The Last Guardsman
Barrister slammed the door shut, breathing hard. The Raiders were closing in on the outpost; the flat buzz of their las rounds were peppered the corrugated iron of the outer wall. Heart hammering, acid taste in his mouth, Barrister scrambled through the dust-shrouded junk in the back room, desperately looking for a weapon that hadn't been wrecked by the ever-cursed ash of the Drift.
he heard the outer wall go and the Raiders whooping as they leapt through. Almost sobbing with panic his hands slid over the cases and boxes, slipped off the ash-slick plasteen. He sank to his knees, praying to the God-Emperor so far away to at least save his wife and children, as long as they stayed hidden, as long as the Raiders took their time on him...
It was a deep noise, and it echoed back from the walls of the outpost.
The Raiders' whoops of joy changed note, became shrill; the las fire became more disjointed, became panicked; the noise of the attack slowed, became silent.
There was no noise but Barrister's ragged breath in his throat... no. A noise. Boot heels on the hard-packed dirt. Coming closer. Now on the wood of the walkway outside. To the door.
The door opened; hard light flooded in. The figure silhouetted in the light looked down at Barrister then slowly lowered the rusty old shotgun it carried. It unwrapped the rags covering its face, revealing deep lines and a grey beard streaked with dust.
"Are you all right, sir?"
"...what?" No-one had ever called Barrister that before.
"I said, are you all right, sir?" The old man turned and squinted out. "A few of them got away but I doubt they'll come back if they know I'm in the area. You should probably get that wall fixed in any case."
He turned to go, dust falling from this old cloak and faded uniform.
"Sorry, sir?" The old man turned back.
Barrister coughed the dust and fear out of his throat and tried again. "Why did you help us?"
The old man looked at him blankly. His dust-milked eyes blinked a couple of times, as though surprised.
"It's my job," he said.
And then he was gone.
The 9th Deiran Rifles were the Imperial Guard regiment sent to the Arcadia system to help fight the Incursion on the fifth Gas Giant. They had just deployed at Primaris Hive when the blast came. Most of the senior command were wiped out in the Armageddon; the few Units that were left tried to fight off some of the subsequent landings of the Enemy but were quickly overwhelmed. Soon, they were all gone.
He wasn't an officer, or an NCO. he didn't survive through extra training or because he was a superhuman killing machine. He just kept going through sheer determination. He can't even remember his name. He has no orders, no base, no high command; his tour of duty will never end. he is the Last Guardsman and he will serve and protect the people of the Drift until the last ounce of his blood is spent.
I wanted to build a good guy. It's quite rare in these dystopian settings to get that. I payed around with a few settings but quickly settled on a riff on The Man With No Name, the western vibe that seems to fit the Drift so well.
This was the simplest conversion yet; a kitbash of the Imperial Guard and Genestealer acolytes for the shotgun, a Flagellant head and a viking cloak. Painting was equally simple.
I'm really quite ahppy with this; it's astonishing how something so simple can ooze so much character.