+ inload: Mark 5,256,000 +

+ Ten Years of the Praetors of Calth +

+ It's been quiet here on Death of a Rubricist, hasn't it? Well, don't worry, there's been stuff pickling away behind the scenes. (Not too much, as it's also been jolly hot). First off, a bit of a celebration. +

+ June 2nd 2018 marked the tenth anniversary – or Mark 5,256,000, to use the Ultramarines' method of record-keeping – of my pre-heresy Ultramarines blog starting [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] on the Warseer forum, which seemed like a nice excuse to add some new bits and bobs. With 866,236 views, it was – and perhaps still is – the most viewed project on the forum, and undoubtedly the most successful of my projects. +

+ Way back in 2008, the blog began:
A time of hidden conflict and secret warfare; when battle-lines were drawn and re-drawn between brother and brother. This is a record of those times, set forth by autolocutor Apologist. 
The ancient and crumbling Apocrypha of Davio, a relic of the Second Founding, lists eight successor Chapters to the Thirteenth Legion. 
The later Apocrypha of Skaros states there were twenty-three successors to the Ultramarines, but does not list them all... 
Herein lies the tale of the brethren of the Praetors of Calth. 
+ Largely inspired by Dan Abnett's seminal Horus Rising, the earliest models predate even that, being refugees from my converted Adeptus Mechanicus army. It's seen the construction of over one hundred Astartes; each converted using gradually developing truescale, sculpting and painting techniques, and accompanied by their own background. Some models have been repainted, re-purposed, re-armed or repaired. Not one, but two iterations of Roboute Guilliman have led it into battle. The army has survived being (briefly!) stolen after someone broke into my car and subsequently abandoned over the street. It has been rebased twice. It has been involved in countless battles on the tabletops of the far future. +

+ Most of all, I've benefitted from the expertise and encouragement of hundreds of fellow hobbyists, so I really regard it very much as much theirs (and yours) as I do mine. +


+ Theoretical: Gaming plans +

Lieutenant Holion makes landfall on Akkar
+ To celebrate, I'll be taking the Praetors out to the Jungles of Akkar event in Southampton (Hampshire, UK) on October 10th–11th. Run by 30k Frontier [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+], I've heard great stuff about this group's events, and am really looking forward to it. At the time of writing, there are tickets still available, so if anyone fancies meeting up for a beer (and possibly a game), let me know. +

+ Practical +

+ Of course, It wouldn't be me if I hadn't immediately decided to build something superfluous to take in place of the already-built and painted parts of the army. I've got the following on the bench; some of which are brand new; others of which have been patiently awaiting paint for upwards of three years(!):

+ Tactical Support squad with volkite calivers +

+ Jetbike squadron +

+ inload: The Houses of Nestis and Temporis [GuestpostID: Lucfier216] +

+ Houses of Suffering and Shadow +

+ Being a bit buried under various data-screeds in the real world, it's with great pleasure that I'm able to showcase another of the PCRC's armies; our resident painting machine Lucifer216's beautiful Knight forces. +

+ A few months back, we played one of our inaugural games of 8th edition 40k pitting the Iron Warriors' 242nd against the combined might of Nestis and Temporis. This would have been an absolutely dreadful match-up in 7th edition, but in 8th it remained tense, dynamic and exciting – which went a long way to convincing me of the success of 8th edition. +

Knights make a fantastic spectacle against the low-rise buildings of Purefinder Chaunterwick.

+ Since the game, I've been keen to get my ever-busy chum to give us a write-up of his gorgeous force; and he was kind enough to oblige. Enjoy! +


Hi all,  Lucifer216 here, long-time friend of Apologist and a member of the PCRC (Plastic Crack Rehab Clinic). With the recent release of the new Imperial Knight codex, we both thought it was a good time to take a look at my own ‘force’ of Knights – though really that should be ‘forces’ as I ended up plumping for two Knight Houses instead of one.

Let’s face it, it’s difficult to resist the lure of big stompy giant robots, and when the Imperial Knights: Renegade boxset first came out, I leap at the chance to get my hands on what for me (lack of posable legs aside), is one of Games Workshop’s best plastic kits.

So, why two Knight Houses? Well, I was a bit torn. On the one hand I really wanted to try out Candy Red as a scheme, having it seen to great effect on a number of armies and I also (inspired by the dark and characterful background of House Vyronii and House Orhlacc) wanted my own shadowy and gothic Knight House. At the same time, I wanted to give my Warhound Titan, the Animus Dominus, some company and expand its background. I also wanted to create two Knight Houses that are very located in the Antona Australis sector [+Appendnote auth:Apologist+ Antona Australis is 
the PCRC’s little postage-stamp sized section of the Galaxy, which you can read about through the tab at the top of the blog].

Enter Houses Nestis [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]  and Temporis [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. House Nestis is an Ancient Greek-inspired Questor Mechanicus house with plenty of references to mythology and a big focus on duality, while Temporis is a Questor Imperialis house, whose pilots are also navigators and possessed of a sinister mien. For more of on their background, click the hyperlinks above.

I painted the knights using an airbrush for the most part (doing their frames all in one go, with the exception of the Reginae Obscurae as I bought it later), and really enjoyed doing a fair bit of freehand. I’ve never considered myself much of an artist, but I’m really pleased about how it’s come out.

