Category Archives: Sci-Fi

Monster May(hem) 2021: The Ripper Beast!

Not quite a week into Monster May(hem), and I have finally completed my first submission. I present: the Scourge of Planet X: The Ripper Beast!

This miniature from Rattrap Productions has been primed and sitting on my desk since last year’s Monster May(hem). I never got a chance to get to him and moved on to other projects; so I made him my first priority this year. Partially, this is because I’m sick of looking at him; but it’s also because he has been so patient and understanding; two traits not normally associated with Ripper Beasts of Planet X.

The Ripper Beast, as the lore goes, is the most feared predator on Planet X. It loves nothing more than to live up to its name by ripping things, usually into bloody chunks. The Ripper Beast is doubly feared because it seems to regenerate as soon as it is wounded, making it nigh-impossible to put down for good.

Despite its renowned savagery, this Ripper Beast seems to be wearing clothing. It has two spiked wristbands and no dangly unmentionables to speak of. This either makes it smarter than you would think, able to clothe itself and perhaps forge weapons; or just oddly modest. The only picture of the Ripper Beast I could find was the one on the cover, there; so I couldn’t verify this. The only example of a painted Ripper Beast miniature I was able to find was the one inside the book, which doesn’t help because it’s black and white.

So I went with the clothing look, and I tried to get it as close to the cover as possible. It’s a retro sci-fi creature, so perhaps some space-spandex is appropriate after all. While I may never use this miniature as intended, it can sure get some use as a super-villain for games of Super Mission Force!

I have at least two more projects for Monster May(hem) I’m trying to get done by month’s end. Both require a lot of base work, so they’re taking longer than usual. Check back soon, but in the meantime, be sure to stop by and see what everyone else has been up to!

Here’s the blogroll:

Don’t see your name here yet? No problem! Just email me at angrypiper@angrypiper.com or drop a comment below and let me know you want to participate! It’s never too late to paint a monster!

More coming soon…

Monster May(hem) 2021 Begins!

It’s May 1st! Time for Monster May(hem), so get painting! Those monsters aren’t gonna paint themselves!

Here’s a list of all the current participants, along with links to their blogs (where applicable):

Don’t see your name here yet? No problem! Just email me at angrypiper@angrypiper.com or drop a comment below and let me know you want to participate! It’s never too late to paint a monster!

(Unless it’s June; it which case it’s technically too late.)

Here’s what’s happening so far:

We have our first submission! Matt from PM Painting is Johnny-on-the-spot already! Check out his awesome-looking Lovecraftian Elder Thing!

Although technically not submissions for this year, Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop is showcasing some amazing Dragons he sculpted AND painted (both masterfully) over on his site right now!

Tom from The Good Ground jumped into the pool with a very cool Red Slaad!

And Azazel painted this beautiful Coral Golem! I love it!

I’m running behind already; and I’m the guy hosting this challenge! It’s the same every year…

Gonna go start mine…

Monster May(hem) fast approaches!

Gather ‘round, ladies and gents! (Are there any ladies in the house?) It’s almost May; time for the second annual Monster May(hem); to be hosted right here at Dead Dick’s Tavern! But wait…SECOND annual? It seems like this has been going on for more than two years…

Aaaah. Yes. Three, actually. It used to be known as Monster Month, but then Roger changed it. (Sigh. Roger. I friggin’ love that guy.)

Anyway, what is Monster May(hem)? Why, it’s the month you paint monsters, of course. Any monster will do, although it should be a proper MONSTER; not an orc or a vampire, or something equally as lame. I mean something truly beastly; like a dragon or manticore or giant sandworm. Check out the last couple of years by looking at that handy “Archives” drop-down menu on the right and picking any May (starting in 2018); or, if you’re too lazy to do that, you can get a pretty good idea what I’m talking about by looking at this post and this post.

I can hear the choruses now. “I wanna join the club, PIper! But, how do I participate?”

It’s easy! Simply let me know in the comments below, or shoot me an email at angrypiper@angrypiper.com. I’ll add your name and website to the blogroll once May starts; and, if it’s not there already, I’ll post a link to your site in my sidebar menus. You might even pick up a few regular visitors to your blog! Don’t have a blog or a website? That’s ok. Send me your pictures, and I’ll post them here and ensure you receive proper attribution.

If you’re looking for some good monster miniatures but don’t want to break the bank, Reaper Bones or Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures are your friends! You can get some great plastic monsters for under 5 bucks, and even more for under ten. Or you can splurge and spend fifteen bucks and get something like this T-Rex from Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures:

But no one’s saying it has to be a Fantasy monster. Got a particularly nasty Tyranid or Elder God you want an excuse to paint? Well, look no further. Here’s your excuse. You can also sculpt your own, if you have the inclination and you’re the daring sort. Roger did just that last year, and he even named it after me! The likeness is uncanny… (I told you I love that guy.)

