“Of the fabulous hydra it is said, cut off one head and two will grow in its place”
– antique proverb
They needed to find him and find him they did. Didn’t feel that way now, did it. It was fething cold, the humidity of the earlier thunder rains was whisked around by the brisk sea wind flowing through the forgotten docklands. The full moon cast a pale, icy glare that froze the shadows of the stand off.
There he was, in rugged civilian clothes, armed with a brace of pistols, Sgt. Jargassor, whom all needed to find – the least of their concerns now.
The entire hunt team had their retinas transfixed on the massive being next to him. A dozen weapons of different make pointed at him for what little difference it made. Standing two and a half meters, a god of war, clad in a huge suit of armor the color of night, the giant stared back, immoveable like a statue, yet radiating explosiveness like an unstable flux core reactor.
The wind turned only to punctuate the stalemate.
‘I am Alpharius, We are Legion‘ The giant announced in a distinctive, flowing, silky, yet authoritarian voice.
Terra + three zero years
The memory of that night still makes me smile. A life time of the most dangerous, the most secret war. I am old now, augmented and technically dead many times over.
I check the pistols over and over again as a way of meditation, in readiness for the drop. I know them better than anything else. Hecuter S77 full auto, solid slug 8.88, 30 rounds a magazine and deadly to half a kilometer. The best pistol in the world and I’ve tried enough to say so. I’ve been remade, retrained, re-wrought, re-tasked, but gunslinger is a gunslinger and that is my art.
He sits opposite of me. Eyes closed. Dead still and not breathing. A face of scar tissue is all that stands out from the armor of night. Mangled, yet somehow handsome, a grotesquely heroic mask of granite.
We are Legion. On our way to meet the carcass.
The Ghost Legion
The Emperor created the Astartes to Conquer the galaxy in his name. Each Legion of the god warriors were made in their Primarch image, to fulfill not only a the perfect all around warrior aspect, but a specific battle field expertise. The Imperial fists were made to defend and build fortifications, the Iron Warriors to destroy enemy strong holds, World Eaters were created for devastating shock assaults and the Ultramarines for crafting Strategies and empires.
Three legions stood apart from their brethen. By the Emperor’s design, to stand against the enemies from without, but also from within! That the “Trefoil” of these proto-astartest had a hidden role was only ever known to Emperor, The Sigllite and a handful of most trusted advisors and they were largely veiled at birth even from the other Legions. The VI, The Space Wolves became the Emperor’s executioners and sanction – of even brother Astartes. The XVIII, The Salamanders, were imagined as the Astartes conscience, Humble, noble and utterly unflinching protectors of mankind. The XX, The Alpha Legion, were designed as the Emperor’s covert special operations forces, his personal Ghost Legion.
Where the VI and the VXIII became widely renowned in the Great Crusade, perhaps even earning some of their brother Legion’s trust, but certainly their respect, The Alpha legion stayed in the shadows. One mystery created another for this infamous Legion.
In the early decades of the XX legion’s existence, they were linked to constant anomalous reports of targeted strikes, abductions, assassinations and worse, on both Terra and and beyond. Rumors of un-marked Astartes forces moving through war zones with unassailable clearance codes, occult and arcane associations became part of the Ghost Legion myth. Contrary reports spoke of timely arrival of Astartes in critical junctures in the Crusade to turn the tide to Imperium’s favor.
If this was indeed the XX Legion, then it operated in the shadows of the expanding Imperium and it’s heart, Terra, for more than a Century, building a wealth of influence and resources and undertaking the most secret war parallel to the Great Crusade. There even remains evidence , that this last “Alpha” stage Legion of the Emperor led to later development and creation of the Legio Custodes. When the Ghost Legion finally openly joined the Crusade, espionage, infiltration, sabotage, overwhelming force and cunning intelligence remained its hallmarks. Their approach was always tacitly accepted, or perhaps tolerated, by the Emperor and later Horus as the Warmaster. The results of this incredibly imaginative, meticulous and multifaceted Legion spoke for themselves.
