Original concept for Falcata can be found here:
Wars almost always had a definitive ending. A treaty, a troop withdrawl, an "advisory posting", moving to secondary roles, training positions, strategic redeployment, selective retreat. There were so many terms the Imperial Guard in the Vires Subsector used to describe the end of a campaign without actually ending the campaign. It was much harder for the Tactica Imperial planners to determine when exactly certain wars began.
On the world of Sarinor, spared hostilities by dint of being relatively off the main warp lane through the sector- and by proxy, the subsector- when war came to the world, it came without a single Xenos ever setting claw upon the surface.
But it had so many beginnings, the war for Sarinor. The rot had spread through the Quad Hives, the four spires that formed the planetary capital of the agri-world. But it had been most concentrated in the fifth, the mostly abandoned Hive No. 5 just to the south. When the PDF with supporting Imperial Guard elements broke through the gate they found only horrors within- every single member of the Administratum, the Arbites, the church and the mechanicus, had been collected and hung en masse in the hive's central square. So many, in fact, that the heretics had run short of rope and resorted to hanging those captured with their own belts and the straps of bags.
The first reports of the terrible crimes in Hive No. 5 reached the capital when the War for Sarinor began again. Deep within the agri-fields to the south of the population centers, in an old farmhouse later known as the Red House, the most powerful of the traitors gathered and the warp split wide open, spewing forth legions of the damned. Where they stood, the fields turned black. Bloat-flies and twisted, many-limbed things stormed across the fertile earth of Sarinor. Taken off-guard, the PDF mustered a defense of Hive No. 5's walls- fighting both the legions from without, and the continuing resistance from within.
However, Imperial records maintain the war for Sarinor only truly began in 005.M42, when the Imperial Guard landed on the world. Thousands and thousands of troops, artillery to level cities, armored units and airborne assault squads. But none of these- while splendid- captured the imaginations of Sarinor's population more than the pair of god-machines released by the forge-world Pyka, whose native Legio Apsida had heeded the call.
"What is this?" Karina Ravenni asked, looking up at the princeps with wide eyes. When they had met Gregori DeRolt had assumed that the girl- for that was what she was, a girl
- was driving the groundcar for the Enginseer assigned to the Titan. She had given him the assignment wafers and he'd died a bit inside.
And then had come the war on Fallow, where Arcana Imperii
suffered reactor damage- a crack in her fusion bottle where lack of use had made the machine brittle and aged. Where any other Enginseer- perhaps a more wise enginseer- would've demanded the machine be shuttled back to Pyka for months of refitting, Ravenni had held the bottle together with joint compound and reinforcing plates. DeRolt's Steersman, Ben Ebsin, had privately relayed to the Princeps that he had been told to go buy the filler from a hardware store on Fallow.
"It's a ration card," the princeps said, holding a small wad of them in his other hand to pass out to the rest of the crew, "There's a war on and the Emperor can't sustain us drinking all the petroleum and eating all the caf grounds on the world."
Ravenni looked at the card closely. Departmento Munitorum Official Rationing Wafer (Sarinor Front Class 01)
was written at the top, a few items beneath it with places to punch. DeRolt waited patiently for the inevitable complaint.
"Three cups of caf
," Ravenni finally said breathlessly. The princeps set his jaw, having been a second off on his prediction of when it would arrive.
"We all get three cups every two days," he attempted to justify, "The Guard needs it more than we do, we aren't working in two twelve-hour trench shifts."
"No, I'm working one twenty-four hour shift
," the tech-priest whined. When they had met, now almost three years ago, she was one of the few Mechanicus that he'd ever known to eschew the augmetics and machine replacements common to that august order. Still today she was bland by the standards of the priesthood, unremarkably human from head to knee. After Fallow she'd finally accepted what she'd described as "store credit" from Pykan's ruling Mechanicus class, and from the knee her legs were mechanical talons, reinforced with small hydraulic actuators. Her red robe was a bit too large for her and nearly touched the ground.
In comparison, DeRolt was everything a Princeps should appear to be- clean-cut, his uniform neat and pressed, a few decorations on his breast, epaulettes describing him as a Princeps of a Warlord-weight Titan. Arcana Imperii
was embroidered on his lapel. He had a single augmentic eye that glowed a faint green, MIU links visible on his neck above the stiff collar of his officer's best.
