It feels odd to say, but I’m rather smitten with Vorx. After reading The Lords of Silence, I was bummed I missed the collector’s edition. Not the least because of the short story, Unification that was contained within. Fortunately, Black Library has released the story to the non-cool kids, and it is everything I hoped for. Not only does it delve deeper into life on Barbarus, it gives you a little more time with the complex protagonist.
The Pale Kings
I know it seems trite to say that life on Barbarus was hard, but good god. Chris Wraight walks up through the initial meeting of Mortarion and Vorx, as a Pale King attacks the latter’s village. It’s not bad enough that you’re living in a giant swamp with air so toxic it is barely breathable. Nope, you also have a potentially xenos, potentially corrupted human overlord population that hunts you. And makes you live in squalid conditions. Honestly, when it was revealed that Mortarion fell to Nurgle, Papa E should have been like “figures.”
In just a few short pages, Chris Wraight does a great job of describing and cementing the fear these people lived in. When Mortarion steps out of the mist and manages to kill on the overlords without breaking a sweat, it is truly something at which to marvel. He appears like the Man Without a Name, which an equal swagger that is infectious to these people. He’s going to save the planet from the overlords with or without their help.
Given the strife and awful conditions, it makes sense why men like Vorx would flock to Mortarion’s side. His silent resolve is, in a way, inspiring. The drama of the man who maintains a name given to him by one he loathes, is somewhat appealing. These people had known despair and misery, and delivered unto them is the most beautiful, deadly creature they’ve ever seen. Not only does this story help better explain Vorx’s extreme loyalty, it’ll make you question any Barbarans who aren’t loyal to Mortarion.
The story is nicely balanced pre-heresy and post-heresy with an interaction between Vorx and a Blood Angel captain. What a pairing! The regal, arrogant sons of Space Jesus fighting along side and against the silent, hardened sons of Space Reaper? Chris Wraight resists the urge to make the Blood Angel Captain Camanio too overly arrogant, which is a nice touch. He merely rebukes Vorx’s attempts at friendship pre-heresy, and delivers a particularly cruel jibe.
In classic Vorx fashion, he does not rise to the challenge at the moment. He merely balks at the arrogance and ignorance. If there is one common theme to Vorx, it is his constant mystification that people don’t just get it. It is wholly satisfying when Vorx and Camanio meet again on the walls of Terra. Vorx is a man of few words, but when he speaks, it is angry and to the point.
For $4, Unification is a wonderful little read that further delves into an amazing character. If you wanted to better understand Vorx, this is the best time and money you’ll spend on a weekend.