+ inload: Painting the Blood Angels medic+

 + Medic! +

Upon the seed of the Blood Angels there lies the ancient curse of mutation, a foulness which cannot be seen, which is covered over by the grace, intelligence, and high achievements which are the proud boasts of this most noble of Chapters. Yet the fire that burns behind the eyes of these sons of Sanguinius is bright with a thirst that only the blood of man can slake. Aye, it would be wise to but whisper the name that comes from times heavy with age and fear, a name which echoes in the march of the Blood Angels...


Apothecary Euthan Sansavino (Varchiel 2:06) +

+ The inspiration and build process for this model are covered in this inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]; so as with Techmarine Mirandola, I'll concentrate here on the painting decisions. +

+ I went back and forth on the overall scheme, toying with a vertical red/white split; but ended up plumping for the scheme on the original medic from WD139 – white armour with red shoulder pads. This was mainly because – unlike the techmarine – the base model was very different from the inspiration. The robe, back banner instead of big hand-borne banner, the pose... all broke away from the old model. The paint scheme was therefore important to use to create some consistency. +

+ I tackled most of the equipment in a similar way to avoid the model becoming busy. A nice neutral layer of Charadon Granite was used for the hand flamer, the wrist-mounted narthecium, holster and pouches. The metallics were similarly tackled in a cohesive way, with wet-in-wet washes of Leviathan Purple and Seraphim Sepia over Ironbreaker. +

+ A little bit of freehand detailing on the holster, chainsword and text on the shoulder pad scroll add some interest, as does the blood spatter. The latter was achieved with a mix of brown and red. +

+ The robe didn't come out quite how I wanted – I was aiming for a softer, worn leather effect. I may need to go back with some further glazes of sepia ink. I don't think the result here is bad; but it's a bit busy – almost reminiscent of camouflage, which wasn't the intention. +

+ I am, however, pleased with the reduction of the big banner. Having freehanded all the other material in the army, I thought it'd be a cop-out to do something different for the banner. The key elements are faithfully reproduced, and I've turned the row of nine blood drops into three groups of three – a decision that serendipitously proved to echo the tweak I'd made to the Third company symbol across the army. Sometimes happy accidents turn up! +

+ I changed the banner top blood drop into a blue jewel; symbolising Sanguinius' tears of sorrow. This was mainly to add a contrasting accent and cause the viewer's eye to flick back and forth between here and the marine's eye-lenses, taking in the banner a bit more. + 

+ The white armour came out nicely, I thought. I used a Payne's grey ink wash to build up the shading; in much the same way as I use the purple paint and sepia ink to shade the red [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. +

+ Those who have kept their opticalinput augmitters at full will spot that there's a large blood drop honorific on his shin; something absent in the composite image above. I added this at the last minute at the suggestion of a reader. While I like it in and of itself, I am rather kicking myself that I overlaid the blood spatter, which I was pleased with. The two rather fight here, I think. +

+ One final shot of the apothecary/sanguinary priest/medic... and that leaves just three model to complete: the Chaplain, Librarian and Land Speeder. +

+ inload: Blood Angels techmarine +

 + Brother Mirandola (Maltiel 4:01)+

+ Blood Angels Techmarine +

Yours is to heed the machine as others heed their kin. Tend to the war spirits all about, but do so in the knowledge that you do the Emperor’s duty. Without your ministrations, no bolt may be fired, and no enemy slain.
— Extract from the Apocrypha of Eons, Verse III, Chapter CIV

+ Techmarines during the Nova Terra Interregnum +

Owing to their split loyalty between Chapter and the Martian Cult Mechanicus, the Fraters Astrotechnicus – or techmarines, to use the Low Gothic – have long held an uneasy position within many Chapters. The hidden mysteries of the Cult make them shadowy servants to two masters; a position that means they are often held in barely-disguised suspicion.

The uneasy balance of loyalty is held in check in different ways by different Chapters. Some force their techmarine corps to swear terrible binding oaths, while others some disbar their techmarines from the standard rank progression. A few – chief amongst them the Iron Hands and many of their successors, but also Chapters such as the Star Leopards and Horizon Lords – adopt a contrary approach, heavily integrating the teachings of the Adeptus Mechanicus into their own Chapter Cult.