"Can I have another?" Ravenni asked him hungrily, looking at the stack in the princeps' hands.
"No," he responded simply. With that he'd let the air out of Karina Ravenni, the priest slumping somewhat in despair.
"Stock up before we disembark," he suggested. The air rushed back into her and she almost immediately sped off with a series of clank
s as her talons hit the metal decking.
was their Titan, and they were their Titan's crew. Umbillicals and walkways cluttered the outer plates of the machine as the priests aboard the landing craft made final assessments to the titan's systems. A few moments later, as DeRolt strode onto his bridge, pulling a semilastic plastic band around the wad of ration cards, he would watch as the ammunition trollies moved away from 'his' feet, carrying the huge yet empty pallets of Gatling Blaster shells.
The bridge of the Warlord was a splendid place- indeed, one of the Princeps' favorite spots in all the Imperium was sitting in the command throne of the Arcana Imperii
. It had a somewhat staggered deck, DeRolt's station near the rear, flanked on either side by large Aquila-embossed doors. The MIU links and cables were neatly bundled, connecting into the rear of the throne. Screens and displays ringed the seat, some on armatures hanging from the ceiling. Directly in front of the Princeps was the much more complicated Steersman station, which boasted the Titan's array of lower limb pic-recorders and modar systems to prevent it from stomping on anything the Moderatus manning the station didn't want to stomp on. The paired control sticks on either arm of the chair were cluttered with more controls, the grips worn and softened.
As DeRolt sat in his command chair, his eyes moved to the other two stations- his Sensori to the left, Wyndi Malthovisk, and Nathaniel Shaye, the Moderatus Senioris, to the right. When they had been assigned to Arcana Imperii
, the pair had been the two to come with him. As on their previous command, a Reaver, Malthovisk had begged for the targeting and weapons command, while Shaye had politely asked for sensor duty.
He'd then assigned Shaye to weapons and Malthovisk to sensors, trusting the fiery woman to give him the best possible reaction to battlefield conditions, and Shaye's calm patience to mollify the Imperii
's fierce compliment of weaponry.
The rest of the bridge was mostly hard decking and walls covered in screens and sensor equipment. A tech-priest shrine was in the far corner near the right-hand door, a few wax seals showing where Ravenni had been up here during their warp jump from Pyka inspecting every inch of the Warlord. The candles were still slightly liquid. DeRolt sighed, slumping backwards in his command throne and feeling the tips of the MIU plugs gently attempt to align with his linkages. Imperii
had been mean when they'd first met, princeps to machine. Cooped up like a feral dog beneath the fortress on Pyka. DeRolt's stern hand had to earn every single millimeter of trust from it- and finally, on Fallow, surrounded by dead traitors and heretics, war-horns blaring, he had earned it indeed. Now it greeted him as an old friend, the titan moving to give him a warm embrace.
He stopped it by gently leaning forward to pull the cardboard box of narcs from his breast pocket, patting the opposite arm of the command throne.
"Soon," he assured the Warlord. It made no reply, as it often did, but the princeps knew the war machine understood.
As he lit the narc with an antique lighter- a hideous thing, bright gold with an eagle's head whose beak popped open to reveal the flame when it was struck- another crane rolled past on the overhead rails, laden down with Apocalypse missiles in a huge steady-crate to keep them from shifting. He watched it go, breathing out a gentle cloud of smoke. If Ravenni had been aboard right about now the Titan's intercom would be politely but firmly telling the princeps to put out the narc- thankfully she'd be turning the ship upside-down for powdered caf before their drop, and he could smoke in peace. He'd quit once before on his first wife's request, but then on Fallow he'd picked the habit up once more and it had stayed around.
"Hello Gregori- mind if I join you?" a voice said from the doorway. The princeps didn't even have to turn- he'd heard the voice so many times before. [Target destroyed. Target destroyed. Target destroyed.] Repeated over and over and over again on the unit vox-link, over the audible shriek of plasma fire.
"Of course," he invited, gesturing to the slightly convex, angular back of the Steersman's seat in front of himself. Bardic Mathais stepped into his field of view, a much younger man who still had most of his natural hair color outbred by gray.
