Monday, 30 May 2011

World Eaters Short Story Series Pt. 2

The next shory story in this series. This one, entitled Red Night, takes a look at what happens when one of the Astartes has deactivated his neural implants and the battle is done. It's a wonderfully evocative story, and an interesting slant on what happens after the World Eater has pressed the 'on' button. Is conciousness, or more precisely the 'human element' left at the door, in order to make them a more violent and bloodthirsty killer?

Red Night

By William Hooke (aka Marshall Wilhelm)

‘WHERE... AM I? What was I... doing?’
Recollection seeps through his hazy post-combat comedown. He stops stumbling around. His mind aches. His muscles ache. His bones ache. He aches.
Steadying himself, he is dazed and overwhelmed. His visor is shattered, with a fractured image confronting his bloodshot eyes. His breath is ragged and stinks of the spent stimms that permeate his entire body. He wishes he could collapse and avoid this. But he is too tired even to lie down.
Pulling off his cracked helm with a grimace, freshly scabbed wounds are pulled open and a wash of rich red covers his face. He feels faint for a moment and doubles over to retch, bright yellow bile spattering the oxide tinted dirt.

‘I... remember...’ he rasps. He looks at his helmet, now severely dented and torn in a mirror of the bloody wound on his tortured face. His direct vox-hail attempts fail, but the Stormbird’s location is hinted at by the ruined display as he peers into the helmet with all the wonder of a juve gazing into the depths of a sinkhole. He moves to head for the Stormbird, but a half-remembered task halts him. He turns back.
Strewn across a twenty metre-wide area are the disembowelled remains of a half-dozen ork elites, their hulking forms still apparent though none are still even vaguely whole. Then he sees his prize: six heavy ork heads piled together, with mortified expressions of pain – or hatred? – upon their grim faces. His chainaxe lies in the dirt, its teeth invisible beneath the viscera that cakes them.
‘Well done, Garrett,’ he muses out loud, and busies himself fashioning a bandolier from discarded cable before threading through the xenos’ gaping jawbones. Garrett slings his prize across his body like a sash, then hoists his clogged chainaxe over his shoulder. His desire met, he turns once more for the Stormbird.
Though his armour is breached in many places and unable to boost his musculature’s efforts with any notion of efficiency, he makes his way, staggering and stumbling just as when he first regained consciousness. Garrett realises that not all of his bones are intact as stabbing pains jolt his enhanced frame, and he recalls the days of slaughter and the great battles between the World Eaters and the orks in times past. The rush and fury of charge against the vile xenos. Images flickering through his mind, in a haphazard collection of still frames and short sequences. Glorious.
Even though he is beaten and broken, the remembrances of victory – nay, slaughter – bring a smile and a softening of those harsh and scarred features. Though often melancholy after the heady rush of combat, the chance to end those who threatened the Emperor’s dream of a galaxy filled with a united humanity in honest combat was too delicious, too addictive to give up. Garrett murmurs a rote-conditioned ‘For the Emperor,’ as he trudges from the field of battle.

THE SUN WAS setting by the time the wounded Astartes reached the Stormbird. His captain, Kharn of the Eighth, had been aware of his approach on the auspex, and vox-hailed the apothecaries. They came quickly and laid the weary warrior onto the rusty soil, cradling his head on a quickly heaped pile. Sergeant Garrett’s once gleaming battle plate, in splendid arctic white and royal blue, was much-marred with clods of dusty soil and blood, both xenos and Astartes. The only vaguely bright or clean patches were where the enemy had gouged the ceramite with projectiles and melee weapons.
‘Garrett,’ whispered Kharn. ‘We thought you had left us, brother. Yet here you are.’
‘Yes lord... though all that I am... now burns... with fire.’
Kharn dismissed his ramblings. ‘You look as good as dead, brother. But do not worry – the sawbones have you now. Sleep well.’
As the apothecaries released the seals of his armour, deliriously Garrett spoke. ‘Sleep... I’d rather... fight... that hell...’
Kharn’s brow furrowed. ‘Brother?’
‘The dreams... the red knight... still...’
Garrett’s weary eyes closed – his lifeblood was draining away, and he was becoming incoherent though the apothecaries tended him as best they could. At the captain’s command they administered a dose of adrenalite, and the wounded sergeant snapped his eyes open with a pained gasp.
‘Pray brother, speak more.’
Garrett choked, his words coming suddenly in a torrent. ‘Many nights I dream of death and fire and blood, most unnatural even for the likes of us! Most galling is I do not dream of those who defy us... but of us, of me. That red knight offers me his clawed hand and when I slap that xenos talon away his red hound leaps upon me and ravages me like a rag-doll. I am no xenos lover, my lord!’
With a tenderness that surprised those around them, Captain Kharn removed his gauntlet and stroked Garrett’s face with his calloused hand as the broken warrior began to quake as though palsied. Tears came to his eyes at the sight.
‘This beast is so strong! It eats me though it is not my flesh that it craves...’
The Stormbird’s pilot fired the engines, signaling to those at the drop point that departure was imminent. The apothecaries raised Garrett onto a makeshift gurney and bore him away to the embarkation ramp.
Kharn sat in the dust a moment, looking up at the ripple of stars in the heat haze. He wondered what it all meant.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