Fellow Primarchs did not share the tolerance of their father or Warmaster brother. The XX Legion famously clashed with the Ultramarines and the Death guard, and most graphically Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists called the entire Alpha Legion “Honourless Assassins, not fit to bear the Emperor’s mark”, and only the Emperor’s direct intervention prevented blood shed between the two legions.
Today, Declared Excommunicate for ten thousand years, and purged from all imperial archives outside of select tomes in the forbidden libraries of Ordos, the Ghost Legion is as formidable as ever. Considered, perhaps ironically, Diabolis Alpha by the Inquisition. The Ordos stand divided in their arguments of the Legion and its war cry “for the Emperor”. It is a cruel mockery of days past in the eyes of vast majority, but perhaps a mark of ultimate devotion in the eyes of a few knowledgable and free thinking Inquisitors. All of them agree on the terminal and ever present danger the Ghost Legion and its proposed pursuit of freeing the Emperor from his prison presents.
There is work and there is Work. This has been a labor of love. The Alpha Legion has since the pivotal premise of the “Legion” Horus Heresy book captured my imagination unlike no other force in the universe save perhaps the Ordos of the Inquisition.
Where the vast majority of folks develop their style, keep honing their craft, turn mannerism into excellence and generally focus on imprinting their style on a miniature, I think of myself as a scientist of sort, seeking out to reduce the model in to a truth fitting for the character and the impact I am trying to achieve. Agnostic of my own personal style, but surely influenced by my whims and likes. I can pick two models from the previous years and they would be shockingly different in execution. One might be a Daemon toy of a radical Inquisitor, born of blood and smoke, liberally bled to existence with inks and paint splatter and another might be Fenrys weathered to life with stone grey mist and oily sleet.
Seven years ago we were kicking off the Jade Vessel Campaign that to our knowledge was the first time anybody used the word +I+munda and combined the best of Necromunda and Inquisitor and the spirit of the Games Workshop hobby to a unique adventure and group of war bands. I had just finished the Shaddes Offe Greye and wanted to build a proper Space Marine. Of the Ghost Legion. And I built and painted Alpharius.
In the first of our games, a Cadian NPC Sgt with a las-pistol went on an unprecedented rolling spree of 6s and single handedly altered the course of the game and was immediately recruited to work for the XX legion. Original Sgt. Jargassor was born.
The two were painted in “water color” as one of my mad experiments, and hugely influenced by Second Edition Warhammer 40000 nostalgia. They had quite an impact on people. And myself too. And the experiment grew to a full army in the following years.
In the subsequent years I’ve learned so much. I’ve experimented left and right, acquired a lot of new tools (most importantly an airbrush) and many new “paints” (most importantly oils and Scale 75 metallics). I’ve really come to understand myself as a designer and “artist” like I described above.
So it was inevitable that for the project of projects, as a reward of finishing the Vlka and the Inquisitor Trilogy, as a culmination of the last decade in the hobby really, I would dug out the truth from my very favorite subject matter.
I wanted to make a Space Marine that really looked like he walked out from a painting, put previous “truescale” marines to rest and was about to run through a wall and kill a mountain. He would be paired by a mysterious human gun fighter, experienced and altered. They would be an item together, enhance each others impact. They would fight at night like before, but free of nostalgia, just my dreams turned into a weather that painted them.
And here they are.
(Alpharius and Jargassor will also be key Narrators of the campaign, providing a voice for the intelligence and role playing that precedes the actual game.)
Alpharius and Sgt Jargassor of the XX Legion
I wanted to provide images to show them in daylight too, to appreciate the subtleties of the paint that fluidly changes from grey blue to egg green, all the weathering and the extensive, velvety oil work on Jargassors jacket.You can see the faces better here too.
It is quite shocking what a stark contrast Alpharius built and and converted from Forge World Gal Vorbak has to a regular toy marine. I cannot get my head around this continued discrepancy in the product line, when Games Workshop has been producing stunningly gorgeous models in recent years.
And last but not least it is time to compare the original duo to the ReduXX consider both the bulk, momentum, tone and technique differences here and the fact that both are still very much intended to be takes on the same subject, secret war in the night.
Very much looking forward to your thoughts and comments,