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post #7 of (permalink) Old 05-10-13, 05:11 PM
The Curmudgeon
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The Price of Freedom
1100 words without title

“My Lord, do you think it wise?” the voice of Saebek, a Cryptek that had long served the Sakir-Har Dynasty, asked of his Phaeron.

“Do I think what is wise, Saebek?” the Ancient One asked without looking at his underling.

“The Praetorians are suspicious of us as it is. Do you really think it wise to so openly ignore their directives?”

The Ancient One rose from the throne he had been perched upon and stepped down to confront his Cryptek, “I’m sure you grasp the reality of what they are asking of us.”

“Yes, my Lord… but is it not a small price to pay? We harbor enough secrets as it stands. Can we afford to put our people at risk for the sake of machines?” Saebek inquired earnestly.

“Those machines guarded our people as we slept those millions of years away. They are the only reason we now stand here with full grasp of our former selves… because they learned to adapt. How can we betray them now to appease old values that have long been overwritten by the passage of time?” the Phaeron demanded of his Cryptek.

For his part, Saebek lowered his gaze in defeat, “Your logical is sound…”

“Our people, as you so rightly pointed out, are at just as much risk even if we pandered to the Praetorians’ requests. The more we give up of ourselves in this age, the closer we come to being subjugated once more by the likes of the Silent King. We were betrayed all those ages ago by the very… things… you now advocate compliance with. Our great Dynasty was the last to succumb to the biotransference and the only one that didn’t lose our sanity afterward by some great miracle. Our subjects are not the mindless automatons that other Dynasties employ. Our people still retain the memories of being craftsmen and artisans. Should such things come to light, do you truly believe that forcing our Canoptek brethren back to the oblivion of slavery would appease the Praetorians?” the Ancient One recounted for the benefit of his Cryptek.

“Doubtful they would be appeased until all but you and I were rendered mindless slaves to the old ways…” Saebek intoned with a hallow voice.

“If you can so easily arrive at this conclusion, then it shouldn’t be a great burden on your mind to arrive at the proper remedy for our relationship with the Triarchy,” the Phaeron observed.

“Shall I awaken the Shard?” the Cryptek asked with much more energy than previous.

“I am loathe to use our former enslavers… however it would indeed be fitting in a twisted sort of way to allow it the pleasure of some small revenge for its imprisonment. Make the arrangements and I will gather our Praetorian friends…” the Ancient One remarked dismissively.

Saebek bowed slightly and departed the throne room to attend to his duties. The Phaeron, for his part, set about the task of gathering the Praetorians in one place. The bait was simple enough; a false promise of acquiescing to their demands was incentive enough to bring the small band of tyrants in one place. His choice of locations had been orchestrated to give every appearance that he was going to comply. It would be interesting to see their reaction when they discovered the truth behind his intentions.

When the ordained time arrived, the Praetorians were gathered within the chamber that the Ancient one had designated. Not too far from them stood Saebek, fully armed with all of the implements of his chosen craft. The Ancient One entered the room without entourage; the only thing he held was the staff that was both his weapon and symbol of office. Such a thing was hardly alarming or out of place even within the confines of his own Tomb World.

“We would see this task accomplished swiftly, Phaeron,” the leading Praetorian demanded briskly.

“I’m sure you would…” the Ancient One remarked casually before turning his gaze to his Cryptek, “If you wouldn’t mind.”

Saebek nodded slowly and turned away to approach one of the access spheres that lined the walls of the chamber. The Ancient One watched with interest to see just what would transpire. As predicted, the Cryptek had no intentions of bringing forth one of the C’Tan, he instead attempted to access the command protocols for the Canoptek network. Had he been capable of such a thing, he might have laughed at the effort.

As the Cryptek struggled to perform a task contrary to his Phaeron’s wishes, the Praetorians began drawing their weapons. For his part, the Ancient One merely lowered his head slightly as if in defeat.

“We heard all about your planned rebellion against the old ways, Phaeron. While we can see that you believed your logic to be sound, the Necrontyr Empire must be rebuilt in a unified manner. You cannot be autonomous nor can we allow you to contaminate the rest of the Tomb Worlds with your aberrant machines. Your compliance isn’t voluntary…” the leading Praetorian remarked.

“Perhaps…” the Ancient One remarked, “However today isn’t the day you force me to comply.”

The Phaeron raised his staff slightly and then struck the ground with it. Without so much as a word uttered, a hail of blue-white energy rained down from all directions. Each Praetorian began to crumple to the floor, and as they did so, swarms of Scarabs set about dismantling the things atom by atom. Saebek had given up his attempt at overriding the Canoptek command protocols and had made a mad dash for the entrance to the chamber. His way was blocked rather abruptly by the form of the Ancient One’s favored Wraith, the eyes of the thing glowing a bright and deadly red.

“Should we be merciful to this traitor?” the Phaeron asked his machine companion.

The hulking thing swiveled its head side to side in mimicry of a negative reply in response.

“I see…” The Phaeron intoned in a low voice.

“Please, my Lord, have merc…” was as far as the begging got before the Cryptek’s head was crushed in by the Wraith’s powerful talon.

As the Cryptek’s corpse sank to the floor, yet another swarm of Scarabs came to ensure that his body would remain inert for all time. The Ancient One surveyed the carnage with what little pride he was able to experience. While his Cryptek had failed him, his machines had more than made up for the small treachery among their ranks.

“A small price to pay, indeed, to return to the chains we have only just shed…” the Phaeron remarked.

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