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'May You Live Forever' – A Company of Bitter Iron


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Ta! Some minor work over the weekend:

 

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Transfers, eye lenses and similar little bits have been completed on this little group. I've tried something a little different for the power axe – basically painting it grey, highlighting in the recessed join between generator and blade, then drawing the colour out in short feathered lines. Not quite sure of it at the moment, but I think it could work, with a little more care and attention.

 

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The Immortal is coming along nicely, too. This stage is, to all intents and purposes, game-ready. However, the final details, weathering and addition of pastel powder goes a long way to adding interest and colour without compromising the starkness of the scheme. I thought I'd pop these up to show the contrast with the finished piece – which you can see (hopefully) soon.

 

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(I do like the little vid-screen on the back of his shield here – dead blue-grey.)

 

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I'm in two minds about the shield. The other Breachers have received a braod white stripe, but the Immortal has been stripped of all his markings save the Legion symbol. Perhaps I ought to work the moulded symbol up in white?

 

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The banner bearer – I do like Mark V helms. There's something so brutal-looking, and they really evoke the Heresy for me.

Edited by Apologist
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I really like that effect on the power axe. :smile.:

 

I think white might be a little overwhelming for the hand symbol on the Breacher's shield. What about doing the hand in metal, with a white stripe behind it? Almost like his personal heraldry has been stamped over by the Legion identity in punishment for his misdeed...?

 

Agreed about the MkV helms. :smile.:

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I am quite intrigued by the mystery marine with chainsword. At first view I thought his helmet had no eye lenses, only additional metal bars across his face and although I was just imagining something that wasn't there (man, I really wasn't seeing clearly today), it gave me an idea for a non-standard helmet variant. So, thanks for that. :smile.:  

 

But I'm still not sure where his helmet came from. Is it one of the breacher's? Also, I think Bob Hunk is onto something with the underlying white stripe on the breacher shield. If that doesn't work out, maybe painting the legion symbol in brass colour might do the trick. 

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I am quite intrigued by the mystery marine with chainsword. [...]

 

But I'm still not sure where his helmet came from. Is it one of the breacher's? 

 

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The helmet is from the Mark II Command Set. It's a cool style; I kind awish Forge World would produce a set of generic Legion variants helms.

 

As for the marine, he's Minos Madrigon; an outsider among outsiders. A bit more about him later, but first...

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+ Lex Talionis – an Eye for an Eye +
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Past the Immortal, upright and poised, were the Company Colours. They were suspended from the command dome, far above. They were – and were not – my colours. Familiar white and black, plus the green of a Neptunian night.

 

I knew the hue of the banner was called sea-green, but that reference never had much cadence for me. On the troubled surface of Medusa, fresh water lakes were mostly young and new; inert and crystal clear. I had sailed the void before I ever saw a body of water much larger than an artificial reservoir.

 

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Teslo Comitans was the colour-bearer for Clan Kreto, a minor clan from the Arctus Reaches, to whom the Nereid belonged. Comitans was not an Ancient; he was not honoured. He was simply the poor bastard who happened to be dragging the hated thing onto the Storm Eagle when Arrowsmith spotted him.

 

To bear the colours of the Clan was an honour. Usually. When the Warmaster's treachery became evident, Kreto's colours were less an honour than a stain. They were evidence of an intermingling. The Clan had many ties with the XVIth Legion, having fought alongside them on a number of campaigns in the coreworlds – notably Corun and Synn, abhuman strongholds. Relationships were cordial. Their Captain, one Berabbadon, had sanctioned a binding banner, and presented it to Arrowsmith personally as a mark of respect.

 

At the time, Kreto were ecstatic – for Sons of Medua, at least. Comitans had told me, through the sneer that seemed to have become etched on his craggy features, that the colours had been skirl-piped around the Clan's leviathan upon their return. They had been placed alongside the most precious mementos of Kreto.

 

When called upon now to bear it aloft, Comitans' face twisted, as though handling excrement.

 

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The colours hung in the darkness now, the symbols of our Legions bound inextricably together. It was stained. Pitted. It looked as though it had been ritually besmirched. Perhaps we needed a totem; a focus for our disgust.

 

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I looked at the colour of Clan Kreto without rancour. Before the drop, I think I could have understood the shame; perhaps even joined the chorus to bear it in battle and bury its treachery in revenge. After the events of Isstvan, it was hard to put it into perspective.

