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Literature / The Beast Arises

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"Daylight Wall stands forever."

Despite our losses, despite the fallen sons, despite the eternal silence of the Emperor, now watching over us in spirit instead of in person, we will endure.
There will be no more war on such a perilous scale.
There will be an end to wanton destruction.

It is the 32nd millennium and there is only... well, peace. Sort of.

Things are, by and large, going well for the Imperium of Man. The long defeated Chaos Legions have been exiled to the Eye of Terror, the various alien races in the galaxy are kept handily at bay by the combined actions of the Astra Millitarum and the Navy. The Astartes, split into chapters following the Horus Heresy, are used by the increasingly partisan members of the Council of Terra in frontier wars and minor skirmishes; living relics of past brutality that aren't needed anymore.

Tired of being used as glorified security guards on Terra, the Imperial Fists are finally dispatched to the world of Ardamantua within Segmentum Solar, close to the Throneworld, to deal with a run of the mill xenos infestation. What follows will drag the Imperium into its bloodiest war since the Horus Heresy.

An interequel set between the Horus Heresy and Warhammer 40,000, The Beast Arises is a series of twelve books published monthly from 2015-2016, and serves to explain how the 40k universe we know and love came about from the ashes of the Horus Heresy.

  • 1 — I am Slaughter — Dan Abnett (December 2015)
  • 2 — Predator, Prey — Rob Sanders (January 2016)
  • 3 — The Emperor Expects — Gav Thorpe (February 2016)
  • 4 — The Last Wall — David Annandale (March 2016)
  • 5 — Throneworld — Guy Haley (April 2016)
  • 6 — Echoes of the Long War — David Guymer (May 2016)
  • 7 — The Hunt for Vulkan — David Annandale (June 2016)
  • 8 — The Beast Must Die — Gav Thorpe (August 2016)
  • 9 — Watchers in Death — David Annandale (September 2016)
  • 10 — The Last Son of Dorn — David Guymer (October 2016)
  • 11 — Shadow of Ullanor — Rob Sanders (October 2016)
  • 12 — The Beheading — Guy Haley (November 2016)

This series shows examples of:

  • Adaptational Context Change: We finally get to learn why Drakan Vangorich committed The Beheading in the last novel of the series - Vangorich had been installed as Regent by Maximus Thane of the Fist Exemplar, and initially managed to run things surprisingly well, only needing to intimidate the more outspoken High Lords into compliance. This came to an end when he found out that Fabricator General Kubik had secretly teleported Ullanor to the Armageddon System (where it will eventually end up becoming Armageddon) so that he could study its techonlogy, in defiance of Vangorich's orders to subject the planet to Exterminatus. Realizing that the High Lords of Terra will never place the good of the Imperium above their own ambitions, Vangorich decides to do away with them. This recontextualizes The Beheading from being a blatant power grab to a case of I Did What I Had to Do.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Drakan Vangorich, Grandmaster of the Officio Assassinorum. His only previous mention in canon was his part in the Beheading, which it was implied he did for personal gain. The series paints him as an extremely ruthless, very pragmatic patriot, and the Only Sane Man when catastrophe strikes.
  • Adaptational Wimp: The Adeptus Custodes, the most elite of the Imperium's forces and personal bodyguards to the God-Emperor himself, are slaughtered by the dozens by only two Harlequins during their infiltration into the Imperial Palace in open combat.
  • Arc Welding: Although the Beheading and the Beast were previously mentioned in the canon, they were listed as two separate unrelated events. The Beast Arises puts them together, by implication.
  • Arc Words: "I am Slaughter", said by both Koorland and the Beast repeatedly.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The Ork Attack Moons are nearly invincible combatants but they have to lower their void shield before firing their gravity whip weapon, thus giving the Navy a chance to destroy them.
