Darkness permeated the corridors and chambers of the long forgotten complex, any hint of light long forgotten as the ages had slipped by silently and largely ignored. What little movement that could be perceived within the vast network of somber passages came from the autonomous machines that had been charged with the upkeep of the place. Many of the autonomous creatures had, in the intervening millennia, begun to show signs of burgeoning intellects as evident by their peculiar penchant of not just maintaining the ancient machines in their care but improving them as time when on. Ever present in the infantile minds of the machines hung the notion that someday their masters would return to them and give praise to their creations for having had the tenacity of mind to develop as they had.
Such a dream, if it could be called such, went unrealized for a great expanse of time. Even so, each machine that held the ideal that someday they would be surrounded once more by their former lords continued to toil in the silence with such notions held close. And when the first sarcophagus began to stir with renewed ‘life’, the machines met their master with eagerness uncommon in similar machines elsewhere.
A metal hand rose from depths of the sarcophagus first, grasping at nothing but empty air at first. The movements were slow, hesitant, and awkward. It was obvious that prolonged slumber had temporarily dulled the senses of the owner of the hand. The gathered machines waited patiently, expectantly, for their master to gather his wits. After several more gasps at empty air, the hand sank to the edge of the sarcophagus and with some effort, pulled the upper torso into an upright position.
Awareness slowly returned to the disoriented Necron Phaeron. It seemed as if an eternity had passed since he had last commanded the limbs that he had been given during the biotransference. His thoughts were still slow, his perception marred by flaws in his cognitive protocols. One thing, however, did not escape him as he sat in the sarcophagus… he was fully aware of the eyes upon him.
Turning his head slowly, the Phaeron gazed upon the many faceted eyes that patiently observed him. Though they all lacked features capable of expressing it, the eager expectations of the machines were evident and extremely unnerving to behold. At first, the newly awakened Necron could hardly imagine what he was beholding. Before he’d succumbed to the Great Slumber, his Canoptek minions were completely subservient to their base programming. They held no interest in the affairs of their masters, no designs of their own, no will of their own. And yet now he was gazing into the eyes of what could have been classified as children waiting for guidance.
As he mulled over such notions, another thought crossed his mind. He knew that he had once possessed an identity, some grand moniker that set him apart from the others of his kind. He knew that he held dominion over all that resided within the great Tomb World in which his own sarcophagus now rested, but he couldn’t make the connection as to why.
“Do you know who I am?” the Phaeron asked of the gathered machines that had gathered silently around his sarcophagus. Even as the words issued forth from his voice synthesizing device, the Phaeron felt foolish. He knew the machines hadn’t been outfitted with any means of communication. They were simply tools, created to perform labors which more Necrons were incapable of performing even with their nigh-indestructible forms. He began to turn away when one of the Wraiths before him began to scrawl out a message with one of its legs upon the onyx floor. In the looping and interconnecting language of his people, the machine managed to spell out ‘Ancient One’ upon the unblemished surface.
“Ancient One…” the Necron mulled the name over aloud as if to test it for palatability. It didn’t have an awkward tone, and it certainly did fit as far as names were concerned. The Phaeron decided it would suffice for a name just as well as any other might have in its place. It did carry a modicum of mystique, which never hurt when dealing with others of his kind outside of his own dynasty.
The Ancient One returned his gaze to the mechanical servants who still stood silently in a semi-circle to his left. He was already impressed with the responsiveness of his servants, but wondered if simple queries were the limit of their abilities to interact.
“Have others awoken before me?” the Phaeron inquired of the machines. Each of them, in their own turn, moved their head in a side to side manner in an almost satirical mimicry of their sentient masters. It was hard for the Ancient One not consider such a thing laughable… had he the ability to feel such emotions properly.
While he could vividly remember that there had been a sensation linked to humorous events, he could no long grasp it since the biotransference. He could unerringly recall a great many occasions after the transfer and right before the Great Sleep that he might have laughed about had he the ability to. It was a damnable thing to retain the memory of such enjoyment and yet be denied the pleasure of it.
“How long have I been asleep?” the Ancient One demanded, half-expecting the machines to stumble at such a difficult request.
Much to his surprise, the same Wraith that had given him a name began to scrawl out a number. The first few numbers it scratched into the floor seemed reasonable, but the thing didn’t stop with just a scant few centuries. More and more numbers kept finding their way into the etching until the number stood at just shy of 61 million years. Such a vast number seemed impossible. Even with all the grand technology that had been gleaned from the C’Tan and their own developments, a 60 million year slumber was something staggering to accept.
“How can this be…?” The Necron mused as he rose from his sarcophagus; his mind now fully entrenched in his form once more.
Rather than mar the surface of the floor with a reply, the Wraith motioned for his master to follow it. It was at this moment that the Ancient One understood. In the time that had slipped by, his minions had become far more than their initial programming had accounted for…