The swelling wave of faith that caused the Nova Terra Interregnum brought further scrutiny and pressure upon the office of Frater Astrotechnicus. As the Astartes as a whole became more isolationist, the presence of the techmarines was often seen within Chapters as introducing a potential fifth column. There are no recorded instances of the techmarines being attacked or disbarred by Chapters, but that it did not happen is by no means a certainty – merely that the Inquisition knows little of the Astartes' internal workings. 

Should any Chapters have executed or destroyed their techmarine Corps, this would likely have contributed to rapid and deleterious loss. Three Chapters that suffered rapid and unexplained losses were recorded at different periods during the Nova Terra Interregnum; all of which are suspected to have purged their Techmarine pool. 

Of these, the most notable were the Sons of Antaeus, a fifth-founding Chapter whose name was passed into the annals of the lost within three decades of the commencement of the Alien Wars. Reports of this storied Chapter's final campaign – against the recidivist squats of the Ulgur League – were classified; but eyewitnesses of the Mercian 2000th Regiment remarked that the Astartes' vehicle seemed badly depleted.

The truth will never be known; and as the Chapter has been reported lost, the re-use of its title will be forbidden for millennia to come. Such is the fragile nature of the Astartes Chapters: powerful in theory and practice; but brittle when deprived of Imperial succour. The imposition of such an inherent preventative measure demonstrates both the foresight and suspicion of their founder, the Thirteenth Primarch. 


+ Brother Haynes Mirandola +

+ Like the rest of the Blood Angels force, Haynes is an homage to the period – I call it Retrohammer, but I rather like the #oldschoolnouveau tag used elsewhere. +

+ The above composite pict-capture shows the finished miniature alongside the inspiration. You can read more of the theoretical and notes on building in this inload: [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. Here I'll concentrate on painting notes. +

+ The Opus Machina – the bisected skull and cog motif – is moulded on. I think it's from an old Space Marine vehicle accessory sprue that has lurked in the bits box for years. I used ivory and deep grey tones, rather than black and white. This helps to prevent it from becoming too dominant and eye-catching. +

+ I was pleased with the little haptic keypad thing on his belt. I painted a lens effect in grey, then added a fine grid over the top with diluted light grey. The effect is to glaze the underlying gem effect, creating a result a little like a car headlight. +

+ A nice simple approach to painting the backpack means the unusual sculpt (from a Forge World Horus Heresy techmarine, I believe) isn't overwhelmed. I added a blue claw glyph to the back of the toolbox. Having taken the decision to swap the shoulder pad for the modern equivalent, I couldn't resist this little nod to the original. +

+ The drill at his waist is another element translated from the original. I built it using the drill from the Primaris Apothecary sprue attached to a communicator widget from one of the Primaris sprues. The paint job is simple metals, apart from the tachometer dial. Unlike the Machina Opus, I used pure white, pure red and pure black here. It's so small that it needs all the help it can get to read out. +

+ I was also pleased with the studded shoulder pad. I feel that I've got my method of painting red working nicely now, and the gradient here works smoothly. +

+ A final finished shot from the front. I matched the colours of the lenses to the original model from WD139. As the sculpt doesn't match, I wanted to make sure that there were some details to make it clear it's intended to be the same character. +

+ To this end I've also added some yellow and black to the shin. On the original, this marking covers the entire lower leg; in my reimagining, I've restricted it to a single fine strip. This is a favourite technique of mine: painting details freehand within an area of the sculpt, rather than painting the entire area. It makes things a bit more subtle, and heightens the sense of scale. +

+ Hope you like him – would love to hear your thoughts. +

+ inload: Tutorial – Converting Mark X into Mark VI armour +

+ Corvus armour tutorial +

+ Converting a Mark VI marine +

+ This tutorial will allow you to convert an Intercessor marine into something like the figure above; a marine in Mark VI Corvus-pattern armour – the iconic beakie marine of Rogue Trader. +

