Finished The Last Days of Ector just now.
Excellent novella, showing just what the title says: The final days of an imperial hive planet, in the fangs of a Tyranid invasion.
The story kicks off with a gang of teenage-hivers fighting, which shows off some of their culture quite well, including dialects and oddities in vocabulary. Turns out, those kids have been participating in the trials to join the Crimson Castellans Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, Space Marines.
The story proceeds with the gang leader being rejected by Chaplain Gorth, due to insubordination - he spoke out that it'd be unfair to leave the girl in the group behind, just because she was female - which not only shows the colder side of the Space Marines, but also makes it clear that certain unchangeable rules have to be adhered to, even if they may seem sexist to naive imperial youths.
The Castellans are shown celebrating that they have gathered over a dozen of neophytes in total, with their astropath being sent out to transmit a message to the rest of the Chapter. The scene shows the Crimson Castellans in a more relaxed manner, though still bound by rank in some ways. Their Chapter's culture is shortly explored, before the astropath takes the stage.
The astropath's sending was especially well done, as it used the relatively limited information on the process and framed it in a more intuitive, understandable way. But then our astropath notices a shadow in the warp - Hive Fleet Leviathan is approaching the system, and warning must be issued.
And thus begin plans of evacuation, hamstrung by politics, and the reinforcement of Ector's hive cities. Minefields are deployed, walls erected, holes stuffed. A raffle for the evacuation effort is held, everybody else equipped and shown how to fight for their lives. The Castellans organize the defense, coordinating the defenders of Ector.
But then the nigh-impossible happens - another Hive Fleet materializes, Kraken, and it is upon Ector's back in no time. With the defence grid directed at the less immediate threat, the people of Ector are forced to fight for survival, to buy time for the transports to evacuate the lucky parts of their population.
The novella spans a few weeks, from start to finish. It is a losing battle, from the moment of contact on, there could be no doubt about that. It does not tell of victories, only of cutting one's losses. More than anything, though, it shows just how massive a threat the Tyranids really are - something I feel has been underestimated too many times. There's no real winning against the Great Devourer, only delaying him.
There are a few twists and turns along the way, however, and it is but the prelude to the battle for Valedor - which I hope to get to soon.
The story did extremely well at what it tried to show, within the limits of its format. I probably sound like a broken record already, but Guy Haley is a brilliant man who really gets the grim darkness of the 41st Millenium. Not only that, but he brings his own style to the mix, which benefits the franchise as a whole. More power to him, if you ask me!
I fully recommend The Last Days of Ector. It is a real treat to fans of the IP, as well as a rock-solid science fiction story, framing the hopelessness of mankind in a galaxy out to devour us.