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?