  • Badass Boast: The Beast has weaponized his boast, using a combination of gravity waves and psychic might to broadcast across entire sectors, driving Imperial citizens violently mad with sheer animalistic might.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Before the Attack Moon is revealed, I am Slaughter tries to do this with the identity of the race that's devastated Ardamantua. Who has technology much more advanced than the Imperium and uses stable Warp "tunnels" to travel around? The Orks, of course! However, this twist is spoiled on the books' own Black Library page.
    • The Last Wall has what appears to be a typical Imperial world with human soldiers holding the line against the Orks and waiting for their "lords" to save them and turn the tide, only to turn out this is not an Imperial world. It's an Chaos-aligned world held by the Iron Warriors, who massacre their own human forces along with the Orks.
  • Battle Cry: Daylight Wall stands forever. No other wall stands against it. Bring them down! for the Imperial Fists' Daylight Wall Company.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed:
    • An option a lot of Imperial worlds and armed forces take, including detonating planet-killing weaponry on their own worlds.
    • Warsmith Kalkator takes this attitude to Prax after he sees what the Orks have done to it and the billions of people they are shipping there. Zerberyn reluctantly agrees when it's clear there is no other way. Captain Brice does not, which doesn't end well.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Beheading: The Beasts are dead, the Imperium is saved, the infighting of the High Lords will not occur again, the Inquisition is split into the Ordo Malleus and the Ordo Xenos, and the Imperial Fists are reborn under Maximus Thane. However, the entire Imperial Fists chapter, including Koorland, were all casualties of the fighting, Zerberyn's alliance with Kalkator ends in disaster when he kills Bohemond of the Black Templars before joining the Iron Warriors, leading Maximus Thane to dissolve the Fists Exemplar to hide the shame of being the first post-Heresy chapter to fall to Chaos. Drakan Vangorich's rule as Lord Protector of Terra is initially beneficial to the Imperium, but the pressures of rebuilding drive him to insanity, forcing Thane to kill him, and Vangorich will be remembered as a madman instead of the Well-Intentioned Extremist he was. Also, Eldrad is already having visions of Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka in M41, and fears that he may succeed where the Beast failed, but regardless, the fates of Humanity and the Eldar are intertwined against Chaos.
  • Call-Forward: The Beast and Koorland, on multiple occasions, proclaim the phrase "I am Slaughter". How do you say that in Orkish? "Mag Uruk Thraka."
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The whole series is intended to be a mild example of this relative to the larger 40k universe. Even the though the events of the Horus Heresy left the galaxy a worse place, the Imperium is shown (mostly) as being strong and united, and isn't the catholic space nazi style theocracy it would later become. The traitor legions are isolated in the Eye of Terror and most alien races are under control. This is set to change.
  • Church Militant: Averted; the Imperial Creed is still in it's relative infancy and has nothing like as much all pervading power as it has later (which is ironic as it currently has it's own personal millitary in the form of the Templar fraters). Vangorich only pays lip service as a pretense for throwing his political opponents off balance. Played straighter with the Black Templars, who have already accepted a variant of the Imperial Creed, much to the embarrassment of the rest of the Imperial Fists Successor Chapters. Warsmith Kalkator is left genuinely shocked seeing his former comrade Magneric, a former Imperial Fist of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy and one of the first Templars, openly praising the Emperor as a god. Later, when Vulkan is discovered and advocates the Imperial Truth, High Marshal Bohemond tends to get very uncomfortable.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Drakan Vangorich is the only named character (thus far) mentioned previously in the continuity in relation to the current setting. And not in a good way.
    • Maximus Thane, Chapter Master of the Fists Exemplar, was mentioned way back in the novel Space Marine, published way back in 1993—as a past Chapter Master of the Imperial Fists, with his name inscribed on Rogal Dorn's skeletal hand. Later confirmed to be the same person when Thane reforms the wiped out Imperial Fists and becomes its new Chapter Master.
  • Desk Jockey: Among the Imperial Fists, the reward for becoming a Wall's greatest warrior (i.e. Company Championship) is to stand guard along the Wall's namesake at the Imperial Palace for the rest of one's life. Much to the frustration of Daylight, the 2nd Company Champion.
