Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sculpting part 3 and a mass of epoxy gluing.

Hey all,

Nothing too much to report but I've done a few bits. I've had some bad luck trying to find a spray primer alternative to Games Workshop Chaos black. I tried a flat grey primer but it went on really wet and thick (lucky I did a test piece) and now I went for Krylon H2O latex spray....don't bother. I think it would be great for scenery undercoating as it doesn't melt polystyrene but the spray is much too spattery and droplet-like to work for a decent undercoat. I might try some Krylon flat black primer if I can find it but I may have to go back to GW black spray.

Any advice for a cheaper alternative would be appreciated.

Still I had enough in my GW can to prime my Grey Knight (to be) Land Raider and my two home made Ramshackle vehicles so I'll be starting them soon. I also mixed up a big (too big) batch of epoxy and made a real start on the Honour guard gluing.

The honour guard in all their partly assembled glory. I think they look pretty neat with the full unit size although I'm not sure about having three banners. Oh well, it'll look cool on the tabletop whatever.

Here you can see Marneus no.2 taking a lean up against the water jar while his epoxy sets.

And here is the current progress of Grey Man. The gun hasn't quite worked out how I would like but the hydraulic part isn't so bad. I think I'll have to work hard with the painting to really bring it out but with any luck this model will at be useable. It's been good practise in any case and I'll choose the next poses more carefully.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sculpting part 2 and some honour guard photos.

Well I've spent a bit more time on the sculpting of Grey Man and it continues to be a real challenge. Coming back to it for new layers is tough as you need to get the putty to adhere to the cured stuff more than it adheres to the tools you are using. Still I finally managed it after much working and shaping.

I think I've messed up the scale of the model though as my figure is more in proportion to a 32-35mm piece. Not the end of the world by any means but something to keep in mind for future work. Also, it's very hard to get the definition that you want sometimes. I definitely need more practise.

Also superglue...I love it and hate it. Something about my presence makes it work like a dream half of the time, and completely fail the other half.

Still I have some of my honrou guard done now. I ended up with two sets after a miscast problem and have converted one chapter champion to have a thunder hammer. It looks pretty good I think.

These are really nicely made models and the only problem I have with them is the gluing together as superglue hates me and epoxy takes ages to dry.

Here is grey man from the front. I've tried to add some shape and musculature on the body and the face has a scar because I messed up his right eye and couldn't figure out how to fix it. You can see around his upper chest where the new layer of putty didn't stick on so easily. The rod in his arm is there so I can model the barrel of a big old gun there. I'll also be trying to make some kind of cool mechanical contrivance for his cyborg arm section.

His back side. It's tough to make the right shape of musculature here and I had fun bulking out his buttocks while my wife looked on over my shoulder ;-)

All comments welcome. Pete

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sculpting is hard. I'm really impressed with the pros.

Okay, so sculpting a figure from scratch....quite the effort I now think.

I picked up some Procreate (aka Grey stuff) and a set of Privateer Press P3 sculpting tools when I last ordered from the warstore. It was something of a whim to let me gap fill in models or convert but then I got the crazy idea that maybe I could produce an entire model.

So tonight, having done an insufficient amount of reading on the subject, failing to start small, and using only a cork, paperclip and some water, I got going. After about 20 minutes I decided to stop because the putty was sticky and I started realising that I need to bulk up the figure more, but the arms move every time I touch them because they are on separate pieces of paperclip and I am not sure exactly where to go next and the tools are harder to work with than I though and I don't quite know what the model will be and and and.......

....anyway, minor stress panic over. Here are some piccies.

Well here is my workbench and the sculpt so far. I've put Isembard Kickass Brunel next to grey man (my own name for him) just so I can tell how far I have yet to come. The 3 sculpting tools by the X-acto knife set me back $7.99 which isn't half bad given their quality. One of them has two 'knife' ends, one has a 'knife' end and a round dish end and the last has a 'needle' point. I found myself swapping back and forth between them a lot and it seems like they will all have their time and place.

Well you can see here that his pointing arm hasn't come out quite as neatly as it might have done....so I've decided to turn him into a cyborg of sorts. I will probably base him somewhat on Leroy from Ramshackle Games and have a bulky shoulder mounted gun on his left arm. His right arm can just stay where it is, or maybe I'll put a knife in it.

The last one here shows his butt region and how I've tried to shape up the back half of him to be somewhat realistic.

Well so far it's looking alright. The head will come later and I'm sure will be a whole lot of work, as will be the legs and feet. I might try to make him a decent base to stand on if I can push my skills to that level. I need to thicken up the body to a more realistic size as he is currently very thin and flat in shape. That will take a chunk of work and then I'll need to work out what kind of clothes to put on him. I'm thinking that heavy overalls will be the most straightforward for my first model. His arm will be a whole different ballgame as I'll need to make straight lines and shapes for the gun he is fitted with.

