Right, it's all done! I'll do two posts; the first shows how I did the mud, then it's on to the background and photos.
To make the mud, I mixed up some plaster, assorted bits of cork to add some texture, brown and black paint, pva glue and water. Last time I did this, I used filler instead; I found plaster better, as it dried quicker and harder while still having a nice gloopiness on application.
With all this mixed, I ended up with something like a brownie mix. I then started applying it using a teaspoon and a toothpick. As you can see, it was quite a long job! As I had already given the ground some relief, I didn't need to worry too much about how the mix went on; it naturally filled holes and followed the contours of the foundation, although on occasion it needed some help.
Here's what the whole thing looked when all the mud had gone on; this was also the opportunity for me to use the left-over mix to drybrush the lower parts of the models, making it look like they'd been wading through the mud and tying them further in to the base.
Here's what it looked like when dry! This took a few hours, way better than the overnight wait I had last time I did this using filler.
As you can see, it's all looking a bit flat at this point. This was easily solved though; I drybrushed a lighter shade over to catch some of the detail, then hit it with two heavy washes. Finally I gave the whole thing a coat of gloss varnish so it looked wet. Here's a shot of the finished piece, although it doesn't lend itself to a photo like this; too much detail. The next post will remedy this and give a closer look...
11- The Khalkotauroi
“The great treasure of Old Zakros, in the days before Compliance, was the Brazen Bull. It was a true marvel of Olympian artistry! When men were placed in its belly and roasted alive, their screams and cries were translated through acoustic trickery into the furious bellows of an enraged beast. They burned enemy prisoners, of course- all the better to make besieged garrisons surrender- but that was not the Bull’s true purpose.
When the armies of Zakros marched, they did so to the sound of the Bull; and each man who heard it bellow knew that their treasonous, incompetent and cowardly comrades were burning within to motivate their efforts. The Brazen Bull bellowed ceaselessly for weeks when we returned to Olympia, and my family and their sycophants supplied its voice for a time; those who remained heard the sound echoing through the mountain passes, and knew that further self-indulgence on their part would not be tolerated.
Mortals are contemptible weaklings, yet sadly they are the only tools available to the Warmaster in this region of space. If our auxiliaries are to meet the required military specifications, they require encouragement. I will provide that encouragement; I will supply them with the iron they cannot supply themselves. I am the Brazen Bull of Zakros. Let my roar strike fear into the servants of Emperor and Warmaster alike.”
-Tektaos Deukalion, Sergeant Delegatus of the 103rd Grand Battalion, 5th Grand Company, IV Legion
It is a frequently-forgotten fact that although the fratricide that engulfed the Imperium in the wake of the Warmaster’s treachery was perpetrated and spearheaded by the trans-human warriors of the Legiones Astartes, the vast majority of the engagements during the fighting were undertaken solely by mortal humans. Even at the height of their powers the Legions could not spread themselves across the whole galaxy, and away from the more famous confrontations of the war, whole campaigns passed by without the presence of a single legionary.
In such an environment, both sides quickly found that despatching comparatively tiny groups of Astartes to warzones previously fought over by mortals could have an impact completely disproportionate to their numbers. Few Legions had more appreciation of the utility of this tactic than the IV; it was bitterly ironic that while the dilution of his Legion’s strength into a myriad of small garrisons had been one of the greatest sources of Perturabo’s bitterness towards the Emperor, the Warmaster obliged him to continue and expand the practice.
One typical example of the type of formation despatched to the far reaches of the war was the Khalkotauroi, or “Brazen Bulls”. This was a sub-company of around fifty Astartes operating from the Strike Cruiser Polypemon, whose commander, a veteran Sergeant named Tektaos Deukalion, was delegated by Warsmith Yishharu the authority to operate with complete autonomy over the expanse of two sectors in the far southern fringe of the Imperium.
Deukalion was a highborn Olympian and a grizzled veteran of innumerable campaigns; as the only son of the Despot of Zakros, he took his dynastic insignia of a brass bull’s head as his own, adopting it as the name of his command. His men were equally experienced, and comprised the shock cadre of the 103rd Grand Battalion, from where they had been drawn. Deukalion’s modus operandi was initially typical of the legion from which he hailed. Seeking out worlds locked in stalemate between the mortal servants of the Emperor and Warmaster, he would launch a devastating direct assault on the area of greatest Loyalist strength, shattering enemy morale and then withdrawing to allow the local traitors to take advantage of the victory he had gifted them.
