Storm of Crimson (The Last Warriors Book 1)

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The survivors, forced to move stealthily through territory captured by the Orks, were able to link up with a detachment of Crimson Fists assigned to defend Rynn's World's capital, New Rynn City, in the process remaining awake for There, they reunited with nearly four hundred surviving Crimson Fists Battle-Brothers who were shocked to find their Chapter Master yet lived.

Faced with the destruction of the vast majority of his Chapter at Rynn's World, Kantor was faced with a choice few Chapter Masters have ever had to make. He could lead the remnants of his decimated force in a vainglorious last stand, determined to slaughter as many of the enemy as possible before succumbing to their overwhelming numbers, or, as he eventually chose, he could marshal his resources and deploy his remaining force in missions that favoured small, elite units, looking to the eventual rebuilding of the Chapter and retaking of his world. It has been noted that many Chapter Masters in Kantor's position would have chosen the former option, ensuring their Chapter a place in legend rather than accept their virtual defeat.

It is to Kantor's eternal credit, and is a mark of a leader of superior character, that he made the choice he did, for the Imperium can ill afford the loss of such a fine Chapter of Astartes as the Crimson Fists.

The survivors held out against the encroaching Orks for eighteen solar months until a massive Imperial Navy fleet arrived in Through the inspired leadership of Pedro Kantor, and thanks to the heroic sacrifice of scores of Crimson Fists, the Imperium won out against impossible odds. When ammunition ran dry, the Orks fell instead beneath Chainswords, Combat Knives and ceramite-clad fists. Still the Crimson Fists held firm, channeling in that desperate hour a measure of the close-quarters might of their long dead founder, Alexis Polux.

The newcomers who arrived with the Imperial relief fleet, which included multiple regiments of the Astra Militarum , contingents from several different Space Marine Chapters and several battlegroups of Imperial Titans , managed to rout the xenos forces from the planet and liberate the surviving Space Marines and people of Rynn's World. However, the damage had been done. In addition to losing their fortress and nearly 60 percent of their brethren, the Chapter also lost much of its irreplaceable gene-seed stock and ancient wargear.

The effort to fully cleanse the planet of Greenskin taint took many Terran years. The Rynn's World Campaign resulted in catastrophic losses for the Crimson Fists, with the Chapter almost completely wiped out. As a result, Kantor's primary focus turned to rebuilding the Chapter. The Crimson Fists are often on the move, no longer having a true home base and reverting to their ancient practice of operating as primarily a fleet-based Chapter. Yet, they often return to Rynn's World to mourn the Battle-Brothers who died so heroically in its defence.

Although the planet was officially designated by the Imperium as secure once more, Orks are always a difficult species to truly eradicate once they have made planetfall. Several Greenskin warbands were known to be lurking in the planet's Jaden Mountains, conducting raids that the surviving weary and war-torn populace of Rynn's World could ill-afford. It was a difficult campaign, for the Orks defended every crag and cavern, and Kantor had neither the men nor the equipment he would have wished for such a task.

Nonetheless, the Crimson Fists forged on, slaying Greenskins wherever they could be found. Under such a threat, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the Orks of the Jaden Mountains united. So it was that when Kantor's force came under attack in Traitor's Gorge, they found themselves assailed not only by the warband that they had been hunting, but by every Ork for leagues around in every direction.

Though but two dozen in number, Kantor and his Crimson Fists fought as heroes of legend, taking a grievous toll on an Ork horde that numbered hundreds. With Kantor at the forefront, the Space Marines battled their way clear of the ravine's treacherous confines and sought the high ground. There they planted their feet and fought shoulder to shoulder against the horde, but still the Orks kept coming. With all the Crimson Fists' Thunderhawk gunships lost in battle or under heavy repair, Kantor knew that both evacuation and reinforcement were impossible, and the Orks showed no sign of giving up the battle.

Three of Kantor's Battle-Brothers had been slain in the escape from the ravine, and only the Chapter Master remained unwounded. In return, the Crimson Fists made Traitor's Gorge run red with the blood of slain Greenskins, and fought from behind barricades of the bulky Orkish dead, but Kantor knew that the odds were stacked against him.