It hasn’t been all plain-sailing and some practical lessons learnt include:

  • Write down the exact colour scheme as you go (I have forgotten the recipe for House Nestis’ red, which is going to make expanding it tricky)
  • Tamiya Clear Red dissolves FW Clear Black which I used for shading so you shouldn’t go back with it. 
  • Avoid using mixtures of metallic for the basecoat of large areas. I’m not amazingly happy with how the metallic trims have come out and the mix I used seems to have given it a slight texture in places. I opted for using  Retributor Armour on the Reginae Obscurae which has given a much better result. 

Enough pontificating – let’s move onto the Knights!


+ House Nestis +

+ Enyo and Klymene

+ Designate: Enyo +
The knight armours Klymene and Enyo have fought alongside each other for centuries and embody the obsession with duality that permeates Janusian culture. Enyo, a bellicose Knight Errant piloted by Domina Eris, is always on the move, constantly searching for fresh targets for its thermal cannon or crashing headlong into melee. Enyo’s thirst for carnage is endless and prior to Eris’ ascension, three aspirants died in the attempt to meld with its machine spirit. Her supremacy over the armour’s machine spirit has come at a cost for it is a jealous steed – making the discomfort of disconnection almost unbearable, though the only outward sign of it is her burning gaze and haunted manner.

+ Designate: Klymene +

In contrast to its sister-engine and as might be expected of a Knight Crusader, Klymene is patient and methodical. The armour’s teardrop heraldry reflects both the sorrow the Sito Sisterhood feels under the yoke of the Iron Fathers and the suffering that House Nestis inflicts upon its foes.

However, the armour’s sorrowful aspect also owes much to the attitude of its pilot, the supremely skilled Domina Atia. Her long list of honours, engine-kills and exemplary service has bred a burning resentment within her breast. She dreams of the devastation that she could wreck in the Omnissiah’s name while piloting a Warlord titan, but such power will forever be denied to her by the simple and arbitrary impediment of her sex. This bitterness is compounded by witnessing the follies of her two sons, Atlas and Prometheus, princeps of the Warlord Titans, Back-Breaker and Flame Eternal, respectively and the bloody rampages of her older sister, Domina Leda, aboard the Knight Valiant, Tisiphone. When Atia dwells overlong on this injustice, Klymene is prone to glitching, its hurt pride spilling out from the throne mechanicum as auspex-ghosts and grinding gears.


+ House Temporis +

+ Gnosis – Knight Paladin + 

It is said of Gnosis that it is always exactly where it should be. In the madness and chaos of the battlefield, this quiet miracle has saved thousands of Imperial lives and foiled ambushes beyond counting. While all the pilots of House Temporis are blessed and cursed in full measure with the fey insight endemic to those with navigator blood in their veins, Lady Svetlana, Gnosis’ pilot, is famed for flashes of tactical brilliance that manifest themselves as migraine-bright visions of the many futures yet to be. A painfully pale and consumptive creature, given by the gothic standards of House Temporis, Svetlana is haunted by the knowledge of her own demise. Why it should be to old age and neglect in a dank, mouldering, oubliette troubles her beyond all measure.


+ Kynigos – Knight Crusader +

Kynigos and its pilot, the lady Alla, possess inhuman patience, their favourite tactic being to stand reactor cold for long hours at a time, before bursting into motion with horrific ease, going from a cold start to full plasma burn in an instant – a feat that should be impossible for any Knight Armour. This trait first made itself known in Kynigos’ very first engagement, a confused skirmish with the vanguard of Forgeworld Bezoa as its scouting fleet entered the territory of Storm’s End and made planetfall deep in the web-wastes. There Kynigos and its first pilot, Lady Natalya, struck again and again, each time seemingly from nowhere. After the events of that day, in which the newly blooded engine recorded three super-heavy class kills, Natalya commissioned Kynigos’ distinctive heraldry to commemorate their deeds. However, Since the rites of accord were signed between the two factions, Bezoa has petitioned House Temporis to strike the markings that bear silent witness to its folly no less than fifteen times, but Lady Alla and her liege, Queen Katherine will have none of it. 


+ Reginae Obscurae – Cerastus Knight-Atrapos +

+ Designate: Reginae Obscurae +
Given by Forgeworld Bezoa as part of the first tranche of tribute that sealed the grand bargain between it and House Temporis, the Reginae Obscurae ('Shadow Queen' in Low Gothic) has been the armour of choice for the Queens of Storm’s End for centuries. Though it has suffered grievous damage on many occasions, each time it has been painstakingly restored to its former glory. The most recent of these woundings occurred during the chaos invasion of Tsu’as. Queen Elizabeta went to glory, following her wrathful destruction of the Thousand Sons Land Raider, Fist of Ra, laid low by the sorcery of Magnus’s sons and the marksmanship of the Iron Warriors. The residual trauma was so great that Elizabeta’s successor, Queen Katherine, almost died during the rite of becoming and the fallen monarch’s spirit still haunts the knight’s Throne Mechanicum, whispering dire secrets and warnings into the young queen’s ears.


