Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Brotherhood of the Yellow King: Chapter Three,

III: Prayers and unease.

It was dark when Carn awoke, though that was no real indicator of time given that his office had no exterior windows. He'd never minded, there wasn’t really anything worth looking out on anyway. Nonetheless it was dark, the Illuminator Servo skull hovering nearby having deactivated the light after detecting a prolonged period of inactivity, or perhaps picking up on his soft habitual snoring. Carn didn’t know or care, the spirits of these machines were inscrutable at best of times, primitive though they were. He reactivated the servo skull’s illumination function and rubbed the back of his neck, massaging the crick from his awkward sleeping position and working his jaw, trying to rid himself of the sour taste and numb mouth associated with excessive Skee consumption. Checking his chronometer he could see that several hours had passed. It was best sleep he had had in an age though his dreams had as so oft of late, been infiltrated by Larkarsky’s mutilated flesh. In this instance however it had been whilst visualizing much of the ill-fated Adept's logs that he had read. Fading swiftly as dreams were wont to do, he struggled to recollect what he had absorbed before slumber overtook him.

Pallas, (after reading so many of his thoughts, Carn felt he knew him in a way he never could in real life) had awoken a short distance from his destination and noted that there was some change in his surroundings with banners and pendants of a golden yellow hung everywhere along with repeated occurrences of an odd symbol, again rendered in yellow. An odd aesthetic choice to his mind, especially stark against the drab environs of Endomaw. He noticed too that the tanks and troops that were even more prevalent this deep in the city (for a city it indeed seemed to be despite all reports and available information) were similarly emblazoned with the same logo. When his luxurious transport had stopped Pallas had been escorted by his driver, (who had supplied him with another mask as the Adept had left his on his seat) into a large and strangely architectured building, crenelated with gargoyles and statues of a type that Pallas was wholly unfamiliar with and yet filled him with an unaccountable trepidation.

Presently he was introduced to the administrator of Endowmaw, a hunched and berobed individual called Geriok Mkawas. The Adept described him as ‘an unwholesome sort with a sibilant speech and exotic perfume’ after exchanging banal pleasantries they had got to work and Larkarsky had noted their conversation in exhausting and brain numbing detail. Much of it was to do with quotas and production levels, statistical and baffling with percentages and very long figures which Carn really had no grasp of at all. After all, it wasn’t his job, ivestigating what had happened to Larkarsky and Endomaw (it was still silent) was. Suffice to say for every point that the Adept raised Geriok seemed to have a counter argument, none of which warranted further investigation. In fact Geriok seemed somewhat put out and surprised that Larkarsky had been sent at all. Insisting that nothing was unduly awry and no further action was required. Nonetheless Pallas Larkarsky had dutifully requested to inspect the mining operation itself. This tallied with the first brief report which Pallas had submitted back to Narthley in which he had indicated that he had met the administrator and following a lengthy discussion was now going to inspect the mine. In this report all seemed normal and no sign was shown of the unease that was omnipresent in later communications.

The journey to the mining site was relatively uneventful though Pallas did remark that his host became ever more garrulous, presumably in an attempt to deflect Larkarksy’s insistent probing. For his part, the Adept noted that the second journey was unremarkable though he found that he was noticing more and more as time went on, including furtive movements in the shadows that had previously gone unseen. Half conversing with Geriok and half analyzing the passing scenery he noted that as they headed towards the mine there were increased signs of building and construction and an higher military presence. Merely for security and deterrence, Geriok assured him with a disarming yet false smile. Nonetheless Pallas noted that Endomaw seemed prepared for conflict and more than capable of defending itself. He surmised that the city was only eclipsed by Narthley in terms of scope and capability. He recorded that there was something else that bothered him but he couldn’t quite put a finger on it and in any event was quickly distracted and enamoured by the vibrant purple foliage that appeared as the limousine left Endomaw city and headed toward the Endomaw Mine.

And that was as far as Carn had got before he had fallen asleep. It seemed that he had made some notes of his own before he had lost the battle for wakefulness and he tidied these up briefly, submitting a short report of his own so as to keep Ralscon off his back for a little longer. He marveled at how someone as seldom spoken as Pallas Larkarsky could be so amazingly verbose when it came to the written word. Every little detail and thought was captured and recorded and seemingly much of it was from his own recollection as unless Carn was missing something, the shorthand scrawled notes contained only very basic information and statistics. Indeed it seemed that Larkarsky may well have had an Eidetic memory such was his power of recall. Carn chided himself for thinking about the Adept in the past tense but then reflected that given his current condition his memory may well be best referred to as a thing that was rather than is. Rising from his desk he stuffed all the slates and notes into the satchel, resolving to take them home with him. As he did so the Aquila on the golden chain fell from its pocket and he caught it, looking at it for a moment in his palm as it caught the soft light from the Servo skull which dutifully hovered nearby. He resolved to return this charm to Larkarsky if he got the chance, it was the least he could do.


On his all too brief return to his residence Carn checked his messages, he deleted any from Ralscon and replied to one from an acquaintance that he had socialised with pleasantly a couple of weeks ago. There were also the ubiquitous commercial messages which he ignored and erased. Well, all but one that purported to tell of a miracle Emperor Blessed Hair restorative. He ruefully rubbed his own thinning scalp, before deciding that this too was charlatan in nature and consigning It too to digital oblivion. He knelt briefly before the altar in his living area, closing his eyes and making the sign of the Aquila over his chest as he heartfeltedly recited a couple of prayers to the God Emperor of Man, beloved by all. He added a prayer for Larkarsky as well, knowing that the Adept would be unable to make his own genuflections. Carn was far from the most pious of individuals but it seemed only right. Rising from the small shrine he activated the wallscreen and took in a propaganda programme before catching up with the latest newscast and assuring himself that all was right, or at least no more wrong than usual, with Worth. Except something was. He couldn’t identify it, but something definitely was. Like hairs raising on the back of his neck there was an unease about him and he glanced about swiftly and furtively before deciding on a small glass of Skee to settle his nerves. The bottle sloshed reassuringly as he picked it up though in reality barely a few days remained, perhaps less given his current consumption levels.

Pouring himself a more hefty measure than he had first intended he nonetheless sank it in one gulp, immediately pouring another. He found himself initially sipping it appreciatively before once again draining the glass in one swallow. He sat in his most comfortable chair and held out his hands in front of him. They were trembling, only slightly but there was a tremor there nonetheless. Throne, what had befallen him? A quick medi scan (another luxury afforded him by his status) that assured him that physically he was ok failed to reassure him. A shower and food also failed to remedy the uncharacteristic and unfathomable dread that he was feeling. He even resorted to lighting and taking a few drags on a lho-stick he had tucked in a drawer before he felt nauseous and remembered why he had quit the narcotic in the first place.

His eyes flickered to the satchel which sat where he had deposited it by the side of his altar. Still open and lit, the faux candlelight cast distorted shadows across the floor and his richly embroidered rug. The shadows flickered and twisted and formed into writhing tentacles and he shuddered and squeezed his eyes shut. It was the Lho, he told himself, nothing more. It had been a while after all. Opening his eyes again he was gratified that the shadows seemed more quiescent though they still moved slightly and unsettlingly. Rising, he shut the altar and the faux candles were snuffed out as the shrine registered the motion. Another glass of Skee was probably the last thing he needed but he poured one and knocked it back anyway, followed by another. The barest trace of alcohol remained in the bottle so he raised it to his lips and drained it. It didn’t help. Worse still, he didn’t really enjoy it, what a waste of good liquor. He tried to distract himself further but no matter what he did he couldn’t stop thinking about Endomaw and poor Pallas Larkarsky. It was with a half drunken air of resignation that he opened the satchel, retrieved the half read dataslate and powered it on. He would know no peace till he got to the bottom of this it seemed. He scrolled to the last read entry and then selected the succeeding log and read with bleary eyes before giving up and accessing the audio settings, connecting it up to his terminal and setting it up to read and record the logs. The equipment dutifully started copying the logs and the machine’s spirit started relaying Pallas’s writings in a dull, scratchy monotone:

"Presently we left the intriguing flora behind and approached Endomaw mine. Still, I found myself marveling at the near luminescence of the vibrant plants, pondering their botanical makeup and how they survived such harsh environments. Were they endemic to this area? Were they native to Worth? Colour aside they seemed unremarkable, perhaps the most intriguing thing about them being how they could propagate in Worth’s harsh and unyielding earth. The Purplish ash dust that covered our home must have some hitherto unknown nutrients that enabled them to flourish, but if that were the case why were they not more widespread? What was the Catalyst that provided them with such a foothold in this area in particular? I must confess that I allowed Geriok to continue his conversation somewhat one sided as I mused the possibilities. Not that I would have needed much of a reason to do so, continued interaction with the man left me feeling decidedly uneasy and unclean though there was nothing specific that I could attribute those feelings to.

Nonetheless, before long we approached the mining complex proper and my thoughts were taken from exotic flora back to the Administrator's prattling
(Oh the irony! Carn thought with a sardonic smile) which I again deigned to indulge. Geriok was going out of his way to be accommodating, talking in that sibilant way, his words dripping with a honeyed hiss. I noticed that he reclined somewhat awkwardly and unnaturally and found that I inexplicably loathed this man. His bald pate, pale skin, overly white teeth and crocodilian smile all disgusted me.(Carn had no idea what a Crocodilian was but inferred that it was non complimentary) The machine droned on heedless of his ignorance. I smiled in return and nodded attentively to his banal small talk but my head was overwhelmed with the wrongness of the situation and I resolved to make another Vis report to HQ as soon as I disembarked. Carn had reviewed this report, seemingly made in a shelter or lean to at the edge of the mine. Larkarsky had been agitated, tense and fidgety but advised that he had reached the mine proper and was descending to carry out his inspection and audit. He suggested that preparations were made to send additional adepts as the scale of the operation was much more than had been initially surmised. This aside, the report was ordinary short and to the point, with the promise of a full written report to be prepared and provided at a later time. As we approached the mine complex I was taken aback once more, not by how large the installation was but rather the opposite. Endomaw mine was tiny, nothing more than a few buildings and inactive drills and smattering of earth moving equipment. The limousine pulled up and I got out, remembering my mask this time. though the driver seemed to have one prepared anyway. I noticed that Geriok wasn’t wearing a mask, and hiding a flash of annoyance he breezily explained that he had become inured to the air, at least for short distances, the driver on the other hand had not removed his once and it occurred to me that the grunt I had received when trying to engage him could have been somewhat muffled. My unease grew and I excused myself to make a quick communication back to Narthley in a sheltered spot. This done I returned to the small building which Geriok and the driver had entered.

The Driver was nowhere to be seen but Geriok was animatedly remonstrating with another pair before glancing over at me and then back to his compatriots. He beckoned me over, smiling blankly in that reprehensible way. He introduced the two newcomers as Lek and Jerrod, explaining that he had important business to attend to nearby and would return in a while, it was nothing to worry about he assured me, merely an administrative matter that couldn’t be avoided. He left through a large double door to the side through which I very quickly spied a loading area with additional digging machinery and cargo vehicles. As the door shut it locked with a green rune flashing to red. I could only assume that Geriok carried a biometric key that had allowed him to open it. Turning back to Lek and Jerrod I introduced myself and my assignment, how long I expected it to take me (a couple of days to be thorough but I had overestimated the size of the operation as drastically as I had underestimated the size of Endomaw itself). and what I would require from them in order to complete it. They nodded and advised that they would need to take me down into the mine itself and therefore I would need to don a mining suit, similar to the garb they both wore. Fully understanding the importance of health and safety and standards to be adhered to, I readily agreed. As I was looking to be staying at least a few cycles they hastily arranged quarters for me and said they would take me to these first so that I could prepare for my first sojourn into the depths of Endomaw mine.

We went down some steps and into a dank passage with dripping pipes and flickering lights which cast strange shadows on the walls, unnatural and pulsating. I tried not to look at them instead filling mymind with quotas a nd statistics. Presently we came to a series of doors and they swung one open revealing a spartan room with a locker, a desk and a bunk. Lek, the more softly spoken of the pair (Jerrod’s tone was nigh on guttural) gestured into the room and bade me enter and prepare myself. They would return, he said in 30 minutes and then we could continue our journey into the mine. They departed down the corridor and I watched them leave and turn a nearby corner before I closed the door behind me and engaged the electronic lock, I was gratified to see that there was also a secondary bolt as well and I pushed this across to further secure the room. I looked around and was perturbed to note the absence of a shrine or anywhere to pay obeisance to the Emperor. A panel in the far wall next to the bunk slid up at the touch of a dimly lit rune to reveal a wash basin and dirty mirror. I made a mental note of supplies and amenities I would need to request and disrobed and cleansed my body as best as I could.

The mining suit presented me with some problems as I was unfamiliar with its configuration. I put on the tunic and heavy mining boots but the over suit was more inscrutable and cumbersome. I donned it as best as I was able and shortly after there came a rapping at the door. Unbolting and unlocking it I was greeted by Jerrod, the larger of my two erstwhile guides and certainly the less approachable. He gruffly informed me that Lek awaited us and gestured for me to stand still so that he could adjust my suit. I felt no small pride as I noticed that his adjustments were minor and few and accompanied by a semi approving grunt. Properly dressed and equipped I bent to retrieve my satchel and immediately smashed into the bunk with the bulky suit’s mining lamps. I flushed and grabbed my satchel, mustering as much dignity as I could. If Jerrod noticed he made no sign and had already started down the passageway as I exited the room. More stairs beckoned and as we descended into the lower levels it occurred to me that I was losing sense of placement and direction and without guidance would struggle to return to the surface. Before too long the stairs ended, leading to a small room filled with equipment and tools as well as some workstations and terminals. We exited this room through a grinding and stubborn sliding door and I took my first steps into Endomaw mine.

The machine stopped it intonation and a dull hiss issued from the speaker grille. The terminal flashed, indicating that it had finished copying the files; it had probably finished a while ago patiently signalling the completion of its task till prompted. Carn got up and disconnecting the data slate, instructed the machine to continue with the next entry, pausing it for a moment whilst he went to empty his bladder. Returning, he stopped just before he hit play, the selected file was flashing on the screen and at its increased size he could more easily see the file name. Unusual to say the least it conformed to no system or pattern that he could see, Dismissing it as another of Larkarsky’s idiosyncrasies he pressed play before settling back down. Nine logs down, six to go, and he was out of Skee and afraid to look into the shadows, Emperor save me, he thought.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Cult War: Month Two

February is a short month but also doesn't have the post New Year hangover that January is lumbered with. With this in mind I was curious to see if I could match last months output. Thankfully (kind of) continuing health problems (both mental and physical) meant a fair chunk of time off work, silver linings and all that.

First up was some more Imperial Guard Neophytes. I had these guys down colour scheme wise and they were real easy to get done so I wanted to crank out ten ASAP. That would put me a third of the way towards target. With those out of the way I did a Mortar Heavy Weapons Team, Nice.

Next up was to finish a few bits i'd started the previous month. 4 Abberants and a couple more Acolytes. I could already tell with this army that the Acolytes were going to be the biggest pain in the arse to paint. There are so many in this army too, I have about 40 more to do. That's a lot of yellow.

I also grabbed a couple of Sentinels and these were a blast to put together and magnetise. Really nice kits and i'd be tempted to grab another couple. I probably will if the army needs it when I finally start playing. These had a bit of paint slapped onto them but I wasn't sure I'd get them finished this month.

Except I did, once I had the Camo worked out the first one came together really quick. I left the second half finished for the moment. Next up was something about 569% more colourful, some Metamorphs. Painted just like the Acolytes but with a bundle more magenta and purple to make them stand out. Quite possibly the brightest thing I have ever painted.

At this point we were about half way through the month. Necessitating a brief break ( I have a girlfriend now) for Valentines day. Still, after that it was back to the Brotherhood of the Yellow King.

Some Neophytes were up next. I really was putting those acolytes off, even going as far as to convert some more to Metamorphs using some spare bits. I also have five Metamorphs to construct from the kit so I think I have about twenty all in. About half way through the Neophytes I started to get batch painting fatigue and decided to grab a Chimera, utilising the camo scheme i had created for my Sentinels. I got it mostly done but didn't finish it as it was only meant to be a distraction from the infantry.

Juggling quality time with my awesome GF Kirstie (lots of Board Games) with some painting Saw me half painting some more stuff. Coming up to the last few days of February I had about 8 Neophytes and a Heavy Mortar Team and a Sentinel sat in my 'get these done by the end of the month' pile. A load of snow the likes of which I haven't seen in about six years gave me the opportunity to paint the majority of it and the last evening was spent painting right up to midnight while half watching a couple of movies on Netflix with the last thing being finished actually being the second Sentinel.

So, the final count for Feb:

3 Metamorphs
2 Acolytes
4 Aberrants
10 Guard Neophytes
13 Cult Neophytes
2 Mortar Heavy Weapons Teams
2 Sentinels.

36 Infantry and a couple of Walkers. Not a bad effort! I also grabbed some bits and pieces to make a couple more squads i'll use as Neophytes to balance out the Acolyte heavy force.

So, looking to March, I aim to paint the following.

7 Metamorphs
10 more Neophytes
10 Guard Neophytes
and yes, 8 more Acolytes. Sigh.

I have to be honest though, I AM starting to feel a bit of Batch painting fatigue though and I wouldn't be surprised to see my resolve waver and something else get attacked with a paint brush at some point. Maybe some board game models or some scenery.

The main thing to do though is arrange a few games with Lee! We are starting with Shadow Wars as he has only painted a squad or two so far but he is aiming to ramp this up with a couple of Start Collecting boxes so we can start playing bigger games.

In the meantime i'll also be working on chapter 2 of my background short fiction so keep an eye out for that and the fate of Larkarsky and Alistae Carn as the mystery deepens.....


Month two was pretty much a continuation of month one in that I am still painting my first month’s allocation of models. I don’t know how Allen has been able to get so much finished but that’s the nature of cults I suppose. I didn’t get anywhere near enough stuff done for various reasons and I consider it, and by extension myself, an abject failure. Despite this, I am well pleased with the items I did complete.

My Inquisitor, Crusader, Savant and Freelance Peacekeeping Agent (don’t call him a bounty hunter) are all finished with my Guard Veteran started. Unfortunately, I did not get any more scenery painted though I got some more put together.

Allen and I played a couple of games of Shadow War to cap off our second month and on the table top both forces looked quite handsome. Allen’s minions of festering xeno corruption are suitably dark whilst my eclectic bunch are a veritable carnival of colours by comparison. I did take my time in picking the colour schemes and it was effort well spent. (more on this game in Cult War Month 3! - Al)

My Inquisitor is painted to match Clint Eastwood’s outfit in the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The Crusader is standard Crusader colours as I quite liked those as they were. The Savant is mostly metal but with a few colourful flushes.

My favourite model to paint this month was my Death Watch Marine stand in model. It started as a Marvel universe era Deaths Head Heroclix figure. I’ve given it a new base to match the rest of the warband and repainted him in his Transformers era colours. I imagine he is taking a detour during his adventures through space and time to earn a few more Shanix before hopping to the next franchise. He’s suitably imposing standing next to the rest of the gang so fits well into the role of a Death Watch marine.

One of the reasons for my lack of progress is that I was side-tracked painting one of my all time favourite models, Trish Carden’s metal Great Unclean One. I used this in a game against an army of Custodes all mounted on jet bikes and he did well slicing through a fair few of them.

So, for March I want to catch up. I have put together the contents of a Start Collecting! Tempestus Scions complete with wheel upgrade for the Taurox from Victoria Miniatures and my aim is to get most if not all of these painted. They are the first line of reinforcements my Inquisitor has called in to help him eradicate the cult. If they are complete, then I plan to repeat the feat by completing a Start Collecting! Adeptus Mechanicus who I’ll expand in May. Forge World have indicated we will be getting rules for Mechanicum units in 40k and I already have some painted who would make for free additions to my force and allow me to diversify my forces without having to buy anything else. Once I’m satisfied I’ll start adding Dark Angels. (Clearly a radical Inquisitor then ;) -Al) 

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Brotherhood of the Yellow King: Chapter Two.

2: The futility of Procrastination.

Carn got back to Narthley some time before Larkarsky's effects. He probably could have taken them with him and reviewed the Adept's notes on the return journey in the transit shuttle but quite frankly the experience at the asylum had left him rattled and in no mood to concentrate on anything. He had simply wanted to get back to familiar surroundings and have a very large drink.

In fact he had had several drinks, a routine that had continued in the days since his return while he waited for the material he was to investigate. Even now he had a tumbler containing a generous measure of Skee sitting on his desk. This was the good stuff too, old stock imported from Celias IV. Smooth and rich, smoky and fiery at the same time. Being a Prefect on Worth had it's perks, few though they were.

He picked up the glass and swirled the amber liquid round the glass noting with satisfaction the way the liquid clung to the side of the tumbler, a sure sign of the superior quality of the alcohol. He raised the glass to his mouth and drained it in one quick motion, savouring the burn as the Skee went down his throat. Even by his standards he had been drinking more than usual recently. His supply of Skee was nearly depleted and it would soon be time to put in another order, a substantial but worthwhile, borderline necessary, expense.

And one that could be partially mitigated if he could get off Worth. By far the poor cousin or runt in the Celias system, the Ironically named Worth had not even been considered being named as part of the Celias sequence. Celias I was a Forge World, a minor contributor in the grand scheme of things but one that nonetheless produced a valued line of Sentinel Walkers, Chimera Transports and Leman Russ Battle Tanks. In particular the Plasma weaponry of Celias I was highly regarded even if the limited size of the world inhibited the scale of output.

Celias II was dead. It had always been dead as far as anyone could tell, with surveys showing no signs of past life or civilizations, alien or otherwise. It was however, a source of vapours and chemicals prized as poisons and oddly enough as agents in purifying the byproduct from industrial manufacturing. So it transpired that even this dead world had some value to those brave enough to risk exposure to the noxious and corrosive atmosphere and harvest it's deadly riches. A small dark world, it attracted small dark operations and nearly all of the output from Celias II came from Black Market sources as no one in their right mind would journey there, no matter the bounty. The criminal and desperate however would make periodic raids, often dying horribly as they captured the chemicals they sought.

Celias III and IV though, were settled worlds. Celias IV was the more heavily populated and developed. Celias III was actually the smaller more verdant world and had a problem with unwanted migration from Celias IV as people sought more land to exploit and pillage and stopped just short of all out invasion. Celias IV's population was killing it, there were far too many humans breeding too much and living too long. Choking to death on its own advancement Celias IV was almost used up and people were desperately trying to leave the world and get to its sister planet. In fact Celias III was in a constant state of the brink of war with Celias IV, though in reality it boiled down to little more than Sabre rattling as Celias IV was by far more the capable and militarily potent world, They distilled some damn fine Skee though.

Besides, Carn mused. Even Celias IV, dying a slow choking death, would be better than Worth. Anything would be better than this wretched ball of ash and rock. Well almost anything. The Celias system was completed by two more planetoids in outer orbits that were little more than orbs of methane and ice. They were so far away and small that no one had bothered naming them, though they likely had Imperial Designations. No one went there, no one cared about them and if they disappeared no one would miss them. The only noteworthy thing out there was some listening and relay outposts which kept the Celias system (barely) in touch with the wider Imperium. Contact was seldom made though and it had been years since the last message from outside Celias. Even contact between Worth and the rest of the system was sporadic, cargo transports regularly arrived empty and departed full of ore but messages were far more seldom. Visitors were practically unheard of.

No, the majority of people on Worth were born there and the majority of people would live their hard lives and then die there. Numbering a truly pathetic 400,000 worldwide, the population of Worth toiled and strove and lived their empty little lives and nothing they did really mattered. They were but tiny little cogs in a very big machine, a machine that cared nothing for them and was truly too vast and convoluted to be impacted whether they turned or not. Such was life in the Imperium of Man under the Aegis of the God Emperor of Man, beloved by all.

Carn sighed and rubbed his eyes, yawning loudly. The Skee, satisfying as it was, often prompted melancholy and caused his thoughts to become maudlin and his mood morose. It was worth it though, totally worth it to numb the monotony, and more recently the horror or Larkarsky's self mutilation which intruded upon his mind so often of late. Sleep was no relief and indeed he had not slept well in days for any rest that he did manage was broken and of little real benefit. He yawned again and contemplated another measure of Skee before deciding against it. Instead he reached for Larkarsky's satchel which had been sat on his desk for the last few days defying him to ignore it. He'd been putting this off for as long as he dared but he could delay no longer. The thrice damned Ralscon had repeatedly tried to contact him for an update to his investigation, attempts that Carn had studiously ignored or avoided thus far.

"Come on then you poor bastard" he said to no one in particular "let's see what happened to you". He unlatched the satchel, and opened it, emptying it one item at a time. He removed a number of data slates and sheaves of paper. In one of the internal pockets was a small golden Aquila on a chain. There was also a wrist chronometer, some rations (Larkarsky was the kind to take a working lunch) and a small holoprojector loaded with pictures of people that given the vague resemblance Carn assumed were Larkarsky's family. Replacing all but the papers and the dataslates Carn carefully put the satchel down by the side of his desk, struck by an uncharacteristic sympathy for Larkarsky and his horrible fate. He spread the dataslates (four in total) and pages in front of him and reviewed the material.

The dataslates were encrypted but he used his security override and unlocked them. One was full, one was half full and the other two were empty. He discarded these latter pair and concentrated on the full Dataslate. Opening the directory he saw a number of entries. Scrolling through he discovered that they were all literature rather than logs, both fiction and non fiction with titles meticulously organised and categorised. He opened the one called research but quickly established that there was little of interest to him it mostly being information on mining practices, quotas, and safety standards. He tossed the slate aside without closing the file and picked up the half full slate. Comparing it to the sheaves of paper he saw many duplications and beckoning his illuminator Servoskull closer concluded that the pages were rough notes in an unorthodox shorthand from which Larkarsky then prepared his actual log entries. Discarding the scrawled notes, he focused on the pad; The entries were ordered by date with multiple entries per day. He opened the first with a tap of the screen and started reading.

I arrived at the small landing port at 3:06:58, enduring a bumpy landing for no discernible reason. My momentary ire at the seeming incompetence of the pilot was diffused as I looked outside of the viewing portal at Endomaw. I had never had the need to visit the mining town previously and this initial impression was such that I had never beheld before. Far from the ramshacke and dare I say primitive, habitat that I had expected instead I was treated to a sprawling industrial complex, bustling and imposing. Further than I could actually see smoke stacks and cyclopean edifices towered and stretched into the distance. This was far from the modest installation that I had expected from studying and researching the available information. 

Disembarking from the shuttle I was struck by the noxious if not quite toxic fumes, heady and disorientating. At the foot of the ramp a slightly hunched figure in a mining suit handed me a filtration mask which I donned with a grateful nod. I looked at the other end of the landing pad and saw a sleek low slung limousine which I assumed was my transport further into Endomaw, certainly they could not expect me to traverse any distance by foot. I approached the vehicle, which I noticed was coated with a thick layer of dust ash and soot, and was gratified when the rear door swung open to reveal a shrouded yet luxurious interior. 

I stooped and entered the limousine, noticing that the fellow that had offered me the mask had followed me and appeared to be entering the drivers compartment. Inside i was pleasantly impressed by the level of opulence on offer. The passenger compartment was empty so clearly the driver had activated the door by remote. I opened a small door built into the partition between compartments and noted the copious refreshments that lay within as the limousine purred into life and started its journey towards my destination, though i must confess I wasn't sure exactly where that was.  

I thumbed the intercomm and it crackled to life, the amber rune flashing green intermittently and unconvincingly.  I asked how long it would take to reach wherever it was we were going but no response was forthcoming, though I thought I heard a noncommital and dismissive grunt. Convinced that I would get nothing more from this strange driver, I deactivated the commlink and looked around my immediate surroundings. The passenger compartment was spacious and could easily have accommodated a further half dozen individuals with a degree of comfort. There were a few panels and screens that were presumably for entertainment purposes and I ignored these as I was not here for recreation. The windows were tinted heavily and I couldn't see outside though I could discern that the transport was moving at some speed. Studying the array of controls and buttons I established that one of them would change the opacity of the windows and activated it. Immediately the exterior became visible and I was regaled with the sight of dirty walls and scaffolding as we made our way through the tight streets of Endomaw. Few of the denizens of the town were visible, those I did spy were swathed in cloth, stooped and furtive. More noticeable were the defence forces and within scant minutes I saw myriad tanks and troops either in defensive positions or patrolling. I thought for a moment to ask the driver about this but given our earlier interaction decided against it and resolved to simply further enjoy the comfort that my conveyance afforded, helping myself to sweetmeats and cakes as well as a large measure of some nondescript yet obviously alcoholic liquid. 

Sipping the potent yet sweet liquid I reclined in my seat and watched the scenery, such as it was speed by as the limousine wound it's way through the streets of Endomaw. Just by the length of the journey thus far it was obvious that Endomaw was far bigger than anyone had suspected and far more equipped and prepared. Prepared for what I couldn't possibly say but I was sure that there was much more beneath the surface than could be seen and that was even accounting for the fact that Endomaw already was more than I had ever suspected. I pulled my notepad out and made some quick notes, prompts for when I finally reached my destination and got to work. For now, I just put my head back, closed my eyes and dozed for the rest of the trip. 

Carn set down the dataslate. He could take no more, inside he was screaming. He had heard tell of Larkarsky's legendary capacity for writing reams without actually saying anything but without actually experiencing it he had really had no idea at all. He reclined, titled his head back and exhaled loudly and slowly. There was SO MUCH still to review, this was but the first of over a dozen similar entries. He now regretted his earlier procrastination, starting reading Larkarsky's notes earlier might have actually kept thoughts of the horrific experience at the asylum. Cursing himself for a fool and leaning forward again he reached for the remainder of the Skee, he was going to need another drink after all if he was going to carry on reading...

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Shadow War Armageddon - The Rescue Mission

Bit of an oddity this one. You may remember our battle report for Shadow Armageddon almost a year ago. If not you can familiarise yourself HERE. Lee's Orks got pretty much shot off the table, resulting in me capturing a couple of his Orks, this automatically made the next mission a Rescue Mission.

This is where the problems started.

Firstly we got a bit carried away and didn't take enough photos during the game. Not the first time we have done that! I think we need to set an alarm clock/stopwatch countdown!

Secondly I took two pages of hastily scrawled notes, making sure I captured the important events. I promptly then mislaid the first page. Bugger. That seemed to be it, I have fairly good recall but the details of the game would be beyond me and I would only be able to remember a few of the most exciting bits. Plus normally Lee does half the report to give his perspective and without notes there was no chance of that.

It was about eight or nine months later that I stumbled upon page one in a sheaf of papers, thankfully I hadn't thrown away page two. After a frenzied search I found it and now had all the notes from the game. Thing was I HAD deleted all the photos (all four of them) from the game. This presented a new problem. After all this time though I wasn't prepared to give up!

I decided to stretch my narrative muscles and write it as all out fiction. The previous report had incorporated a fair bit of that as an intro so I just picked up from that and expanded it. I wrote all the Marine stuff first and then went back and did the Ork stuff after (just a couple of weeks ago), trying to  inject a bit of the fun and character that comes to Lee so naturally. It was so far after the event that I didn't think that it was fair to make Lee try to remember game parts from nine months ago and also I hadn't left much wiggle room after writing Apollyon's part.

So, here we go! Hopefully you will get an idea of how the game went and if not you will at least like it as a short story. Feel free to comment below either way!


Apollyon snarled as he kicked the slumped Greenskin, hard. It grunted and looked up, shooting him a belligerent look of pure hate, low animal cunning reflected in its eyes.

“Come on Emperor damn you! Tell me! Tell me how you and your friends keep getting down here “

He cuffed the bound alien for good measure. Blood drooled from the corner of its jutting jaw from the blow and it grinned maliciously before uttering a series of grunts and bellows.  Apollyon could discern little from them but did pick out what sounded like the words ‘oomies’, ‘skragged’ and ‘lads’, the rest was little more than bestial roars.

“Useless wretch” he muttered, turning away from the Ork. He thumbed his vox and it crackled into life, a low buzz of static hinting at the interference that had plagued communications in recent weeks. Whether a result of the damage done to Armageddon’s infrastructure or some xenos influence he was unsure, he wasn’t even sure he cared. He just wanted to get this Greenskin back to base so that it could be probed psychically by the Librarius. To that end, he reflected, he probably shouldn’t damage it too much. He quelled the temptation to kick the xenos filth again and spoke into his vox

“Base Rho Alpha Three Six, this is Apollyon requesting Landspeeder Storm extraction with high value cargo from Sector Two Four Beta, respond!” His words were greeted by a squeal and then a hiss of static. He resisted the urge to smack the comms device, partly because it was attached to his skull but mainly because he didn’t want to anger the machine spirit within. It was not wise to antagonise such things, no matter how frustrating they were being. Throne, but he was in an ill humour! He couldn’t see his mood improving anytime soon either. Not till the Greenskin was delivered and they could get back to normal operations. He switched to the Squad channel, even that bore a low hiss of white noise. 