+ Much of the conversion is kitbashing – simply selecting parts you find appropriate – though it does also involve a little simple sculpting. If you're nervous at sculpting, then this is a good starting point. +


[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//+]


+ Theoretical +

+ For any aspiring rivet-counters, the conversion below provides a list of parts that are the closest to the modern iteration of Mark VI. Depending on your particular preferences and budget, you might wish to choose different bits – that's all fine: the point of conversion is making your models more personal, after all. Depending on the Chapter you're building and period it's set in, it's entirely likely a marine will be wearing a hotch-potch mix of armour plates rather than a complete suit. Nevertheless, this guide walks you though a full suit of Mark VI – I'll leave you to choose the details and finishing touches to fit your personal taste (or what your Chapter can muster!). +

+ If you're trying to make an exact replica of Corvus armour, then the best source of bits is Forge World's Legion MkVI set [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+], but this is pricy. The only key purchase for the conversion is the Mark VI head, which you find in lots of marine boxes. My advice is to find a balance between accuracy and cost that works for you. +

+ If you're doing a one-off, then the space marine Assault Squad [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] is a good starting point for bits: it contains a Mark VI backpack, shoulder pads and helm. Best of all, these are all optional extras for the kit, so you can still build a complete assault squad without them. If you're doing a batch, I'd recommend the FW set. +


+ What do I need? +

+ For this tutorial you will need: 
  • A Primaris space marine. My recommended parts are:
    • Body and legs: Intercessor or Assault Intercessor body with separate greaves, as these make it much easier to trim off the details.
    • Head: Mark VI helms – Forge World do a set of Raven Guard upgrades [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] with some nice variations and details. 
    • Weapons: Umbra-pattern boltguns [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. These are the closest to the RTB01 boltgun.
    • Arms: MK X Phobos armour lacks the additional forearm plate on Intercessors, so is closer to the classic marine aesthetic. You can get these arms in the Reiver or Infiltrator/Incursor box; both will give you lots of cool potential poses.
    • Backpack: The Forge World Mk VI set is the source for a backpack essentially identical to the classic RTB01, but there are a few available elsewhere (such as the assault squad linked above) with the more angular central part and raised tubing on the top centre.
    • Shoulder pads: You can trim away the rim from any pad fairly simply, but a paired set of rimless pads, one with studs, turn up in most marine boxes, including the Intercessors. 
  • Polystyrene cement
  • Craft knife and cutting mat
  • Modelling clippers
  • Modelling putty such as Greenstuff, ProCreate or a 50:50 mix of Greenstuff and Milliput.
  • Revitalising cup of recaff or, for those with a discerning palate Endworlds Ti infusion. Owing to sharp blades and precision, synthale is not sanctioned.

+ Practical +

+ Part I: Cutting and shaping +

_i Use the modelling clippers to remove the bulk of the crest around the knee, then use the knife to trim it flush as shown.

_ii Working particularly carefully, use the knife to trim the kneepad flat. Start from the centre and use the line of the shin to guide you.

_iii Alter the angle to match the line of the shin as you work round the knee, until it is flat and level with the shin as shown.

_iv Gently scrape away the surface by repeatedly and lightly dragging the blade backwards over the surface, until the join between knee and shin is lost. Alternatively, you can fill the gap with modelling putty.

_v Repeat on the other shinplate, then glue them in place on the respective legs.

_vi Make a cut down the ankle stabiliser as shown, in line with the shin plate, then cut in from the side to remove half of the stabiliser. I suggest that you start on the inside. It's more easily hidden, so a good place to practise; and it's also smaller, which makes the cuts easier.

_vii Cut across the ankle stabiliser at the bottom. Depending on the pose of the marine, you may want to do this in two stages: the first in line with the bottom of the shin plate; the second in line with the bottom of the rear leg armour.

_viii Turn the leg over and repeat the process on the outer ankle stabiliser. Make the cut in line with the back of the shinplate as shown. Because the plate flexes outwards, you don't need to cut all the way down to the foot, but rather to where the outside edge of the shinplate would be. The next step clarifies this.

