Inspired by The Priests of Mars novel
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively.
The Ark Mechanicus Speranza
had been badly wounded.
When Titans clashed in confined spaces, the damage was always going to be, using ancient Terran terminology… of biblical proportions.
To Irniq Delta-47, today was just another day. The near destruction of the largest vessel in the Mechanicum meant nothing to it as it received its latest in-load, phasing from Inactive to Active.
++ INPUT: ID-47-AD44: TO DECK 56/8A: STATION 221A: ACCESS AND REPAIR ++
++ RECEIVED: IN TRANSIT ++
The Type-11 repair servitor moved to its work station and plugged a long tendril from its left hand into a relay box attached to the wall.
++ RUN DIAGNOSTIC; COMPLETE: EFFICIENCY RATING 99.98% ++
It replaced the power cell on its welding arm, adjusted the fixings, and then left by one of the numerous tunnels that lead from the main servitor stations on this deck.
The whole process had taken 4.2 seconds.
DECK 56/8A looked like a scene from your worst nightmares. Although it was six thousand meters from the main plasma breach, a wave of super-heated liquid had still managed to burn its way through from the core. The central cooling vats were still serviceable but many of them had been damaged beyond repair. The whole chamber looked like a scene from the mythical Hell described in data from ancient Terra. Five hundred and twenty crew worked this area. Five hundred and twenty had been vapourised.
Vidrik Levandi, Adeptus Mechanicus Overseer (third Class), ran his fingers over his bald pate and then glanced down at the dataslate in his hand.
“Only the Omnissiah can perform miracles, Magos Tanasal,” he said in a dull monotone voice to the tall Rune Priest standing before him, “I fear even your skills will not help with the current batch. They are well below standard. The last press produced very inferior stock.”
The Rune Priest looked at the Overseer with barely disguised distain.
“We have rounded up crew from the mess halls, and I know they are dispatching more repair crews to this location.” He then leant forward with his face a few centimetres from the Overseer’s pale and slightly oily face.
“You have your ‘batch’” he continued, “ so get the task done. It comes from Archmagos Kotov himself so make do with what you have. The whole expedition is relying on you to get these plasma jets back up and working.”
“I shall make them work double shifts” said the Overseer “and will be liberal with the whip.”
The Rune Priest made a noise that almost sounded like laughter.
“Do not be overzealous Overseer. There have been reports of… upheavals on some of the decks. There is talk of a leader amongst the workers stirring up trouble. We do not know how it started, but I often find that you get more out of the workers if you treat them… humanely.”
The Overseer raised an eyebrow.
“I shall bare that in mind.”
Irniq Delta-47 presented his credentials.
“Good, a plasma welder.” said the Overseer. He waved a small wand over the servitors information hub, a small plate on the side of its head, and then turned back to his dataslate.
++ INPUTTING: RECEIVED ++
Irniq Delta-47 immediately turned to a panel next to the Overseers shoulder, and began to quickly remove bundles of wires and wafers of circuitry.
When the small welding device began to spark and glow and small balls of superheated metal began to patter his uniform, the Overseer moved to another station and observed the servitors work.
A crowd of the dispossessed, frantic and browbeaten, was herded into the chamber and the Overseer immediately straightened up.
A tall Skitarii with a power axe ordered them to halt and handed him another dataslate.
“Goods dispatched” it hissed through a brass gate-like mouthpiece.
“Goods received” replied the Overseer. “You will remain here on station until your orders change.”
“Affirmative” said the Skitarii, turning to the rear and taking up position near the entrance. Dressed in a crimson cloak and equipped with brass armour and a grotesque animal-like helmet, the guard looked formidable. The Overseer relaxed.
He turned to the new arrivals.
“I am your Overseer. You will repair this station. You will work until the work is done. You will do as you are told.” He nodded confidently to the Skitarii.
“We are authorised to use lethal force.”
A tall, skeleton pushed his way to the front. His uniform was a mixture of rags held together by wire.
The Overseer smiled.
“We are not animals,” he began, nodding at the rest of the wraiths around him. “We have been treated like filth ever since we got here. We are not Mechanicum, we were all pressed…”
The Overseer held up a hand.
“You will do as you are told.” He glared at the spokesman and then tipped his head towards Irniq Delta-47. “The alternative is him.”
The leader was not finished.
“You there” he shouted at Irniq Delta-47. “Why do you put up with this?”
The Overseer grinned.
“It is a servitor. It has no function except to serve the Omnissiah. Did you not have them on your planet?”
The leader seemed irritated.
“We lead simple lives, we did not believe in servitude,” he looked at Irniq Delta-47 and smiled. “Friend. You are not a slave. Do not let them treat you this way.”
The group began raising their voices. The Skitarii immediately moved into defence mode, bringing its axe up to high port.
“I am Irniq Delta-47” stuttered the servitor. “Repair servitor. Current task: ACCESS AND REPAIR”.
The leader moved slowly forward. His voice was calm.
“Inside you are a man like us. Think who you were before these abominations altered you.”
“I am Irniq Delta-47. I was…”
“Go on” said the leader.
“I was Sai Phuoc. I was a soldier.” He held up his right arm and noticed the welding unit. His eyes widened. He looked at the leader. “I had a family… I was taken.”
“Enough!” shouted the Overseer.
Sai Phuoc suddenly smiled.
“I was betrayed.” He turned towards the Skitarii and plunged his left arm, a multi-tool of blades and saws, and opened up the soldiers chest, pushing it back against the bulkhead.
“I remember it all.”
The Overseer lifted his whip but Sai Phuoc was faster. The welder flicked into life and super-heated flame burned into the Overseers forehead killing him instantly. The portly Adept fell heavily to the deck.
“I am a man,” smiled Sai Phuoc “I feel.”