+ The new rules +

In-game, I’ll probably run House Temporis using the rules for House Terryn as their swiftness is a good match for Temporis’ (in-universe) tendency to violate the laws of time and space, often without realising that they are. House Nestis is more problematic – I’ll probably run them as either House Vulkner (shooty) or House Raven (getting in the opponent’s grill quickly), with it being a tradition to consult an Oracle on the eve of battle to decide which of their twin doctrines they will use.

+ Expansion plans +

While I have a huge backlog to work through (I’m painting Tyranids for an event in October, and need to go back to my half-finished Mechanicus, Primaris Space Marine and Death Guard armies), I am tempted to slowly expand both Houses. I’m thinking that House Nestis would work well with a Knight Valiant or Knight Castellan, while House Temporis, given its relationship with Forgeworld Bezoa [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+] (which has lots of Horus Heresy era technology) and the fact that I’ve already got one Cerastus pattern knight, could be expanded with a few more.

Now back to your standard (and Inquisition-approved) pict-feeds…


+ Thanks again to the ever-gracious Lucifer216. +

+ inload: Blood Angels Terminators build +

+ Squad Redemptor, First Host +

The veins on Raphael's neck stood out as he tried to resist the Krell's psychic attack; but his limbs felt distant – oddly empty. His will was being displaced by a being of greater strength; balled-up and confined. The loss of agency was horrifying, humiliating. He retained all awareness his posthuman sensations could feed him; but his panicked mind had no way of acting upon them. Unable even to move his eyes, his peripheral vision nevertheless picked up the other members of the squad. They moved slowly, with the same jerky, alien motion as the Nai – and himself. He screamed impotently, wordlessly, as his arms rose, bringing his boltgun up to draw a bead on his brother, Barbarigo.

A heaviness, like that preceding a storm, permeated the air. Briefly he felt the Krell's domination waver and recede – just enough to jerk his hands and throw the shot off. In that moment, everything seemed to slow; and he heard a distant chittering at the edge of hearing. He strained to hear it, but it receded at the same moment the Terminators arrived. 

Teleportation folded its travellers back into existence in a way that Raphael could never describe; one that made his guts churn and teeth ache, even at a distance. Desperately trying to communicate with the veterans, he felt the iron will of the Krell assume control of his body once more. His head turned aside, he could no longer see his squadmates, but from the sounds of weapons fire, they were – like him – already firing upon their newly-arrived reinforcements.

The boltrounds flattened against the reinforced plate; or spanged off wildly. The Terminators raised their weapons, but not against their brethren. No; they targetted the Krell. Deafeningly heavy firepower lashed the creature, smashing into a luminous field of energy as the Terminators advanced upon it. 

It was then Raphael realised why the Terminators were unaffected. As the veterans marched past, ignoring their brethren's fire, they revealed a Librarian. Blue-clad below the waist, he clutched a glittering sword. His hand outraised, the Librarian's psychic hood was crackling with energy. Even a blunt like Raphael could feel the struggle build.

The Librarian leaned forward, as though into the wind; and Raphael struggled again to regain control as his weapon tracked inexorably towards the Librarian. 

One of the Terminators pushed through the Krell's psychic field, his helmet and shoulders alive with psychic fire, and seized hold of the bloated creature. Suddenly, with an audible and very final snap, the Krell collapsed to the dusty floor. 

Raphael felt the presence in his mind ebb away slowly, allowing him back into control of his post-human body. He was left with a sensation a little like pins-and-needles across his whole frame; and a furious, placeless urgency. He shuddered as he raised himself, muttering an imprecation to Sanguinius to suppress the nauseating urge that was their Chapter's curse. 

He breathed out heavily, attempting to balance his humours in the wake of such violation. The other members of the psy-dominated squad were clambering unsteadily to their feet; as were the surviving pair of Nai the Krell had impelled forward with it. 

El-Aster was first up. His knife was in his hand; then in the nearest Nai. Over and over again; desperately, violently.


+ Squad Redemptor +

+ Very much enjoying building these embiggened Terminators for the Alien Wars – if you'd like a go yourself, there's a tutorial here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. My only slight grumbles are the awkward poses of the stock Aquilon Terminators, and the limited variation is a bit frustrating – I was particularly dismayed to find the two different types (firepike and 'normal') are identical except for the weapons. Even the arms are resculpts from the same base, so the underlying way the arm is held are identical between kits, which I thought was a bit of a shame. Nothing that can't be fixed with a little knifework, so I'm not too choleric about it! +

+ Anyway, four down, one more to go. The torso of the final Terminator seems to have been moved by the household gods. I'm sure it'll turn up. +

Sinistro e Dexter:  Brother Martial (Agshekolah 2:09)
Brother Lucello the comely (Tiphareth 3:04)

Sergeant Redemptor (Pahaliah 2:01)
Brother Comeccino (Abacyel 2:02)

[Absent from pict-capture] Brother Lesandro (Caranial 6:18)

 + Sergeant Redemptor gets the traditional armament of the period for sergeants – power sword and stormbolter. Since yesterday, I've added a few decorations and a little sensor to the cowl. These targeters are useful. Not only do they add some visual interest, but they also help cover the slightly rough area left when the eagle is carved away. +