All in all, it's an alright start though I realise how much work is ahead. I'm very impressed now with what the professionals do on a day to day basis with sculpting.

Comments and criticism very much welcome.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chapter 13 finished. Time to update the progress bar.

Just a short note from me. Chapter 13 of my steampunk(ish) fantasy story is done. Based on the current position of the storyline, I think I should be able to round up by chapter 16 and then maybe a short epilogue.

Time to speed up and get the rest of the story finished. Then it's on to editing, rewriting and preparing it for submission to various agents/publishers. Musn't get ahead of myself though.

In other news, I've got the honour guard set mostly assembled. Tonight I'm going to clean up my workbench (it's covered in resin chips, glue drops and paint) with a new coating of newspaper and really knuckle down to some work. If I can get the primed Ramshackle vehicles ahead of where they are now, or even finished, that would be great. I've then got three Ramshackle figures and a Guard sniper to do. The Huntsman spider tank has not come along any further than the photos from before. I will get onto it soon but it's just such a big piece of work that I'm being lazy.

Also, should have a game with OSH this week so we'll try to get some photos and battle reports up.

Inquisition monitoring station Zeta 4-521B. Possible alliance being formed with xenos by renegade populace....(Gallery)

Hey all,

Wow, my wife just got a new digital camera for her birthday and it's really good. I just set up he models and cranked out some great photos in no time at all and no fancy settings.

Without further ado.

These two show my pickup truck and other vehicle that were kitbashed from the miscast pieces that Curtis sent in my last order. The pickup was fairly simple: Front hull, flatbed and a bunch of wheels. The truck is a little more complex. Its chassis is made from one of the panels that make up the block on the back, a thin something or other, the truck flatbed panel and the cab section. I added an armour panel up front, tracks to make the forward propulsion then the back took a bit more work. It's two wheels attached to the ends of a boiler/chimney, all on the end of one of the multipart arms that come with the Huntsman spider tank. I chopped off the ball joint and glued it to the slope of the flatbed. A quick bodge job gave me the boxy hull on the back (needed it to balance out the arm-mounted wheels) and then I did two wheels under the hull because the traction parts (tracks and wheels) seemed too far apart. Something should probably be done abou the rear of the cargo area but I'm not sure what yet. Maybe an armour plate over the hole.

I now call this beasty TRUCKA-TRACKA-TRIKE.

If you buy from Ramshackle, be sure to ask about the miscast deal because you get so much stuff for so little money that you'd be crazy not to. For reference, the following photo set me back £5 (about $8 to us in America).

Now comes the worrying stuff. An imperial spysat took this photo of a meeting between the apparent leader of the ramshackle crew, one Isembard Kickass Brunel and a leader of an expansionist Tau group, identified tentatively as Shas'El Kirril.

Could this be the making of an alliance that will trouble the Imperium of mankind?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Post-Apocalyptic gang warfare. Necromunda with trucks stompy spider tanks :-)

EDIT: GRRR, blogger won't let the pictures fit in well so I've shrunk them. Go to www.Ramshacklegames.co.uk to get the full views.

Happy monday everybody,

I have to share my excitement at the impending release of Nuclear Renaissance version 2 from Ramshackle Games. Does this picture not scream out mayhem and fun to you?

Now many of you will have seen the snippets of ramshackle models that I've bought and used/intend to use in 40k (spider tank, boneyard truck etc.). I'll do a more complete gallery soon to show them all off. Still, this will be the first time that I've really bought into and played a different game system and I'm pretty excited.

Based on the 1st rulebook incarnation (downloadable here: http://www.ramshacklegames.co.uk/nuclear/downloads.html) the game seems like it is really characterful and can make some fun gang-type warfare. Now I had Necromunda when it came out from GW and that was one of the most fun and varied games ever. Just from the start when it came to creating my intended characters for Nuclear Renaissance, I fell in love with the humour and diverse stuff (loads of abilities, cool skills and fun options). Perhaps the best page is the handicaps page where you can offset the cost of your character by giving them attributes that have negative consequences. Some of these are serious (crippled limb), some have limited side effects (can't drive for toffee) and some are just great. Tart is my favourite where your character must strike last in melee when fighting a person of the opposite sex because 'you have to try your luck don't you?'

Anyway I can't wait to see how the new rules pan out and get some games in. The boxed set is a great deal as well including four good sized vehicles and fourteen figures. I can't wait to get my order through. It looks like Curtis has really upped his sculpting skills and model making abilities. For those who aren't so much into assembly, the new models stack up well with his older stuff. The trucks are all one piece bodies (compared to 5-10 for the older models) and just get wheels/tracks and tridlins added. I'm really looking forward to picking up all of these along with a big order of other models from the game world.