Monster May(hem) officially starts on the first of May (duh). Chances are I’ll be posting something soon after. I have a couple of miniatures in mind, including one really big project planned. I’ve been pretty productive in past years; but invariably I post a few stragglers in early June as my reach tends to exceed my grasp. Guess we’ll see if this year is the same…

Board games, too, now.

Since this pandemic started, I have picked up quite a few board games based on recommendations, reviews and…well, just because. Sadly, this isn’t something I can blame Roger for; rather I must blame a guy I follow on Instagram, @geekdesignergorssky, for always posting about board games that are on sale on Amazon. Some of the deals are pretty hard to resist (35%-50% off!). For example: Gloomhaven, a game I DID manage to resist buying, was on sale for $79.00 USD not too long ago (with free shipping, of course). The game retails for $150.00 USD retail, and the box weighs over 20 lbs. (really). That’s an insane deal. But I said no and I don’t even think about it every single day. (It’s currently $114.00 USD on Amazon.) The fact that I have no one to play these with never even entered my mind.

These are some of the games I have purchased (or been gifted) over the last year. I say some, but what I mean is these are the ones with miniatures. There are others, like Ravensburger’s JAWS game and, oddly enough, a Pac-Man board game (with real arcade sounds!) I bought because I thought it would be a fun pandemic activity. Apparently I’m the only one who thinks that, since I haven’t played any of them yet.

This month, in addition to my Character of the Month (still to come), I’ve decided to focus on getting some of these miniatures painted and ready for the table. I picked the game I’m most excited about playing: Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps, by Gale Force 9. It comes with 7 Marines and 16 Xenomorphs that will require paint; plus I picked up this miniatures expansion because all 4 minis are awesome. (You get a gooey Bishop, which either sounds like a weird drink or a depraved act, take your pick.)

I assembled most of the miniatures yesterday. The marines go together pretty easily; but as anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I have no patience for plastic miniatures anymore. I found the Xenomorphs to be needlessly complex with a two part body, a separate head, two separate arms, a tail and a base, for a total of seven pieces each. Four pieces (a solid body/head, two arms, a tail and the base) would have been better; and far less time-consuming and annoying to assemble. They look cool, but their tails are flimsy and fiddly as fuck. I just know they’re going to be constantly snapping off.

The other game isn’t technically a board game at all; it’s Warlord’s’ Cruel Seas, my first foray into naval wargaming (if I ever get to play it). This starter box was a gift from Santa (who is absolutely not interested in playing this or any other tabletop game, and has said so on multiple occasions). The starter comes with 4 German S- Boats and 6 British Vospers; but I have a few extra German boats thanks to the free sprues I got with wargaming magazines. This game was all over the place a couple of years ago, but I don’t see much written about it now, although they’ve made expansion fleets for the US, Italy, Japan and Russia in addition to the German and British ships you get in this starter set, so someone must still be playing it.

Anyway, I expect the Colonial Marines will take the most time; and I may not get them all done by the end of April. On the other hand, Xenos and PT boats are hardly challenging models to paint and I should be able to zip right through them just in time for Monster May(hem) in May!

More on that…and a brand-new After Action Report…coming soon!

Star Trek: Iconic Villains and some Heroclix Repaints

Four posts with no miniatures? This will not stand! Let me fix that…

In December, I usually focus my attention on my “side pile”, i.e. those unfinished and partially-painted miniatures that have accumulated off to the side of my workspace over the course of the year. Some have been primed, others basecoated; some have just a dab or two of color on them from when I squeezed out a bit too much paint and didn’t want to waste it. There they indefinitely sat, clogging my workspace and staring at me accusatorily; until finally, a few years ago, I made the conscious choice to clear the workspace. It’s worked out great.

Yeah, well…I didn’t do that last month.

I painted a LOT of Star Trek miniatures in 2020; both Modiphius miniatures and Heroclix repaints. Since I started playing Days Gone last month, I simply haven’t had the motivation to paint as much (funny how most of my hobby dry spells coincide with periods of video game obsession). But I only had a few Star Trek miniatures left, and I was bound and determined to get them all done by the end of the year.

I have succeeded. First up: the Heroclix repaints.

I picked up these Heroclix to supplement my Modiphius Romulans. They’re not perfect, because I didn’t remember what paints I used way back when; but they’ll do.

Next, I did the same with these Klingons. Everyone can use more Klingons, and I have plans for these guys…

Sadly, I only managed to get my hands on two Heroclix Cardassian soldiers. I repainted the TNG-era brownish uniform to DS9 black, since I like it much better.

Next, some Ferengi salvage crew, and Daimon Bok. These miniatures are obviously based on the early TNG costuming, which was…well, pretty fucking awful. Don’t believe me? Here’s what the Ferengi uniform was on TNG:

Yikes. I’m guessing most of the show’s first-season budget was blown on special effects, because that looks like medical scrubs and cheap carpet. Dig those fur booties.

