- "Volkk me! "
- — Stranivarite Underhive Low Gothic oath-insult, favored by Maxim Borusa
Maxim Borusa was one of the most colorful crewmen of the Dictator-class Cruiser Lord Solar Macharius during the Gothic War. Hailing from the lawless underhive of the biggest hive city on the world of Stranivar, he first arrived on the Macharius as an expendable press-ganged slave-recruit, but, thanks to his ruthlessness and natural survival instincts, Borusa ultimately reached the rank of Chief Petty Officer in direct service to the warship's most senior officers: Flag-Captain Leoten Semper and Flag-Lieutenant Hito Ulanti.
Maxim Borusa was born in the lawless underhive of Stranivar's largest hive city. A big, burly youth with the strength of an ox and the cunning of a tunnel rat, he became a choice recruit for one of the many gangs of the underhive, participating in many battles with rival gangs and honing both his combat and survival skills. As was the custom of the Stranivar gangers, he extensively tattooed his body to keep track of his many battles. He ultimately matured into a giant of man who stood over two meters high and was possessed of an impressive musculature. He possessed the ability to quickly assess a situation or person and make the most out of any new opportunities that might arise. During his life on Stranivar, he took as a lover a beautiful girl who possessed psychic abilities and who predicted he would one day become an officer on a starship, but Maxim laughed the prediction off.
At one point shortly before the start of the Gothic War, Borusa and his gang were caught up in an Adeptus Arbites cull and most of the gangers were slaughtered. Borusa survived but was captured by the Arbitrators and was sentenced to the prison-moon of Lubiyanka where, soon after, the convicts of the prison were press-ganged into service in the Imperial Navy.
Borusa ended up on the Macharius, where, due to his impressive physical strength, he was sent to serve with a work crew operating one of the massive Macrocannons that studded the Macharius' flank. A thankless and dangerous job, the life expectancy amongst the work crew was measured in weeks, and for Borusa it seemed even less, for the man overseeing his crew's work was another Lubiyanka convict who hated him and worked him the hardest of all the former convicts on the work crew.
But Borusa's luck soon changed: during a battle with the Chaos Cruiser Contagion, the gun deck adjacent to the one Borusa worked on took a direct hit, sending a wave of fire burning through his own deck. Acting on instinct, Borusa pulled two other convicts on top of him, using them as living shields. This allowed him to survive the blast almost unscathed, and, when he saw that the only other survivor of his crew was his overseer, he quickly grabbed a large engineer's wrench and bashed the other man's head in, leaving him the sole survivor on the whole gun deck.
Amongst the notoriously superstitious crewmen of the Imperial Navy, a lone survivor of a disaster is considered a lucky talisman for the whole ship, and Maxim Borusa soon found himself "bought" by another work crew, one composed of full-fledged crew members higher in the Imperial Navy hierarchy than press-ganged slaves. This crew's work was less hazardous and the abuse proved less frequent. After a few months of work with his new crew, they were rounded up to serve as armsmen during a boarding assault on the Bellerophon. Grabbing his trusted wrench, Borusa joined his crew in the attack, pushed forward by his crew's Petty Officer, a brutish man named Dobrzyn. Maxim fought with gusto, his past experiences as an underhive ganger serving him well in the cramped confines of an enemy starship. When the Petty Officer Dobrzyn got hit, he pulled him to safety, but stabbed him in the lung as he delivered him to the care of the shuttle crew, to ensure the brute would not survive and terrorise his work crew again. He also grabbed the Petty Officer's rank sash and used it as a makeshift bandage. Later in the fight with the Bellerophon, Borusa chanced upon a duel fought by two officers from the different ships, and seeing the Macharius officer get hit in the shoulder, he did not hesitate to grab the Renegade officer's sword arm to prevent him from striking again, then quickly stabbed the man in the kidneys, before pulling the officer from his own ship to safety. This officer proved to be none other than Hito Ulanti, the Macharius Flag-Lieutenant and first officer.
Quickly assessing this new situation, Borusa identified himself to Ulanti and dressed his wound, before hauling him up and carrying him back to the Macharius' boarding shuttles. When a shocked Ulanti, seeing the rank sash/bandage around Borusa's arm, addressed him as "Petty Officer Borusa," Maxim wisely remained silent about the truth. When Ulanti sought Borusa out and assigned him as his personal bodyguard after he had recovered from his wounds, "Petty Officer" Maxim Borusa was given official recognition, along with access to the Macharius bridge and a private berth amongst the better-quartered crew members; all were unaware that Borusa had ultimately promoted himself.