World Eaters, a short story series

Last year, the wonderful Great Crusade forum ran a short story competition. Anyone who entered had to compose a short, 1000 word story about an event taking place either during the Great Crusade or Horus Heresy era. Furthermore, the contest was to be judged by Black Library author Aaron Dembski Bowden himself! Unsurprisingly, the contest received a huge number of entries, the entirety of which are accessible through the link below (if you are a fan of Pre-Heresy, and are not already a member of the website, I urge you to go and sign up straight away!)

A number of the stories featured the World Eaters. As I am attempting to make this blog a resource for Pre-Heresy World Eater hobbyists and collectors, and because few things are as inspiring as a well-written piece of fiction, over the coming weeks with the permission of their authors I will be posting those stories again here.

So without further ado, here is the first story. It is called 'Rage Unknown' and is written by Joshua Bullock (aka Ahriman from the TGC forum). It focuses on a slice of the action during the infamous final battles upon the surface of Istvaan III, the sequence written about in the early salvo of Horus Heresy books, whereby the Traitor legions were attempting to exercise their loyalist elements.

Rage Unknown

By Joshua Bullock

ANGER FILLED HIS body. Anger whose source was unknown to him, anger the likes of which he had never quite felt before, even with the psycho-stimulative implants in the base of his skull. The air smelled of blood and his armour was caked in it. He smiled to himself as he stared down at the dull redness that covered his body, breathing in its coppery tang and focusing on the rage that filled his head.
The ruins of Istvaan III’s Precentor Palace lay all around him, reminiscent of dying men’s fingers clawing at the sky. The air was thick with dust and anyone but an Adeptus Astartes would have been hard pressed to see more than a few metres.
But there were none but Astartes within the ruined walls of the dead city. Brother fought brother from behind hastily constructed barricades amid the shattered but still hauntingly beautiful architecture, with the frescos of primitive gods still somehow intact following the orbital bombardments and the ongoing ravages of battle.
Warriors from several legions made war upon the planet’s surface: the perfect ranks of the pristine Emperor’s Children stood beside the sea green of the Warmaster’s own sons, while the stoic forces of the Death Guard fought one another within the grimy trench systems outside the ruined city. Kruer stood with his own warriors, the white of their battered armour catching the fading light of the dying world’s sun. The World Eaters were on edge, ready to rip apart anything within their reach. None more so than the primarch Angron, who stood with his favoured warriors, fixated upon the blood congealed upon the teeth of his huge chainaxe. The blood of those whom had fallen from his graces.
Kruer took in none of this. Not the ruins nor the art, not the purple and gold-clad warriors cleaning their weapons, nor the Sons of Horus who seemed content to let the other legions do the work for them. Not even the awe inspiring presence of Angron could disturb him from the all-consuming rage that filled his body. From where this anger had come, the hatred for warriors that just mere hours earlier had been his brethren, he did not know. All he did know was that he liked it.
Oh yes, he was quite certain about that.
A hash on his vox-channel penetrated the haze, and a single command rose through the roaring in his head:


Kruer needed no more encouragement. He barely registered the Emperor’s Children advancing to his right, moving steadily through the devastated buildings covering one another as each squad carried out its function in the great scheme of battle.
The World Eaters followed no such tactics, each squad running loosely together, vaulting fallen masonry and smashing down walls in their haste to close with the enemy. Kruer could now see them, crouched like cowards behind the remains of the broken city: it served only to fuel his burning rage, seeing warriors with whom he had once been proud to serve, stooping to such gutless cowardice.
He sprinted through the rain of bolter shells, paying them no heed. He could see the entrenched warriors clearly, their white and blue armour standing out from the destruction around them. He knew some of them by name, and he knew all of them by blood. And it would fill him with great sense of satisfaction to remove this taint from his legion.