Finally, the last of the Heroclix: I did a couple of TNG character repaints: Geordi, Worf and Lt. Barclay; as well as a couple of generic TNG-era Starfleet crew.

I repainted Mugato and some Talosians, as well as a whole bunch of generic Starfleet crew for the TOS era.

Moving on, I finally finished the last Modiphius set: the Iconic Villains. I have a lot of opinions about this set, and let’s start by saying I would never have bought it if I didn’t find it on Amazon for an obscenely low price (like $18 or so). The truth is, I didn’t need or want most of these miniatures, and I think there were a lot of better choices available for the “iconic” Trek villains. Let’s go through them, best to worst. These are my opinions, of course…your mileage may vary.

First: Locutus, Lore, and the Borg Queen. All of these are solid choices for iconic villains. What’s more, Modiphius made a Borg Collective miniature set and the Next Generation Bridge crew and TNG Away team, which makes them easy to use in a miniature wargame or for their Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game. I have no issue with any of these. Love them.

Next: Gul Dukat. He’s a great sculpt, and my personal favorite villain in all of Star Trek; so of course I’m happy to have him. The problem is that Modiphius hasn’t done the Deep Space Nine station crew yet, and also hasn’t done any Cardassians (both of which I’m DYING for); so, he’s of limited gaming utility at the moment. Still, he’s Gul Fucking Dukat, and he’s holding Sisko’s baseball, so I can’t complain too much; although it would be really nice if Modiphius made those other sets soon. In the meantime, I think they could have included a villain that would better compliment the sets they have already released.

Next: Q, in his judge’s robes. As far as iconic villains go, Modiphius would have been remiss not to include Q. BUT: why would you need a Q miniature? Q can do anything and is pretty much invulnerable and omnipotent. I get I’m nitpicking here. Star Trek Adventures is a roleplaying game, and anyone using miniatures for that purpose may have need of a Q miniature simply to show where he’s standing at any given time. But it’s not like Q needs to worry about things like difficult terrain or line-of-sight. He doesn’t need to worry about cover saves. He’s Q. Like I said, Modiphius kinda needed to include him, but the miniature is of limited use in a game setting, particularly a wargame. Also, although the judge’s robes are cool, I would have liked to see him in a Command uniform. But that’s me.

Next: the Gorn Captain. Calling him an iconic villain is a bit of a stretch to me. Also, since he’s the only Gorn miniature made by Modiphius (kinda like Gul Dukat is the only Cardassian), unless you want to replay the classic TOS episode Arena, there’s no point in gaming with him. Meh.

Finally, for some inexplicable reason, Modiphius decided to include two Star Trek movie-era villains: General Chang, and KHAAAAAAAAN!!!!. Why they did this when they haven’t released the movie-era TOS crew is frankly baffling to me.

As for General Chang, he’s my least favorite miniature in the set; not because he’s a bad sculpt, but because I’m at a loss as to why he’s here. Sure, he was the bad guy in Star Trek VI, and he was ably played by Christopher Plummer, and he’s a Klingon. And…I got nothing else. Who the hell was asking for a General Chang miniature? Again, the fact that he’s from the movie era and Modiphius hasn’t released any movie-era miniatures makes his inclusion perplexing.

Finally, arguably the MOST iconic Star Trek villain, Khan definitely deserves to be here. His sculpt is pretty good overall, although I don’t think he needed to be clutching a Ceti eel (it looks kind of silly). While Khan should definitely be included, they should have made the younger version of him from “Space Seed” to work with the current TOS Enterprise crew and landing party sets. (Heroclix made a young Khan, but he’s a rare miniature that fetches about $50 on the secondary market; or, as I like to call it: “fuck that expensive”.)

So, aside from replacing old Khan with young Khan, who do I think should have made it into the set instead of Chang, the Gorn Captain, and (even though I love him) Gul Dukat?

Gowron. Played by “Crazy Eyes” Robert O’Reilly in 11 episodes of Star Trek: TNG and DS9, Gowron is definitely an iconic villain who should be here. I am personally offended that he is not, because how can you not love Gowron?

Lursa and B’etor: The Duras Sisters are also recurring antagonists in TNG and DS9 before finally meeting their end in Generations (spoiler alert). Both of them would be welcome.

Sela: The Half-Romulan daughter of Tasha Yar would be a welcome addition, too; although Modiphius seems to have had her in mind when designing the Romulan set. The commander is female, and can easily be painted as Sela. (In fact, I did just that, as you know because you followed my link to the Romulans above.)

Harry Mudd: One of the only recurring characters on TOS, Harry Mudd would be an awesome addition to the set. I love both Mudd episodes (Mudd’s Women and I, Mudd“) and would love it if someone made a miniature of him!

These are my choices for iconic villains that compliment sets already released by Modiphius. Assuming they release DS9 and Voyager crews down the road; who should make it into Iconic Villains 2? (I’m not including Enterprise because I’ve only seen the first season and honestly don’t know if there are any iconic villains to include.)

