+ Common Core Concepts +

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

+ inload: Alpharius III +


+ It's been a while since I built and painted an Alpha Legion marine. I've made two in the past, but they have since exfiltrated the house and zipped into the Warp to the planet of Youessay. This chap is on his own for the moment (and likely to remain so for the immediate future). +

+ Built for a group project on The Bolter & Chainsword forum +[noospheric inload link: http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/topic/298727-march-of-the-legions-xx-legion/]+, he was painted up fairly quickly – a nice change of pace from my more considered Ultramarines. +

+ One-off models like this are a great excuse to try out new techniques. I thought I'd have a go at getting a subtle metallic sheen to the armour. Primed black, I painted the armour with boltgun metal and used the blue and green GW washes. These go a little blotchy, but that's fine at this stage: 

Apologies for the grainy shot. Very Alpha Legion, but not particularly clear!
+ While wet, I ran purple and black washes into the shadows and recesses, allowing the colours to merge and blend on the surface. The result was acceptable, but not quite how I wanted it – not enough staining power, and I was concerned repeated washes to strengthen the colour would end up with a very messy or glossy effect. That's not always unwelcome, but not what I wanted here. 

+ In the end, I used a glaze of Asurmen(?) blue (the equivalent to the old Enchanted Blue), thinned with plenty of Winsor & Newton acrylic medium, to cover the armour. This left just enough of the underlying colour to show through. Taking inspiration from Migsula's seminal Legion project +[noospheric inlaod link: http://legionofplastic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/three-new-alpharius-done.html]+, I added a highlight made of Vallejo Model white, Yriel Yellow (the equivalent to the old Bad Moon Yellow) and a touch of the glaze mix on the palette was used to add shaping and highlights. This was all fairly messy and quick, but great fun. +


+ Part of the appeal of the XXth Legion is their dubious loyalties, but I always like to look at Astartes as soldiers first and foremost – and thus in uniform – and their specific legion character second. For that reason, and because it's fun to add character through freehand, I added the old Legion symbol (the chained capital alpha). On the frontal details, you'll also see some lightning bolts emerging from behind the pouches. Do these obscure the Emperor's sigil of a Raptor's head on crossed thunderbolts? What would that imply?



+ I think Alpha Legionaries look good with lots of equipment – they've got an aesthetic that's slightly more realistic than some other Legions – so I added a pack from the Cadian (possibly Catachan?) heavy weapon sprue. This had some smoke grenades on. To give a slightly sinister edge to Alpharius, I added some biological warning marks to the canisters...



+ The gritty, practical nature of the Legion lends it a slightly Rogue Trader-era feel, which I played on by adding a boltgun weapon marking on his right pauldron (the small logo on the left of the picture), and a classic 'Kil' on the holster (scabbard?) of his auxiliary knife. A white helmet stripe finished the RT freehand homages. Of note is that I used the same creamy white on the pouches as on the boltgun marking. Using pure white is very eye-catching, so that was reserved as a highlight for the helmet stripe. The stripe itself was established with the cream mix, allowed to dry, and then thinned white added. While wet, I quickly drew the edge of my fingernail over it in a couple of places. I've found this a quick way to add relatively clean scrapes and marks, which adds to the atmosphere. +


+ The eye should work up the front leg, along the ammo bandolier, up the light-coloured pouches, over the white stripe on the head (primary focus) and then follow the gaze down the arm, past the boltgun marking to the boltgun itself (secondary focus). The kill markings on the boltgun are another RT touch, and give the eye something to rest on at this secondary focal point. 

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+ The project asked for a model and some accompanying background. I didn't want to focus too much on the individual (not really the legion's 'thing'), so I wrote the following. I hope you enjoy it.+


The Tongueless War

For the simple reason that no-one was there, no-one saw the Legion arrive. No-one saw the Legion leave, because by that point, there was no-one left alive.