The small numbers of legionaries at Deukalion’s disposal forced him to adopt other, less savoury tactics, and as his mission progressed the warriors under his command made increasing use of the sort of psychological warfare practiced by their Nostroman cousins. The arrival of the Khalkotauroi in a warzone was inevitably followed by mass executions of those judged insufficiently committed to the Warmaster’s cause, while enemy morale was further damaged by the increasingly common practice of trophy-taking from the slain.
For five years, Deukalion and his Khalkotauroi wreaked havoc across the worlds of the Kolobi Cluster. Perhaps their greatest victory was on Helatrobus Prime, where rival coalitions of Loyalist and Traitor nations had been locked into a bitter trench warfare since the opening days of the Great Betrayal, at the cost of billions of lives. In a series of lightning assaults over the course of two months, the Khalkotauroi smashed a series of carefully-chosen enemy strong-points, forcing Loyalist troops to retreat. With the strategic situation in flux, Deukalion then launched a series of terror raids in the areas behind enemy lines, turning what had previously been an ordered withdrawal into a rout and tipping the balance of the war firmly in the favour of the Traitors.
The aftermath of this action saw the Khalkotauroi captured for posterity by the traitor Rembrancer Orsolya Svetkov. Her picts and hololiths were intended for propaganda usage, but were apparently never disseminated; nonetheless, when Svetkov was captured by agents of the Sigilite the following year, copies remained in her cortical implants and were acquired when her brain was processed after execution. This fortuitous accident enables considerable detail to be gleaned on the background and past history of individual legionaries of the IV Legion during the mid-stage of the Great Betrayal.
It was while attempting to replicate their victory at Helatrobus Prime that the Khalkotauroi met their comeuppance. Even as the Warmaster was launching his final assault on Terra, Deukalion had selected the contested world of Costaguana for his next operation. It was here, while assaulting what they believed was a conference of Loyalist generals, that the Iron Warriors were ambushed by a combined V, VI and XIX Legion Kill Team led by Shade Captain Lekor, who had secretly arrived onworld a week previously. The Khalkotauroi, being almost entirely unused to combat with other Astartes and equipped only to deal with unarmoured mortals, died to a man.
+++Authorisation granted. Opening pict record [VR-92-A-F, Ref/004Svetkov]
Sergeant Delegatus Tektaos Deukalion of the 5th Company, 103rd Grand Battalion, IV Legion. One of the first generation of Olympian recruits into the Legion, Sergeant Deukalion bears personal heraldry on his right pauldron, a rare honour amongst the IV that generally correlates to noble Olympian birth and distinguished service. His artificer helm, wrought to match his heraldic device, bears testament to his artisanal skill whilst avoiding the impracticality that might accompany similar artefacts in other, more sentimental legions. His Auctoritas, which symbolises the power delegated him by his superior, hangs from a chain at his chest. Deukalion wields an Olympian Falkata and an early-pattern Combi-melta of indeterminate origin, probably from one of the IV Legion’s manufactories. As the Falkata was a symbolic hand weapon for the pre-compliance nobility of Olympia’s Southern Highlands and the Combi-melta remains a weapon highly favoured by IV Legion officers, it can be inferred that Deukalion was characterised by conservative traditionalism; to be given such latitude by his superiors also suggests a reputation for reliability and competence.
Apothecary Lukios Andronikh, attached to the 5th Company, 103rd Grand Battalion, IV Legion. A long-serving veteran who must have joined his Legion soon after his Primarch, the proudest moment in Apothecary Andronikh’s career must have been whichever deed occasioned the addition of the brass Mask of Olympia on his right greave, showing that he came to the personal attention of his gene-sire. The decoration on Andronikh’s other greave denotes service in the early battles of the Great Crusade as the Legiones Astartes pushed out of the immediate vicinity of Terra; this represents a conundrum, as Andronikh is clearly of Olympian extraction and could not possibly have been present during these campaigns. Perhaps the decoration was a trophy claimed from a Terran veteran at Isstvaan; it is equally possible that it commemorates the memory of a fallen IV Legion mentor or comrade. Inspection reveals Andronikh’s helm at his feet; it is a Sarum-Pattern variant, suggesting past service alongside the XII Legion. His Narthecium and Bolt Pistol are standard equipment; the servo-arm chain-blade mounted above his shoulder is a typical addition amongst the IV Legion Apothecarion, and had equal utility for close combat as medical employment.
Addenda: Andronikh’s diagnostic servo-skull can also be seen nearby, engaged in typical automatic data-gathering activity. Unlike most other Legions, the IV utilised the skulls of fallen brethren to house such units. This was not through any desire to honour the dead, but merely a utilitarian desire to make best use of the resources available.
