+ inload: Gatebreakers heraldry +

+ Gatebreakers heraldry +

"Do I look like I give a–?" his last words were mercifully cut off by another cacophonous round of firing that took the front of the building opposite out in an enormous plume of white smoke. Barbari's acolytes both ducked further into cover. The pulverised rock was in the air; laying a shroud over everything. Halm didn't much like that image. As the tense moment stretched, she tried to hear past the ringing in her ears. No movement – but Halm knew better than to trust her eyes and ears in this place. Dust hissed down outside, an occasional large ping marking a larger piece of rubble coming to rest.

Half-crouching, she scuttled over to Brunski, her companion's face screwed up in an almost comically intense stare as he tried to spot enemies – or anything – through the thick cloud. She reached out to tap him on the arm, and he looked at her. God-Emperor, she thought, suppressing an hysterical snigger, we look like albino lapids. Both the acolytes were covered in the white dust of the alien city, their eyes pink and sore. She pinched her nose, noisily snorting out the dirt.

"Look," she started, "let's just get back to the Gatebreakers." Brunski opened his mouth to reply just as another doppler-shifted whooping broke the silence. She saw his eyes crease as he tensed just as the impact came. Closer this time. The entire road surface rippled, the fabric of it turning fluid under the sudden strike.

Even from this distance, the two were thrown to the floor. Halm's wrist struck a piece of furniture on the way down, and she lost her grip on her pistol. Cursing, she peeped over the improvised cover, then froze as she saw silhouettes emerging from the weird white gloom. 

Shit. Stalker-forms.

Long-limbed, pallid, and inhumanly tall and thin, the Sabactes were clothed in a semi-transparent sheen. Their multiple backwards-jointed limbs picked through the rubble carefully, whisper-rifles sweeping back and forth like a hunting-snake's head. One carried some form of fluted, ribbed contraption hinged over its curling back – Halm presumed that had been the source of the whooping barrage. 

The lead Sabact's flat, adze-like muzzle turned, and it stooped to peer under the partially-collapsed awning. Halm dearly wished she hadn't dropped her pistol. For a moment, the thick white stonedust making her still more statue-like. Her eyes flicked left, to the shadows, where Brunski was easing his rifle to his shoulder, slowly.




The next moments stayed with Halm for a long time. Rows of small, puckered pits in the creature's muzzle flared in a peristaltic ripple, and it emitted a thin screech that ran right through Halm's spine. A fraction of a second later, Brunski's lasbolt caught it in one shoulder, sending it staggering and its own shot wild. Halm leapt forward, grasping desperately for her lost pistol as the other Sabactes whipped round with barking, breathless yelps. Brunski was yelling, his modified rifle shouldered and burping fire. The air still hung with white dust.

Then it moved. From the dust emerged massive figures – shorter than the Sabactes, but many times broader. The warriors toted thick, black, brutal-looking boltguns, but they weren't firing them. More howling doppler-shrieks echoed in the near distance, but the Gatebreakers were intent. Pushing through and into the Stalker-forms, arm-long blades came up, slitting and scattering alien limbs. Great gauntlets closed on gelid flesh, puncturing and holding while more sweeping, disembowelling bladestrokes swept in.

It was over in less than four seconds. Perfect. The Sabact's yellow-and-purple ichor was vivid against the pervasive white dust, painted in great arcs across a startlingly wide area. 

Halm remained sprawled, chest down in the rubble. Dumbfounded, petrified, she only realised she hadn't reached the pistol when one of the marines stepped forward and nudged it towards her with his boot. His head was bare, one bloodshot eye puckered up in a livid bruise that was obvious despite the deep tone of his skin. Their eyes met for a moment, then he looked back to his squadmates. Odd static, on the edge of hearing, pattered back and forth. She closed her mouth, forcing herself to calm. Comm-clicks, that's all.

Brunski stepped forward, his lasrifle pointedly aimed to the ground. He was as wide-eyed as Halm, He hooked his free hand under her armpit and helped her up. The marine turned back, and gestured with three fingers.

"Extraction awaits rearwards, Adepts. Three hundred yards." 

Another marine loomed behind him. Slightly shorter, slighter – but still head and shoulders above Brunski, a powerfully-built man – Halm wondered whether the other was Astartes or Primaris? Was there even a meaningful difference now? 

Whatever he was, the Primaris' helm was grilled and pugnacious. His armour was battered, but all the damage was old. Where the Primaris was covered in scrapes and dings and Sabact-ichor, the only thing that made it clear the other marines had been fighting was the same shroud of dust as his comrade.

"To put it another way, adept," his strange accent garbled the word – or else the honorific was intentionally being mocked – "Your presence here is no longer welcome."


