Archives for March 2012

Another Blast From the Past: Rogue Traders

Here is another background piece I did back when I was writing Farseer. There is actually a Rogue Trader character in Fist of Demetrius so this may still be relevant. Once again, everything here is very old and none of it was ever part of the official 40K background save where it appears in Farseer.

An extract from the basic training lectures of  Brother Guillame, Fabricator Scriptorum, Inquisition Library, Stalynheim.

Reference: Light of Knowledge

Clearance Level: Tertius

Unauthorised Viewing May Result In Termination of Library Privileges and Life.

Praise the Emperor.

Brothers, our lesson today deals with those individuals variously known as merchant adventurers, free voyagers or more colloquially Rogue Traders. Most of us have heard of them. Some are great heroes of the Imperium. Who does not know the tale of how Cortezar Bale conquered the Nine Worlds of the Fiery Circle? How many could not name the Golden Tiger, famed ship of Dorian Hyde. These men are often presented in tales, plays and poems as great heroes, adventurers who have added new worlds to the Emperor’s realm, and new lustre to the glory of our Imperium. As we shall see the truth has always been more complex and many of these famous men have ended their days in one of our courts of extreme sanction.

First let us begin by defining our terms. A Rogue Trader is an individual who possesses a commission from the Imperium to trade freely in any area not specifically under Imperial Interdict, including worlds beyond the boundaries of the Imperium itself. This charter is usually known as a Warrant of Trade. Such Warrants are issued in the Emperor’s name, and are normally granted either by an organ of the Administratum or less commonly and legally by a planetary Governor.

The form of words used normally provides the bearer with the right and privilege of recruiting his own troops to act as his personal bodyguard, and to hire ships and navigators to facilitate the spread of mercantile enterprise beyond the boundaries of the Imperium- provided this is done in the approved manner. Once granted, the charter is irrevocable. However, as is stated on all Warrants, if the bearer should prove to be an apostate, a heretic or traitor to the Imperium, or if he should be found guilty of criminal activity in an Imperial court, or by an approved agent of Imperial Justice such as an Inquisitor, the Warrant may be confiscated and reallocated by the appropriate authority.

Warrants of Trade can be sold, traded or passed on to heirs and are valid beyond the life of the one to which they are issued. As you might imagine, all warrants can be seen as the keys to great riches, and in and of themselves are instruments of great value.

It would appear that the origins of these charters pre-date the Imperium itself, and date back to the time of the Great Crusade when they were granted by the Emperor himself in his own hand. Samples of these may be found in the Hall of Relics on Terra. In the time of the Great Crusade the divine wisdom of granting such charters cannot be questioned. The realm of man was smaller, embattled and the many worlds of humanity were isolated. Such traders bore the word of the Emperor to new worlds and joined those worlds in righteous trade. Prosperity provides strength, strength provides unity, unity is the bedrock of the Imperium.

The legal precedent for irrevocable general charters comes from the fact that the first charters were issued by the Emperor himself, often without mentioning the name of the bearer, who was presumably known to the Lord of Mankind himself. None among us has the authority to revoke something written in His Almighty Hand. Since the time of His Ascension there have been many corrupt servants of the Imperium who have enriched themselves by issuing general and irrevocable warrants, and lamentably many of these still exist. In your studies you will come across the example of Luigi The Obese who during the course of his vile career issued some 2000 warrants, far in excess of his sector quota, and used the proceeds to buy an entire planet, Perugia, from the Valerian Combines. Luigi died during the penance of the Thousand Blows. When he died he was the richest man in the Perugian graveyards.

There are records dating back to the Great Crusade of merchant adventurers leading armies numbering into the hundreds of thousands, and conquering entire industrial worlds in the name of the Emperor. Indeed many of our leading families of Imperial Commanders can trace their origins back to a Rogue Trader who brought their fief world into the fold of humanity.