+ The side shot shows the replacement power sword. I've mated the forearm of a plastic Tartaros-pattern Terminator to the Aquilon upper arm, and replaced the distinctive blade with a power sword from the bits box (possibly available in the Blood Angels Death Company box?). The result is quite a bit shorter than the Tartaros blade, but I think the stubbier feel works well for the brutal tunnel-fighting Terminators are famed for. +

Brother Comeccino gets a stormbolter and power fist armament. Again, a few twiddly bits from the Space Hulk Terminators set add some Blood Angel character. I've kept this fairly stripped-back, in common with the rest of the project's aesthetic, but thought such storied veterans deserved some details. +

+ A rear shot shows that the backs of the torso and legs are unmodified. While I think the sculpted look works well for Blood Angels, part of me wants to give getting the back to look more like the original sculpts a go. Perhaps I'll order the bits and do one for my Ultramarines, Iron Hands or Iron Warriors? +

 + Yeaaaaaah. Who doesn't love an assault cannon? I wasn't happy with the original pose of Brother Lucello, so he got broken up and turned into the heavy weapon specialist. Very happy with the pose now, which looks alert but slightly ponderous – ideal for such bulky troops. +

+ Note the tilt shield on his pauldron. I'm tempted to add one to his gun, too, as the original inspiration does. +

+ The assault cannon itself, as the red colour probably gives away, is also from Space Hulk. It's got some nice details that required it to be posed in a certain way – otherwise the decorations would not hang properly. It's probably not something you'd notice at a casual glance, but missing details like this can give your models a slight sense of 'wrongness'. +

+ Breaking one of my usual guidelines for posing miniatures, Brother Martial's leading arm matches his leading leg – i.e. both are forward together – and the same is true of the trailing leg. +

+ Usually arms and legs alternate when walking (i.e. the arm swings backwards as the leg on the same side comes forward, as on Brother Comeccino above), and this tends to make for good naturalistic miniatures. +

+ Here, I've deliberately matched the angles in order to emphasise the weight of the chainfist, and make him look wary – as thought he's prowling slowly. I've added a damaged pad to reinforce the feeling of danger.+

+ I managed to salvage the chainfist's cabling, and attached it behind the large elbow joint protector. This is another detail that could be trimmed off in order to make the figure more like the original metal sculpes. As a little in-joke, his apotropaeic name means 'destroyer', which I thought was fitting for the chainfist-carrier! +

+ The final member of the squad is not yet ready, but as soon as I dig out that torso, I'll pop him up here. My plan is to make a particularly belligerent squad member. The only real distinguishing feature of the original model (from WD139) was that he had a bionic eye. I'm going to riff on that and experiment with a bionic arm and battle damage. +

+ inload: Tutorial – building Truescale Terminators +

+ Building a bigger Terminator +

+ Recently I've been playing about with building Terminators to complement the enlarged Marines of my Blood Angels project [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] for the Alien Wars. +

+ The Primaris marines are great for creating better-proportioned Astartes than the older kits, but doing so means the Terminator kits look a bit small next to them. This tutorial will help you make Terminators that complement the Primaris marines, while retaining the classic Terminator aesthetic. +


+ This tutorial will show you how to build a Terminator based on the Custodes Aquilon Terminators. The result will look something like this:

+ What do I need? +

+ The tutorial for the normal marines [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] tried to make things as cheap as possible, but for this, I'm afraid there's little way round it – these are pricey conversions. If you can get just the parts you need on the second-hand market (my approach), you can save some cash. Alternatively, you might find that you can sell on some of the unused parts from the full kit to recoup some of your money. Alternatively, you can substitute some parts. I think the legs, torso top and torso back are the most critical parts – the rest can be easily substituted more or less successfully. +

+ For this tutorial you will need: 
Required parts from the Aquilon kit.
  • Superglue
  • Craft knife and cutting mat
  • The following parts from the Legio Custodes Aquilon kit:
    • Torso front
    • Torso back
    • Torso top
    • Left arm
    • Right arm
    • Legs
    • (Optional – hip guards)
  • Shoulder pads – I used Master-Crafted Miniatures Large Veteran Shoulder Pads
  • The following parts from other kits :
    • Ranged weapon – I used Storm Bolters from the Iron Hands Gorgon Terminator kit
    • Head from standard Terminators
+ As with the marine in the earlier tutorial, the exact parts you select will depend on the pose etc. you want; experiment and enjoy. I've kept the basic version in this tutorial fairly simple, but have gone to town on the others with parts left over from my Ultramarines project. I'll come back to the sergeant to give him a little more decoration later. +

+ This is a suprisingly simple conversion – it's worth noting that you need no greenstuff or sculpting tools; it's all done with a craft knife. Nevertheless, it can be quite intimidating, so this is intended to make it as clear as possible. +

I_ Use a craft knife to carefully remove the filigree detail and the eagles from the arms and legs.

II_ Cut the top and bottom off the circular belt buckle. You can use the rivets in the corners to help guide your cuts.

III_ Trim the sides flat, then carefully remove the detail. If possible, try to leave the corner studs in place. They provide some nice neutral detail.

IV_ Use clippers to remove the top part of the eagle. Be conservative with your cutting – it's best to leave too much on the torso, as you can always trim further. Try to cut the cut as flat as possible, using the existing lines of the model to guide you.