  • Downer Ending: The Last Son of Dorn ends with the second Imperial attempt to assassinate The Beast at Ullanor failing, and with Koorland's death and The Beast's destruction of his gene-seed organs, the extinction of the Imperial Fists.
  • Dying Race: Implied in-universe with the Astartes. The Heresy and subsequent split into chapters hit them hard, making it a lot more difficult for them to maintain their numbers, with some characters theorizing that there will probably be none left within half a millennium. Of course, we know this doesn't happen due to Foregone Conclusion.
  • Enemy Mine: Several examples in Throneworld
    • The Eldar in their way decide to help out the Imperium despite despising the 'Mon'keighs', because they need them to fight their common enemy in Chaos.
    • The Inquisitional Representatives Wienand and Veritus, along with settling their feud with the Assassins to both work together to save the Imperium.
    • The Black Templars and Iron Warriors work together reluctantly to fight off an Ork force.
    • The Fists Exemplar and Iron Warriors then work together to retake Prax from the Orks. Unlike the above example where the two factions keep to themselves, this time both forces intermingle and three Iron Warriors Terminators are even taking orders from Captain Zerberyn throughout the mission. This does not end well; under Zerberyn the majority of the surviving Fists Exemplar's 1st Company turn traitor and join the Iron Warriors.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even the Iron Warriors are clearly disgusted by the discovery that the Orks are farming humans for food on Prax.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The Imperial Fists save for Captain Koorland are wiped out to a man, not even one ship survived their engagement at Ardamnatua. Koorland has some trouble convincing the Successor Chapters of this depressing fact who presumed Koorland is merely the surviving officer, not the lone survivor of an entire First Founding Chapter.
  • Fallen Hero: The ultimate fate of Drakan Vangorich: being named Lord Protector of Terra (against his own advice) leaves him regent of the High Lords in Thane's absence, but he snaps after learning Fabricator-General Kubik faked the destruction of Ullanor. After murdering the other High Lords in the infamous Beheading he is best known for, Vangorich leads the Imperium as a tyrant, but an effective one, for eighty years, but the pressures of rebuilding drive him insane in the last twenty years, becoming The Caligula before Thane is forced to kill him at Temple Eversor. He even tries to tell Thane the fate of Konrad Curze, seemingly in acknowledgement of this trope.
  • Flashback to Catchphrase: In The Beast Must Die, Vulkan drops the franchise's (in)famous tag line just before his confrontation with The Beast:
    Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re-learned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Imperium will, by one way or another, become the stagnant hellhole it's better known as during Warhammer 40k.
    • Previous 40k fluff mentions that the Fists Exemplar chapter disappears from records past M32, which this series was incidentally set in. While they do get reduced to 70-odd members (the remnants of three companies) in the ill-fated first and second invasions of Ullanor, these survivors, along their Chapter Master, forsake their name and form the nucleus of the new (secretly-refounded) Imperial Fists after the latter goes extinct with Koorland's death. See Unperson below, however.
    • The Imperial Fists, despite apparently being wiped out to a man during the final invasion of Ardamnatua, are still present in the present 40k universe, explained as its successor chapters pitching in to reform it.
    • Drakan Vangorich is going to kill every other High Lord of Terra before being put down by the Astartes at great cost, and this is the story of how he gets to that point.
    • The ork Attack Moon hanging over Terra will be removed and the Mechanicus will fail in their attempt to teleport Mars to safety.
  • Freudian Excuse: Inquisitor Veritus' obsession with Chaos as the greatest threat seems unreasonable to most people, but he has very good reason to fear it most of all: he is Kyril Sindermann, who watched Horus Lupercal fall to Chaos. He knows how dangerous it is.
  • Genius Bruiser: The Beast, and much of the Orks under his command, see Hollywood Tactics. It takes a while for the realization to sink in for the Imperium of how royally fucked they are when they realize they're dealing with a smart Ork.
