Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's only heretekal if you get caught.

Sorry it took so long to get this thing posted. I was trying to re-write what I had already written and I found myself just taking this segment in a whole new direction. I'd like to think it's better this way, and also leaves me room to write more segments about Haphastes experimenting on the creature.  Since Haphastes's model is a Techmarine with his left arm replaced by a Necron arm holding a staff, I think we know about where this is going to end.

     The fortress-monastery of the Steel Revenants is a massive complex, over ten thousand years old. It houses dozens of chambers dedicated to armouries, forges, barracks, and kitchens, as well as a massive library and room for the Chapter's equerries and squires. Beneath the fortress lies a secondary complex, known only to the highest echelons of the Chapter's leadership, and seen only by those trained in the mysteries of the Martian cult. Within this deeper complex are dozens of laboratories, hundreds of storerooms, and thousands of ancient artifacts dating to a time, more than ten thousand years ago, when the Emperor tasked the techmarines of the Iron Hands with divesting the artifacts of their secrets. When the Steel Revenants claimed Lucifer as their home planet and moved into the fortress, they discovered the massive stockpiles, and the earliest leaders decreed that it would be the sacred duty of the Chapter to continue what their primogenitors began: investigating the devices stored beneath the mountain, reclaiming those that could be used for the good of the Imperium, and destroying forever the ones that posed a threat.

     Steep Priest Haphastes descended the stairs to the laboratory slowly. As he climbed, he counted steps. 10,947. 10,948. 10,949. His artificial lungs wheezed slightly - the augmetics were nearly a hundred years old, and had long since developed peculiar operational quirks. The breathing sounded labored, and for a moment Haphastes considered how well it reflected his own exhaustion. He had been running tests and experiments on his current specimen for the past two years with minimal results. Today, though, would be different. Today he had finally coaxed the Steel Father to temporarily disable the stasis field around the artifact. 10,972. 10,973. 10,974. The old techmarine's mechadendrites twitched in anticipation. His armour's machine spirit was just as eager to probe the mysteries of the artifact in the laboratory as was Haphastes himself. Finally, his count reached eleven thousand. He turned to the left and pushed a seemingly solid wall. It gave way effortlessly to his touch, sliding back to reveal a brightly-lit room beyond.

     The laboratory's walls were dark grey stone. Mounted on the wall to Haphastes's left was a bank of logic engines, cogitation machines, and testing equipment. The opposite wall was obscured behind shelves and crates full of Mechanicus tools and ritual materials. At the center of the laboratory chamber was an enormous table, and on that table, covered by the telltale obfuscating shimmer of a stasis field, was the specimen. The room smelled of antiseptics and ozone, a harsh combination that burned unprotected lungs and eyes - though no Space Marine's genetically enhanced organs could truly be considered unprotected. As soon as Haphastes had fully entered the room, the door snapped shut behind him. Power generators embedded in the stone of the mountain activated, thrumming as they cycled up to full power, and then there was a snap and a tangible feeling of tension as void shields fully enveloped the room, isolating it from the fortress and tunnels outside.

     Haphastes pulled a lever next to the laboratory table and the stasis field crackled and disappeared. There on the slab lay a large skeletal silver construct. In height it rivaled even the tallest Space Marines. Though it had at one time been wholly covered in a layer of gold, its outer skin was badly damaged by dents, burns, and scrapes. Its left leg was entirely missing. One half of its face had been melted off. But despite the damage, the Necron Overlord was a regal and awe-inspiring figure. As soon as the stasis field deactivated, the thing's eyes lit up with an eerie green light. It shimmered and seemed to become insubstantial. There was a flash, a crack, and suddenly the Necron was solid again. "You will have no luck with that, alien. You are a long way from home, and your egress is blocked by the Immaterium itself." Even as Haphastes spoke, the Necron began to struggle against its bonds. Hapastes paid its thrashing no heed. While it strove to break the adamantium bands holding it in place, the Techmarine busied himself finding his tools, arranging a bewildering array of probes, blades, and other arcane devices on a cart before him.

     Its attempts to escape defeated momentarily, the Overlord stared at Haphastes with its single, green-glowing eye. Though its face was expressionless, Haphastes could practically feel the hate radiating from the metal creature. It hissed incomprehensible words at the techmarine, who ignored them. The cogitation machines in the room, however, captured the sounds and began to painstakingly decode them, comparing the sounds against available samples from other Necron specimens and from battlefield recordings. Haphastes selected monomolecular knife and examined the edge with his bionic eye. "Stand still, fiend. This may be unpleasant for you." Haphastes gripped the knife in both hands and slammed it into the Necron's chest. The blade shattered and shrapnel flew across the room, destroying one of the display monitors. The Necron Overlord's chest showed no marks. "Very well, alien. I shall do this the hard way." The plasma-cutter mounted on Haphastes's servo-harness flared to life with a blinding blue flash. As the tool bored a glowing hole into the Necron's chest, the machine-creature emitted an ear-splitting shriek. Outside the void shield, the hallways of the fortress were silent.

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