The Tau codex makes reference to a client race called the Anthrazopods. Although the race is described as being a bit slow, I was quickly inspired to create an auxiliary force of insectoid warriors to fight along side my fire warriors. I also drew from a picture from the BRB in the xenos threat section, which is displayed on the warhammer wikia xenos page.
I've elected to name these guys the B'Tavi, a separate race from the anthrazopods entirely. It makes more sense this way and gives me a little more latitude for cool features like the new fluff section I've written up.
The arthropod race of the B’Tavi are one of the most dedicated member races of the Tau Empire. Their species evolved in an sulfur-rich atmosphere that is toxic to most higher life forms in the Galaxy, and they are often called upon to colonize worlds that the Tau and many other races find inhospitable. Some of these worlds are eventually terraformed to become more agreeable to the Tau, but the B’Tavi retain several colonies for their own development. They have not always contributed auxiliary troops to the Tau military, but now small units B’Tavi auxiliaries are being called upon for missions in hostile environments in the Third Sphere of Expansion.
The B’Tavi were not incorporated in the Tau Empire in the normal fashion. Their civilization had in fact self-destructed centuries before the arrival of Tau survey ships early in the second sphere of expansion. Their homeworld lay in ruins, ravaged by extreme environmental damage, nuclear and biological warfare. Pockets of B’Tavi survived, but lived in superstition and ignorance of the circumstances that had brought their people so low.
The planet was not a high priority for the Tau. Although it possessed significant mineral deposits, it was too dangerous an environment for personnel to operate in. The atmosphere was toxic, and there were significant radiation and biohazards remaining from the War. Automated mining operations were established on particularly rich mineral deposits, but for the large part the world was left to itself. Later, archaeological studies were conducted on the planet by Tau scholars interested in the alien civilization’s downfall, and found similar themes to their own brush with self-destruction. B’Tavi art and literature were discovered, along with scientific and social achievements that impressed the Tau archaeologists.
The B’Tavi reincarnation project began not long after the archaeologists presented their findings. It was an ambitious project undertaken primarily by the Fio and Por castes, with guidance from the Ethereals. Fio bio-engineers were given the task of restoring the B’Tavi species, using a nearby world similar to the B’Tavi homeworld as a nursery. The B’Tavi race was to be resurrected, using surviving individuals and artificial breeding technology to replenish the B’Tavi’s numbers. B’Tavi civilization was also given new life, but given new direction by the philosophy of the Greater Good, a transition facilitated by the Por caste. The reincarnation project was not without its difficulties; B’Tavi survivors often resisted the Tau violently. But by the end of the second sphere of expansion, the B’Tavi race had been restored.
B’Tavi colonists spread to many inhospitable worlds throughout the Empire, terraforming many, but retaining several for their own use. B’Tavi culture is deeply grateful to the Tau Empire for having helped them back from the brink of extinction; a feeling that the Por caste exploits to solidify B’Tavi loyalty to the Empire and the Greater Good. The B’Tavi are such loyal and firm believers in the Empire that they are almost always left to manage their own colonies.
The B’Tavi are genderless, reproducing asexually or through mutual exchange of genetic information. They weigh slightly more than a typical member of the Fire Caste, and their bodies are protected by a rigid exoskeleton, which has energy-ablative properties evolved in the harsh climate of the B’Tavi homeworld. They have six limbs, four of which are used for locomotion, and two of which are used for manipulation. Heavy lifting is usually performed with large mandibles on the B’Tavi’s head. The B’Tavi have large compound eyes that incorporate detection of a broad range of wavelengths, from microwaves to ultraviolet. Electrosensory, aural and chemosensory bristles can be found all over the exoskeleton. B’Tavi communicate primarily through radio signals produced with organs that run along the top of their torso. This unusual capability made communication with the Tau difficult during first contact.
During the War of confederation, several Ork warbands attacked the planet of N'tar III, an inconspicuous agricultural colony in the Bork'an sept. The world was lightly defended; much of its Fire Caste garrison had been withdrawn to assist other systems already under attack. Before long, N'Tar III was being evacuated, but none of the ships were equipped to carry so many passengers between systems. Instead, the refugees were taken to N'Tar III's moon, site of a thriving B'Tavi colony. The Orks had detected the settlements during their initial attack, but opted to fight on the "less smelly place" first.
The B'Tavi administration had been making preparations for defense of their colony ever since the start of the war, but their preparations nonetheless fell short when confronted with the Ork threat at their doorstep. The settlements had been fortified; minefields, walls and defense towers had sprouted up across the colony. But combat projections were dire, and the remnant of the Fire Caste garrison prepared themselves for a last stand, in the hope that reinforcements would arrive sooner than anticipated.
As the Orks completed the pillage of the planet below, B'Tavi and Fio technicians worked frantically to bolster the defenses, with little hope. There were simply not enough defenders to repel the Orks. Faced with the prospect of the Ork assault, the B'tavi technicians decided to take matters into their own hands, and began modifying construction harnesses for combat. Welding and lifting arms were replaced with crude plasma induction weapons and targeting sensors. B'Tavi had not borne arms since they had been reincarnated; the shame of their civilization's self-destruction weighed heavily on them. Now, faced with not only their own deaths but those of the Tau refugees, B'Tavi volunteers were more plentiful than weapons.
When the roks fell on the moon's surface, they were greeted by concentrated pulse fire from teams of B'Tavi militia led by Fire Warriors. Countless greenskins were mown down under the weight of fire, their bodies tumbling from their crude vessels. Far from dismayed, the Orks were overjoyed to have a real fight on their hands, and charged towards the defenders with great enthusiasm.
The militia fell back immediately, climbing onto waiting transports as the Be'gel invaders gave pursuit in ramshackle contraptions that coughed black smoke and seemed more likely to fall apart than not. The transports used by the B'Tavi were civilian models ill suited to combat; the militia fired from open cargo holds at their pursuers with little luck as their vehicles skimmed over the fields, quickly losing ground to the Ork machines. Fearsome cries of excitement bellowed by the Orks were audible over the whine of engines, but the Fire Warriors kept their B'Tavi squads calm and kept up their fire even as the Orks closed. Then, the lead trukk was engulfed in a brilliant explosion. More explosions followed as the orks plowed into the crude minefield, the militia avoiding destruction by virtue of their skimmer technology.
The militia continued to harass the Orks as they landed, baiting many more Orks into hastily-prepared traps, but the Orks were far too numerous to be broken by such harassment. Their Warboss, a monstrous greenskin named Rognuruk, covered in scars and crude armor and wielding a powerklaw alongside a looted burst cannon in a crude bionic hand directed his warband to "quit fightin' the floatin' gits an' krump da gits behin' da wall!". The Orks redirected their attacks to the fortified settlements, and the militia redeployed to meet them.
The B'Tavi and Tau refugees were quickly surrounded, and the Orks attacked savagely. Fierce battles broke out as the Orks attempted to break the B'Tavi defenses. Several smaller settlements were overrun before a plan of action was devised. Over loudspeakers on the walls of each settlement, insults were leveled at Rognuruk, calling him weak, toothless, uncommonly stupid, and most importantly of all, afraid of a good fight. Meanwhile, the strength and prowess of Fortan, a B'Tavi warrior was announced, along with a challenge to the massive Ork.
The Warboss' response was quick. Fighting came to a standstill across the planet and the Warboss demanded that Fortan show himself, so he "could get a right propa' stompin'". Fortan was the first B'Tavi to have his harness modified to bear weapons, but he eschewed his plasma inductor for the original lifting and welding arms for his combat with Rognuruk. The B'Tavi announced Fortan with great displays and stories of his victories against countless enemies - all false, of course. The combat was initiated by a fierce roar from Rognuruk, but Fortan was undaunted and charged forward. Rognuruk met him, snatching the relatively tiny B'Tavi off the ground in his massive power klaw, and crushing the life out of him in what must have been a great disappointment for the great Ork warrior. He was not confused for long, for no sooner than Fortan had died, the improvised plasma detonator in his harness exploded, leaving only a few charred cinders where the massive Ork had once been.
It was months before the Orks managed to reorganize themselves under a new Warboss, just enough time for reinforcements to arrive from Bork'an and rout the invaders.
The subsequent liberation of N'Tar III saw the deployment of the first B'Tavi sentinel Auxilia, and it continues to be a training site for new recruits, who are responsible for the suppression of the feral Ork population that now exists there. Equipped with modern war harnesses and trained in auxilia academies across the Empire, B'Tavi have joined Auxilia units in great numbers, and fight with distinction in the Third Sphere of Expansion.
Here's what I have so far, step-by-step shots to follow as I flesh out my B'tavi force.
They're based on a hormagaunt body, with plenty of extras green-stuffed and glued on. Mainly the components are from drones, but I also use the burst cannon ammo drum and crisis suit head. These bugs will probably stand in for fire warriors in my force.
All the bits used to assemble the model
First step is to deal with the hormagaunt parts.
Cut off all the spikey parts, claws, etc. Apply greenstuff to the little vents on the hormagaunt legs.
Hack down the carapace on the hormagaunt's back to make room for the harness, and put greenstuff there for the harness. Later, you want to texture this greenstuff to make it look like cloth.
Harness parts. Trim one end of the burst cannon drum flat so it mates with the drone piece. Cut off the part of the drone bit that goes into the drone disc, flatten it out so it fits the burst cannon drum.
Trim off parts from one of the pulse carbines; leave the stock, it will be part of the harness.
Also, cut off the ball joint from your crisis suit head. The joint will also be going on the harness.
Now put the harness parts onto the green stuff, and attach the crisis suit head to the neck using some greenstuff.
Now start putting on the legs. Make sure you pose the forelegs so that you can put at least one foreleg and one back leg on an infantry base!
Now all you have to do is attach your aerial and pulse carbine. Make sure the head is looking in the same direction as the gun, and texture the greenstuff to make it look like cloth. I use a paper clip for this effect, but I'm not sure how it shows up in these pictures.
I'm mostly pleased with how these are turning out, but my ability to make small things with green stuff is killing me as far as these model's feet are concerned. I originally wanted to give them little claws, but they all came out quite horribly. I'll be trying to do something about that, but for the time being they'll have to do with stumpy hooves.