Death from a Distance


As I said in my last post, Forge Guard like to get up close to their enemies in a fight. It’s just their way. When a Forge Guard buries his or her hand-axe into a sithkall’s skull, they know that they have done their job to the best of their ability, and can move onto their next opponent in order to dispatch them in a similarly efficient manner.

But of course, they are still Engineers, and as I have mentioned before, they are firm believers in the old adage that there is a correct tool for every job, and sometimes an axe just won’t cut it. I’ve already talked about the hurling-knife, but there are other ranged weapons at a Forge Guard’s disposal. There is, however, some debate in the Guard over some of these weapons, and whether they are useful and viable, or just plain dangerous and impractical.

Boom-stick – As the name suggests, the boom-stick is an explosive device, usually in the form of a cylinder comprising two separate internal chambers. One chamber is filled with liquid barapane, the other with powdered cickracol. I’ll cover the properties of barapane and cickracol in a later post, but for now, all you need to know is that when barapane and cickracol dust are combined, the resulting mixture has a highly explosive nature.

The boom-stick was designed for the purposes of demolition and mining, and the two elements inside were originally combined by twisting the stick in the centre to break the barrier between the chambers before the explosives were ignited using a simple fuse. More modern versions are fitted with an ignition cap and primer. Twisting the ignition cap causes a metal rod to pierce the two chambers, and at the same time, light the stick’s internal fuse. This means that the stick can be completely activated from a distance my means of a cable and reel-switch. Several sticks can also be activated simultaneously via a multiple cable, as demonstrated by Forge Guard Warvitch in the story ‘Rourke’, where the multiple cable is triggered by being spanned across the path of the rail-steamer. This is not a standard method of deployments, but it is certainly effective.

The inclusion of the ignition cap also means that there has been an increase in its use as a weapon by the Forge Guard. Due to its unpredictable and destructive nature, the majority of Guards dislike the use of boom-sticks as weapons, though acceptance of its usefulness has increased since the advent of the more modern boom-bolt, especially among the younger members of the Guard. (See below in the section on the comp-bow for details.)

Natha-stick – I’ll go into more detail on the substance known as Natha in a later post, when I discuss war-engines and other siege weapons, but essentially the natha-stick contains a highly flammable liquid, making it an extremely destructive weapon. Again, many Forge Guard treat it with some distain, though younger members of the Guard are starting to see that the natha-stick has its uses in certain situations. It has also recently become more practical to use since the creation of the natha-bolt. (See below in the section on the comp-bow for details.)

Comp-bow – Think of it like a crossbow, only much bigger. To reduce the cumbersome nature of the weapon, the two firing limbs on most modern bows can be fully retracted for ease of storage and transportation. The comp-bow can be loaded fairly quickly by using its draw-bar, which is situated beneath the body of the bow. The draw-bar is effectively a lever that is pushed forward to engage the bow’s firing cable, and then levered back to draw the cable into the firing nut. Due to a Forge Guard’s massive strength, they are capable of levering the draw-bar without having to brace the bow against the floor, which not only means that the reload speed is faster, but also that the bow’s user can remain more aware of impending threats.

The standard ammunition for the comp-bow are its spike-bolts. The standard bolt is half a meter in length with a smooth body and spiked nose. Sometimes a square ‘cross-spike’ is used, but the simple spike with no fletching or flights is the most commonly used because it can be more efficiently loaded using a box magazine that can be fitted onto the top of the weapon. The draw-bar not only re-sets the cable, but also activates a mechanism in the magazine and allows the next bolt to drop into place once the cable is set. The magazine is removable, allowing for a very quick reload, and to allow other ammunition types to be used, which, in typical Engineer style, increases the versatility of the weapon.

Past varieties of ammunition have included grappling irons and harpoons, but the most recent additions to comp-bow ammunition are the boom-bolt and natha-bolt.

Boom-bolt – Developed from the boom-stick, the boom-bolt is a meter long projectile, filled with liquid barapane and cickracol powder. Earlier versions, such as the ones used by Forge Guard Warvitch in the story ‘Rourke’ have to be primed and lit manually. This is because the original design of the ignition cap used on boom-sticks was too heavy, and unbalanced the missile. A newer lightweight cap has recently been developed, though it is still very much in the developmental stage.

Even with the absence of the cap, or when fitted with the more lightweight version, the missile still requires a longer ‘tail’ with the addition of metal flights in order to achieve adequate balance. The boom-bolt is nocked to the bow’s firing cable behind the main body of the missile, leaving its ‘tail’ to extend back along the weapon above its stock. This method of un-centred nocking further adds to the missile’s instability, and means that its accuracy is reduced at longer distances. Given the boom-bolt’s potential destructive capabilities, this has led many senior members of the Guard to classify the boom-bolt as being a weapon with ‘negative usefulness’.

Natha-bolt – Similar in construction to the boom-bolt, the natha-bolt has similar drawbacks in terms of range and accuracy, and has received similar condemnation from the more senior members of the Guard. Younger members view these two weapons quite differently, but maybe that’s because they don’t tend to wear their beards so long, and therefore they are not quite so prone to singing.

I’ll be taking a break from the Forge Guard in my next post, but I haven’t decided what subject I’ll be covering yet. It’s going to be either births, marriages, or demons. Depends what I feel like writing about.