As with many other things, the role of the Rogue Trader was changed by the wickedness and anarchy of the Horus Heresy. In that time, it was wisely seen that the military and naval wings of the Imperium should be kept separate. Private armies and private fleets that could conquer worlds were banned, for many of the traders fell into error and followed the Warmaster in his rebellion. After the Ascension of the Emperor into his golden throne, the Administratum wisely limited the number of followers in a Rogue Traders retinue to no more than one thousand soldiers. This restriction has been violated in a number of ways at a number of different times, but nonetheless, even its sporadic enforcement has helped maintain the stability of the Imperium from the earliest days to the present millennium.

How does one acquire a charter? The answer is simple. One either acquires an extant Warrant of Trade or one petitions the Administratum for a new one. If one is judged worthy and the quota of warrants for that decade has not been exceeded, a Warrant is awarded. Naturally, such a great privilege is not granted to everybody. The task of exploring beyond the Imperium, of bringing new worlds into the fold of mankind, and bringing trade to those who have not known the benefits of being part of the Imperial community is not one that can be entrusted to just anybody. One must be judged tough enough to survive the physical and mental rigours of the task. One must be capable of leading men in battle, and negotiating trade pacts that may later be ratified by the Imperium. One must be a fit representative of Imperial civilisation.  One must pass many tests of fitness, and be subject to the most stringent physical and mental examination to prove that one is free from the taint of heresy and the stigmata of mutation. These tests would seem to explain why so many Rogue Traders come from within the ranks of the Adeptus Terra or the military.

Sadly our investigations have uncovered many hundreds of instances where charters were granted in return for huge bribes, or as a result of blackmail or other forms of political pressure. In fairness, it has to be said that some of the greatest and most pious of all the free captains gained their charters by such disreputable means but nonetheless we must frown on such activities and stamp them out whenever we come across them.

It also must be added that in certain times, and at certain places, Imperial Commanders have taken it upon themselves to provide charters to merchants from their worlds. Such charters may not have been strictly legal, but their possessors were shielded by the might of a planetary governor, who used his power and influence to protect them, and thus illegally acquire access to fleets of ships for their own military. It has to be said that where the Commanders were loyal, devout and just men, our Inquisition has often turned a blind eye to such abuses, foolishly in my opinion, for none can be seen to be so mighty as to be above the law, as the Emperor himself remarked when pronouncing sentence on Horus. Once again, several of the most famous of Rogue Traders have been possessors only of such charters, and the two types of charter have become confused in the minds of the public, if not in the eye of Imperial law.

Finally a number of Rogue Traders simply claim the title or acquire false warrants or forge them themselves. Needless to say laying false claim to the possession of a warrant of trade is a crime punishable by ultimate sanction. Forging Warrants of Trade is a capital crime.

Once in possession of a charter, the bearer is free to purchase his own ships, recruit his own men, and chart his own course between the worlds of the Imperium and beyond. Of course, it is the nature of such men that they often already possess ships, or lead great mercenary companies before they apply for their charters. Many have been drawn from the ranks of Adeptus Terra, disgraced nobles who have carved out new fortunes and destinies for themselves in the worlds beyond the Imperium.

Another very common occurrence is for the owner of a Warrant to be merely the front man for a cartel of merchants who receive a share of the profits from any voyages undertaken by the Trader. In and of itself this would superficially seem to be of no concern. After all the money to underwrite these ventures must be found somewhere and this way there is no drain to the coffers of the Imperium itself. However, it should be noted that such men are often more concerned with profit than with the security of the Imperium, and this in itself presents problems.

For, of course, once beyond the pale of our noble realm, many Rogue Traders are exposed to heresy, and the temptations of power without the restriction of Imperial Law. Many have gone rogue themselves, setting themselves up as petty kings on backward worlds, others have become vectors of heresy, bringing the taint of Chaos and xenogen contact back within the fold of the Imperium itself. It is because of this that all such individuals should be investigated and subject to rigorous checks upon return from their voyages.