Here are the contents of the box (rulebook, dice and counters not shown) that you get for 48 pounds. For refence, the retail version of AOBR is 50 pounds and since the game is so much smaller, you don't need as many figures.

Mmmm, steampunky goodness.

If a guy with a scythe guitar doesn't do it for you, i don't know what will.

Creepy, tough looking folks here who would make for great Adeptus Mechanicus models should you want to use them in 40k/inquisitor.

Again, great inquisitor model potential if you're not into this game system.\

That big guy on the end just looks so mean. Looking at the scale bar that Curtis has on another part of the site puts him close to the height of a dreadnought.

I really like both of these models and I can't wait to get using them in games of Nuclear Renaissance and 40k.

I think the best part of this game for me is that is much more open ended than 40k in terms of what models can fit into it easily. I've been taken by some of the great models from Wyrd miniatures that will make for a cool girly gang very well when combined with the models from Ramshackle games. The following three in particular will make for a great hero-led gang (NR lets you have either cheap goons, middle of the road soldiers or expensive, but effective, heroes).

Rusty Alyce

Lady Justice

Perdita Ortega. I've already got a character built up for her with gunslinging skills in the extreme but not much melee ability and the Tart attribute so she'll have to swing last in any case. Fun or what?


PS: Also got Marneus calgar and honour guard. Sadly there was an error in the casting but happily customer service is sending me a replacement box so there will be a full squad of honour guard for me to play with (plus two marneus' if I can putty over the casting prob).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When gaming acquisition syndrome spreads to writing.

Well I imagine that most wargamer will understand the bizzare, yet undeniable, compulsion that afflicts most of us and causes us to go out and buy more models when we have limited need for them.

I know all of the arguments: I want to have variety, I need to reach 1500/1750/1850/whatever points for my games, I need to get the next powerful unit, I want a different model/model set to paint, I feel like trying a new army, I WANT IT I MUST HAVE THE ......... MODEL NOW.

I've used most or all of these at various times. Mostly now I'm driven by wanting to try something new (gaming and painting wise) and so my purchases are lessened somewhat. My marine force is sitting fairly solidly somewhere near 3000 points and so I have no need to add to this and only a few left to paint. My Tau army is closer to 1000 and so will need a fair bit of investment to make it up to the typical 1850 points for games that are generally played around here. I'll get there eventually but at the moment I'm trying to control my spending because I feel bad (my wife is glad of my internal spending guilt-o-meter) and because I hate having unpainted models around.

I will be buying up a big stash of Nuclear Renaissance models as soon as they are out (new rules version in a week or two, can't wait). I'll do a more complete post on them soon but check out http://www.ramshacklegames.co.uk/nucren2/boxcontent.html

After that it's Tau on the shopping list and maybe a few fun units for the marines (land speeder storm anyone).

A little bit of me wants to branch into fantasy but that is way off for now. I've got a stack of dwarf models from when I played in my teenage years but I'm not sure about them. If anyone wants a reasonable sized painted collection, please let me know and we can work something out.

ANYWAY...to the point of the post.

How does model acquisition syndrome spread to writing?

Well basically I got a good idea for a victorian fantasy steampunk novel (I hate genre labels but it gives you the flavour quickly) about 18 months ago and have been working on it ever since. It's gone fast at times and slow at others and I've definitely chopped and changed my way as I went. Characters have been added, other removed, roles shuffled around, challenges introduced and overcome and I'm still not done. It's currently running at around 96,000 words (that's 157 pages in word give or take) and I'm really trying to bring it to a conclusion.

Now my problem is that while I'm rightly proud of all that I've done with it, I am getting creatively tired with these last few chapters. It's not that the story is any less good (it's a LOT better than the first outline I came up with) but just that I've spent so much time with it and not finished yet. I'm sure anyone who has painted a large army for warhammer understands. After a while, no matter how good the army is and how much you like it, you just need a little change.

My problem is that I have three (and a half) ideas competing for my attention. Three novel length pieces (and one short story/novella) is no small amount of work, especially going by my speed record with this current book. I think I'll be faster on my next piece as I've learned a lot but each will require a lot of though and investment of time and effort.

My issue is just that I don't know whether it is better to finish Wind and Steel (the current one, working title) and then start a new piece, or whether it would work for me to branch out and start the next work to give myself a break from my current struggle. I'm a bit torn at the moment and it's tough to find the right way. I feel like it would overall be better to finish typing Wind and Steel, print it so I can read/edit by hand, and then start typing the next. That way I only have one thing on screeen at any one time.