Without warning, the Greenskin tide began to slacken. Seeking the reason, Kantor's keen eye saw ghostly figures on Widow's Spire to the west and Darkridge to the east, high above and behind the encircling Orks. Graceful were these newcomers, darting from cover to cover and paying no heed to the treacherous footing as their longrifles brought precise death to the Ork horde.

Who his fresh allies were, Kantor could not immediately tell, for their forms shimmered as insubstantial as mist in the morning sunlight, but nor did he care. All that mattered was that this intervention gave his Battle-Brothers the chance that they needed to counterattack and turn the battle's tide.

Snagrod during the Battle of Rynn's World. Giving a mighty shout, the Crimson Fists charged over their rampart of dead greenskins and set upon the Orks with new vigour. Caught between the re-doubled rage of the Crimson Fists and fresh attackers on the slopes, the Orks were thrust back. The Greenskins fled down Traitor's Gorge, leaving more than ten score dead and twice as many wounded behind them. As Kantor's men walked amongst the carnage, ending the lives of those Orks too foolhardy or injured to flee, a robed figure detached itself from the shadows clustered on Widow's Spire and strode swiftly to Kantor's side.

Coldly contemptuous of any threat posed by the watchful Space Marines, it cut through the Chapter Master's wary greeting:. Pursue them into the darkness and a great victory shall be yours. In fifty years a shadow of their making will arise to envelop this area of space which, unopposed, shall be the doom of your people and mine. Catastrophe will reign, and you shall lament your inaction this day. Chapter Master Pedro Kantor defends his Chapter's homeworld. Auspicious fate dictated that we should fight side-by-side this day but, fate is a fickle creature.

At our next encounter, it will be my fists that bear the stain of your blood. And with that, the alien turned and was gone, and the shadows that lurked amongst the scree of Widow's Spire and Darkridge were gone also. Kantor weighed the words and actions he had borne witness to and led his men into Traitor's Gorge. There in the darkness a great victory was indeed his, forever ending the Ork threat in the Jaden Mountains.

Returning to the lowlands, Kantor continued the rebuilding of his Chapter, and in time raised the Crimson Fists out of ruin to once more stand alongside the greatest champions of Mankind.

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But in all the years of triumph that followed, the robed figure's words would dwell heavily on Kantor until, at the last, they met again Following the losses of the Rynn's World Campaign, the Crimson Fists found themselves in the unusual position of having a disproportionate number of Veterans and specialists amidst their ranks, Techmarines and Apothecaries in particular.

The presence of these experienced brothers was vital to the rebuilding of the Chapter, for without the Techmarines' intricate knowledge of the workings of the Machine God , the Crimson Fists could not maintain the wargear of their armoury and remain a viable fighting force. Without the Apothecaries' knowledge of the complex process of creating new warrior brethren, the Chapter would dwindle and disappear within a short span of years. The safeguarding of the Chapter's gene-seed is of paramount importance to the Crimson Fists, and it is a rare day when they will withdraw from the field of battle before their Apothecaries have recovered the Progenoids of every last fallen brother, even in the face of overwhelming enemy attack.

The Crimson Fists have begun recruiting additional brethren from not only Rynn's World, but across the entire Loki Sector. The process couldn't be rushed, however, for the Crimson Fists had a long and noble tradition to maintain, and to compromise on the quality and suitability of Aspirants at such a critical juncture could one day spell its doom. Though the newly re-formed 10 th Company consisted of only a few Scout Squads , the Chapter had begun to forge the future of the Crimson Fists with every battle they fought.

These squads had been the recipients of much of the Chapter's knowledge and experience and had already distinguished themselves in their early actions against Ork forces in the sector; tellingly, the Scouts were also developing an abhorrence for Greenskins rivalling that of even the Chapter's Veterans. As one would expect of Successors to the Imperial Fists , the Crimson Fists are steadfast warriors, reluctant to yield so long as victory is possible. Defeat is a bitter pill to swallow for their Battle-Brothers and they would rather die fighting than accept that failure.

