Lost Hope by Justin D. Hill. A Warhammer 40,000 Ursarkar Creed short story, originally appearing in the Legends of the Dark Millennium: Astra Militarum anthology, published November 2015. Approx. 30 pages.
The recent Astra Militarum anthology features a trilogy of Creed shorts from Justin D. Hill, including the recently reviewed Last Step Backwards, and two new ones. Lost Hope is the first of those two.
In Lost Hope, General Creed finds himself in a tough place; Cadian High Command is pressuring him to wrap up his campaign, and he is finding himself low on troops, with no replenishment forces being offered. Conferring with his stalwart aide, Colour Sergeant Jarran Kell, Creed comes up with a plan. In-system is a frozen penal planet known as Lost Hope - what better source for new troops to bolster the ranks? And so, Creed and his command staff head off to size up and sign up their new soldiers.
There is a promethium mining operation on Lost Hope, using the prisoners as labor. This operation is run by a connected family with supposed ties to former rogue traders. As is necessary in a story like this; there is conflict, there is battle, there is a resolution of sorts. It is just that kind of short, fun actioner.
Justin D. Hill is hitting a nice stride in this, his second Creed short. He is really making Creed his own character. All aspects of the story are improved a bit from Last Step Backwards; the dialogue is less silly and awkward, and the two main characters - Creed and Kell, are fleshed out better as they are thrust to the fore. Creed is still a huffing, puffing, stomping, lho-stub chomping 40K Teddy Roosevelt, leading men to their deaths and winning the hearts and minds of hardened criminal by simple act of being himself. Kell snatches all the comedic moments with his dry crankiness, playing dutiful straight man to Creed's roaring, testosterone-charged grizzle bear persona.
The world building is effective, and the depictions of weaponry are accurate and exciting. The action is a high point here. In a situation where the universe's two most abundant sources of cannon fodder - Imperial Guard and Chaos Cultists - clash together, the result is pulpy, juicy, squishy, and visceral.
Secondary and tertiary characters are relatively bare bones. We get a name, a look, and a trait to remember them by. Some of the command staff, and a few of the prisoners we meet look to be interesting.
The dialogue here is a step up from Last Step Backwards, but it is still a stew of motivational one-liners, declarations, battle cries, and threats. Then again, that's all you really need.
Another high point here: in a few well-placed flashbacks, we glimpse a look back at Creed's childhood. These are nicely done moments.
All in all, a nice little action-packed tale that makes for a great afternoon read.
Here's what it is:
General Creed looks to recruit some convicts and gets into a tussle. Great action. That's it in a nutshell.
A nice little snippet from Raymond Swanland's great commissar print (is that supposed to be Yarrick?). Very, very nice indeed.
Cover Final Score: