+ inload: Weathering on black +

Coalstan's plan had peaked the moment he had hold of his weapons after the crash: Attack. What this plan boasted in simplicity, it lacked in detail or sustainability. Though his near-subliminal movements betrayed urgency and impatience, he complied when I pointed this out.

Nominally, of course, I was in charge. The rank of Celeusta – a combination of co-pilot, navicalculator and transport monitor – marked me as Immunes, and as a result, I am afforded a modicum of responsibility. In the maelstrom of Isstvan, I very much regretted this.

I was finding it hard to think. Absently, I wondered if I had sustained brain damage of some kind – something more serious than concussion. However, even in my battered state, I could tell that two legionaries was a force unlikely to overcome four Legions in the field.

'Uh... Re-group. Re-arm..' I paused. 'If we can, link up with the rest of Caled and then... uh.' I paused again; this time because something – beyond the roar of battle; beyond the blaze over the crater's edge – was nagging me. 



+ May you.... take *******  forever to paint. +

+ I've been away, recharging the batteries in the distant north. What little hobby work I've done has revolved around putting together some of the new crates/barrels scenery (very nice – and the storage creates would make an amazing basis for a 3D space hulk), and this: 

+ I've repainted the eyes to a cool grey-blue and added some weathering using metallic paints and Charadon Granite, plus some pastel dust. The latter was simply scraped away from the barrel of a chalk pastel, then picked up on a brush and applied dry. +

+ I like the effect; the warmth this adds to the model makes a huge difference to what is a very limited palette. In order for this to make sense, I'll likely be basing them on brickdust and marble; and make that how I build the Dwell board. +

+ You'll also note the symbol of clan-company Caled; a bisected shield. +

+ inload: Meridius Coalston +

The first I saw was Marnos, as the crash had deposited him high up on a steep outcrop of rock with enough force to pin him there. He was, quite clearly,  dead – the bulk of his torso plate and helmet flattened, distorted by the impact. Larraman cells had quickly stemmed the dripping blood, but not before it had coagulated into monstrous cinnabar stalactites that wept from his sundered plate, yearningly reaching for the black earth below.

Using him as a sign, I scuttled towards the outcrop, where I found Hanic and Wellsmyth; again, both dead. They at least warranted confirmation. I harvested their ammunition, took Hanic's boltgun and Wellsmyth's sidearm and moved on. 

The fourth I found was alive. I could tell because he put me on the floor. It is a measure of the extent of my physical trauma that I was caught utterly – embarrassingly – off-guard. The muzzle of the salvaged boltgun was down as he swung out from behind a blackstone column and slammed his shield into me. I blinked. His foot was on my chest and his shield raised edge-on to finish me with a chop through the gorget. Time slowed.

The markings on his shield are a traditional blessing, an extract from a mantra familiar to most Medusans. The initial and final pairs operate as caesura or check-marks, marking a break between concepts in the complete text. The core four pairs then operate as a quatrain, translating from lingua-technis into Gothic as to '×'. This, of course, brings to mind the Legion's number in High Gothic format; but there is – as always with Medusan poetry – an intertwined meaning; here the X is not a script-form letter but a multiplication symbol. 

Vocal repetition of this mantra reinforces and strengthens the speaker; in concert with those around him, the act of sounding the mantra serves to calm the individual and bond the group. It is not spiritual; it is physiological fact. There is no hidden truth; but a real and measurable result as plain as the slate sky above or the inert surface beneath your feet. 

The meaning, then; is simple – increase, strength, a reduction in weakness.

My traumatised brain parsed the meaning, reeling off the recitation drummed into me since childhood by the Iron Fathers; desperately trying to avoid the unavoidable fact I was facing decapitation at the hands of a friend. 

A flicker of recognition stopped the execution. Coalstan's helmet ticked to one side, and he set aside the shield, warily, his boltgun trained on my recumbent form. I reached a hand up and he pulled me to my feet. 

'Ware your wearing, brathair – I barely recognised you.' He looked about, attentively. 'You are injured.' It was a bald fact. I could not know the extent of my hurt as my helm's hood – the electrovisual display – was flickering intermittently, the runes fizzing and unclear when they stabilised enough to be readable. The spirit of my armour was clearly as afflicted as my own anima. I knew I would heal, given time, but my plate required attention if I was to prove anything beyond an irritant to the enemy.

In any case, I had found an ally. Meridius Coalston was as staunch a member of the company as I could have hoped to find; a veteran, as dependable as lead, a breacher assault specialist. With his shield up and a firm footing, he looked like he could hold back the Warmaster's treachery alone.


