Saturday, February 27, 2021

Zone Secundus: The Church of the Red Athenæum - Gunfighter

A Genestealer Cultist next to a member of the Church of the Red Athenæum.

We recently had the pleasure of chatting with the prolific miniature artist K0rdhal about his community event/setting Zone Secundus. Building on Necromunda lore, it takes place in the radioactive waste of Hive Secundus, after the nuclear bombardment to rid the city of the Cult of the Second Son Genestealer Cult. The setting takes influence from books like Roadside Picnic and Metro 2033, as well as post apocalyptic video games like Stalker and Fallout. It is a claustrophobic, desolate setting, defined by radiation sickness and failing equipment. With such an evocative narrative setting, we could not help but get involved, and after some brainstorming, we realized it would be a great opportunity to revisit one of our favorite creations, the Church of the Red Athenæum. Designed for Iron Sleet’s Pilgrym event, the Church is a radical splinter of the Imperial Cult that believes suffering is the highest form of veneration of the God-Emperor. Wanting to share their enlightenment with the wider Imperium, they sent missionaries out to populated hive worlds, where their ideology took root. Being so close to Terra, Necromunda was one of the first worlds to be reached by the Red Church, where they built a bastion to their faith in the ill-fated Hive Secundus, which is now an irradiated sump of twisted metal. But their faith is strong. Vivere est Pati.

The Church of the Red Athenæum:

The Imperial Creed has spawned all manner of eccentric cults across the Imperium, and although the Ecclesiarchy permits some level of deviance from established practices, the line between heresy and acceptance is often blurred. The Church of the Red Athenæum is one such oddity, which is often persecuted for their extreme beliefs, stemming from the idea that salvation can only be obtained by sustaining an existence fashioned after the Emperor’s suffering. Casting out their worldly possessions and desires, its followers are obsessed with the physical sacrifice and suffering of the Emperor, and view the wounds inflicted to Him in his final battle as holy. To venerate the God-Emperor, and join the cult, each member ritually mutilates themselves to emulate one of His holy wounds. In doing so, they are endeavouring to replicate and feel His pain. Ironically, since the exact details of this iconic battle were never shared with the general population, what wounds they inflict in the Emperor’s name are based solely on myth and rumor. However, there are a few common selections: the removal of the left eye, removal of the larynx, or cutting the tendons in the wrists or removal of the hands. Some even go so far as having their spines severed, or entire limbs removed. The higher ranking members of the Church tend to have multiple wounds, in an effort to get closer to His existence. This butchering is not the radical element that concerns the Ecclesiarchy, however, it is their belief that the Golden Throne is not a benefit to Humanity, but a prison trapping the Emperor’s soul on Terra and preventing Him from implementing His Divine Will. The Horus Heresy was a period of great suffering for the Emperor, but it was only the beginning of this pain. Since being entombed in the Throne, His entire existence has been one of suffering. He has watched His empire crumble into a pale shadow of its former glory, with the Imperial Truth being replaced with the Imperial Creed. He is enslaved by the corrupt High Lords of Terra, tethered to a damaged relic from the Dark Age of Technology, with the sole purpose of keeping the Astronomicon lit. It is not His Will that is being promulgated, but that of an amoral Senate of fools. The Church believes that in order for Mankind to achieve its next stage of evolution, the Emperor must be free to lead His people both spiritually and physically, something that is impossible when He is chained to the Golden Throne.

All of the dragonscale wrappings on the model were carved away and resculpted to look like standard cloth.

For the first member of the congregation in Hive Secundus, I wanted to start pretty simple in concept: a one-handed gunfighter. Since the conditions at Hive Secundus are pretty dire, I envision most of the congregation members are well-versed in combat. I based the conversion around one of the Scions of Flame models from Warcry. I have found that many of the models in the Warcry range are scaled and proportioned much better than most of the Warhammer 40K ranges. I replaced the model’s right arm with the arm of a Sister of Battle Arco-Flagellant with the energy whips removed. This made the model look like they had a brace covering where they amputated their right hand. To distance the model from the original, I removed her hair and belly armor. To replace the armored plate on her stomach I sculpted a new belt. Additionally, I removed all of the dragonscale wrapping on the model and resculpted them to look like cloth.

She has 3 holstered pistols, allowing her to draw a new one when the magazine is empty, rather than trying to reload.

To make the model into a gunfighter I replaced the bladed weapon with a small pistol I converted earlier from a Sister of Battle bolt pistol. A pistol would make a suitable weapon for a warrior with only one hand, I reasoned. I attached three holstered pistols on the belt on her waist. Each one was positioned such that she could draw them with her remaining hand. In combat, it would be easier for her to simply draw another pistol than go through the process of reloading. To finish the model I sculpted a pouch on her belt and added another to hold additional magazines for her pistols.

The model’s base was created using a Necromunda plastic base, embellished with some photo-etch sheet metal and modeling putty to fill in certain gaps.

An ork nob next to the gunfighter.

I am happy to be revisiting the Church again after all of these years! They were our first major step into the world of Inq28 and Blanchitsu, and the prospect of being able to work on them again, using all I have learned since then, is extremely exciting. Let me know if you have any comments or suggestions, as well as anything you would like to see from the Church of the Red Athenæum!

- Adam Wier


  1. Good to see the Church of the Red Athenæum being added to, it was one of the most memorable factions from the original Pilgrym event. A shrine or some sort of terrain piece (either in Hive Secundus or on Terra) would be a cool addition and something different for you guys to experiment with - though just more miniatures is also great too. Obviously they will need some missionaries and pilgrims, the ones who originally took the cult to other planets, and possibly even raw recruits too.

    1. A piece of terrain is a wonderful idea! I will need to think more about what we could make!

  2. This is bloody awesome and I LOVE the lore & representation!