Following on from his Space Marine Battles novel Fall of Damnos, Nick Kyme’s short story Veil of Darkness sees Captain Cato Sicarius of the Ultramarines return to Macragge in defeat after his humbling by the necrons. Waking from a sus-an coma to find he’s been summoned before the Chapter Master to account for his actions, he wrestles with both his anger at having been defeated, and a strange sense of darkness that lingers on the edge of his perception. Preparing for his audience with Marneus Calgar, he begins to wonder whether anything else returned from Damnos with him.
It’s a cool premise, setting a strange and spooky tale of uncertainty deep within the Fortress of Hera, but Sicarius is a strange choice of protagonist, not being the most sympathetic of Ultramarines characters. Especially written in first person, it’s a little hard to relate to what he’s going through. Kyme works hard to build a sinister atmosphere as Sicarius dips in and out of lucidity, but while it’s enjoyable enough it never feels fully believable, with the writing not quite capturing the depth that the story deserves. The overall plot works, it’s just the delivery that falls a bit flat.
Note: Veil of Darkness is available in multiple formats – this standalone e-short, the original audio version, or in anthologies including Legends of the Dark Millennium: Ultramarines.