_ix This shows the depth you need to achieve with the cut. As you make the cut across the bottom of the shin, you'll end up with an odd excess below the lower leg. Don't worry; that'll be dealt with later.

_x Cut upwards into the ankle stabilise ball from below, in line with the outer foot covering – that is, the part of the armour between the boot itself and the lower leg armour.

_xi Use your knife to trim the area flat and reshape the outer foot covering as shown. Trim off the last quadrant of the ankle stabiliser so that it lies flush with the shin plate. Once you repeat this on the other leg, the legs are complete.

_xi Cut away the excess collar, leaving a little still in place to act as a visual guide later. I find the best way to do this is to line the blade up on both rear edges of the collar and then trim forwards from both sides simultaneously. This helps to ensure a clean cut at a consistent angle.

_xii Working from the outside in, start to trim back the eagle. Use the stub of the collar to help guide your blade.

_xiii Continue trimming down the chestplate, working layer by layer until it's flush with the surface. 

_xiv Using the curve of the underlying armour as a guide, start to trim away the pectoral plate on one side until it is flush. Rather than removing the whole thing, we're hiding the sharp edges. The central and upper parts remain in place.

_xiv Repeat on the other side, aiming to get a symmetrical appearance.

I like to assemble the legs and torso as it gives me something to hold onto when sculpting. If you want maximum flexibility (for example, if the model has a particularly awkward pose), use a spot of superglue to temporarily attach the legs, allowing you to be able to break them off later if necessary.

At this point, If you don't want to sculpt, you can stop here and assemble the rest of the marine for an effective finish. However, if you do want to take it a bit further, then read onto part 2: [+noosphericinloadlink PENDING+]


+ inload: Blood Angels Chaplain +

+ Blood Angels Chaplain +

Though workers of iniquity may consume my eyes and waste my flesh,
Though sinful agency weary my body and spoil my works,
I remain faithful to the ideals of my Lord,
Still I shall rely on my Lord to direct and guide me,
And though I die, I shall die knowing neither defeat, despair nor dereliction of duty
Great Angels! In his name! Sanguinius!

The Dirige Conspectu of the Blood Angels; known as the Lament of the Lost.

+ Well, here's the last one: every figure in the Blood Angels army is built, so it's just down to painting now. +

+ Inspiration +

+ David Gallagher's artwork of Blood Angels fighting genestealers inspired my Captain Tycho [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], and it includes this interesting character, too – a silver-armoured Chaplain. In terms of miniatures and paint schemes, Chaplains have always been black, so he's a very distinctive figure that stands out beautifully against both the red of the line troops and the black of the Death Company. +

+ Part of the joy of exploring the Nova Terra Interregnum is that it's largely uncharted. Who's to say that – for whatever reason – Blood Angels Chaplains weren't routinely silver at this time? It's a perfect excuse to try something new out, and so I built the following miniature. +

+ The cape is from the Dark Angels Master Lazarus figure. Regular inloaders will remember that I used the front on the Apothecary [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]; I never like cool pieces to go to waste. It's attached to an easy-build marine, which demonstrates it's not about throwing money at a problem, but about finding the right pieces. +

+ The rest of the build is relatively straightforward. A period backpack fits nicely in the project. +

+ The weapons were picked to evoke the artwork – the boltgun is an Umbra pattern one (the modern take on the 2nd ed. boltgun). The only modification I've made here was to slightly shorten the barrel to better match the artwork. The crozius is a thunder hammer haft from the Mark III marine set, with a banner top from the Command squad on top. I've added a tiny ruby blood drop below the skull. The scale's slightly off the artwork, but the principle elements are thus still there. +

+ The head's the obvious big difference. I started with a head from the Sanguinary Guard kit and trimmed down the top of the head and 'brow' of the helmet, before sculpting the skull on top. The eye lenses and grille of the original helm was left in place to give fine detail. The latter part works as a hint of teeth; and – I hope – helps it to read as a sculpted helmet rather than a literal skull. +

+ I added a couple of purity seals and details to the belt. This area's not visible in the artwork so, as with the cape, I decided to improvise and riff off what was there. I think the cape's a good addition – he would have looked too plain without it. +

