Adeptus Mechanicus and Astra Militarum/Imperial Guard "Wiki"

Ave Omnissiah!


My blog is primarily my own personal fluff in the Warhammer 40,000 universe regarding the Draconis system such as the Knight House Yato in Draconis III, the Imperial Guard...I mean, Astra Militarum regiment trained there, the Draconian Armored Force, and the Forge World of Draconis IV with its Adeptus Mechanicus priesthood and Skitarii legions, and perhaps the Titan Legion, Legio Gojira (which will never happen because I don't have money for Forge World Titans).

Oh, and I'll throw in the Thousand Sons from time to time because they're my favorite Space Marine Legion. I refuse to believe that they are Traitors! They're just...ahem...secretly loyal to the Imperium!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cybernetica

First, allow me to get this out of the way. Quite frankly, I was disappointed by Cybernetica.

Make no mistake, Rob Sanders is a great author. Skitarius was fun and Tech-priest was awesome. The prose of Cybernetica was good, the characters thoroughly fleshed out...well, though some turned out to be a waste, but the novella on a whole was let down by incredulous plot holes and an incredible lack of logic.



The plot was that Mars had to be purged after the Traitors claimed the red planet in the aftermath of the civil war. If you remember the excellent novel Mechanicum by Graham McNeill, the Loyalists were all but decimated in the end, with the Titan Legion Legio Tempestus and its Princeps, Indias Cavalerio, annihilated, Lord Commander Verticoda leading the Knights of Taranis to a glorious death, and Koriel Zeth and Ipluvien Maximal nobly sacrificing themselves and their forge cities in explosive doom to deny the Traitors posession of their stuff. Cybernetica lacks all that epic warfare and awesome characters, understandably because of its short length, but still a direct sequel to see how Holy Terra would react in the face of such treachery would be awesome. As it is, if you read the synopsis off the Black Library website, Rogal Dorn, the Primarch of the Imperial Fists, and Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra, decide to complete exterminate all life on Mars...in other words Exterminatus.

This is where the story falls apart. Keep in mind that this is purely my opinion, and you're free to disagree and provide alternate points of view.

Anyway, Rogal Dorn decides to abandon the damned planet and withdraws all his Imperial Fists troops from Mars, never mind that he needs the manufactorums that have been supplying his Legion with weapons and much-needed ammunition the entire time and is thus a vital thing to protect, not abandon. Okay, I guess there should be manufactorums on Terra, so that's logical. What I don't get was him and Malcador, as well as the new Fabricator General Zagreus Kane arguing over the fate of the planet. Dorn wants to enact Exterminatus, which Kane arguably is not enthusiastic for, and he has a good reason for it. If Loyalist Forge Worlds learned that Dorn and Terra subjected Mars, the holy original Forge World that fathers all other Forge Worlds, to Exterminatus, they might rebel and defect to Horus's side. I get that much.

What I don't get is that if they disapprove of Exterminatus, why do they want to send a single guy there to destroy the Vertex and subject Mars to lethal radiation from the sun? Isn't that the same as Exterminatus? "Oh, sure, we won't virus-bomb the planet to oblivion, but we'll bombard it with lethal radiation instead." Really? How is that any different from Exterminatus? Won't the Loyalists get pissed off too if they learn of it?

Well, I reckon they decided that it'll be easy to sponge the blame off to a rogue Magos Dominus and his Legio Cybernetica Cohort that were imprisoned for techno-heresy. That's the only reason that makes sense to me...but how stupid do the Mechanicum have to be to not find out that the destruction was instigated by an agent of Terra and not poor Octal Bool? They never delete anything, after all.

And spoiler alert...after all that was said and done, and the protagonist Dravian Klayde dies an ignominious death while failing his mission, Dorn decides to send his Imperial Fists to reclaim Mars after all, which basically render this little adventure...meaningless. Well, that's grimdark for you, but it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth and wanting to yell at Dorn for being a stupid, hardass jerk. Freaking hell, if I ever play a Horus Heresy game with my Mechanicum army, I'll play against someone with Imperial Fists and make sure I'll annihilate the damned Primarch with Darkfire Cannons, Hellex Plasma Mortar cannons and whatever.

I found that whole thing ridiculous, really.

As I said, Rob Sanders is a great writer, and his prose is good, but this novella feels like some higher-up in the Black Library threw the five Horus Heresy books from Forge World to him...or maybe the Mechanicum: Taghmata Army List, and then ordered him to write a story showcasing all the different units in the books/Forge World codex. Most of the Mechanicum units get a cameo, from the Thallax, Castellax Battle-automata, Vorax Battle-atuomata with rad-cleansers, a Triaros Armored Conveyor that Dravian rigs and uses to bring him to his objective, Servo-automatons Di-Delta 451 and Eta/Iota~13, a Siege-automata that can only be a Thanatar, and even the Ursinax who still lack models, make an appearance. Not only that, the plasma phase-fusils make a huge showing, being used by the Skitarii to devastating effect, as are rotor cannons, a graviton gun, a volkite serpenta and charger, as well as Mauler-pattern bolt cannons. The Kastelan robots are armed with Mauler cannons! YAY! The rad-cleasners also get a mention, as do lightning claws, lightning guns with attached heavy chainblades, Battle-automata power blades, etc. Awesome. You can tell that Rob Sanders is a big fan of the Mechanicum in Forge World's Horus Heresy series.

But...the plot ultimately suffers for it, with this becoming a fool's errand, and Dorn making stupid decisions that don't make sense.