Nonetheless, the Chapter's brush with annihilation has tempered this ardour with grim reality, forcing them to withdraw when they find themselves in futile conflicts. The Crimson Fists' lives were to be expended for greater rewards than the salving of personal pride or the pursuit of vengeance, even against the despised race of Orks who nearly brought the Chapter to its knees. Now the Battle-Brothers of the Crimson Fists fight for more than honour and renown -- they fight so that their Chapter may survive, and one day regain its former glories in the service of the Emperor.

With Cadia's fall and the loss of the network of Necron -built Cadian Pylons that had long prevented the Eye of Terror from naturally expanding into the Materium , the Warp rift began to expand exponentially across the width of the known galaxy. This tear in reality, known as the Great Rift , effectively rent the Imperium in half. The beleaguered forces of the Imperium increasingly found themselves overwhelmed as the power of Chaos and the xenos hordes grew unstoppable.

Whole sectors of the Imperium lost contact with Terra , while others reported the onslaught of rabid Greenskin hordes, aggressive T'au fleets or undying Necron hosts, seemingly driven to conquest in the face of the expanding Warp Storm fronts. Heretic Chaos Cults and rogue psykers rose up in the billions, and every Imperial world now seemed set to burn in the fires of unending war. But all was not lost, for upon the Ultramarines ' homeworld of Macragge during the Ultramar Campaign of M41, the genius of Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl combined with the power of Ynnead , the Aeldari god of the dead, to resurrect the Primarch Roboute Guilliman from his millennia-long, deathless slumber.

Before his wounding, Guilliman had anticipated the need for a new breed of hero for this, the darkest age in the Imperium's history. He knew that the galaxy would need warriors resilient enough to stand against the Forces of Chaos as the Imperium found itself poised on the brink of annihilation. To that end, for 10, standard years, Archmagos Cawl had been working upon improving the Adeptus Astartes themselves. The result were the Primaris Space Marines of the Ultima Founding , a more powerful corps of transhuman warriors, more potent than even the original Astartes.

New armies were raised in breathtaking numbers and new and terrible weapons were developed whose fury even the worshippers of the Dark Gods would be unable to withstand. Gathering a great new armada, composed of elements of the Adeptus Custodes , the Silent Sisterhood and a vast war host of Primaris Space Marines from many newly founded Chapters, the Lord Commander of the Imperium launched his Indomitus Crusade.

History seemed doomed to repeat itself when Rynn's World was struck by daemonic incursions during the Warp Storms that followed the birth of the Great Rift. Though Rynn's World found itself far to the galactic south of the primary anomaly, like much of the Imperium Sanctus this did not save the planet from an outbreak of unregulated psychic phenomena and Warp Storm activity.

The Daemon Prince Rhaxor -- a daemonic warlord of terrible might -- and his hellish legions attacked, and the Crimson Fists were once more outnumbered and besieged upon their homeworld, their forces barely restored to half-strength. Three times Pedro Kantor led spearheads out to drive back the foe. When the Indomitus Crusade arrived unlooked for at Rynn's World, they broke the daemonic legions of the Daemon Prince.

Roboute Guilliman himself led the relief of Rynn's World, linking his forces to the surviving Crimson Fists and the Rynnsguard Planetary Defence Force , before working with Pedro Kantor seemingly as equals to coordinate the annihilation of the daemonic menace. After the fighting was done, Roboute Guilliman himself gazed upon the piled dead of their foes and commended both the Chapter and their stalwart leader. The Crimson Fists marvelled at the return of the legendary Primarch, but were even more grateful for the arrival of Primaris Space Marines bearing their own heraldry.

In the wake of the planet's second salvation, Archamgos Cawl's Ark Mechanicus Zar-Quaesitor , delivered an equal measure of redemption to the Crimson Fists themselves in the form of company after company of Primaris Battle-Brothers. The technologies to fashion new Primaris Astartes were gifted to the Crimson Fists' Apothecarion, and hope kindled anew in the hearts of those Battle-Brothers who had survived the daemonic invasion of their world.

