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Ave Omnissiah!

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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 Defenders, and the Forge World of Draconis IV with its Adeptus Mechanicus priesthood, Cybernetica cohorts and Skitarii legions, and the Titan Legion, Legio Draconis, known as the Dark Dragons.

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Horus Heresy Janus Campaign

I had a great weekend at the Horus Heresy Weekender, which was organized by the Frozen North Horus Heresy group - thanks to all the organize...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Omnissiah's Chosen

The Omnissiah's Chosen is...well, let's just say I found it a bit disappointing.

The Omnissiah's Chosen

I mean, I like the collection of Adeptus Mechanicus stories, and I am well aware of how grimdark the Warhammer 40,000 universe can be. But The Omnissiah's Chosen takes that grimdarkness and dials it up to eleven, never mind that some of the tragic endings are downright implausible and...contrived.

As expected, the only short story I enjoyed in The Omnissiah's Chosen was the one written by Rob Sanders, Clade. It's the only one with a "good" ending. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the other short stories, but their endings often left a bitter aftertaste.

Vanguard, by Peter Fehervari isn't so bad. It was a pretty cool battle between the Adeptus Mechanicus and the technologically advanced Tau (should I spell them as T'au now?). The Adeptus Mechanicus is offended by the drones and heretical xenos technology the Tau or T'au (screw it, I'm going with Tau) employ. This sets up an awesome riverfront battle where the Skitarii assault the Tau stronghold, with a small squad of Rangers attacking from the back. We see a few cool Skitarii characters like the female Alpha Primus, who is hinted to be...a cybernetically augmented Tau enslaved by Magos Caul. The Alpha Primus has some pretty cool wargear and fights better than most Sicarian Assassins. That made for an entertaining read. But grimdark is grimdark, and Caul's true motive for assaulting the Tau stronghold is revealed when he captures a single Astropath. Apparently he needed an Astropath to guide his ship and forces away from the dying planet, Phaedra. In a twist at the end, the Astropah tricks Caul into looking into his third eye and...well, basically kills it. I was kind of annoyed at the ending, but the epic battle scene between Skitarii and Tau more than made up for it. Plus it's Warhammer 40,000. Grimdarkness is to be expected.

However, Infinite Circuit by David Guymer was just...ugh. Okay, first, I want to read a story about the Adeptus Mechanicus, not the Deathwatch. The story, as you can probably already have guessed, is about the Deathwatch and is told from thir point of view, from the captain, Borhus, a dude from the Iron Hands. Borhus, being an Iron Hand, turns out to be heavy handed in forcibly extracting a Necron artifact from the Adeptus Mechanicus because of Inquisitor Laurelline's request. Who the hell is Inquisitor Laurelline anyway, and why should we care about her? She never showed up in the short story at all and was pretty much pointless.

I wanted to read from Tech-Priest Dominus Rygel Sul's point of view. It would have been a much more fun and more Mechanicus-orientated story had it taken from the point of Sul's view. But no, we had to go into Borhus's view where there is this impossibly contrived conflict between the Deathwatch and the Cult Mechanicus and accompanying Skitarii forces. Oh, Inqusitor Laurelline has a higher authority than Admiral Dreyfuss...I know such conflicts are unavoidable, but frankly, the story does not do a good job of expressing what's at stake here, or why we should care about the conflict. At least we know in Vanguard that Magos Caul launched his Skitarii assault in order to find a way off Phaedra. In Infinite Circuit? No motives, no desires, nothing. The characters are just fighting because...well, to showcase the Skitarii's and Electro-priests' capabilities against Space Marines.

And then Valtohm abruptly killed Rugel Sul for no good reason whatsoever (as I said, it was completely contrived). The Tech-Priest Dominus was in negotiations with the Deathwatch, and the guy being unhappy after arguing with the Deathwatch turns on Sul and kills him for no reason. WTF. Then the whole thing explodes into a conflict between the Deathwatch and Valtohm, and for some stupid, inconceivable reason, even though the Skitarii had just lost their master to a freaking Electro-Priest traitor, they decide to side with Valtohm against the Deathwatch. Huh? What? Wouldn't the doctrina imperatives demand that you eliminate the treacherous Valtohm with extreme prejudice after he killed your Tech-Priest master? WTF was that about? It just felt like a poor excuse to pit the Space Marines against the Skitarii and Electo-Priests, well, for...I dunno. Showing off their powers?