I'm getting old
, DeRolt thought to himself, sticking the narc between his lips. Mathais was wearing his own officer's uniform, except his epaulettes were slightly less grand than DeRolt's, his lapel reading Carnivora
. The Warhound scout titan had nearly been scrapped on Pyka for it's feral scrap of a machine-spirit, all howling for blood and screaming with glee every time it's paired Plasma Blastguns were unhooked from their cradle limiters.
But Bardic Mathais had conquered the bestial titan- or perhaps the pair simply had too much in common. Before being assigned to Carnivora
, Mathais had commanded a Reaver much like DeRolt himself had. Unlike DeRolt, Mathais had six maneuvering citations including three for stressing the Reaver chassis beyond specifications- and amusingly, a parking citation from the local Arbites office in the town of Vale, on Pyka- where he'd stopped to re-establish coordinate links with Apsida's command post with one foot resting on the corner of a lot.
His "success" as a Reaver princeps, however- with five kills to his credit, two of machines outweighing his own- made it impossible for Apsida to simply discard him down to training Knights. And thusly he'd been thrown to Carnivora
only to make quite possibly the best friend he'd ever possessed in it's machine-spirit.
"I thought you'd quit," Mathais said accusingly as DeRolt puffed on the narc, the older man's eyes flicking up to meet the younger's.
"So did I," DeRolt said honestly, "Fallow caught up with me, and here we are. Besides, it was on my supply card for the campaign, I hadn't a chance to update it and was confronted by a carton of the things when we landed."
"Can't let them go to waste," Mathais responded, nodding in agreement.
"Is that an offer to help?" DeRolt offered himself, digging out the pack and the tacky lighter and offering them both to the other princeps, who took them with a grateful nod and lit himself a narc, handing them both back.
"Have you looked over the Tactica yet?" the younger man asked, glancing back as the Steersman's chair rotated ever so slightly as his weight leaned on it.
"Some of it," DeRolt nodded honestly, "It looks to be a trench war of the worst kind- all hedgerows and fields. The Guard are getting pasted. Thankfully there's been no mention of traitor machines."
Mathais visibly sighed at the mention of no enemy titans. Maybe Carnivora
had rubbed off a bit on the man.
The older princeps smirked past the narc, smoke coiling from his nostrils, "A blastgun will clear a trench for a hundred feet on either side, Mathais. You'll be able to smell the burnt flesh from your throne."
That appeared to cheer the younger man up, rather perversely, and he puffed up a little as he took another draw.
"I'll deploy as a dagger to you," he said when he'd finished breathing back out, "Flanking unit, even if we aren't fighting enemy machines Carnivora
doesn't have the advantage of a Warlord's tonnage- I'd rather not expose her to direct fire unless at your order."
DeRolt nodded. That had been more or less their strategy on Fallow- where a few enemy machines had
arrived. Arcana Imperii
was large and imposing enough to throw a scare into even heavy enemy titans, while Carnivora
, moving at a speed even the most liberal tech-adept might object to, would appear in the midst of the brawl, spearing the enemy through it's heart with the paired blastguns.
"To a successful campaign, then?" the old princeps offered, pulling the narc from his mouth and holding it out like a drinking glass. Mathais removed his own, gently tapping the bodies of the two narcs together like a cross in a sort of toast.
"I've got to be along," he said hurriedly, "I won't trust Xevin or Thryst to undock Carnivora
alone, the machine will bite their heads off- see you on the ground, Gregori. Good hunting."
The princeps hurried off the bridge, narc waggling between his lips. The last of the cranes disengaged from the Warlord's side as DeRolt watched, trailing huge lines that pumped coolant into the Volcano Cannon on the titan's opposite arm.
[All Titanicus personnel,] the shipboard vox said in a monotonous servitor's voice, [Prepare to disembark to surface.]
DeRolt sat back in his command throne. Arcana Imperii
rushed to him now, and in an instant he saw everything there was to see- he was a chiseled god standing amid mere mortals, the scurrying, supplicant acolytes applying a few last dabs of holy oils to his mighty frame as a ramp large enough to crush armies descended, letting the first slice of Sarinori sunlight break across the Apsida drop bay, gleaming into a hundred pic-capture eyelenses.
"Crew to stations," Arcana Imperii
said. On the bridge, Princeps DeRolt had silently mouthed the words, the narc laying in a ceramic ashtray glued to the console dash beside him.