Guilliman had decreed that those Chapters who had suffered the keenest losses and the highest rates of attrition fighting against the myriad foes of Mankind would be the first to receive Primaris Space Marine reinforcements. The Crimson Fists proved to be one of the first recipients of these new transhuman warriors, and would be able to finally rebuild their decimated Chapter. Here were warriors whose genetic composition was closer to their own Primarch, Rogal Dorn, than had ever before existed.

For his raw material, Cawl had selected warriors of Terra, and had taken them only a few generations after the original Imperial Fists had been created by the Emperor. Indeed, some had been held in stasis since the days of the Great Crusade ; a few of the Primaris Space Marines could recall having seen Rogal Dorn himself.

When these transhuman warriors of the Ultima Founding had been brought before their parent Chapter, it was like a meeting of brothers separated at birth. Arriving at a time of great darkness and upheaval, the Primaris Astartes' strength was welcomed. With the injection of Primaris Space Marine reinforcements, the Crimson Fists have become an effective fighting force once again, especially against the hated Greenskins.

In the aftermath of the battles upon Rynn's World, Pedro Kantor had much to do. The daemons had brought ruin to much of the planet. The Chapter, so painstakingly rebuilt, was once more decimated, and with Primaris reinforcements from Archmagos Cawl, there were entire new companies of Crimson Fists that had never known Rynn's World or the Chapter's rituals. They required swift cultural integration to ensure that, like a wounded body fitted with a hurried prosthetic, the Chapter did not reject these newcomers for the strangers they were.

As in awe of the Ultramarines Primarch as Kantor was, the Chapter Master of the Crimson Fists was simply too overstretched to do more than thank the Lord Commander of the Imperium for his timely arrival. Pressed for time, Guilliman spent but three solar days on Rynn's World as his Crusade refitted itself. Before he left, Guilliman summoned Pedro Kantor.

The Chapter Master arrived late, still arrayed in his blood-soaked and battle-worn Power Armour. Noticing the Chapter Master's discomfort, the Lord Commander of the Imperium put Kantor's mind at ease, for he had not summoned him for censure, but to speak to him both sincerely and most gravely. He commended the stalwart Chapter Master for his leadership, tenacity and stubbornness in the face of overwhelming odds, as well as his dedication to the performance of duty above all else.

He assured Kantor that he upheld the proud genetic legacy of his gene-father Rogal Dorn. The Primarch told Kantor that he would need such men in the days ahead, as they faced the encroaching darkness on all sides. He ordered the Chapter Master to reassemble his Chapter and to look towards the future rather than the past for the Imperium had great need of him and his Crimson Fists.

Storm of Vengeance (Crimson Worlds Refugees, book 5) by Jay Allan

This speech inspired Kantor beyond the ability of words to describe. The thought that his genesire would have approved his choices stilled many questions that had long churned in his mind, and he set about the restoration of the Crimson Fists with a will. Yet the galaxy does not stand still; the war for the survival of Humanity raged on, and with the opening of the Cicatrix Maledictum the Imperium's battlefields had redoubled and its plight became more desperate than ever before.

Even as he worked to build his Chapter's numbers back to full strength, and to integrate the Primaris Space Marines into the Crimson Fists' ranks, Kantor ordered other plans set in motion, some of which he had discussed with Guilliman on the day of the Primarch's departure. The turbulent years of destruction and the long, slow fight to rebuild had left the Crimson Fists with a greater than normal strength of Veteran warriors, whose expertise was now desperately needed amongst beset neighbouring star systems.

Kantor therefore authorised the deployment of Veteran Kill-teams to nearby war zones. Their duty was either to escort Techmarines and Apothecaries while they aided local Imperial forces, or else to strike carefully aimed blows to destabilise enemy forces, remove tyrannical war leaders from power and the like. Kantor also wasted no time in despatching strike forces to worlds that seemed in the greatest need of aid. Provided with such a sudden replenishment of martial strength after so many years of hand-to-mouth survival, some Chapters might have charged recklessly into every battle they could find, feeling the need to prove their worth anew or exorcise a long-felt desire for vengeance.

Not so the Crimson Fists.