+ Barbari Kill's Notes – Markings of the Gatebreakers +

+ The Chapter symbol is a mace, with five points. It's a figurative representation of the Chapter's intentions – a brutal, direct weapon of war. The points symbolise the Chapter's multiple companies and ability to work more independently. Further, the handle contains an orb above the weapon's grip. This symbolises Terra, and the God-Emperor – it is he that directs the Chapter. The ball of the mace, figuratively distant from Terra, represents Andocrine. +

+ The Gatebreake's Chapter symbol, on Eo Daur's pauldron. +

+ It's a blunt image, and one that it quite at odds with both the Chapter that I have found here on Andocrine and their would-be Primaris successors. Despite the ready access to the warrior-monks and the extensive material I have gathered on the ephemera of the Chapter, our research has revealed little of value on the Chapter's capabilties or intentions. +

+ Member-Ordinary Blessings-be Miriode shows a typical left pauldron. +

+ It's not even as though things are consistently different. On consultation with my Primaris warders, some things are straight from the book – the Codex Astartes, that is. Tactical markings are scribed on the rear shoulder pad as one might find on a hundred Chapters across the Imperium – but they're accompanied by odd weapon badges. Halm assures me that such markings aren't without precedent; but her digging is going further and further into the past without revealing anything relevant. If it is a known Astartes marking, it hasn't been used in Millennia. +

+ Member-Ordinary Tening Gyal bears a IX strikeforce plate on his forearm +

+ Other markings hint at a organisation unlike that of their Primaris support. Scipius' men are organised in strict squads and companies; you can tick them off like toy soldiers, each one in the right place. +

+ Sho's forces, meanwhile, seem quite bemused by this – their fluid approach appears to revolve around temporary Strikeforces, with very little integral formal organisation beyond that. These strikeforces are gathered by officers – though on whose authority or by what agency I do not yet know. + 

+ I have many questions for Sho – and for Scipius, too. And yet, I understand that this is a fraught and strained moment of meeting for the two Chapters. I have no desire to prevent an alliance – an alloying – from forming, and delicacy must therefore, for now, be my watchword. +

+ [ADDENDA][APPENDNOTE:] No word yet from Taiwo. Has the man received my missive? +


+ inload: Gatebreakers infantry completed +

+ Objective: Complete +

+ Thought I'd start with a bit of shameless self-congratulation today, as my Gatebreakers turned up on GW's hobby roundup last week. +

+ That nice little surprise gave me a bit of a kick up the hindquarters, and I've pressed on to complete the first sixteen. That's got me well on the way to having something ready in time for the launch of 9th edition. +

+ That, of course, meant I had to make some decisions on basing. In the end, I've gone for a rich, red earth with a variety of sprouting plants. It harmonises with the Gatebreaker's scheme, and is anonymous enough to work on most typical tables – importantly, it'll go nicely with the new mat to which I've treated myself. More on that in a future inload. +

+ Gunsight techy bits have been added in orange – another colour that harmonises with the warm shadow – and I've ticked in the Chapter symbol and other iconography. Gun casings have stayed black, with minimal highlighting. I want the guns and other equipment to look no-nonsense, and not distract from what's already a bold scheme. +

+ inload: Further painting of Gatebreakers +


+ Spent a couple of evenings developing the highlighting on all fifteen Gatebreakers. I also laid in base colours on more arms, giving me sufficient to kit out the remaining painted figures. The force is now within striking distance of begin ready to field. +

+ Highlighting is fairly simple. Taking the marks and streaks I left from the oil stage to guide me, I picked out a few shapes with a lighter tone (white mixed with Flash Gitz yellow), creating the impression of scratches and gouges. The green pads are unhighlighted here , so you get an impression of what it looks like before. +

+ I decided to paint a few spare arms in order to give me more options for posing, so I have eleven pairs for the remaining eight(?) figures. After building my Blood Angels and Ultramarine with fairly restrained poses, I thought I'd have fun and use all the cool weird arms here. +

+ The oil wash has been completed and cleaned on the arms, and I've laid in the silver on the pauldrons. These need a day or so before they're ready to varnish, and then it's a simple case of highlighting them and sticking them on – can't wait! +

+ Also on the horizon are these Outrider bikes, which have sat shamefully unpainted. They seem like they'll be a good addition here. +

+ inload: Gatebreaker Astartes +

+ Building the Old Guard +

+ Building and painting Primaris marines is one thing – had I not given in to my compulsion to convert the guns and arms, they'd have gone together quickly and simply. The Astartes (or Firstborn, or old-school marines, or whatever else you want to call them) of the Gatebreakers, however, were a different kettle of fish, requiring quite a bit of kitbashing and conversion. +

+ Of course, that's quite nice – and knowing that I can fall back on the comparatively simple Primaris marines to bulk out the force, leaving these to stand out, is lovely: a lovely halfway house. +

+ An important theme of the Gatebreakers is their resourcefulness and lack of sentimentality. The Astartes use old, hybrid suits of patchwork armour for two reasons – the first is that, like most Imperial institutions, they're respectful of their wargear and the associated machine spirits. The second is more immediate: they have no way of replacing things. +

+ With resupply infrequent or relying on bargains with nearby forgeworlds, the Gatebreakers have been eking out what equipment they have, patching together suits of power armour for centuries. Lacking any Techmarines of their own, they have been forced to make do with what their more talented Chapter Serfs or resident techpriests can improvise. +

+ The arrival of the Primaris of Chapter 333 has changed all that – something for a future story – and together with an influx of new battle brothers, the old equipment has been supplemented by substantial stocks of new armour. I wanted to represent that in miniature, with some suspicious Astartes sticking with their tried-and-true armour, other adopting much of the new Tacticus suits (but retaining elements of the old, so as not to offend the machine spirits), and others replacing selected elements with Tacticus equivalents. +


+ Notes on Antecedent Chapter 333: Gatebreakers  +

+ As dictated by Inquisitrix Barbari Kills, recorded faithfully by Adept Halm +

Opening remarks: Upon witnessing the sheer divergence from standard type that the Chapter demonstrated from first contact, I had fully expected the Gatebreakers' leadership to be hostile or attempt to withhold information. In fact, access to the Gatebreakers thus far has been pleasingly open, and investigating their ways, martial culture and divergence has been eye-opening. As is my preference, Brunski, Halm and I have begun our interviews with the rank and file. Such a broad-based approach has frequently provided me with the tantalising inconsistencies that provide trails – trails to malefaction, dereliction or even heresy.

