I am summoned. The Emperor speaks to me. It is the preacher’s breath that forms the sounds, his vox-horns that cast them into the incense-heavy air of the chapel, but he speaks with the Emperor’s voice and it is His words that call me to war. No longer can I remain here whilst His realm is attacked by the heretic hordes without. No more can I contain my spite for the xenos that dare to walk amongst His stars. I have requested permission to leave the place of my labours and take up the lasgun. I embrace the duty of war.
We are all that is left now. Three harsh days on the surface of the Moons, three days weathering the storm cast against us, the armoured giants, the hereteks and their foul trees, the shrapnel storm that gutted our ship before we even reached the surface, the remorseless killing that came after. Of the thousands that left Sarkis IV at my side we may be the last. We seek others to join with, to band together until, perhaps, we have the numbers to strike back, and die with glory. I know the ghost of Colonel Idris is driving me onwards. We shall not fail our Emperor.
I recently received this wonderful picture from Mark at HeresyOfUs (also posted on his blog alongside a selection of equally atmospheric images) and couldn’t resist the opportunity to show it to you all. It features the two Ostium Guides I made earlier in the year, wending their way through the depths of the Albino Woods during the recent Chapel game. Seeing models I created transposed into the landscape in which I imagined them brings the whole project to life and was simply too inspiring to let pass without comment.
When I create a model I’m not making a playing piece but a character, a denizen of the 41st Millennium, the Old World, the Mortal Realms or wherever. Each model should be a snapshot of a person or creature, living their life. I imagine the environment that would exist around them, the place they would live, the setting and situation that makes them who they are. Thus to actually see my Ostium Guides walking through the Albino Woods as though they had stepped straight out of the image I had imagined before I even started cobbling together bits, was a profoundly moving experience. This was the picture I had in my head before I began and now it comes full circle and not only do I get to see it with my eyes rather than just my mind, but I also get to show it to other people. Of course some of you will be nodding in agreement at this point and some will be scratching your heads and wondering about my sanity, although the latter is probably business as usual.
For anyone out there who’s yet to take a look at HeresyOfUs I strongly recommend you head over there, particularly if you’re drawn to the gothic darkness of 40k.
As for those of you still wondering what’s become of Inquisitor Morix and the rest of my Chapel retinue fear not, work is still in progress. I know I’ve been saying that for a while but hopefully you’ll find it’s been worth the wait.
I struggled to come up with another guardsman, I really did, but whatever creative wellspring had informed the previous four clearly ran dry at this point because nothing I produced seemed to work. It was all either too obvious or too damn obtuse and the more I struggled the more irked I became. Eventually, in an artistic temper tantrum, I swore off guardsmen altogether and turned my attention back to the original guidelines posted by the Iron Sleeters.
“Study humanity in the eternal war – the imperial guard and its many regiments sent to bring the moons to compliance, their rogue brethren set to burn all, the Thorn Moons twists in their corrupted millions and Green Mechanicvm and their planetary defense skitarii in desperate defense of their realms, the human foot soldiers of the inquisition in their esoteric glory…”
An Imperial Agent then. Amongst the tens of thousands of mortal soldiers descending on the moons there would be those out with the Guard’s chain of command. Feared and respected by the common soldiers, they move amongst the ranks in pursuit of their own mysterious agendas. A new vein of creativity had been tapped! Cue delving into the deepest corners of the bits box, tearing unloved and unlovable models from the shelf of shame, breaking apart the unpainted and half-forgotten to create this, masked and unknowable woman.
What brings her to the Moons? What cause does she serve? Who’s agenda does she act to further? What secrets lie hidden behind her mask? Does she serve our cause, or the enemy’s?
Your appointed duty is to bear the mortal remains of Colonel Idris to the front. Let him see battle once more. Let him gaze upon the faces of the heretics and they shall know that against an Imperial martyr there can be no victory.
There’s definitely a need for more work here, both on Colonel Idris himself and to remove the rictus grin from the soldier charged with bearing him into battle. Otherwise though I’m rather pleased with him (or should that be them). And yes, I know the brief was for five individuals and I’m sneaking in a sixth… Leave the poor Colonel alone though – it’s bad enough the chap’s dead without you trying to stop him enjoying the war!
In 1974, John Watson, an anthropologist based at Harvard University, assessed twenty-three cultures to compare the behaviour of warriors who wore masks or disguised their appearance with war paint, with those who did not. He found that masks do more than conceal our identity, they dehumanise us, segregating us clearly from our victims. Sure enough the masked warriors were significantly more vicious than their unmasked peers, with an 80 percent increase in their likelihood to torture or mutilate their victims, or to kill those who were defenceless. Individual liability is stripped away and replaced with anonymity, a curtain behind which the most terrible acts of brutality can be conducted without the fear of social repercussions. Furthermore the mask dehumanises the aggressor in the eyes of their victim, inducing a sense of fear which only provokes more violence from the masked antagonist.
The Imperium marches on fear far more than brotherhood. In the brutal wars of attrition used to hold the Empire of Man together at the close of the 41st Millennium there is little time to build up bonds with ones fellows before they are swept away by ruthless war. Far quicker and more expedient to drive the ranks forward not because they fight for a greater cause (although they know that the Emperor is with them, guarding their souls as they use their flesh to guard His realm) but because going back is more frightening than going forwards.
Thus my sergeant wears a helm that separates him instantly from his men. Masked and faceless he is marked out as a killer to be feared, both by the enemy and those he leads. To those he commands in battle he is not a man, a complex and flawed creature like any other, but an avatar of authority. His voice is the voice of the Imperium, his will is the will of the High Lords and to the men gathered before him in some grubby trench on the fringes of the Thorn Moons he is as close to the Emperor as they will ever come. He cannot be appealed to or reasoned with for that unyielding mask is the face of the Imperium and in his hands lies power over mortal flesh and immortal soul alike. So when he commands that his men go forward what else would they dare to do?
Nothing fancy this time, indeed this was probably the simplest conversion I’ve undertaken in a long time, but the bits just clicked and I know better than to over-egg a pudding when I feel it’s working.