+ Brother Meridius Coalstan (WIP) +

+ Not yet complete, I thought I'd post up this marine to get a little feedback on the decisions I've made so far. My thoughts at this point are: 

– The eyes aren't bright enough. I can't decide whether to persevere with red, perhaps going for ann orangey-red, which will let me brighten them; or switch to a green, blue or purple, as I did on my old Iron Hands army. 

– I've reserved the white for the weapon casing and Legion symbol. On previous Iron Hands, I've used white for all the trim, but I was a bit concerned that they looked a bit too much like Raven Guard. Thoughts on silver vs. white trim would be appreciated.

– Regarding basing, the two leading options are Isstvan V black soil, which has the advantages of being easy and fitting them nicely into the Drop Site Massacre background; or light stone/rubble Dwell, which will tie them into the Meduson background better and provide a strong visual contrast. At the moment I'm leaning towards Dwell, but I'd be interested to hear the board's opinions. Perhaps a completely different basing scheme entirely?

– I need some further decoration, detailing and unit markings to add interest to a naturally fairly dour scheme. I'm toying with basing this on a particular culture, but would also like to explore Medusa/the Iron Hands' recruiting worlds a bit more, and markings like this will allow me to show minor disparities and quirks of different cultural groups. So, more distinctive uniform detailing, or a mix?

+ inload: May You Live Forever +

Turn the eyes upward.

That is the only direction for peace.

Even then, it is the cold comfort of stars. They twinkle, uncaring and mindless, through an atmosphere charged with static and heat and horror. Even then, some of those motes are not stars; and some of the twinkling marks deaths – hot, brief deaths of panicked men and women gasping silently for air in the sweat-and-oil sepulchres that are breached and venting voidcraft.

Other stars are mobile drop-craft. Seven good loyal Legions are descending wholesale via dropcraft, atmosphere-pod, teleport-matrix and other means; cloaking the Urgall Depression in a smothering wave of fury. They have been descending non-stop for hours. The weave of the defender's macro-cannon and defence laser mesh is fine – would we expect less from the Sons, or the Children? – but more and more make ground, where the Astartes emerge into battle.

Great creaks and moans mark the tormented earth; and rise up into the sky, where those same drop-craft shriek and howl like furies of lost myth. They fall, and fall, and fall for hour after hour. 


I came down late, as these things are measured, though as with all things the Legions do, it was to schedule, and on-target.

Void-travel starts silent. A thin, keening piping creeps in first, which then builds to air-roar as the craft makes atmospheric envelope. Today, another sound overlaid the familiar noise of the Stormbird. At first, I took the additional sound to be a failing engine; or perhaps simply a quirk of the ramjets' interaction with this world's atmosphere. It was insistent, continual; harmonising with the aircraft.

After a moment, I realised that it was the guns. Not those on the Stormbird, though they were firing now. No, it was the constant barrage of oversized ordnance below that was forming a protean cacophony, indecipherable and absolute, that my autosenses were muting into a simple hum, like grey static. 

I am not primed to fear. I was not a fearful child. Such potential weakness had quickly been whipped into protective hatred by my father – my real father, that is – and sublimated into a simple drive to find something less cold and cruel. With hindsight, it was perhaps an unsound choice to have sought out the mysterious wandering leviathans of my homeworld. 

In any case, more prosaically, our brains are altered during gene-forging. So, I am not primed to fear – but nor I am not stupid. Landing on the plain below was as bluntly dangerous as landing on roiling magma. Perhaps less, as magma, in my experience, rarely tries to actively kill you. I intimated as much to the pilot-primaris, who called me a lackwit and told me to be silent, if you cannot be useful.

I looked about, bringing up a hand to twist a dial; correct a course measurement; compensate for the infernal heat rising from below. The world, from horizon to horizon, was afire. A number of my brethren consider my decision-making questionable; but I am nothing if not obedient. I took a moment to turn in my seat for confirmation, taking in the ranks of black-armoured, grille-masqued warriors that stood, uncharacteristically active, their fury palpable. Three stood apart from the rest, in temperament as well as detail. Two red-armoured cousins – one cold crimson-clad, the other a tongue of hot scarlet – and the Centurion, proud-crested and stoic. A brief hand signal from our officer to the pilot sent us down.


As one, the Stormbirds dipped, falling in sequence as perfect as geometry, into the maze mesh of lasers. Three reached the ground intact; one in pieces. The fifth – ours – was clipped. It tumbled balletically across the sky before a wing tip touched the ground and sent it pin-wheeling across the black, black dirt, scattering debris, armour plating and its unfortunate cargo across the burnt earth before ploughing into the dead surface.