From Deep Space Nine: Kai Wynn (of course), Weyoun, Damar, the Female Changeling, Enabran Tain, Minister Jaro, Liquidator Brunt and Michael Eddington; from Voyager: Seska. (She’s the only one I can think of, and the only recurring villain other than the Borg Queen, and she’s already been done.)

I actually completed a project! I’m happy to say I’m done with Star Trek for now. I have no more Trek miniatures to paint, although I do have a couple of bridge scenics to get to, courtesy of Wargames Terrain Workshop.

Coming soon: my resolutions for 2021!

Star Trek Adventures: Outpost 51; The Inquiry

The crew returned from the Shakedown Cruise of the U.S.S. Adventure two months ago. Since then, the vessel has been docked at the Denali substation at Outpost 51 pending an inquiry into the loss of Captain Boardman and the subsequent actions taken by Commander Logan, particularly those that caused a diplomatic incident with the Cardassian Union and the Ferengi Alliance. The ship received minor repairs, mostly cosmetic; while the data collected on the mysterious alien vessel was analyzed and processed. The Maquis agents discovered at the mining colony were sent to Security for interrogation.

The Adventure‘s captain’s chair remained vacant while Starfleet conducted an inquiry. Over the next few weeks, all senior staff and department heads were interviewed by a panel of four of Starfleet’s top brass. The panel was chaired by Admiral Alynna Nechayev, and consisted of Fleet Admiral Shanthi, Admiral Owen Paris, and Captain Tomek.

It was not a trial, at least officially; but it sure felt like one. One by one, the officers were all called before the panel to give statements on their role during the maiden voyage of the U.S.S. Adventure. They faced some hard questions, particularly from Admiral Nechayev, who lived up to her reputation for being no-nonsense, tough-as-nails, and–quite frankly–scary.

“So, to be clear,” she said at one point, “On her very first mission, the Adventure lost her Captain and her Chief Science Officer, both of whom seem to have been mentally unbalanced; and managed to provoke and antagonize both the Cardassians and the Ferengi, both of whom are demanding concessions and satisfaction from the Federation. Sounds like a resounding success.”

Despite this, Admiral Nechayev seemed mostly concerned with the Cardassians; what they were doing, why they crossed into the Neutral Zone, and what the crew’s opinion was of the Cardassian officers they interacted with: Legate Jabrel and Gul Drazel. Fleet Admiral Shanthi and Admiral Paris questioned Commander Logan’s decisions and the decisions of Captain Boardman, up to and including his rash decision to abandon ship on a seemingly suicidal mission. They asked if there was any warning of Boardman’s tenuous mindset beforehand; any indication that he should have been relieved of duty by his First Officer ( Commander Logan) or by the Chief Medical Officer. They also asked about Chief Science Officer Shazak Fulexian; wondering aloud how anyone so unstable could be tapped to lead the science department on a Federation starship.

Throughout the proceedings, Captain Tomek said very little. In fact, he seemed to accept the official version of events presented at face value.

Eventually, the discussion turned to who would captain the Adventure now that Boardman was gone. As a new, Akira-class vessel; the Adventure would need a strong captain. Although Commander Logan assumed command under dire circumstances, was she the right person to sit in the captain’s chair permanently?

Admiral Nechayev made the case that Commander Logan is known to the Cardassians now; that putting her in command of the Adventure may be sending a message to the Cardassians that “cowboy diplomacy” is an option that is on the table, should it be required. This term elicited a collective chuckle from the three admirals; but predictably, Captain Tomek, a Vulcan, showed no reaction. Rather, he began to speak.

“I feel it is necessary to remind everyone that I never supported the decision to give Captain Boardman command of the Adventure.”

Fleet Admiral Shanthi sighed. “Gloating doesn’t become you, Tomek.”

“Gloating is something humans do,” said Tomek. “It is illogical to take pleasure in the knowledge you were correct when your counsel went unheeded, nonetheless. Rather, it is more productive to consider a future course of action in light of past lessons. I merely state that I believe now, as I did then, that there are better candidates for command of the Adventure. Commander Logan has exhibited sound judgement and has performed her duties competently. But she is not the best choice.”

Admiral Paris spoke up: “I feel like we’ve discussed this before.“

“That is because we have discussed it before,” Tomek said. “Ronan Lyko should captain the Adventure. It is only logical.”

“Captain Lyko commands the Ostrander,” said Admiral Nechayev.

“An antiquated, Cheyenne-class vessel, well past its prime,” said Tomek. “His abilities and experience would be better utilized in command of the Adventure.”

Fleet Admiral Shanthi cleared her throat. “After Wolf 359, Captain Lyko was offered his choice of vessels. He has made his feelings on the matter clear. He wishes to remain in command of the Ostrander.”

Tomek looked at each of the admirals in turn. “It is my understanding that Captain Lyko’s is still a Starfleet officer, and thus subject to assignment, regardless of his personal wishes.”

“Might I suggest we table this conversation for now?” Admiral Nechayev rang the bell to adjourn the inquiry. “This inquiry has concluded. You will be notified of our findings within a few days.” Everyone slowly filed out of the room.

The Adventure was docked for the duration of the inquiry; thus the senior staff was assigned to other duties around Outpost 51 and the Denali substation until it was concluded. Lieutenant Kl’rt Beta, Helm Officer, had to content himself with piloting shuttlecraft between the outpost and the substation, carrying personnel and cargo back and forth. It was a big step down from being at the conn of an Akira-class starship. Since all he really did was pilot the Adventure, his actions weren’t in question as far as the inquiry panel was concerned. His testimony was brief, merely verifying the version of events as presented by Commander Logan and the ship’s own combat data.

Chief of Security Daris Pak had a bit more to account for. She was in charge of the tactical station; so it fell to her to explain every phaser blast and photon torpedo launched during the course of the Adventure’s clash with the Cardassians and Ferengi. Until the Adventure was flying again she was assigned to menial duties aboard the Denali docking substation; cargo inspections and routine security details: a complete waste of her talent and ability. She supplemented her time by teaching self-defense classes to enlisted personnel who would likely never have need for her training. One of her classes was disrupted by a few rowdy Klingons who scoffed at Starfleet security training, since it emphasized de-escalation and non-injurious conflict resolution. Commander Pak took the opportunity to instruct one Klingon in particular about the danger of underestimating an opponent.

Chief Engineer Suvak was most worried about retaining his post aboard the Adventure; not because of anything he did or failed to do; but rather because he never would have been assigned to the Adventure in the first place if it wasn’t for Captain Boardman. Boardman was a strong advocate for the Vulcan, despite the fact the Suvak had spent decades in an alternate dimension. As a result of a transporter accident, he was now somewhat behind as far as current Starfleet technology was concerned. Nonetheless, Boardman saw something in Suvak that made him pass up more qualified candidates in favor of the Vulcan. In light of his obvious mental instability, would Boardman’s favor ultimately harm Suvak?

Suvak decided to spend his time as productively as possible. He proposed some modifications to the Adventure: remove the extensive shuttle bays in favor of improved power systems. After all, the Adventure didn’t need two runabouts and six shuttlecraft. It seemed destined for a more martial role; improved power systems would ensure the ship had power to phasers when it needed to fight, or power to warp drive when it needed to flee; and it would still allow Adventure to carry one runabout and three shuttlecraft. HIs proposal was accepted. He and Chief Station Engineer Malcolm Khofi spent most of the two months overseeing the modifications.

Commander Logan, meanwhile, was temporarily relieved of command duties while the Inquiry was ongoing. When not answering the panel’s questions, she spent most of her time in her quarters, wondering if she made the correct decisions in light of what had occurred. She was confident she had; in hindsight, she would not have done anything differently. She did not know either Captain Boardman or Commander Fulexian well, nor was she a counselor. She had no way of predicting their aberrant behavior.

She received an unexpected visit from Captain Tomek, who came to her quarters to inform her that the Maquis operative, Hoddek, had finally cracked under interrogation and was giving up some valuable information. Tomek was on his way to the Denali substation to meet with Kalar Duren, the Betazoid interrogator who was questioning Hoddek, and wanted Logan to accompany him. Duren was both Counselor and Chief of Security aboard the substation, dividing his time between the two positions as needed. Tomek seemed to hold him in high regard.

Tomek and Logan met in shuttle bay 3 an hour later to find Lieutenant Beta awaiting them. It was the first time Logan had seen her helm officer since the Adventure’s return. Beta flew the two senior officers to the substation, where he left them to pass some time playing dom-jot with Master Chief Engineer Holt Belmont, a likeable enlisted man whom everyone–including Beta–seemed to owe a favor. Along the way to the interrogation room, Logan picked up Commander Suvak, who took the opportunity to brief Logan on the modifications to the Adventure as they walked. All three arrived at the Security Office to find Lt. Commander Pak was there already, checking her duty roster.

Suvak, Pak, Logan and Tomek met with Kalar Duren to hear the results of the interrogation. Hoddek revealed that a high-ranking individual operating around Deep Space Nine was a key Maquis agent. He claimed not to know the person’s identity, and Duren believed him. Still, it wasn’t long ago that Lieutenant Commander Calvin Hudson had deserted Starfleet to join the Maquis; causing a significant amount of damage and security risk. Tomek recalled that Hudson was a personal friend of Commander Benjamin Sisko. Now, news of another high-ranking Maquis operating around Deep Space Nine was of great concern, and a bit too coincidental for the Vulcan’s liking.