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One of the many thousands of counter-Compliance actions undertaken by the Treacher-Legions during the Horus Heresy, the Mos Cumbra campaign – later to enter Inquisitiorial annals as the Tongueless War – saw the Alpha Legion attacking the isolated loyalist garrison on the dustbowl world of Mos Cumbra.

Information on the campaign, as with almost all Alpha Legion actions, is difficult to confirm as absolutely true or false. However, the following information provides the basic overview of the campaign with which supplicants for the rank of interrogator are presented before they are asked to analyse the events and provide their own conclusions.

Isolated since M31.969, the loyalist elements were likely completely unaware of the events unfolding in the rest of the galaxy. While the Alpha Legion's aims remain ambiguous, it seems likely that their intention was to advise the Imperial garrison that they were to be relieved, then overwhelm them as they redeployed.

Beyond acting as a stepping stone into the distant Clarion Stars, the dusty planet had little strategic value. Nevertheless, the short-lived campaign seems to have been one of dirty, scrappy and unsatisfactory action as the mercurial XXth deployed against isolated bands of warriors every bit as resourceful and adaptable as themselves.

Arriving with a full broadcast, the Alpha Legion's attempt to contact the garrison received no acknowledgement. As their infiltrated reconnaissance forces failed to find the garrison, the expedition was gradually forced to prevaricate, broadcasting increasingly less likely scenarios to explain their delayed landing, all of which fell on a seemingly empty vox. Before the delays could become unreasonably suspicious, the Alpha Legion were obliged to deploy. With Imperial banners a-flutter at their declared landing position, the Alpha Legionaries found no-one present to meet them.

Contact was likely made on the thirteenth day. An Alpha Legion recon patrol failed to report. Four were never seen again, and the remaining member was found bound and null-hooded two days later in the Meretrician desert, dozens of miles from their last known point of contact. On recovery, the Legionary was found to be thrall-tranced, incapable of action beyond reciting a coded message. Analysis using the embedded Imperial idents – old but valid – allowed the XXth to recover a simple, stark warning: Leave. Stay Away.

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Galled into action – or perhaps simply intrigued by a foe seemingly able to see through his ruse so completely – Lieutenant Commander Lasko ordered deployment on a war footing, with simple orders to engage and destroy any forces on the planet, regardless of their provenance.

Radiating from the Lin Plateau, where their colleague had been recovered, the Alpha Legion gradually met pockets of increasing resistance. Cloaked by squally dust-storms, Astartes groups ranging from in size from small units to full strike forces began to harry the Alpha Legion columns over the following month; each fading into the scything dust as the Alpha Legion turned to meet them.

The assailants remained unidentified until the fortieth night of sporadic fighting. A group was finally surrounded and brought to bay around an abandoned settlement, where they were forced to hole up. Slowly but surely, the Alpha Legion company identified and closed potential escape routes as the dawn drew closer, even as they fought off rescue attempts from other groups of the mysterious ambushers. Lasko had been surprised by the enemy's willingness to combat his forces – but was more concerned by their apparent ability to do so effectively. He had anticipated that the experiences of the Isstvan campaign would give his troops the edge, but reported casualties seemed to be remarkably even, especially taking into account the Alpha Legion's frustrating ability to recover seemingly confirmed kills.

At last, the Alpha Legion showed their consummate skill in their assault on the town, seemingly dropping resistance at two projected lines of retreat, then launching their assault. The unknown force broke for freedom – not through the most obviously weakened, but through the other. This was a fatal mistake. Lasko's double bluff ensured the swift defeat and capture as the Astartes broke through a weak first line before hitting a tangle of Legion killzones, where they were swiflty bracketed and destroyed. Inexplicably identified as VI and VIII Legion troops, Lasko was baffled. The Nostroman and Fenrisian warriors had famously had an antagonistic relationship throughout the Crusade. What had alloyed the groups together so effectively – and further, why were they holding so furiously against 'Imperial' relief?

