The Ladykillers – Part 13

I’ve been banging on about getting a House Escher gang for Necromunda up and running ever since the game was relaunched in 2017 and as a result of this enthusiasm for the best dressed ladies in the Underhive I’ve now gathered a small army of them, even recruiting some pet phyrr cats and a mighty khimerix.  What I didn’t have until now however is a leader, and there’s really nothing more imperative to a gang than that!

To me the leader is the most important member of the gang, and the driving personality behind their evolving story, and so I wanted her to look a little bit special even amongst the ranks of her flamboyant, peacocking followers. Thus rather than use the standard gang leader model – cool though she is – I decided to convert up someone unique based on Theddra Skull-scryer from the Godsworn Hunt. I first showed some work-in-progress images of her way back in January but it’s taken until now for her to finally see completion.

Escher Wudugast (1)Escher Wudugast (2)Escher Wudugast (3)

Of course such a personality demands a backstory so, like the good rememberancer I am, I set to work recording her deeds thus far for posterity…

Decanted as the 17th clone daughter of Lashoth Katilesh, Matriarch of the House Escher Spire Maidens of Hive Furian, Mellix Katilesh was raised to a world in which the shackles and burdens of minor house nobility hung heavy, yet which enjoyed few of its privileges or freedoms. The genetic inheritance she was gifted by her mother granted her a fearsome intelligence bonded to a lethally quick tactical mind and she took swiftly to her education, particularly in the two subjects central to an Escher girl’s tuition; chemical synthesis and the art of assassination. Only the feuding trueborn daughters however had any hope of inheriting their mother’s throne. Instead Mellix was sent to be the ward of Vatra Nighteye, the Gang Queen of the Crow-skull Girls. This band of rebellious ganger Eschers lived on the fringes of house life, yet their underhive labs produced feral strains of great wonder and potential. Ostensibly, by entrusting her daughter to her care Lashoth honoured Vatra, establishing a tie by which the gang-lab might strengthen its bonds to its parent house. Some however suspected Mellix as being little more than a spy sent to discover the secrets of the Crow-skull Girls and determine if their creations were the results of untamed genius or the influence of shadowy patrons. For her part Mellix appeared to chafe at the duty and made no attempt to hide her disgust at being used as a political pawn. Whilst her sisters fought over the scraps they might inherit she was far away in a world of gloom and filth, destined to receive only the runt’s portion. Apparently cast aside by her own family, distrusted as an outsider by the senior Crow-skulls and with less control over her own life than the most lowly juve, Mellix was left to watch, to wait and to plan. Finding herself begrudged and ostracized by the court of senior gangers who surrounded Vatra’s throne Mellix instead found common cause with the ragtag rebels of the rank and file. She led them on daring raids, bloodying the noses of local rivals, using her quicksilver cunning to spirit them out of danger or save sisters in trouble and giving up her share of the loot to cement their loyalty. 

Ultimately she knew that her mother had sent her to the Crow-skulls because she was both valuable and disposable. Should any harm befall her, honour would demand retribution but no real damage would be done to the Spire Maidens themselves. Thus, when the Crow-skulls’ mysterious benefactors revealed themselves as a fraction within the Spire Maidens, led by one of her trueborn sisters in a carefully constructed bid to seize their mother’s throne, Mellix knew she could expect no help to come from above. In the chaos of the attempted coup Escher fought Escher and Mellix led those loyal to her in cutting their way to freedom and fleeing into the ash wastes.

Before she and her new gang vanished however Mellix had one last trick to play, implanting a black market xenos parasite in Vatra’s brain. It was an act of spiteful retribution, petty revenge for the years in which she had suffered Vatra’s minor cruelties, but nothing is without cost and the time will come when the echoes of that moment must be faced. 

That time however remains in the future. Mellix and her crew, who named themselves the Ladykillers in mocking honour of the house nobility they found themselves set against, took to the wastelands beyond the hive in a desperate search for sanctuary. The feuding of the wealthy had seen them driven into the rad-storms and mutie-haunted ruins and so the gangers proudly dug in their heels and spat in the face of power and privilege. Mellix however had more practical concerns. The toxic dune fields and ash-thick air would kill them soon enough and she had no desire to embrace martyrdom. To the north lay a desolation of poisonous run off lakes and dead hives, to the east the jagged mountains riddled with the mining cities of House Orlock. Thus she took her girls south and east, until they reached one of the huge arterial highways that criss-cross the face of the planet like a thousand scars. There she smuggled them aboard a great land-train hauling ore towards Hive Volatos. Hidden amongst mountains of unprocessed metal she listened to the acid storms lashing the pitted hide of the train and dreamed of the hive reaching out to draw her into its embrace. Volatos had long featured in her grandest and most ambitious daydreams for she knew that the Escher nobility there had long since vanished, poisoned by their own experimentation to leave only leaderless gangs and unclaimed power. There she could begin anew, rising through its thousands of floors until she became a Spire Matriarch in our own right. There at last she could stand on the battlements and spit in her mother’s eye across the hundreds of miles of poisonous wasteland. 

First however she must establish a foothold, a corner of turf she can claim as her own and nurture into an empire. Already she has begun to draw outcast Escher to her banner, and each tells the same story; that the Goliaths who once ruled the underhive of Volatos are in disarray and the battle for the city is already half won. All she has to do is drive the last of the brutes from their final stronghold, plant her flag in Ironhouse and name herself Queen. 

+++

Now it’s worth emphasising that the gang is a long way from being finished. With Mellix finally complete their story is ready to begin and already there are plenty of narrative hooks I’d like to explore. For one thing I’m already considering converting Mellix’s manipulative mother Matriarch Lashoth (Yvraine seems like she’d be perfect for this) and since the Corvus Cabal were revealed for Warcry I’ve found myself seeing the Crow-skulls in a new light as well. Originally intended as just a name and a few lines of background, the opportunity to bring them to life seems too good to pass up. Then there’s the question of what became of the original Escher nobility of Hive Volatos – did they truly die out, or do some endure, lurking in the dark places, waiting to reclaim their crowns? Would they be willing to allow an upstart ganger to take what they know to be rightfully theirs, or would they attempt to make her their puppet in the eternal House-war – or even attempt to destroy her outright?

Escher Wudugast (4)

All these questions will have to wait however. One thing I do want to do though is get the remaining five partly-painted Eschers currently sitting on my painting desk finished at last. Before I move on to any other painting projects I really do want to get them completed as all of them have been sitting around for quite some time, so if all goes as planned expect to see them next.

 

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