Upon leaving the Security Office, Tomek pulled Logan aside. “I see no need to draw this out. The panel has decided that you are to retain command of the Adventure. Congratulations, Captain Logan. Unfortunately, there will be little time for formal recognition. Please ensure the Adventure is ready to depart, and make any changes to your personnel as you see fit. We leave for Deep Space Nine in three days.”

Logan saluted Captain Tomek, who returned the gesture solemnly. “Thank you, Captain.” She said. It sounded odd to her, not having to call him “sir” any longer.

Word of the Adventure’s destination spread rather quickly as Logan assembled her crew. Over the dom-jot table, Holt Belmont grinned at Lieutenant Beta. :So,” he said, “I hear you’re back behind the wheel, headed to DS9.”

“That’s what they tell me,” said Beta.

Belmont’s smile widened. “Beta, buddy…I was wondering if you could do me a favor…”

Star Trek Adventures: The Big Sleep Conclusion

After a brief hiatus to play some D&D 5th edition, I have started up my Star Trek Adventures campaign again. While preparing to document the continuing adventures of the U.S.S. Adventure, I realized I had left the story hanging several months ago, and never returned to it. Sure enough, in my unpublished WordPress posts, there was this account of our last gaming session: the end of the “Shakedown Cruise” of the U.S.S. Adventure, The Big Sleep: Conclusion. If you need a recap, the story immediately preceding this can be found here.

So, to resume:

Aboard the alien cylinder, Commander Fulexian was losing his patience. Despite his best efforts, the hatch to the interior of the object remained inaccessible. To make matters worse, the Cardassian boarding party was on its way to the away team’s location. Soon they would be trapped between them and the hatch. The Andorian was the Adventure’s science officer, not security chief; but even he could see that this was not a strategically advantageous position to maintain.

He ordered the team withdraw to avoid contact with the Cardassians. They would likely have no more luck accessing the hatch than he had, anyway. The Cardassians pursued the away team, pausing just long enough to vaporize the helpless Ferengi salvage crew in retaliation for the attack on their ship, when a stroke of luck occurred: the outer walls of the cylinder shifted suddenly, cutting of the Cardassians from the away team. With a little more room to breathe, Fulexian ordered his team to resume their exploration.

Meanwhile, aboard the Adventure, Lieutenant Beta informed Commander (now Acting-Captain) Logan that the Cardassians had some reinforcements on the way…three Hideki-class cruisers were entering the system, course uncertain but probably bound for the cylinder. The odds were changing, and Logan knew she needed to protect the science outpost as her primary duty. She ordered Beta to lay in a course to intercept the Sindral before Gul Drazel could reach New Coriolanus.

The conflict was swift and decisive. Gul Drazel was not inclined to further discussion, especially since once the Adventure gave chase, the Ferengi took the opportunity to destroy the helpless Cardassian ship. The Sindral fired on the Adventure, but the shields held. In response, Lieutenant Commander Pak targeted the Sindral’s weapons and engines with the phaser arrays. The shots blew through the Cardassian shields, disabling the vessel and leaving it adrift. Commander Logan berated Daimon Nogrix (who had returned to the bridge) for the cowardly actions of his crew and banished him from the bridge once again, while the crew of the Adventure took the brief respite to restore power and repair the shields before the Cardassian reinforcements arrived.

It was then that Lieutenant Beta informed Commander Logan that there was another Cardassian vessel on a course to the system, Legate Jabrel’s ship: the Ma’bran, a Keldon-class destroyer, bigger and more heavily-armed than the Sindral. To make matters worse, some kind of dimensional disturbance was forming several million kilometers away from the cylinder’s present position, directly in its path.

Aboard the cylinder, the away team discovered a strange anomaly of thier own. There was some kind of portal opening in the very corridor they were presently exploring. Wasting no time, and in accordance with his value “Defeat Ignorance”, Commander Fulexian ordered the away team through the portal. They arrived in the vast expanse of the interior of the cylinder, somehow separated from where they were by a dimensional barrier.

The away team found themselves surrounded by crisscrossing lattices and struts containing row upon row of smooth, ovular pods made from the same alien metal that seemed to defy tricorder classification. Although there were no life signs present, both Lieutenant Suvak and Ensign Tamral could sense the pervasive presence of a great many consciousnesses, all utterly alien and incomprehensible. Scans of the pods revealed there was indeed organic matter inside; but matter that showed no signs of life or decomposition. After several more scanning attempts, they were able to determine the pods contained vaguely humanoid forms, roughly 2.5 meters tall, with long limbs and featureless faces.

There was no power to any of the pods; or indeed, to anything in the cylinder, so far as they could tell. If these were stasis pods, they were not being maintained by any conventional means. The away team was metaphorically and literally in the dark.