IRATUS KNELT DOWN to reload his boltgun, yanking out the drained sickle magazine before ramming home a fresh clip and raking the slide. He rose again swiftly as others around him knelt to reload their own weapons. The sight was strange to him – this was not how the World Eaters usually fought, taking cover behind barricades and exercising tight bolter drills.
The back of his head throbbed as his psycho-stimulative implants urged him to violence, and it took almost all of his willpower to stay in line with his brothers and not to engage the implants’ feedback loop and launch himself at the traitors heading their way. One thought above all others kept him grounded in the moment: they were World Eaters no more. They were War Hounds once again.
He resumed firing, adding his bolts to the fusillade. A depraved figure emerged from the midst of the rabble, caked in blood and charging with such reckless abandon that he cared not what struck him – masonry, bolt rounds, shrapnel. Even his own comrades, whom he smashed aside in his need to close with Iratus‘s line.
He emptied his rest of his magazine at the bloody figure and those around him, before diving down once more to reload. The warrior to his right fell to the ground clutching his throat, blood running thick and fast before his enhanced physiology could clot the wound. The War Hound to the other side of Iratus fell also, his headless body crashing into the rubble and the armoured helm following an instant later. Desperately Iratus leapt back to his feet, ready to fire, only to be confronted by the viscera streaked face plate of the berserk World Eater on the other side of the barricade.
The roar of his chainaxe seemed to merge with the war cry from the warrior’s helmet vox-emitters, and Iratus fired two rounds into the berserker’s armoured torso before the boltgun was torn from his grip by a downward strike. The World Eater leapt over the barricade, and Iratus drew his combat blade and held it out across his chest. The tempered plasteel was no match for the foe’s axe, but if he was lucky...

RAGE WAS ALL Kruer knew, all that he could see. He didn’t even feel the foe’s blade as it pierced his throat, nor the impact of his chainaxe upon the loyalist dog’s helmet. Darkness overcame him and he smiled behind his visor.
It mattered not from where the blood flowed.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Apothecary in MK5 armour

I think it's time to try and forget last week's unpleasantries and move on. I have finally finished painting my Apothecary. I've tried something new with this one in the form of weathering the armour, a new methods I tried when painting some WFB orcs. Overall I'm quite pleased with how it is has come out, although I may have used a little too much of it on this guy! The Legion badge will be added to his right shoulder pad as soon as I have access to my transfers.

Apothecary Csobán

Pictured following the first 72 hours of the compliance of Konos III. As a trainee of the Medicae facilities of Bodt, Csobán was attached to the 2nd company along with two other medical personnel under the command of the (then) Captain Sevruk.

The 2nd company, along with the 5th and 17th, was involved in the spearhead assault of the Etat Union's primary industrial facility. It was heavily defended, and Csobán had his hands full during the early hours of the operation. At one of the industrial facilities, a breached cooling towers resulted in the cataclysmic destruction of it's reactor, killing both defender and attacker alike within a several kilometer radius, and severely damaging a large contingent of the 17th company that were involved in the operation. Following direct correspondence from Commander of the Fleet Borya (who was overseeing the entire operation from orbit) Csobán and other medicae officers were ordered to the area to recover what they could of the fallen Astartes.

Pictured here, the Apothecary is carrying a personal medi-pack, designed for battlefield triage but also more importantly carrying a freezer unit to carry the gene seeds of the fallen. His high-powered chainblade (attached to a bionic arm, testament to a previous campaign) designed to cut through Astartes battle-plate - either to administer treatment, or to reach the highly valuable geneseed held within. A collection of frag grenades, while primarily designed as an offensive weapon, were also used to destroy the waylaid remains of Astartes when the extraction of their bodies and wargear was not possible, so that it might not fall into enemy hands. The heat-spectrascope, an ancillary addition to his backpack, enables the Apothecary to instantly ascertain the location of Astartes physiology. It was especially useful in this circumstance, as many Marines were buried beneath sizeable amounts of rubble and sand. An enhanced auspex unit in his helmet allows his to receive full physiological information from a wounded Astartes, and will recommend various courses of action to administer aid.


















Wargear: Power Armour, chainsword, bolt pistol, frag and krak grenades, narthicium

Notes on Special Rules

Obviously a Blood Angel Sanguinary Priest has no place in a World Eaters force. However the presence of one 'counting as' such a unit not only presents a cool modelling opportunity, but also helps to sneak in an added bit of assault capability in the form of the 6" 'Furious Charge" bubble that exists around the Apothecary. As such, I may well try and get 2 or 3 of these guys in the finished army, just to increase power in assaults across the board for those units who don't succeed in obtaining 'red thirst' before the game.