Let me be clear that what I have found amongst the Gatebreakers thus far reveals a pious, loyal and effective Chapter – and yet one that is simultaneously inconsistent, irreverent and curiously recondite. I have found it, I confess, both refreshing and unexpected to find that such strange defenders of the Imperium exist. Perhaps it is simply a symptom of being here at the very limits of Imperium; perhaps such deviations are common at all arc-sectors of the Galactic Rim. Certainly the Gatebreakers' reported lack of Imperial contact and support must be a common result of the accelerated star-drift in such regions.

It is my firm belief that variety is at the heart of strength. Over-specialism leads to extinction when one's niche alters; and the Gatebreakers have made a necessary virtue of adaptability. While warfare inevitably depletes their ranks, they pursue recruitment with a near-monomaniacal keenness and with scant regard for anything save biological compatibility; each Strikeforce demanding a tithe of potential aspirants – willing or not – from the worlds they visit. From my previous experience with the Stellar Steeds, another fleet-based Chapter, I had expected to find strong enforcement of a Chapter cult, but such seems to be largely absent. 

Most Astartes have reacted to my requests for interviews in a number of ways. Most have proven apparently open, even discursive, and occasionally conversational – it is, I confess, a novelty to meet anyone who has treated my office with such a lack of gravity. Some are clearly more recalcitrant, but it appears that an order has been issued by Sho; a figure whose precise role remains a mystery, and with whom I have not yet requested a direct audience. From his report, it is clear that Master Scipius regards Sho as the Chapter Master of the Gatebreakers, but such a simple, unequivocal evaluation sits uneasily with me. 

Such hunches and intuition are the bread and wine of my calling, but it is that last – somewhat questionable – nature of Sho that perhaps best sums up the nature of the Gatebreakers thus far. I cannot be certain that Sho has issued any such order; or even if he has the authority to do so: certainly I have not received any official notice. It is only by reading into the words unsaid by my interviewees that I surmise such an order was given. It is, I suspect, only an apparent or partial openness that I have been granted. To what end, I do not yet know – but for the moment I suspect no cause for especial concern. 

I digress. For the moment, I will pursue my investigations of those 'Members-Ordinary', to use the Gatebreaker's vernacular, that inhabit this strange, owl-haunted ruin. The following attached files – scripted by Halm – provide assorted examples of this curious group that I hope will prove illuminating. 


+ Member-Ordinary Kyi Dzungar +

Work in progress

+ Striking me as young, inventive and adaptable, this Member-Ordinary proudly reported that he was one of the first to benefit from the integration of the Primaris equipment, and was able to largely replace his much battered Armourum Impetor plate; retaining only the backpack and helm – the two elements that he – and I tentatively assume the Gatebreakers as a whole – believe house the machine spirits. +

+ Dzungar patiently explained to me over the course of an hour or so a wide-ranging set of beliefs. Of relevance here is that the backpack is seen as a figurative heart that fills the otherwise inert materials of the other armour elements with motive force. It is at the core of the armour's mystery, acting as a point where the numinous world of the machines can join with that of man. The helmet, conversely, is the site not of synthesis, but of alliance. Here, man and machine remain separate – the Astartes, after all, must have precedence – but can share their insights through the technomystical hood. +

+ When correctly invoked, the hood conjures spectral lines and datarunes on the wearer's sight, haunting the Astartes' vision and enhancing his abilities. I am no techpriest myself, and while I find the subject interesting, I refer you to the Inquisitor on whether this represents an acceptable divergence in belief. +


+ Gentle Ousanas Wazeba +

Work in-progress

+ The office of Gentle – an oddly-constructed word that quite belies the belligerent duties of all Astartes – is a Chapter office that equates closely to the Apothecarion of Chapter 333, unlike nearly all their other affairs. It is illustrative of the complete lack of regard for the Codex Astartes that the Chapter shows. +

+ I believe this is not a simple lack of respect; and certainly not an intentional snub. From what I can gather, the Gatebreakers have not had access to the Codex – certainly not in living memory. I am led to believe that this relates to the loss of the Chapter Fortress, around the time of the Ninth Founding, in some way. I will endeavour to investigate this further, but of immediate relevance is the Gatebreakers' alternative, the so-called Tenets of the Ten Divine Princes, a peculiar collection of aphorisms, stories and martial advice drawn from the Gatebreakers' history and mythic cycles. Each member bears a copy of this book, but far from being a closely-monitored holy text, the bearer is encouraged – indeed expected – to add his or her own notes, amendments and stories. +

+ Despite its obvious personal importance, Wazeba seemed quite at ease with me borrowing his copy. Indeed, he struck me as being oddly unconcerned with what happened to it. When pressed on this, he seemed almost confused; as though he had no conception that its loss might affect him. I suggest that this may be a cultural idiosyncracy worth pursuing; or it may be that he has the weighty tome memorised. +

+ Like Dzungar – who suggested I met with Wazeba – the Gentle has adopted a number of replacement armour elements from Tacticus suits. Here, however, they were necessities: the Gentle's presence at the thinly-populated fortress was apparently forced by the near destruction of much of his armour. What remains of it is truly ancient – chronotracing is unclear, but my research indicates a number of elements, including the crucial backpack – are from Mark II Crusade Armour. Wazeba is infuriatingly vague on their provenance – though again I suspect an empathic lack of understanding rather than any intention to mislead or hinder my research. +