In the course of your Inquisitorial careers, you may be called upon to confront a Rogue Trader-do not be daunted by his wealth, or his force, or even the fact that he may possess a Warrant of Trade inscribed in the hand of the Emperor himself. Bear in mind that the legitimacy of his possessing that charter is based entirely on the character of its owner- if the bearer is unworthy, it is entirely within your authority to confiscate it and deal summarily with its former owner.

Here endeth this lesson.

All glory to the Emperor.


Kormak: Stealer of Flesh Released

Just wanted to announce that Stealer of Flesh, the first Kormak novel– well, a collection of linked novelettes really, has been released. In a blatant effort to promote sales, the Kormak short story Guardian of the Dawn will be free until midnight Thursday as well.

STEALER OF FLESH

To the world at large, he is a mercenary and assassin, a brutal killer with a deadly blade. In reality Kormak is a Guardian, one of a near-extinct order sworn to protect humanity from the servants of the gathering darkness.

The Ghul are the Stealers of Flesh, an ancient race of demons who possess the bodies of humans to work great evil. Now one of them has been freed from its ancient prison using Kormak’s own Dwarf-forged sword and  the Guardian must pursue it to a haunted city on the edge of the world.

Stealer of Flesh contains four-linked novelettes that tell the epic tale of Kormak’s hunt for a prince of demons. In it he encounters a conspiracy of demented mages, an army of werewolves, Orcish blademasters and a beautiful alchemist and her insane poet brother

Available now from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Guardian of the Dawn can be found at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

The Casebook of Jack Brodie Part Two

My Victorian detective novel The Inquiry Agent featuring former Bow Street Runner Jack Brodie continues to ride high in the Amazon charts and here as promised is the second extract from its sequel, The Distressed Lady.

Mr George Lazarus
The chambers of Mr George Lazarus were, in every way, what I expected to find and a little bit more. So was the man. The room was sumptuously furnished, the desk even larger than the clerk’s outside. The chairs were leather bound. Paintings depicting scenes of fox-hunting and horse-riding were on the walls .

Mr George Lazarus stood with his back to me, looking out the window which gave him a fine view of an inner garden courtyard. He was dressed in the finest broadcloth. He had a high collar and a cravat wrapped around his thick neck. He was a very portly man, huge and broad as a bull. He carried a lot of extra weight but he did not look flabby. He looked solid and strong.

When he turned to face me, that impression was reinforced. His nose was aquiline, his mouth narrow, his eyes were hooded.  His weight did not, as it does in so many fat men, convey the impression of joviality, conviviality and good cheer. It gave a sense of rapacious, unchecked appetite.

“You are Brodie, the inquiry agent,” he said. It was not a question. He was placing me in his mind, attaching a name to my face and I could tell from the way he looked that he would no more forget me than I would forget him. His voice was booming but there was no warmth in it. It was clear I had been let into the chamber not so much so that I might question Mr Lazarus but so that he might ask questions of me.

“I am, sir.”

“And Perkins tells me that you have been employed by the Camberley woman to find her husband, whom she believes has gone missing.”  He seemed to chew on his words as he spoke them. When he moved his mouth, his many chins moved beneath it.

“Who has gone missing, sir.”

“Yes. Yes. Of course,” he said, in a manner that dismissed the correction as trivial and at once asserted his mastery of the situation. “And she has sent you here because…”

“I came here because it seemed like the best place to start my investigation, sir.”

“How so?” His tone was sharp and school-masterly now and I found myself starting to resent it. I made my voice as patient sounding as I could without giving offence.

“Because men sometimes take things that do not belong to them from their places of employment. It is one of those reasons men disappear.”

“They disappear to Australia, sir, if they take anything from me. To Australia or to the gallows.”

“Has that happened, Mr Lazarus?” I asked. I could not help myself. I felt the urge to provoke him.

“Of course not!”  His tone very strongly suggested than no one would have the impertinence to dare such a thing as theft while in his employ.