+++

Edited by Apologist
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Continued excellence, as ever! 

 

Is Berabbadon a character you are going to expand upon? 

No plans to do so – though I did enjoy creating the colour mix for the banner, so perhaps he'd make a fun side project. Berabaddon is a nod to 'canon'; he pops up as one of the ex-members of the Mournival in Horus Rising, I think.

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+ Brotherhood Lost: Minos Madrigon +

 

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Ignoring the ritual obeisance of the bridge crew and their serfs, I walk steadily through the bridge, measuring my pace. I had found myself adopting a creeping, tense way of moving about in the days after the treachery, and was determined to reassert mastery.

 

I don't feel comfortable here, and by the creak of the heavy black wood of the stairway beneath my feet, it is clear the machine-spirit of the Nereid feels much the same. Reaching and mounting a gantry, I keep my head fixed forward, though I am aware of the Immortal's gaze following me until my ascent takes me out of his line of vision.

 

I had been taught that the Astartes were a precious resource. Indeed, we are celebrated, recorded, as humanity's shining champions. I had always felt a little discomfort at the reception with which we were met on worlds after Compliance. The pomp. The parades. The crowds. Always a little... reserve? Hesitation? I cannot put words to it.

 

Isstvan, however, put the lie to that; demonstrating just how expendable we were to humanity at the end. Not the battle. Not the war. No, by the fact that the crews of the ships in orbit seemed all too hasty to leave so many behind. I couldn't know for sure, but our evacuation, scattered and unplanned, had taken less than a tenth of the time as deployment. How could two Legions – and the heart of a third – have been safely lifted?

 

Impossible. The retreat from the black soil of Isstvan had been a scramble – rescue boats seemed only too happy to translate away once they had what their commanders considered a suitable load.

 

Indulging my saturnine mood, I ask myself whether I would have done differently than the Nereid's Captain. Hanging in space, unsure of whether the craft around us – let alone the soldiers we had allowed on board – were allies or enemies, would I have stood firm? Would I have done so if I suspected my lord and his coterie were dead, and confronted with a superior demanding to take command?

 

Hm. A suitable load. A mixed Company of Iron Hands and a few waifs and strays. Less than a quarter of the craft's potential capacity, given the now-empty cargo holds. There are still Salamanders on board, of course, but they are outnumbered nearly twenty to one by the other Legionaries. All but a skeleton crew had descended to the surface in the assault; and of the remainder, half had semi-mutinied and scrambled to the surface after contact was reported lost with their own Primarch.

 

Upon finding the Salamanders had all but abandoned the craft, Arrowsmith had assumed command. The Nereid's Captain – a wiry, sunken-eyed man – had seemed distracted, uninterested. He stumbled off the bridge as though mazed. His movements were stilted; like broken clockwork. I am no expert in human psychology, but the situation had been less... tense than anticipated. He had retreated here, to the observation deck – slightly fore and above the bridge. Here he had stood, gazing intently at nothing, until he was gently escorted to his quarters by aides.

 

I do not wrestle with melancholy. I subdue it. It is in the nature of the Tenth – even one like myself – to do so. Nevertheless, In such circumstances, I am glad of the observation deck. It is not exactly a distraction as it is a reminder of scale. The vacuum of sorrow is made more humble, if no less welcome, by a comparison with the yawning emptiness of the void.

 

The prow of the Nereid is mounted with stylised rose-gold girders that bear away into that emptiness of the void. The lines are clean and proud; extending outwards to form the maw of a monstrous wyrm. Ostentatious, to my eye, though I admit little appreciation of artistry. It was, after all, a craft of the XVIII Legion, though no home to them now.

 

I confess. Here I brood. If three Legions could rebel, were they best not left on the surface of that isolated planet on which they quarantined themselves? As a man, would I have unleashed Exterminatus on the surface?

 

Steps behind me, measured as mine had been. I tense, though make an effort to appear at ease, my arms crossed as I lean on the ornamental balustrade. I would not jump at shadows, nor admit to suspicion of treachery. Not in my brothers. Not even if they suspected it in me. That way lies madness.

 

"It is stylised after the Heliosan style," the other begins, settling himself on the rail a little way further along. His voice is duskily accented, and for a moment I remember Catabin, his blood wet and cloying on the black rocks. "The dragon, I mean. The prow."