+ Theoretical +

+ Painting next, then. Left to complete from the basic army are:
  • Techmarine
  • Apothecary
  • Chaplain
  • Land Speeder.
+ I'm a bit undecided on whether to try non-metallic metal silver or metallic paints for the Chaplain. What are your thoughts? +

+ inload: Blood Angels apothecary +

+ Apothecary of the Third Host +

+ Following on from the reimagined techmarine [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], here's the army's medic – a Blood Angel apothecary. +

+ Whereas the techmarine was an attempt to copy the pose of a classic as closely as possible, here I've adhered less closely to the original model – though I have aimed to make it clearly reminiscent of the original through details. +

The original

+ There were two core reasons to my decision here. Firstly, that banner. It is lovely; but it always struck me as odd that the medic held it. Secondly as with the techmarine, I wasn't too fond of the original sculpt. In fact, besides the detail on the pads, none of the classic medics really had much that made them scream 'medical officer'. With a different scheme, they could easily be just another soldier in the line. Such aesthetics are great for the real world – after all, you probably don't want officers and specialists standing out – but I like the greebling that 40k adds to figures. +

+ My interpretation saw me keep the chainsword armament, mark VI armour and slightly left-weighted posture. The banner was reduced to a back banner, and I gave him some robes of office along with some apothecary equipment. He's intended to be a halfway house between the current sculpts and the classic one; so he shares details with both. While he has a forearm mounted reductor and belt accessories, his backpack is a standard one, for example. Similarly, his helm has no additional optics like the modern sculpts. I did toy with that, but decided that it overlapped too much with the techmarine. +

+ The pose is relaxed but alert. In losing the banner, I had the option of giving him a hand weapon. I opted not to do this, as I felt it made him look too much like a front-lines fighter. An open hand felt more appropriate, and nods to the original. +

+ Another nod to the original sculpt is the hand flamer. Clipped off to allow the medic to hold the giant banner, I thought it would be a fun detail to return his weapon to him after thirty years! +

+ Dark Angel Master Lazarus was the donor kit for the front of the body. Since I didn't want to include a full cape, it necessitated sculpting the back half of the torso and his arse. The detail is mostly hidden – which is forgiving. My sculpting's not the best, so it's nice to practise on areas like this which are not hugely visible in the finished model. The cape that he originally wore swooped over the leg you can see here, necessitating a bit of repair work on the pistol grip and holster, which is not sculpted in the original. Similarly, I filled in the semi-circles on the corners of the greaves left by the removal of the ankle details. I don't always do this, as I quite like the clean mark it creates, but here it felt right to clean up a bit more than usual. +

+ This detail shows the banner top that I originally had on him. The characters and sergeants have, thus far, all had unique banner tops. A comment from cowboyjesus on Instagram suggested that I match the banner top of the original – and who am I to reject advice from the (rootin' tootin' gunslingin') Son of Man? +

+ I think the suggestion improves the result, tying it closer to the original, so thanks for the idea. The banner top here is still unique – the wings are carved from another banner top and attached to the blood drop from the haloed original. +

+ Theoretical +

+ In losing the big banner, the figure becomes less of a focal point for the army, so one of my first additions will be a dedicated Ancient. These specialist banner bearers didn't exist in the Rogue Trader period in any 'crunch' terms, but since they exist now it seems a fitting addition. Here, the anonymity of the original sculpts should prove a benefit – perhaps I'll create a banner bearer that matches the pose of the original. In this way Tim Prow's model from the GW studio army will prove the seed of two new figures. +

+ inload: Gatebreakers painting +

+ Taiwo Potentas +

"It is difficult. Excluding Rogue Trader Taiwo from the planning has little to recommend it, Unworthy."

"We are all mindful of the restrictions; of the margins under which we operate, Apothecary-gentle Yeng."

The apothecary shook his head sadly. "That... That I do not believe; Unworthy."

Scipius narrowed his eyes, and – so it seemed to Taiwo – sat still straighter. The room hung with sweet incense. Cinnamon; galbanum; a peppery hint that the Rogue Trader could not place. Scipius was tall, even for a space marine, even for one of the new Primaris; and slender. His posture was impeccable; straight-backed and clean, and so although he had adopted the cross-legged posture of the rest of the gathered Masters, he stood out like a sore thumb. 