Crimson Fists

Pedro Kantor's deployment of his warriors was measured, carefully planned and meticulously orchestrated. Crimson Fists strike forces arrived upon Vigilus , plunged into war zone Ryza and initiated hammerblow offensives upon half a dozen worlds in the Loki Sector. Always, they deployed just enough strength to ensure the maximum conquest to casualty ratio; always they struck at the most strategically consequential targets. Always they demonstrated that long years of hardship had taught the Crimson Fists how to husband their strength and fight without ego or undue optimism.

They must get the absolute most out of every shot fired, every blow struck, every warrior deployed before falling back the moment victory threatened to become pyrrhic. With each victory, the Crimson Fists removed another Greenskin infestation, another daemonically possessed rogue governor or alien despot from power and strengthened the Imperium's hold upon the Loki Sector. Such was Guilliman's command to Pedro Kantor, the last words he had spoken to him before boarding his transport and continuing about his long crusade:. Create a stronghold of Imperial space that, in direst need, can become the lynchpin of the entire Segmentum.

Lay low the works of the tyrant and the despot, Pedro Kantor, and in their place raise fortifications of adamantine and ceramite so that, in our darkest hour, you might do for the Segmentum Tempestus what you have done for your noble Chapter. With them came their foremost Successor Chapter, the Crimson Fists, who had lost so much to the Greenskin species on Rynn's World a solar decade before. On Vigilus, that debt would be paid in blood.

That in itself was a significant achievement, given their tragic past. They had worked hard to bring their new Primaris brethren into the fold, teaching them the rites of battle and training alongside them night and day until the new warriors fought seamlessly with the old. Each new recruit to the Chapter underwent the trials of the Bloodied Fist, returning with his bare hands stained with the gore of a barb-dragon and the right to wear crimson upon his right hand. There were a few traditionalists of the Chapter who saw the induction of so many off-worlders into their ranks as permanently changing the soul of their brotherhood, but with Guilliman and Pedro Kantor united in their new vision for the Imperium, they kept their counsel to themselves.

The Crimson Fists too had heard tell of Vigilus' plight. Resolving to harden the bonds of kinship between newcomer and veteran, Pedro Kantor led five entire companies -- a full half of his Chapter -- to battle in the Nachmund Gauntlet. It was a statement, after a fashion, its intent as clear as the clarions that announced their arrival and the stark blue-and-red heraldry of their battle plate.

The Crimson Fists were back in force, ready to fight and die not just for their home territory, but for far-flung worlds that the Imperium at large could not do without. Upon making planetfall at the capital of Saint's Haven, the Crimson Fists did not plunge straight into battle, raining from the skies in thunderous drop assaults as did so many of their fellows.

Instead they deployed via Thunderhawk gunship -- many of which had yet to earn a single battle scar, for the armorium of the Chapter had been replenished alongside its warriors by the grace of Guilliman's crusade. Pedro Kantor presented himself to the governing Vigilus Senate that had been set up by the Ultramarines Chapter Master Marneus Calgar , consulting the war leaders of that august assemblage and seeking the wisdom of Calgar himself. Kantor was there to serve, not to win glory -- he would pay back the faith that Primarch Guilliman held in him through solemn duty.

Much to the disappointment and simmering anger of many Crimson Fists, the companies from Rynn's World were not despatched to shatter the Ork forces upon Vigilus. Instead, they were given orders to aid the war effort in the Dirkden Hivesprawl. Their task was to slow down the Genestealer Cultists that had boiled out of the subterranean levels of Dirkden, rising up in such impossible numbers that many thought that misbegotten series of hive cities already lost. Without a word of protest, Kantor made haste for the Hyperia-Dirkden Fortwall -- in doing so coming under attack from elements of the cult known as the Pauper Princes -- and crossed to the war-torn hellscape of the Rescalid Underworks.

His forces fought nobly and without pause against the Purestrain Genestealers that scuttled like hideous alien insects through the streets, purging nests of the vile creatures with flame and sustained volleys of Bolter fire. Their aim was not simply to exterminate, for even with their newly bolstered companies, there was no way they could have taken on an entire nation of Genestealer Cultists and survived.

