I’ve been trying to get these posted up for a while but time hasn’t been on my side lately and the weather hasn’t been helping, with dark and brooding skies outside most of the time the ambient light in the room where I do my photography has been awful, forcing me to rely on artificial lighting exclusively – which in turn sucks all the life out of the paintjobs. Anyway, enough moaning and excuses from me, the last two Van Saar are done and the gang is complete (for the moment).
Before we look at the models however, I wanted to write a bit of background, setting the scene and explaining how this latest gang fits into the crowded landscape of Ironhouse and its surroundings. Feel free to skip over it of course, there are pictures of miniatures further down!
Even along the upper echelons of House Van Saar the name of Koen Margen was spoken with respect, and even a little awe. Far from the clamour of the production lines and the squalor and violence of the gang wars tech-scholars pursue knowledge, constantly searching to expand the accumulated wisdom and wealth of their house. By the scraps of knowledge they claw from the rubble of the past are the wheels of Necromundan industry oiled and the coffers of House Van Saar filled. The innermost circle are permitted to study the STC itself and those who fail are rendered down at once. Not even servitors or corpse starch are made from the remains, so paranoid are the House lords that they are secrets might slip out.
A polymath genetically and surgically enhanced to attain levels on genius far beyond the human norm Margen was one of this gifted few. However during the final years of his life his focus moved from the technical to the biological as he became obsessed with the search for a cure to be poisonous illness to which all Van Saar are subject, and which dooms them to brief and painful lives even by Necromundan standards. Many suspected that for him the struggle was a personal one and the race to a cure was being run against his own mortality and failing strength. More and more he isolated himself, abandoning the core territories of his house and busying himself in a fortified laboratory bastion amongst the spires of Hive Volatos. His lab assistants were replaced with servitors and he traded data with underhive gangs, circumnavigating the traditional lines of communication. Only his assistant Espen Luthrix remained close and in time even she found herself isolated from the crux of his reasoning or dispatched to deal with tangential enquiries. Having undergone cerebral enhancement and a full spectrum of combat training she was able to act on his behalf as an assistant, a bodyguard, an archeotch hunter, even an assassin. Yet she could not truly know his mind, and she came to believe that the tasks she was set, whether ultimately valuable or otherwise, were intended to distract her and prevent her from understanding whatever secret he pursued. Often she would return to the laboratory only to be turned away by his cybernetic guardians, made to wait for days before a perfunctory message would set out her next task. In the end it had been more than forty cycles since she last saw him when a servo-skull sought her out and, following recognition of her personal codes and ciphers, repeated a simple recording of her mentor’s voice. “Success. Come at once”. Later it would only be that skull, its four spoken words analysed over and over again by House adepts until it’s provenance was proven beyond doubt, that saved her from execution. By then the message recorded by the skull had burned through the backchannels where paranoia reigns supreme and kill-squads were sent to purge those guilty of even the most approximate association to the truth.
All that was still to come however. On reaching the laboratory Espen found only chaos and destruction. The door, designed to halt a charging ogryn, had been torn from its hinges, the servitor guardians left as nothing more than offal and scattered machine parts. Beyond lay fiery devastation. Whatever notes or data Margen may have accumulated, the fire consumed it all. Yet worse was to come. As the House agents dug through the charred wreckage they found bodies, but only those of the machine men with which Margen had populated his kingdom. Of the tech-savant himself there was no sign.
Another ripple of panic passed through the house at this news. That Margen was dead represented an acceptable loss, life – even for the brightest stars of Van Saar – being unnaturally short and cheap. The loss of his data was a greater burden, but one which could be borne. The house would go on and in time all that he had learnt would be rediscovered. The thought that he might live however, and even now be spilling his secrets – willingly or otherwise – to their enemies represented an existential threat to the entire house. Knowledge is a hard currency on Necromunda and the adversaries of Van Saar are numerous. Houses once thought untouchable have fallen before, the names of those once mighty now recorded only in fading ink in the darkest archives. Agents of the house were dispatched to all corners of the planet, every clue to his whereabouts, every hint of information and even the most far-fetched sighting, picked over by sanctioned hunters, although few of them knew exactly who they pursued.