Alternatively I'm thinking of taking a whole day one weekend to shut myself away and push out a huge (5000-10000 word) chunk of the next book idea, not worrying about good writing and just vomiting the story onto the page. That might get my creative juices flowing and let me go back to Wind and Steel with new enthusiasm. In fact, Secrets of the Noctis came out of just such an exploration when I was stalled on my enormous Grey Knights/Inquisition piece for the Black Library Forums.

Anyway, enough rambling. This was partly to put my thoughts in order, partly to discuss the interesting parallel, and partly to ask for any thoughts. Based on your gaming and/or writing experiences, what do you think would be best?


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Two 'free' models plus latest painting updates.

Hey folks,

Hopefully people enjoyed reading my adeptus mechanicus fiction. I've got another story that I may post up if people want to read it. It's called Face Off and features orks and tyranids fighting over a planet while the Imperials desperately try to evacuate the population.

So, as per the title, two free models...what's the deal?

Well I was going through my bits box recently to tidy it up (I find it nice and calming) and a lightbulb moment occured. All Tau devilfish hull vehicles (Devilfish, Hammerhead and Skyray) come with a tank commander on the sprue. It's a tau figure standing upright who is meant to go in the cupola and has a special binocular arm set to go with them.

Picture taken from www.bitsandkits.co.uk

I used one of mine as a test model for my paint scheme and the other one sat in the bits box. Reading Sholto's blog (http://incunabulum.co.uk/blog/) gave me the inspiration for some less combat oriented models that would work for a more RPG setting. To that end I gave both tank commanders a pulse carbine (plenty of those spare) and now they look like capable sentries for a Tau base somewhere.

The picture shows my Giggles Clan models from www.ramshacklegames.co.uk. I'll be using these with some custom rules in 40k games but they will also go really well with the Throne Agent/RPG setting that Sholto has played in. Fun models also and enjoyable to paint. I was talking with Old Shatter Hands recently and it seems like we're at the two ends of the spectrum at the moment. He's played a lot of games recently and really worked on tactics whereas I've hardly played and have been just painting and modeling. What a great hobby that you have so many facets to enjoy depending on your time and motivation.

Also I'm pretty much finished with my Boneyard truck (also from Ramshackle games). I modded this one up to have a set of hurricane bolters on the side and I think it's come out pretty well. The palette is a little too brown right now so I'll be adding some other colours to brighten it up (or maybe some graffiti). Still, this gives an idea of what it will be like. I need to spend a bit more time on my photography setup with lighting etc. I'll probably have a big photo day and then post it all up.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Secrets of the Noctis part 10 of 10. Adeptus Mechanicus Fiction.

Part X – Epilogue

The brassy thing that had once been a man looked over the memory chip his Explorator menials had recovered for him. Delpheus had been an eager young fool and she’d paid the price. Now it came to him to carry out his duty as he had done for centuries already and his mentor before him and his mentor before that.

“Servitor reporting Archmagos.”

“Transfer this item,” He said with a burst of machine code. “To vault 3.45223.435235-A6. Authorisation code follows.” Another squeal of compressed data.

“It shall be done.” Mumbled the servitor.

“Upon entering the vault, deposit the item on shelf seven with the other memory chips. The door will seal behind you, then you will go to the incineration unit at the rear of the vault, activate it and destroy yourself.”

“It shall be done.” The servitor left with the chip.

The Archmagos leaned back and steepled his finely crafted metallic fingers. She had given her life for selfish means but the Cabal knew the value of steady knowledge acquisition. Only when the time was right would the vault be opened and the secrets of the Noctis truly understood.

He nodded in satisfaction and looked at the minute inscription on one knuckle.

Magos Nocta Primus.

Secrets of the Noctis part 9 of 10. Adeptus Mechanicus fiction.

Part IX

The scene became a frozen tableau for a microsecond.

The Man of Iron was the first to move. It twitched its head back and forth like it was sniffing at the air. The shocking change in its sophistication and the ease with which it had annihilated the servitors was terrifying to all three humans before it.

As though it were planned, all three of them moved at once. The pilot turned and scurried back the way they had come, the copilot leapt for the shotgun and she went for the shard gripped in the creature’s hand. It wasn’t logical. She knew that the power of the Man of Iron was far beyond her and that the only logical course was to run for the crawler but she couldn’t help herself. Her mechadendrites lashed out to deflect any attacks as she stretched out her hands, one real and one bionic, to wrest the shard away.

The creature ignored the bladed tentacles as they dug scars into its dull metal dermis and caught her around the throat with its hand. She felt herself being lifted up until her feet dangled and was painfully aware of her vulnerability. The Man of Iron did not squeeze though, it reached out with the other hand into her robes. It didn’t make sense, she thought. Why was the creature not destroying her as it had destroyed the servitors and Thaleos’ expedition? The answer became apparent as it withdrew the other metal shard she had held in her pocket.