  • Gladiator Games: An impromptu Feast of Blades was called by Chapter Master Thane (whose Fists Exemplar chapter won the previous one) in The Shadow of Ullanor in memory of the defunct Imperial Fists.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: In response to the Beast's invasion, Captain Koorland / Slaughter sends out the Last Wall message, a secret protocol created by Rogal Dorn to gather all the Imperial Fists chapters together and reunite them into a legion strength force in the face of an incredible threat to Terra.
  • Hazy-Feel Turn: Originally an antagonist to Inquisitorial Representative Wienand, Lord Inquisitor Veritus argues that Chaos is the true threat to the Imperium even while an Attack Moon is hanging over Terra. When the High Lords announce that they're going to receive ambassadors from the Orks, he promptly declares them mad and grudgingly makes an alliance with Wienand, eventually becoming Co-Representative with her and helping Drakan Vangorich in deposing Udin Macht Udo and replacing him with Chapter Master Koorland.
  • Honour Before Reason: Inverted (surprisingly) by the Black Templars (a chapter very much known for being "Honour Before Reason" to the core) when the supporting Navy fleet suddenly abandons a battle with no explanation given. The Templars figure something odd is happening and beat a retreat to try and find out what.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Averted by the Beast's Waargh!. As the war drags on, Imperial commanders start noticing that Orks are actually starting to use strategies and tactics that they never demonstrated before.
  • Insane Troll Logic: How Veritus justifies not paying heed to the giant Ork attack moon in orbit over Terra. They haven't attacked yet therefore they are no larger threat then Chaos, who's forces are currently bottled up at the Eye of Terror far away. See Freudian Excuse above, however.
  • In-Series Nickname: Three traditions among the Imperial Fists:
    • Companies, or Walls, are named after walls of the Imperial Palace — 1st Company is the Hemispheric Wall, 2nd Company is the Daylight Wall, and so on.
    • The equivalent of Company Champions, the wall-brethren, man each of the Palace's 50 walls, and are simply named after them, e.g. Hemispheric, Daylight (a POV character of I am Slaughter), Lotus Gate, Anterior Six, Zarathustra, and so on.
    • Although they nominally still have names from before they become Astartes, they then acquire a "wall name", based on a personality trait, skill, or battlefield proclivity, and their original names are forgotten. Examples include Firefight, Bleedout, and — of course, Slaughter. The very first to take up a wall name (Defiance) was Rogal Dorn himself, at the final defense of the Imperial Palace during the closing stages of the Horus Heresy. With Koorland's death and the refounding of the Chapter under Thane, however, this tradition as well as those previously mentioned were abandoned and the Chapter was reorganized along more Codex Astartes-compliant lines.
    • Also applies (both in universe and out) to the Lord Commander of the Imperium. Regardless of their actual name or gender, the incumbent is referred to as Lord Guilliman, after the Ultramarines Primarch (and first incumbent of the title). Readers would be initially forgiven for thinking that Roboute Guilliman of Ultarmar was alive and well in the present day.
    • While the Imperial Fists operate in union with its successor chapters, the quasi-Seventh Legion goes by the name Last Wall, after the secret protocol laid down by Dorn.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The separate divisions of the Council of Terra. The chiefs of the Navy and Imperial Guard dislike each other, which means that neither can effectively do their job as the Guard depends on the Navy for transport and the Navy don't have the ability to fight on planets. The other members of the council (with two exceptions) seem to be more concerned with personal gain and power blocs than the good of the Imperium.
  • Keystone Army: In the past, Ork Waaagh's were usually defeated by killing the warboss in charge. With the Beast, the Imperial forces hope it's the same thing in spite of this new Waaagh not behaving like any Orks ever encountered before, because if they do not turn to infighting upon the Beast's slaughter, the Imperium is doomed.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Vulkan, of all people, had become cynical and disillusioned with the state of the Imperium post-Heresy. In-universe he became the source of part of the blurb nearly every 40k work is prefaced with (see Flashback to Catchphrase above).
