A Brother’s Confession by Robbie MacNiven acts as a prequel short story to the forthcoming novel Blood of Iax and introduces the characters of Kastor and Polixis (geddit?), two Ultramarines Primaris Marines whose bond of brotherhood goes deeper than Chapter ties alone. Apothecary Polixis comes before Chaplain Kastor to make a confession, relating to his brother the tale of his last mission, and the sin he committed.
A tale of the Cadian 101st, what’s left of them at least, Justin D. Hill’s short story The Battle For Markgraaf Hive picks up after the events of Cadia Stands, so beware a few spoilers. Called in to help retake an embattled hive from the heretics besieging its heights, the Cadians make an unorthodox insertion but soon find themselves ground down by waves of devolved enemies. No longer a Whiteshield, Minka fights with all the skill, grit and determination that was bred into her as a Cadian, as her regiment is slowly whittled down around her.
A sequel of sorts to City of Secrets, Nick Horth’s short story The Old Ways once again features Armand Callis and Hanniver Toll, sent by the Order of Azyr out through the marshlands outside Excelsis to settle a dispute between two rival houses. Exploring the dangerous Ulwhyr Forest on the trail of a missing – supposedly murdered – young nobleman, Callis and Toll find themselves tangled up in not just a feud between rivals, but also a conflict between the old and the new.
Nick Kyme’s Horus Heresy story Dreams of Unity shines a bleak light on some forgotten heroes of the Imperium. In the poverty-stricken underbelly of the Imperial Palace, a handful of surviving Thunder Warriors – the tattered remnants of the proto-Astartes legions with whose help the Emperor unified Terra – eke out a brutal existence as gladiators despite their ageing bodies and troubled minds, forever defined by their loyalty to an old notion. As Horus nears the Throneworld, even these abandoned warriors are affected by the approaching conflict.
Evoking faint memories of his Mathias Thulmann: Witch Hunter series, CL Werner’s The Witch Takers takes place in the Realm of Chamon with two Sigmarite witch hunters on the trail of something monstrous…and Chaotic. When an ancient tomb is looted and a powerful artefact accidentally unleashed, triggering a series of grisly massacres, witch hunters Esselt and Talorcan hunt for survivors through the sands of Droost as they attempt to destroy whatever relic is causing such carnage. Though their order is feared rather than welcomed by the inhabitants of Droost, they may be the only hope of preventing further massacres.
A quiet, measured short story that could only have come from John French, Now Peals Midnight is the calm before the storm, in which Rogal Dorn and the loyal defenders of Terra take a last, deep breath before the Siege of Terra begins. As the ever-present unrest in the Sol system fades away leaving an eerie sense of quiet, Dorn orders the final preparations knowing that Horus is only hours away. Across the breadth of the Imperial Palace, defenders wait…from conscripts huddled in the darkness to Primarchs standing proud on the walls. At last, the wait is almost over.
Following on from events of The Master of Mankind [SPOILER WARNING], Chris Wraight’s Horus Heresy short story Magisterium tackles the Adeptus Custodes as they regroup following the appalling losses incurred in the Webway War. It follows one of the few survivors, Samonas, as he comes to terms with the changed status of the Custodes, watching on while Constantin Valdor clashes with Rogal Dorn over their place in the war to come. Interspersed with recollections of the fighting on Prospero, it’s a powerful story of the differences between the Custodes and the Legiones Astartes, and the preparations taking place on Terra.
David Guymer is slowly building up a collection of Age of Sigmar short stories featuring Hamilcar Bear-Eater, Lord-Castellant of the Astral Templars, of which Gods’ Gift is the third. It’s a typically garrulous tale, told in Hamilcar’s brash, immodest first person voice as he and his men hunt unusual prey in the Realm of Ghur. Something has been terrorising the local human population of the Gorwoods, but in the process of hunting it down Hamilcar receives an unusual, unexpected vision that leads him closer to the beast he hunts…and to something that might trouble even the mighty Hamilcar.
The worst part is the waiting…right? In his Horus Heresy short story Duty Waits, Guy Haley explores the effect on Dorn’s Imperial Fists of the interminable waiting as they man the walls of the Imperial Palace in expectation of Horus’ armies reaching Terra. With security tighter than ever after the Alpha Legion’s infiltration of Terra (you’ve read Praetorian of Dorn, right?), and civilians suffering the side-effects of a total focus on war, tensions are high and an outlet is going to be needed, sooner or later. For Captain Maximus Thane (sound familiar?) the enemy can’t come soon enough.
An appetiser before his upcoming novel The Lords of Silence, Chris Wraight’s short story Endurance takes place (mostly) on the besieged Imperial world of Lystra, where the shattered remnants of the defenders continue to battle on against the endless hordes of walking dead. The situation for the Imperials is bleak, even with a scattering of loyal Space Marines bolstering the defences, and that’s before the Death Guard arrive. Dragan, known as the Gallowsman, leads his warband on the hunt for slaughter, and Lystra is in his sights.