“Caeon, report, any sign of them?”

The Sniper lookout scanned the area in front of him with his scope. The visibility was terrible and no matter the setting, his view was obscured by gloom and smoke and other toxic vapours.  All of their equipment had taken a battering in the operations of the last few weeks and none of it was functioning at full capacity. He was thankful that it was working at all.

“ Nothing here Sergea…” he stopped as a shot rang out in the dark, another shot sounded and to his left Orosius grunted and fell from the gantry, tumbling into the gloom, a dull thud signalling his impact below. “Contact, Contact!” he roared “Orosius is down! They are here!” Another shot whistled past him and he ducked into cover, "Contact!" He yelled again, "they are in the Mortarium, back towards the residential sector!”  He braced himself and fired over the barrier on the gantry, gratified to hear a savage bellow as at least one of his shots hit home.

Apollyon whirled towards the sudden activity, he activated his vox and once again was assaulted by static. He ignored it. “Base Rho Alpha Three Six! We have engaged! They are right on top of us! Extraction required now dammit, NOW!” He ripped the vox system from his head, Machine Spirits be damned, he’d been looking forward to a fight. Activating his chainsword, with a mighty frenzied roar he charged into battle. 


Boss Snikbang! snickered (a total coincidence, it wasn't how he got his name. It was actually from the 'SNIK' sound that his knife tended to make as it slid into one of his countless unaware victims - besides he didn't know what snickered actually meant) as he watched the Scout tumble from the gantry in the gloom. Steady Baz always been a useless shot and now the not-beakies knew they were there and were on alert. It had been up to him to show da boyz how it was done and take the sentry out, he might not have hit him but the not-beakie had fallen anyway (that was the bang! part of his name.)  Not the way he liked to do things, no, not at all. Blood Axes was all about  the stabbing and not the Dakka. Oh well, he was starting to think most of these lads weren't going to cut it anyways (again, the irony of that statement would have been lost on him).

One of the new yoofs, Sneak, had shown some promise. Shame he'd been under the scout when it fell. Snikbang had heard the muffled grunt from his shadowy position, being a Kommando meant excellent hearing on top of being dead sneaky. Now the whole covert nature of the operation was Squig crap. Worse still, now all the boyz were opening up, to little effect. Once again he gave the order to advance, with a bellow rather than all those nice proper hand signals. He missed the days when his squad was proper cunning but brutal. Those boyz was proper Orks, true he'd got most of them killed but 'that's wot soldiers did, died'. He couldn't see much being different here to be honest. Problem was, he was running out of volunteers, hence actually running this rescue mission. Word must be getting round, recruits were getting harder to come by.

This mission was unlikely to change things either. He sank his face into one meaty palm as Zug went down in a hail of fire, less Happy Zug, more unlucky Zug. This was turning into a disaster, again. He lifted his head to witness  Hatz and Wobbles cowering from precision sniper shots spanging from their mausoleum cover. At least Stretch was heading for the scout that had fallen, with any luck he might get Sneak up again too as he dispatched the hapless not-beakie. Right, there was nothing for it, Boss Snikbag was going to have to show them how it was done. Again. Typical, he mused (well, as much as an Ork is capable of musing - which isn't much) you wanted something done you had to do it yourself. Grabbing his knife in one hand he started sneaking forward, Zog it, at least his ladz would make a decent distraction if nothing else.


Apollyon charged straight at the Greenskin making a move on the downed Orosius. The wounded scout was crawling to safety on shattered legs whilst trying to stem the flow of blood pouring from his abdomen. He managed to glance at his Sergeant as he saved his life, blocking the blow meant for him from a mighty cleaver. Apollyon grunted as he bore the force of the blow. Orks were strong, very strong, and it took two hands just to hang on to his chainsword such was the brute strength of the strike, which surely would have killed the stricken Orosius.  He noted another Ork lying in the gloom from which Orosius had crawled. He had little time to dwell upon what had happened though.

“Not today, Filth!” He spat, the strain showing on his face as he glared at his opponent, “Today you die!” He forced the cleaver away and lunged with his Chainsword, the teeth cutting into green flesh. The Ork roared and swatted the weapon away, gouging itself further on the buzzing teeth. Still, it gave the creature time to disappear into the shadows. Apollyon, frustrated by his quarry’s escape snarled and drove his chainsword into the groaning Ork at his feet, silencing its bleating. Movement behind him caused him to spin and he only just dodged the cleaver aimed for his head, the blade glancing off his pauldron.

“You should have stayed hidden Ork” the reply from the Greenskin was incomprehensible but the feeling of malevolence was clear. He darted to the side as the Ork again tried to remove his head, bringing his blade up in a riposte that his training master might have actually congratulated him on had he been a witness. The teeth cut deep once more into the Ork, a mortal blow for most foes. But Orks are not most foes and the creature just cuffed him on reflex, nearly rendering him unconscious. Dazed, he barely managed to parry the creatures next few strikes and he knew that the longer the fight went on the more likely he would be struck down.

“Time to finish this” he snarled and dove under the next telegraphed blow. His strike was true and cleaved deep enough into the Ork to fell it. He had no time to make sure it was truly dead though, more Greenskin were approaching through the gloom, firing as they went and he was forced to dive to the ground to avoid being shredded by primitive ballistics. He looked up at the advancing aliens as one dropped its hammer as it was punched from its feet by Bolter fire, a cry of triumph from above identified the youthful Zakian as the shooter.  A steady rhythm of bolter fire echoed from above, punctuated with the intermittent hiss and snap of a Sniper Rifle. The roar of Nikkaeon’s Heavy Bolter was absent though, either he was down or he was biding his time, Apollyon hoped it was the latter, his firepower would be needed to repel this attack.


Sneakily advancing through the shadows Snikbang! saw Klank crash to the floor, dropping his precious hammer as he clutched his right shoulder. Most of his other lads were pinned by disciplined fire from above but at least it looked like Zug had learnt his lesson and was skulking towards the captives having pulled himself back together (literally it seemed). The situation could be worse all things considered. He was still perfectly intact after all. Plus that crazy not-beakie with the whirring blade had been forced back into cover by one of the new ladz. Not all was lost. Not yet. He'd get a proper fight out of this or his name wasn't Boss Snikbang!.

Thing was there was a fair bit of open ground  to cover to get stuck in proper. Snikbang! wasn't a fan of open ground, very hard to be sneaky without proper cover. Seeing Hatz and Skrabble nearby, blind firing over a peice of rubble he roared at them to join him. More targets couldn't be a bad thing if he was going to to have to make a run for it. Thankfully the other lads that were still standing were doing a decent job of keeping the not-beakies occupied.

"right, you Zoggin gits!" he bellowed as Hazt and Skrabble joined him, "time to give it to them humies good! When I givs the word we charge right? Wiv all the Dakka we can give em!" he neglected to mention that he wouldn't be Dakkaing at all and was going to head for the nearest shadowed area as his brave boyz ran the gauntlet. "On the count of lots! WUN, TOO erm. FREE... MORE THAN FREE!! .. LOTS!"

As he got to the highest number that any Ork knew to count to they all burst from cover and started charging toward the Ultramarine Scout's position. Well, Snikbang! charged off towards a nice secluded section where he could flank the enemy but no one needed to know that. Suddenly the sound of the battle changed as a deep staccato thud joined the soundtrack of war. Snikbang! just about had time to ponder this with his excellent commando hearing before there were a number of dull explosions within him causing holes to appear where there had been no holes before. he managed a few more metres before even he had to submit to gravity and physiology and stumble to the floor which was rapidly becoming covered with bits of the Ork Boss that he would much rather were not on the floor and still in him. Zog it he thought, getting a bit sleepy, he'd skrag em good and proper after a breather.


As the fire on his position lessened due to the Heavy Bolter's overwatch fire, Apollyon got back to his feet. The Ork warlord had been badly wounded by Nikkaeon’s salvo and was down on one knee and hands, there were closer, smaller targets though and he felt his frenzy rise as he thumbed his chainsword activation key and it roared into life. At the last moment he recalled one of his lessons from Master Tertius during a training duel back on Mcgragge many years ago...