  • Large and in Charge: The Beast itself, as is natural with Orks. What is unusual is just quite how big it is. When a visual communication is made, the orks in the foreground (all Astartes sized) looked like small children in scale to it. Another description says it's as big as a hab block with tusks the size of tree trunks. As one character notes, Orks simply do not grow that size since the Emperor himself stuck down the Warlord at Ullanor. It turns out that it's one of six similar creatures.
    • Specifically lampshaded when the Mechanicus dissect the corpses. The Orks in the Beast's Waagh are of a very different genetic origin than orks encountered previously. Even the Astartes of the Fists Exemplar note that they're a lot bigger than any orks they've previously fought.
  • Last of His Kind: At the time of his death, Lord Inquisitor Veritus (Kyril Sindermann) was the oldest mortal man in the Imperium, the last surviving founder of the Ecclesiarchy and the Inquisition, and the last mortal witness to the events of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresynote .
  • Lensman Arms Race: Bizarrely, the Orks themselves. It's unknown how they've done it but they are in possession of functional technologies that even the Eldar do not possess, including a previously unknown form of intergalactic travel and planetary scale gravity manipulation. It's unknown yet whether they developed it naturally or found it somewhere.
  • Meaningful Echo: The last words of Veritus, or rather, Kyril Sindermann, reverses the very first words of the Horus Heresy book series:
    Veritus: And... and... and I was there the day the Emperor slew Horus.
  • Meaningful Funeral/Due to the Dead: In the wake of the death of the last son of Dorn, all Imperial Fists' successor chapters secretly gather on the cold and dark side of Inwit (Rogal Dorn's planet while growing up) and hold a Feast of Blades in memory of Koorland and the lost Chapter. It is when Thane, in a flash of inspiration, proposes the refounding of the Imperial Fists.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Ork Warboss who leads the campaign against the Imperium is known as both "The Beast" and "The Slaughter". Interestingly, it turns out that "I am Slaughter" is the Gothic translation of the Ork phrase "Mag Uruk Thraka".
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The High Lords of Terra are this, spending more time obstructing the Imperial Military's attempts to counter the Beast's attacks because those plans are not beneficial to their individual agendas. It gets so bad that the Last Wall forces a military coup to oust Lord Commander Udin Macht Udo and replace him with Chapter Master Koorland of the Imperial Fists (which finally gets the Imperials of the backfoot), and Vangorich later decides enough is enough, and purges the rest of the High Lords in The Beheading.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In-universe, the Orks haven't been considered a serious threat since the Ullanor Waargh! during the Great Crusade. In the intervening time, they're regarded as an occasional nuisance. What they manage to do Ardamantua shows just how serious a threat they really are. 40k Orks are bad news. The Beast's Orks possess Eldar-tier technology, use professionally manufactured weaponry, and actually understand *tactics*.
    • It gets even more terrifying when Ork diplomats enter the Imperial Palace to offer formal terms of surrender in fluent correct Gothic to the High Lords of Terra
  • Order Reborn:
    • After the Second Founding, Rogal Dorn implemented "the Last Wall protocol" in all his Successor Chapters: in the event Terra herself comes under threat, all Chapters bearing Dorn's gene-seed are to place themselves under the command of the Chapter Master of the Imperial Fist and reform the VII Legion, though they call themselves the Last Wall rather than the Imperial Fists.
    • Also retroactively-applied by the series to the Imperial Fists chapter of contemporary 40k. After the death of Chapter Master Koorland and the extinction of the Imperial Fists, Chapter Master Maximus Thane of the Fists Exemplar convinces the other Chapters to donate some of their men while he folds the nearly depleted Fists Exemplar into a new Imperial Fists Chapter.