Dravian Klayde, I find, is a bland and boring protagonist - but that's just me. I find most Space Marines boring anyway, so the problem is probably with me. But Dravian is different from Alaric from Ben Counter's Grey Knights. He doesn't question. He's like, "Oh, Bool is heretical because my Artisan Astartes says so." Everything to him is about duty, and he's disgusted with Bool to the point I'm disgusted with him. As Aulus Scaramanca tells him later, there is little difference between him who is making use of techno-heretical machines to win and the Traitors who are using Chaos to win. Well, there is quite some difference but Dravian doesn't have the imagination to see it, and just dismisses it as such. Furthermore, Dravian as a Raven Guard is supposed to be a master of stealth and shadows, sneaking in and launching quick surprise attacks, but he doesn't do anything of the sort in the novella despite descriptions that he can. A case of show, not tell would be made here. Dravian runs into foes throughout the novella, which renders his Raven Guard personae kind of pointless, and I don't actually see him sneaking around at all. Even when he sneaks into the Imperial Palace, Dorn is aware of his presence. Is his stealth skills really that impressive? I didn't get that impression from reading the book.

There are also many wasted potential in here. The novella is short, I understand that, but the story suffers for it. As Octal Bool and his Cybernetica Cohort march across Mars, they run into lots of trouble or bulldoze their way through Traitor Skitarii and Dark Mechanicum forces with sheer firepower...but all these are told in a few paragraphs instead of being elaborated in chapters that would have been great tales to share. A Warhound blasting a section of Kastelan Robots to bits with its Vulcan Mega-bolter would have been quite a harrowing and tense affair...but because of the restrictions to length, it's basically described in a short paragraph. Whoever decided that Rob Sanders should be limited to a little over 120 pages should reconsider his or her decision.

Again, the characters display so much wasted potential. I was so happy at the beginning to read about an Iron Warrior who was actually good for once - Aulus Scaramanca was pretty awesome and a bro to Dravian, which really breaks the whole evil Iron Warriors trope that I had seen flying around until everyone is sick of the over-representation of them. That is until - spoilers!!!! - Aulus shows up in the end as a pseudo-Chaos Dreadnought a size of an Imperial Knight. What the hell?! Let him die nobly and break the whole Chaos Iron Warrior mold!!!

Octal Bool is another character who just went to waste for the sake of plot. In fact, I would argue Cybernetica would have been much more interesting if Octal was the protagonist instead of Dravian. Why not tell the story through the eyes of a Magos Dominus arrested for technoheresy? Put a spin on perspectives. Have him wake up, confused, and delighted that his talents were needed for Mars, only to realize later that the agent of Terra is merely using him. Expand on his ideals, on his admiration for the purity of the machine, the respect for the cold logic that is the Tabula Myriad. Graham McNeill did something similar for Telok in the Mars trilogy, though he villified the guy too much. Show the readers and fans of Warhammer 40K that not everything is good and evil, black and white, Order and Chaos. Can you imagine what a groundbreaking novel that would be? But nope, Octal Bool is reduced to a ranting and raving madman obsessed with his abdominable creations...but that's to be expected since he's seen through the eyes of the stoic and straightlaced Dravian. Sigh...this is why I don't like Space Marines.

As expected from Rob Sanders, the fight scenes are top-notched, and I have little complaints aside from the fact that five Space Marines basically repelled wave after wave of Skitarii without suffering much losses until the end. And the black guy had to die first, another case of refusing to break out of the mold. Why kill the Salamander Nem'ron Phylax first?! I hope it's not because he's a black character. Even after that, the Space Marines continued to hold their own DESPITE a lack of ammo - for half a magazine of bolt-rounds, they sure can fire a lot...only to have the other two Space Marines die to an ambush from a lift. Yes, I know the Space Marines are superhuman soldiers in the fluff, but they shouldn't be killing mass Skitarii so easily...okay, maybe I'm biased as I'm a Skitarii fan (yeah, this is an Admech blog, after all), but it rankles me to see such a one-sided fight. I mean, it's ridiculous, the five Space Marines repelling at least five waves of Skitarii! Outnumbered one to ten...or one to a hundred, and it finally took a single Warlord Titan to wipe them out!

And as I said earlier, most of the combat was skipped owing to the short length of the book, which really was a waste. At least the intense combat scene in Vertex with Octal's First Maniple of Kastelan robots was awesome, as was Dravian's fight against Aulus. Too bad that fight ended one-sidedly. Would have loved to see Aulus defeated or something.

Anyway, I'm not sure if I can recommend this book. I guess I will recommend it as an entertaining book that pleases Mechanicum fans with all the references and cameos of Horus Heresy Mechanicum units - the fanboy in me just squealed in delight every time I saw one of those units, and it happened so coincidentally that I read this novel right after I devoured the fluff and army lists in my recently acquired Mechanicum: Taghmata Army List. Hell, even the hybrid-carnivores that I wrote about as never seeing them as a unit in Forge World in that Taghmata fluff post showed up in this novella. That was an incredible feeling. On the other hand, the plot annoyed me, as did Dorn's logic and decisions. Particularly the whole sending the Imperial Fists Legion after Dravian's failure thing made me feel cheated and have me wondering what was even the whole point of this little adventure. Dorn and Malcador's logic of "we won't declare Exterminatus but we'll carry out Exterminatus anyway" also irritated me, but if you can put all these aside, you'll be guaranteed a fun and entertaining read.

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