+ Member-Ordinary Gyalo Zhongxin +

Work in-progress

+ Lest it be assumed that the Gatebreakers welcomed us with open arms, eager to spill their personal biographies to any who would listen, it behoves me to note the rather more... recalcitrant members of their brotherhood. Zhongxin was one such: a towering, wild-eyed and tousle-haired individual, who flatly refused to sit down throughout the interview. He paced back and forth throughout, and only removed his helm on the direct order of the supervising officer. Even then, his broad, scarred face wore a snarl. +

+ His dark, glittering eyes roved while we talked, as though suspecting an ambush or attack at any moment. His analysis of me clearly marked me as little threat, but he continued darting looks at my Primaris warder, Coriolanus, throughout the interview. +

+ A quick cross-reference of the text of Gentle Wazeba's The Tenets of the Ten Divine Princes with Zhongxin's makes it clear that the book is hugely divergent. Whole sections are identical, while others are apparently without parallel between these two members. I intend to look at other copies to clarify further. +

+ I learned little directly from Zhongxin save that he was taken as a slave from a nameless world beyond the Rim (I took the liberty of recording what details he gave, that I could pass them on to Taiwo, as per our agreement), and served in the ninth Strikeforce, alongside Eo Daur – more on whom in a later file. However, much as the shape of an object can be discerned from the negative space that surrounds it, I inferred a great deal. +

+ It appears that the ninth Strikeforce has been much reduced in resolving an ongoing border dispute with a extragalactic species that matches no description I can find in our records. The Strikeforce's presence on Andocrine – indeed, the entire Gatebreakers' presence on their supposed homeworld – is entirely down to dumb luck, as they had returned to harvest further potential recruits. Had we arrived a week later, it is entirely possible the court would have moved on. It appears the fortress-monastery's tumbledown appearance is no sham – it truly is rubble. +


Closing Remarks: Halm's notes are of concern. That a Chapter has let its homeworld fall into disrepair is of grave import; but it also makes me suspect that the mysterious Sho is playing a poor hand rather well. No wonder we were not met with system monitors – it seems there are none. Further, I suspect the welcome was enforced. Sho could not have hoped to hold the ruins against a full Chapter Astartes intent on entry; not with the seeming handful of warriors at his ready command.

This raises the critical question: Are we in turn being evaluated? That seems all but certain. If that is the case, why? My suspicions must be kept smothered until we are certain. For the moment, we are being treated cordially; and I will not fray what little ties Scipius and Chapter 333 to me by moving against what he clearly sees as his brethren. For the moment, I will continue my investigations; and endeavour to get word to Taiwo. Whether the intention is innocent or malign, the Rogue Trader must be forewarned.

The more optimistic answer is simple over-eagerness. This Chapter has been long-starved and now sees the potential for salvation in these long hoped-for reinforcements.

The second is more problematic – and since my task is inevitably cynical, more likely: we are being delayed while others gather.

– Inquisitrix Barbari Kills

+ inload: Primaris meet Astartes on Andocrine +

+ An alloy of old and new +

Scipius found Oto Yeng's manner infuriating; but then, he had found almost everything about the Gatebreakers he'd met thus far frustrating. Aside from anything else, he couldn't quite grasp why the apothecary – the Claviger-Gentle, he chided himself – had been assigned to guide him. The two strode down the wide boulevard towards the butkade, Scipius' steps crisp, placed and formal; Yeng's stride much looser, almost louche. 

"With all due respect, Claviger-Gentle," the exotic title came awkwardly to his tongue, but he could not bring himself to call Yeng 'brother'; not yet. "I would be forewarned, if we are to meet the Chapter Master."

Yeng continued his easy-paced stroll, favouring his left leg. It was not quite a limp, and raised still more questions for Scipius. The Gatebreaker nodded, glanced at the other marine, then turned back. Scipius thought he caught a gnomic smile before Yeng replied.

"Have I yet told you, traveller, of the Sage Huro? It was he who wrote that 'water will flow only once a path in rock is worn.'"

Scipius' patience had run thin. At every turn, he had been sidelined; his shuttle greeted not by an honour guard, but by a gaggle of Chapter serfs; and his questions rebuffed, brushed aside with platitudes or politely ignored. The 'fortress monastery' seemed anything but; appearing to be little more than a tumbledown ruin, populated solely by bland-faced serfs. When finally an Astartes had appeared, Oto Yeng had turned out to be more concerned with aphorisms than facts; and still less concerned with the passage of time. He had not even asked Scipius his name or rank. The two had walked, apparently aimlessly, for close to an hour across the winding straight-cornered paths of the monastery. 

Scipius came to a halt, his feet scuffing up the yellow dust that covered the open-air path. Yeng stopped a pace ahead, and half-turned back, his face blandly quizzical. The two soldiers regarded one another; Yeng with seeming disinterest, and Scipius will ill-concealed impatience. Both wore identical quartered green-and-yellow livery, but at that the similarities ended. The Primaris was perhaps a hand's width taller, though much of that was down to his upright posture, and the older Astartes' rolling gait. The Master of Chapter 333 wore gleaming Tacitus plate overlaid with heavy robes in the Imperial style. Scipius' trained eye took in Yeng's plate – a much-patched example of an Armourum Ferrum variant that the Primaris marine did not fully recognise.