“Apollyon, you are too impulsive, to follow the edicts of Guilliman and therefore the Codex itself one must always adhere to the theoretical and the practical”. The swordmaster casually knocked the duelling blade from the young initiate's hand and spun round with an entirely extravagant flourish, cracking Apollyon on the ribs with the flat of his own weapon. The bruise would serve as a painful reminder of the lesson, at least till further augmentation was carried out, then such a blow would barely be noticed and heal almost immediately. Apollyon staggered, weighing up his next move.  Breath streamed from him in the crisp cold air as he caught his breath.

"Analyse, strategize and defeat your enemy armed with this knowledge. Information is your greatest weapon, more so than your wargear, more so than your armour, more so even than the body with which you will be gifted. Until you realise this you will not be ready to serve the Emperor”
Tertius’s mellifluous tones, rich yet honeyed, rankled at Apollyon and he dove for his dropped weapon, wincing at the grinding of his ribs. He rolled and came up with the short sword, only to find his training master’s blade already at his throat.

“How…” he started, pausing as his vocal cords flexed on the edge of the Duelling Blade.

“How did I anticipate your move?”  Tertius smiled the patient smile of a teacher that has delivered the same effective lesson a thousand times. “That is simple, I used the theoretical and the practical” he turned the blade a fraction, to emphasize his point. “Theoretical, your impulsive nature drives you to attack, you would look to retrieve your weapon as soon as possible and make an immediate and rash strike. “ He paused for effect.  “Practical, from that it was possible to calculate exactly where you would be and what your movement would be. You are clumsy and telegraphed like an Ork.” The honeyed tone faded and his voice hardened, “ I expect better, the EMPEROR expects better, and if you cannot learn to be better then you will have no place here. Leave savagery and fury to the dogs of Russ or the blood drinkers. Courage and Honour are all you need here; brawn must be tempered by the brain.  This you must learn…”

The memory faded having taken scant seconds; Apollyon took a deep breath and steadied himself. “Theoretical” he mused “Killing the biggest Ork will cause the others to retreat, ensuring the quickest victory and minimal use of ammunition and casualties.” He paused and smiled nastily, “practical, ending that green bastard will feel REALLY good.” He slowly stalked towards the stricken Ork, ignoring the two other Greenskins to his side. Even down on its knees the Ork Boss was massive. As he approached it glowered at him but could not rise. The craters in its flesh from Nikkaeon’s heavy bolter still smoked slightly, any other foe would have been eviscerated.  He raised his chainsword to deliver the coup de grace.

The Ork’s hand shot out, inhumanly fast, nothing that big should be able to move that fast. Its meaty fist closed round his throat and lifted Apollyon from the ground, his chainsword clattering to the floor revving impotently.  A low guttural laugh resonated from the Ork, and despite the obvious pain etched in its face and predatory eyes it smiled, baring its yellow fangs. Hot feotid breath assaulted Apollyon’s nostrils.

“Theo—theoretical” he gasped, “ Target is extremely resistant to damage and diffi…difficult to kill.” He struggled for breath. “Further theoretical, vul..vulnerable point must be attac..ked in order to ensure lethal strike.” He smiled. The Ork, too dumb to realise what was happening, due to either blood loss or just general low intellect, just squeezed harder. Thankfully, wounded as it was, it was at a fraction of its full strength or Appollyon's neck would have snapped in seconds.

”Practical” He paused, thinking once again of Tertius, “pract.. ical…” He pulled his combat blade from its sheath at his waist and thrust it into the Ork’s arm pit ripping up with all his strength and severing the brachial plexus and anxilliary nerve in one movement.  “Practical, I…was hoping you’d do that” he finished. The Ork Boss’s grip loosed and Apollyon dropped to his feet in a crouch before jumping up and twisting, slicing the brute’s throat. Bright arterial blood jetted out as he span, covering his armour.  The Ork slumped to the ground and stayed still, blood pooling round its massive form. He heard the cries of shock and consternation from the other Orks and knew the battle was done. He strode away from the form of the Ork Boss to check on Orosius, noticing that at least one Ork had been freed. Hopefully they still had the other for interrogation back at base.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Hobby Post: Al's Top 10 painting and modelling Tips

I've been doing this hobby a LONG time now, over 20 years in fact. And over that time, I like to think i've picked up a few things. Tips and Tricks, or these days maybe 'Hacks' that I consider to be invaluable to my painting and modelling. And here i'm going to present 10 of them to you.

Now i'm under no illusion that i'm any master painter. I paint to what I consider a decent standard. I'm not a fast painter and i'm never going to be troubling Golden Daemon, but you never know, you might find one or two of these useful so here we go!

1: Daylight makes right.

I'm not trying to teach people to suck eggs here. I know that the VAST majority of people probably already use a daylight bulb to do their painting. But on the off chance that you DON'T use a daylight bulb, well, USE A DAYLIGHT BULB!

Lighting is REALLY important in getting good results and daylight bulbs are inexpensive. Using normal artificial lighting you will get colour distortion and false shadows that will definitely affect results. So yeah, a decent angled lamp and a daylight bulb are absolutely imperative to getting good results.

2: Make a recipe book 

Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I REALLY struggle to remember exactly how I painted some of my models. This can particularly be a problem if I come back to a project after painting something else (see tip 8). My solution? Keep a recipe book. I write down the colours, mixes and even any unusual methods and techniques that I use. This way I can replicate the process later. Having a mismatched army can be very frustrating and I use a variety of different paint brands on my models so remembering which shades are which can be quite difficult. But not with my Paint Codex!

3: Bring the Noise

Or at least have something on in the background. I VERY rarely paint without having some tunes on. Normally rock or Metal but quite often a film or game soundtrack. I find it can be quite inspiring and essential in creating a 'mood' that is heavily conducive to a productive creative environment. Of course your taste will vary but regardless of the type of soundtrack you prefer you should find a bit of background music a pleasant addition to your painting time.

4: Keep things clear

Ok, I’ll admit it, I have NOOOO idea why people use mugs as water receptacles for painting. A: You cant easily see how contaminated that water is and B: You KNOW you are going to pick it up instead of your tea for an unpleasant drink OR dunk your paintbrush in the Tea instead.

So I use (squat) glass tumblers. Much, much easier! I can see when I need to replace the water, can see if there is any residue at the bottom and can see my brush through the water. Which brings me to my next tip.

5: A pair of glasses is much better than half a pair

This one really is a no brainer. For two very good reasons. I use one tumbler to clean my brush and another to rinse it. This is important. You don’t want to be dragging that manky water (quite possibly with metallic flecks) into your nicely new palletted paint! (unless you want your models to look like they are covered in glitter, in which case, go nuts.)

Seriously though two water cup/glass whatever, one to wash, one to rinse. One gets manky one stays nice(ish) Thank me later.

6: Mould Tool

Now, everyone knows I am no White Knight. I criticise GW as often as they deserve it (which used to be a LOT – but they are getting better).  But one thing that I cannot fault them on is the Citadel Mould tool. Ever since this wondrous little gizmo I have never looked back. No more do I need to remove mould lines with a modelling knife. A quick scrape with this baby and it’s bye bye mould line. If you don’t have one get one. If you don’t take mould lines off your models then hang your head in shame!

7: Look before you paint:

Ok this is another one that seems to be not all that common. You’ve got your new miniature, ready to be adorned with coats of paint. You’re eager to start, to get it ready for the display case/Table but SHTAAP!!

Have a look at the model. I mean REALLY look at it, look at all the details. Look at the ways the lines work, where bits of the model flow into each other. Which bits are you going to paint first? Get an idea in your head about which bits are going to be which colour. Painting a model and then realising you’ve missed a bit sucks. Preparing yourself can prevent this. I once painstakingly painted a 54 mm models face and then realised I had missed an ear. Much swearing later he ended up with a scar instead.  Save yourself from this and do a bit of mental prep first.

8:It doesn’t matter what you paint...

As long as you paint something. Look, I know that you might not always feel like painting. Not everyone does. I’ve had battles with major depression (which are always ongoing – it never really goes away) and sometimes I don’t paint at all. But other times when I just don’t feel like painting something in particular, there is always something else lying about that could use a lick of paint.