Two things happened. The first was another huge increase in the coordination of the Man of Iron as now its movements were graceful as well as effective. The second was the interaction of the two shards of metal. They gleamed more brightly than before, as though the whole was greater than the two parts. As soon as the metal hand clasped them together there was a smooth trickling and when the fist opened, there was one shard in place of the two; they had melded together.

Now the Man of Iron looked up at her and she could sense the satisfaction and hunger in its emerald gaze. The fingers around her throat began to close, slowly choking off her air and the blood flow to her brain. She struggled helplessly but she was close to passing out and her mechadendrites seemed unable to do more than leave small scratches. As dark rings closed around her vision, the Man of Iron tilted her head so that she was looking into its glowing green eyes. It smiled at her.

Then the metal face spun to one side with a loud bang and she fell to the dusty ground, coughing and retching.

The copilot looked over the small wisp of smoke trailing up from the shotgun.

“Did I kill it?”

A moaning howl was the response as the Man of Iron stood back up. An ugly furrow had been gouged across its face by the solid slug and as the copilot watched the metal skin flowed across the wound until it was pristine again.

He racked the gun and fired. Then again, and again, and again, and again, and a click. A jam? Of all the Emperor cursed times to jam, what the frak? He looked at the Man of Iron as its skin welled over the bullet craters until there was no mark left.

“Sod this.” He yelled over his shoulder as he dropped the gun and sprinted after the pilot.

The Man of Iron walked over and raised a metal foot. She rolled her head out of line but the leg landed squarely on her bionic shoulder. The entire arm was severed and the shooting pain of the injury was coupled with electrical shocks as her power systems short-circuited. The creature looked at her briefly but it was the other one that had damaged it and now it was hungry for retribution. She wasn’t going anywhere fast. It broke into a loping gait down the trail towards the crawler.

Left in a growing puddle of blood and oil she gathered her wits and tried to formulate a plan.


“Get it open, Jakos!” The copilot yelled as he scrambled across the rocks.

“I’m trying you frakker,” The pilot yelled. “The cog jammed it.”

“Then cut it, we’ll seal the cockpit with the bulkhead.”

“But what if the seal fails?”

“We’ll wear masks all the way back, just do it now!”

A howl like a bloodthirsty wolf came out of the small ravine they had just left. Jakos needed no more convincing. He turned the plasma torch up, way beyond its rated maximum, and began opening the door.

It would be close.


This was it, the only plan she could come up with. The necessary procedures had been carried out and it was all in the hands of fate now. Her mind wandered with the pain as her body struggled back along the path to the crawler. Where had it gone wrong? Had she not performed the proper rituals and shown the humility due of a servant of the Machine God? Perhaps it was the drivers who had sullied the area with their blasphemy. Perhaps, the thought galled, perhaps her hidebound seniors were right in thinking the Men of Iron were heretical. Perhaps she’d been doomed to failure since the start. She forced the thought away; it did not have the same logical priority as carrying out her last duties. Onwards she struggled, hearing the sounds of death and destruction ahead of her.

She rounded the final rock and came upon the crawler, or what was left of it. The Man of Iron had pounded through the power lines as it had with the other crawler but that wasn’t enough. A still-glowing hole in the bulkhead marked where the men had cut their way in and the torn metal beside it marked where the creature had expanded the gap and followed them in. Now there was just a limp arm draped out with a trickle of blood running down, stilled by death in a last attempt at escape.

She walked closer to the wreckage.

“Abomination,” Her voice was weak but audible. “Come forth and face thy judgement for sinning against the Omnissiah.”

For a moment there was nothing and then the Man of Iron climbed through the hole, eyes ablaze with power and the combined shard gleaming in its grip. It looked down at her from the top of the boarding ramp for a second then leapt to the ground. As it stalked towards her she felt no panic at her approaching end. It was the will of her god, this was her punishment for consorting with tech-heresy and she knew she deserved it. Now all that remained was to play the final card and undo the damage she had done.

It reached her in a few seconds and, as it lashed out with a lightning blow, she lashed out with three of her own. In the nanoseconds before the connections were distorted she felt her mechadendrites hit home with perfect accuracy. She felt herself flying backwards through the air and the impact on the ground cracked one of her neuro-spinal feeds. Half of her world became dark as the bionic implant failed and she felt the burning drip of harsh chemical fluids from her shattered metal face begin to flow into her throat. As soon as it passed the augmented vocal chords the flesh shrieked in agonised protest but she did not notice. It had worked and by the angry howling of the creature, it realised.

Even as its fist had sundered her face, two of her mechadendrites had knocked the shard from its grip and the third had launched something in an arc to meet the shining fragment. Something brassy and rounded. Something that righted itself, clasped the shard in small pincers and jetted off towards the canyon lip, hundreds of metres above. Her servo skull.