  • People Farms: What the Orks have turned Prax into. The Fists Exemplar and Iron Warrior alliance find warehouses filled with "humans" who have been pumped full of steroids, growth enhancers and Emperor only knows what else making them giant sacks of flesh barely capable of thought. The only reaction the slaves have to the superhumans in their midst is to open their mouths, which Zerberyn mentally notes seems to indicate they associate light with feeding time. Though nobody says it out loud, even the narrative, it's obvious what these things are to the Orks. Food. Even the Iron Warriors are disgusted.
  • Pet the Dog: Again, going along with the above. A faction of CHAOS MARINES are disgusted with what the Orks have done to Pax.
  • Praetorian Guard: The Imperial Fists, much to their chagrin. The first novel implies that they have been stationed on Terra for most of the time since the Horus Heresy ended. The initial skirmish on Ardamantua marks the first major battle they have fought in a while.
    • The Lucifer Black Guardsmen are these for the High Lords of Terra, although Vangorich notes that they're unlikely to be the same regiment that served in the Great Crusade, as they were almost extinct before the Heresy took place.
    • The Adeptus Custodes for the God-Emperor himself, the latter finally appearing in Throneworld stopping an Eldar incursion.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Iron Warriors may be evil right down to their souls, but their hatred of the Imperial Fists isn't so great that dying ignominous deaths by Orks is preferably to allying with both the Black Templars and then the Fists Exemplar to fight the greenskins off.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Rogal Dorn's The Last Wall protocol specifies that, in times of great crisis, and upon receiving a specific message, the Imperial Fists and its successors are to muster at the Phall system (site of an important battle for the Seventh Legion) and are to fight under a unified command structure for the duration of the crisis.
  • Retired Badass: Esad Wire. An assassin of the Venenus temple (same as Vangorich) who finished his service and became part of the Arbites overwatch in a Terran hive. Vangorich manages to call him out of retirement.
  • Red Baron: The Beast, also known as Slaughter, naturally. It also shares these names with two other characters; an ex-Officio Assassinarium operative and an Imperial Fists captain.
    • It's also, in an Appropriated Appelation sort of way, that of Ghazkull, as "Mag Uruk Thraka" is the Orkish for "I am Slaughter".
  • The Reveal:
    • The truth about the Beast is revealed in The Last Son of Dorn: There is no single Beast, but rather, six separate "Prime-Orks" that each lead a Legion of Orks (heavily implied to be the Ork Klans of "modern" 40k) in an Orkish parallel to the Primarchs.
    • As he lays dying in The Beheading, Inquisitor Veritus reveals his true identity to Wienand: Kyril Sindermann, the Primary Iterator of the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet and one of the four founders of the Inquisition.
    • The location of Ullanor was lost to the Imperium of M41. As Armageddon, it has been under their noses the entire while.
    • One that doesn't have immediate ramifications for the Imperium, but has huge ones for a follower of Ork lore. The phrase "I am Slaughter" turns out to the Imperial Gothic translation of the phrase "Mag Uruk Thraka".
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: The Council of Terra are, in this era, mostly a bunch of self-serving career politicians obsessed with maintaining their positions and personal power. Drakan Vangorich, Master of the Officio Assasinorium, is very much aware of this. The Inquisition is also involved in it's own schemes and infighting.
    • All this is topped by the Mechanicum who are deliberately stalling (and in many cases outright obfuscating) news of the Beast's invasion so they can have more time to research and build the planetary teleportation engines on Mars so they can simultaneously avoid the war and free themselves from the Imperium. Vangorich is mortified when he finds out..
  • Skewed Priorities: Most of the High Lords of Terra care more about how they can exploit the Ork situation for their own political advantage.
    • Inquisitor Veritus consider Chaos the much greater threat that everyone should be focussing on and thinks the Orks are just an unnecessary distraction even when there's an enormous Ork attack moon hanging over Terra with no significant military forces around to combat it.
    • The Mechanicum take this up to 11 with their belief that Terra is unimportant to the Imperium as a whole and that Mars survival is more important.
  • Snow Means Death: The Feast of Blades held in memory of the fallen Koorland and the Imperial Fists chapter is held by the Fists' successors amidst the icy wastes of the nightside of Inwit, with its darkness, cold and swirling snows.
