Ben Counter’s contribution to a loose series of Deathwatch-themed stories from Black Library, One Bullet looks at the Ultramarines of Third Company as they face off against a vast army of orks among the wreckage of an industrial city. Led by the fiery rhetoric of a young Chaplain Cassius, and supported by a squad of experienced Sternguard veterans, the Ultramarines must make use of every weapon in their arsenal if they are to emerge victorious.
It’s a clever idea for a story, looking at how the Ultramarines channel contrasting interpretations of the Codex Astartes – the righteous hatred of the alien as voiced by Cassius and the calm, considered approach followed by the Sternguard. What’s unclear though is where the Deathwatch fit in – it’s a tenuous link, with one member of the veterans having recently returned from service, and it feels like an unnecessary element crammed in to make the story fit with a theme. Overall it’s a solid enough story, heavy on the action with some impressive set pieces, but it’s burdened with dialogue that’s too often exposition-heavy or simply a bit too dour and portentous. Worth reading for the Sternguard alone, it’s enjoyable without really being essential.