Her hunch was being proved right as the creature lifted its forearms to shoot down the small target and cried out as nothing happened. Something about those gleaming pieces of metal had been the wakening for the Man of Iron. The closer the proximity it had to them, the more effective its systems. And now, with its driving force racing up and away, the creature was stiffening and failing again.

It looked down on her, fading eyes full of furious anger. For the first time in her life she wished she still had a human face so she could give it a mocking smile.

“May the Omnissiah…abandon you, monster.” She burbled through a ruined voicebox and throat.

It roared madly, forced itself over to her and closed its terrible grip on her throat.

The light faded in both of their eyes. Magos Delpheus Arkas of the Adeptus Mechanicus died alongside her prize, content in the fulfilment of her final duty.

Secrets of the Noctis part 8 of 10. Adeptus Mechanicus Fiction


The Man of Iron looked at her with its skull-like visage and emerald eyes and she stared back with bionic implants that were so crude in comparison. At that moment she felt her impurity more than she ever had before. More even than the time she’d been the presence of the Fabricator General himself during a great ceremony. Even then she’d been in the presence of another human on the way to becoming pure with the machine but this, this was the purest expression of the Machine God she’d could ever imagine.

“Blessed Man of Iron,” She spoke in dual voices; machine code from her mouth and high Gothic (crude though it sounded) from her shoulder speaker. “I come before you as a servant of the Omnissiah whom we both serve.”

The metal figure was silent.

“In His name I claim you and order you to return with us so we may begin the great work.”

The figure was still silent though it tilted its head back and forth, as though trying to understand her.

“Man of Iron,” A trace of impatience entered her tone. “You will obey me. I am your new superior in the Machine God’s name. Do you understand?”

The smooth metal of the thing’s lower face rippled slightly. The emerald eyes looked to the floor, concentrating for a moment, then it looked back at her. Flowing suddenly like liquid mercury the featureless face exposed a hole that shone ghostly green light outwards. Then it groaned, as though trying to activate long atrophied vocal chords.

“I am your master!” She repeated.

It groaned once more, looked down at its forearms, looked back at her then made another noise. This one was a growl.

“You will cease this behaviour!”

Ignoring her, the metal figure looked at the servitors. It growled again, frustrated now, and continued the sweep of the blazing emerald eyes. Now the eyes fell on the pilot but did not rest there. They looked back and forth, searching for something unknown. Then the gaze locked onto the copilot and the creature jerked into motion, stiffly staggering towards him.

The man yelped in fear as he staggered backwards. The fragment she’d given him fell from his fingers and he continued moving until his back slammed against a huge boulder. His eyes were wide and through the respirator mask his face had the look of a bloated, terrified frog. The Man of Iron scattered gravel and dust as it moved jerkily towards him.

“Servitors,” She yelled. “Restrain that creation.”

The half-human constructs immediately moved towards the groaning and staggering skeletal figure, their gripper claws sliding open on smooth hydraulic rods. The Skitarii shotgun tumbled to the floor, the previous command overridden by the urgency of the new order. The servitors closed in on the Man of Iron as it came to a halt and looked down at the fragment of metal on the floor. Four heavy grippers clamped onto the figures thin arms and legs. The Man of Iron then looked at the each of the hydraulic clamps in turn, examining them with unhurried intent.

“Man of Iron, you will obey me!” She was almost screaming now.

It grunted once then bent down and picked up the metal fragment. There was a whirring and clicking from the servitors as their systems struggled helplessly to compensate and resist the motion. The moment its metal fingers closed around the fragment, the Man of Iron changed. Where before it had moved clumsily and awkwardly it now was smoother and more controlled as it rose to its feet again. The servitors also came back to standing and were unmoving like before. The struggle of the last few seconds was already erased from their memories as they reverted to the previous order.

“That is not yours! Give it back to me. I am the only one who might understand the truth from such a creation.” She moved to reclaim the shard.

The Man of Iron growled at her. It either could not, or would not, speak but seemed to have no difficulty understanding her intent. She stepped back slightly, surprised at the depth of anger in the tone.

With a complete lack of haste it reached over with its right arm, dragging the servitor with it, grabbed the shoulder of the other servitor and yanked it out of the socket. Sparks and fluids sprayed forth from the construct and it turned crude bionic eyes on the injury, assessing the changed situation. The clatter of cogitation units ceased when the Man of Iron looked at the heavy claw on the end of the servitor limb it held, looked up at the servitor’s head, looked back to the limb, looked up again then swung a lethally arcing blow.

The second servitor, still locked in a programming loop did not respond to the destruction of its fellow. It continued to secure the right arm of the Man of Iron and await further instructions. The metal figure dropped the limb and pointed its now free forearm at the servitor’s skull. The half-human displayed no reaction as the circular lip slid back and a small node poked out. A flash of lightning connected the small nubbin with the servitor’s head and there was a dull bang as every circuit in its body blew with the massive energy discharge.

