We all have our favourite champions. Tiny metal, plastic or resin protagonists that we've become unreasonably attached to as they've battled in our name down the years. This is one such mini, a venerable warrior that has been leading my renegade hordes since I was a teenager. May I introduce Captain Aesir Vortag, formerly of the XII legion.
Vortag has a much storied history, mostly from some decades ago. Back in the late 80s and early 90s the Captain (though in his hubris he was Lord Vortag back then) led his renegades warbands against all comers. Myself and my buddies at the time gamed A LOT back then. We were all about Rogue Trader and then 2nd Edition 40k, and we played the bejeezus out of them. We built our own rudimentary, but enormous, campaign system. We even recorded many of our games in a large ledger, complete with maps, drawings and army lists. I have it to this day, and I get quite the warm fuzzy feeling when I look back over it. I was very close to posting one of my early doodles of Vortag in action from the ledger, but I will spare you that.
The Captain and his heretics butchered his way though Ork warbands, Tyranid hordes, loyalist Astartes, Imperial Guard detachments and assorted Eldar pirates. He accrued favourite enemies, and they harried one another over many a tabletop.
Aahh... such days.
But, eventually, the guns fell silent. Vortag's enemies took ship into the void (or college, as it was known on some worlds), and with no wars left to wage, the Captain and his warband made for the stasis pods. It was to be a long sleep.
Years passed, and other heroes came to the fore. Games came, games went, but I always had a tremendous soft spot for the infamous Captain.
And so, when a plan for some of my gaming brethren to gather this Spring for a Stargrave weekend, I decided it was time for a new chapter for my slumbering hero.
Vortag is one of the Jes Goodwin Warhammer Fantasy Realm of Chaos champions. One of the curious set that seemed to be blessed with 40k weaponry and technology. Back then, chaos champions could indeed be gifted with rewards from the 40th millennium. They make very fine fallen legionnaires.
At the risk of getting overly maudlin, I found it quite an emotional experience finally getting paint on the old villain. I used mostly contrast paints and medium over metallic base coats. His tail and sword were blended and stippled, before getting a unifying glaze or two. I had been using Flesh Tearers Red mixed with medium for red chaos armour, but I wanted to turn up the vibrancy on Vortag so I added some Blood Angels Red to the mix to make it roughly 1:1:1. It was extremely satisfying finally getting him painted. He's one of four great heroes of my early days of gaming that I wanted to give such treatment to. The other three are still awaiting their turn.
Space rippled and shivered as the space hulk translated back into realspace, or rather, most of it did. Sections of the hulk tapered off into translucent ghost-shapes and tatters of best-forgotten memories. The hulk, the Odyssey of Devotion, was never truly in one place, and it's labyrinth of ancient passageways could lead a traveller to an infinity of destinations and times, whether they willed it or no.
One such lost soul shivered into existence in the stillness of an abandoned gunnery deck, the dim lumens barely casting enough light to lift the figure out of the darkness. It stood there, in the silence. The darkness seemed to deepen, shifting and reaching out before suddenly recoiling as the warrior heaved a long cackling exhalation. Captain Vortag of the World Eaters Legion addressed his ship:
'Finally. Finally. You see, Malum? I told you. I told you I would find my way back.'
Around the speaker more figures coalesced, similar in aspect. The grim ruin of fallen Astartes, only barely recognisable as once noble space marines, but no less dangerous, and infinitely more wrathful. Some had clearly had to make battlefield repairs. Others seemed no different than moments, years or centuries earlier, when they had been scattered across the void. Others had had to abandon their armour entirely, and wore archaic or primitive replacements. Yet more had simply not returned at all.
They regarded their leader expectantly. Vortag did not give the expectation time to fester into recrimination.
'My brothers. Let us see what has become of both ship and crew in our absence. Let us see what gifts Inquisitor Balthazar Malum has left us.'