“So you are saying that nothing has been noticed missing since the time when Mr Camberley disappeared?”

His mouth shut like a trap. He was plainly considering the matter more carefully now.

“Nothing has been found to be so!” Even as he attempted to speak softly his voice managed to be thunderous.

“Then you have looked, sir?”

“I can assure you, Mr Brodie, there is no need of such a thing. If there had been any irregularities in my office, they would have been noticed. By God, they would have!”

“Can you think of anything odd, sir, in the days leading up to Mr Camberley’s disappearance? Did he behave any differently than usual? Were there any irregularities in his manner?”

“I don’t allow irregularities among my clerks. I expect them all to be decent, well-behaved, respectful young fellows.”

“Of course you do, sir. And of course they are. I would expect nothing less.”

He moved closer to me, like a prize-fighter going for a clinch. He was one of those very large men who use their size as a bludgeon to intimidate the people around them. I recognised this at once, for I do it myself sometimes. He looked directly into my eyes with a cold, unblinking porcelain blue stare. I think he was surprised when I did not flinch.

“Are you mocking me, Mr Brodie,” he thundered. He was close enough so I could smell the scent of tobacco that clung to his garments.

I held his gaze for long enough to let him know I was not daunted.

“No sir. I can assure you I am not.” I kept my voice quiet but he heard the menace in it. I could not have kept it out if I tried.

His hands flexed as if he wanted to place his fingers around my throat. He took a step back and they balled, momentarily, into fists. I tilted my head to one side and nodded amiably but my heart was beginning to pound against my ribs and I felt some of the old excitement I used to get in my fighting days. I think he noticed that too. His hands slowly unclenched. His lips smiled. His eyes remained hooded. “Did you ever take part in the Fancy, Mr Brodie.”

“I did, sir, when I first came to London. I fought to earn extra money.” He nodded as if I had confirmed something.

“I thought so. I saw you spar with the Liverpool Ape once although you were much younger then and did not have that cruel scar on your cheek.”

“A man gave me that when I was a Runner, sir. He died shortly thereafter.” I let him draw his own conclusions from that. He strode back over to his desk, slumped down in his chair, rested his elbows on his desk, interlocked his fingers and rested his many chins on them while he considered me. I do not think he was frightened of me, not really. He was just puzzled and frustrated at his inability to bend me to his will. Contrary to what we like to tell our children, not all bullies are cowards, and not all of them will run if you stand up to them. Some of them will turn very nasty indeed.

The Casebook of Jack Brodie

Much to my surprise my Victorian detective novel, The Inquiry Agent, has reached the top 10 in the Kindle Historical Mysteries and British Detective categories on Amazon.com. It was in fact very briefly number 1 in both  and is, as of the time of writing, in the Top 100 Mysteries.

I would like to do something to encourage you all to rush out and buy a copy (or at least give you some idea of the style) but unfortunately the terms of Amazon’s Kindle Select program forbid me from reprinting any of it here. I am therefor going to post a couple of extracts from its sequel, The Distressed Lady, one of my many works in progress.

For those of you who don’t know anything about my alternative career as a mystery writer, don’t worry, so far you have only missed one book, the aforementioned The Inquiry Agent. It features Jack Brodie, a private detective who works in the seamier side of 1840’s London. Like most private detectives in literature, Brodie is poor but (kind of) honest. Unlike most, he is a widower with two young children who will find themselves out on the very mean streets of Seven Dials if anything happens to him.

Anyway, here is the first extract from the Casebook of Jack Brodie.

Mrs Camberley
“It is a terrible business, Mr Brodie,” Mrs Camberley said. “Can’t you help me?”

Even in her distress, she was beautiful. She dabbed away the tears with her handkerchief and glanced at me across the narrow deal table that served as my desk. She was very lovely, with her raven black hair, her high cheekbones and her large dark eyes but I could not help but think there was something a little calculating about her manner, as if, despite her sorrow, some part of her mind was carefully assessing the effect of her sobbing.

