Another anthology tale given the e-short treatment, Nik Vincent’s The Fissure was previously only available in the Sabbat Crusade anthology. While set in the Dan Abnett-created/curated Sabbat Worlds this is an Iron Snakes story as opposed to the usual Gaunt’s Ghosts fare, and sees a squad of three Marines sent to Formal Prime when something evil is unearthed in the foundations of a new hive. Told in an unusual structure interspersing action scenes with Ithacan funeral rites, the story gradually unfolds as the full horror of what lurks beneath the hive is revealed and the Iron Snakes’ heroism is aptly displayed.
Though taking cues from Abnett’s Brothers of the Snake novel in the Iron Snakes’ rituals and unusual fighting methods, this is unusually creepy, stylised and mythical – it’s rooted in 40k but feels subtly, intriguingly different. It’s a nice chance to take another look at the level-headed, stoic Iron Snakes who fight without the bluster and pomp that Marines are often written with, while their grisly foes are less obviously chaos-y but somehow even creepier for it. The nature of the story means it lacks a little threat and danger, but it makes up for that by being genuinely interesting – and it nicely sets up Abnett’s own A Ghost Return short story.