V_ Use a sharp craft knife to cut the eagle from the front. I've done half here to help illustrate. In the step IV image, you'll see that the eagle's wing has a natural join to the torso top – use this to guide your cut.

VI_ Once you've cut the other side off, make sure the front is flat. You can file it down, if you prefer that to the knife.

VII_ Use the knife to trim down the remaining part of the eagle on the top of the armour. This area is slightly curved; I recommend you simply work particularly slowly and carefully. 

VIII_ Trim the front of the arched 'hood' away – again, you can use the rivets of the original sculpt to help you get it even.

IX_ Trim away the lightning bolt filigree from the front of the torso. I chose to leave the Crux Terminatus in place, but you can remove this too, if you like.

X_ Place the knife as shown on the collar. Make sure it's nice and straight.

XI_ Make a single cut to trim away the top part of the collar.

XII_ Shape the collar to taste. I've added a central dip, and carefully thinned down the front to make the curve even.

XIII_ The exciting bit – simply assemble the model to finish. This gives you the basic Terminator, which you can embellish to your heart's content.

+APPENDNOTE+ I'm in the happy position that the Blood Angels suit the ornate backs of the legs and torso that the Aquilon Terminators have; but if there's interest, I'll come back with a more in-depth part II to this tutorial that replicates the supporting struts on the legs and so forth. Please let me know if that's of interest. +

+ inload: In search of a good battlefield +

+ What's the best battlefield you've ever fought over? +

+ I'd like to collect examples of good battlefield layout (photograph, sketch or illustration) together and create a mini-supplement that players can use to guide their own terrain placement. +

+ Ideally, I'd like: 

  • A clear picture of the battlefield, showing where the scenery lies (ideally overhead, and without miniatures, but I'll take what I can!);
  • A description or overlay of suggested deployment zones;
  • Any information on the rules (if any) you used for certain terrain pieces;
  • A brief blurb on why the scenery made for a good game.

+ Thanks in advance! +

+ Good example +

Rynn's World – Battle for the Farm

Deployment: One army must deploy entirely within the confines of the Farm; the other must deploy within 12in of the opposite long edge.

Special terrain rules: None

Terrain notes: 

  • We treated the woods on the left as an area of 'Area terrain', extending between the outermost points of the individual tree models.
  • We treated the woods on the right as an area of 'Area terrain', extending between the outermost points of the individual tree models, or following the line of the hedge. 
  • The low walls of the Farm provided +1 Sv for any models whose base touched it, and if the wall was between the firer and the target model.
  • The farm buildings provided +1 Sv for any model whose base was touching any part of the Farm's base.


+ Not so useful examples +

Outskirts of the Emperor's Palace, Terra

+ The above example is probably a nicer picture (and a more interesting terrain set-up) than the Rynn's World example, but it's hard to see where things are, and there's no clarification on what things counted as. Don't get me wrong, I'd be delighted to receive anything (all grist to the mill), but if you can tell me the specifics of why it worked well and helped give a good game, that'd be fantastic. +

+ inload: Alien wars narrative blurt; Nai Primary – 235.M35 +

+ Nai Primary – 235.M35 +

The plants waved slowly back and forth in the sea breeze, though the water's surface distorted the movement. Improbable-looking things; the emerald stems were slender, and fifty or more foot tall. Like a child's drawing of a tree, they were topped with great spherical tufts, lavender in colour.

With a murmured imprecation to the machine spirits of his armour, Raphael touched two fingers to his helm's earpiece, summoning the lares of the vox-caster. A momentary pop that flattened into a subtle hiss indicated the communion with the Captain was successful.

'The Wards of Furiel attend, Master; the beach is attained.' Ahead of him, Donato knelt behind a cluster of coral-pink rocks, his weapon tracking back and forth across the headland.

'Acknowledged. Lazarus and his strateia are ascending, parallel to your position,' – a series of chimes accompanied the appearance of green runes in his armour's hood as the other squad's location behind the ridge of the reef was confirmed – 'continue the processionary.'

The vox-lares pipped out, and Raphael absently tapped the orison-box at his belt to acknowledge his thanks to the spirit of his predecessor. Waving his men forward with a gesture, the sergeant watched as Donato jogged ahead to the next patch of cover as Farnese took up his place behind the rocks.

The green runes of the hidden Squad Lazarus followed a similar pattern – one marine advancing, pausing; then another taking up his position as the first moved on. It was as rhythmic as the lazy tide, and the movement of the darting shoals. It was a beautiful world, reckoned the Blood Angel. The water was clear, the beach sand gleaming, the sky an attractive pink.

Satisfied, he began to advance at an easy stride, his broad feet raising short-lived clouds of sand, the knuckle-bone in the orison-box rattling reassuringly.


The forty Blood Angels had marched, submerged beneath the gentle sea, for four hours. Now they waited, a few hundred yards off shore of the settlement, on the leeward side. Hunkered down they appeared as patient and still as the scattered rocks. Only the silver-filigreed Chaplain moved amongst them, pausing occasionally to rest a hand on a bowed helm, or to pass his crozius reverently over a proffered personal relic. In the water, his considered movements were slowed further, lent a silent and dreamlike quality by the water. A meditative atmosphere had fallen over the waiting host.