 

Standing as I turn, I meet the gaze of a helmed Iron Hand. No. Yes.

 

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The dust and wear of Isstvan is still heavy on black plate. This is not unusual; many – particularly the Lodge members, like Triumph – have taken terrible and binding oaths to retain the damage and patina of Isstvan until such time as it could be avenged. Childish. As though it could be forgotten. As though it can be avenged.

 

But his armour pattern is unfamiliar, and his iconography unclear. His clan symbol faces away from me, hidden by his bulk.

 

"You are thinking of the Captain." He continues, and I bristle. That the Clan-Commander was spying on me was pathetic enough. That he sent emissaries to interrogate me was worse.

 

"Arrowsmi-" I begin, but the other cuts me off, speaking as he settles into a more comfortable position.

 

"The ship's captain," he clarifies, "Orioso, late of the Nereid." That shut me up. A psychic, then. Librarius. "Yes to the first, no to the second." His voice betrays a smile, though the words still sound odd. He continues. "Should Orioso – he and the Navy, that is – have argued against the Astartes cleaning house in person? For that is, in truth, at the core of the assault. There was a statement to be made. Honour to be upheld."

 

I narrow my eyes. I detect no mockery in his voice. Why is he asking something the Clans had debated back and forth? "Had we held back and bombarded Isstvan, we could not have reported to Lord Dorn that the traitors were brought to justice. Deployment was necessary," I said, warily. He merely nods, his gaze still outwards.

 

"True. Nothing could have guaranteed the Sons, and the Children, and the Hounds – the Eaters, I mean – were felled. Would you trust any malignancy to fell the Death Lord? I would not. We would have faced an eternity half-suspecting that some had escaped." He pauses. "But it was, nevertheless, a luxurious necessity."

 

"You object? You did not relish a chance to restore your honour?"

 

He snorts. "No. And nor did you."

 

"Librarius or not, if you are psychic, you know I have little honour in the Legion." He nods again at this, but distractedly. "You also know your 'talents' are prohibited." A pause develops. I was annoyed, pettily, placelessly. This intruder had put off my meditations. "What do you want?" He unfolded at that; stood up, as though surprised.

 

"Companionship?" He said, unguardedly. I hesitated, unsure if this were a question, or a test. "I apologise for the slip – I am used to my time with Medardus, who now plays Achilles – sulking in his tent, brooking no disturbance. I merely sought brotherhood with another close to him. Nothing more. Brotherhood. There is precious little on this ship. Precious little amongst the Astartes."

 

I did not know what to say to this odd confession. In the pause, my martial instinct kicked in. Was he an infiltrator? "If you require guidance on morale, the Chaplaincy is wh-" He cut me off once more, and settled back onto the railing, looking forward.

 

"No, no matter. I mean no harm. A simple yearning for simpler times, perhaps. When there was no need to suspect those beside you." He turned that strange, archaic helm towards me, knowingly. "When we walked the storm on Terra. When we bore the lightning."

 

"I remember."

 

"Yes, I see you do." His voice brightens, loses that strange, wistful tone. "Brighter times, when the enemy was to your fore and the Emperor, blessed-be-his-name, was lock-step besides you." He rises once more, bows lightly. "I apologise for disturbing you, brother."

 

I nod as he turns to walk away, that unfamiliar clan-sigil nagging at me. I watch him reach the stairway, place his black gauntlet on the guardrail, and follow him until he passes out of sight.

 

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We spent a long time within the Nereid; six months sidereal, but the experience felt more exposed than usual to me. Void travel usually felt like burial – the ships of the Tenth sealed the shutters tight, squeezing what cold starlight fell on our craft out. Not so on the Nereid. It had no shutters to close.

+++

Edited by Apologist
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That guys a beast!! Love it man:)

Seems the hand on the left shoulder is a lil smaller than I'd imagine given the expanse of the plating there. I dig it though as it's different and seems like a 'true scaled' hand print;)

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  • 4 weeks later...

That guys a beast!! Love it man:)

Seems the hand on the left shoulder is a lil smaller than I'd imagine given the expanse of the plating there. I dig it though as it's different and seems like a 'true scaled' hand print;)

Ta, and this is a good point. In order to accentuate the size and to give a more realistic (well, as far as possible within the setting), I've always liked minimising the size of logos, symbols etc. Picturing the marine at full size, that Hand symbol would be a good foot or so high – more than enough. If the symbol almost filled the pauldron (as with standard transfers), it'd be huge!

