Volker was selected to become a part of an audacious experiment known as the Resurgent Project -- Volker's body was integrated with the Machine Spirit of the Strike Cruiser Dread Argent, becoming a perfect amalgamation of the mechanical and the biological -- a fusion of man and machine not dissimilar to a Dreadnought.
Representing the hopes and future of his Chapter, the Resurgent was able to utilise lightning-fast reactions and channel orders directly to the Machine Spirit of the mighty vessel without the necessary intervention of third parties.
Volker Straub was considered the Silver Skulls' greatest technological project and most radical advancement of their existence: a technological wonder the likes of which the Silver Skulls had never seen. He was the end product of a true marriage between man and machine.
Volker Straub had been one of the most promising Aspirants of his intake. Hugely charismatic and a gifted athlete, he was also a born leader. From the moment he had been brought from his tribe to the Silver Skulls' fortress-monastery on Varsavia, every soul his effervescent personality touched knew that his future would be bright. He was a future Chapter hero in the making.
He had undergone his earliest trials as champion of his group, never once defeated in hand-to-hand combat or blade training. He was bright, questioned everything and knew when to hold his tongue. It gave him great standing with his peers and more importantly with his elders.
Every gene-seed organ implantation during the Astartes conversion process had gone smoothly. Every last thing about Volker Straub had dazzled the Chapter from his earnest nature to his startling wit and intelligence. He had been Captain Sephera's absolute favourite. The grizzled Master of Recruits had written report after glowing report of recommendation and in advance of Volker's placement with the Scout Marines of the 10th Company, he had personally suggested that Volker receive a command at the earliest possible date.
He had even offered to put his full personal support behind such a recommendation. Universally liked and with a capacity to think faster and with greater logic than many of his peers, Sephera did not doubt that Volker Straub was destined for greatness.
In all this, Volker never lost sight of who -- or what -- he was. He was an Aspirant of the Silver Skulls Chapter. His loyalty was without question, both to his Chapter, his brothers-in-arms and to the Imperium. He was assigned to Sergeant Atellus' squad in the 10th Company and outperformed his peers consistently.
Every time the bar was raised, he met each new challenges with confidence and competence. Then, two solar days before he was scheduled to undergo the implantation of his Progenoid Gland, the Prognosticatum intervened. Every recruit, alongside his rigorous physical training regime and hypno-doctrination sessions, was required to divine their future path at some point with a Prognosticator.
This happened, traditionally, prior to the insertion of the Progenoid Gland. The most sacred of the Astartes gene-seed implants, the Quintessence Sacred was the pinnacle of human achievement. Volker had been on the edge of a bright future as a fully fledged Battle-Brother when the auguries denied him the ultimate glory.
Volker Straub was not to be given the Progenoid Gland that would allow him full ascension to the status of Astartes. Denied that which he so desperately craved, Volker had formally requested the Chief Prognosticator Vashiro's permission to walk the Long Patrol anyway. Again, he was denied. Vashiro had explained to him that he was not to become a Battle-Brother for his destiny lay down a different path to the one trodden by so many warriors before him.
He became a part of an audacious experiment known as the Resurgent Project. Inserted into a specially designed tank, his skin was studded at regular intervals with jack-ports, exactly as full Battle-Brothers themselves bore. These were the cybernetic neural interfaces that granted a Space Marine the ability to connect to his Power Armour.
But the boy in the tank had never been granted the Emperor's Ward, what other Chapters knew as the Black Carapace, the synthetic membrane that coated a Space Marine's torso beneath their skin and provided the valuable neural connection with their Power Armour.
He should have been viewed as nothing more than a failure. Yet, to many within the Chapter, the boy was something else entirely, for he represented the Chapter's future. Volker became integrated with the Machine Spirit (artificial intelligence) of the Strike Cruiser Dread Argent.
When the integration was completed, lightning-fast reactions and orders could be channeled directly to the Machine Spirit of the Dread Argent without the necessary intervention of third parties.
Volker could command the warship to fire for as long as the guns were loaded and replenished. He would be able to plot firing solutions by using the auguries as though they were extensions of his own senses. When the full wiring grid was complete, he would be able to steer and turn the ship with far greater control and effectiveness than the helmsman could ever manage.
Everything Volker had undergone was worthy of any Battle-Brother of the Silver Skulls Chapter. He may have been denied the right to ascend to the ranks of the true Astartes, but Captain Arrun made him a solemn promise: his name would be passed back to Vashiro to be entered in the Book of Remembrance. His name would be entered into the Book and it would remembered for all time as a Chapter hero.
When Huron Blackheart and his Red Corsairs Renegade warband were fleeing the Gildar Rift after acquiring the raw materials they needed from the world of Gildar Secundus, the Tyrant played one last hand. He opened a gateway to the Warp in close proximity to the planet.
Being close to the Dread Argent, and with all the debris that littered the Gildar Rift, opening a gateway into the Warp was a risky move. The wake caused by the opening rift would tear the Silver Skulls' vessel apart.
Full control of navigational systems were given over to Volker, which provided the crew with a far greater chance of survival. As the ship was sucked into the malevolent depths of the Empyrean, a huge shock wave radiated out from the point of entry, its trajectory wild and unpredictable.
It stirred up the debris field and turned it from a perilous series of obstacles into a relentless onslaught of wanton destruction. As a punishing barrage of debris and asteroids struck the Dread Argent, Volker managed to successfully navigate the debris, thus saving the ship and its precious cargo of Astartes. He had lived up to his destiny as a hero of the Chapter.
- The Gildar Rift (Novel) by Sarah Cawkwell