On the sixteenth day of Christmas, Black Library gave to us…a Marines Malevolent short story by Nick Kyme. Continuing the thread started in Bitter Salvage (in the Angels of Death anthology), Vengeful Honour sees Ballack and his unloved brothers in the Malevolents embroiled in the fighting on Armageddon. Faced with the prospect of fighting alongside the already antagonised Black Templars, and conscious of his own reduced capabilities, Ballack becomes increasingly aware of his own mortality. When some unwelcome faces appear, things seem to be looking bleak for the Malevolent.
Where so many Space Marine stories focus on honour and martial pride, it’s always refreshing to read about the Malevolents with their ruthless, pragmatic approach to warfare. Nick Kyme clearly enjoys writing about these Marines, and the conflicts which arise when they come into contact with other, nobler chapters. There’s plenty of cutting dialogue here as Ballack baits his Templar counterparts, along with the expected levels of violence from any Space Marine story. It’s a solid story, relying on a satisfying arc for Ballack instead of anything particularly clever plot-wise, and while it’s not particularly original it’s nevertheless enjoyable to see more of the gratifyingly black-humoured Marines Malevolent.