"I do not know this Huro. I do not wish to know this Huro. I have brought a host of battle brothers to repopulate what I now find to be an occupied Chapter Fortress. It is a joy indeed to find that our forebears – that you – have survived, but there is much to discuss: to plan. I insist you take me to see the Chapter Master; and immediately."

Yeng pursed his lips and looked down, his hands clasped behind his back. He eased his shoulders, the much-patched armour creaking, before running a hand through his scrubby grizzled hair.

"Grant me this indulgence, traveller. You will forgive my rudeness in relating one story more." Scipius raised an impatient eyebrow as the apothecary went on. "When asked how best to seize his father's throne, the sage Huro told his Prince: 'Travelling is best when it is a return to familiarity.' The Prince, of course, understood at once."

Scipius was straightforward, but he was not stupid. All these riddles. Of course. It had been a test. He had not been snubbed. He dropped to one knee.

"I understand now. My apologies." Yeng's eyes widened briefly at the Primaris marine's action, before the apothecary's smiled broadened still further. "You are the Chapter Master. I am unworthy..."

"Alas, no," Yeng interrupted, still grinning. "That honour is not mine. I see now your eagerness. I will take you to Master." The Gentle turned, unceremoniously, and waved a hand vaguely behind him. "Come then, Unworthy." 

Scipius rose, face flushed, indignation warring with embarrassment. Following the Astartes closely along the short corridor, he laid a hand on the other's shoulder plate. Yeng turned to him, his expression once more innocently quizzical.

"That is not–". Scipius' objection was cut off by the peal of a great gong. 

The sound reverberated richly along the corridor, and Yeng's face creased into a grin. 
"Strange what we get to decide for ourselves, isn't it?" Without waiting for an answer, he paused, glancing towards the large round portal of the moon door. He gestured towards the opening. "Ah, but that will wait for another time, I think. Now is right for you to meet your Master." 


+ Building and painting +

+ The Primaris Gatebreakers are coming along nicely. With the chest eagles and metallics painted, I assembled the figures. The army itself is going to represent the Chapter a little further along than in the stories above – my aim is that the stories will eventually catch up, and then events during games will provide the ongoing narrative. +

+ To this end, then, the Primaris newcomers aren't quite as uniform and clean-cut as they had been. The same supply issues that have dogged the Chapter since time immemorial continue to be in force during the dark Millennium, though the incoming Chapter 333 – that is, the newcomers – did at least come with a big stockpile of shiny new toys. +

+ You'll spot quite a variety of bolt weapons above. The marines will mostly have auto-boltrifles, though the precise pattern of that will vary. You'll spot that some are conversions of the Infiltrators' and Reivers' different styles of bolt carbines. I'm unlikely to field either of those units unconverted (I don't like the lack of greaves), but I do like the shorter, more familiar snub noses of their boltguns. +

+ Not quite finished, but well on the way now. I'm pleased (and relieved!) that the Primaris mix in quite nicely with the older armour styles. 

+ +

+ inload: Our Presence Remakes the Past +

'Our Presence Remakes the Past!' The cry thundered from a crowd of enhanced throats, deep and reverberant. In the hall serving as Chapter 333's gathering place, the echoes died out quickly.

It was borrowed, of course. One of the famed Ultramarines' many battle cries, redolent with ten thousand years of history – history that Chapter 333 sorely lacked. Inquisitor Kills had enquired after its provenance during an awkward repast at the Captain's table, which Master Scipius had attended. He had picked politely at the food, and demurred Taiwo's offer of any wine beyond that used for the toasts.

The question had been answered as the Primaris marine answered all her questions – promptly, directly, and with no expansion. It had felt like an interrogation. Kills – and she suspected the other diners too – had been relieved when the warrior had bowed out of the ceremonial meal, thanking his Rogue Trader host with a curt salute.

The marines were too large, too intense, too real for anything like a relaxed atmosphere. Every mouthful of food or drink had been overshadowed by the sheer presence of the warrior. It had been like dining alongside a Cthellan cudbear – scrupulously trained, perhaps, but something in humanity's hindbrain sat uneasily alongside superpredators.

Barbari Kills brought her attention back to the hall. The Chaplain – what was his name? – was deep into the litanies. Smartly turned-out serfs in yellow and green-piped tabards tracked back and forth along the assembled ranks of the Chapter, anointing each warrior with dabs of unguent, or murmuring catechism.

She and her acolytes, Brunski and Halm, had a position of honour, looking out over the Chapter from the side. That their podium was constructed of stacked shipping crates rather took away the glamour, but needs must. Chapter 333's own fleet, such as it was, offered no craft large enough to gather the Chapter, and so Scipius had arranged with Taiwo to utilise one of the Rogue Trader's vessels for such assemblies. Standing at ease, but crisply, the Inquisitor let her eye wander over the Chapter. There was variance – of course there was – but very little. Every figure was decked out in the same armour – row after row of the same smooth helms, the same black, heavy guns. It was a far cry from her time with the Stellar Steeds, whose laughing company seemed to revel in individualism; their plate mixed and endlessly varied.

Halm half-coughed, and Kills looked at her quizzically. Sotto voce, the acolyte murmured a word of encouragement as she handed over the scroll. It was time for the Inquisitor to address the Space Marines. Kills rather enjoyed pomp and ceremony, usually. It offered a refreshing change from the cloak-and-daggers politicking of her usual task – or at least a surface contrast, she mused.