His command duties long completed, Raphael repeated his catechisms over and over to himself, praying to his armour to protect his body; to his boltgun to bring death to his enemies; to the lares and penates of his wargear to ward his spirit and keep his vision clear. Next to him, Barbarigo was passing his spare boltgun ammunition across the purity-sealed ; first one way, the the other.

A chirp altered Raphael to the Captain's vox-chorister. He remained kneeling for a moment, fingers to his helm's earpiece. Together with the other sergeants and command staff, they rose; their squads following a heartbeat later. Tycho turned to face his troops for a moment, his golden-masked helm impassive and inscrutable. His cape twitched, a-swirl in the current, then he turned once more to lead his followers the short distance to the beach.

Sea water cascaded from their armour as they broke the surface. Raphael felt it was akin to awakening – the silence of the previous hours was gone the instant his helm cleared the water, replaced with the sounds of distant fighting and the occasional heavy boom of shellfire. Boltgun raised, Raphael scanned the settlement's sea wall; even as a low, artificial wail began. A siren. A poor omen.

Although streams of smoke rose from the far side of the town, it seemed that their Nova Terran allies' bombardment had failed to draw all the defenders away from the beach. Raphael spotted glimpses of the distinctive jerky movements of the Nai as they scuttled to position. Boltgun fire began stabbing out from the advancing phalanx, joined moments later by heavier fire from the Devastators. Raphael saw one of the Nai, exposed as it shifted position, burst into a cloud of turquoise viscera.

By this point the Blood Angels were running; charging up the beach. Their scarlet plate, still dripping, gleamed and sparkled in the bright light. Return fire started up, fizzing past the Astartes; but too little, too little to trouble them. The roar of boltgun fire was hymnal; ascendant – but the Nai, if they noticed, were not fleeing. Their composure troubled Raphael momentarily.

Without breaking stride, Farnese and Engel, slightly ahead of the rest of the squad, lobbed grenades towards the base of the wall. They detonated with a cloud of smoke, through which the squad charged. The world disappeared again, this time in a cloak of rock dust. Raphael simply ran over the first Mor-Nai, smashing the dazed and injured alien aside. The second he gunned down from point-blank range; the third he clubbed with the side of his boltgun. His brothers were with him; the defenders over-run, his blood singing.


Even before the dust had settled, the Blood Angels drove onwards. Pausing only for a squad count, they made ammunition checks and a benediction in the lee of a nearby water tower; then pushed into the city.
Raphael could not shake off the uneasy feeling that had gripped him on the beach – if anything, it was getting worse as they picked their way through the mediaeval tangle of streets.

Brother El-Aster, his armour white with dust, was a few yards ahead at the intersection. He paused for what seemed a long time, then lifted his hand slowly, four fingers outstretched, for the rest of the squad to see. Barbarigo jogged past the sergeant in an awkward half-crouch, staying low. Before he reached the point-man, the whole end of the street erupted as something huge and writhing burst through the wall of the corner building. The two lead marines simply vanished in the cloud.

The remaining members of the squad had their weapons up, searching for a target, calling on the spirits to commune with their missing brethren – and it was then that Raphael's fears were confirmed. The two marines emerged from the settling cloud of debris, their movements as stilted as the Nai on the beach; and what followed them was monstrous. A bulbous, writhing mass of tentacles, the bulk of it hovering a few feet above the dirt ground. The air was thick with its mind-numbing presence; and it was all Raphael could do to blurt out over the general vox a warning:


+ inload: Alien Wars – Anatomy of the enemy IV: Saharduin +

+ Anatomy of the enemy IV: Saharduin +

As the great Warmaster Chronos had it: "Some aliens it is my solemn duty to fight; while waging war on others is little more than an irritant. The best aliens of all, however, are a pleasure to purge from the God-Emperor's worlds." 

Extract from All Human History – Inquisitrix Barbari Kills, Ordo Xenos


+ First contact +

The Epistles of Lieutenant-General Tosh, fragments of which were written during the Great Crusade, and which formed the seed for the Ecclesiarchy's Bibliothekon Illicitus, contains the following entry for the little-known species known variously as the saharduin, zcualo, eeligators, dussumers, pisceans and veermaads, depending on where in the Ultima segmentum you encounter them. Since the term Saharduin has most currency in Segmentum Solar, we use it here to refer to the whole species.
The Saharduin control several worlds in the Ultima Segmentum. They are both hostile and powerful, and have technology roughly equivalent to that of the Imperium. A typical Piscean Warrior is armed with a boltgun-analogue and a power sword. The Imperium has fought a long war against the saharduin, but were unable to eradicate them. The menace could only be contained. To this day, no known human has ever set foot upon one of the planets of Saharduin; they remain dark and unexplored.
As with much of this Imperial hero's romanticised reportage, while the broad strokes are true – the Imperium has fought a number of campaigns against the saharduin, and their surmised home systems remain in native hands – much of the rest is fanciful. Imperial records show successful extermination campaigns against saharduin colonists on Bolar and the world of Shim-Jil; and records – admittedly patchy – remain of the saharduin's inner worlds from an attempted xenocidal campaign by the VIth Legion during the Great Crusade.

