On the twelfth day of Christmas, Black Library gave to us…a Space Marine Battles audio short by Phil Kelly. Brethren looks back to an early conflict between the Imperium and the Tau Empire and offers a comparison of sorts between the two. As the Ultramarines descend upon the world of Vespertine and battle the tau, sergeants Numitor and Sicarius lead their assault squads in vicious close-quarters fighting against the disciplined and technologically advanced xenos.
At nine minutes, Brethren is the shortest audio yet in this year’s advent calendar, but despite its brevity it packs quite a punch. Perspective flicks between the sergeants and one of the tau, aptly demonstrating the different way each force sees the other. The two sergeants bicker amicably even while they smash their way through tau warriors and buildings, musing on the xenos foe in the midst of a hail of missiles and las fire. It’s interesting to see young versions of two Ultramarines captains-to-be, and while Numitor is still relatively unknown Sicarius is already showing signs of his brash, forceful personality. The sound work is, as usual, excellent, and overall this is genuinely satisfying while leaving the listening wanting more. Ideal.