In conversation with someone recently, I was asked just how many Silver Skulls stories I’d written over the last few years. I pondered, and thought about it and said ‘I dunno. Maybe two or three?’ (I know. Eloquent, right?)
On reflection, and on closer examination, I realised I actually did a whole lot more than that. So I thought I’d get the shiny lads compiled into one place, with handy, easy-to-follow links. You know, should you fancy buying them or anything. Also presented with the blurb.
The first Silver Skulls story I wrote was Primary Instinct. This story also represents my very first published story ever, anywhere and I’m still a little bit proud of it. I’d completely re-write it now, of course, but it was the first outing for my main Silver Skulls sergeant, Gileas Ur’ten, who’s been the basis for so many more stories since. Primary Instinct turned up in the first edition of the short-lived, but frankly awesome Hammer & Bolter, and then again as part of the ‘Victories of the Space Marines’ anthology. It’s also available as its own little ebook, here.
After this, there was a pair of stories that work back-to-back to make one longer, bigger story. Action and Consequence, followed by Cause and Effect appeared in Hammer and Bolter issue 5 and 8 respectively. They are, of course, also now available as their own ebooks – Action and Consequence and Cause and Effect.
This was the point at which I realised just how much I loved these guys. The Silver Skulls were different. They weren’t a first founding chapter, they weren’t well documented and I had a certain amount of free rein to do with them what I fancied based on the clues hinted at within the existing rulebooks. That was when I pitched The Gildar Rift, a novel which became a part of the Space Marines Battles series, which had THE most glorious cover art and which didn’t feature Gil and his squad. I missed them, but it was OK. Because I fell head over heels for my Techmarine in that book.
The Gildar Rift has been translated into at least two other languages that I know of – French and German – and it still humbles me that Words Wot I Wrote have been translated and shared with others for whom English isn’t their first language. You can check out The Gildar Rift here.
That blurb is just not gripping, is it? Here, have the story summary as well.
When the ancient warship Wolf of Fenris emerges from the warp, Imperial forces find that it has been overrun by the dreaded Red Corsairs. However, this is no mere raiding party – Huron Blackheart and his entire renegade fleet soon follow, intent on conquering the Gildar Rift and tightening their grip on the sector. Lance batteries and torpedo salvos burn fiery contrails through the void, and only Captain Arrun of the Silver Skulls Space Marine Chapter can halt the renegades’ advance. The fate of the Rift will not be decided in the heavens but on the surface of Gildar Secundus below.
Get those exciting words! Emerges. Overrun. Fiery contrails. FATE.
I love that story. I don’t care.
Then, there was another short story called The Pact, which appeared in Hammer and Bolter 15. But that appears to have vanished from the face of the universe, at least in terms of availability on the BL site. Well, whatever, it introduced the Talriktug, the elite Terminator squad headed up by Kerelan. They were kicking about on Lyria, which was the original homeworld of the Silver Skulls and were forced to chum up with the least likely of people. Also starring was Bhehan, a young Prognosticator who shows up elsewhere in this timeline.
In lieu of a link, have this opening quote.
“And the stolen voices of his venerable kin will welcome him, embrace him and bear him to the heart of our scarred past, the first home of the Argent Order. There, the ashes of the great destroyer lie mingled with the fading embers of our birth, two banners falling as one to call him back. Back to the beginning. Then will the past be revealed.”
– From The Orthodoxy of Varsavia, Author Unknown
Next came the super-short story, Skin Deep, written for the Black Library for one of their special series. Either one of the Christmas advent stories, or a Summer of Reading story. I completely forget which. I’ve slept since then.
Skin Deep can be found here.
And that brings us right up to date, with Silver Skulls: Portents, a stand-alone novel featuring (hooray!) Sergeant Gileas Ur’ten and with additional appearances by Bhehan and the Talriktug in all their formidable glory. I really enjoyed writing Portents, because I was able to incorporate a lot of the ideas about the chapter I’d long been harbouring – and best of all, because I got to write about Varsavia, their home world.
Hint: it’s an ice ball. Don’t go there.
Portents can be found here.
Again, the blurb is a bit short, so I’ll include the story description, too.
The Silver Skulls Space Marine Chapter deploy on the world of Valoria Quintus to combat an insurrection backed by the dread forces of the Traitor Legions. Sent there by the visions of their Prognosticars, the mysterious psykers whose premonitions decree the path forged by the Chapter and the wars that they wage, they expect victory to be swift and easy. But they have not reckoned with their own allies, the servants of the Inquisition who are interested in the Prognosticars, their importance within the Chapter and the possibility that the Silver Skulls may be being manipulated by the very powers they fight against…
So there you have it! The full, complete list of all the Silver Skulls stories that fell out of my brain over the last few years. It’s genuinely surprised me just how many of them there actually are…