In any case, the saharduin have been in conflict with mankind since prior to the Great Crusade – as indicated by the names given to them by a number of previously-unconnected human species, all of whom suffered depredations of saharduin shoal-fleets during pre-Imperial times. The unofficial names given to them by Imperial Guard forces that have faced them are equally varied: reds, shimmers, darters, and the wonderfully earthy name the Catachan regiments favour: 'sea-bastards'.

+ Saharduin biology +

Saharduin often wear photo-chromaric lenses to
protect against light damage.
As technologically advanced apex predators on – and beyond – their mist-shrouded worlds, the saharduin number in their billions. Standing a good eight foot at the shoulder; ten from toe to tip of the snout, they are an intimidating foe for a human to face despite their slender appearance. Their skin is tough and rubbery, and while not to the extent that it protects the saharduin from gunfire, it will resist even heavy clubbing blows. The creatures' flexible musculature and semi-pliant bone-structure further protects them from impact damage. Fortunately, bladed weapons are extremely effective, carving through their skin easily to reveal the easily-shredded meat beneath.

Saharduin flesh is usually a red-brown colour, but the skin colours vary wildly, even within a single group. Almost any colour, or combination of colours is possible, and a number of specimens have demonstrated the ability to alter their hue to a greater or lesser extent – surmised to be a relic of some camouflaging talent, or perhaps a trait created by sexual selection. As with much of this species, little can be determined with certainty.

They live relatively short lives of approximately thirty years or so. Properly-nourished saharduin mature to their full physical size within two years or so, but are not believed to reproduce until later in life – though the mechanics of this species' reproduction is too complex to explain in the limited summary here. Interested parties are guided to the seminal treatise of Magos Hebron Xio, Inside the Piscean; a biological examination, from which the following salient extract is drawn.
[...]Saharduin have at least eight distinct 'genders' – though the term is only loosely applicable to this most peculiar species, and I have considered using 'generative quales' as a more appropriate term – that I have been able to identify, plus upwards of forty gender roles that I have been able to witness. Given the complexity of interaction and my specimens' frustrating and wilful refusal to procreate anywhere except in private, it is possible that there are many more.
Saharduin brooding usually produces three kinds of individual – pandoran, heran and promethean. Of these, the pandoran are genetically identical to the brooding adult; effectively clones (and perfectly capable of later reproduction of their own). The herans, who are the closest to a traditional female in that they provide a portion of genetic material to their offspring, grow to full size and await a 'male'. The males appear as part of a secondary generation born only to the 'male-progenitor gender', the prometheans. Prometheans themselves bear saharduin secondary male characteristics, but are born without gentialia; instead brooding upwards of three pygmies inside him/it. These dwarf males, who grow to less than half the size of other saharduin, are birthed via regurgitation, and form the fourth gender. All pygmies are genetically diverse – far more so than the other primary genders; drawing as they do a mix of gene-equivalents from, effectively, two generations: their promethean 'parent 'and their heran and pygmy 'grandparents'.
To further complicate the picture, it appears that certain stressors can bypass this system, causing both herans and pygmies to spontaneously produce promethean-equivalents themselves – creating sub-populations of genetically identical (or at least dwindling in diversity) beings. If isolated, these groups seem self-sustaining (though obviously more vulnerable to toxin, disease and other dangers); but are more usually a temporary measure until the population meets other Saharduin, at which point the sub-population is re-absorbed.
Of the remaining 'genders/life-roles', I have identified three distinguishable groups, which I have dubbed the Chalybs, Telkines and Dacts, though I confess these intermittently-produced beings do not fit neatly into any organisation I can conceive. Unlike the other genders, these genders are not part of the viviparous system, instead being born as semi-mobile 'larvae'. Telkines and Dacts eventually develop into, respectively, mock- or pseudo-herans and pandorans, which don't seem to be capable of reproduction, and are frequently malformed. Chalybs, meanwhile, are the most confusing of all; as while they show all other signs of life, they seem to remain in a larval state permanently. All is most fascinating; and I await our next safari with great urgency and excitement.

Saharduin tower over humans.
Saharduin require oxygenated fluid to breathe comfortably, but can naturally also metabolise manganese gasses, though this leaves them sluggish. Their skeletons are not rigid, which means they tire relatively quickly on land without support. Most dangerous in aquatic or other fluid environments, Saharduin are nevertheless swift, strong and cunning.


+ Saharduin technology +

Saharduin capital-class voidcraft are oblate spheroids, appearing like two dished placed face sides together. They are made of pale, textural alloys; almost ceramic in appearance. Weaponry – mass drivers, particle projectors or laser tech – is usually clustered around the apex of the curve, while the rim houses mobile force field projectors.