Outside the sounds of London’s heavy traffic could be heard three stories below. Omnibuses and cabs and brewer’s drays thundered past, while their drivers shouted at their horses or flicked their whips to force them through the mass of vehicles. It was a measure of Mrs Camberley’s determination that she had visited me here, walking up three twisting flights of stairs to this tiny office. Her maid waited outside, standing like a sentry at my door. I set down my pen on the blotter, closed my notebook and rested my elbows on the table.

Much as I needed her money I did not want to raise any false hopes. From what she had said, Mrs Camberley might well now be a widow, or the next worse thing, and might soon have need of every shilling. I almost told her to go on her way, that there was nothing I could do for her, but then I thought of little Rachel, pale and sweating in her small bed, and I hardened my heart. “Honesty compels me to say I don’t have high hopes, Mrs Camberley, but it is possible I might be able to find your husband.”

“Oh, Mr Brodie, you have given me the first ray of sunlight I have seen in these many horrible days,” she said. A faint, brave, slightly theatrical smile flickered across her face then she looked down as if afraid that I might cruelly dash all her hopes. I felt less guilty then at the thought of taking her money and looking for a man who was most likely either long gone or dead by one of the mischances so common in this great city.

Having come to a decision about the money, it was time to begin taking the rest of what she had said with some seriousness. The dour Calvinist part of me, despite all my resolutions, felt compelled to add, “I should warn you that I most likely won’t be able to locate Mr Camberley, and if I do, the news may not be good.”

“Just knowing the truth about what has happened to him would set my mind at ease, no matter how dark the tidings you might bring.”

I rose to my full height and almost hit my head on the slope of the ceiling and turned for a moment to look out my window. I could see the canted rooftops of the city running away as far as the eye could see. Lines of pigeons kept watch on the sooty red tiles, more grey sentinels like the maid outside.

“Very well then, Mrs Camberley. The fee for conducting the investigation will be a sovereign per day, with any expenses covered by yourself. I will, of course, provide you with receipts and a detailed invoice.”

The mention of money gave her pause. Perhaps she expected me to work out of gallantry. She had the look of a woman who men were always doing things to impress. Her eyes narrowed slightly, her full lips thinned. She gave a small sob and then looked up to see what effect it had.

I perched myself on the edge of my desk, the very picture of a heartless brute in a melodrama, a part I have been told I am well suited to play, being large and dark and as devilish-looking as the wicked landlord in a penny gaff play. I felt less and less bad about the idea of taking her blunt. She looked at me hopefully. I looked back, expressionless.

In the end, she decided to stay within character. “Of course, Mr Brodie, you shall have your money.” There was just the faintest hint of womanly contempt for the sordid subject.

“It is customary to pay an advance,” I said. “I would not expect a lady like yourself to know about such things but sadly it is true.”

I let the faintest note of irony show in my voice, and she looked up at me quick as a card-sharp who fears they may have been caught by a cheat as swift as themselves.

“Thank you for your kindness, Mr Brodie,” she said and smiled.

My instincts told me to be very wary of Mrs Camberley. 

Drinking With Wolves

For those of you considering having a beer with the Wolves of Space, a dire warning. Leo, one of the Imperial Guard heroes of Fist of Demetrius, has had some experience in this field.

Extracted from the first draft of Fist of Demetrius

“Kill me now,” I said. The room seemed to be whirling around as if someone had placed a gravitic rotator under my bed. It felt as if one of the Adeptus Astartes was banging on my head with a Thunder Hammer. My throat felt raw. My stomach churned as if I had the Brontovan Trots.

“You saw Space Wolves,” said Anton. The skinny bastard was practically dancing with excitement. “You drank with Space Wolves.”

“You pointed a shotgun at Space Wolves,” said Ivan, the light reflecting brilliantly on the metal of his face. I considered asking him to switch it off then realised that made no sense. “Your stupidity is impressive.”