"Precedent is set in your – our – traditions, Gentle. It was written in the era of the Three Sages. Was it not Karna who said that..."

The apothecary finished the sentence, wearily "...in war time, all: men, women, children should be issued arm."  

"And yet?"

"Karna say that in making them men, Karna is kill the children herself."

Kixang Sjakpaba, Master of the Fifth, grinned. His teeth glittered in the dim light as he wrapped his hands around the horse-shaped pommel of his sword, his hands flexing as though imagining fighting already.

"Children with blades can cut. Can kill. Why not make them men? I have fought besides our Young Warriors many times. Scouts are children and killers. To train, to grow; if that is to kill the child, what harm? The woman birth child; but the child must birth the man he become." He grinned at Taiwo, the ragged scar and implanted studs making his face lop-sided and stark in the moonlight. "Taiwo here, example. Though he not measure up to us, I say he could be trained to kill, even so. I say we give him blade; see whether he cut himself – or cut us a new space to fight our enemies." The Rogue Trader tilted his chin and smiled right back. He was used to – indeed, enjoyed – the bluster of competition during negotiations. Sjakpaba was straightforward besides; a likeable warrior.

Taiwo was finding talking to the Astartes' council every bit as varied and alien as – well – the xenos he had encountered. It was invigorating. He returned Sjakpaba's salute, then turned to listen to Scipius. The stern warriors' tone was dry as he addressed the Master of the fifth.

"I fear I do not appreciate the poetry; but nevertheless I am grateful for what I take as your support in this matter, brother." 

Sjakpaba gave a good-hearted laugh as he leaned back, pleased with the sport. Scipius went on, addressing those ranged about the hearth in the circular room. "The rest of you? In the journey here, I had dared to imagine such councils would be conducted with the decorum and discipline of the Adeptus Astartes on the basis of well-founded intelligence and knowledge; not by the whims of frontier warlords, beholden to none save their desires."

Dün bristled at the slight. Taiwo had not been formally introduced to the Master of the seventeenth – or was it seventh? – strikeforce. He was a beautiful man; or perhaps would have been. The distortion of becoming an Astartes had thickened cheekbones that might have otherwise been fine, and recessed glittering eyes; but in turn it had granted his baked-ivory visage presence and nobility. Long, straight, black hair hung down on either side of his face, framing a fiercely controlled gaze.

"You forget yourself, Unworthy of the New First." 

Scipius did not react. He was poised, his back straight, head upright, and hands resting on his knees. Far from the insouciant slouch that made most of the gathered Astartes look like resting predators, Scipius still looked as though he was on parade. The posture was simultaneously so perfectly authentic and ripely amplified that Taiwo took it for a subtle jibe. 

The bastard might not like these warlords, Taiwo thought, so he's going to out-do them at their own game.

The long journey to the galaxy's edge had built an admiration for Scipius in the Rogue Trader – though he had not grown to like the Master of Chapter 333. The Primaris marine was the very symbol of discipline, and that allowed no space for half measures or familiarity beyond that necessary for operations. Taiwo had continued to meet with Scipius during the integration of the Primaris intake with the Gatebreakers; and had watched the Master absorb and take on every element of his new place; memorising the charts, reading the histories, and taking on the culture of the Chapter with an edge that spoke of competition.

Dün was every inch Scipius' equal in presence. He had been the first to survive crossing the Rubicon; and it was his experience that had allowed Yeng to stabilise the process somewhat – though the casualties remained so horrendous that Sho had, in a rare direct order, limited the numbers that were allowed to undertake the procedure. Taiwo felt it wise. He had been excluded from the previous gatherings, but he hadn't become a Rogue Trader without resources. He was quite aware of how the strength of the Chapter, newly reinforced, had been haemorrhaging precious – and veteran – warriors before the dictate.