The Man of Iron stepped free.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Secrets of the Noctis part 7 of 10. Adeptus Mechanicus Fiction.

Part VII

For a moment she simply looked at it. What else could one do when such perfection was right there before you? Now with time to study it she noted more details that only became evident in the harsh glare of the men’s lights.

It was different than she would have thought. Somehow, when reading the ancient legends, she’d imagined that the Men of Iron would look like men but for their metal skin. Now she was standing before one and it was thinner than she’d have thought, showing no pseudo musculature or human features. It stood fairly tall, the size of a big man, but was more like an enhanced skeleton of dull metal with stark lines and only a few markings than a human. The forearms were the strangest part; they bulged smoothly on the top and a circular lip was recessed into the end of each. She imagined them as weapon ports, ready to smite the enemies of her god and a smile came to her face. Through her efforts the Mechanicus would uncover the secrets of the Men of Iron and raise legions of them to take the word of the Machine to the entire galaxy.

“Why is it dead?” The pilot said.

She sighed heavily. Could these fools not see that she was not in the mood for interruptions?

“It is not dead,” She said wearily. “It is inactive due to the blasphemies of those around us.”

“So, what are we doing here?”

“We are taking this back to the workshops where it will be manufactured to fight for the Omnissiah.”

“And uh,” The pilot stuttered. “Will it…that is, will we…um…what if we’re blasphemers?”

“If you do not treat it with reverence then I imagine it will destroy you.” She enjoyed the fear in their eyes. “But, since I came with the proper oils and unguents then I imagine you will survive…if you obey me exactly.”

“Right,” The men looked at each other. “What’s first?”

“Now you are eager?” She asked.

“Well, to be honest I don’t know anything about no Men of Iron and war ain’t my business either. But I reckon the sooner we get this thing loaded aboard the crawler, the sooner we can get out of here and the sooner we’ll be safe back home. Would that be…uh, logical?”

“For once, pilot.” She nodded appreciatively. “You are logical. After we perform the proper blessings we will bring it with us and return. Once we get back I will ensure you are handsomely rewarded for your efforts. You have performed well and all the Mechanicus will be grateful.”

“Oh,” Grins began to appear on the men’s faces. “Well, y’know we do our part for the Omnissiah and all that.”

They were fools, she thought, her face still impassive. This was bordering on Tech-Heresy of the highest order and there was no way two humans barely beyond menial status would ever be kept alive. If the Council ever got wind of their involvement, they would have their memories extracted, then blanked and then their bodies vaporised. She would be doing the men a favour by killing them, as she planned to do when they got back. At least for her there would be nothing but tidying up in mind and she would not make them suffer a memory extraction. A bullet to the skull or a blade in the neck would be more than enough.

“Very well. Sigma-Phi-Eleven?”

“Awaiting orders.” The mechanical voice issued from once-human lips.

“Deposit the box and stand by.”

“Confirmed.” The box was placed gently on the floor and the drone machine shuffled backwards slightly.

“Now,” She said to the men. “Follow my instructions exactly.”

At her urging they set up incense braziers that sputtered in the thin atmosphere, waved portable burners around leaving trails of smoky scent and then began to flick blessed oils over the Man of Iron. She intoned holy prayers in the pure language of the machine and the men, clumsily she noted, raised their voices in prayer also.

It did nothing. For five minutes they continued the efforts then her frustration took over.

“You are not properly blessing the creation,” She snapped. “The oil must be spread with a sequence of six angled motions of the wrist, representing the pure hexagon of the Omnissiah. Then you must wave a circle with the incense to represent the total sum of knowledge the Mechanicus seek.”

“I’m doing my best.” The hapless copilot said.

“Stand aside, I will show you,” She stomped forwards. “Hold this,” She passed on the metal fragment, they wouldn’t know its worth. “Give me those.” She took the oil and burner.

The copilot stepped back happily, silvery fragment idly clasped in one hand. Let her do the work around this creepy thing.

She flowed into the blessings with an expertise born of decades of practise and each spray of oil that landed perfectly left a warm satisfaction inside. The circling burner was also perfect and the smoky trail became the true representation of the faith. After a minute her frustration began to increase again. She stepped closer to the creation that it might better hear her pure machine blessings.

Her robes shifted slightly, she didn’t notice, and then it happened.

A green speck grew within each emerald eye until they shone like fire, the Man of Iron turned its head slowly, as though stiff, and looked upon her.

She cried out a machine code squeal of triumph, it was alive.

Secrets of the Noctis part 6 of 10. Adeptus mechanicus fiction.

Part VI

She’d forced them to come, almost at knifepoint. With her mechadendrites in plain sight and bladed tools festooning the ends she was a more frightening sight than the dead bodies outside.