“Don’t worry. They got their revenge. They decided a bolter shell was too quick so they tried to kill me with alcohol poisoning. I think they are on the verge of success. Ivan, if I die, you can have my shotgun.”

“I wanted that,” said Anton.

“Ivan, you have my permission to give Anton the shotgun — full bore, in the face,” I said. “Make sure it’s loaded with manstopper rounds. You’ll need them to breach his thick skull.”

“Hark at the man who tried to outdrink a Space Wolf,” said Anton. “He is calling me stupid.”

“I wasn’t trying to outdrink him,” I said, pausing to throw up in the bucket that Ivan had helpfully placed by the side of the bed. “I just decided it would be more dangerous to refuse him than to drink the bloody thing. Of course, I might have been wrong about that.”

“I hope you did not let the side down,” said Anton. “I would not want them thinking the boys from Belial can’t hold their drink.”

“Anton,” I said, dry heaving for a bit before continuing. “Compared to a Space Wolf, a mastodon can’t hold its booze. One of them could outdrink an alcholic Ogryn and its in-bred cousin, probably its whole alcoholic clan.”

I had flashbacks to last nights drinking session, just images really, because after I had accepted Grimfang’s proffered glass my memory of things shattered into a thousand glittering booze-soaked pieces. I recalled the High Command of Macharius’s army drinking toasts to the Adeptus Astartes, sensibly using thimble sized shot-glasses of spirit, while the Space Wolves guzzled tankards of the stuff. Only I had been dumb enough to try the tankard.

I remembered speeches being given and songs being sung  and over everything a looming sense of unreality hovering. It seemed so unlikely that we could be in the presence of these creatures of legend, that they would be present on the Crusade.  I remembered howling war-cries and tales of battle and a skald singing something in an odd chant that told of ancient battles under bloody suns against foes worthy of Wolves.

I remembered Macharius reeling to his feet and speaking of the wars of his youth, not boasting, simply talking about old comrades, now gone and battles long won. I remembered Constantine of all people toasting Macharius and their friendship.

Most of all I remembered what Grimfang had whispered, about the way Anna’s scent clung to me. The Great Wolf knew about the Imperial Assassin. He suspected her. Not without good reason. The question troubling me was what she would do when she found out, as she undoubtedly would.

Extracted from the first draft of Fist of Demetrius

Wolfblades: Yet Another Blast From The Past

In honour of Macharius’s recent encounter with the Wolves of Space I have decided to reprint yet another old post of mine from the Trollslayer.net website. (And yes, I admit it, because I am feeling lazy.) Once again, I would like to thank Jimmy Carmine for pointing me in the direction of the archive.org and allowing me to retrieve this post from oblivion. Once again, I would just like to make it clear that none of this stuff is an official part of the background save where it actually appears in the Space Wolf novels and has not been superceded by new developments. I would also like to state that it is entirely possible, indeed extremely likely, that Macharius will encounter some Wolfblades in The Fist of Demetrius.

Wolfblades

An extract from the basic training lectures of  Brother Guillame, Fabricator Scriptorum, Inquisition Library, Stalynheim.

Reference: Light of Knowledge

Clearance Level: Tertius

Unauthorised Viewing May Result In Termination of Library Privileges and Life.

Praise the Emperor.

Brothers, it is often said that there is not one Imperium but many. Putting aside for the moment the seemingly inherent heresy of that thought, we shall see that it reveals one facet of the truth. Many consider our Imperium to be a vast monolithic bloc with every arm of Imperial government and policy acting in one accord. Laudable as that thought is, it is simply not true. In some places our Imperium is more like a patchwork of alliances between many factions, all of whom believe it is in their best interests to ensure its continuance.

