“Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion… Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace”
Calgacus “the Swordsman”, describing the Roman Empire, as quoted by Tacitus in the Agricola.
So, at last – after rattling on about it for ages now – Kallamoon Kell is finished. Needless to say I’m rather excited. Not only is Kell the warlord of my chaos army but the completion of the model brings to a close a project I started long ago, and which has seen plenty of ups and downs to get this far. I’ll start by talking a bit about his rival, Chapter Master Calgacus of the Hawkmoths, and hopefully upload a post on Kell later in the week.
As I’ve mentioned before one of the key narrative elements that fuels my interest in my Space Marine and Chaos Space Marine collections is the idea of a brotherhood torn apart. It’s the cornerstone of some of the finest storytelling to emerge from the Warhammer 40k background – particularly the Horus Heresy and the Badab War. More than simply the metaphorical or spiritual brotherhood that unites all Space Marines in the Emperor’s service I went for a far more personal conflict, a single chapter divided into bitter enmity. I especially wanted to capture this in the leaders of the two factions, creating two individuals who would be the focus of this background – a pair of characters once united by common cause but now sworn to the destruction of the other. On the one hand we would have Kallamoon Kell, a rising lord of chaos who led his brother space marines into rebellion and torn his chapter apart, and on the other we have Calgacus, the Chapter Master of the surviving loyalists, dedicated to hunting him down and seeing vengeance enacted.
Starting this project approximately three years ago I built and painted the first incarnations of my two central characters. Here’s Chapter Master Calgacus (version 1).
And here’s the first incarnation of Kell.
Of course it’s easy, retrospectively, to pick holes in both of these models. Calgacus V.1 especially was a project which I struggled with, losing faith in it part way through. To my eye it shows in the finished miniature. Attaching the shield was a real nightmare and the tarnished gold of the armour proved to be a series of headaches that left me relieved rather than proud when I finally stuck him on the shelf.
There are some elements I’m rather proud of, for one the skeletal servitor mounted on the top of his armour which always strikes me as the epitome of decaying Imperial arrogance (and is something I’d like to replicate elsewhere – possible as a gun servitor on a tank).
Kell V.1 meanwhile is workmanlike, fit for purpose in my eyes but hardly the tyrant of nightmares I had envisioned. Also, there’s something distinctly Khornate about him (just look at his helmet) which didn’t fit with the vibe I was looking for; a lord grudgingly respected by all four gods. Thus Kell V.1 was demoted, becoming Avar the Twisted, champion of my Terminator squad The Blessed Slaughter. Meanwhile Calgacus V.1 was retired to the shelf and I started work on new versions of both.
In both cases I now had a much clearer image in mind of what I was looking for, a model in keeping with the background I imagined. In the case of Calgacus I wanted a real “working man’s” Chapter Master, not the enthroned master of worlds but a space marine first and foremost, someone unafraid to get stuck in at the speartip of the most gruelling and brutal assaults. I also decided that the Hawkmoth’s Chapter Master had been killed during Kell’s betrayal, thus leaving the field open for a new man to lead a transformed chapter. From being relatively static guardians of territory the Hawkmoths have reinvented themselves as a fast moving, fleet-based strike force, with tactics reminiscent of the Minotaurs, Carcharodons or even pre-Heresy Night Lords. The first step in that rebuilding process must have been the selection of a new Chapter Master. The field however would have been limited, with most of the prime candidates either turned traitor or slain. Thus they would have been forced to select a candidate who, although in keeping with the ruthless, vengeance hungry mood of the time might in another era have been considered less than stable. Enter the pugnacious Calgacus, a fearsome yet loyal wardog of the Imperium.
To reinforce the idea that this is a man who’s fought at the forefront of numerous battles (and has the scars and cybernetic reconstruction to prove it) I gave him what must be my favourite Space Marine head of all time. With half his skull (and doubtless some of his brain) replaced by a bionic substitute he’s hardly likely to be the most calm and easy-going individual but I’d say it’s a safe bet that he’s handy in a fight. Suffice to say I’m much happier with this version.
In my efforts to imagine his background he has come to be representative of his chapter as a whole. His ruthless brutality in battle and black, blood-thirsty rages at other times have led many to believe he is unhinged, and as dangerous to the Imperium he is sworn to protect as Kell himself. As a result his is a fairly dark reputation, though whether the butchery he is responsible for is a result of calculated brutality or berserk rage remains a contested issue. Nevertheless his merciless wrath may be just what the Hawkmoth’s chapter requires for many have slipped into bleak fury since their betrayal and each time Calgacus has dispatched his Death’s Heads to hunt them down and bring back their bones. For those few amongst the Holy Ordos who have tracked the near renegade Hawkmoths into the deep void his methods may be distasteful but, with the Imperium crumbling, they accept that – for now – this baleful and secretive chapter and its rapacious master may be an ally they cannot do without.