THE COUNCIL OF JHORAN
Ferrus Mons, 1000 hours
Doloun nodded at Master Vec as he walked in the door. The aging Princeps returned the nod and seated himself opposite from Doloun. Eryk the tech-adept and Marshall Davus, the leader of the Skitarii regiments, were also present. A troops of Vec's senior princeps and morderati joined them, Grand Master Gregor towering over everything in his massive suit. The doors opened once more, and Crusader Strom entered, followed by Lancer Wright.
"Strom. The invitation was for you only." said Doloun, looking at the Lancer with disdain.
"I can bring one of my initiates." explained Strom. "Teach him the ways in the Council."
Gregor's voxcasters crackled. "Very well. Let the fifteenth Council of Jhoran commence."
Vec nodded. "Now, Adam, what have you called me so far to say? The Legio Nex is prepared as always, though it irks many of them a Titan Legion is called to a Knight Order's table."
Doloun nodded. "I imagine. There is a rift growing in the north, my friend. More and more of these rogue suits are populating the Deep and the mines around it. I cannot risk open war without the help of the Legio Nex."
"And you believe open war is what it will come to?"
"I do not believe, my friend. Only yesterday my warriors engaged and destroyed a force numbering in the hundreds upon Avenger Field, but twenty miles from here. For the renegades to show their hand this far south, means their numbers are far greater then the calculatricians predicted."
Vec nodded solemnly. "And you wish for my Legio to help rid you of this?"
"It would be appreciated."
One of Vec's lieutenants, the one with the most chins and gold braiding, pounded a fist on the table.
"Absolutely not! The Legio does not answer to the beck-and-call of a weak order of Knights!"
"Be silent." demanded Vec, giving the man a stare of murder. He sat back down.
"We will answer the call, for the gifting of Port Sable to the Legio Nex."
Strom's eyes widened at the demand.
"What is Port Sable?" asked Wright quietly. The crusader turned.
"The largest spaceport on the planet. The Legio Nex has tried to wrench it from us before."
"No." said Doloun. "Port Sable is the lifeline of the Steel Talons. Perhaps the Pallidus to the south? The refinery fields?"
"Pathetic prizes." said the chin collector. "Perhaps just give us the Ferrus Mons instead."
Gregor's voxcorders blared a howl of static that made everyone in the room cover their ears, except Strom, who seemed used to the noise.
"There will be no political maneuvering here. This is the Council of Jhoran, the first Master of the Steel Talons. We ask for your help, not petty rivalries."
Vec looked at the machine. "Very well. No, the Legion will not march."
Doloun's expression fell instantly. Gregor drew himself a little taller, filled with pride at his Order.
"Then we will defend this world ourselves, until the renegades march on Ferrus Mons itself. And then, when they have taken the Mons, and Port Sable, and fight to take the walls of Titanicus Mons, your own home, our last few survivors, bitter with the years in the Pallidus, will refuse your frantic calls. The Imperium will never knew we, that you, existed. That we fought and died for this world."
Vec slumped. He looked at the priceps to his right, a man Wright found familiar for some reason. The priceps nodded.
"Very well. I will grant you the Astra Irae, Mortis Est, and Dominatus. But I will expect the Knights of the Steel Talons to fight at our side when the call goes out."
Gregor shrugged, the motion exaggerated by his huge armor.
"As is expected, Princeps Majoris."
The man nodded to his warriors, and the Legio Nex left Ferrus Mons.
Wright sat atop Sierra Tempest, a massive wrench in his hand. He tightened the power coils' secondary exhaust valve, and the machine visibly loosened. A sigh ran through the machine-spirit.
"Thank you." it said through the voxcaster.
"You're welcome." replied Wright. "I noticed it was a little loose during the fighting."
"You noticed?" she asked, an incredulitous tone in her voice.
"I've got a bit of a connection to this hardware now." he said. Wright ran a finger over the Knight's carapace to emphasize the point.
"Y'know, before I was a Knight, I was like you." she said. Wright cocked his head.
"Human. I mean." she explained. "It gets difficult to remember at times, Eryk used a lot of his time to indoctrinate me, teach me how to control the Knight instead of my body. I was clumsy for the longest time."
"What do you mean?" asked Wright.
"I was a girl, once, silly." said the VI. "I lived in the outskirts of Port Imperical. During a raider attack my parents were killed. Eryk found me living in an upended storage bin. He asked me to help him with a project...I didn't think it would end like this, though."
"He lied to you?" asked Wright, shocked.
"No. He told me everything, and I listened. I watched as Master Rezayle's suit was repaired, while the autosurgeons and tech-adepts prepared, and I watched the day Eryk turned my autosenses on for the first time."
"Don't you...miss it?"
"Not really. I was very young at the time." she said.
"How old are you?"
"Chronologically?" asked the Tempest. "Two hundred and seventy-eight next month."
Wright looked at the ceiling, in awe at the age of the machine. Matthews reached the Sierra Tempest's berth, smiling.
"Ethan, we got trade! Renegades attacking Greyditch twelve miles out, we're all in!"
Wright smiled, and the cockpit hatch of the Knight opened as he made his way down to the gantry.
You'll forgive me, but you must be mistaken. I've met your makers, and they don't even know your name...
GIVING CHASE- ORDO HERETICUS FIC (Updated Mar. 19)
Hat in the Ring