  • Sole Survivor: Captain Koorland is this for the entire First Founding Imperial Fists Chapter, to the grave shock of the Fists's Successor Chapters. And then he, too, dies.
    • Arbite Galatea Haas is this for the ground elements of the Proletarian Crusade.
  • That's No Moon: The Ork "Attack Moon" is not only a planetary-scale construct, but really a "Waaagh! Gate", the semi-mobile end point to an Orkish wormhole system. And there is more than one of them, topped off by the re-Orkified Ullanor, an Attack Planet.
  • The Imperium Is Not Ready: Invoked by Thane in The Shadow of Ullanor: On top of slaughter and destruction not seen since the Horus Heresy, the Imperium will not survive the revelation that a chapter of the First Founding, namesake of the legion renowned as The Defenders of Terra, has died out.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The Lord Commander and most of the other High Lords in Throneworld towards Koorland and the briefly reformed Imperial Fists Legion after they saved Terra by invading and disabling the Ork moon. It's implied they genuinely fear the Space Marines taking power more then they do the Ork threats.
    • Later justified when Koorland does indeed take over.
  • Unperson: As if the shock of getting reduced to 70-odd marines weren't bad enough, the majority of the Fists Exemplar under Captain Zerberyn get too buddy-buddy with the Iron Warriors and turn traitor, helping to kill the High Marshal of the Black Templars. For this their former Chapter Master Thane folds the remaining faithful ones into the Imperial Fists, and orders the expunging of all records of the very first Chapter to fall to Chaos post-Heresy.
  • Vast Bureaucracy: The first few novels make it abundantly clear how incredibly challenging it is to run a galaxy spanning empire even during times of relative peace. Information about outlying regions arrives at a crawl and decisions to act on it are often decided far too late to have any effect. The sheer amount of information on every aspect of civil and military policy that has be processed is staggering. And now imagine this already heady task in the hands of incompetents...
  • Wham Episode: At the very end of the book Koorland kills The Beast at Ullanor... only for another one to show up — the one thought to have been killed by Vulkan two books prior, and Koorland realizes to his despair The Reveal mentioned above. This Beast, the "Beast of Beasts", curb-stomps and kills him, and with it pushing the Imperial Fists into extinction.
  • Wham Line:
    • Several in The Last Wall:
      • The first words of the Ork ambassador Behzrak, in fluent High Gothic, natch:
      "Don't need an interpreter. We tell you how to surrender, you surrender. Easy."
      • After a bomb is detonated beneath the Imperial palace, Vangorich asks the commander in charge whether it was the Orks:
      "No, Grandmaster." Mercado said. His voice was disbelieving. "It's the Eldar."
    • Magos Urquidex gives one when he tries to tell Terra the location of the Beast's homeworld while being arrested by Mechanicus in Echoes of the Long War:
    Urquidex: The Beast arises on Ullanor!
    • Vulkan gives one to Koorland that has rather shocking implications about Rogal Dorn, who is believed to be dead by this point in the lore's timeline.
      "Fight well, son of Dorn," he said. "Your actions honour his name, and I will tell him so."
    • In the final chapter of The Beheading, Eldrad says he's already having visions of the future where he can hear the Orkish words for "I am Slaughter": "Mag Uruk Thraka". Without even knowing it, Ghazghkull is already on the same path as the Beast.
  • Zerg Rush: The Chromes, an alien race encountered on several worlds both pre and post heresy. A Magos Biologis actively compares them to rodents swarming in terms of their behavior. The Ork's later do this on a scale unprecedented since the Ullanor crusade. They don't even bother with the small amount of tactics they usually use because they have absolute numerical superiority. Later this is revealed to be false with the Orks employing such tactics as strategic withdrawals and psychological warfare. Later Terra attempts this when an Attack Moon shows up there using almost every single ship in orbit to convey troops to its surface. It takes about an hour for the entire human forces to be destroyed.