The warren-like interior of clustered tunnels that connect control nodes is filled with a rich oxygenated gel that acts as a defensive life support: under impact, the gel temporarily becomes more rigid, helping to minimise damage, and also making boarding actions considerably more complex for most other species. The gel will also act as a temporary plug for minor hull breaches

The combat-breathing apparatus is clearly visible on these two Janissaries
Saharduin Janissaries are most commonly encountered by Imperial forces on land; which means that the common image of the creatures is with their land-suits; tough bionically-enhanced pressurised coverings for their limbs that compensate for their difficulty out of the water, and enhance their strength in a similar manner to power armour, though to a lesser extent. To guardsmen, Saharduin are most familiar with their combat-breathing apparatus in place. These backpacks use tubes implanted into the gill analogues to deposit aerosolised fluid directly onto the membranes. This allows the Saharduin to breathe comfortably on land, and the packs also dispense combat drugs to increase the bearer's aggression, reactions and pain threshold.

Janissary bearing a projector gun
Native Saharduin projectile weaponry is based on mass-driver technology. Their compact and short-ranged projector guns are reliable and sturdy. Created to serve in fluids, they are brutally effective in gaseous atmospheres – their low-velocity rounds cause raggedly explosive effects that have a superficial similarity to bolt wounds; which is likely the source of Lieutenant-General Tosh's comments [see above].

Janissary bearing looted las-pistol and saharduin vibro-blade.

Well-suited to close-in fighting, Saharduin use vibration technology to enhance their close combat weaponry. Their armour-piercing vibro-blades emit an audible hum that escalates to a terrifying shriek when operated, and is well capable of penetrating carapace armour – or even astartes plate.

Saharduin are adaptable and aggressive, and frequently scavenge enemy weaponry to use – often finding it better suited to the alien atmospheres in which they are fighting. This often has a deleterious effect on enemy morale, particularly human forces.


+ Saharduin domains +

Saharduin Enclaves are confined to the Ultima Segementum, where they border a number of densely-populated worlds. This has brought them into frequent contact with a number of species, and they defend their borders hyper-aggressively. The murky, aquatic worlds of the Primary enclaves are so densely defended and protected that attacks are all but suicidal – the regions have long been quarantined by Imperial edict. 

The species seems to have developed and then lost or forbidden their warp-jump capability, with the secondary enclaves isolated from the primary enclaves. While no Saharduin worlds officially interact with other species, individuals from the newly-established Secondary Enclaves are sometimes found as mercenaries in the employ of Rogue Traders, ork and squat warlords and the like. Small expeditionary forces of Saharduin occasionally launch attacks beyond the Enclaves, but rely on capturing warp-capable ships from other species.

+ The Nova Terra Interregnum +

Isolated within the Ultima Segementum, the Saharduin were largely unaffected by the early events of the Nova Terra Interregnum. Within a few decades, however, withdrawing Imperial patrols and pickets meant that many more traders, explorers and adventure-seekers were able to slip past into the quarantine zone and make contact with the Saharduin. Few escaped alive; and the Saharduin found themselves provided with many small warp-capable ships.

This prompted an explosive expansion into the worlds that would become the Secondary Enclaves, and launched a cataclysmic series of cascading invasions on nearby systems. As a world was overwhelmed, more warp-capable craft were captured and the attacks began again on the next system. In this way, the Saharduin conquered vast tracts of space over the course of a century; and were only stopped by the intervention of Waa-Ghrast, a greenskin counter-invasion on the paradise world of Tummus. This campaign escalated in a bloody stalemate which drew reinforcements from the surrounding areas and allowed Imperial forces to establish a burnt-earth policy on the surrounding region, starving the Saharduin of warp-capable ships.

+ The Saharduin during the Alien Wars +

+ Battle of Berabbadon +

Imperial Guardsmen attempt to hold the line against Saharduin assault.
Saharduin invaders burn the moons of Berabbadon before descending on the populous world. A hastily-assembled Imperial Guard regiment supported by Ghast and Tamarin mercenaries hold the line briefly, but are wiped out over the course of four weeks. The Crimson Lions Titan Legion arrives in-system a fortnight later, and after four God-Engines are lost in an abortive landing effort, the Martian Suprematists that command the Legion order its withdrawal


+ Annexation of Jenna +
Forces of the Marauders Chapter scramble to intercept a Saharduin fleet-caravan from attacking an independent fiefdom, and succeed in destroying a quarter of the hotch-potch armada before planetfall is achieved.

The aliens disappear into the rich oceans, forcing a decade-long purging campaign that ends with the major conurbations of the world ruined, and the defeated Marauders forced to move out-system after an overwhelmingly large Ecclesiarchy fleet of Frateris Templars demands the Astartes withdraw their aegis from the independent humans of Jenna.


+ Waa-Ghrast +

This explosive conflict saw the literal destruction of the world of Xin, when an ork Space Hulk crash-landed onto the small planet. Drawing in millions of fighters from both sides, as well as over dozen other alien species, the orks were eventually successful in defeating the Saharduin. This event is grudgingly regarded as having saved substantial proportions of the Ultima Segmentum from the depredations of the Saharduin, catastrophically reducing the species' fleet numbers and ability to expand. 

Despite the collateral damage sustained by allies in the region – the Squat League of Drummond lost forty per cent of its holdings, and two Forgeworlds were lost – the result is seen as a net positive for the Imperium, whose reserves descended on the bloodied remnants of Ghrak's forces and decimated them over the plains of Zomm.


+ Post Script +

The enemy of my enemy is an excellent weapon.

I remain, at your service; Inquisitrix Barbari Kills.