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post #8 of (permalink) Old 02-04-09, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
Dirge Eterna
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Ferrus Mons Librarium, 1215 hours

The Knight took another massive step, making the stone floor of the Librarium crackle
in protest at the huge weight of the armored machine. Stromm looked from the Knight to Eryk,
then to the initiates, who were slowly backing towards Deus Aquilia in fear.

Eryk stepped forward, raising a hand. The Knight stopped suddenly, and a burst of static
echoed from it's voxcorder.

"Adept Daelus." it canted in an odd, feminine voice. "When will you allow me to walk this

Eryk shrugged. "I do not want all my work to go to waste. Your augments..."

"Are fine. I have been down here for nearly three months. Allow me to Walk, my creator."

The Knight crouched, it's massive armored-over cockpit staring at Eryk through a dozen
sensor suites.

The tech-adept raised his hands. "Alright. I'll open the hanger doors on my way out. Go
north to the Mons' base, then come back. The skitarii will let you back in."

The Knight rose to it's full height, voxcasters and war-horns blaring in triumph. It turned,
and stomped out of the Chamber of the First, the footfalls growing fainter as it left the

"What did you do, Eryk?" growled Strom.

"Well," said Eryk. "I repaired Master Rezayle's mount, and implanted it with battle wetware and targeting matrices, and a VI interface. She's a whole new breed of AI."

"She?" asked Matthews.

"The donor for the wetware was a she." explained Eryk. "But it is a fascinating turn, is it

Strom pointed at the empty alcove the Knight had occupied. "Does the Grand Master know about this?"

The adept looked shocked. "Of course he does! Did you think Korveylan and I were mad scientists down here?"

"I just saw a centuries-dead Grand Master's mount get up, ask to leave, and then do so. I don't know what to believe." said Strom.

"Oh, she's young." explained Eryk. "Simply looking for adventure."

Wright and Matthews exchanged a look.

"Ah, yes. I'm sure your initiates would also benefit from a meeting with Master Gregor?" asked Eryk.

Strom nodded cautiously, looking at the other Knights with suspicion.

The priest turned and walked out of the Chamber of the First with enthusiasm, followed by the initiates and Strom. They passed a dozen rooms, each filled to the brim with scrolls, texts, or machinery. A robed adept nodded as they passed a room filed with a massive cogitator.

Eryk led them to a huge room, built like a chapel, but with a large conduit running
along the ceiling. A single engine stood in the room, it's back to them.

"Master, it is I, Eryk, the Healer of Metal. I brought Crusader Stromm, and three Initiates
of the Steel Talons."

The Knight turned slowly. It's weapons layout was unorthadox, a Turbo Laser hung from one arm, while the other held a Vulcan Bolter. A sheathed Power Blade was concealed beneath the bolter's barrels. Its legs were massively reinforced to compensate, hydraulics hissing and ribbed cables pulsing with motion as the machine moved.

"I see." it canted, a deep, powerful voice echoing from the voxcaster.

"And who may these Initiates be?" it asked. Eryk pointed to them in turn.

"Jason Matthews of the North, Ethan Wright of the Mines, and Corvan Rickert of the Orbital."

The Knight stood up from it's kneeling position.

"Greetings, young ones. You are always welcome in the domain of Gregor the Third."

Matthews stepped forward. "The Third?"

"I am the Third God-Machine of the Steel Talons." explained Gregor. "I fought alongside
Deus Aquilia at the Technocracy, the Eternity Gates, and finally the skirmish that
killed First Master Ireisan, here on Thracia. The Aquilia has remained dormant here
ever since."

The initiates looked on in awe, amazed at this ancient warrior.

"How have you lived this long?" asked Wright, moving closer to the Knight.

"I am not man any longer." he replied. "I have been confined to the Gladia Eternus for nearly ten thousand years. My augmetics and the Eternus' life support can ensure near immortality for myself, as long as combat doesn't end me first."

"You still fight?" asked Rickert. The Knight turned.

"You'd be insane to try and stop me, initiate. I will fight for the Emperor until the day I rust into dead metal and corpseflesh."

"Which is unlikely to be soon." added Eryk, pointing to a tech-altar covered in machinery and tools. "The adepts are good at what they do."

The Knight's torso shook, making it's cockpit nod in affirmation.

"There are no finer healers of metal in the Segmentum Solar." he said. "Even the vaunted Astartes take counsel from the Steel Talons."

A chime sounded, and Gregor turned away.

"I must return to my studies, adept. Thank you for coming."

Eryk nodded and gave a shallow bow. "By your word, Master."

The priest led them back to the lift, walking in after them and pressing 18 down on the control.

"Well, my friend. You've been busy. Making friends with Gregor and building machine warriors." said Strom.

"I do what I can." replied Eryk, amused. The lift deposited the five men onto a landing.

Wright stared. A dozen tables were set up, each with three Initiates. A thirteenth was vacant. Strom gestured for them to sit, and he and Eryk sat at a higher table, at the north end of the hall.

A man wearing full battle armor, minus a helmet, walked in, a black cloak trailing him.

"Greetings, Initiate Potentae of the Steel Talons!" he exclaimed.

"You have been chosen to join one of the most revered and ancient Knightly Orders the Emperor has to offer! This is the most vaunted Feast Of Blades! Here, after a mighty round of feasting and elaborate tales, you will be taken to the Forge Halls, to receive your charge. For now, you will each be given a Lancer-Pattern Knight. You may later request alternative weapons. Now, Congratulations, Lancers! And let the Ten thousand, nine hundred, and ninety-seventh Feast of Blades commence!"

Wright's face split into a smile as the feasting hall roared, and he found himself joining in.

You'll forgive me, but you must be mistaken. I've met your makers, and they don't even know your name...

(Updated Mar. 19)

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