Anyway, the Deathwatch chase down Valtohm through the manufactorium and...die one by one. Borhus is killed by Valtohm at the very end. Normally I would be happy about the Adeptus Mechanicus prevailing over the so-called elite Space Marines of the Emperor, but the way it ended, it was just...stupid. When Borhus died, he suddenly gets the vision about flesh being weak, blah blah. WTF?! What was the point of the story? Okay, maybe I'm stupid and I'm missing something here, but I just couldn't feel satisfied with the story. I'm sorry. I didn't like Infinite Circuit.

The Zheng Cipher by Josh Reynolds was better, and I did like Alpha 6-Friest's journey to a facility in Kotir-8. The Tyranids had assaulted Kotir-8, but a group of miners found something valuable in their facility, so Alpha 6-Friest goes to reclaim it. She meets Adept Sooj, the guy in charge of the facility, who willingly hands over the Zheng Cipher in order to be evacuated.

Now here's the stupid thing. I know it's meant to be grimdark and show how cold and inhuman and emotionless the Skitarii are. I get that. But first, I found it a bit weird that the Skitarii were set down miles away from the facility and ordered to march across a teeming horde of Tyranids to the facility. Then without providing antiair support of any kind, they call down a transport to pick up the cipher. Wait, what? If you're going to send down a transport to the facility itself, then what's the freaking point of deploying the Skitarii so far away and asking them to march through a horde of Tyranids? And is it so hard to send a few transports down to get both the cipher and the inhabitants of the facility? No, they abandoned Alpha 6-Friest and her Skitarii down there to the Tyranids so that the cipher can be safely, wait, what does that have to do with anything? How is sacrificing the Skitarii related to safely transporting the cipher back up to the ship?

The grimdarkness here just felt...contrived. You know, like, I'm going to make it grimdark, so screw logic! People dying to Tyranids, okay. I get that. It happens. The Mechanicus treating Skitarii as disposable I understand. That's the whole point of grimdarkness. But blatantly wasting resources? I mean, if you really want the cipher escorted back to the ship so badly, you should send more than one transport. You should have sent plenty of escorts (that can evacuate the poor humans and Skitarii). Leaving them behind to Tyranids as biomass is just...illogical and against the Mechanicus principles. I mean, is it so hard? Plus, if you're going to send a transport straight to the facility to pick up the cipher anyway, what's the point of deploying the Skitarii far away and have them march through the hordes of Tyranids toward the facility? head hurts.

The next story, Clade, is the best one out of all 5 short stories. Rob Sanders is on form - I absolutely love his Adeptus Mechanicus: Skitarius and Tech-Priest, and this short story did not fail to disappoint. It's the tale of Magos Dominus Theronymous Gant on the doomed Velchanos Magna. The former forge world had been transformed into a daemon planet, and Magos Gant led a bunch of Skitarii legions and Legio Cybernetica constructs to conquer the forges of Velchanos Magna. This particular story is about him chasing down his foe, Forge Master Vasco Phaedrega.

There are a few interesting twists and turns like in Skitarius and Tech-Priest, such as Phaedrega killing himself in a dark ritual to sumon the daemon of Abystra Dynomicron and lead Gant into a trap. I like that and found myself surprised. Furthermore, Gant's command of 12 Kataphron Breachers was a sight to behold. I enjoyed reading about these heavy battle-servitors kicking ass. Anyway, Phaedrega springs the ambush and gets Abystra Dynomicron to power a forge, churning out massive daemon engines. The Kataphron Breachers get whittled down one by one, even as they destroy the incoming daemon engines, which include Decimators and I think the Fiends. Rho~4[1/12], the mindless leader of the Breacher-Clade Rho~4 Servotaurox, was especially badass, defending his master and commanding his clade. In the end, a Defiler (I think...I don't think it's a Brass Scorpion of Khorne) emerges from the forge, and both Gant and Rho~4[1/12], the eventual only survivor of his Clade by then, work together to bring it down. At the cost of Rho~4[1/12], sadly enough.

I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. I had expected a grimdark ending like the other 3 short stories that preceded it, but thankfully Gant survived and lives to fight another day. He proceeds back on a long walk to resume his war against the Dark Mechanicum, and I like that. It was a nice touch. And considering the Adeptus Mechanicus won the war on Velchanos Magna in Tech-Priest, I really enjoyed the story a lot more.