For example, after working for GW AND painting up a number of my own marine armies I am DONE with Power Armour. I must have painted half a chapter's worth at least over the years. I just can’t get excited about it and it’s the main reason I chose to do Genestealer Cult for 2018. But even this project is weighing on me a little. I mean I was SICK of painting Cultists, so what did I do? I grabbed a Chimera and started that. After doing all the camo and tracks on that I felt more like tackling that twenty man squad again. Of course this can mean you have lots of half finished models but I honestly think that is better than forcing yourself to finish something and doing a rush job.

It might be that you are sick of painting detail altogether, well why not do some basecoating on another unit? Or a piece of scenery for a change of pace? If you are anything like me you will have plenty that needs painting (read: more models than I can actually paint in a lifetime) and they say a change is as good as a rest. Hobby time is precious when you have adult responsibilities and commitments, make the most of it!

9: Less is more:

EVERYONE knows Duncan’s mantra, ‘two thin coats’ BUT beyond this there is something that is very important to consider when painting and that is less is more. Kind of along the same lines.

One thing I remember is from when I was giving painting lessons as a GW member of staff. My student would always nearly be using too much paint, slathering massive globules of paint onto the model and then wondering where the detail went. Once a kid actually dunked his marine into a pot of UItramarine Blue, bet you couldn’t do that with a Primaris Marine, it wouldn't fit!

Anyway, less paint on the brush is generally much better than more. For a number of reasons.

1: Easier to control. Load a big globule of paint onto a paintbrush and it will go all over your model, causing 'flooding'. Far better to apply a little at a time and manipulate the paint easier. 

2: Less paint wastage. Thinking again as a staff member it really pissed me off endlessly opening new pots of Ultramarine Blue (the old hexagonal ones) because little Jimmy had decided his Marine needed to look like a blue Golf Ball. Wet Palettes are another great way to prevent wastage.

3: Preserve your brushes. Get too much paint on the paint brush and it is bound to end up in the ferrule and thats how you get a destroyed brush. Rinse your brushes frequently to prevent build up.

4: Better Coverage and colour. You need MORE reasons? Okay. Like the Master Duncan says two thin coats is better than one thick. Besides the obscuring of detail thin coats will allow the pigments in the paint to build up, this will provide a much much stronger and more vibrant colour. The expert professional painters use dozens of layers applied in thin glazes. 

10: Tell a story:

One final tip, and this is a personal thing. Make it personal. Come up with backgrounds, narrative, characters and lore for your army. I find it can make you a lot more invested in your force and project. You don't even have to write anything at all! Little conversions here and there, colour choices, even your bases can tell a story.

See what strikes you, it might be just a war chant, a name, a home planet. The more you can add the more personal it will all feel. I decided to write a mini novel for my latest army Project! Feel free to borrow from anywhere! Influences and Homages abound in my projects, as long as you can try to keep this side of utter rip off and aren't blatantly profiting from your influences I think you can argue creative license rather than outright plagarism. Dont forget even GW themselves are fond of nods to popular culture and mythology/history! 

and that's it! Just ten humble bits of  (debatable) hobby wisdom that I thought i'd share. Hopefully you got at least SOMETHING out of reading this article. Otherwise I apologise for wasting your time. Either way, feel free to drop a comment below and let me know!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

The Brotherhood of the Yellow King. Chapter One:


Screams echoed from the dank dirty walls of the asylum, a reverberation of woe and despair that permeated the very air and lent an unsettling ambiance to the atmosphere. Prefect Alistae Carn tried not to shudder as he followed the shuffling doctor, who's name he had quite forgotten, through the seemingly labyrinthine dark corridors, trying not to look too closely into the shadows cast by the wan lumin-globes that sporadically dotted the recesses of the foreboding passage.

Emperor damn Ralscon, damn him and his orders, of all the forsaken locales to be sent to. Worth was a wretched enough place as it was, a dungball of a world ignored by practically everybody, including those unfortunate enough to live on it  In fact Carn was pretty sure Worth was ironically named being a particularly small planet, more of a planetoid really. It's real designation was a very boring series of numbers and letters that no one wanted to remember almost like it wasn't worth remembering, hence being relabeled by the first settlers. Worth was devoid of oceans and was primarily comprised of a dense violet grey ash over an unremarkable rock crust dotted with mostly now dormant volcanoes. However, beneath the crust was a wealth of minerals and ores and numerous mining facilities were set up to make use of the only resource that Worth could offer. Other than mining outposts there were small towns and provinces here and there as the inhabitants tried to eke out whatever meagre lives they could. There was only one city and that was Narthley. Here all administration was carried out for the entire planet. Contact with the wider Imperium was minimal, they supplied a tithe of minerals and ores and therefore were left alone blissfully unaware of the majority of the perils that beset the galaxy.

Carn was here to investigate the disappearance (and subsequent reappearance) of one adept Larkarsky. The adept had been inspecting a mining operation in far off Endomaw on the other side of the planet. A fairly routine survey, the output from the mine had wavered somewhat in recent months and Larkarsky's assignment was to see if there were any untoward reason for the aberration. Everything had been fine for the first couple of weeks with regular updates in Larkasky's usual terse, abrupt fashion (he tended to make his reports curt whilst laboriously preparing detailed written treatises on anything and everything which he would then present upon his return - almost as if to spite his superiors and make them spend excess time reading his texts for the full wealth of detail). The brief reports suggested that little was awry, although a subtle undercurrent of tension and uncertainty was present. This in itself was not unusual though, Larkarsky was from a brave or adventurous man and easily perturbed. Were it not for his analytical skills, Carn mused, Larkarsky likely would not have been sent at all. Certainly, he would not have been Carn's first choice.

It seemed that Carn's judgement was sound as well, for Larkarsky's updates turned increasingly erratic, and furtive. Almost as if he were afraid of saying more in his communiques. Then, without warning, they ceased. Requests for re-established contact were met with silence. The entire of Endomaw went dark and no response was forthcoming for six full solar cycles. Given that Worth had a significantly slower rotation than most planets this was equivalent to just under three Terran weeks. Just as Carn's superiors were about to authorise a rapid strike team to be sent to investigate, Larkarsky reappeared.

He did not however, announce his presence as per standard procedures. Rather he was apprehended for disturbing the peace in a province not far from Endomaw, babbling incoherently and raving about a dark terror, an unfathomable mystery threat that threatened to engulf the entire planet. When he foolishly tried to resist arrest the local constabulary took him down, hard. Larkarsky was dragged, broken and bleeding, into custody where he was found to be utterly without reason, ranting about coming apocalyptic horrors and beings tentacled and omnipotent from beyond the stars,  that would consume all in their path. Chances are that he would have been executed at that point without hesitation for witchery as it was a particularly backward and superstitious settlement which he had chosen to appear in, but thankfully one of the more astute denizens of the town recognised Larkarksy's administrative trappings and sent a message to Carn's office. Once it was established that the Adept had indeed reappeared the strike team was stood down and Carn was given the thankless task of journeying to this backwater hole to find out just what had happened in Endomaw. Carn damned Ralscon again, mentally subjecting him to various tortures and agonies in return, he smiled at the thought a bit in the gloom before he realised the doctor had stopped ahead of him.

Shaken from his reverie he glanced at the door that the hunched doctor gestured towards with gnarled bony fingers..

'He's in here, but I warn you, his mind is cracked, you'll not get anything of any worth from him.' The doctors rheumy eyes, dead of emotion, echoed her expressionless lined face. Hers was a visage and frame that had been worn down over years of dealing with the irredeemably insane. No rejuvenat treatments or augmetics here, in this town. On a more prominent world she could have still been beautiful, vital. But here, here she was a prisoner of her advancing years almost as much as her charges were prisoners of their fractured psyches.

'I've seen it before, oh too many times for me to count, Emperor save me,' she continued. 'His mind has gone has that one, whatever he has seen or imagined, it was too much. He'll never recover, never.' Her mouth suddenly set in a sad smile, she stepped back into the shadows allowing Carn access to the viewing slot in the door.

Carn nodded his thanks at the shrouded form of the Doctor and approached the door, unbolting the small hatch and sliding it down to peer into the gloomy room within. A faint feotid stench assaulted his nostrils. He tried to breathe though his mouth instead but the air tasted just as foul. He fought the impulse to gag.

'Larkarsky, Adept Larkarsky' he rasped. Only silence greeted him from within, though the space outside the room still echoed with the screams and rantings of myriad maniacal inmates. No, not silence, there was something. He strained to filter out the unwanted sounds, Larkarsky was muttering something. Carn couldn't make it out though, much as he tried. He stepped back from the viewing hatch.