Instead they fought a complex, overlapping web of battles designed to buy time for the untainted Imperial citizenry to escape the Genestealer's Curse. The populace of Dirkden, having been plunged into a nightmarish existence where every building, hab-site or bunker could harbour twisted alien mutants , had all but given up hope.

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With the Crimson Fists working alongside Cadian troops to clear as many citizens as possible, tens of thousands of lives were spared, flowing in refugee convoys into the dusty southern reaches of the Hyperia hivesprawl, where the Brazen Claws had so recently hurled back the Ork invaders. When the Adeptus Ministorum decreed that they had overloaded the capacity of Hyperia to harbour more unfortunates, and that agents of the Pauper Princes were also escaping Dirkden disguised as refugees, Pedro Kantor argued for a stringent checking procedure at the southern gate of the Fortwall.

He did so with such passion and eloquence that the Ministorum agreed to a compromise, and put into place the checkpoints requested under the purview of veteran Cadian regiments. In the end, even that was not enough -- the Fortwall and Dirkden both ultimately fell to the xenos cultists that had so long prepared the way for their ascension. Yet without the efficiency, conviction and compassion of the Crimson Fists, Dirkden would have fallen long before the culmination of the War of Beasts, and doomed millions more innocent souls.

Crimson Fists Veteran Marines stand vigilant against the vile Tyranids. The Crimson Fists are classified as a Codex Astartes -compliant Chapter, because they are strict followers of the sacred tome with only a few minor variants. Since the Crimson Fists started as a crusading Chapter, they always had access to a large, well-maintained fleet of starships.

Although many vessels were lost over Rynn's World, the surviving fleet was more than capable of entangling the Orks' space forces until the Imperial Navy was able to reinforce the system. With few exceptions, the Crimson Fists are compliant with the Codex in terms of organisation and battlefield procedures.

They consistently follow the tactics presented in the Codex , efficiently making use of different standard units in the manner that sacred tactical manual requires. Their training is broad and all-encompassing, so that the Chapter can effectively counter opponents who use vastly different tactical approaches to battle. In this way, the Crimson Fists quickly adapt their tactics to defeat any who would oppose the will of the Imperium.

Their millennia of active crusading also necessitated that the Crimson Fists would have a higher number of specialists than the Codex dictates. During this time, they assembled a significant armada of Battle Barges and Strike Cruisers. Since their settlement of Rynn's World, the Chapter has maintained the size of this fleet. Their Techmarines traditionally maintain the fleet's vessels as well as the Chapter's vehicles. Every major vessel also maintains at least one Apothecary to ensure that gene-seed may be harvested and secured until needed. After the Battle of Rynn's World, the Crimson Fists found themselves in the interesting position of having more specialists than standard Battle-Brothers.

The Chapter's Apothecaries and Techmarines have been forced to take on roles not normally assigned to them, although without their skills the Chapter would have dwindled beyond repair within a few Terran years. The process of rebuilding the Chapter has been slow and arduous, although any rush would result in complications that would corrupt or destroy the Chapter at a later date.

A number of Scout Squads have been inducted into a newly formed 10th Company, and are said to be forging the future of the Chapter with their every action. Various Imperial sources seem to conflict over the actual number of Battle-Brothers who survived the Rynn's World Campaign. One set of records indicate that just after the destruction of their fortress-monastery, but before the battle for New Rynn City began in earnest, the Crimson Fists numbered Battle-Brothers, mostly those stationed in New Rynn City, in their fleet and on outlying settlements.

However, given the length of the Battle of Rynn's World, it is unlikely that anything even approaching that number of Space Marines were still alive at the end of the campaign. One quote made in reference to the Crimson Fists mentions the fact that a Chapter reduced to less than a company of Battle-Brothers is unlikely to recover. However, an additional record mentions that the Crimson Fists fielded four "reduced companies" at the turning of the millennium. Given that this is less than a solar decade after the end of the Rynn's World campaign M41 , it is unlikely that the Chapter has managed to "graduate" many new Battle-Brothers from its reduced Scout Marines cadre.