It was a short and to-the-point speech. Halm had suggested it be so – and she had had considerably more opportunity to ingratiate herself with the Chapter serfs than the Inquisitor herself. No room for poetry here, the Inquisitor thought to herself, as she began her oration.

"You stand ready to take your place as castellans of the Emperor's domain. This outpost is distant from his light, and all the more vulnerable for it. Here at the edge of the galaxy, you will serve. Each of you is a lantern; a magnifying mirror to that light. You will bring the Emperor's hand to these benighted worlds, extended in friendship to those that seek his protection, and closed in a fist to those who would despoil or seek to desecrate his worlds. You will, perhaps, be alone in these duties." She paused, weighing the next words carefully. The assembled crowd stood, dutifully, impassively; still as statues. Licking her lip, unaccountably dry, she continued, "And perhaps you will not. We are at anchor around a planet tentatively identified as the lost world of Quercus Brant; a short translation from the rumoured location of system Androcrine. Once Quercus Brant is brought back within the fold, we will move on to Andocrine. There we will discover the fate of your forebears; there we will find answers."

Another pause. Not a single marine moved. Kills was no psychic, but a prickle down her spine told her that this was an entirely different order of silence. They had been attentive before, but the mention of the Chapter's gene-kin – and the possibility of finding their own history – had charged the atmosphere.

"I recognise that this is a strange form of homecoming. A return to a hold in which you have never set foot; and which must seem nebulous. You must be prepared to find ruins. You must be prepared to reclaim and refortify the fortress-monastery; to take arms against the strange and novel xenoforms of the region. You must guard against false hope, for such is the first step on the road to disappointment. And yet." A third pause, "And yet, I wish you well – both in your campaign upon Quercus Brant, and in our shared travails to Androcrine. Whether we find your kin or not, you have duties to perform. An Imperium to extend. An Emperor to serve. You have a history of your own to write."

The close of the speech was met with a final silence. And then, a great roar; a roar from a thousand throats:
'Our Presence Remakes the Past!'


+ Progress +

+ The varnish is dry on the first sets of arms, so I finally have sufficient bits to assemble a Primaris member of the Gatebreakers. He is a little further down the line timewise from the story above, but still in 'proper' Tacticus armour. +

+ He needs highlighting, basing and still needs details like the gun and chapter badge to be painted, but I'm really pleased with how they're looking. It's not at all clear here, but the chest eagle is painted silver with a purple wash. +

Painting in sub-assemblies has been a fun experiment, and helped to make this batch painting a bit of a novelty. I am glad, however, that I restricted myself to a fairly reasonable number of figures – more than fifteen would have been very complicated! +

+ I'm pleased to report that the oils seem to be behaving themselves. Experimentation always has the potential to go seriously wrong, but – touch wood – it's holding together well so far. +

+ The depth of tone oils allowed me to create, together with the speed at which it could be done, has me firmly on board. I'm looking forward to experimenting further with this technique. +

+ Bloodthirsty headhunting, or sanctified relics? We'll find out soon enough, if Barbari Kills can find where Andocrine is... +

+ Eight pairs of arms – and the accompanying shoulderpads are next up. After that, it's pouches, grenades and similar bells and whistles. You'll spot a couple of beakie helms, too. Not quite sure how they fit with the Marks of armour, but who cares? Beakies are cool. +

+ ...And to finish, a couple of shots of the whole gang. Apologies if these are getting tiresome, but I find it helpful to watch them gradually get more and more developed. +

+ inload: Barbari Kills and the Bridge of the Ẹtì Alubarika +

+  A short story today, intended to illuminate the characters accompanying  the Primaris Gatebreakers. I've got plans to build and paint a few of these – I'd love to hear your thoughts on which catch your imagination, and who you'd like to see realised. +


The Ẹtì Alubarika wallowed, the void-engines sputtering to a halt as the materium drives took up the slack. The choirmaster retrieved his wand from the podium and began directing the Liturgy of Gracious Thanks.

From her standpoint near a navigation-organ, Kills stretched lazily. The headache that warp travel inevitably brought upon her was already ebbing away, and she smiled with relief. She glanced around, her vision blocked by the two hulking marines that flanked her. Their gleaming power armour was swathed in fabric tabards, picked out with core Imperial decoration. They were in all ways identical, their armour clean and unmarred, polished to perfection. Seeing her move, Septival nodded politely. He stepped backwards to let the Inquisitor see past him. 

The bridge of the Ẹtì Alubarika was dressed stone. Turquoise-studded granite columns soared in a great gallery, and desks of void-whale baleen were piled high with scroll cases, records and dataslates. There were few vid-screens or electronics visible; the crew interacting with the craft through embedded haptics and keyboards more akin to musical instrumentation than the ascetically practical models cradled by the hooded tech-adepts. It was, Kills had noted when she had been invited aboard, quite something. The crew were also singular: smart, clean-limbed and beautiful figures from a dozen different worlds. Taiwo was proud of his bridge crew, whom he demanded to be exemplars of humanity. After all, as he had proudly declared to the Inquisitor: 'These may be the first men and women a species will see. I will have them see us for what we are: Perfect.'