The Engima of Flesh by C.L. Werner was all right. I did like it at first, for it portrayed the point of view from the Cadians. Captain Xander Marhault of the 32nd Cadian Regiment's Fifth Company, who is fighting on Thain against the ravenous Tyranid hordes. At first I was wary, considering how I didn't like Infinite Circuit, but Werner did a good job by portraying the Cadians' attitudes toward the Adeptus Mechanicus. There is no contrived conflict between them like the one between the Deathwatch and the Electo-Priests. This is a combined effort between two forces of the Imperium, with one being very wary and disturbed by the other. Xanger Marhault provided a very human perspective on the Mechanicus and I liked that. It was a nice touch.

The relationship between Datasmith Livia, who commands a couple of Kastelan robots, and Xander was also pretty cool. The fight scenes where the Cadians fight desperately to suppress the incoming Hormagaunts and Termagaunts were awesome, and backed up with the support of the Kastelans, who display overwhelming firepower, it was so fun to read about the Tyranids' demise.

But alas, the ending had to be grimdark. At the end, Livia and her Kastelans stomp out of a breach of the Cadian barricades and make their way toward the larger Tyranid organisms. The Cadians chase after them, thinking they're on a suicide mission, but end up supporting Livia and her Kastelans for their task. I think they went toward the Tyranid Prime or Hive Tyrant. Anyway, they kill 3 of the Hive Tyrants and capture one, dragging it back for dissection.

Now this turns into a contrived and stupid reason for grimdarkness. I mean, they have the damned Hive Tyrant. Why can't the damned Mechanicus just fly it back to their ship and do the dissection there? No, apparently they are sacrificing themselves and the Cadians to buy time for the dissection while transmitting the data back to a copy of the Tech-Priest. Hey, the Imperium does not waste Cadian lives lightly because they are a superior breed of Imperial Guard. This just stinks bullshit to me. I mean, what the hell? They could just evacuate the place there and then - the skies are clear, the Marauder bombers are flying about and bombing the Tyranid hordes to oblivion. What's stopping the evacuation other than the nonsensical reason to buy time for the disseection when they can clearly do it back up on their ship?! You'll have a lot more data that way, and not just a few hours' worth! Furthermore, sacrificing the Cadians make no sense. I mean, I'm aware that the Imperium doesn't care much for human lives - I've seen them callously abandon the Cadians on Agrellan during the Mont'ka campaign. But at least they gave them three days to evacuate whatever Cadians they could. And in Fall of Cadia, they managed to evacuate all the surviving Cadians. Why the hell would they abandon an entire regiment of Cadians just to dissect a Tyranid Hive Tyrant?! Even if the Adeptus Mechanicus requests for it, they'll probably send more Skitarii forces there to help them, not sacrifice the Cadians. I don't think Segmentum Command will agree to that BS.

Anyway, there are a few good things in the collection of Adeptus Mechanicus short stories, but several of them are pretty...weird and contrived in order to force the grimdarkness. It kind of leaves a bitter aftertaste in my mouth when reading the endings for most of them, and I can only recommend Clade. I actually think Engima of the Flesh and Vanguard make for good reads if you can get past the ending, so those two are also worth it. On the other hand, Infinite Circuit just isn't worth it. The Zheng Cipher was kind of okay, better than Infinite Circuit but not as good as the other three. Well, I'm aware that most readers are already used to the grimdarkness, and to be honest, I don't mind the grimdarkness so much. It's the ridiculous and contrived manner in which the characters are killed off that annoyed me. I mean, if Xander died fighting Tyranids, as his squad and aide did in the story, I wouldn't have a problem. What annoys me is the supposedly callous and contrived reasoining of "we'll sacrifice you Cadians to buy us Mechancius time to dissect a living Hive Tyrant!" Vanguard caught me off guard, but at least that wasn't contrived. I did like Vanguard and I have no complaints about the twist in the end when the Astropath killed Magos Caul. The others...well, the less said about their logical inconsistency, the better.

Is it worth a buy? Uh...I don't know. I guess it's a fun read if you can stomach the 80% of bad endings in the book, so there's that.

Anyway, I'm reading Kingsblade right now, and I'm absolutely loving it. It's a great change from The Omnissiah's Chosen with a lot of compelling and awesome characters, and the sheer might and majesty of Imperial Knights. Cool! Once I'm done with that, I'll be back with a book review for it!