Repeated attempts to reach the collective consciousness, either telepathically or empathically, had failed. Commander Fulexian, thoroughly frustrated, made the decision to open one of the pods, heedless of the possible consequences or ramifications. He simply had to know…

Meanwhile, the Adventure’s readings of the alien cylinder showed something alarming: it was beginning to accelerate, heading straight towards the now fully-formed dimensional rift. It would pass through it in a little under ten minutes, taking the entire away team with it unless Commander Logan could get them back aboard Adventure in time. The Sindral was disabled, and the Prized Possession was soon to have its hands full with the Cardassian reinforcements. For the time being, New Coriolanus was out of danger. She ordered the Adventure to close with the cylinder and beam the away team back, once they were in transporter range.

“Open it up,” ordered Commander Fulexian. The rest of the away team exchanged glances.

“But, sir…” protested Ensign Tamral, “we don’t have enough information..”

“I said open it!” yelled Fulexian, his Andorian antennae quivering. But before anyone could do anything, the entire away team was beamed back aboard Adventure to be met by the smiling face of Transporter Chief O’Malley.

“I got ’em, Commander..er, I mean, Captain,” said O’Malley.

“Good news,” said Logan. “Away team, report to your posts.”

The away team filed out of the transporter room. All except Commander Fulexian. He pulled his phaser and shot O’Malley, stunning the hapless transporter chief. Then he hurriedly set the transporter controls to beam himself back aboard the cylinder.

He had to know.

By the time Commander Logan got word of Fulexian’s actions, it was too late. Defying physics and logic; and seemingly without any known propulsion system; the cylinder accelerated to warp speed and entered the rift. It closed seconds later, taking both the alien cylinder and Chief Science Officer Shazak Fulexian with it.

All that was left was to mop up. Daimon Nogrix was beamed back aboard his ship, the Prized Possession. Since there was no profit to be had now that the alien cylinder was gone, and since he was soon to be facing three Cardassian corvettes and a Keldon-class destroyer on his own (Commander Logan made it clear he could expect no further assistance from the Adventure), he made the tactical decision to withdraw, vowing to report the actions of Captain Boardman and Commander Logan to his government. Legate Jabrel’s ship, the Ma’bren, went to the aid of Gul Drazel’s ship, the Sindral; while the three corvettes pursued the Ferengi. The Adventure took up a protective position around New Coriolanus, warily watching the Cardassians; but once repairs were complete, the Cardassians left the system without a word. Strange.

The Adventure remained in orbit around New Coriolanus until a small detachment of Federation ships arrived. These ships would maintain a presence in the system to ensure the Cardassians didn’t return. With the safety of the science outpost sorted, Commander Logan ordered the Adventure to break orbit and return to Outpost 51.

She was not looking forward to making her report…

#oldorcs finis

My #oldorcs submission took me longer than anticipated; after all, it’s just one orc model. I should have been able to complete that in an hour or so. But the more I looked at it, the more I put off actually beginning to work on it. I really wanted to capture the Oldhammer painting style; a style I haven’t used since, well, since the Oldhammer days of my youth. I painted the basic green skin tone and left the model to sit for a bit while I prepped my Vamp for Vampifan, the Red Duke.

I’ve been having an odd sleep schedule lately, and I found myself thinking about him at 3 am. It was a night of soaking rain here. Usually that helps me sleep, but I had Ork on the brain. I got up and went to my painting table, and I stared. I stared at the Ork for 15 minutes or so, while the rain came down on my bulkhead. I stared, and he stared back. And then I knew what I was going to do.

I decided to make him a Death Skull; because I’ve always been partial to their blue facepaint. Once I did that, the rest of the model came pretty quickly.

When I painted my Warhammer Orc and Goblin army decades ago, I used the same orc skin recipe on almost all the models: Snot Green base, Goblin Green tone, Scorpion Green highlight (all are avialable through Coat D’Arms nowadays). I didn’t want to do that here, so instead I used a base of Citadel Caliban Green, followed by Reaper’s Turf Green and Meadow Green. This resulted in a slightly darker skin tone than I liked, so I once again added some Scorpion Green highlights. For the blue face paint, I based it in Vallejo Prussian Blue, highlighted with Reaper’s Dragon Blue, and then a final highlight of Vallejo Andrea Blue.

The rest was pretty easy: I just went back to the brightly-colored John Blanche/Mike McVey Oldhammer palette that was the norm when I first started playing. You can see plenty of examples of it in old White Dwarf and Dragon magazines, if you have them; or of course any old codices, catalogs and army books of the time. Barring that, there’s always the Internet…

This was a fun little diversion and my first Instagram painting challenge. Thanks to Old Man Paints for hosting it! There are prizes to be won, but they weren’t my motivation. I really just needed the kick in the pants to get back to hobbying.

Now, back to the bloodsucker…

#oldorcs

The other day I stumbled across an Instagram painting challenge for Orctober. Old Man Paints is running his Old Orcs Challenge. The rules are on his site (which is a cool site to visit anyway), but put simply they are: paint an old orc miniature from the Oldhammer era (mid 80’s-early 90’s) and post it on Instagram by the end of the month. (There are hashtag requirements and stuff like that, but that’s about the gist of it.)