As far as anything was typical for the rogue trader, Taiwo was every inch the commander. He sat, almost lost within the opulence of his command throne, looking out across the bridge. His glittering augmetic eyes drank in every detail, and Kills could see his gaze piercing the stars even as his advisors muttered and proferred reports. Taiwo and Kills had reached an uneasy rapprochement. He was an inveterate explorer, keen to push the boundaries – both literally and metaphorically. The idea of ferrying a proto-Chapter of Primaris Space Marines to an ancient backwater on the very rim of the galaxy had not caught his imagination, until Kills had intimated the lack of Imperial authority over the area. As far as the Ordo could determine, celestial drift had left this region of space unmonitored and unexplored for millennia – possibly since the establishment of the Imperium itself. 

He had agreed – though he remained a Rogue Trader. His demands were large, but payable: exclusive rights to the frontier, colonisation fiefdom guarantees on all inhabitable worlds... and the tip of Kills' little finger. As Taiwo's rich voice rolled around the bridge; directing his staff, the Inquisitor flexed her new augmetic at the memory. The loss of a fingertip was, in the end, a small price to pay – after all, her fingerprints and generunes were banked and warded by the Ordo Propter –  and the Expedition's augmetists were second-to-none. The skinsleeve was indistinguishable from her birth flesh. 

Inquisitrix Barbari Kills had little of the sentimentalist about her. She had taken the opportunity to have a digitial microlaser and elegant vox-thief fitted. If little else sat well with the proto-Chapter she accompanied, that lack of sentimentality was at least in tune. Chapter 333 were new-forged. They had taken their oaths, and were as prepared as Space Marines could be – but what little fighting they had seen was desultory. Kills suspected that accounted for a large part of their obsessive training and fastidiousness. 

She had had the dubious pleasure of serving alongside Astartes before, and had the peculiar feeling that the Primaris soldiers of Chapter 333 were trying a little too hard to impress her. Their armour gleamed. Their steps were perfectly synchronous. A sense of order radiated from them. That easy, knowing smile came to the Inquisitor's face again. It was sweet, in a way. 

Scipius, the Chapter's Interim Master, had assigned Septival and Coriolanus as bodymen to her, and they had – despite her efforts – remained politely but stubbornly glued to her as she wandered the halls of the Ẹtì Alubarika and its accompanying fleet. The presence of the two hulking warriors had prevented her from making any personal progress with in-fleet investigations, and so she had, with resignation, delegated her more shadowy work to her acolytes.


She thought of Master Scipius as she strolled, hands clasped proprietorially behind her back, towards the viewing platforms, where she could – at last – look outside the ship again. Coriolanus and Septival followed a studiedly short distance behind. Barbari Kills was an experienced star-sailor, hardbitten investigative member of the Inquisition, and – when called to be – a ruthless killer. Nevertheless, she had never lost the thrill of wonderment at the galaxy. It was at the heart of her; and seeing stars and planets never failed to stir a sense of the divine in her. It almost made up for the damn headaches, she thought.

Ratings and crew members parted before the trio as Kills advanced towards the main Observatorio, hidden as yet behind a curve. Before reaching the cyclopean window itself, she paused, and looked back. Past the colossal green-and-yellow Space Marines, beneath the decorated black granite, she could see humanity. Bustling, busy, engaged in tasks – as complex as clockwork, as heaving as an anthill.

Closing her eyes in anticipation, she prepared herself for the glittering beauty of the stars; the soaring columns of nebulae, the painted beauty of illuminated stardust...

When she opened them again, her breath caught in her throat. She felt the overwhelming need to grasp something; anything. Her hand briefly snaked out towards Septival, but she snatched it back, angry with herself. A rolling, tumultous sense of vertigo claimed her, as though she – and the rest of the bridge; the ship; the species – were teetering on the brink of an infinite precipice. 

For before her eyes, from edge to edge of the colossal Observatorio, was what lay beyond the rim of the galaxy. An occasional miniscule pip of light; a faint dusting of gas – and then, between the galaxy of Man, and its impossibly distant neighbours, nothing. Nothing for ever. A blank, black insanity of absence.

She turned away, disappointed and disquieted – though her rigid self-discipline revealed nothing. She looked instead to Coriolanus and Septival, studying those identical helms as they regarded her impassively in turn. Would their sense of order survive here? she wondered. Could anyone's? 


+ Painting has also progressed, and I couldn't resist setting up the parts to preview what the resulting marines will look like. Pleased with the results – I'm fired up to get these polished off and completed! +

+ inload: Oils for the absolute beginner +

+ Step-by-step tutorial – using oils +

+ Theoretical +

+ This will walk you through the basics of using oil paints on your miniatures. I'm demonstrating on a space marine in a quartered scheme, so you can see how the oil wash can be used to unify a paint scheme. +

+ Before you begin, you'll need to paint your miniature. You can highlight and shade your figure as normal, if you wish, but here I've just laid on basic flat colours. It's important to note that if you have used acrylics to paint the base coats, you must varnish the miniature before you begin. Gloss varnish is best, as it's tougher. If you only have matt, that's fine – just don't scrub too hard. +

The result – what we're aiming for.


[VAL-request=OPTIONAL] + If you find this tutorial useful, please consider using this Ko-fi exloadlink to support the blog's free tutorials. + [+exload:GRATITUDESPOOL//+]


+ Practical +

+ Oils aren't anything to be scared of – they're very similar to enamals or nail varnish, and like those media, they need a solvent (turps or white spirit) to dilute them, rather than water. Don't use your best sables or other natural hair brushes, as the oil and turps will quickly damage them. +

+ Work in a well ventilated area. +

+ You will need +

  • Oil paint: Burnt umber
  • Medium: Turpentine or white spirit 
  • Brushes: Size 2 and size 1 brushes – preferably synthetic or hog bristle. An old tatty brush is also useful for mixing and weathering.
  • Impermeable palette – plastic or ceramic
  • A glass jar
  • Cotton buds [LINGUO-TRANSLATMAT: 'Q–tips']
  • Rags or kitchen paper to clean your brushes

1_ Squeeze out a small amount of oil paint onto your palette. You can, of course, use any colour for this. I'm using burnt umber as it's a good warming dark. If your model's paint scheme is cool, you might prefer to use Payne's Gray.