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With the dead deserts broken only by sibilant vox hisses and wordless snarls, the so-called Tongueless War proved short. Hopelessly outnumbered by the Alpha Legion, and with no support, the enemy force was ground down in isolated pockets. Records of the war are understandably patchy; being pieced together from Alpha Legion propaganda and records of the Mos Cumbrans themselves. This is particularly so for the final events of the war. They are known to have involved a parley – in some accounts, a surrender – on the part of a Captain of the VIII Legion named Hestor Raal. Records of such a figure are not found in Imperial records, though a similar name elements are known in records of the Night Lords prior to the Heresy; and it is entirely possible that the notoriously poor communications of the VIIIth simply failed to report his enrollment into the legion.

If such a meeting did occur, and Lieutenant Commander Lasko attended personally, it seems possible only on one pretext – that the Alpha Legion were offered something they could not resist: information. A delegation of XXth Legion serfs was reported to have gathered at an otherwise unremarkable point in the Whispering Galleries three days prior to the end of the war, an action interpreted by most Inquisitorial staff as an Alpha Legion deployment to answer a call from the hitherto silent VIth-VIIIth legion force. The cloak of silence resumed immediately, and the delegation were returned apparently unharmed to their initial drop-point.

This must have been a point of concern for Lasko, as the drop point would have been studiously hidden – likely double-blindly. Faint encrypted broadcast records drawn from the Legion vessel identified as Epsilon – recovered in M38 as part of the scuttled space hulk The Cell of Revulsion – indicate that a second offer of parley was made. Inquisitorial reports suggest it is possible that Lieutenant Commander Lasko, astutely attended by a large group of veteran Legionaries, met with a tattered handful of survivors. The evidence is scanty: a single vid-capture shows a group of Astartes in dust-scoured ceramite, armed Legion serfs and thralls, and Terran Invigilators. The otherwise unremarkable image was initially assumed to show an Alpha Legion cell, but a single figure, mostly obscured by a Legionary, is shown in Mos Cumbran native attire.

Further analysis of the image reveals an identifiably Nostroman Astartes – the sclera of his eyes are black and wormed through with blue veins; the latter detail discounting photofilter lenses known to be in use by the XXth. Coupled with this image is a tantalising vox-record. Tenuously chrono-synced to the period, we hear a badly distorted voice broadcast on Astartes' battle-frequencies, apparently replying to an introduction.

'Is it so? I must conf-[DISTORTED]-ressing a Primarch is [DISTORTED]-easure – even if he has suffered the humiliating dimini[DISTORTED]-o the rank of Lieutenant Comma-[DISTORTED].' A mnemo-scan reveals a slip of black humour at this point; though the regret that becomes apparent in the speaker's voice is clear even to the non-psychic.

'[DISTORTED]-both know h-[DISTORTED]-remain unsurprised by the Throne's actions; though my Fenrisian colleagues continue to protest that a sanct[DISTORTED]-in itself be sanctioned. Let my final report [DISTORTED]-ders were completed. The Clarion Stars [DISTORTED]-Compliant.'

Whether these intriguing events are in fact related to the so-called Tongueless War is largely irrelevant in terms of when it came to an end; but it is recorded as one of the final campaigns in which the Night Lords fought as loyalists – however unknowingly. Such is the divisive effect of the Alpha Legion's modus operandi: the effects of treachery are often far-reaching; and ripples have a nasty habit of returning to disturb the initial actor...


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+ So much for the Alpha Legion – next month it's the Raven Guard's turn. Let me know what you think of the XXth, and I'll leave you with a reminder of the Vessel of Ages idea from yesterday:


1) Build and paint a single model – anything at all, from a starship to a lost villager – to personify your blog. Have fun working out what your blog would be if it were a miniature. Post it up to your blog and share the fun!

Once that's done...

2) Pick a blog that you follow and create a model to personify that blog – again, work out what that blog would be if it were a miniature. Once you're finished, please get in contact with the blog's owner(s) and send it over in the post as a gift to the community.

+ All voluntary, of course, but I hope you'll help to spread the word and have some fun with your blog. +

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