Well, if there’s one thing I have a lot of, it’s Oldhammer Orcs. Sadly, all of mine are painted already, and one of the rules is a “before” picture is necessary. It seems I was out of luck.

Well, it just so happens I have had a 40K Ork army as a planned project for about 10 years. This makes no sense, as I don’t play 40K anymore; but who among you can say you don’t have similar nonsensical ambitions in your pile of shame? I have a ton of Orks, most still on the sprue, just waiting for assembly and painting. (I’m in no hurry.) The vast majority of these are from this millennium. In other words, most of them.

Then I found this guy, along with a handful of other Rogue Trader-era Boyz. I’m back in business.

I have no expectation of actually winning this challenge, considering the level of talent I see on Instagram; but I figure I can pretty easily paint one ork in my sleep by the end of the month, so why not participate? Next time you see this guy, he’ll have paint (and arms) on him.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

Grimjack

First off: I hate this WordPress theme, and I’m looking to change it as soon as possible. I just need to find a theme that doesn’t screw up my photos. This was what I could find on short notice. Change to come soon.

When I was a lad, I collected mostly Marvel comics, with the exception of a couple of black and white titles my friend introduced me to in high school. The only one of note was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Unlike most comics, TMNT didn’t come out monthly; it came out whenever the creators made a new issue. As a result, we were always hoping for more turtles, and were often disappointed. So, when my Friendly Comic Shop Owner slid a copy of Grimjack #26 in my reserve box, I wondered why… until I discovered the back-up feature, Munden’s Bar, had a story featuring the turtles…and it was in COLOR.

I bought it, of course. The turtles story was fine. The main story was much better. Thus I was introduced to one of my favorite comic books and comic characters of all time: Grimjack.

From Wikipedia: Grimjack is the street name of John Gaunt, a sword-for-hire, ex-paramilitary, war veteran and former child gladiator. He operates from Munden’s Bar in the Pit, a slum area of Cynosure, a pan-dimensional city to which all dimensions connect. All this is true. but it’s pretty bare-bones as far as the character’s full biography goes. He’s a war veteran, sure…but he’s a veteran of the Demon Wars, which has given him some sensitivity to magic; which is also a thing, depending on where you are in the pan-dimensional city of Cynosure. Although this hardly needs be said, he’s also a fucking badass.

There were three main incarnations of the character throughout the comic’s 81-issue run, the entirety of which was written by John Ostrander. A small British miniatures company, Wayne’s World of Wonder (available through Matchlock Miniatures), makes a version of all three. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of a friend, specifically the lovely and talented Carrion Crow, I now own these miniatures. A real bon homme, that Crow…when I opened the unexpected parcel last holiday season, I almost squealed with girlish glee. (OK, I did squeal.) As some of you may know, I have been in a bit of a painting slump lately…so these figures were just what I needed to get my groove back.

First up, the “original” Grimjack; as immortalized by the great Tim Truman’s artwork. This is the version we see at the beginning of the series: Gaunt as a man slightly past it, pushing fifty and hardened by a life of violence and loss. Hands-down my favorite version of the character, this is also the version they brought back when they finally began publishing Grimjack comics again, some fifteen-plus years after the comic ceased production upon the demise of First Comics. (I converted my own versions of two other First Comics characters, Nexus and Badger, for Forgotten Heroes back in June. Forgotten Heroes: a Carrion Crow joint.)

After a while, Grimjack comes to inhabit a much younger, cloned body of himself, and goes by the name “Chaney”. It doesn’t really fool anyone for long, kinda like when Wolverine started calling himself Patch but still popped his claws every issue. Tom Mandrake took over the bulk of the pencils for this incarnation, and it is the version of Grimjack I like the least. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s more that what came before and what comes after is so much better…

Then, in Grimjack #55, the timeline jumps a couple of hundred years. Grimjack is reborn (in fact, he’s doomed to be reborn forever) in the body of James Twilley. Twilley didn’t know he was Grimjack until he was in high school and killed someone; then it all came rushing back. Some of the best Grimjack stories were written during this run, which lasted until the series’s end; and Flint Henry’s artwork is so, so good….

Of course, while painting these miniatures I had to dig out my comics for visual reference. This prompted a re-read of the series, currently ongoing. I’m on issue 31, and aside from some unfortunate, racially-insensitive language (you could get away with that stuff back then, although it adds nothing to the story) and the horrid (yet blissfully temporary) art of Tom Sutton, it holds up pretty well. I remember why it’s so great and I’m looking forward to what I know is coming.

This post also marks the return of my long-neglected Insanity Pile tracker. Sadly, This year I haven’t painted as many miniatures as usual, but neither have I been purchasing many. Once again, I do not count miniatures I repaint (like Heroclix), or Gaslands cars that I convert.

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 30

Miniatures Painted: 46

Total +16