2_ Pick up some medium on the large brush and transfer it to the palette. Gently work it into the edge of the blob of paint with small swirling motions; just as you would with acrylics and water. Continue adding small amount of white spirit until you have created a pool of dilute paint as shown. We work into the side of the blob as this naturally creates a variety of consistencies – this allows you to pick up more dilute or thicker paint as you need.

3_ Rinse the brush in medium and dry it on your towel. Pick up some of the more watery paint and begin applying it to the miniature, working it into the details and recesses. Don't rush – you might create bubbles. 

4_ Continue working until you have covered the figure, then rinse and dry your brush.

5_ Pick up your cotton bud (q-tip). I'm using these cosmetic tipped ones, as they have a broader and narrower end. You can use anything absorbent for the next stages, but cotton buds are ideal as they're controllable and cheap.  

6_ Dip the tip of the broad end of the cotton bud into your medium. There's no need to immerse it – it'll quickly wick up, and you only need a little. Tap any excess medium off the cotton bud on your palette, and bring it to your miniature. Note that the bud is not soaked or dripping – there's only a little white spirit on there.

7_ Gently run the cotton bud over any flat areas, working from the top of the area downwards, in smooth long strokes. The cotton bud will wipe away the thin wash of oil, leaving it in the recesses. Be gentle – it comes away easily, and there's no need to scrub. In fact, scrubbing's makes it more likely that you'll work through the varnish and damage the paint beneath. 

8_ Continue wiping away the oil from the surface using the broad end of the cotton bud. If it gets too saturated with oil, it'll start depositing paint again – use a different part of the bud, or replace the cotton bud. Note that I'm not making any distinction between the green and yellow parts here – it's all treated as one. This helps to ensure a coherent, cohesive finish.

9_ Swap to the narrow end of the cotton bud. Again, dip it lightly in your medium, and begin using it to wipe away more recessed areas. You can achieve quite fine marks with this if you're delicate.

10_ As you continue removing paint, think about where the light's coming from, and remove more oil paint from the areas pointing towards the light. If you compare the image with pict-capture 9 [visref: above], you'll see that I've established an imaginary light source at the top left, so I'm removing most of the paint from the top of the backpack, and top of the collar.

11_ Conversely, I'm leaving a little of the wash remaining in the areas in shadow – generally on the lower right. This is more obvious on areas like the kneepad and lower leg, where I've removed paint from the upper left parts and left more in the lower right in a gradient.

12_ Don't worry about removing too much, or lifting out an area that you didn't want to. Oils are very slow-drying, so there's no rush to fix things. Here I removed too much paint from the soft detail in the kneepad, and wanted to reinforce the sense of a split between the knee and leg plate. Use a size 1 brush to pick up some of the prepared oil paint and simply paint it in.

13_ Rinse the brush in your medium and dry it thoroughly. You can then use it – still dry – to gently blend in the paint, or lift off any excess. 

+ Weathering and battle damage +

Once you've completed step 13, you can leave the figure to dry. Oils should be left at least overnight, and preferably longer, to dry – two or three days is good, and a week is ideal. However, if you want to continue, oils are great for weathering and battle damage too. The following steps are optional extras.

14_ Use the size 1 brush to add some dots and short, fine lines in areas that are expose to damage.

15_ Pick up your old tatty brush. Make sure it is clean and absolutely dry. Gently and swiftly brush downwards over the spots to smear them down in a consistent direction.

16_ Depending on how marked you want the damage to be, you can reinstate the pockmarks and gouges with fresh oil. 

Tip: This 'wet' way of weathering is just one approach. You can leave the dots to dry partially or completely, too. If you allow them to dry partially (for an hour or two), you'll find a mark left by the original spot. If you let them dry completely, you'll need a little white spirit to get them moving again. 

17_ This completes the figure. Look over it and make any tweaks you want, using the size 1 brush wetted with medium to gently lift away any further areas.

+ Oils are relaxing to use, as there's no time pressure and a little goes a long way. For this reason, they're well-suited to batch-painting. The smear of oil paint I used above was used for this whole combat squad. +

+ After-action +

+ If you did your highlights beforehand, you may find the figure is completed to your satisfaction. However, if you want to work further on the figures, then it's vital that you allow the oils to dry thoroughly – ideally a week or so in a warm, well-ventilated area. +

+ If you intend subsequently to use acrylics to add your highlights, then you should varnish the dry oil before working. The reason for this is that the linseed oil in exposed oil paints continue to dry over months. If you paint quick-drying acrylics over the top, then remaining traces of linseed oil in the oil paints are trapped. They can penetrate the acrylics or cause cracking or flaking as the different paint media dry at different rates. +

+ Once varnished, the oils are safely sealed away, and you can happily paint over the top with acrylics, as shown below. +

+ I hope that this has proven handy – please share your thoughts below, and feel free to share your results on the + Death of a Rubricist + Facebook group [+noosphericexloadlinkembedded+], or on Instagram with the #deathofarubricist tag. I'd love to see 'em! +