While the actual number of Crimson Fists Marines who survived the Rynn's World campaign is unknown, it seems fair to assume that the Chapter was unlikely to field more than Battle-Brothers before the arrival of the Indomitus Crusade's Primaris reinforcements. Like all Codex Astartes -compliant Space Marine Chapters, the Crimson Fists were divided into ten companies of Space Marines each when at full strength, with the exception of the 1 st Company fielding Battle-Brothers.

Each company was led by an officer with the rank of Captain who is a hero of the Crimson Fists. Each Captain -- in addition to his company command -- is in charge of a particular aspect of the Chapter's logistics. The following represents the order of battle of the Crimson Fists Chapter as it stood during the invasion of Rynn's World in M41, before the introduction of the Primaris Space Marines:. A Scout Marine of the Crimson Fists.

Though Rynn's World is the Crimson Fists' home, it is not a planet from which they actively recruit. During their millennia as a crusading Chapter, the Crimson Fists established the practice of recruiting on many worlds of the Loki Sector. While a few had significant technological bases, the Chapter has generally recruited preferentially from Feral Worlds such as Blackwater, which is situated relatively close to Rynn's World.

The natives of this world are renowned for their ferocity and courage, but are far from barbarous primitives. They are a noble people, whose lives are a daily struggle against adversity, and it is this stoic nature that makes them such ideal raw material to become Crimson Fists. While Aspirants are sometimes taken from other worlds, this practice has become increasingly uncommon. However, the Crimson Fists have never sought out those who engaged in savagery for its own sake. Rather, they seek the most appropriate candidates who are characterised by a combination of honour, athleticism, and stoicism in the face of overwhelming odds.

However, the Crimson Fists also now recruit from Rynn's World itself and other worlds near to it. And as an empire falls, three warriors rise. Their honour code is all they have left until orders from within stress them to breaking point, and the very bonds that hold them together will be ripped apart.

Cassandra wants the voice in her head to go away. Willing to do anything for peace, the ageing whore takes an assassination contract that promises answers, only the true price may be everyone and everything she knows. As the daughter of a traitor the path to redemption could as easily tear it, and her family, asunder. Madson has become a grim goddess of infusing palpable tension into the scenes within each chapter. Only Gideon can lead them, but when he allies himself with a man returned from the dead it will challenge all she thinks she knows and everything she wants to believe.

Now empress of nothing, Miko is more determined than ever to fight for her people, yet with her hunt for allies increasingly desperate, she may learn too late that power lies not in names but in people. Rah refused to bow to the Levanti emperor, but now abandoned by the Second Swords he must choose whether to fight for his people, or his soul. Will honour be his salvation, or lead to his destruction? A superb prequel. Action oriented, tense from the opening paragraph and a story that places the main character in constant peril. Empress Li is out of favour at court. Foreign-born and past her prime, she is to be set aside.

With nothing left to lose, Li will do anything to stop Emperor Lan signing a secret alliance that could tear the empire apart. Yet when her life is threatened, old mistakes come back to haunt her and only a three-year-old boy can change the course of history. A man of common blood sits upon the throne. By his command the last emperor was executed, but now the empire is on the brink of war.

Endymion is an Empath.

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Often despised he lives a nomadic existence, but when he finds himself imprisoned for sorcery and facing death, it is his past that will condemn him. Born Prince Takehiko Otako, the only surviving son of the True Emperor, Endymion is already caught in the brewing storm. Fast losing control of his Empathy he seeks revenge against the man who betrayed him, but for Endymion the truth will come too late.

This is a book I wish I had written. The war for the Crimson Throne has split Kisia. In the north Otako supporters rally around their champion, but Katashi Otako wants only vengeance. Caught in the middle, Hana must decide between her family and her heart. Is the true emperor the man the people want? Or the one they need? As the true heir to the throne, Endymion remains hidden in plain sight, but the Vices know his secret.

Malice, scheming to restore the empire to the rule of gods, plans a coup that will tear Kisia apart if Endymion does not find a way to escape. But he is running out of time. His Empathy is consuming him. It grows stronger with every use, spreading him so thin there will soon be nothing left — nothing except the monster he fears to become.