This year my work for Black Library took a slight detour off the well-trodden paths of Warhammer Fantasy and onto the oil-stained highways of Warhammer 40,000. While I’ve written a number of stories set in the grim darkness of the far future, I’ve come back to the white armored Space Marines of the White Scars Chapter more than once. Granted this was mostly due to opportunity, but opportunity breeds affection.
There are a lot of things to like about the White Scars, if you’re me. Their sense of humor, for one. That isn’t to say that the Space Marines of other Chapters don’t have one, but for the White Scars, laughter is as much a tool as a bolter or combat knife. It’s equal parts ritual and instinct–a belief that a laugh can pierce an enemy’s heart as easily as a spear point, and that it can sustain the soul as surely as power armor sustains the body.
Too, their philosophy of fluidity–the idea that a White Scar is not simply a soldier, but the eye of a storm–is an interesting one. Where the sons of Chogoris ride, all attempts control the flow of battle fail, and the enemy is forced to discard strategy for tactics. The White Scars do not see war as a thing of maps, markers and mission objectives, but rather as a season, a celebration, and they follow its tides wherever it takes them. For the White Scars, there is a totality to war; it is at once a way of life, a work of art, and a religion. War is their milk and meat, and they shelter in its frenzy, drawing inspiration from the carnage and comfort from the storm.
To date, I’ve written about the White Scars three times–one audio and two novellas. “Master of the Hunt”, the audio, was an interesting beast. It was the first script I’d ever written, and originally it didn’t have any White Scars in it at all. Instead, it was all about their quarry–the daemon-prince Doomrider. Things changed in editing, as they are wont to do, and the White Scars faced off against a creature who was, in many ways, a dark mirror, reflecting twisted versions of their own values back at them. “Hunter’s Snare”, the first novella, was an opportunity I leapt at, mostly because it gave me an opportunity to revisit characters from “Master of the Hunt”, and pit the White Scars against their philosophical antithesis, the alien Tau. “Dante’s Canyon”, the most recent novella, was a bit of a departure from the previous stories, as it was an opportunity to show the White Scars in battle with their most favored enemy–the orks–rather than a despised foe. To the White Scars, the orks are the best of enemies, for they too see the totality of war, and ride its tides without care or concern.
All that said, I hope I get to write more about the sons of Chogoris in the future. But if not, I’ve enjoyed my time with them, and I hope you have as well. And if you haven’t yet checked the above stories out…well why not give them a try and see what I’m talking about?