+ The Immortal +
'Rest? We were not made to rest; we go on, unflinching, unstoppable, unending in our strength. The Emperor did not make us for such mortal concerns as hearth and home, vanity or contemplation; we are his engines of war, his hammers, beating out the fabric of existence into a vessel fit for Mankind to inhabit.'
attr. the Primarch Ferrus Manus in The Shadow of the Gorgon, by Czel Atternas
Turn the eyes outward.
That is the only direction for peace.
Even then, it is only the cold comfort of stars – and one could easily find himself lost in those. Staring out from the Nereid, my thoughts wandered to a lecture on void warfare strategy that Legion Master DuCaine had given, not long after Ferrus Manus had been found. It had been intended as an honour, a demonstration that the worthy once-leader remained vital, remained a part of the Legion now he had been sidelined by the Primarch, his superior in every respect.
The lecture was simple. Childishly simple. 'Look between the stars. That is where the enemy will reveal himself.' he had begun.
It was the lesson of a Terran, advice borne from experience in spotting the enemy up-close; from a man born and raised with his feet rooted firmly on soil. We had waited for him to expound upon this, to reveal some insightful twist that applied such advice to the complex multi-dimensional warfare of space.
He had demurred. His lecture was close-sighted; the tale of a man slightly out-of-time and out-of-step with the movements of the Imperium, but who was allowed leeway for his capability elsewhere.
'The void is – famously – immobile to the eye of man. All the wheeling of the spheres happens across vast timescales; any apparent movement of the stars can be owed to atmosphere.'
As he went on, and it became gradually more clear that his lessons were embarrassingly shallow, I looked about at the impassive but unimpressed war-leaders and specialists ranged about, gathered out of respect to hear their sidelined Legion Master once more. Not one showed a flicker of approval or contempt; which to me seemed all the more damning. I had cringed inwardly.
Of course, who was I – who am I – to judge the Legion Master?
As I looked out over the blank starfields of this backwater void, I mused on his words. They had, after all, come in useful on occasion. Though he had no fondness of me – in truth, I doubt I registered on him beyond our shared homeworld heritage – I had a certain regard for him, above and beyond by dutiful obedience. Piloting shuttles relied mainly on instrumentation, but the mark I eyeball – or at least, my occulobe-enhanced base biology, I reminded myself – was still reliable for those occasions when instruments were out or needed to be damped.
On this occasion, his simplistic advice may have saved our lives. It was purely because I was looking outwards, lost in thought, that I did catch something moving. A wrinkle; a twitch.
'The void is – famously – immobile to the eye of man.'
I raced down the black wood of the stairway, barking at the Dead Reckoner to confirm our location while pointing a steelshod finger at the navigatrix to hold her attention. Her already star-pale skin blanched further, her eyes wide. The Watchmaster, to his credit, did not bluster or demand an explanation. Without seconds, the ship was wheeling about, its movement shown through the shadows and highlights on the glittering dragon-prow.
The Immortal, however, did his duty; barging me to the floor with his shield and pinning me to the deck with a heavy mag-enhanced stomp, his blaster aimed levelly at my bare head.
His words were seemingly without rancour, but I was a better reader of men than most of my brethren. There was more than surliness behind that blank mask; more than the over-literal and bullying application of his role as bridge guardian. On a more personal level, he didn't like me.
I guess not even the retreat from Isstvan was going to weld us all together.
+ The Medusan Immortals +
+ Owing (I suspect) a great deal of inspiration to the Spartans, one of the Iron Hands' special units is the Medusan Immortals, a band of dishonoured warriors who throw themselves into the most desperate fights as 'forlorn hope' troops. I like the imagery, and the concept is at the heart of my May You Live Forever project [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]: offering an alternative answer to the question 'how do the Iron Hands react to the death of Ferrus Manus?' +
+ The narrator, a born survivor, answers that by burying and refusing to confront facts; Medardus with contemplation and withdrawal. The Immortal, already dishonoured and ashamed, finds a sour glee in the belief that all of his Legion are now fundamentally as damned as he is. After all, the Immortal corps is intended to offer a slim hope of redemption – but what purpose does it serve if the judge is dead? +
+ The main difference is in the lack of honour marking and Legion detailing, for background reasons: his Clan markings have been replaced with the large X (neatly, the Tenth Legion's numeral also represents a crossing-out or negation), and his boarding shield is devoid of ornamentation beyond the massive slab of the Legion symbol. This leads the model to being even more muted than the rest of the force, only his volkite charger and eyes being picked out in grey-white. +
|The grey scheme extends to the shield's inside screen – predictably, as the part of the model of which I'm most proud, this is, annoyingly, the least visible!|
+ The conversion was a minor variant of my usual Astartes conversions [+noospheric inloadlink embedded+]; using a torso plate from Games Workshop's Kataphron Servitors – kindly donated by my chum Lucifer216 – and a backpack from Forge World's Mark III techmarine. I was lucky enough to grab three of these in a second-hand bundle, so I'll be able to keep a little uniformity to any future Medusan Immortals I make for the force. +
+ I deliberately avoided using loads of bionics. I like the idea that Iron Hands in 30k go some way to cladding their bionics in power armour plate to further drive out and hide weakness. While I have used a few here and there, most bionics added before Isstvan are sufficiently advanced augmetics that they can be hidden. This enables me to show later injuries with bionics, as the resource-poor survivors are forced to make do with lesser equipment (e.g. on the narrator himself). +
+ This also leaves me with crude bionics available as a visual identifer for my Iron Warriors... +