'Open it', he brusquely instructed, glancing at the doctor, not unkindly but with a commanding gaze nonetheless. The Doctor looked up and shook her head slowly.

'I wouldn't recommend tha....'

'Is he dangerous?' Carn interrupted, 'any threat at all?'

'no', she countered. 'But he is utterly broken, there is no point in interrogating him'.

'I'll be the judge of that. Open. The. Door.'

She shrugged and fumbled with a large cluster of metal keys. Carn winced, physical keys? what primitive hell was this? She must have noticed his expression in the gloom for she shot him a dirty look as she located the correct key amongst the bundle and used it to unlock the door. She swung it open and stepped back from the gloomy entrance.

suppressing a brief uncharacteristic sense of trepidation, Carn stepped inside, trying to ignore the suddenly more prominent odour. Larkarksy was huddled in a far corner, unmoving. Unkempt and filthy, his head was bowed and he was muttering something over and over...Carn stepped closer.

'Yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow... '

Over and over and over, that one word. His tone was haunted and despairing, his gaze fixed firmly on the floor. He made no reaction to Carn's approach, even as the Prefect knelt down beside him.

'Larkarsky....' he wracked his memory to recall the Adept's first name. 'Pallas' he tried, Pallas Larkarsky!' With the last he reached out and grabbed the man's shoulder.

Larkarsky stopped repeating and slowly raised his head.  Carn's mouth dropped agape, horror etched on his face as Larkarsky suddenly launched himself at the kneeling prefect, bowling him over. They both crashed to the filthy floor as Larkarsky's brief silence ended, the maddened Adept atop of Carn.

'They're coming!' he screamed. 'Oh God Emperor they are coming, we are all going to die, do you understand? We are all going to die. Nothing will survive, nothing will live. Nothing can stop them, nothing, nothing! Yellow will be all, yellow will be all! Our flesh, our bones our blood! All devoured, all devoured, all devoured!'

Carn struggled beneath Larkarsky, though slight of frame he had a strength born of mania and desperation and pinned the Prefect down whilst screaming. With his eyes screwed firmly shut Carn found the strength to hurl that demented visage away from him and he rolled to the left, away from Larkarsky, poor insane Larkarsky. Opening his eyes he shakily stood up and exited the cell as swiftly as dignity would allow. The Adept had gone back to his huddle and once again was whispering the word 'yellow' over and over.

As Carn crossed the threshold he closed the door and breathlessly nodded at the Doctor who rushed to lock it. With the cell secured she turned back to the Prefect, who was stooped, hands on knees.

'I told you' she said gently, 'he's too far gone'.

Carn regulated his breathing and futilely tried to get Larkarsky's face out of his head. It was useless, he knew he'd be seeing that image till his dying days. Damn Ralscon. As his terror subsided the adrenaline found a new home in anger. His voice shook as he rose and stood, straight but unsteady, rounding on the doctor.

'Why... didn't you tell me he'd done that?' His indignant hoarse whisper suddenly turned into an indignant hoarse roar, 'WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME ABOUT HIS FACE?!'

'You didn't ask,' the doctor returned, though she wasn't quite smug there was nonetheless an air of insouciance about her reply which rankled at the Prefect. 'Self mutilation isn't entirely uncommon among our patients. We tried to sedate him but whatever his torment is it affects his unconsciousness  as well as his waking state. His torture is eternal, poor soul' she finished with a downcast look. 'May the Emperor deliver him from his hell.'

Carn didn't reply immediately. In his mind he could still see Larkarsky's ravaged face. The beatings from the authorities were fading to lurid yellows and greens but the gouges, they were fresh, and his eyes......

'But his eyes, why did he tear out his own eyes?' He shuddered, his breathing was becoming more regular now but his mind was still a whirl of emotions. He would never forgive Ralscon for this.

'As I said, whatever he has seen or imagined he has seen, it was too much. He did it just a couple of days after arriving, he didn't even make a noise while doing it. We didn't know until the next day. He just sat there the whole time while he gouged them out. Was he a friend?'

Carn's normal demeanour reasserted itself, 'hardly, he was barely a colleague. We have never spoken, I don't know the man and now I never will. Tell me doctor where are his effects?'

'Stored upstairs securely, nothing has been touched. Would you like me to have them brought to you?'

'Please, have them sent to my offices back in Narthley. There is nothing further for me here.' He walked back down the dark corridor, retracing his steps. Whatever had happened at Endomaw, he wasn't going to get the answer from poor Larkarsky directly. Hopefully the Adepts anally precise written reports would divulge the answers he needed. In the meantime he wanted to get out of this hellhole as quickly as possible.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Cult War: Month 1

Cult War 2018

Allen and I have agreed on a project for 2018 that will be the main focus of our hobby efforts in 2018. It isn’t going to be the only thing we do but it will have set goals that we want to achieve each month. As Allen has done most of the work he needs to do on his Necrons he is now going to be working on his packed shelf of Genestealer Cult models which has influenced my army decision which is the somewhat broad classification of Imperium.

Imperium gives me access to Inquisition, Deathwatch, Astra Militarum, Tempestus Scions, Assassins and Dark Angels, all of which are models I own but need to get painted. Once I have some Astra Militarum painted Allen can use them too as we work through narrative scenarios. Eventually Allen can even have some Tyranids if that’s the way the story goes.

To begin with we are going to play Shadow War. Allen’s choices are fairly simple, the Genestealer Cult list whereas I can choose from four lists! Inquisition, Astra Militarum, Tempestus Scions and Dark Angel Scouts.

For January I am painting my entire Inquisitorial war band. This consists on a Ordo Xeno Inquisitor, several acolytes and neophytes and a bounty hunter in case I’m allowed reinforcements. I’ve also chosen to paint one objective and one scenery piece, though in this case it is built as three separate models. If I can manage to do this every month we’ll have a substantial collection of items to be playing with.


Like  Lee says, 2018 sees me starting a new army. I wanted something completely different from the Necrons, which are sitting at a comfortable 2,000 points painted. Problem is, people hate playing them. 19 wins on the bounce now means even I am tiring of playing with them. I feel that games, especially casual games, are the formation of a pact between opponents, a commitment to mutual fun and enjoyment. Wiping players from the board and taking minimal casualties frankly has limited appeal to me.

And it is with this mindset in mind that I have chosen my new army. I had no shortage to choose from but have decided that it wouldn't be Power Armoured so that's Ultramarines, Emperors Blades (my own Homebrew chapter) and Deathwatch all discounted. I have all three Aeldari armies but those too i'm not especially keen on, and given their dominance at the recent LVO it would appear that I made the right choice. Nope, it was the Genestealer Cult that I decided on.  At this point, I probably should have had a word with myself......... 

'2018, new army! Genestealer Cult!'
'Al, that's a horde army mate, you hate painting horde armies.....' 
'I've got a great idea for background and colour scheme too'
'Al HORDE ARMY. Keep it simple....'
'I'm gonnna do them with a primary colour of Yellow!!!'
Al, nooo, Al.... SHTAP! Al......???????'

Anyway, there we are, 168 models to paint. Sigh. Complex colour scheme, double sigh. Yellow as a major colour. All the sighs. Still, i'm committed now,  (some would say I should BE committed).

So month one, saw me complete a grand total of 25 models. Anyone who knows my painting habits knows that that is a LOT for me.  I'm quite pleased with that output and if i can keep it up I could see the army completed in a little over six months. Which would suit me down to the ground.

I made up my paint recipes and wrote them down and knocked out ten Neophytes pretty quickly, making good use of washes to cut time. (I refuse to drybrush). The Acolytes were a little trickier as the percentage of Tyranid elements increases. This meant I effectively had to work out the colour scheme for Hive Fleet Terebinthinas (and if you know why they are called that you will know why they have that colour scheme). Yellows greens and purples feature.

Anyway, this, and the fact that they are just harder to paint means that only 5 Acolytes were finished. I did better with the indoctrinated Imperial Guard/PDF elements though and got a full squad of 10 finished along with freehand on the pads which a few may recognise. After all they are the Brotherhood of the Yellow King...

So, yep that's 25 models all done for January, not too bad, now to see if I can maintain it. At the very least its enough for our planned games of Shadow War. The Cult Rises.......

We'll be back next month with another update!