I woke to the insistent hiss of my armour stimming me awake. I am not primed to fear, which made it all the more disconcerting when I considered, muzzily, that I am not meant to suffer the effects of concussion, either. 

Well, I thought. That could have gone better.

After a moment, as my head swam, I pressed my hands into the hard, gritty earth, and pushed myself upwards, groaning. Twisting, I sat up, looking about cautiously for the Stormbird, for my boltgun, for my brothers. 

+ inload: Objectives +

+ A selection of objective markers, painted for my Officio Monstrosa project: 

+ These models are from the ill-fated Studio McVey game, Sedition Wars. I bought into the Kickstarter mainly for the models, but when they turned up the models held none of the appeal of the sublime metals and resins I'd previously bouht from the McVeys. With hindsight, this was probably foreseeable, and I hold no ill-feelings towards the game or studio. +

+ These bits of terrain were a silver lining to the affair. Nice, chunky tech-gizmos and crates that paint up very quickly and effectively. These were based on 25mm bases – I wanted these objectives (unlike terrain) to be based in order to make it clear they are playing pieces rather than backdrop. They were sprayed with Halford's grey primer, then quickly painted with block colours from GW's Foundation paint range: Iyanden Darksun, Charadon Granite etc. +

+ More than normal figures, objectives and terrain shouldn't be too eye-catching, in my opinion. For that reason, I kept them muted and low contrast. For example, I avoided white on black for the computer screens, instead opting for greeny-greys. To produce the green, I added Daler Rowney sepia ink wet-in-wet into yellow on the pod thing (back row, third from right in the image below) and on the computer screens to make a subtle olive green. +

+ inload: We Are All Immortal Now +

+ 'May you live forever.' Everyone present understood the meaning. +

+ Afterwards, it didn't seem to matter quite so much. +

+ We were all going to die here. +

+ My shame seems to lose its tarnish when we stand against our brothers. It becomes, briefly, mirror-bright – a source, if not of pride, then at least of the chance of a better death. +

+ That I have died here, on this dead world, seems inevitable. I make this record for your unknown ear, simply because this treachery should be recorded. +

+  My brothers are unable, or unwilling to do it, and so another onerous duty falls to the Immortals. +

+ The forces ranged against us are colossal; and our forces few. Their betrayal has changed but one thing for us. We are no longer ashamed. +

+ We are all immortal now. +

+ inload: Iron begat Iron +

+ An otiose niche +

There is also a third kind of madness, which is possession by the Muses, enters into a delicate and virgin soul, and there inspiring frenzy, awakens lyric... But he, who, not being inspired and having no touch of madness in his soul, comes to the door and thinks he will get into the temple by the help of art – he, I say, and his poetry are not admitted; the sane man is nowhere at all when he enters into rivalry with the madman.
Plato, Phaedo

+ I promise I never intended this blog to become so heavily focussed on Space Marines for so long, let alone my particular twin vices of making them bigger and the Horus Heresy. Nevertheless, while the inspiration's flowing, I'll go with it. +

+ Intermission +

+ Basilikoi, 13th Muster, 242nd Grand Company +

+ With my note above borne in mind, the Iron Warriors are reaching a point of slowdown. I've worked as much as I want to on them for the moment, so it's a good time to pause for breath. A deadline (like my visit to Warhammer World last weekend) works very well for me to get my arse in gear and get painting. This time, it's resulted in an army of which I'm very proud. + 

+ Not only is it all actually complete (no embarrassing bits to go back and touch up, or 'final details' that never get finished), but I even had time to add transfers – something I've not used in the best part of twenty years (and was a bit sniffy about) – and paint up seven objective markers that are themed around the same bases. Themed accoutrements for armies – dice, templates, markers etc. – are something that I'd like to do more of. They fit into the concept of the game beyond the army as something that improves the immersion and experience for all involved. It's also a nice change of pace. +

+ What next? + 

+ More marines – and for those of you who are understandably a bit bored by them – they'll be accompanied by Solar Auxilia and my first super-heavy for a long time. I'm hoping to log the build and progress of that, as I'd love to share some thoughts and ideas with you, and hopefully get a discussion going. +

+ I'd keep the legion I'll be tackling next a secret, but I think the preview image below will give it away very quickly!:

+ Yes, it's a return to the very first marines I true-scaled; the Iron Tenth. This army will be themed around Little Horus; the Shattered Legions that defended Dwell from Aximand's attack. In some ways it'll be a companion piece to my old Sons of Horus army (now gone to a better place):

+ I'll do a full run-down of the plans, but I'm hoping that this project will allow me to improve my skills at painting black. The last (big) Iron Hand I painted was this chap, from my long-derailed Flight Risk project:

+ inload: Closing Time +

+ Back from Warhammer World, I have the Iron Warriors finished (insofar as any army is complete), and am filled with enthusiasm. +

+ Had an absolute blast, and hope to have a battle report or two to share at some point. In the meantime, I've got some army shots and a short story about the upcoming Basilikoi veterans that I hope you enjoy:


The Monstrous Hunt part I

Xung-hau, a Terran native whose forefathers had hailed from the Yndonesic Bloc, idly toyed with a lodge token as he waited. The Iron Warriors' pauldrons and breastplate were strung across with dozens of examples of the tiny silver medallions, each dangling on a fine bluesteel chain. They tinkled gently against his armour as he moved. Earlier in the war, he had dutifully bound each one with black adhesive tape, preventing it from moving or glimmering, but flame, water, time and wear had freed many of them. 

Deep, deep in the Palace now, those entrusted with the Officia Monstrosa trod the long-forgotten haunts of vermin and the dispossessed. The Basilikoi prowled the area, clutching their esoteric weaponry. For days, they had bought scars from the Scars and met the Fists with clenched gauntlets of their own. Now, in this bell-shaped factory space, they hunted different prey.


A crackled chime in his helmet alerted Xung-hau. The Seventeenth Step was complete; each of his brethren in place. Hefting his charger, he nodded to Dromos, his brother with the mass-accelerator, then began sidling, crab-like, down the cobweb-strewn pipe in the old manufactory. Indulging an old habit, he counted backwards from twenty in his head, dismissing the rune countdown that had emerged on the Maximus plate's display. He looked back to see Dromos heft the heavy anti-materiel rifle, his blank faceplate betraying as little strain as it did emotion. His vision and audio-feed blanked out momentarily, his autosenses kicking in to protect him from the actinic white of the mass-accelerator's firing-cycle.

Almost instantly, the black flicked back to a grainy green and white view before popping back to multi-spectrum, and a wash of sound filled his helm. He emerged from the other end of the pipe into a scene of chaos. The catacomb-still factory space had erupted into a mass of choking dust clouds, shot through by shafts of golden light – some form of artificial sunlight, thought Xung-hau. It was certainly impossible for the natural sun to penetrate so far underground, even if it weren't turned from the tortured globe of Terra by the roiling clouds that choked the surface. Brickwork was still falling from the gaping hole in the achingly distant roof, made balletic and slow by the sheer scale of the factory space. 

It was not only bricks that fell. Xung-hau's armour picked out a larger mass. A Legionary tumbled, his limbs grasping fruitlessly. He hit the ground with a sickening dead thump, audible to the Iron Warrior even at this distance. Their defensive redoubt undermined, the Angels were falling into the long-forgotten factory space, cloaked in the dust.

Not all the red-armoured warriors were dying. The boiling clouds of dust were lit from within by flickering red-orange lights, like the equatorial storms of his youth. Not jump-packs; the silhouettes were too narrow for that. Grav-chutes? Archeotech? Whatever was slowing the Blood Angels' fall, Xung-hau realised that the flickering lights he had taken for thrust exhaust were muzzle flashes. Some of the Ninth were firing as they fell. Hefting his charger, he and his squad returned fire, the ringed red beams stabbing out spitefully into the smoke, scorching and twisting the particles into weird, whipped curls and crests.

A moment of dead blackness told Xung Hau that the mass accelerator had fired again. Xung-hau grunted, grudgingly impressed, as he realised Dromos had struck one of the falling Angels with a direct hit. Two-thirds of the unfortunate legionary had been instantly crushed into a perfect sphere no larger than a ball bearing, the extreme physical effects of the weapon instantly arresting and reversing the warrior's fall. The tormented remainders whipped away into the darkness of the manufactory.

Those few Angels that landed were recovering impressively from the ambush, but too slowly, too fitfully; and the Iron Warriors were dug in. Within twenty seconds, perhaps a dozen were fighting fit, though nearly three score were returning fire in some way. The number dwindled rapidly, the cover afforded by the settling brickwork offset by the Iron Warriors' preparation, position and element of surprise. Nevertheless, the Imperials were undaunted. Seeing the situation to be hopeless, one of the IXth signalled a sally from their meagre fastment.

Xung-hau put the de facto leader down even as his hand fell, the beam of the death ray playing over the red plate momentarily before penetrating and reducing the Astartes to a cloud of superheated steam and blackened gristle. Before his weapon could recharge, those Angels able to move erupted from the dust with startling speed, a scant few evading the bitter storm. Perhaps three or four of the Blood Angels made it through the storm of fire into the blackness...