Nowhere is this better exemplified than by the Adeptus Astartes and the Navigator House. You will immediately notice some similarities. Both consist of a number of factions, each with its own culture, interests, policies and goals. Both predate the Imperium itself, and by virtue of their ancient histories lay claim to perquisites and privileges that make them exempt from many aspects of Imperial Law. Both can make superficially convincing claims that these exemptions are validated by the mandate of the Emperor himself. Within the Imperium they are allowed to act with a certain autonomy not granted to others. Even our own Inquisition grants them a latitude that would seem almost indulgent of heresy if it were allowed to anyone else.

In some cases these organisations have made pacts with each other, which had they not been mandated by the Emperor and did they not predate the foundation of the Ecclesiarchy, would be illegal. Probably the best known such pact is the one between the Space Wolves and the House of Belisarius, the so-called Wolfblade accord.

The origins of this pact are lost in legend, but the most commonly accepted version of the story dates it from the time of the Great Crusade and the friendship that existed between Leman Russ and Alexander Belisarius. Belisarius was a Navigator of genius who aided Russ on many of his adventures and is said to have disappeared with him on his last fatal voyage. On the day of the Feast of the Founding, they are said to have sworn a pact of eternal friendship. As a sign of this friendship, the Belisarians agreed to provide Navigators for the Chapter in perpetuam. In return they would enjoy the military protection of the Space Wolves themselves. The pledge of this would be that an entire pack of Wolves would accompany the Celestarch as his bodyguard. Given the fractious nature of the Navigator Houses, and a commercial rivalry which at that time could result in conflicts that can only be described as wars, this was an alliance of considerable importance.

I see some of you are shocked. When considering this you have to remember that the Imperium did not exist when the accord was made. There was no formal legal apparatus as such for resolving disputes, no strong central authority that could impose the rule of law upon malefactors and those who broke the peace. True, there was the Emperor and his allies, but at the time, they were too busy expanding the rule of mankind through the heavens to give their full attention to policing the worlds they brought into the fold of civilisation. In these essentially lawless times such an alliance was of great value to both parties.

Such archaisms should have been superseded with the founding of the Imperium, but they were not. Of course, as is the wont of such things, the nature of the relationship has changed over the millennia. The Wolfblades no longer act as simple bodyguards for the Celestarch of Belisarius. These days, that is but one of their duties. Nowadays they act as his confidential agents, the leaders of his house troops and upon occasion, it is said, his personal assassins.

It may be also that they perform another role. Because of their connection with Belisarius, the Space Wolves are one of the few Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes to have maintained a continuous presence on the surface of Terra since the time of the Great Heresy. It is a small presence to be sure, but it is one, in a part of our galaxy where the Astartes are by no means popular and are in some cases forbidden by law. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining the longevity of the relationship between the two factions. I do not think we should underestimate the importance of having eyes and ears, and occasionally blades, among the wealthy and influential elites of Terra.

We can take this line of reasoning one step further. The Navigator Houses extend their tentacles everywhere. They are vastly wealthy, hugely influential and extremely adroit at the collection of information. You can imagine the advantages to a Chapter based on the fringes of the Imperium, in having its own agents, at the very centre of this vast web. Of course this is speculation. Even if it were so, no Space Wolf would ever admit to it. They pride themselves on their primitive code of honour.

Lastly, it is worth bearing in mind that such bodyguards are a two-edged sword. Who can predict what would happen to a Celestarch who failed to honour his commitments to provide Navigators to the Wolves. In this one case, I don’t think any of us need be prescient to foresee the outcome.

The advantages to the Wolves are obvious but what do the Navigators get from this agreement. The answer by now should also be obvious. They have a visible symbol of an alliance with one of the oldest and most powerful Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. A Chapter moreover famed for its disregard for the niceties of Imperial politics. No one doubts that if the Celestarch truly required their aid, they would come. There have been many examples in history of Space Wolf units coming to the aid of Belisarian traders. In the festering cesspit of rivalry, assassination and factional, commercial strife that is Navigator politics, this has been a huge advantage.

The alliance then is a very real one, and valuable to both sides. The question is for how much longer should it be allowed to exist?