Life on the bridge was akin to paradise for the ex-underhiver: the workload consisted only of glowering at anyone who approached his patron officer and running the odd errand, whilst in his off-duty time, he could enjoy his part of the luxuries reserved to the elite few on an Imperial warship: decent quarters, decent food and the occasional access to alcohol and female companionship. The only drawback was that to continue enjoying all this, he had to keep Hito Ulanti alive, which was a difficult task seeing how the hot-blooded young officer often volunteered for hazardous duty, like during the battle for Helia IV, when he led the search and destroy armsmen parties to repel the boarders sent out by the Chaos warship Virulence. But paradoxically, this attitude also made Borusa develop a profound respect for his patron. Unlike what he had first believed, Ulanti was not some young blueblood fop playing at being an officer, but a man with both the guts and the means to get his hands bloody and command from the front.
Maxim Borusa's career would come to a climax during the evacuation of Belatis, ironically in an action not aboard the Macharius but on the surface of a planet. When Captain Leoten Semper was called upon to accompany Departmento Munitorum Adept Primus Ferdinand Hyuga to Medina, the capital of Belatis, and personally evacuate the planet's ruling elite, Ulanti ordered Borusa to accompany the Captain of the Macharius and do everything to keep him alive and in one piece. Borusa saw a golden opportunity: while going down to the surface of a world in full rebellion against the Imperium would be hazardous, he might be able to get recognition from the warship's commanding officer, and gain a new patron to maintain his elevated status in case some woe befell Ulanti.
Maxim would eventually get more than he bargained for during the mission: during the evacuation of the Belatisian palace, he saved Semper's life by pulling him out of the line of fire of and gunning down a group of Chaos Cultists intent on stopping them. Later, after their shuttle had crash-landed near Medina's Ecclesiarchy cathedral, Semper tasked Borusa with keeping an eye on Adept Hyuga. Borusa, who thought the Adept a coward hiding behind his rank and uncaring for any of the consequences of his actions, took great delight in dragging him along to the barricades where Frateris Militia defended the cathedral, and even greater satisfaction in executing him when the Adept broke and fled at the first sight of the enemy. Seizing a Chainsword, Borusa cut a bloody swathe through the throng of attackers, his formidable strength and unending litany of coarse Stranivarite Low Gothic curses motivating and rallying the Frateris troops around him. Maxim's opinion of the "high and mighty" of the Imperium of Man did not improve during this battle, as he saw Belatis' rulers attempt every possible trick to avoid fighting, and perform poorly when they were forced to do so. In contrast, Semper and Borusa warmed to each other; Semper realised that for all his irrespective coarseness, Borusa was much more than a simpleton and cowardly hive thug; while Borusa could see how exceptional a man his captain was, a commander who did not shirk from danger, led from the front, and even more importantly, did not sacrifice the lives of those under his command pointlessly.
When the barricades were finally overrun by the cultists, Borusa risked everything to drag Semper to safety, and, when minutes later they were faced by the Chaos Champion leading the insurrection, Borusa did not hesitate to boldly interpose himself between Semper and the foul servant of the Ruinous Powers, blocking his sword arm and emptying an Autogun point-blank into his guts. The unscathed Champion one-handedly threw Borusa into the nearest wall, but by so doing left himself open, and was in turn impaled on Semper's Power Sword. Stunned and battered, but not badly hurt, Borusa then joined Captain Semper in exterminating what remained of the enemy as Aquila Landers from the Macharius arrived to rescue them. Once back on the Macharius, Semper immediately promoted Borusa to the rank of Chief Petty Officer, with high praise: "More men like him, and we might actually win this war!"
Maxim Borusa was a giant of a man, impressively strong, and hid a keen mind behind the facade of a dull, underhive ganger. A survivor of many life-and-death battles and treacheries in the lawless stretches of a Stranivarite underhive, Borusa's instincts and ability to quickly assess any situation allowed him to survive and thrive in even the most challenging arenas. Borusa only respected those who would not ask of others what they were unwilling to do themselves, and once someone had earned his respect, he was fanatically loyal to them, not hesitating to put himself (and even others) in harm's way to protect them. There was also a darker side to his personality, for Borusa kept grudges, and did not hesitate to get rid of someone he did not respect if the opportunity arose.
In day-to-day life, Borusa was a simple man, enjoying life's simplest pleasures. The big underhiver considered nice clothes, a personal berth, a woman on his lap or sharing a bottle of potent alcohol with his comrades as the height of luxury.
- Execution Hour (Novel) by Gordon Rennie