Dün had drawn himself up to mirror Scipius' posture. "You have travelled here, bearing strange new technologies; an army to match and swell our own. As is written, Well-met is a brother who bears gifts, and gives them, and asks nothing in return. Yet you do. You ask us not merely to adapt – as we have for millennia – but to change irrevocably." He turned now, appealing to the room. "Already the barbarians from the Core shun the ways that have kept us alive and fighting; attempting to turn hard-won knowledge and personal initiative into rote roles, with slack taken up by new technology, new weapons and new equipment." Dün turned his face from Scipius to Sho, slumped in the skins on the throne. "We are sore-pressed, Master of Masters. But ever was it so. It is the very reason for our presence here; and one harmonious with the Emperor's will as revealed through the Divine Princes. The Gatebreakers have never broken; never will. As the Poet Takanare wrote in the Odes of Gem: It is not the armour around the man; but the heart within him." This last was delivered in flawless Imperial Core Gothic, a clear jibe at Scipius. "In bringing us new blood, Scipius risks replacing our heart."

To his credit, Scipius' face did not stir. Taiwo looked up at Sho, the Chapter's First Master, who sat silently on the dais. The Rogue Trader felt oddly at home. Having lived his life visiting the courts and councils of aliens – many of whom could have killed him on the spot – the potential threat to his life was part and parcel of his existence; a datum to be weighed. The discussions here, for all their theatre, were the mirrors of those he had conducted himself. Like the gathered Masters, he waited to hear the shadowed figure's judgement.

"Hm." Sho grunted. "I have heard enough from my council." He waved fingers to dismiss the staff, but pointed at Taiwo as all save the Astartes began to leave. "You; Rogue Trader. What would you have my Gatebreakers do?"

Not a bit abashed, Taiwo rose from the seat he had been provided, and stepped forward into the pool of moonlight the circular opening in the ceiling allowed. 

"Do, Master Sho? Why, I'd have you do what you do best: attack." Sjakpaba and Master Borom slapped their legs in approval, broad grins on both their battered faces. Taiwo stopped himself from smiling as he continued, his tone changing. He picked his words carefully, "From what little I gather, you have shepherded a dying flame for some decades now." 

Flicking a glance at Dün, whose measuredly blank expression was a mask, "Given the circumstances, that was a task of great achievement, of course. I mean no insult to any gathered here. But a dwindling flame, however well-tended, will eventually be extinguished."  

Yeng spoke up, "This is a wise child, Master Sho." His face, like those of the more bellicose gathered masters, was twisted into a wry grin. "Such children are already men. Should we not arm them; bring them into our circle?"

Taiwo inclined his head in gratitude to Yeng, and gestured to Scipius.

"Scipius, however, is right." Sho tilted his head at this. Shadowed as he was on the throne, whether the shift in attitude was amusement or interest was unclear. "I am a warlord myself, Master Sho. I command a fleet that – with respect – matches your combined fleets in displacement and capability. I know this to be true; for the past year has seen my representatives working alongside the remainder of the Gatebreakers; old and new. I make no threat with this statement; but it is with good reason that Rogue Traders and Space Marines are voluntary allies; not beholden or obliged to one another."

Sho gestured for him to go on as the gathered Masters murmured amongst themselves. 

"I do not need to be privy to your war plans, Sho. In truth, I fear such an alloying of your forces and mine would be a brittle result. I will, however, put my vessels at your ease; should you and your forces desire passage. In return, I ask nothing but that access to the worlds of the Edge that are already mine by Imperial fiat." 

Out of the corner of his eye, Taiwo saw the old apothecary's grin widen still further. Yeng understood. The Rogue Trader struggled to keep a smug smile from appearing on his own face.

"Hm." Sho's reply was almost like a cough. "Free passage for my warriors; a fleet that – as you so shyly intimate – gives me a second blade to grasp in the defence of this part of the Emperor's Realm. Truly you have poured gold at my feet, Rogue Trader. Between the intake led by Master Scipius; and your clearly thankless devotion to duty" – Sho's voice dripped with irony, and Taiwo made a mock-bow – "I am presented with the means, will and ambition to do more than merely cup my hands around a tallow candle." This was accompanied by an arched eyebrow; though Taiwo thought he detected something ill-hidden beneath the feigned detachment. "With these gifts, I could rekindle a torch in the darkness."