But only just.

The two men huddled close together in the darkness. The copilot’s gloves were clamped around the shotgun and the pilot held one of the plasma cutting torches ready, the tip gently glowing. Powerful torchbeams stabbed out from the shoulders of their suits and the rapid back and forth sweep betrayed the emotions of the wielders.

She walked calmly behind them and the two servitors came behind her. They were cargo models, equipped with heavy lifting claws and reinforced frames that would let them lift huge weights. One now held the crate full of consecrating paraphernalia but that would only be needed for a short while. As the two men stopped near the crawler and looked at one another she quickly stepped up her pace.

“No way, let’s get out of here.”

“Right. I’m not ending up like them.”

The men turned and found their throats caught in the lightning fast, thoroughly immovable grip of mechadendrite claws. Bladed tools were poised by the glass of their mask lenses.

“We are here for an item. When, and only when, we find it we shall leave. Is that clear?”

The men nodded, slowly. She reached out and took the shotgun from the copilot, handing it to the unencumbered servitor.

“Unit Sigma-Phi-Twelve. Retain this weapon until further orders. Should any but myself attempt to take it back, crush it.”

The servitor squeeled and clicked a machine code response and clumsily held the gun in the grip of its huge claws.

“Now I hope I can trust you not to try and obtain the Skitarii weapons. If they even work it did not do them any good,” She glanced between them at the dead soldiers. “I point out that they were professionals and something still killed them. If you are unarmed then you will be seen as less of a threat to whatever killed them. And if that plasma cutter gives you any foolish ideas, remember how fast these augmentations of mine are.”


“Fine, let us go.”

She nodded and released them. Neither man made a move until she moved towards the dead crawler and then they scurried after her. Surprisingly, they were being logical. Unarmed they could not defeat her and it would be safer to be around her than alone.

“This machine did not run out of power.” She stated.

“What? There’s no lights, even the status runes are out, so there’s no power, it ran out.” The pilot looked confused.

“No,” She replied. “It was stopped.”

She pointed a metal tentacle up at the belly of the vehicle, several feet taller than any of them. The men moved past the huge rubber tire and directed their lights upwards. A deep crushing dent had splintered through the plates of metal and severed the main power conduit from the generator systems. Looking towards the rear of the vehicle they saw the strange ground texture of smooth, glassy rock below two scorched openings in the hull. Unable to vent the plasma power buildup, the failsafes must have taken hold and opened the emergency vents. The plasma had bled out onto the ground until the fuel reserves were exhausted or the engines deactivated.

That still left two questions, what had done it and did it happen before or after the Skitarii died?

“They must have fired by accident,” Stammered the copilot. “It’s the most likely. A shot in the wrong place and the backups took over.”

“No,” She stated. “Their bodies are slightly scorched therefore they were already dead when the damage was done. And that impact was no weapon discharge. It would take a tank cannon to deliver that kind of force.”

“Then what did it?”

She ignored them and knelt down to the rocky floor. The men watched her as she gathered up a small fragment of metal. It must have come from the damaged crawler, must have. But, the thought nagged, why did it seem to glow in her hand? Logically it must be the lights of the men…it was the only explanation.

“What did this is exactly what I’m looking for.” A note of desire crept into her voice. “It must be nearby.”

The two men looked at each other as she walked around the area, the same impulse in their eyes. If only the cog hadn’t sealed the crawler doors then they’d be out of here. Damn her and damn her prize.

“This way.” She snapped.

Reluctantly they moved forwards to follow her, playing their lights on the ground. There was a mechadendrite, like hers but bigger, and then a trail in the red gravel. Smaller trails skipped either side of the main one, the marks of hands pulling something along. They followed it around an outcrop, then between two great boulders where they almost bumped into her.

There were two figures before them. One looked like her except that she was standing up and still fully intact. Red robes, metal face, mechadendrites, a bloody cog head in other words. He was sprawled on the ground, dried blood and oil spattered on his robes and limbs.

It was the second figure that sent the chills of fear through them. It was big, but skeletally made. The eyes gleamed like dulled emeralds and the grey metallic form was full of terrifying promise. It took them only a second to see the blood on its fists and the shards of paint staining the knuckles of one hand.

“That…thing punched through a crawler’s hull?” The pilot’s voice almost squeaked.

“Yes.” She breathed, eyes wide in rapture.

“It killed the Skitarii and that other cog?” The copilot sounded like he was barely holding onto his bladder.

“Yes.” She was too happy to notice the insult.

“What…is it?”

“It is my prize. It is the creation of my god and with it, we shall rout the enemies of him.”

“What?” The men spoke as one, shuffling backwards slightly.

“It is a Man of Iron,” She gloated. “It is my Man of Iron.”