The presence of the Apothecary himself in the unit also provides the 'feel no pain' special rule. I like the idea of medics being attached to various units, it fits in nicely with how Marines used to be presented in the original incarnation of the game, and the more pragmatic approach to how the Legions were organised before the 'great upset' happened, and the marines had 10,000 years or so of ritual and dogma added to their routine.

I'm also hoping to get hold of the wonderful MK4 FW librarian at some point in the future. Next up, the 'meat and veg' element of my army has been solely lacking recently, in favour of more exotic elements, so depending on what comes first in the post expect to see either some more assault marines, or another tactical squad (these guys dressed entirely in mk3 armour - think the cover of False Gods :) )

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Oh, Games Workshop...

This post will be a first for this blog. Since it's inception, I have tried to keep focus entirely on the World Eaters and the discussion surrounding them. I have reasoned that the people who do visit my blog do so to read about the mighty twelfth Legion and worlds being eaten, and not petty, real life stuff.

So it is some indication of the importance that I ascribe to the 'hot topic' that leads me to make this post now. Been away for a few days and not sure what it is yet? I recommend that you head over to Dakka, Warseer, Bell of Lost Souls (even Games Workshop's own FB page) and take in the first half dozen or so, 20 page discussions. Or look at any number of the blogs on my blog roll. Put simply, Games Workshop HQ has been taken over by Gremlins. Someone fed them after dark, and now in their evil and tricksy ways they have set about with great gusto in attempting to upset their fans as much as possible.

I won't go into specifics here, suffice to say that most criticism revolves around a not insignificant price increase across the board (on the back of a switch to a supposedly cheaper material), and a big middle finger to the Southern hemisphere, or at least anywhere like Australia, where customers from those countries were previously using UK based internet retailers. The reason being, it was possible to buy GW product at something approaching RRP, rather than the ridiculous prices determined by the the exchange rate that GW follows. Now those customers will be forced to swallow their pride (and presumably packets of instant noodles, the only thing the average middle class citizen will be able to afford after a trip into an Aus GW) if they want to continue to buy new GW product. Unsurprisingly, the comments from the former colonies have not been overwhelmingly pleased. On a personal level, it means I cannot continue to order from the likes of Wayland and Maelstrom. While this won't really effect my World Eaters project (what project you may ask, after looking at the number of posts recently? :) ) which subsists on bits orders that get put into parcels from my family back home, it has given my other projects - a WFB orc force and Eldar army - a questionable future. I have more than a 5 hour journey to Seoul if I want to buy any GW, and I will have to pay more than RRP for it if I want to do so.

So, where does that leave us? The internet has a history of kicking up storms that don't really go anywhere, and of people raging at their keyboards (see: every other GW price increase), but I have a feeling this one is going to be different. There is a hell of a lot more passion behind it, and it's as if the dam has become unplugged, letting forth all manner of unpleasantries which had previously been welling up.

For this reason, I have decided to write a letter (on a computer, not hand written, we have to roll a little bit with the times here!), print it out and as of today mailed it off to GW HQ back in the motherland. Internet fan communities do have weight, if they pull together (just look at Rage Against the Machine making it to Christmas Number 1 in the UK, or Greenpeace naming that whale Mr. Splashy Pants!).

So, if you feel as strongly as I do about this topic, I advise you to follow suit and make up one of your own. Make it polite and concise; let GW know exactly how you feel about this recent spate of changes. Here is the address of GW HQ:

Games Workshop
Direct Sales
Willow Road

If enough of us do it, someone might just take notice. It could well be that nothing whatsoever will happen, and that exec types will sit at their desks with their fingers in their ears yelling 'lalalala' even as the office junior gets a big overtime payment that month shovelling letters into landfill. But if in the years to come GW does nose dive, at least we will have the knowledge that we tried to make a difference. Games Workshop has been a big part of my life, and that is what has prompted the emotional reaction on my part. I genuinely feel for the company, and the feeling of 'betrayal' that I am currently experiencing is as much concerning my fear for the companies future as it is the personal inconvenience the prices rises, trade embargoes and other nonsense are causing me.

This will be the last such comment from me on this blog, and all future postings will indeed go back to discussing pre-Heresy matters, chiefly the boys in white and blue. That is, unless something happens again in the future where by I feel the hobby that I know and love is threatened..