In the end it may have been this that saved Espen’s life. She knew Margen far better than most, and if the house was to recover their lost adept she could well be their best hope. Following her instincts she has headed downhive, taking with her a small but elite crew of tech-hunters, codenamed Scorpion-Null and led by the hard-bitten veteran, Major Solaq. They are an experienced team and one with which she has worked well before. Lethal though she is she knows that where they are going she will meet their backup. Only now does she begin to see the pattern of clues in the missions she was sent on during her mentor’s final months. With little more to go on she gathers her team and follows the twisting road into the hive depths, down into the ash choked streets of that industrial carbuncle known to its inhabitants as Ironhouse.
With the background for the gang set out, let’s turn our attention to those two key characters from the gang (leaving aside the mysterious, and clearly absent, Koen Margen). First of all here’s the gang leader, Espen Luthrix.
And here we have the veteran tech-hunter Major Solaq.
Yuk! Despite my best efforts to photograph it that mask looks horribly flat and over-exposed. Would you believe I actually put quite a lot of effort into painting it so that it looked just right? Not with lighting conditions like this you won’t eh?
You may have noticed that both Espen and Solaq have shields, as does the previously shown Agent Ivanek. No, I didn’t buy a second box just to get another shield – I just think they look cool and managed to get my paws on a spare one.
Here’s the whole gang, ready to rappel down from the spire heights and start making life difficult for the locals, as they attempt to hunt out Koen Margen, dead or alive.
In theory the plan is to leave Necromunda for a bit and turn my attention to some of the other projects that have been singing their siren song to me (I still need to finish Blackstone Fortress for instance, and Warcry is a harsh but alluring mistress with a lot of bare plastic that needs to be dealt with). However I’m also itching to get started on my Cawdor gang, who’ve been untouched for far too long and the Dark Uprising box has grabbed my attention too, so I don’t imagine I’ll be away from the Underhive for long.
October 28th, 2019 at 11:03 am
They looksuperb- love the back story too.
October 29th, 2019 at 5:37 pm
Thanks Pete 🙂 Your descriptions of your Van Saar definitely played a part in encouraging me to make my own gang.
October 28th, 2019 at 4:12 pm
Enjoyed the narrative and as always love the figures. Great post all round.
October 29th, 2019 at 5:57 pm
Thanks mate – I wasn’t too sure about the figures to start with but they really grew on me and turned out to be surprisingly fun to paint. The story, as ever, was pure self-indulgence – glad you enjoyed it though 😀
October 29th, 2019 at 4:31 am
Badass! Those shields really do look awesome. Excellent backstory, too. I can totally see how that sort of thing would get the Van Saar higher-ups all upset like that.
October 29th, 2019 at 6:07 pm
Cheers! Yeah, those shields are rather nice aren’t they? I almost screwed up the one for Solaq but I managed to claw it back at the last moment (pro-tip – don’t let any superglue get on the clear plastic part!). I’m actually a bit of a sucker for models with shields, I’m looking forward to the new Enforcers and I’m rather taken with the idea of a phalanx of the Mortek Guard too. As for the story it was a lot of fun to write – I like to really dig into the culture of each faction, and it’s fun to come up with reasons for each of them to be fighting over my tiny corner of the planet.
October 29th, 2019 at 6:44 pm
Yeah, superglue is bad news with clear plastic. I learned that the hard way during my one brief foray into Eldar back in the 90s.
The “assault” Enforcers are awesome indeed! I do think it could have been even cooler if they had a gun-port in the shield that they could lock their firearms into, like the Arbites do in the Shira Calpurnia books, but they’re still great. The DeathWatch Storm Shields are another fave of mine, in a similar vein.
October 29th, 2019 at 9:43 am
Interesting figures mate ,and I agree with Alexis in regards to the shields .
October 29th, 2019 at 6:08 pm
Thank you! Yeah, those shields are great – I really wasn’t sure that they would work until I saw them in hand but I’m impressed with them too (and they were surprisingly easy to paint as well, which is always nice).
November 2nd, 2019 at 5:02 am
So f-ing cool. The Van Saar were/are the only necro kit I didn’t get but, now, seeing yours I’m tempted to order them right now haha. I loved the back story.
November 2nd, 2019 at 12:32 pm
Cheers man! Yeah, I didn’t get the Van Saar either at first and likewise they’re the only Necromunda gang I didn’t fall in love with it at first sight (Orlock as well, to a lesser degree). In the end though that was part of what inspired me to start my own gang and try to do my own thing with them, to find a way to make them engaging for me, and I pulled it off in the end.
November 3rd, 2019 at 12:01 pm
You certainly did man