    The Brother Captain was holding his book, which had fallen open to the middle. “Where did you get this?”

    Gurevich jumped up smartly, his jaws working rapidly, as if he had just swallowed a fruit pit. Yet no words came out.

    “Gurevich! He asked you a question.” Voyska snapped.

    “Yes sir, I mean noble Astartes, I mean Captain –‘ His voice trailed off. The Captain looked at him with an unearthly aura of patience.

    “Calm down Trooper.” He said. “Sir will do just fine.” He handed the book to his Sergeant, who began thumbing through it, his armored finger pulling across the pages with just the perfect amount of force to avoid tearing the fragile paper.

    “Yes sir! My apologies sir! I printed it.”

    Voyska looked around warily before fixing him with a stare. “I’ve warned you about that. Don’t’ talk about it openly, or the Zampolit will mark you for it. You know the rules.”

    “But sir, the zampolit knows all about my press! He says to me “Printing in service of the state interest is not samizdat, Arkady Gurevich, you see, and my happiness is a state interest.” So I print pictures for him sometimes, and he doesn’t mind!” Gurevich offered innocently.

    Voyska massaged his temples. “We’ll talk about this later –“ A booming laugh cut him off.

    The Sergeant had bent over, one his hand on his knee, the book in the other. He had closed the book. He collected himself before handing the book to the Captain. “The cover, Captain.”

    The Captain took the book and studied the cover briefly, a smile crossing his face. “The Crudex Astarves –“ he started, a tone of genuine amusement breaking his normally calm demeanor – “By Rowboat Girlyman.” At this, the sergeant lost it again. A large crowd of onlookers was gathering.

    Voyska turned on Gurevich, his cheeks red with embarrassment.

    “Gurevich! What have you done!”

    The trooper snapped to attention, the magnitude of his predicament starting to manifest.

    “Sir! I just wanted them to sign my book sir!”

    “Where did you get it!” Voyska stepped up to him, eye-ball to eye-ball.

    “Sir! I printed it sir!”

    “I know that dammit! Where did you get the manuscript!” He yelled.

    “Sir! I got it from one of the Cadians! But I tried printing it, but my press, it is missing some of the gothic letters..”

    The Captain interjected “And the author?”

    “The manuscript had no author. So I ask, and the Cadian, he says to me, how can you not know who Rowboat Girlyman is? I tell him I do not, so he tells me that of all the Astartes, Rowboat Girlyman was the best. I’ve read everything I can about his regiment! Such nobility! Such honor! They say he is the wisest, the best! So respected was he, that he was asked to write book that tells everything of how an Astartes should behave! He was Premier of an entire Regiment of Astartes!”

    “I’m not sure anyone asked Gouilliman to write the Codex.” The Sergeant sniggered.

    “Quite so, but we must remember that it is Primarch Girlyman, Sergeant.” The Captain chided, reeling in his subordinate.

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