 

+++

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The events of Little Horus, my favourite bit of Horus Heresy literature, focus on Dwell, where the Sons of Horus are assaulting a planet called Dwell, defended by a group of Iron Hands along with a few waifs and strays from other Legions – the prototypical 'Shattered Legions'.

 

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Alongside my Iron Hands (above), I'm planning to include a few White Scars – they have a prominent role in the Little Horus story by which this army is inspired, and they're a great opportunity to create some contrasts and visual interest in the army.

 

+ Creating character through posing +

 

When approaching things like this, it's best to plan, test and refine. It would have been relatively easy to simply build the White Scars in the same way as the other marines, and give them a different paint scheme. This would have given a certain visual cohesiveness to the group (i.e. the army), but that's not what I'm after for this. I want the army to look like it's made up of slightly off-kilter bits – to look broken and reforged.

 

To achieve this, I want to make sure that the different groups – Iron Hands, White Scars and others – have their own distinct look. For the Iron Hands, I've gone with solid, slow and heavy visual cues:

 

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The example above is rigid, unyielding, loaded down with equipment. Even their postures are generally simple triangles – wide base for the legs, going up to a central point (the head). Together with fairly neutral poses, they look reactionary rather than dynamic. +

 

Contrast this with a (WIP) White Scar from the Nine Winds:

 

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Despite being made from very similar components, there's much more of a sense of fluidity and movement in this figure. The eyes is led around the curves, and the centre of gravity is higher. Less massive pauldrons (I've used rimless and cutaway pads) help to create a faster, more streamlined look. While the curved blade and Legion helm are distinctive and important, I hope that the effect would have been obvious even without these identifiers – they should act to magnify the result rather than as a crutch to create it.

 

As a better illustration, have a look at the White Scar on the left of the image below. He doesn't use any of the techniques I've described above: he's got the same neutral pose and heavy pauldrons of the Iron Hands; and he lacks any White Scars-specific components. As a result, even when he's painted in the Scars' legion colours, he's going to be more anonymous and less eye-catching.

 

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This suits me well as the chap on the left is destined to be part of a mixed squad – an individual recon marine seconded into a remnant team – so he needs to be a little more anonymous in order to fit in and avoid the visuals being too disjointed. The White Scar on the right, meanwhile, is a Legion veteran who will be part of a dedicated White Scar killteam, so he gets the 'full works'.

 

 

+ Building the White Scar +

 

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The model is based – perhaps surprisingly – on a set of Death Guard legs, which are in motion. I think they're from the Grave Wardens, but I can't be sure as I bought them as bits. I've trimmed away the chainmail loincloth (this lowers the centre of visual gravity and is also diagnostic of the Death Guard, so it had to go to 'sell' the figure as something else) and sculpted a new codpiece. The torso is a Grey Knight Terminator torso carved down and resculpted, and the arms and hands are drawn from various plastic kits. The pauldron you see above is a Grey Knight Terminator one. I like the cutaway for the White Scar, as it suggests the armour is lighter, more open and better suited to the Legion when compared with the massive reinforced bulk of the pads I use for my Ultramarines, Iron Warriors and Iron Hands, for example.

 

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The sword is a trimmed-down eldar Wraithguard blade. The pauldron visible here is from the standard Terminator kits – I trimmed off the lower 'nubbin' and used a sharp knife to carve two horizontal lines across the pad, dividing it into thirds. I then used green stuff to build up a ridge above each line, and an angled file to create a gradient below. This creates the impression of the pad being made up of interconnected hoops.

 

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The result is (hopefully) a figure that looks in motion from any angle. Note that the open hand, head and trailing foot are all pointing in the same direction. Having his face mirror his forefoot would have created more of a sense of a full-on run or charge; I wanted him to look nimble and responsive rather than berserk.

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Reading about your methods behind the madness is always so... enlightening. :D

 

It really does help to find a distinct frame of mind when approaching each project and each legion. The end result is almost always more memorable. Over time I came to the conclusion that my Imperial Fists weren't "working", because many of them were posed in hyper-dynamic positions. For a legion that approaches war in a more methodical and structured way it clashed with their natural aesthetic.

 

I'm really looking forward to seeing your take on the Scars!

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