"Hm." The pause lengthened. Taiwo wondered if the warrior or the statesman in Sho would triumph. All eyes were solemn, all trained on the enthroned Master of Masters as he leaned forwards, his sharp features and black eyes appearing from the gloom. Taiwo knew this was the crux.

"Know this, Rogue Trader. A torch burns brightly. It can burn more swiftly, also. Know this also: I have spent many mortal lifetimes as the shepherd you describe. I have also spent a wretched period as a servant of two Masters."

The gathered Gatebreakers shuffled uneasily. Taiwo was, of a sudden, aware that this game had more depths than he had suspected. Sho looked around the room, no longer addressing Taiwo individually, but taking in all his men. His eyes moved from one to another, lingering perhaps a moment longer on Scipius than the others.

"No king of balance and wisdom seeks to stand alone; but justly, he must do so where his strength enables. Such are the demands of duty. We – I – have justified our inaction these past decades through honeyed words: 'the interests of a greater good'; 'when circumstances are auspicious', but in truth, we have lacked a blade sufficient to the task; long since lacked."

Another pause.

"No longer. You offer me the chance to excise this shame, and cast off a most unwelcome yoke." Sho's gaze flicked back to Taiwo. "I accept."

Taiwo held the Master's gaze. Abruptly, Sho looked down. The Rogue Trader did not even see the blade move, but it clattered, horribly loudly, at his feet. Momentarily taken aback, he saw Sho's scabbard sway as it came back to rest against the space marine's side. Taiwo hoped, for an absurd second, that it was merely the incense making him light-headed.

"You have not asked for payment. It is irrelevant. Whatever the cost; however hard to bear; the Gatebreakers will respect our obligations."

Sho moved on, dismissing Taiwo. Before the Rogue Trader had dazedly left the room, ushered by kindly-faced serfs, he heard the Masters erupt in the chamber. The die was cast. Taiwo had got his desire: an Astartes Chapter Master indebted to him

But what had Sho meant? The Master of the Gatebreakers now had, as Taiwo's reckoning, some 1,500 space marines; and a massive fleet at his call. It was an absurd amount of power; straining the spirit of ancient law as much as the letter. It was an extinction force; capable of fully re-manning and reclaiming the Gatebreakers' old territory, with strength left over. 

What possible power in the region could hope to match that – let alone, as the Chapter Master's ominous words had hinted, exceed it?


+ More Gatebreakers on the painting table +

+ Ominous writings! Perhaps the following marines will be the ones to encounter this mysterious force...? +

+ Still obviously work-in-progress, but it's been nice to experiment with the Assault Intercessor sprue from the Indomitus (9th ed.) boxed set. +

+ Some are rather more dynamic than I personally like – see below – but I think they'll look good in the context of the broader squads and add some further variety to the army. +

+ I've used bolt guns from the Reiver and Infiltrator(?) boxes; seeking to make clear the Gatebreakers' idiosyncratic combination of Primaris and traditional Space Marine organisation. +

+ Emblem (below) also received an oil wash, which I think is starting to bring out the detail quite nicely. Looking forward to giving K0rdhal's awesome blade a suitable paintscheme. +

+ I thought I was getting a bit carried away with the variety of helms and things appearing in this group – there's a nice balance to be struck between the Primaris and older marines aesthetics, and I want to make sure that I build up the most common – mark VII – rather than risk having everything 'special and different', as that'll quickly look hotch-potch and lose the feeling. +

With that said, I couldn't resist just one Mark II helm. Do you blame me? +

+ A sergeant wielding a bionic arm and a chainsword from the Space Wolves upgrade sprue. Kinda wishing I'd saved it for my Blood Angels' apothecary, but it does look cool here, I think. +

+ A modified FW White Scar helm here. I think it gives a hint of 'otherness' to the Gatebreakers without being over the top. +

+ And molecular bonding studs. There are quite a few studded pads in this group. I thought it was a nice way to reflect the slightly poor supply lines without making them look like a renegade force. +

+ A group shot of the new intake. +