Shan Kikeru of the 5th Company, 103rd Grand Battalion, IV Legion. An Olympian contemporary of his commander, Kikeru’s long service with his Legion is marked by the veterancy symbol on his right pauldron. This, combined with his artisan-wrought cingulum, seems out of place on a simple line legionary, and suggests that Kikeru may originally have held higher status in the Legion before demotion, presumably for failure or earning the ire of the Primarch in some fashion. The Eye of Horus on Kikeru’s right vambrace suggests prolonged service with the Warmaster’s Legion, either as a secondment or during joint operations. It is likely that this was with one of the XVI’s Reaver Companies, given his evident predilection for taking trophies from dead foemen. Kikeru’s lack of offensive weaponry other than his standard combat knife is notable; while his bolter and bolt pistol may have been lost in combat or thrown aside, it is equally possible that he chose not to equip himself with them, either as a self-imposed test of arms or for some other, unknowable reason.
Dideru Zubeyr of the 5th Company, 103rd Grand Battalion, IV Legion. Zubeyr’s name and physiognomy betray his non-Olympian origins; likely he hailed from one of the worlds in the Olympia Majoris cluster. Zubeyr’s reinforced armour and Power Fist suggest his status as a technical specialist, responsible for gaining entry to bunker complexes and disabling vehicles. This impression is strengthened by the square-and-compass symbol on his right greave; this denotes seniority within the Dodekatheon, the Legion’s informal brotherhood of craftsmen. Like many of his fellows, Zubeyr has forgone the traditional bolter for an Olympia-pattern bolt-carbine. This weapon was much more compact than its larger cousin and as a result was generally incapable of reliably penetrating Power Armour, but was still highly effective when employed against the lightly-armoured mortals faced by the Khalkotauroi. Zubeyr’s helm is absent, but analysis shows it heavily damaged, and discarded nearby.
Yikashata of the 5th Company, 103rd Grand Battalion, IV Legion. One of the few surviving Terrans within the Khalkotauroi, surviving records show Yikashata had been plucked from the murderous Goduko cliques of the Nyotokyu Underhive before his training and assignment to the IV Legion. At some point during his service he received a commendation for merit, as shown by the lesser Olympian Mask on his right greave; this may have been earned in whichever actions cost him the left side of his face and right arm, both of which have been replaced with crude, but sturdy bionics. Like many of his comrades, Yikashata carries a bolt-carbine into battle rather than the more cumbersome bolter. Of particular note is the brass-wrought Octed at his waist; such open displays of worship of the Ruinous Powers were extremely rare at this stage of the Great Betrayal, and while he may have plunged into damnation more eagerly than his comrades, it is also entirely possible that Yikashata had little or no understanding of the dark provenance of the symbol he bore.
Triadha Zou of the 5th Company, 103rd Grand Battalion, IV Legion. Zou’s homeworld is not known; he was one of the many youths rescued from servitude within the obsidian citadels of the Rock of Judgement following the Legion’s annihilation of the Black Judges. Zou’s relatively plain armour betrays his status as an experienced, but unremarkable line legionary, although like his comrade Zubeyr, his right pauldron bears the striping of a weapons specialist. Equipped in the hodgepodge of armour marks typical of most astartes by the mid-point of the Great Betrayal, Zou is armed with a non-standard flamer variant; while the weapon bears a similarity to the flame-projectors employed by the XVIII Legion and so could conceivably have been a trophy of the Isstvan V engagement, it is more likely to be one of the inferior reverse-engineered copies manufactured by the Traitor Mechanicus on Neotron before that world’s destruction. Zou’s facial features reveal extensive burns that have not fully healed. Whether this is the result of enemy action or the improper use of his own weapon is unclear.
Uvan Phaistos of the 5th Company, 103rd Grand Battalion, IV Legion. Legionary Phaistos is not found in Imperial records, implying that he was a comparatively recent addition to the Legion. The most compelling clue as to his origin is the Olympian death-mask at his waist; this suggests that he may be one of the youths taken from the irradiated ruins of the Legion’s homeworld after the Lord of Iron reasserted his control over the planet, but before he declared his allegiance to the Warmaster. Phaistos’ helm is a standard Olympian sub-pattern; his evident interest in trophy collection perhaps shows a desire to emulate older comrades like Legionary Kikeru.
Unknown Helatroban militia, both Traitor and Loyalist.
Edited by EdT, 17 March 2015 - 01:03 PM.